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A COMPLETE COMPILATION OF
THE SCRIPTURES CONCERNING
THE SUBJECT OF ZION
Compiled with introductory
notes and commentary by
David B. Goates
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 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.
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.
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.
A quiet, misnamed hamlet whose history is
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,
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.
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,
For the sound of the angel’s clarion trumpet that will
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,
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,
They know sacrifice,
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 all with which they are and will be
They will welcome their cousins in Israel,
Fall upon their necks and kiss them,
And rejoice that they are found among the four corners of
Earth's expanse --
But never "lost" again.
Together the people,
Are set unmoved at last on Zion's mount,
A beacon light to a dark and fallen world,
Weighed down in its iniquity.
The society of believers.
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,
Hearts are purged
Of lust and envy,
Of once-treasured financial strategies and
The goal eternal life,
Spreading the truth as with a flood.
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.
Today. The sixth seal.
Here and now.
"Describing Zion will not bring it about," saith the Prophet.
Today, the eleventh hour of the sixth seal, and now the
Tomorrow our forefathers spoke of and prayed for
Tomorrow is the seventh seal
Only a sunrise away,
And even now the fingers of
Glimmer faintly on the horizon of our mountain Zion
Toward the east.
But still we sleep until
Begins upon our house
To awaken us.
Then Zion rises, clothed in her beautiful garment for the Bridegroom,
And the feast.
The time for preparation?
The time of fulfillment?
Now and not yet,