Sunday, February 2, 2014

Zion – The New Jerusalem

In Genesis we read about the Prophet Enoch, who lived six generations after Adam. There are four verses in Genesis chapter 5 that talks about Enoch. In verse 24 it says:

“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”

From the account in the Old Testament, we are left wondering who this prophet was, what does it mean that God took him and what is this Zion that he built? The answer to these questions are not found in the Bible, but we do find it in the Pearl of Great Price and the Book of Moses. These scriptures, translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith, help us understand more about the Prophet Enoch and what he did.

If you follow the time line of Adam down to Enoch that is found in Genesis chapter 5 you will find out that Adam was 622 years old when Enoch was born (Adam lived another 308 years after the birth of Enoch and lived during the time that the City of Zion was established). Enoch lived in the Land of Cainan, the land of his fathers, which was a righteous land. When Enoch was about 65 years old he was called by God to preach repentance unto the wicked that surrounded the land of Cainan. His preaching was so powerful and his faith so strong that he walked with God (Moses 6:39).

So great was the faith of Enoch that all the people feared him, the waters “were turned out or their course and the mountains fled according to his command” (Moses 7:13). The scriptures continue:

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.

 20 And it came to pass that Enoch talked with the Lord; and he said unto the Lord: Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever. But the Lord said unto Enoch: Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed.

 21 And it came to pass that the Lord showed unto Enoch all the inhabitants of the earth; and he beheld, and lo, Zion, in process of time, was taken up into heaven. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Behold mine abode forever.” (Moses 7:17-21)

The people of the City of Zion were so righteous that they were taken into heaven to dwell with God until the last days when Christ shall come again for his millennial reign on the earth in righteousness. The account in Moses chapter 7 continues:

“60 And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfil the oath which I have made unto you concerning the children of Noah;
 61 And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve;

 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.

 63 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other;

 64 And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest.” (Moses 7:60-64)

In the midst of wickedness, Enoch was able to build a city where the righteous dwelt in safety. No one was able to touch them because of their righteousness. The wickedness that surrounded them had no effect on the City of Zion. That wickedness must have become so great that finally four years before the birth of Noah, the Lord took the City of Zion from the Earth to dwell with him until the time of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

In verse 62 above it says that there will come a time when the truth will be sent forth to bear testimony of Jesus Christ and his gospel. We are living in that time. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has once again been established on the earth. It started with God the Father and Jesus Christ appearing to the boy Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820. The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, was first published in 1929 and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized on April 6, 1930.

Also in verse 62, the Lord tells of a New Jerusalem that will be established again on the earth. Like the City of Zion it will be a holy city a place of refuge from the wickedness of today. The time will come when Enoch’s City of Zion will come down from heaven and join the people of the New Jerusalem. Then the Lord Jesus Christ will come in his glory and destroy the wicked and dwell in Zion for a thousand years of peace and the earth will finally rest.

The New Jerusalem will eventually be built and will be Zion, where the pure in heart will dwell. Will we desire to dwell there? Will we be part of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem or will we be a citizen of Babylon (where the wicked dwell)?

Until the time comes for the establishment of the physical city of New Jerusalem comes, we are asked to build Zion throughout the world. Elder Bruce R. McConkie in a general conference address in April 1977 had this to say about our responsibility in building Zion today:

“I shall speak of the manner in which the Lord will build up Zion, the manner in which the Lord is having mercy upon Zion, and the part we are expected to play in the building of Zion.
“As is clear from the inspired account, Zion shall be built up—she shall obtain that perfection and glory which is hers—when the Lord appears in his glory. She shall then become as she once was. This will be during the Millennium when the restoration of all things is completed. Zion shall be perfected after the second coming of Christ.
“But in the meantime, and as of now, the Lord has laid upon us the responsibility to lay the foundation for that which is to be. We have been commissioned to prepare a people for the second coming of the Son of Man. We have been called to preach the gospel to every nation and kindred and tongue and people. We have been commanded to lay the foundations of Zion and to get all things ready for the return of Him who shall again crown the Holy City with his presence and glory. Our call to all men everywhere is: “Come to Zion, come to Zion, and within her walls rejoice.” (Hymns, no. 81.)

“We are living in a new day. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is fast becoming a worldwide church. Congregations of Saints are now, or soon will be, strong enough to support and sustain their members no matter where they reside. Temples are being built wherever the need justifies. We can foresee many temples in South America in process of time.

“Stakes of Zion are also being organized at the ends of the earth. In this connection, let us ponder these truths: A stake of Zion is a part of Zion. You cannot create a stake of Zion without creating a part of Zion. Zion is the pure in heart; we gain purity of heart by baptism and by obedience. A stake has geographical boundaries. To create a stake is like founding a City of Holiness. Every stake on earth is the gathering place for the lost sheep of Israel who live in its area.” (“Come: Let Israel Build Zion”, Bruce R. McConkie, General Conference, April 1977)
Zion’s foundation has been laid again in these days and it is wherever the Lord’s people dwell. I hope to be able to see the time when the New Jerusalem will be established as well. Until that time I will labor to build Zion by helping to hasten the Lord’s work as we have been asked. We are living in the days of the last harvest, where the Lord and his servants will labor for the last time prior to separation of the wheat from the tares and the burning of the wicked. As members of the Lord’s kingdom here on the earth it is our responsibility to invite all to come to Zion and partake of the blessings that are available to all who desire to be free from the wickedness of the world. Our invitation is to all to “bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it. (“The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith”, President Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference, October 2002).

As we follow the Lord’s commandment to build Zion, the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are extended to all who believe and join with God’s Kingdom her on earth and in doing this we will prepare the saints of God who will welcome her King when Jesus comes again.

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