In the Tops of the Mountains

IndependenceTempleSignAs I was preparing my talk for sacrament meeting next week I thought I would look up and see what Denver Snuffer had to say on the subject. Oh boy. There’s no way I could share some of that stuff from the pulpit. It simply goes against what prophets and apostles have taught over the years on the same subject. Yet, as I read it, the majority of it made sense. See if you agree.

The subject is Becoming the Pure in Heart. Of course, that has to do with preparing for Zion. I suppose it doesn’t really matter where Zion is to be located. That’s not the essential point of the talk. But it is a matter of history that we believe Zion is to be located in Independence, Missouri. In fact, we have it in the scriptures. In the heading to section 57, we read that Joseph asked:

Independence Missouri is Zion

“When will the wilderness blossom as the rose? When will Zion be built up in her glory, and where will Thy temple stand, unto which all nations shall come in the last days?” The Lord’s response in verses 1-3 was “…the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.

“Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion. And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.”

Zion Shall Not Be Moved

After the saints were expelled from Jackson county, the Lord revealed in section 101:17-19: “Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered. They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion — And all these things that the prophets might be fulfilled.”

And yet from Denver (23 Feb 2012) we read: “I do not think Zion will initially be where people think it will. I do not think Zion will be at all what people think it will be. … I do not think Zion will be an institutional enterprise. …there is reason to suspect that our presumption that the New Jerusalem will be in Independence Missouri is somewhat misplaced.

A Preliminary Gathering Place

“I am persuaded it will not be there until after the Lord’s return. There will be a location elsewhere, in the Rocky Mountains, where the preliminary gathering to a Holy City to be built will occur before the Lord’s return. Then, following His return, activities will also involve Jackson County. … The initial gathering before the Lord’s return will be in the Rocky Mountains.”

And from an entry dated 12 Sep 2010, we read: “…when it [Zion] is built, it will be at the place always prophesied for its construction. Zion was to be located on the top of the high mountains.  (Isa. 40: 9.) Jackson County has no mountains, no mountain range, no possibility of fulfilling the promised environs for establishing Zion. (Isa. 2: 3.)

Fulfillment of Ancient Scripture

“Make the descriptions ‘spiritual’ if you want, but a mountain setting is clearly required for the prophesied Zion. … Zion was always intended to be built upon the mountain top. (Isa. 30: 17.) Even a valley location in Salt Lake cannot answer to the description given in prophecy. A valley floor is not the “top of the mountain” upon which the beacon will be set. Zion has never been moved. Nor will it.”

Continuing a little in that entry: “There is no doubt a glorious future for Jackson County. But that will be by and by. There is a gathering in the tops of the mountains which must precede that. If there is not a gathering in the mountains first, then ancient and modern prophecy will fail. There is to be a gathering within the boundaries of the everlasting hills. (D&C 133: 31-32.) Zion will flourish upon the mountains. (D&C 49:25.) There aren’t any places in Missouri that qualify for this preliminary gathering.”

What do you Think?

I think Denver is right. The initial gathering of Zion will be somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Which makes me wonder about the visions of Spencer in Visions of Glory who wrote very specifically about being involved in the building of the temples in Independence and his activities there as a “base of operations” so to speak. Will there be a temple in the tops of the mountains or is that reserved for Missouri? What are your thoughts?

By the way, here are the talks I was given as resources, and from which I will quote from the pulpit (only):

Come to Zion! Come to Zion!” (Keith B. McMullin, Ensign, November 2002)
Come to Zion” (D. Todd Christofferson, Ensign, November 2008)
Becoming the Pure in Heart” (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, May 1978)
Stand Ye in Holy Places” (Lance B. Wickman, Ensign, November 1994)

13 thoughts on “In the Tops of the Mountains”

  1. Who’s to say that Jackson County, Missouri, may not someday be in the midst of mountains. Certain near-death experiencers have reported that our nation will literally be divided in two by a new body of water, and that western Missouri will be on the shore of that new body of water. If this can occur, why can’t we believe that mountains may also form in that area?

    1. OrkneyOctopus

      I’ve long been told that it’s foolish to spend time trying to map Book of Mormon geography to modern maps, because of the changes in the nature of the land from the earthquakes at the time of the Savior’s death. I wouldn’t write off similar possibilities for Jackson County becoming mountainous.

    2. Amen. It is a simple and easily understood fact that when the land is cleansed, and the wicked are destroyed, that the whole face of the land will be changed, just as at the time of the crucifixion. I’m stunned, frankly, that the author (authors) of the various articles could have missed that point. Zion will be built (the center stake of Zion – i.e., Jackson County, Missouri) BEFORE the second coming.
      Tom Ballantyne – Author

  2. Tim, I was going to express the same opinion as pamela. But also have felt that zion in missouri may occur after the millenium starts. Either way, felt that some changes were in order before zion occured in missouri, either topicgraphically or spiritually.

  3. Joseph Smith, Wilford Woodruff and other early church leaders made statements that suggested that the Second Coming was nigh and that many of the early saints or their children would live to see our Savior’s return.

    Fast forward to October 2011. President Boyd K. Packer warns:

    Sometimes you might be tempted to think as I did from time to time in my youth: “The way things are going, the world’s going to be over with. The end of the world is going to come before I get to where I should be.” Not so! You can look forward to doing it right—getting married, having a family, seeing your children and grandchildren, maybe even great-grandchildren.

    * * *

    My own conclusion is that prophecies may fail, as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13.

    Paul also taught that we should put away childish things. Maybe this should even apply to our fascination with times and places associated with the Second Coming.

    Is Zion in Independence or Salt Lake City? Or is Zion distributed among all the Stakes? Or is Zion an evolving concept?

    The only truth that we know for certain is that Christ will return someday. And we need to have “oil in our lamps” as preparation.

  4. Tim, I wonder if the promises Joseph Smith received to build up Zion in Independence were specific to him and that generation of Saints. I think as latter-day saints we have a tendency to assume that all the promises given to Joseph have been automatically bestowed upon his successors, but I don’t see that as the case. Perhaps a righteous individual in our day needs to qualify to obtain the promise of Zion from the Lord, and perhaps the location for our day will be different than in Joseph’s day, at least initially.

    Regarding Spencer’s visions, I’ve tried to keep a couple things in mind when I consider what he’s seen: 1-In his interview with John Pontius, Spencer said he has only included 30-40% of what he has seen in his book, so he could have seen a Rocky Mountain Zion and didn’t feel like the Lord wanted him to mention anything about it; 2-Spencer primarily saw those events that pertain to the specific place where he was called to serve, so his presence in Independence could have been just shortly before the Lord’s coming and after a Rocky Mountain Zion had already been established. One consistent theme I’ve seen in all the NDE’s I’ve read is the lack of understanding of time frames. When all things are before you in vision in the spirit, it appears to be almost impossible to determine when certain events will happen, or in what sequence they will occur.

    To answer your question, I lean toward a Rocky Mountain Zion for our generation of Saints, and as translated beings and Zion individuals from prior generations begin to have more interaction with us I could see Zion being built up near Independence where they can claim their lots and inheritances. I suppose if anyone from this generation wants an inheritance near Independence, he’ll have to qualify and ask the Lord for it.

  5. The Lord has taken ancient prophets to exceeding high mountains to show them wonderful things through the power of the Holy Ghost. Since all things are spiritual to God, then perhaps the phrase “tops of the mountains” could have reference to a spiritual minded group gathered wherever the Lord desires them to be. The Temple is referred to the mountain of the Lord’s house. Those who are truly converted to the Lord have drawn near to Him and He has drawn near to them as He promised He would. The Lord will have a pure and holy people who will build Zion. Zion IS wherever the pure in heart have gathered. The New Jerusalem will be located in Jackson County, Missouri but the saints will gather together wherever the Holy Ghost will lead them to gather before then. We will build Zion-like cities throughout the western hemisphere during the seventh seal before Christ comes in glory. All of these Zion-like cities and the capitol city built in Missouri collectively together constitute the “City of Zion.” Most last day saints will never go to NJ in Missouri but live in one of the many Zion-like cities yet to be built. But back to the spiritual meaning … Becoming the pure in heart in more important than where one gathers. By becoming the pure in heart we will know where we need to be wherever it may be.

  6. Nephi was taken to an exceeding high mountain while physically located in the valley of Lemuel. Nevertheless, I trust Denver’s statements.

  7. “Mountains” and “Hills”—Nations and Peoples
    by Avraham Gileadi Ph.D.

    An integral part of encoding Isaiah’s message—of layering in a prophecy within a prophecy—are metaphors. Prophets besides Isaiah do this also but none so expertly. Apart from its literal use, for example, the term “mountain” can mean “nation.” Babylon is a “destroying mountain” (Jeremiah 51:25). The “stone cut out of [another] mountain without hands” becomes a great “mountain that fills the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35, 45). Isaiah establishes the idea of “mountains” as a metaphor for “nations” or “kingdoms” using synonymous parallel statements in Isaiah 13:4; 64:1–3. In that way he can predict things only those who search his words will comprehend.

    We can thus read the “mountain of Jehovah’s house” (Isaiah 2:2) as the nation of his house. Zion as the “head of the mountains” (ibid.) may mean the head of the nations, a blessing of the Sinai Covenant (Deuteronomy 28:12–13). The feet of the messenger heralding good tidings “on the mountains” (Isaiah 52:7) may mean the gospel being taken to all nations. The ensign lifted up “in the mountains” at the sound of the trump (Isaiah 18:3) may mean to all nations. Jacob/Israel’s “threshing mountains to dust and making chaff of hills” (Isaiah 41:15) may mean its reconquest of nations and peoples from their military takeover by an endtime Assyrian power. And so forth.

    12. 29. 2010

  8. I read the same passages and I see people going up on the mountain tops not to gather but to speak to God or some such thing. If you have ever seriously tried to support a family let alone hundreds if not thousands of people I will tell you now you will grow little food up there. You need to be down where fields and wells can be. I see the people living in the valley and going up on the mountain as did the people of Moses. It is a very hard life on top of a mountain. Sure it is easy to defend but how about food? How about water? There is not going to be a Safeway up there.

    1. I like it, Elda. Good points, especially the idea of accessibility to food. Any mountain-top retreat would need to sustain life. Still wondering about a Mesa such as the Grand Mesa, or the two mesas among the Hopi in Arizona. Then again, maybe Zion as a place of refuge and retreat where the wicked will not go to battle, could be down in Central America. If I’m not mistaken, Joseph said it would be in the center of the Americas, which makes me think of the places I served my mission in Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua. I’m learning more to Costa Rica or Guatemala.

  9. Pingback: Thoughts on the End of the World – Latter-day Commentary – Last Days – Signs of the Times

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