What if the Lord were to give the opportunity to build Zion? What if the Lord wanted it to happen now? What would be done differently than was done by those who went before and failed?
There is a model to follow if we want to fail to achieve Zion. In Missouri, those who gathered were rejected and driven out because of their “jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires.” (D&C 101:6.)
After the catastrophe in Missouri, the refugees from the failure reassembled in Nauvoo. The Lord offered another chance, promising that if they would follow Him they would receive the fullness of the priesthood He had taken from them. (D&C 124:28.) He made the offer in January 1841.
The work on the Nauvoo Temple proceeded haltingly and was never finished before the building was struck by lightning, burned, knocked over by a tornado, and the remaining fragment disassembled by the town because of safety concerns. It was foreseeable the offer in January 1841 would not be meaningful. Over a year later the Times and Seasons printed a letter from the Nauvoo High Council describing how they viewed the population working on the temple:
[We rejoice at] “the willingness to aid in the building of the ‘House of the Lord,’ we are grieved at the conduct of some, who seem to have forgotten the purpose for which they have gathered. Instead of promoting union, appear to be engaged in sowing strifes and animosities among their brethren, spreading evil reports; …We feel to advise taking the word of God for our guide, and exhort you not to forget you have come up as Saviors upon Mount Zion, consequently to seek each other’s good, -to become one: inasmuch as the Lord has said, ‘except ye become one ye are none of mine.'” (Times and Seasons, February 15, 1842, Vol. 3, No. 8, The High Council of the Church of Jesus Christ, to the Saints of Nauvoo.)
It is easy to fail. Just gather people who will contend with each other and there will be failure EVERY time. It makes sense to try something new rather than repeat the pattern that will never work. First, provide an opportunity for those who are interested to display who they are, whether they can live peaceably with others. Once we know one another’s hearts then the Lord can gather only those who will avoid contentions, jealousies, strifes, envyings, and jarring. Like the pattern in Abraham, first men are “proven” and then they are gathered, or spared.