Thursday, December 31, 2009

ZION: The Old Testament (Genesis)

THE OLD TESTAMENT (Genesis)

JST Genesis 7:11-78

This chapter of revelation is at once the foundation and the capstone of all God has revealed to us concerning Zion. It is not coincidental that these verses will appear at the end of this treatise as Moses 7:9- 69 in the Pearl of Great Price because the text is precisely the same in both places except for minor variations and verse numbers.

This chapter is the account of the work of Enoch in establishing the city of Zion. In this account we have the type and shadow of events that will yet come to pass in our dispensation, all in fulfillment of the restoration of all things. Note particularly the pattern in the process of establishing Zion:

1. The prophet pleads for repentance.
2. The more wicked part of the people ignores the warnings of the prophet.
3. Destruction ensues as prophesied and commanded by the prophet.
4. Zion is established and separated out from among the wicked.
5. Those who remain in their wickedness are utterly destroyed.

Before proceeding with the words of the revelation we must include a word about the doctrine of translation as it pertains to Enoch, Zion, and the Latter day Saints in our dispensation. There are few doctrines of the kingdom less understood, but we have many kernels of truth in connection with it from the holy writ produced by Joseph Smith.  (See the following: Alma 45:18-19; 3 Nephi 28; 4 Nephi 14, 37; Mormon 8:10-12; 9:22; Ether 12:17; D&C 7; 49:8; 50:26-30; 77:7-11, 14; 84:25, 98-100; 107:48-49, 57; 110:13-16; 129:1-3; 130:4-7; 133:52-56; Moses 6:32-34; 7:13, 16-23, 27, 61-69; JST Genesis 9:21-25; 13:13; 14:25-36).

Joseph Smith prepared a written text for a sermon delivered by his scribe, Robert B. Thompson, at General Conference, October 5, 1840, the background of which is an interesting story (see Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith, [Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1980], 50-1). The Prophet prepared this sermon in advance entitled "Treatise on Priesthood," the only time we know of that he did so. He said in part, speaking of the doctrine of translation:

. . ."And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah 300 years, and begat sons and daughters, and all the days of Enoch were 365 years; and Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him." (Genesis 5:22.) Now this Enoch God reserved unto Himself, that he should not die at that time, and appointed unto him a ministry unto terrestrial bodies, of whom there has been but little revealed. He is reserved also unto the presidency of a dispensation, and more shall be said of him and terrestrial bodies in another treatise [a treatise, we must insert, that Joseph never produced]. He is a ministering angel, to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation, and appeared unto Jude as Abel did unto Paul; therefore Jude spoke of him (14, 15 verses). And Enoch, the seventh from Adam, revealed these sayings: "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His Saints."
Paul was also acquainted with this character, and received instructions from him. "By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God; but without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a revealer to those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:5.)
Now the doctrine of translation is a power which belongs to this Priesthood. There are many things which belong to the powers of the Priesthood and the keys thereof, that have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world; they are hid from the wise and prudent to be revealed in the last times.
Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness, but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great a fullness as those who are resurrected from the dead. "Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." (See Hebrews 11:35.)
Now it was evident that there was a better resurrection, or else God would not have revealed it unto Paul. Wherein then, can it be said a better resurrection. This distinction is made between the doctrine of the actual resurrection and translation: translation obtains deliverance from the tortures and sufferings of the body, but their existence will prolong as to the labors and toils of the ministry, before they can enter into so great a rest and glory.
On the other hand, those who were tortured, not accepting deliverance, received an immediate rest from their labors. "And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for from henceforth they do rest from their labors and their works do follow them." (See Revelation 14:13.)
They rest from their labors for a long time [that is, those who are translated], and yet their work is held in reserve for them, that they are permitted to do the same work, after they receive a resurrection for their bodies. But we shall leave this subject and the subject of the terrestrial bodies for another time, in order to treat upon them more fully.  (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], 170-1, hereafter cited as "TPJS").

Adding additional commentary to that which the Prophet included in his discourse cited above, President John Taylor in his work, Mediation and Atonement, offers the following:

It would appear that the translated residents of Enoch's city are under the direction of Jesus, who is the Creator of worlds; and that He, holding the keys of the government of other worlds, could, in His admini¬strations to them, select the translated people of Enoch's Zion, if He thought proper, to perform a mission to these various planets, and as death had not passed upon them, they could be prepared by Him and made use of through the medium of the Holy Priesthood to act as ambassadors, teachers, or messengers to those worlds over which Jesus holds authority. . .
Jesus [held priesthood] keys relating to the ministration of its powers and blessings, but it is not unreasonable to suppose, when other worlds are concerned, over whom also He holds the keys of salvation, that these considerations would not necessarily interpose, and that He would send or commission members of the translated priesthood of Enoch's Zion amongst terrestrial worlds whithersoever it pleased Him, in the interests of the peoples thus situated.  (John Taylor, Mediation and Atonement, [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Co., 1882], 74-78).

Let it be remembered that the millennial era of this earth's history will be lived out in a terrestrial environment, when all things pertaining to the telestial order to which we are now subjected shall have passed away. The inhabitants of the latter day Zion yet to come, like Enoch's Zion, will in course of time be "taken up" in the same way his city was through the exercise of priesthood keys of translation. It is through this process that we shall meet our cousins of Enoch's society.

So it was, and so it shall be, that all the words of the prophets may be fulfilled. Enoch's account details not only his own dispensation, but his vision extends down all the annals of time to the final victory scene of the Savior's coming to usher in the Millennium. Enoch's vision was revealed to Moses, who bore record of it in the book of Genesis, the account was subsequently excluded from the canon of inspired writings and then restored by Joseph Smith.

And it came to pass, that the Lord said unto me, Look, and I looked, and I beheld the land of Sharon, and the land of Enoch, and the land of Omner, and the land of Heni, and the land of Shem, and the land of Haner, and the land of Hanannihah, and all the inhabitants thereof.
And the Lord said unto me, Go forth to this people, and say unto them, Repent; lest I come out and smite them with a curse, and they die.
And he gave unto me a commandment, that I should baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, who is full of grace and truth, and the Holy Ghost which beareth record of the Father and the Son.
And it came to pass, that Enoch continued to call upon all the people, save it were the people of Cainan, to repent.
And so great was the faith of Enoch, that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them, and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command.
And the rivers of water were turned out of their course, and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness.
And all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.
There also came up a land out of the depths of the sea; and so great was the fear of the enemies of the people of God, that they fled and stood afar off, and went upon the land which came up out of the depths of the sea.
And the giants of the land also stood afar off; and there went forth a curse upon all the people which fought against God.
And from that time forth, there were wars, and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness.
And the fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord which was upon his people.
And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish.
And the Lord called his people, Zion, because they were of one heart and of one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there were no poor among them.
And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God.
And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the city of Holiness, even Zion.
And it came to pass, that Enoch talked with the Lord, and he said unto the Lord, Surely, Zion shall dwell in safety for ever. But the Lord said unto Enoch, Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed.
And it came to pass, that the Lord showed unto Enoch all the inhabitants of the earth, and he beheld, and lo! Zion in process of time was taken up into heaven.
And the Lord said unto Enoch, Behold mine abode for ever.
And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam, and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam, save it were the seed of Cain; for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.
And after that Zion was taken up into heaven, Enoch beheld, and lo, all the nations of the earth were before him; and there came generation upon generation.
And Enoch was high and lifted up, even in the bosom of the Father and the Son of Man; and, behold, the powers of Satan were upon all the face of the earth; and he saw angels descending out of heaven, and he heard a loud voice, saying, Woe! woe! be unto the inhabitants of the earth!
And he beheld Satan, and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.
And Enoch beheld angels descending out of heaven, bearing testimony of the Father, and of the Son.
And the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion.
And it came to pass, that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying, How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains? And Enoch said unto the Lord, How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?
And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, and millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations;
And thy curtains are stretched out still, and thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also, thou art just, thou art merciful and kind for ever;
Thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end. How is it that thou canst weep?
The Lord said unto Enoch, Behold, these thy brethren, they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge in the day that I created them.
And in the garden of Eden gave I unto man his agency; and unto thy brethren have I said, and also gave commandment, that they should love one another; and that they should choose me their Father.
But, behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood; and the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them; for my fierce anger is kindled against them.
Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name also. Wherefore I can stretch forth my hands and hold all the creations which I have made, and mine eye can pierce them also.
And among all the workmanship of my hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren; but, behold, their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers; Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of my hands.
Wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer? But, behold, these which thine eyes are upon shall perish in the floods; and, behold, I will shut them up; a prison have I prepared for them, and he whom I have chosen has plead before my face;
Wherefore he suffereth for their sins, inasmuch as they will repent, in the day that my chosen shall return unto me; and until that day they shall be in torment.
Wherefore for this shall the heavens weep, yea, and all the workmanship of my hands.
And it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Enoch, and told Enoch all the doings of the children of men.
Wherefore Enoch knew and looked upon their wickedness, and their misery; and wept, and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity, and his bowels yearned, and all eternity shook.
And Enoch saw Noah also, and his family, that the posterity of all the sons of Noah should be saved with a temporal salvation.
Wherefore Enoch saw that Noah built an ark, and the Lord smiled upon it, and held it in his own hand; but upon the residue of the wicked came the floods and swallowed them up.
And as Enoch saw thus, he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren, and said unto the heavens, I will refuse to be comforted.
But the Lord said unto Enoch, Lift up your heart and be glad, and look. And it came to pass, that Enoch looked, and from Noah he beheld all the families of the earth, and he cried unto the Lord, saying, When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the righteous be shed, that all they that mourn may be sanctified, and have eternal life?
And the Lord said, It shall be in the meridian of time; in the days of wickedness and vengeance.
And, behold, Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh; and his soul rejoiced, saying, The righteous is lifted up; and the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world; and through faith I am in the bosom of the Father; and behold, Zion is with me!
And it came to pass, that Enoch looked upon the earth, and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying, Woe! woe! is me, the mother of men! I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children! When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which has gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?
And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying, O, Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth? wilt thou not bless the children of Noah?
And it came to pass, that Enoch continued his cry unto the Lord, saying, I ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus Christ, that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah, and his see, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods.
And the Lord could not withhold; and he covenanted with Enoch, and sware unto him with an oath, that he would stay the floods; that he would call upon the children of Noah; and he sent forth an unalterable decree, that a remnant of his seed should always be found among all nations, while the earth should stand.
And the Lord said, Blessed is he through whose seed Messiah shall come; for he saith, I am Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of heaven, which is broad as eternity; and whoso cometh in at the gate, and climbeth up by me shall never fall.
Wherefore, blessed are they of whom I have spoken, for they shall come forth with songs of everlasting joy.
And it came to pass, that Enoch cried unto the Lord, saying, When the Son of Man cometh in the flesh shall the earth rest? I pray thee show me these things.
And the Lord said unto Enoch, Look; and he looked, and beheld the Son of Man lifted up on the cross, after the manner of men.
And he heard a loud voice, and the heavens were veiled; and all the creations of God mourned, and the earth groaned; and the rocks were rent; and the saints arose, and were crowned at the right hand of the Son of Man, with crowns of glory.
And as many of the spirits as were in prison came forth and stood on the right hand of God. And the remainder were reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.
And again Enoch wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying, When shall the earth rest?
And Enoch beheld the Son of Man ascend up unto the Father; and he called unto the Lord, saying, Wilt thou not come again upon the earth? for inasmuch as thou art God, and I know thee, and thou hast sworn unto me, and commanded me that I should ask in the name of thine Only Begotten; thou hast made me, and given unto me a right to thy throne, and not of myself, but through thine own grace; wherefore I ask thee if thou wilt not come again on the earth?
And the Lord said unto Enoch, As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfil the oath which I made unto you concerning the children of Noah.
And the day shall come that the earth shall rest. But before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth.
And great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve; and righteousness will I send down out of heaven, and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men.
And righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine own elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare; an holy city, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion; a New Jerusalem.
And the Lord said unto Enoch, Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there; and we will receive them into our bosom; and they shall see us, and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other;
And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years shall the earth rest.
And it came to pass, that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth, in righteousness, for the space of a thousand years.
But before that day, he saw great tribulation among the wicked; and he also saw the sea, that it was troubled, and men's hearts failing them, looking forth with fear for the judgment of the Almighty God, which should come upon the wicked.
And the Lord showed Enoch all things, even unto the end of the world. And he saw the day of righteousness, the hour of their redemption, and received a fulness of joy.
And all the days of Zion, in the days of Enoch, were three hundred and sixty-five years.
And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion.
And it came to pass, that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is fled. And all the days of Enoch were four hundred and thirty years.

JST Genesis 9:17-25

Again we must rely on the JST to supply this missing passage in the KJV. It will be remembered that God established the covenant of his gospel among Enoch’s brethren and sisters, and after they were taken up the covenant remained with Noah's seed. The token of the new and everlasting covenant -- the promise that Zion will once again come upon the earth in the last days -- is the rainbow. Without the added light of the JST we would be left to conclude that the rainbow merely symbolized the promise of God never to flood the earth again with water.

Joseph Smith had additional insights about the rainbow, as it pertains to the signs of the Second Coming. Father Miller, a protestant minister of Joseph's day, had prophesied concerning the Second Coming. The date of the following discourse is March 10, 1844, four months before his martyrdom:

I have asked the Lord concerning His coming; and while asking the Lord, He gave a sign and said, "In the days of Noah I set a bow in the heavens as a sign and token that in any year that the bow should be seen the Lord would not come; but there should be seed time and harvest during that year; but whenever you see the bow withdrawn, it shall be a token that there shall be famine, pestilence, and great distress among the nations, and that the coming of the Messiah is not far distant."
But I will take the responsibility upon myself to prophesy in the name of the Lord, that Christ will not come this year, as Father Miller has prophesied, for we have seen the bow; and I also prophesy, in the name of the Lord, that Christ will not come in forty years; and if God ever spoke by my mouth, He will not come in that length of time. Brethren, when you go home, write it down, that it may be remembered. (TPJS, 340-1).

Let us now examine the words of Moses concerning the covenant the Lord made with Noah, as restored to us through the Prophet Joseph Smith:

And I will establish my covenant with you, which I made unto Enoch, concerning the remnants of your posterity.
And God made a covenant with Noah, and said, This shall be the token of the covenant I make between me and you, and for every living creature with you, for perpetual generations;
I will set my bow in the cloud; and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember my covenant, which I have made between me and you, for every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant, which I made unto thy father Enoch; that, when men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth, the city of Enoch which I have caught up unto myself.
And this is mine everlasting covenant, that when thy posterity shall embrace the truth, and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy;
And the general assembly of the church of the firstborn shall come down out of heaven, and possess the earth, and shall have place until the end come. And this is mine everlasting covenant, which I made with thy father Enoch.
And the bow shall be in the cloud, and I will establish my covenant unto thee, which I have made between me and thee, which I have made between me and thee, for every living creature of all flesh that shall be upon the earth.

JST Genesis 14:25-40

While this passage does not specifically include the word Zion in the text, its content in relation to Zion will be clearly evident. These are likewise "missing" verses in the King James Version of the Bible, and give us as much information as there is in the scriptures concerning Melchizedek, the great high priest. It is clear from the description that, like Enoch and his city, Melchizedek and his people "obtained heaven." Except for this reference we have little information about Melchizedek. We do know, however, that the keys of translation survived the flood, and that God kept his covenant with Adam and his posterity alive through Melchizedek.

There is evidence extant from the revelations of John Taylor and Joseph F. Smith that Melchizedek was Shem, one of the sons of Noah. Writing in the Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, 746, under date of December 15, 1844, John Taylor said, following commentary about the scattering of the people after the building of the tower of Babel:

From this definite account of driving the "nations apart, when the ancient hills did bow," all reflecting minds may judge that man was scattered over the whole face of the earth. And with the superior knowledge of men like Noah, Shem (who was Melchizedek) and Abraham, the father of the faithful, three contemporaries, holding the keys of the highest order of the priesthood: connecting the creation, and fall; memorizing the righteousness of Enoch; and glorying in the construction of the ark for the salvation of a world; still retaining the model and pattern of that ark, than which a great, ah, we might say, half so great a vessel has never been built since; for another ark, be it remembered, with such a ponderous living freight will never be prepared as a vessel of mercy by command of Jehovah.  (The following scriptural references may also be studied in connection with Melchizedek, his identity and his ministry: Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 5:6; 7:1-3, JST Genesis 14:17-40; JST Hebrews 7:1-3; Alma 13:14-19; D&C 84:14; 107:1-4).

President Joseph F. Smith, writing of his vision of the spirit world, made reference to Shem's identity also:

Among the great and mighty ones who were assembled in this vast congregation of the righteous were Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all.
And our glorious Mother Eve, with many of her faithful daughters who had lived through the ages and worshipped the true and living God.
Abel, the first martyr, was there, and his brother Seth, one of the mighty ones, who was in the express image of his father, Adam.
Noah, who gave warning of the flood; Shem, the great high priest; Abraham, the father of the faithful; Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, the great law-giver of Israel. (D&C 138:38 41).

Melchizedek obtained the fullness of the priesthood with its attendant powers and keys. Melchizedek conferred these powers and the fullness of the priesthood upon Abraham. Abraham was ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood by Melchizedek, but also received the fullness of the priesthood under the hands of Melchizedek as well. Joseph Smith said:

The King of Shiloam (Salem) [referring to Melchizedek] (see JST Genesis 14:36) had power and authority over that of Abraham, holding the key and the power of endless life. Angels desire to look into it, but they have set up too many stakes. God cursed the children of Israel because they would not receive the last law [meaning the law of consecration] from Moses.
The sacrifice required of Abraham in the offering up of Isaac, shows that if a man would attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life; he must sacrifice all things. When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned. The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law.
What was the power of Melchizedek? 'Twas not the Priesthood of Aaron which administers in outward ordinances, and the offering of sacrifices. Those holding the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings. In fact, that Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and stands as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam.
Abraham says to Melchizedek, I believe all that thou hast taught me concerning the priesthood and the coming of the Son of Man; so Melchizedek ordained Abraham and sent him away. Abraham rejoiced, saying, Now I have a priesthood. (TPJS, 322-3).

The pattern of Melchizedek’s and Abraham’s lives has specific application to each of us as we contemplate the future of this dispensation. The events of the last days will undoubtedly follow this historical pattern as the blessings of a terrestrial order are established and displace the telestial order as we know it now. In each dispensation since the first and continuing through to the last, the prophets have sought to prepare a nation of kings and priests with their wives standing at their sides as queens and priestesses. (See Genesis 35:9-12; Exodus 19:6; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:10, for example. Brigham Young perhaps said it best: "We are trying to teach this people to use their brains, that they may obtain knowledge and wisdom to sustain themselves and to dictate for others; that they may be worthy to be made Priests and Kings to God, which they never can be unless they learn, here or somewhere else, to govern, manage, legislate, and sustain themselves, their families, and friends, even to the making of nations, and nation after nation. If they cannot attain to this they will have to be servants somewhere" [JD, Vol.11, 328]). 

This fact is further evidenced by the haste that was made in the waning days of Nauvoo to endow and seal as many of the saints as possible before the exodus began and the temple was destroyed. (The Nauvoo Saints hastened to finish the temple before their exodus, knowing full well the edifice shortly would be abandoned. They understood that the temple was necessary to culminate their baptismal covenants and to give them the spiritual strength and knowledge to sustain them through the rigors of the westward journey. From December 1845 to early February 1846, some 5,500 Latter-day Saints received their temple blessings, said Milton V. Backman Jr., BYU professor of Church history. “Nearly everyone who followed Brigham Young [in leaving Nauvoo in 1846] had gone into that temple and received their temple blessings. And thus, the Saints were spiritually prepared to conquer the desert, because they had received a special blessing in the House of the Lord.” (From a lecture given at the Sons of Utah Pioneers Church History Symposium, Nov. 11, 1995.)

In this dispensation the Prophet Joseph was murdered in his attempt to establish Zion. Brigham Young led the saints west to build Zion in the desert, thereby hoping to achieve Joseph’s vision. But the saints rejected the crowning doctrines pertaining to eternal life and exaltation that Joseph could not openly teach during his lifetime. Many glorious temple doctrines were introduced in Kirtland and Nauvoo, including the ancient washings and anointings, the endowment and eternal marriage. All these were revealed to strengthen the saints spiritually and to give them hope for the arduous journey that lay before them in conquering the American West. The United Order as an institutional application of the law of consecration is another example of a doctrine Joseph and Brigham taught that was eventually abandoned and rejected.

As the twentieth-century saints became interwoven in the fabric of the Gentile nations, they began their gradual decline spiritually and became more and more infatuated with the world and its ways. Latter-day Israel was a mirror reflecting the behavior of our ancient counterparts who wandered forty years in the wilderness then ingratiated themselves with their gentile neighbors in the promised land of Canaan. The fulfillment of all that Joseph and Brigham had feared most was well under way by the late 1800’s, perhaps manifesting itself best in the culminating affectation with the world embodied in the award of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games to Salt Lake City.

The chosen mantra by the power elite who championed the effort for the Games was “The World Is Welcome Here.” It still drips with irony in light of the Old Testament pattern, but it was President Gordon B. Hinckley who reminded us all that the appointed time had arrived for Zion "to put on her beautiful garments" and to "come out of obscurity and darkness."  And shine Salt Lake City did after all the drama and the fraud associated with the bid process was finally put to rest!  To solely rely upon the historical precedents we observe in Holy Writ and to abandon the counsel of living prophets is not the pattern we signed on for as true disciples in the last days!

Brigham Young was trying to separate the saints from the world and hide them out in the mountains of Utah where they could live their religion. The saints, however, sought acceptance from the world and sought to amend their covenants along the way. It is a startling similarity with our ancient cousins in Israel. It appears all that makes us unique from them is in this last dispensation the Lord’s work will be cut short in righteousness.  (D&C 52:11. The rest of the verse suggests there will be judgment associated with deliverance: “. . .for the days come that I will send forth judgment unto victory.” See also D&C 84:97; 109:59). Otherwise, we would undoubtedly repeat the patterns of ancient Israel to the fullest degree.

We need to be reminded often that we are in substance no better than our forbearers, and we need deliverance in our day in order to establish Zion, for we have failed in our own wisdom by rejecting God’s pattern.

Finally, the program of the United Order was repealed (though the law of consecration has never been rescinded) because the saints overthrew the will of God and his prophets and proved unworthy of their inheritances. The Lord declared that Zion could have been established in the days of Joseph had the saints been willing and obedient. (See D&C 105:2, 9, 13. Because of transgression the timing for the redemption of Zion was delayed. Later in D&C 136 as Brigham Young was preparing to move the saints to the west, the Lord declared, “Zion shall be redeemed in mine own due time.”).

However, we must not despair. As it was, so shall it yet be, and we can wait patiently for the marvelous power of the Lord to be revealed in fulfillment of all his promises. These are the inspired words of the JST as revealed through Joseph, describing the powers of the fullness of the priesthood Melchizedek bestowed upon and possessed by Abraham:

And Melchizedek lifted up his voice and blessed Abram. Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.
And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch.
It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.
For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.
And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.
And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace.
And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter days, or the end of the world;
And hath said, and sworn with an oath, that the heavens and the earth, should come together; and the sons of God should be tried so as by fire.
And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.
And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God;
Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.
Wherefore, Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need.
And it came to pass, that God blessed Abram, and gave unto him riches, and honor, and lands for an everlasting possession; according to the covenant which he had made, and according to the blessing wherewith Melchizedek had blessed him.

The blessings referred to here in the last verse can be considered collectively as “the Abrahamic Covenant,” the same covenant blessings of lands and spiritual blessings that were bestowed by covenant upon each succeeding generation that followed Father Abraham. The promise of lands of inheritance and an eternal numberless posterity were the substance of the covenant restored through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith in our dispensation. Nowhere is the covenant described more explicitly than in the words of Abraham:

But I, Abraham, and Lot, my brother's son, prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord appeared unto me, and said unto me: Arise, and take Lot with thee; for I have purposed to take thee away out of Haran, and to make of thee a minister to bear my name in a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice.
For I am the Lord thy God; I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my voice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot; I say to the mountains -- Depart hence -- and behold, they are taken away by a whirlwind, in an instant, suddenly.
My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;
And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.
Now, after the Lord had withdrawn from speaking to me, and withdrawn his face from me, I said in my heart: Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee;  (Abraham 2:6-12. See also D&C 132:29-50; Genesis 17; 22:15-18; Galatians 3. The Abrahamic Covenant was renewed with Isaac [see Genesis 26:1-4, 24], then later with Jacob [see Genesis 28; 35:9-13; 48:3-4]. The covenant is extended to all who receive the ordinance of celestial marriage [see D&C 132:29-33]. The blessings bestowed by men holding the fullness of the priesthood powers upon other men and their wives are all conditional based upon faithfulness until confirmed by the voice of Lord himself, as Joseph Smith taught).

The doctrines concerning the establishment of Zion and the Abrahamic Covenant are inextricably linked. Joseph Smith was consumed and fascinated with the restoration of all the priesthood powers and authority necessary to administer in all the ordinances of the Lord’s house. The Restoration was a wondrous flood of light and power, but the full picture with all its facets emerged slowly, culminating in the final days of his life in Nauvoo. His early exposure to the world and powers of the patriarchs as he worked on the Inspired Version no doubt prepared his fertile mind for all the revelations that followed.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ZION: Introduction


INTRODUCTION

We begin our study of Zion at the beginning in Genesis. Immediately upon doing so, however, one is confronted with the realization that Genesis in the King James Version (hereafter referred to as "KJV") is silent regarding Zion. All we know about Enoch and his Zion society is found in the content of the Joseph Smith Translation (hereafter referred to as "JST"), commonly known as the "Inspired Version." Joseph himself refers to it by the word "translation" in his history, and frequently refers to it as the "New Translation of the Bible."

The work of "translation" Joseph did on the KJV was given the name "Joseph Smith Translation," or JST, and approved by The Quorum of the Twelve and The First Presidency. The approval was given at a meeting in the temple. The purpose of the meeting was to consider the practical convenience of how to refer to Joseph’s work in the publication of the new LDS editions of the scriptures in recent years. Referring to it in abbreviated form as “IV,” or “NT” would confuse the reader who might think the designations were a reference to the Roman numeral IV, or New Testament.  (Gerald N. Lund and Robert J. Matthews, The Joseph Smith Translation, Monte S. Nyman and Robert L. Millet, editors, [Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1985], 295-6). 

Doctrinal themes in addition to Zion, missing altogether in the KJV, are restored by the text of the JST. The mission of the Savior, Satan's role in the plan of salvation, our pre-mortal existence, the fall of Adam, the covenants of the gospel, and the priesthood are examples of precious doctrines excluded in the text of Genesis in the KJV.

It will be remembered that by the time scholars assembled the manuscripts from which they were working to compile and translate the KJV of the Bible, many errors and omissions had crept into the text. In fact, the earliest Hebrew manuscripts in existence prior to the Dead Sea scroll discoveries of recent vintage date no earlier than about the tenth century A.D. (about the time of William the Conqueror). By the time Joseph Smith arrived on the scene rich historical and scriptural material were gone entirely.

These eventualities are revealed in Nephi's record concerning his vision of futurity:

And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God.
Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God.
And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.
And this they have done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.
Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.
And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest -- because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God -- because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.  (1 Nephi 13:24 29).

Much of what had been lost was restored through the prophet of the restoration, Joseph Smith. Immediately after the publication of The Book of Mormon and the organization of the Church in 1830, Joseph began his inspired revision of the Bible. We have this insightful statement, which may provide a clue as to how the Prophet was prepared to undertake his Biblical revisions:

After I got through translating The Book of Mormon, I took up the Bible to read with the Urim and Thummim. I read the first chapter of Genesis and I saw the things as they were done. I turned over the next and the next, and the whole passed before me like a grand panorama; and so on chapter after chapter until I read the whole of it. I saw it all!. . . (This was spoken at the house of Benj. Brown, N.Y., 1832, Sidney Rigdon being along.)  (Robert J. Matthews, A Plainer Translation, [Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1975], 25-26).

While Joseph referred to his work with the Biblical revisions as a "translation," (see Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, 7 vols. [Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, 1972], 1:132, 170, 215, 219, 324, 341, in which the Prophet consistently calls his work with the Bible a translation, also Doctrine and Covenants 37:1; 41:7; 45:60 61; 73:3 4; 76:15 16; 90:13; 93:53; 94:10; 124:89) his methodology differs from his use of the Urim and Thummim and seer stone in The Book of Mormon translation. On October 8, 1829, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery purchased a large pulpit style edition of the King James Bible (containing the Old and New Testaments and Apocrypha) from E. B. Grandin in Palmyra, New York, for $3.75. Using the text as his source material, the Prophet dictated the revisions by the power of the Holy Ghost as he read, while the scribe (usually Sidney Rigdon) recorded what he said. Robert J. Matthews gives this explanation:

The process necessarily was slow and perhaps often tiring. There must have been frequent periods of discussion about various passages and ideas, and no doubt progress was more rapid on some occasions than on others. The manuscripts show that there was sometimes editing and revising of the material after it was initially written. Although the actual writing was done by scribes from 1830 to 1833, Joseph Smith personally edited the final drafts and dictated certain revisions which now appear as interlinear notes and variants, some of which are on small pieces of paper pinned to the manuscript. These revisions are mostly, though not exclusively, in the hand of Sidney Rigdon, and some may be in the Prophet's own handwriting. These revisions and notes were written sometime during the years 1833-44.
The translation was not a simple, mechanical recording of divine dictum, but rather a study and thought process accompanied and prompted by revelation from the Lord. That it was a revelatory process is evident from statements by the Prophet and others who were personally acquainted with the work. . . Elder Orson Pratt, who had a close association with Joseph Smith and who was very much interested in the New Translation, said on one occasion while reflecting on his life with the Prophet: "I became intimately acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and continued intimately acquainted with him until the day of his death. I had the great privilege, when I was in from my missions, of boarding the most of the time at his house. . . I saw him translating, by inspiration, the Old and New Testaments, and the inspired book of Abraham from Egyptian papyrus."  (Robert J. Matthews, A Plainer Translation, 39-40).

Robert L. Millet offers this additional insight:

Joseph's mission as translator was not terminated when he had completed The Book of Mormon. In his serious study of the Bible, he sought to harmonize himself with the Spirit of God (and surely with the mind and intentions of the ancient writers) so as to recognize and correct faulty translations, as well as deficient or ambiguous passages of the Bible which had suffered the long and painful process of transmission of texts. In one sense, Joseph Smith was translating the Bible in attempting to interpret it by revelation, to explain it by the use of clearer terms or a different style of language. In another sense, Joseph was translating the Bible inasmuch as he was restoring in the English language ideas and events and sayings which were originally recorded in Hebrew or Greek. The Prophet translated the King James Bible by the same means he translated The Book of Mormon through revelation. His knowledge of Hebrew or Greek or his acquaintance with ancient documents was no more essential in making the JST than a previous knowledge of Reformed Egyptian or an access to more primitive Nephite records was essential to the translation of The Book of Mormon. Not infrequently the Lord chooses and calls the unlearned, the "weak things of the world," to bring about his purposes (see 2 Nephi 27:15 20).  (Robert L. Millet, The Joseph Smith Translation, 26-7).

Beyond these comments, however, it is important to understand that the JST provides information about the early patriarchs, Adam, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Moses and others not in the KJV. In these instances Joseph's work is a fresh revelation, not merely a revision. Joseph received three separate revelations between June 1830, and February 1831, restoring details not available in the KJV. The first revelation, labeled "A Revelation given to Joseph the Revelator June 1830," known as the "Visions of Moses," has been published as Chapter 1 of the book of Moses (The Pearl of Great Price), as Section 22 of The RLDS Doctrine and Covenants, and as a separate entry following the preface in the printed Inspired Version. The KJV has no corresponding material.

The second revelation is labeled on the manuscript of the JST, "A Revelation given to the Elders of the Church of Christ on the First Book of Moses," and is in print as Genesis 1:1-33 of the Inspired Version, and Moses 2:1-4:32. Genesis 1, 2, and 3 is the corresponding material in the KJV.

The third revelation is labeled "Chapter Second A Revelation concerning Adam after he had been driven out of the garden of Eden." It really goes beyond its title, carrying the Biblical story from Adam to Noah with a lengthy section about Enoch and Zion. In the printed Inspired Version it is Genesis 4:1-7:85, and in The Pearl of Great Price it is Moses 5:1-8:12). Corresponding material is Genesis 4 and 5 in the KJV.  (Robert J. Matthews, A Plainer Translation, 62-3).

By way of introduction to our study of Zion in the Old Testament the following information is thought to be of worth. Apart from an overactive curiosity concerning Zion, the author makes no claim of expertise in Hebrew or any other language. While researching the references pertaining to Zion, however, I stumbled into these notes in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (James Strong, Madison, N.J., 1890, 36th printing, 1977). The derivatives of the word "Zion" in Hebrew are loaded with definitions packed with meaning for the Latter day Saints. For the reader's benefit in further research if desired, I have cited the footnote numbers from the above cited concordance in the brackets following each word.

“Zion” is derived from the following Hebrew root words:

1. tsiyah [6723] from the unused root meaning "to parch;" aridity; a desert; barren; drought; dry (land or place); land; solitary place; wilderness.

2. tsiyown [6724] a desert; dry place.

3. tsiyuwn [6725] in the sense of being conspicuous; a monumental or guiding pillar; sign; title; waymark.

a. The primary root for tsiyuwn is natsach [5329] to glitter from afar; to be eminent (as a superintendent, especially in temple service and its music); to be permanent; chief singer or musician; oversee(r); set forward.

b. Another derivative of natsach is netsach [5330 & 5331] to be preferred; a goal, i.e. the bright object at a distance to be traveled towards; splendor; truthfulness; confidence; continually to most distant point of view; always constant; end; perpetual; strength; victory.

4. tsiyown [6726] as a permanent capitol, a mountain of Jerusalem. This root is by far the most frequent usage that occurs in the Bible with reference to Zion. The definition "a mountain of Jerusalem" started me thinking about Mount Moriah, the temple mount in Jerusalem, so I looked up "Moriah" in the concordance.

“Mount Moriah” is derived from these principal Hebrew roots:

1. Yaah [3050] a contraction of the word Yehovah [3068], meaning Jah, the sacred name; Jah, the Lord, most vehement.

2. Yehovah [3068] the self existent or Eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God; Jehovah, the Lord.

3. ra'ah [7200] to see; appear; behold; discern; enjoy; have experience; gaze; look on one another; meet; be near; perceive; present; see; show oneself; sight of others; stare; view; visions.

With little or no effort required to extract a definition, then, these meanings fall out of the Hebrew derivatives of "Zion" and "Mount Moriah:"

ZION - A desert place lying afar off in the distance to be sought for its brilliance, set in a position of prominence for a sign as a permanent overseer, full of light and truth until the final victory is won.

MOUNT MORIAH - To see Jehovah, and to be seen of Jehovah.

Given those very perfunctory, but tremendously insightful definitions, we can better understand the Lord's meaning when he speaks of Zion in the Old Testament. The mission of Zion is simply to direct the work of uniting this world with the unseen world. The altars of the temples where we kneel today to make sacred covenants with God are the bridges between our families in this world and our families in the spirit world that we cannot always see with our natural eye. We go to the temple literally to see Jehovah and Elohim as they reveal themselves to us in the ordinances thereof, and to walk in their presence to be seen of them. It is instructive to remember that the very first building the early saints were commanded to build in this dispensation was a temple, despite their impoverished condition in Kirtland and Nauvoo.

With that introduction we will now examine the scriptural passages relating to our study of Zion. We will take the passages as they appear sequentially beginning with Genesis in the Old Testament, including in our compilation those passages found in the JST but missing in the KJV. Notice that the prophets speak about the four elements of Zion cited in the preface -- the place, the people, the condition, and the time -- in their definitions of the word. One or more of these elements occur in each usage in holy writ.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

ZION

As we sat in the last gospel doctrine class of the year today, the impression was confirmed to present on this blog page my writings about Zion.  Herewith, then, I will serialize a book I have been compiling (still very much a work in progess) about the topic of Zion.  I accept the sole responsibility for its content.  It is neither an official publication of the Church, nor can it be considered authoritative in any way except that it contains very little else but scripture and the words of the prophets.  Where my personal opinion is expressed, it is nothing else but that. 

Again, my offer stands.  If anyone would like a free pdf copy of my manuscript, please write me at dgoates@yahoo.com, and I would be happy to send it along at your request.

A COMPLETE COMPILATION OF
THE SCRIPTURES CONCERNING
THE SUBJECT OF ZION

Compiled with introductory
notes and commentary by
David B. Goates

©Copyright
January, 1982

Printed 12/27/09

Preface

I am a confirmed and confessed idealist. For much of my early adult life I did not realize how spiritually homesick I had become. Perhaps that is the reason I love this topic of Zion so much. I have also discovered that I am not traveling alone. There are many other strangers and foreigners traveling with me. Because we seem to walk a parallel path through life, we meet one another only occasionally at rare intersections. Nevertheless, I am encouraged as the years go by that there are more and more of us out there. Though I have no empirical data to support the conclusion, I suspect that within each soul who is spiritually reborn there is a fundamental longing for Zion, a return to the innocence of youth, while we may not always be able to identify it as such. The path toward Zion really begins at birth. In the adolescence of Gethsemane and Golgotha we each suffer the loss of innocence. Some become jaded and cynical, but a few become sanctified and obtain a view of the Zion ideal. It is an inner journey for each individual soul, to be sure, but the scriptures are not completely allegorical. We are real mortals living in a real world that will someday be transformed into the real Zion foretold scripturally.

Today we live in a new century, a new millennium, amid a general society gone mad. That said, the general society without the benefit of the revealed word of God has always been estranged from God in every dispensation. Despite the lack of faith generally, many still long for Zion with accompanying sadness that Zion might have slipped out of our grasp and cannot be realized in our present circumstances. Still the question of the Zion ideal persists. What if? What if Zion could be established? What if future events combine to help us embrace consecration, so that Zion could come again among us in this dispensation of the gospel? What if we really are in the eleventh hour of the preparations for the Lord’s return? What if there is an imminent paradigm shift just over the next horizon?

My witness flowing from within these pages is that, righteous or not in our present state, Zion will come again on the earth, for the Lord has decreed it.

In June 1966, President David O. McKay visited Jackson County, Missouri, and other sites of interest in the region. Following their return to Salt Lake City, Elder Alvin R. Dyer commented: "You know, President, there are some who feel that our work is over in Jackson County, and that we shall not return there." His answer was, "All that I can say about that is that they do not understand the revelations."  (The Refiner's Fire, 333).

In the years since the early days of the Restoration, many have wondered why we do not hear the Brethren speak as much as they once did of establishing Zion in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. I do not have an answer that satisfies anyone, because I do not know the answer to that question. My purpose is to help us understand the revelations. To my knowledge no one has ever compiled all the revelations pertaining to Zion under a separate cover. Now we may have all that the Lord has thus far revealed in the Standard Works, and none has reason to be negligent in their understanding of the revelations. Though I am still uncertain about how the obvious disparity between the revealed word and our current circumstances will be resolved in the years that lie ahead, I remain hopeful that learning about this topic will make a difference. Rest assured that the Lord has the timetable, and he alone will reveal the unfolding agenda to his Prophet and the leaders of the Church. That much is certain in my mind. I apologize in advance if some of my early writing on this topic seems critical. I have tried to suspend judgment, and intend only to point out comparisons and contrasts between our present situation and that of ancient Israel. I affirm my belief that the kingdom of God on the earth is on course, led by inspired servants. There is no doubt about it.

This compilation was begun in January 1982, and published for the first time a year later. Without the aid of a computer, I compiled it originally on a typewriter. It was widely distributed to cast members of the musical multi-media presentation of “ZION” in the Salt Lake Parleys Stake in 1983, and was updated and enlarged in 1986. Since that time I have made continuous revisions. It is designed as a reference work, citing every scriptural passage containing the word "Zion" extant in our canon of scripture. If I have missed a reference the omission was an oversight and not intentional. Following the scriptural references is a section citing every reference to Zion in Joseph Fielding Smith's compilation, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Appendices A, B and C were also added.

President Spencer W. Kimball’s inspired vision of the future Zion is instructive. In 1978, he said:

Zion cannot be built up only among those who are the pure in heart, not a people torn by covetousness or greed, but a pure and selfless people. Not a people who are pure in appearance, rather a people who are pure in heart. Zion is to be in the world and not of the world, not dulled by a sense of carnal security, nor paralyzed by materialism. No, Zion is not things of the lower, but of the higher order, things that exalt the mind and sanctify the heart.
Zion is "every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God." (D&C 82:19.) As I understand these matters, Zion can be established only by those who are pure in heart, and who labor for Zion, for "the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish." (2 Nephi 26:31.) As important as it is to have this vision in mind, defining and describing Zion will not bring it about. That can only be done through consistent and concerted daily effort by every single member of the Church. No matter what the cost in toil or sacrifice, we must “do it.” That is one of my favorite phrases: “Do It.” May I suggest three fundamental things we must do if we are to “bring again Zion,” three things for which we who labor for Zion must commit ourselves?
First, we must eliminate the individual tendency to selfishness that snares the soul, shrinks the heart, and darkens the mind. . .
Second, we must cooperate completely and work in harmony one with the other. There must be unanimity in our decisions and unity in our actions. . .
Third, we must lay on the altar and sacrifice whatever is required by the Lord. We begin by offering a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.” We follow this by giving our best effort in our assigned fields of labor and callings. We learn our duty and execute it fully. Finally we consecrate our time, talents, and means as called upon by our file leaders and as prompted by the whisperings of the Spirit. In the Church, as in the welfare system also, we can give expression to every ability, every righteous desire, every thoughtful impulse. Whether a volunteer, father, home teacher, bishop, or neighbor, whether a visiting teacher, mother, homemaker, or friend — there is ample opportunity to give our all. And as we give, we find that “sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven!” (Hymns, no.147). And in the end, we learn it was no sacrifice at all. (Ensign, May 1978, 81).

Except where noted otherwise, bolding, underlining and italics are my emphasis in the text. While I have added introductory notes and commentary, I am quick to state the research and writings of others whom I have cited throughout this compilation have aided me. Further-more, I hasten to add I am still learning day-by-day, precept upon precept, and this manuscript is not a finished product as long as I live it will forever be "under consideration." My only hope is that our collective vision of Zion may be enhanced by my meager effort. Like all my fellow travelers, I see only through a glass darkly. I trust that future events will gradually give more clarity to that vision. I have witnessed that phenomenon already in my lifetime.

In my formative awareness of Zion I skipped through the initially more difficult material in the Old Testament. Jackson County and the eventual establishment of the latter-day Zion headquartered at Independence, Missouri, envisioned by the Prophet Joseph riveted my early focus. My “pilgrimage” to the Holy Land many years ago is analogous. I went full of enthusiasm for the sites in and around Jerusalem since those were more familiar to me as a Christian with a background in the house of Israel, almost looking past Egypt with some disdain and impatience, hardly waiting until our tour would take us to Israel. Imagine my astonishment to see the magnificent temple structures at Karnack and Luxor in Upper Egypt and to see the indelible imprint of Abraham and Joseph everywhere I turned! This was true also in Lower Egypt at Giza and the pyramid complex.

It has only been in more recent years that I began to understand the Prophet first gleaned his vision of Zion in the Old Testament texts he was revising in his “Joseph Smith Translation.” Particularly as I have taught the Old Testament in the gospel doctrine class, my vision of what Joseph saw has been enhanced and clarified. It is as though I have been studying the Old Testament and seeing for the first time through Joseph’s eyes the themes that must certainly have captured his imagination and led him to enquire more deeply into the vistas the Lord was unfolding to his seeric view.

However, these topics and their eventual impact on the saints of this dispensation of the Restoration include not only the establishment of Zion. Joseph’s prophetic vision stretched further to embrace the mission and atonement of the promised Savior Jesus Christ, who Joseph would learn was also the pre-mortal Jehovah and the resurrected Millennial Messiah. His vision then extended to contemplate more completely than anyone who had preceded him the doctrines of priesthood, pre-mortality, God’s sanction of plural marriage among the ancient patriarchs and prophets, the building of temples, and a host of ante-diluvian doctrines he was restoring as he grew in knowledge. Other topics revealed to Joseph in greater detail that grew out of his study of the Old Testament included the scattering and gathering of Israel (the core doctrine of establishing Zion), temple building, missionary work, genealogical research and the kingdoms of glory in the resurrection. Building upon this sure foundation laid by Joseph in the Restoration, in our day these fundamental doctrines found expression in the “threefold mission” of the Church. When he announced it in 1981, President Kimball said:

My brothers and sisters, as the Brethren of the First Presidency and the Twelve have meditated upon and prayed about the great latter-day work the Lord has given us to do, we are impressed that the mission of the Church is threefold:

• To proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people;

• To perfect the Saints by preparing them to receive the ordinances of the gospel and by instruction and discipline to gain exaltation;

• To redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel for those who have lived on the earth.

All three are part of one work — to assist our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, in Their grand and glorious mission “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39).  (President Spencer W. Kimball, “A Report of My Stewardship,” Ensign, May 1981, 5).  In recent weeks (December 11, 2009), it was reported the Church has added "To care for the poor and the needy" as the "fourth" element of the mission of the Church. 

What follows is my poetic interpretation, written in 1982, of four fundamental facets that kept recurring in my study associated with the establishment of Zion. I view them as characteristics of the overall subject of Zion pertaining specifically to 1) location, 2) people, 3) conditions that will prevail, and 4) the time associated with the fulfillment of the prophecies. I share these insights at the outset of this presentation as the skeleton outline in the hope that what follows will put some meat on the bones.

ZION

THE PLACE
Far away in the west.
The Rocky Mountain Empire -- temporarily.
Only the forerunner of the City of Zion that will someday emerge.
As the New Jerusalem.
Obscure and long forgotten now,
Its location has never altered from the Prophet's description
On the western border of the state of Missouri.
Independence,
The centerstake.
A quiet, misnamed hamlet whose history is
Persecution,
Hatred,
Murder,
And extermination sanctioned by a government sworn to defend
Independence and freedom to worship.
So now we wait in the mountains.
Babylon quietly assimilates a peculiar people,
Once strange,
Now loved and admired by the world.
No longer peculiar,
Accepted, while we luxuriate in our mountain Zion.
But the best teams of horses
And our finest wagons are not poised and eager for the call.
It is night.
All is well,
And we sleep.
Contented.
We have made certain the plans have changed.
We are righteous now.
The world attests to our popularity
Even the once-hated Missourians finally rescind the extermination decree.
Zion is now defined as the place you live,
While Jackson County waits,
Forgotten,
For the sound of the angel’s clarion trumpet that will
Cleanse,
Purify,
And sweep the inhabitants off as with the whirlwind,
Without so much as a little yellow dog left to tell the tale.
But now we prosper in our mountain retreat,
And slumber.

THE PEOPLE
Strangers and foreigners,
Seeking for a city whose maker and builder is God,
Their prayers ascending
As a witness against a world gone astray.
The meek among men,
Their calling and election assured,
But unheralded.
They know sacrifice,
Service,
The Spirit.
They fill their lamps with the oil of the gospel
Before the Bridegroom comes,
And watch patiently,
Never wavering in their faith of the coming dawn of a brighter day.
They lean on the arm of Spirit
While others sleep in the warm embrace of the arm of flesh.
They raise the ensign of faith through their consecration
Of time,
Of talents,
Of all with which they are and will be
Blessed.
They will welcome their cousins in Israel,
Long lost,
Fall upon their necks and kiss them,
And rejoice that they are found among the four corners of
Earth's expanse --
Refugees,
Outcasts,
But never "lost" again.
Together the people,
Peculiar again,
Are set unmoved at last on Zion's mount,
A beacon light to a dark and fallen world,
Groaning,
Weighed down in its iniquity.

THE CONDITION
The society of believers.
Everyone speaks
In the name of the Lord.
No one teaches his neighbor,
No need, since each inhabitant of the City of Zion knows Him.
The individual stewardship is magnified and enlightened
For the common welfare of all brothers and sisters.
Gone are the investment portfolios,
The retirement and pension plans,
The gods
Of stone,
Of glass,
Of metal,
Of chrome,
And wood.
Hearts are purged
Of lust and envy,
Of once-treasured financial strategies and
False worship.
The goal eternal life,
Spreading the truth as with a flood.
One heart,
One mind,
One faith,
One hope.
Independent of every creature beneath the celestial world.
Free from bondage in the "great society"
Consumed by the weight of its own avarice.
Granted its birthright in the fulfillment of destruction.
It is the great beginning.

THE TIME
Today. The sixth seal.
Here and now.
"Describing Zion will not bring it about," saith the Prophet.
Doing,
Loving,
Longing,
Serving,
Preparing.
Today, the eleventh hour of the sixth seal, and now the
Tomorrow our forefathers spoke of and prayed for
Yesterday.
Tomorrow is the seventh seal
Only a sunrise away,
And even now the fingers of
Light
Glimmer faintly on the horizon of our mountain Zion
Toward the east.
But still we sleep until
Vengeance
Begins upon our house
To awaken us.
Then Zion rises, clothed in her beautiful garment for the Bridegroom,
The bride,
The wedding,
And the feast.
The time for preparation?
Today.
The time of fulfillment?
Tomorrow.
Now and not yet,
But soon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Prophet Joseph Smith

I can't let this day pass without acknowledging the Prophet Joseph Smith's birthday.  On this day, December 23, 1805, Joseph Smith, Jr. was born.  I discovered this really great link commemorating his life.

As this two-year period draws to a close in which we as a Church have studied his teachings, I want to add my witness of his instrumental role in restoring the ancient priesthood keys once conveyed to prophets, then lost through ages of apostasy.

Curious about the confusion over religion in his small rural community of Palmyra in upper state New York, fourteen-year-old Joseph determined to pray and follow the admonition of James in the New Testament:  "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."  (James 1:5).

The story of the events thereafter have been told and retold perhaps millions of times since that early spring morning in a grove of trees not far from the family home.  He declared boldly and without reservation thereafter that he saw and spoke with the Father and the Son who appeared in a pillar of light that was brighter, he said, than the radiance of the noonday sun.

Joseph Smith, the Prophet, ushered in the dispensation of the fullness of times.  The organization of the Church of Christ was revealed year by year during his lifetime.  Priesthood keys were restored, never again to be taken from the earth.  With those priesthood keys, living authorized representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ have fanned out for generations since across the four corners of the earth to proclaim the good news.

Doctrines of truth had been lost through the ages since the garden of Eden.  Obscured or missing doctrines from the Bible were restored through the Prophet.  Included among them are these:

  • The true role and mission of Jesus Christ
  • The true role of Satan
  • The fall of Adam and Eve
  • The nature of man, his pre-mortal existence, mortality, spirit world and resurrection
  • The original gospel taught in the beginning to Adam and Eve
  • God's ways compared and contrasted with fallen man's
  • The use of true priesthood
My witness is simple on this 204th anniversary of his birth:  He was God's prophet.  The more I study his life, his teachings, his revelations, his translation of The Book of Mormon, indeed, the longer I live, the more convinced I become of his divine calling.  There is simply no other way to account for the sheer bulk and weight of what he left behind after suffering a martyr's death in Carthage on July 27, 1844.  Do not dismiss Joseph Smith lightly.  Study his life, study his writings, his teachings and read what his contemporaries had to say about him.  Compare all that with his critics.  Leave nothing out in your quest to understand this pivotal nineteenth century phenomenon, and you will come to view him as I have -- a true prophet of God.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Obamacare -- Change Nobody Believes In!

Another backroom deal (Senator Nelson's vote was bought and paid for, and it should cost him his political career if there are any right-thinking citizens left in Nebraska), another late night voting session, another sleight of hand congressional nightmare that has no foundation in truth, and presto -- instant universal health care served on a platter of mounting debt and exploding deficits as far as generations can see into the future.


It turns out I have unwittingly aligned myself with Robert Samuelson of The Washington Post, who wrote a blistering rebuke of Obama politics in today's edition.  Samuelson writes:

"Despite Obama's eloquence and command of the airwaves, public suspicions are rising.  In April, 57 percent of Americans approved of his 'handling of health care' and 29 percent disapproved, reports the Post-ABC News poll; in the latest survey, 44 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved.  About half worried that their care would deteriorate and that health costs would rise.

"These fears are well-grounded. The various health-care proposals represent atrocious legislation. To be sure, they would provide insurance to 30 million or more Americans by 2019. People would enjoy more security. But even these gains must be qualified. Some of the newly insured will get healthier, but how many and by how much is unclear. The uninsured now receive 50 to 70 percent as much care as the insured. The administration argues that today's system has massive waste. If so, greater participation in the waste by the newly insured may not make them much better off."

He continues:

"So Obama's plan amounts to this: partial coverage of the uninsured; modest improvements (possibly) in their health; sizable budgetary costs worsening a bleak outlook; significant, unpredictable changes in insurance markets; weak spending control. This is a bad bargain. Health benefits are overstated, long-term economic costs understated. The country would be the worse for this legislation's passage. What it's become is an exercise in political symbolism: Obama's self-indulgent crusade to seize the liberal holy grail of 'universal coverage.' What it's not is leadership."

The reason there is no evidence of leadership is that from the outset there was no attempt to reach across the aisle and craft a bipartisan bill.  This is nothing more or less than a one-party disaster.  I would be just as suspicious if the Republicans had all the votes and attempted something like this.  The political fallout next November must rebuke this kind of idiocy.  If the electorate fails to remember this midnight express in the waning days of 2009, then they deserve what they get in poor leadership.  Long forgotten in Washington is how statesmanship works, and that's what the country lacks now more than ever.

One writer and analyst who is as accurate as anyone out there, Michael Barone, also opined today -- "When Liberal Dreams Collide with Public Opinion."  I have said before that middle America was swayed to Obama, and has now retraced its steps since the election, a political verity underscored by Barone and other pollsters he cites:

"'What's really exceptional at this stage of Obama's presidency,' writes Andrew Kohut, the Pew Research Center's respected pollster, 'is the extent to which the public has moved in a conservative direction on a range of issues. These trends have emanated as much from the middle of the electorate as from the highly energized conservative right. Even more notable, however, is the extent to which liberals appear to be dozing as the country has shifted on both economic and social issues.'

"From which we can draw two conclusions. One is that economic distress does not move Americans to support more government. Rasmussen reports that 66 percent of Americans favor smaller government with fewer services and only 22 percent favor more services and higher taxes.

"The second is that Barack Obama's persuasive powers are surprisingly weak. His advocacy seems to have moved Americans in the opposite of the intended direction.

"Obama first came to national attention in 2004 by promising to heal partisan, ideological and racial divisions. Like the other two Democratic presidents elected in the last 40 years, he campaigned in the center and started off governing on the left. In Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill, we are seeing the results. Splat."

Then I discovered tonight that the lead editorial in the The Wall Street Journal today also aligns with my views on the pending passage of the bill.  Titled "Change Nobody Believes In," it summarizes perfectly my position on this debacle.  The editorial board thrashes the process in these scathing words:

"And tidings of comfort and joy from Harry Reid too.  The Senate Majority Leader has decided that the last few days before Christmas are the opportune moment for a narrow majority of Democrats to stuff ObamaCare through the Senate to meet an arbitrary White House deadline.  Barring some extraordinary reversal, it now seems as if they have the 60 votes they need to jump off this cliff, with one-seventh of the economy in tow.

"Mr. Obama promised a new era of transparent good government, yet on Saturday morning Mr. Reid threw out the 2,100-page bill that the world's greatest deliberative body spent just 17 days debating and replaced it with a new 'manager's amendment' that was stapled together in covert partisan negotiations. Democrats are barely even bothering to pretend to care what's in it, not that any Senator had the chance to digest it in the 38 hours before the first cloture vote at 1 a.m. this morning. After procedural motions that allow for no amendments, the final vote could come at 9 p.m. on December 24.

"Even in World War I there was a Christmas truce.

"The rushed, secretive way that a bill this destructive and unpopular is being forced on the country shows that 'reform' has devolved into the raw exercise of political power for the single purpose of permanently expanding the American entitlement state. An increasing roll of leaders in health care and business are looking on aghast at a bill that is so large and convoluted that no one can truly understand it, as Finance Chairman Max Baucus admitted on the floor last week. The only goal is to ram it into law while the political window is still open, and clean up the mess later."

The American people deserve better than this.  This is not the representative form of government we envisioned.  This is nothing more than a payoff for votes.  It is corruption at its worst. 

But the WSJ editorial doesn't end there -- it continues by excoriating the administration's faulty math assumptions:

"Even though Medicare's unfunded liabilities are already about 2.6 times larger than the entire U.S. economy in 2008, Democrats are crowing that ObamaCare will cost 'only' $871 billion over the next decade while fantastically reducing the deficit by $132 billion, according to CBO.

"Yet some 98% of the total cost comes after 2014 — remind us why there must absolutely be a vote this week — and most of the taxes start in 2010. That includes the payroll tax increase for individuals earning more than $200,000 that rose to 0.9 from 0.5 percentage points in Mr. Reid's final machinations. Job creation, here we come.

"Other deceptions include a new entitlement for long-term care that starts collecting premiums tomorrow but doesn't start paying benefits until late in the decade. But the worst is not accounting for a formula that automatically slashes Medicare payments to doctors by 21.5% next year and deeper after that. Everyone knows the payment cuts won't happen but they remain in the bill to make the cost look lower. The American Medical Association's priority was eliminating this "sustainable growth rate" but all they got in return for their year of ObamaCare cheerleading was a two-month patch snuck into the defense bill that passed over the weekend.

"The truth is that no one really knows how much ObamaCare will cost because its assumptions on paper are so unrealistic. To hide the cost increases created by other parts of the bill and transfer them onto the federal balance sheet, the Senate sets up government-run 'exchanges' that will subsidize insurance for those earning up to 400% of the poverty level, or $96,000 for a family of four in 2016. Supposedly they would only be offered to those whose employers don't provide insurance or work for small businesses."

The fraud and deception in this bill is staggering!  I am herewith resting my case on this sad, sad day in American freedom fighting.  Never has the despotic act of so few punished so many.  The only way this can be stopped peacefully is at the voting booth next November.  The incumbents of both parties must face the judgment of a wronged electorate.  The Democrats have defied the will of the majority of the American people and betrayed them.

The WSJ editorial concludes:  "These 60 Democrats are creating a future of epic increases in spending, taxes and command-and-control regulation, in which bureaucracy trumps innovation and transfer payments are more important than private investment and individual decisions. In short, the Obama Democrats have chosen change nobody believes in — outside of themselves — and when it passes America will be paying for it for decades to come."

The problem when you think you know more than anybody else, is that anybody else might just get educated.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Spirit of Christmas

Many may relate to (and recognize) the family in this presentation. . .

Merry Christmas!

The Mother of All Cramdowns


All I can say at this point is that I'm stunned.  Senator Harry Reid announced today that he has called for a vote on Obamacare in the Senate on Christmas Eve.  He wouldn't be scheduling the vote unless he knew for certain that he has the votes in his pocket. 

Despite his certainty of passage, there are increasing calls for scrapping the bill.  First the majority party passed a House version on a Saturday night, then they called for a cloture vote to allow the bill to proceed in the Senate on a Saturday night, and now this. 

Failing the necessary 60-vote filibuster-proof margin in the Senate vote on Christmas Eve, one wonders if the party leaders will proceed to reconciliation where only a simple 51-vote majority is needed to pass the bill.  The prospects for passage continue to loom.  I've said all along that with the votes in hand it is likely there will be a bill passed.  Unless there is at least one holdout among the Dems, swift passage is assured.

I can't help but wonder aloud who's doing the political calculations in this debacle.  If the cramdown continues unabated and the bill passes into law and is signed by the President, it is unlikely they will be rewarded by the American people who are routinely polled and in growing numbers are registering their disdain for the idea.

Santa Claus seems determined to give this "gift" -- the only question is whether there is room enough to receive it. . .  oh, I forgot -- our children and grandchildren will receive. . . the bill.  No worries.