One topic that recurred over and over in the October 2020 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was that of Zion. Talk after talk discussed Zion, referenced it, and encouraged us in building it in our lives.
In the months since Conference, it’s only become more clear that we are coming closer to the coming of Christ each day. His coming is not centuries away. We don’t know exactly when it is, but as signs continue to appear while unrest and contention increase every day, we can know that His coming is near.
With this in mind, the topic of Zion is actually a timely one. Its emphasis is a call to prepare – prepare now – for the future that is coming. And to do that, we need to understand and work toward establishing Zion in our own lives.
Our Current Perspective of Zion
Zion has had various connotations throughout history. It was first used to describe the city of Enoch and the people who lived there. Those people, with long effort, achieved a society of true peace and unity and righteousness. Their righteousness qualified them to dwell with God, and He took them off the earth and they were translated. These people will someday rejoin with another city of Zion on the earth (Moses 7:63).
Later, Zion referred to the city of Jerusalem. “Jerusalem” means “city of peace.” It’s a fitting name for a place also called Zion, but unfortunately, the name is more ironic than true these days. Jerusalem has been the scene of destruction several times in its long history, and it still is a place with unrest.
Today, we usually look at Zion differently. While we do believe that another city of Zion will be built up (more on that in a minute), the time to build that city has not come. We now take the perspective that Zion is built everywhere there are people who are “pure in heart” or those who follow Christ.
Zion in the Future
The perspective we now have of Zion is essential to our building it in the future. As mentioned, Zion will again refer to a literal city, which modern revelation tells us will be in Jackson County, Missouri. This city will also be called New Jerusalem.
This event is described in Moses:
62 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 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.Moses 7:62
This is the Zion that Enoch’s people will join with. These people, who have been translated and who dwell with God, will return to earth and be welcomed into the new Zion.
The future Zion will be built before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. So if His coming is near, then the call to build the literal city of Zion is coming as well. With the recent emphasis of Zion in General Conference, I feel that our leaders are now preparing us to receive that direction to build the city of Zion.
What We Need to Do to Build Zion Now
One of the best things we can do right away, in the next few days even, is to review the talks from October’s Conference that emphasized building Zion. Those talks hold valuable direction and guidance for us in building Zion right now. Some of this direction includes:
- Removing prejudice and contention from our communities
- Seeking unity and love even when we don’t agree
- Following the commandments of God
To be clear, I’m not saying that we need to start moving to Missouri and literally building the city of Zion – not yet. That direction has not come. But that’s where our current perspective of Zion is helpful. We’ve been directed for a few decades now to build Zion where we are. If you live in the Philippines, build Zion in the Philippines. If you live in Italy, build it in Italy. We aren’t building literal cities of Zion yet, but we can build Zion communities and individuals.
To do this isn’t easy. It requires effort, but the Lord wants to help us establish Zion in our lives, families, and communities. Zion living is one of the strongest defenses we have against Satan because we are choosing to live like our Savior. And living like Christ opens us to Christ’s power.
Zion can also only be built with the power and authority of the priesthood. By strengthening those who have made priesthood covenants along with those who are ordained with the authority to use the priesthood, we will have more and more people ready to use the power of God to build His city in the future.
But I think these verses from Doctrine and Covenants are particularly useful in understanding what it takes to fully build Zion:
5 And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.
31 But first let my army become very great, and let it be sanctified before me, that it may become fair as the sun, and clear as the moon, and that her banners may be terrible unto all nations;
32 That the kingdoms of this world may be constrained to acknowledge that the kingdom of Zion is in very deed the kingdom of our God and his Christ; therefore, let us become subject unto her laws.Doctrine and Covenants 105: 5, 31-32
To truly build Zion, we need to live by the laws of the celestial kingdom. Now, that can be an intimidating thought. But remember, none of us are perfect and God knows that about us. He doesn’t expect perfection right now. But He does expect that we will work to and fully desire to live by His laws and follow Him. We will be strengthened by Him as we do work to be obedient to Him. He will magnify our efforts to build Zion where we are so that we do qualify to build the city of Zion in the near future.
Elder Cook told us in October:
The clarion call to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to strive to be a Zion people who are of one heart and one mind and dwell in righteousness.Elder Quentin L. Cook, “Hearts Knit in Unity and Righteousness,” October 2020
Building Zion in our individual lives, in our families, and in our communities is one of the most important things we can be doing right now. And as we work to do so, we will become prepared to build the city of Zion in the coming future.