Tag Archives: Zion

Enoch/Noah and Melchizedek/Abraham


Today’s study in the perpetual quest to understand priesthood, Abrahamic Covenant, and so forth, focused on the phrase “Prince of Peace.”

It only comes up a few times in scripture, and to me, seems to indicate someone who has created or can create peace in a city. Enoch created peace and so created a Zion. Melchizedek created peace and also had a Zion-like city.

The JST of Gen 14:33, 36 talks about Melchizedek being called a Prince of Peace because of the work he did, and so does Alma 13:18.

Several places in scripture also talk about Enoch and those called after his order being given powers over the mountains, rivers, etc. — and Enoch used these powers to defend his Zion city. They didn’t fight; the earth just diverted the opposing army and they didn’t need to fight!

Today, also, I was comparing Enoch’s effect on Noah to Melchizedek’s effect on Abraham. I have noted that Noah’s time was so wicked in part because Enoch had spent over 300 years gathering the righteous into Zion, and by Noah’s time the city had been removed from the earth. So Noah was working with those who were left/descendants of those who were left.

But, Noah needed to stay on the earth, because someone needed to preserve the work of preaching the gospel through the generations. The families of the earth, the generations of the earth, needed someone around! And there was a promise to Enoch that his seed would be the chosen seed, which means that his seed would always been found on the earth until the end of the world.

So, Noah was needed on earth and not in Zion.

If we compare this situation to Abraham, I think we’ll find it similar in many ways. We read in the Bible and in revealed LDS scripture that Abraham and Melchizedek were alive at the same time. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. But we also read that Melchizedek created a Zion-like city. (Alma 13:18 and JST of Genesis 14 are good places to read.) If Abraham was yearning after a new place to live (see Abraham 1), and if he was a righteous man that God approved of, why didn’t Abraham join Melchizedek’s city?

But again, let’s compare this to Noah and Enoch. We don’t read that Melchizedek’s city was taken to heaven, but whether it was or not they were a city separated out from the other nations. Perhaps Abraham’s role was similar to Noah’s — we  need someone to wander about and teach the gospel; we need someone to preserve the gospel for future generations; we need someone to continue to be the chosen seed and bear children of that chosen seed.

So perhaps like Noah, Abraham was needed on earth and not in Zion.

This could be why God says to Abraham: “As it was with Noah, so shall it be with thee” (Ab. 1:18).

In some ways, that also sounds like Adam and Eve. They could have stayed in Eden, but they wouldn’t have born children and had a chance to learn of and preach the gospel. (There are complications there.) But anyway, their work outside Eden is similar to Noah and Abraham. Proclaim the gospel, preserve the gospel to their children, and watch over a chosen seed.

 


Timeline in 3 Nephi 21


Christ says he’s going to give a sign, that the people may know the time when the things Isaiah says about the gathering are about to take place.

The gathering is also referred to as “the covenant,” because God covenanted to always remember Israel. Gathering them out of the nations after they have been scattered and married into other nations for hundreds (even thousands) of years is a miraculous achievement and proof that God still remembers scattered Israel long after everyone on earth (even Israel itself) has forgotten who they are.

  • v.2-6: The sign happens when the things that Christ is telling the Nephites/Lamanites now (and will continue to tell them by the Holy Ghost) are made known to the Gentiles,
    • And this means the Gentiles are aware of the Nephite/Lamanite descendants as a remnant of Israel
    • And not only that, when these things that are being told now, and will be, and will be written, are then given to them, that is, their descendants
    • Because, well, it is wisdom that Gentiles will be here in this land, so that they can give them to their descendants,
      • And that is because then the Gentiles might see God’s power, and when they see it, they might repent and become numbered as if they were Israel too
  • v.7: This is the sign he gives the Nephites/Lamanites: when these very things that they are hearing and writing down are beginning to be known by their own descendants — that is the sign that things in Isaiah about gathering are already beginning to be fulfilled.
  • v.22-24 If the Gentiles repent, God will establish a Church among them, and the Gentiles will be able to “come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this remnant”
    • Then they will help gather the remnant — and any other members of Israel — in order to build a city — a New Jerusalem.
    • Then, after that, they will help gather Israel into the city.
    • And after that, the power of heaven will be in the city — and then even God will come and dwell in the New Jerusalem
  • v.26-28 And also,* the Father will do an even bigger work: He will begin to gather in “all the dispersed” of Israel, even the tribes which are lost
    • The Father will begin to prepare the way that they will not only be gathered, but will come to Christ so that they can pray to the Father
    •  The Father will begin to work among all nations, so that the way is prepared for him to gather home all Israel to the land of their inheritance

 

*It is unclear to me when the things in v.26-28 are happening in this timeline. (1) The words “and then” could be that these things happen after the city is built and Israel is gathered and Christ has come to be with them. One thing is accomplished, and then the next marvelous work begins. (2) The words “even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people” could mean that we are showing another marvelous work that will begin at the same time as the events in v.22-24. That is, the events in v.26-28 could be happening in parallel with the events in v.22-24. I don’t think that I have a preferred reading as of yet.


Zion, a place without war


War is one of the most horrible things I can imagine. I am amazed that so many people have to deal with war and all of its effects. What hatred! What violence! What fear! What greed, to kill to have control — or what fear, to have to kill to maintain control — or whatever. I am immensely glad that so many families have fled even thought it is so disorienting and sad for them. I am glad to know they have gotten out. I guess it’s because I hope that if I were them, I could get out too.

But when I think of so much war I often think of D&C 45’s description of Zion. It is not just a place full of good people, it’s a place where there is no war. And the people there — somehow — are feared so that no one comes to war against it. I know that in the Book of Mormon and Bible there are times when God asks His people to defend themselves. But I long for and love the idea of a city where war isn’t necessary.

Here are the words from D&C 45:

63 Ye hear of wars in foreign lands; but, behold, I say unto you, they are nigh, even at your doors, and not many years hence ye shall hear of wars in your own lands.

64 Wherefore I, the Lord, have said, gather ye out from the eastern lands, assemble ye yourselves together ye elders of my church; go ye forth into the western countries, call upon the inhabitants to repent, and inasmuch as they do repent, build up churches unto me.

65 And with one heart and with one mind, gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you.

66 And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land ofpeace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God;

67 And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.

68 And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.

69 And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.

70 And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion areterrible; wherefore we cannot stand.

71 And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy.

Enoch’s Zion city was not only a place of the pure in heart, it was also a similarly war-less city:

10 And the Lord said unto me: Go to this people, and say unto them—Repent, lest I come out and smite them with a curse, and they die.

11 And he gave unto me a commandment that I should baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, which is full of grace and truth, and of the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and the Son.

12 And it came to pass that Enoch continued to call upon all the people, save it were the people of Canaan, to repent;

13 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.

14 There also came up a land out of the depth 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 depth of the sea.

15 And the giants of the land, also, stood afar off; and there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God;

16 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.

17 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.

18 And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.

19 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.

In the “last days” we know the world will see lots of war and physical natural disasters. In the Book of Mormon’s time right before Christ came to see them, that was the case too, but there was no city of refugee. No Zion. (Zion came later — after destruction.) But in Enoch’s time, and as D&C 45 projects the “last days,” the major destruction will occur around and outside of a city of safety and peace. There will come a day when anyone who doesn’t care to fight for their stuff and their rights will have to flee to Zion. There will come a day when the rest of the world will persist in war but Zion will be immune. In Enoch’s day, his city was on the earth for a few hundred years and then taken into heaven. At that point he had gathered out all the righteous in his land, so everyone who was left, except one family, was wicked. Noah was the descendant of Enoch, and his parents and grandparents were not taken up to heaven in Enoch’s city. By the time Noah is building a boat and preaching, there is no one righteous left. Thus, God had command Noah to build a boat, and flood the rest of the land and start over. When we hear about the earth being cleansed by fire at the end of the world, I think the process must be similar. There will be a long, final gathering into a Zion, the rest of the world will fight and fight and fight, and when it is clear that we have gathered all who want to be gathered, then God could allow the earth to be “renewed and receive its paradisaical glory.” And even those not in the city, even those destroyed, even those who chose not to join Zion, even those would only be across the veil, in the world of spirits, being taught to repent and enter into God’s rest there. What an interesting work this is…


D&C 113


I had totally forgotten that D&C 113 existed! I found it again today and wondered what I’d find now, after all the years Joe and I have worked on the Abrahamic Covenant and all the ways Nephi has helped us see that covenant in Isaiah. Would it be in D&C 113 too? Or were they focused on other aspects of Isaiah so it didn’t come up?

Well! I learned a lot today! Here are some of those thoughts:

4 Behold, thus saith the Lord: It is a servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power

This might not sound like much, but look at that description: both a descendant of Jesse (that is, of David’s family, right? Which means, of Judah) and of Ephraim (or Joseph, it says). That means that the split (and rivalry) between Judah and Joseph is overcome in one person at some point! If I understand Genesis 49 right, Jacob splits the covenant into two parts when he blesses his sons. Where as Abraham had once chosen son (Isaac) and Isaac had one chosen son (Jacob), Jacob blesses two with greater blessings than the rest: Judah will reign, and Joseph will be prosperous and multiply exceedingly. Of the two, I think Joseph’s is closer to the Abrahamic covenant, so I’d tended to assume that basically Joseph was the chosen son as far as priesthood, chosen seed, and so on went. But reading this description from D&C 113 made me realize that perhaps it really was split in some way, and in some future person those two houses of Jacob will be reunited! And on this person “there is laid much power.” It doesn’t say it was Joseph Smith, so I think we’re talking about someone else, likely in the future, and likely someone who will gather Zion? (Because so much else in D&C 113 talks about Zion? And because someone who gathers might be a king (Judah) and have priesthood rights (Joseph)? Or can I really assign to Joseph those rights of the Melchizedek priesthood? That’s messy business I guess. Anyway, on to other verses:

5 What is the root of Jesse spoken of in the 10th verse of the 11th chapter? Behold, thus saith the Lord, it is a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign, and for the gathering of my people in the last days.

Whoa! And here we go again with priesthood. This descendant has a birthright, and to him, “rightly belongs the priesthood.” So, apparently, for the rest of us, we’re using it by authorization for now, by adoption? By virtue of the statement in Abraham 2 that all who embrace the gospel are “counted” as Abraham’s seed, and so by that promise can hold the priesthood? So many questions! But look at elsewhere in the D&C that talk about legal rights, or rightly belongs. There’s D&C 68 and D&C 107 that talk about literal descendants of Aaron holding the priesthood and right to being a Bishop, but there’s talk of Melchizedek priesthood too. See this from D&C 107:

40 The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made. 41 This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner:

So while here we have a revelation talking to a group of Latter-day Saints on how to organize themselves as Melchizedek priesthood members, this same revelation is telling them that they don’t actually have a “right” to the priesthood. They are being called within it, and being told how to use it and to organize within it, but they aren’t actually the people for whom it was intended. Those people are hidden for now but they do exist. I have wondered where else to learn about that and I didn’t realize that D&C 113 was a place to go! So here’s that part again:

D&C 113:6 descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom

So here we go! Someday there will be that person who has a right to the priesthood! And that person will be a combination of Jesse (Judah) and Ephraim (Joseph)! How incredible! How many times those two are used to represent two parts of Israel! Two nations! (Northern and Southern Kingdoms.) Two books of scripture! (The Bible and the Book of Mormon!) How amazing that the person to whom the priesthood belongs is a unification of those two parts! Perhaps that is symbolic of the moment at which Israel can really be gathered again into one! And when Zion can really be built! How amazing, and I had no idea! 🙂

The next part I want to share is a little complicated as far as who the verses are talking about, but there’s more about lineage and priesthood so I want to share it!

8 to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost.

Now Zion is personified, but that’s still awesome! Zion has a right to priesthood by lineage? I don’t know but that’s cool. And also “return” to that power “which she had lost.” Part of the restoration or gathering of Israel is to gather them together so that the group itself, not just one person can have the priesthood power they have lost – that they once had, as a group, but in a scattered state they have lost. I wonder if that is a fair reading of this?

The last verse is similar: “The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles.” And “the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen; which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation.”

 


Abraham wanting to be a Prince of Peace


After reading the JST for Genesis 14, I am left with some questions about how Abraham relates to Melchizedek.

Was Melchizedek an example for him? Did Abraham go to him in order to receive his priesthood? Abraham says, “I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same,” and finally that “I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers” (Abr. 1:2). Could that be referring to this particular visit with Melchizedek? The last verse of the JST for Genesis 14 says that:

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.

It doesn’t mention the priesthood or appointments or promises concerning seed, etc., but, it does mention a covenant, and also a blessing given by Melchizedek. Who knows, but it could be that he received his appointment to the priesthood from Melchizedek (since Abraham says he received it from the fathers — he had to receive it from someone, and I don’t know of any reference of him going to see any other priesthood holder). Anyway, fun speculation, as always.

Also, Abraham seeks to be a “Prince of Peace” in Abraham 1:2, which is what Melchizedek was just called. Did Abraham want to do what Melchizedek was doing? Was he hoping Melchizedek could ordain him to be the same? Did he? But, if I understand right, Melchizedek was translated to heaven, but Abraham wanders on the earth. Was he appointed to stay on earth, like Noah was after Enoch’s city left? (see Moses 7:42). Abraham is even compared to Noah in Abraham 1:19, though I’m not sure exactly what the connection is (“As it was with Noah so shall it be with thee.”) Was Abraham seeking to be someone who built up a city, but instead, was given the promise that he would be a father, rather than a prince or king? I think there might be some interesting things to think about there.

Abraham will have lands for an “everlasting possession,” but his promised city is set in the future: “a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice” (Abr 2:6). The land that could be made into a celestial city isn’t given to Abraham in his lifetime: there is no possibility of building up a city for Abraham. It is something his future seed will need to do. But in addition, his seed is charged with teaching the whole world in such a way that anyone and everyone can be a part of Abraham’s seed (Abr. 2:9-11)! Abraham sought to be a “Prince of Peace,” but perhaps he got instead the promise of being a father over, really, the rest of the world’s posterity. Interesting trade!

But going back to the JST again, at the least it seems to be that Abraham gets his blessings, whatever they amount to, in return for his tithing. It says, “Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had … more than that which he had need.” Melchizedek is “the keeper of the storehouse,” and the one “God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.” And in return, Melchizedek, “being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God,” “lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram” with riches, honor, lands. It sounds more like consecration of Joseph Smith’s time: consecrate what you have, and you will be given a stewardship back!

I don’t know if I’ve got any right answers, but I do think there are definitely details in there that deserve some more thinking!


Handout on Zion for Beehives today (YW Youth Curriculum December 2013)


I loved teaching Beehives today! I love talking about foundational concepts with them and seeing them really grasp a simple but powerful sense of those concepts. Today we learned about Zion. We talked about Zion of old, Zion to come, what we can do in our families, or what to do when you find yourself surrounded by people not being good (do you escape? teach? hide out?). Lots of good conversation. Anyway, I thought I’d copy the handout we used here, for my own future reference if nothing else:

————–

Zion: Moses 7:16-18 (the story of Enoch’s city, in the Pearl of Great Price)

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object.”…In our families and in our stakes and districts, let us seek to build up Zion through unity, godliness, and charity, preparing for that great day when Zion, the New Jerusalem, will arise. – D. Todd Christofferson, Oct 2008 conference

To come to Zion, it is not enough for you or me to be somewhat less wicked than others. We are to become not only good but holy men and women. – D. Todd Christofferson, Oct 2008 conference

We can make Zion, or we can make Babylon, just as we please. We can make just what we please of this place. The people can make Zion: they can make a heaven within themselves. When people gather here, they should come with a determination to make Zion within themselves, with the resolution that “I will carry myself full of the Spirit of Zion wherever I go; … for I mean that my spirit shall have control over evil:” and do you not see that such a course will make Zion? – Brigham Young

We will become of one heart and one mind as we individually place the Savior at the center of our lives and follow those He has commissioned to lead us. – D. Todd Christofferson, Oct 2008 conference

Admit that the Spirit of the Lord should give us understanding, what would it prove to us? It would prove to me, at least, and what I may safely say to this congregation, that Zion is here. Whenever we are disposed to give ourselves perfectly to righteousness, to yield all the powers and faculties of the soul (which is the spirit and the body, and it is there where righteousness dwells); when we are swallowed up in the will of Him who has called us; when we enjoy the peace and the smiles of our Father in Heaven, the things of His Spirit, and all the blessings we are capacitated to receive and improve upon, then are we in Zion, that is Zion. – Brigham Young


Isaiah Nephi & Zion


Super quick post on 2 Nephi

I just realized that the last chapter that Nephi quotes of Isaiah ends with the city of Zion! And then he’ll go on to talk about Zion. I hadn’t noticed that before yesterday.  I am getting the overall point of the Isaiah chapters, and the message that God will always protect the righteous, and even when they are wicked and someone destroys them, it was only because God let them (he’s still in charge), and even when there is destruction, there is always a remnant. I get those overall themes. I hadn’t noticed that all of those messages end (in Nephi’s quotation) with the city of Zion. I need to review that and see how it’s a culmination of sorts to have Zion there, and then how it plays into his discourse right after these chapters. Fun!