Friday, December 9, 2016

Zion: best description I have seen
Bruce R. McConkie (Quorum of the Twelve)
If we can identify what Zion is and find the place or places of its locale, such may do more than almost anything else to put into a true perspective what is meant by a literal gathering of Israel.
Once there was a day—a day of which carnal men can scarcely conceive—when "the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness." (Moses 7:16.) This was in the day of that Enoch of whom Paul said: "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." (Hebrews 11:5.)...
It is in this setting that the scripture saith: "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." (Moses 7:17-18.) The revealed definition of Zion, given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, is: "This is Zion—THE PURE IN HEART." (D&C 97:21.) "And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (3 Nephi 12:8.)
Thus Zion is people—pure people; people who walk with God; people from whose souls sin and evil have been burned by the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost. Thus Zion is the saints of God—saints who have been baptized for the remission of sins; saints who keep the commandments and walk in all the ways of the Lord; saints who have put on Christ and are partakers of his Holy Spirit. Zion is what all people must become if they are to inherit the same eternal fulness enjoyed by those of old who attained such supreme spiritual heights.
But Zion is also a place, for "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." What was more natural than to name the city after the people? The pure in heart called their abode by the name City of Holiness. Their every thought was 'Holiness to the Lord, and blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!'
"And it came to pass that Enoch talked with the Lord; and he said unto the Lord: Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever," a most natural thought to have, seeing that the Lord always preserves and blesses those of perfect faith and righteousness. "But the Lord said unto Enoch: Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed. And ... Zion, in process of time, was taken up into heaven. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Behold mine abode forever." Thereafter, others, attaining a like spiritual stature with those already translated, "were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion." (Moses 7:19-27.)
In all subsequent days, whenever people have forsaken the world and sought, by congregations, to perfect themselves in Christ, they, as a people, have become Zion. And they have chosen to call all or part of the places of their abodes by the same name. Jerusalem, Israel's ancient capital city, is called Zion; a New Jerusalem, yet to be built up in Jackson County, Missouri, carries the same name. The Church (a body of pure worshippers) is called Zion, and whenever large congregations of saints are accessible to each other, they are organized into stakes of Zion. The Zion people in Enoch's day built a holy city called Zion, wherein they worshipped the Lord, and the Zion people today build stakes of Zion for the same reason.
Thus, the gathering of Israel is both spiritual and temporal. The lost sheep gather spiritually when they join the Church, and they gather temporally when they come to a prepared place—that is, to Zion or one of her stakes. There they can strengthen each other in the Lord; there they can receive for themselves, in holy houses built for that very purpose, the covenant made in days of old with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. There they can redeem their dead through the vicarious ordinances of the temples. Speaking of places and locales, Zion itself (the New Jerusalem) has not as yet been established in our day, but it will be in due course. For the present, the Lord's people, who are Zion, are called to gather in the stakes of Zion as these are established in the lands of their inheritance.
However, Zion is likened by the prophets to a great tent held up by poles and cords and stakes. The tent is a place of refuge, a covert from the storms, a gathering place where, sheltered from the rains and winds of the world, the Lord's people can worship him in spirit and in truth. There is no difference between Zion, as a single city, and other Zions wherever they may be located. The same blessings are available in them all. In the true sense of the word, every part of the tent is a part of Zion; thus, wherever there is a stake of Zion, that area of the earth becomes a part of Zion. And when stakes of Zion cover the earth as they will during the Millennium, then every dot of ground in every site and location will be part of Zion. Zion will cover the whole earth. (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 567-569)
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