The failure of the restoration offered in Joseph Smith’s lifetime happened despite repeated warnings from the Lord. In September 1832 there was this, “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation rests upon the children of Zion, even all, and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon, and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do, according to that which I have written, that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s Kingdom. Otherwise, there remains a scourge and a judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion, for shall the children of the Kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, verily I say unto you, Nay.” (T&C 82:20)
At that point, vanity, unbelief and hypocrisy were polluting the land. The cure would have been to repent and remember the Book of Mormon as a covenant, and honor that covenant.
In February 1834, this additional warning came, “if they shall pollute their inheritances they shall be thrown down, for I will not spare them if they shall pollute their inheritances.” (T&C 104:3)
In April 1834 the failures to repent included even the members of the United Firm, “Therefore, inasmuch as some of my servants have not kept the commandment, but have broken the covenant, by covetousness and with feigned words, I have cursed them with a very sore and grievous curse.” (T&C 105:1) The failure extended to the saints who had moved to “Zion” in Missouri, “The covenants being broken through transgression, by covetousness and feigned words[.]” (Id. 12)
In 1835 Joseph published the Lectures on Faith to try to elevate the saints. (T&C 110)
The objective was to help the saints understand their transgressions, abandon their covetousness and no longer pollute the land.
In January 1841 at another location, a final opportunity was given the people by the Lord, “build a house unto my name for the Most High to dwell therein. For there is not place found on the earth that he may come and restore again that which was lost unto you, of which he has taken away, even the fullness of the Priesthood. …I command you, all you my saints, to build a house unto me, and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me, …if you do not these things, at the end of the appointment, you shall be rejected as a church, with your dead.” (T&C 141:10-11) The final opportunity included this warning, “if my people will hearken unto my voice and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, They shall not be moved out of their place. But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blessed, because they pollute my holy grounds, and my holy ordinances and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them. And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name and do not the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfill the promises which you expect at my hands, says the Lord. For instead of blessings, you, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies and by all your abominations which you practice before me, says the Lord.” (Id. 13-14) A short time later both the men the Lord appointed (Joseph and Hyrum) and the entire community of Nauvoo, were “moved out of their place.”
Should those involved be able to detect their own covetousness? Could they see they were transgressing the ordinances? Did they know their minds were darkened because of the failure to remember the Book of Mormon? Is there a difference between “saying” and “doing” the things God commands? Is that difference easy to see?
Their history is in plain view for us to see and understand. We are supposed to learn from and avoid those past failures.