Does it really matter what we believe about certain points of doctrine that are as yet a matter of prophecy? Take the subject of Zion for example. That is to say, the future Zion, as to when it shall appear, where it shall be, and who shall build it. If you take a look at the current material found on the official Gospel Topics of the LDS Church website under the subject of Zion, you can read a fairly concise definition:
“The word Zion appears repeatedly in all the books of scripture of the Church. In latter-day revelation, Zion is defined as “the pure in heart” (Doctrine and Covenants 97:21).”
That’s a very simplified introduction to a rather complex subject that has many components. It would be nice if we could all readily agree and say, “yes, let us all be pure in heart. Then we shall be Zion.” Therefore, we can follow the Savior’s admonition that there be no disputations among us. However, the next paragraph introduces some of the complexity associated with this topic:
“In the early days of this dispensation, Church leaders counseled members to build up Zion by emigrating to a central location. Today our leaders counsel us to build up Zion wherever we live. Members of the Church are asked to remain in their native lands and help establish the Church there. Many temples are being built so Latter-day Saints throughout the world can receive temple blessings.”
Temples are obviously central to the theme of Zion. The last few lines of this very short entry in the official gospel topic read, “The word Zion can also refer to specific geographic locations, as follows:
The city of Enoch (see Moses 7:18–21).
Carol and I talk a lot about Zion. However, we both have differing views of the whereabouts of Zion, that is to say, where it will be built, and if the LDS Church is really doing anything about preparing to build Zion, that is to say, the New Jerusalem, in Jackson County Missouri. But do our differences of what we believe about Zion really matter?
The Lord specifically admonished us to avoid contention and that we not dispute. I choose not to dispute when the subject of Zion comes up and Carol emphasizes her beliefs that the LDS Church is totally in charge of the subject. She insists the Church will indeed build the city of The New Jerusalem in and around the places where she served her mission in Missouri. As I’ve told her before, I have no doubt that area will eventually be a central part of Zion.
But I’m more concerned about the Zion I read about when the Lord warns that the righteous will gather in the tops of the mountains for safety and protection, where the wicked will not go because they fear the inhabitants of Zion. As I study Zion, I think of the scripture in Isaiah 40:9 that refers to Zion in the tops of the mountains. I especially think of Isaiah 2:3, which makes references to going up to the Mountain of the Lord, to walk in his paths.
Isaiah 30:17 can be interpreted many ways, but to me, it indicates there will be a gathering of people who rebuke the wicked until they are left as a beacon on top of a hill. I have often wondered if the rebuking is done by a single leader of this people, as a king or protector, or if all the people have similar power to rebuke. The people who live in the tops of the mountains will be at the precise place the inhabitants of Zion above (the City of Enoch) come down.
And finally, a key scripture to my way of thinking that Zion shall first be established in the tops of the mountains can be found in D&C 49:25 – “Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed.” This is not the City of New Jerusalem – not yet. This is the place where the righteous gather to await the coming of the Lord, when he comes with the angels of the City of Enoch.
As we know, “they that come shall burn them up and leave them neither root nor branch.” I’ve written extensively about this idea that seems to escape many people – It is not necessarily the coming of the Lord that will burn the wicked at his coming. The wicked will not be able to stand in the presence of glorified beings – the angels of God. But before that day, those who love the Lord and will not fight or contend, will gather to 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 are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.
I believe the Lord is gathering a people, the angels are preparing those who will gather at the tops of the mountains to await his coming. I remain convinced it will yet be in my lifetime. There are many who write about the seven year cycles of preparation before the coming of the Lord. We are in a time of final preparation, the last seven years. No, that’s not original with me. You can find lots of folks who write about this, but I am not one to promote timeframes.
So, I finish as I started this little essay, “… there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.” What I believe about Zion is somewhat unique. It is surely different from what my wife believes, and I refuse to be the cause of hard feelings or contentions. She knows what I believe. I guess we shall just have to wait and see.