Tag Archives: Zion

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!

The Nephite Zion

This morning I was asking myself the question: Why didn’t the Nephites’ city get taken up to heaven like Enoch’s or Melchizedek’s?

I reread 4th Nephi and I don’t have a specific answer for that yet. I do have some thoughts. I have lots of questions, like why “no contentions” is the constant theme. Also, in one verse Mormon says there were no contentions in all the land “but” there were mighty miracles among the disciples. Why?

As I kept reading it, I remembered that Enoch’s city was on earth for 365 years. The Nephites couldn’t last that long. Maybe it’s a sort of test, to see how long a group can both live in such a state, and teach well enough for the next generation to keep it going? I know there were prophecies of the destruction of the Nephites, but that could have been accomplished by taking most of the city up to heaven, leaving the wicked and a few righteous to carry on the covenants, like God did with Enoch’s city & Noah.

I was fascinated to see how the end of 4th Nephi runs right into the beginning of the next book, Mormon’s, and how Mormon’s story fits into the story of the failed Zion civilization. He writes of how the people willfully rebel, how the whole face of the land becomes caught up in riches and Gadianton robbers, etc., and then the disciples leave and Ammaron hides the record and tells Mormon about them. Mormon is the next chapter in the story! I had previously felt like there was a break in time between the end of 4th Nephi and Mormon. But there’s not; the awful battles that Mormon and Moroni are experiencing are a direct result of the failed Zion civilization. They are living out not just the destruction of the people generally, but the destruction of a people who had just had Zion, and decided not to keep it. Yikes! The destruction of Zion. How sad! What a sad time to live in!

Notice that Mormon wants to go preach and fix it, but he is forbidden. So sad!

(All for now. Poor Mormon!)

Am I afraid of the Second Coming? Not really, because Zion’s coming too.

The YW I taught on Sunday expressed fear that the Second Coming was going to happen soon, so maybe they wouldn’t get to go to college or ever have a family. I was so surprised! I remember an article in the New Era or a talk somewhere when I was a youth that addressed those exact concerns (I’m still trying to find it for them), but I don’t remember ever having those concerns myself. I’m not sure why, but I just haven’t!

I was able to help calm their concerns quite a bit (yay for the Spirit!). We talked about Zion, among other things. I also told them that the concerns they expressed have been felt by every generation! That people when I was a youth were saying the same things, and people before me, and that you can read talks from the 1870’s etc where people are telling the youth, “The Second Coming is probably going to happen while you are alive, so get ready.” They were a bit surprised by that. Again what really helped was talking about Zion. About Enoch, and how what was left were the wicked, and so no wonder it was so bad on earth when Noah was around and things had to be destroyed. Yes, the world will end, but not until there is a Zion built and all the righteous who want to be safe can be there. That’s a promise!! (We read D&C 45.) I believe that so strongly. There will be a Zion. As much as any sign or destruction has been prophesied, so has a city of Zion been prophesied. They go hand-in-hand. And I, for one, am thrilled to see what Zion is like! To be among good, to feel the Spirit almost constantly? I’m okay with that. 🙂 One of my YW really seemed to be excited and comforted by that promise too.

I was thinking this morning (as I still search for that talk or something similar) that the “signs” of destruction, war, disease, earthquakes — haven’t these always been going on? In Isaiah’s time there were plenty of wars, in Christ’s time we read of diseases and wars, our country has had several major wars and plenty of diseases. In fact, we have so many less diseases now because of immunizations (this was pointed out in a talk by Elder Packer about not fearing the future). So it made me wonder: aren’t these things that we usually point out to say that Christ is coming soon the same fears and troubles everyone has had the world over throughout history? I live in peaceful ol’ New Mexico right now, but what of the many, many families living through war and famine, right now? Just because it seems for a moment that my life will be a little harder, does that mean I should suddenly assume that the Second Coming is coming very soon and I should be afraid of all the bad that is going to happen?

I guess what I am seeing is that the world is always full of all of those sorts of things listed. But maybe that is on purpose, so that we always assume it is time to get ready? Or, as I would rather put it, it is always time to build Zion? Sometimes I wonder if all of those negative signs are put there so that we don’t assume that the world will get perfect first, and then we build Zion. If the right time to build Zion is during times of trouble, and there’s always trouble, then it’s always time to build Zion! There’s never any reason for delay! Perhaps?

I love, love, love the stories of Zion. Enoch and Melchizedek taught people (sometimes very wicked people) and created a city of peace! They really did it! They taught and taught and taught! Moses sought to do it too (diligently!) but his people didn’t want it. Could the Israelites have had another Zion taken up to heaven? That would be amazing. There are abundant – abundant! – promises that there will be  Zion in the last day. Enoch’s city wants to come back, and wants to meet up with a city here. They’re waiting for us!

Sometimes I think it’s not that we are waiting for the Second Coming, but that the Second Coming is waiting for us. Waiting for us Saints to preach the gospel to the world, and live in such a way that Zion is being built. I don’t know (or care) if there will be only one Zion city in Jackson County. I know there will be one there some day. But will there be more? Could there be more? How amazing would it be if every country or region had a Zion city?? That would be so wonderful! Couldn’t it be so, if we were righteous and wanted it? Perhaps. Perhaps not? But at least I know there will be one, and I want to help prepare for it!

So I don’t know what else to say, except there have always been wars and troubles, and always will be. What will be different most of all is that there will be a Zion city again. I will always be scared of war or disease if it is close to my family, but I always know that we can have revelation and help for whatever affects our family. I will always be sad to hear about war and disease everywhere, but I can pray for individuals to have help and faith. Those things hold whether or not we are close or far from the signs mentioned in the scriptures. Why look for them, like a fig tree’s changing leaves? I’m not really sure exactly. I just know that whenever I’m around, I want to help build Zion. Maybe that means I’m not looking at the fig trees, and so I won’t be prepared, or maybe it just means I’m already building a place of safety for whenever winter comes. Is that the right way to think about it? I’m not entirely sure. I probably have a lot to learn still, But for now at least, this way of seeing the Second Coming makes sense and brings joy and comfort to me.

I’ll end with a few thoughts on Zion from others:

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

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

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.” D&C 45: 66-71

“We are in the last dispensation and fulness of time. It is a great day, and the eyes of all the heavens are over us, and the eyes of God himself and all the patriarchs and prophets. They are watching over you with feelings of deep interest, for your welfare; and our prophets who were slain, and sealed their testimony with their blood, are mingling with the Gods, pleading for their brethren. Therefore, let us be faithful, and leave events in the hands of God, and he will take care of us if we do our duty.” Wilford Woodruff 

“We look forward to the day when the Lord will prepare for the building of the New Jerusalem, preparatory to the City of Enoch’s going to be joined with it when it is built upon this earth. We are anticipating to enjoy that day, whether we sleep in death previous to that, or not. We look forward, with all the anticipation and confidence that children can possess in a parent, that we shall be there when Jesus comes; and if we are not there, we will come with him: in either case we shall be there when he comes.” Brigham Young
“My spiritual enjoyment must be obtained by my own life, but it would add much to the comfort of the community, and to my happiness, as one with them, if every man and woman would live their religion, and enjoy the light and glory of the Gospel for themselves, be passive, humble and faithful; rejoice continually before the Lord, attend to the business they are called to do, and be sure never to do anything wrong…All would then be peace, joy, and tranquility, in our streets and in our houses. Litigation would cease, there would be no difficulties before the High Council and Bishops’ Courts, and courts, turmoil, and strife would not be known…Then we would have Zion, for all would be pure in heart.”Brigham Young
“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

“Zion, Zion, lovely Zion;

Beautiful Zion;

Zion, city of our God!” Hymn 44

I love Brigham :)

Who can give them words of eternal life? It is not in the power of man to do it; but when the Lord gives His Spirit to a person, or to a people, they can then hear, believe, and be instructed. An Elder of Israel may preach the principles of the Gospel, from first to last, as they were taught to him, to a congregation ignorant of them; but if he does not do it under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, he cannot enlighten that congregation on those principles, it is impossible. Job said that, “There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” Unless we enjoy that understanding in this probation, we cannot grow or increase, we cannot be made acquainted with the principles of truth and righteousness so as to become exalted. 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.

(italics original. from Journal of Discourses, vol 1, page 3a? see this link)