Lesson 46 – D&C 57:1-3; 64:33-43; 82:14-15; 97:8-28; 105:1-12;
Moses 7:12-19, 61-63, 68-69; Articles of Faith 1:10; Our Heritage, pages 37-38, 145-146
If you were asked to write down the five most important things you would like to accomplish in life, what would they be? The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object… The time is soon coming, when no man will have peace but in Zion and her stakes” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 160-61). As you look at the five things that you wrote down, how many items help build up Zion? Today’s lesson will consider the Lord’s instructions about building up Zion and what we must do to accomplish it.
Meanings of “Zion”
Not all references to Zion in the scriptures have the same meaning. See the following passages:
· D&C 97:21 – Zion refers to the pure in heart
· D&C 82:14 – Zion refers to the Church and its stakes
· Moses 7:19 – Zion refers to the city of Enoch
· 2 Samuel 5:6-7; 1 Kings 8:1 – Zion refers to the ancient city of Jerusalem
· D&C 45:66-67; 57:1-2; Articles of Faith 1:10 – Here Zion means the New Jerusalem to be built in Missouri in North America
· Hebrews 12:22-23 – Zion refers to the dwelling place of the exalted
Zion, therefore, may refer to a people, a specific place, or both. In this lesson, building “Zion” will refer to making our hearts pure so that our dwelling places may be called “Zion”.
Zion in previous dispensations
The city of Enoch is one example of Zion in a previous dispensation.
Characteristics of Enoch’s City of Holiness, even “Zion”, are found in Moses 7:12-19, 68-69.
· The Lord dwelt with his people (16)
· The people dwelt in righteousness (16)
· The glory of the Lord was upon his people and they did flourish (17)
· The people were of “one heart and one mind” (18)
· There were no poor among them (18)
· Enoch and all his people walked with God (69)
· The city was taken into God’s bosom (69)
Moses 7:61-63 teaches that in the Millennium, Enoch’s city will return to earth and become one with the New Jerusalem. By becoming familiar with the account of the city of Enoch, we can see what will happen to its people and we can become aware of what we must do to become a Zion people and establish holiness within our cities. The city of Enoch is both an inspiration and a challenge to us.
The command to the Saints in latter-days to establish Zion
The establishment and building up of the latter-day Zion is a frequently mentioned subject in the Doctrine and Covenants with over 200 references. It was so important a subject that even before the Church’s formal organization, a number of brethren were directed by the Lord to “seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion”. (D&C 6:6 (Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey); 11:6 (Hyrum Smith); 12:6 (Joseph Knight, Sr.); 14:6 (David Whitmer)).
For the early Saints of this dispensation, establishing Zion meant becoming pure in heart, living in unity and harmony, and building the city of Zion, or New Jerusalem in Missouri. Independence, Mo, was revealed as the center place (D&C 57:1-3) for the city of Zion. Saints gathered to Missouri after D&C 57 was received, but they failed to become pure in heart and live in harmony, so they proved unworthy at that time. As a consequence of their failure to live up to the Lord’s standards, mobs formed and drove the Saints from their homes in November 1833. Later, in July 1834, D&C 105 was received and the Saints were told the redemption of Zion must “wait”. (Note: See Lessons 12 and 27 for more about Zion in Missouri.)
· D&C 101:6-8 indicates that the Saints in Missouri were contentious, envious, lustful, covetous, and that they polluted their inheritance. They were slow to hear the Lord and ignored him in peaceful times.
· D&C 105:1-12 tells us that the Saints who failed to establish Zion were disobedient, full of all manner of evil, stingy and uncharitable, and divided.
Zion—whether it is the city, the stakes, or our homes—requires that we develop the Zion qualities of pure hearts, unity, and selflessness. We have been continually counseled to establish Zion in our hearts, stakes, and homes. President Harold B. Lee said: “The borders of Zion, where the righteous and pure in heart may dwell, must now begin to be enlarged. The stakes of Zion must be strengthened. All this so that Zion may arise and shine by becoming increasingly diligent in carrying out the plan of salvation throughout the world” (Ensign, July 1973, 3).
· D&C 82:14-15 records the Lord’s commands to Zion to “arise and put on her beautiful garments.” Saints were required to covenant with the Lord to increase in holiness.
Specifics of what has to be done to build Zion include:
· D&C 97:21. Strive to be pure in heart. See Moroni 7:47-48; 10:32 for instructions which include: Develop charity, pray fervently and be filled with the love of God, be a true follower of Christ, become a son (or daughter) of God, be pure like our Savior, come unto Christ and be perfected, deny all ungodliness, love God with all your might, mind, and strength, and do not deny the power of God.
· D&C 38:27. Become unified—be of “one heart and one mind”—because if we are not unified, we are not God’s people.
· D&C 64:34-35; 105:3, 5-6. We must be obedient to gospel principles.
· D&C 105:3. We must care for the poor and the afflicted.
· D&C 97:10-16. Build temples and participate in the ordinances thereof.
· D&C 105:10. We must teach one another and learn our duties more perfectly.
· D&C 133:8-9. We must preach the gospel to the world and call people out of Babylon (the world).
Scriptural promises concerning the future of Zion
In the D&C, we find the Lord’s promises of many blessings associated with Zion in the latter days.
· D&C 97:18. Zion will spread and become glorious and great.
· D&C 97:19. Zion will be honored by the nations of the earth.
· D&C 97:20. The Lord will be Zion’s salvation.
· D&C 97:21. Zion will rejoice.
· D&C 97:22-25. Zion will escape the Lord’s vengeance.
According to D&C 97:25, to enjoy these blessings, we must observe all the Lord’s commandments.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with particular delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day;…we are the favored people that God has [chosen] to bring about the Latter-day glory” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 231).
President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I see a wonderful future in a very uncertain world. If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel, we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way. We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness. ‘And many people shall go forth and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem’ (Isaiah 2:3). Great has been our past, wonderful is our present, glorious can be our future” (Ensign, Nov. 1997, 69).