(This article is adapted from The Three Pillars of Zion. Download the free PDFs at www.PillarsOfZion.com.)
The philosophies of Zion and Babylon are exact opposites. We can trace their origins back to the premortal world. Celestial law and Godlike characteristics defined Zion and telestial counterparts defined Babylon. Our understanding the basics and beginnings of these two orders will help us recognize them today. Then we must flee Babylon and come to Zion.
The philosophy of Babylon, we understand, began with a conspiracy that led to war in heaven. Lucifer hatched a plot to wrest the kingdom from God.[i] Eventually, that conspiracy involved one third of the hosts of heaven-an astonishing number. Those who took part in that conspiracy evidently entered a covenant that required a sacrifice[ii]-their agency.[iii]
Lucifer’s plan was sinister, made to appear like God’s New and Everlasting Covenant, which also required willingness to sacrifice everything that one has and is, even to the sacrifice of his own life.[iv] In heaven, Christ and his Zion prevailed and Lucifer and his Babylon failed, but that did not stop the war. The battlefront simply shifted to a new location-earth.
Nothing much has changed: We, who supported Jehovah, were on the front lines there, and we are on the front lines here. The philosophies and the issues are the same; so are the blessings and the risks. The call to action was the same then as it is now: Flee Babylon and come to Zion!
Zion and Babylon in the Beginning
After God had created Adam and Eve, he immediately introduced them into a Zionlike atmosphere. Immediately thereafter, Lucifer introduced the philosophy of Babylon to Cain and his co-conspirators. Let us take a look back in time.
When God completed the creation of the earth, he looked upon his work and pronounced it “good.”[v] Then when he placed Adam and Eve in the garden of the earth, he pronounced the Creation “very good.”[vi]
The term seems more than a convenient modifier. In fact, in Hebrew, the words god and good come from the same root. Once, when a rich young man questioned Jesus, the man saluted the Lord as “Good Master.” Jesus quickly replied, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.”[vii] That Jesus would equate good with God is telling. That God would pronounce his Creation with Adam and Eve on it “very good” seems to suggest that he considered everything Godlike.
We are told that Heavenly Father patterned this Creation after our Zionlike heavenly home.[viii] And truly it was perfect–Godlike. Could we expect anything less from a perfect being? “The word Zion may derive from the Hebrew root tsayan, meaning perfection,’ which is also a meaning of the former city name Salem or Shalem, city of perfection.'”[ix] Therefore, Adam and Eve began their journey in a place that was preeminently good-that “very good” and Godlike place, which we would equate with Zion.
The Catastrophic Fall from Zion
Adam and Eve’s subsequent fall from their Zionlike home shot cataclysmic changes through their bodies and all creation. This earth has possibly never experienced such a violent change. Where there had been unity, equality, peace, abundant health, eternal life, spontaneously growing fruits and flowers, incorruption and the presence of God, there now existed discord, competition, enmity, illness, death, tormenting thorns, briars and noxious weeds, and worst of all, separation from God.
Adam and Eve had just fallen into a telestial environment!
The profound differences between a Zionlike existence and that of Babylon were now frighteningly apparent. (Remember: Adam and Eve had firsthand experience with both orders.) Our first parents’ immediate reaction was to find a way out of Babylon, and they knew that there was only one Person who knew the way: the King of Zion.[x]
Therefore, they built an altar and prayed. The answer that they received became the universal answer for all of us, their children: The New and Everlasting Covenant.
And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.
And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.[xi]
The Atonement and the Covenant-The Only Way Out
No greater message of hope has ever been delivered to man. Adam and Eve were going home-back to Zion! By entering accepting the Atonement of Jesus Christ and entering into the Covenant that God had offered them, they could once again enjoy the happiness of heaven and experience the presence of God-in this life! That was good news-God’s news.
The Atonement is the foundation of Zion!
According to Elder McConkie, The new and everlasting covenant is “the fulness of the gospel. (D&C 39:11; 45:9; 66:2; 133:57). When men accept the gospel, they thereby agree or covenant to keep the commandments of God, and he promises or covenants to give them salvation in his kingdom.
The gospel is the everlasting covenant because it is ordained by Him who is Everlasting and also because it is everlastingly the same…Each time this everlasting covenant is revealed it is new to those of that dispensation. Hence the gospel is the new and everlasting covenant.”[xii]
The new and everlasting covenant is the first pillar of Zion!
Immediately, Adam entered into the new and everlasting covenant by accepting the ordinance of baptism and thereafter receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Upon Adam’s doing so, God declared that those saving ordinances had been recorded in heaven, and thus they were valid “henceforth and forever.
“Imagine! Babylon could no longer hold Adam captive; he could enter into the Covenant, which would have the effect of ushering him toward Zion, where there was safety.
Power to Perpetuate the Covenant
But gaining personal salvation was not enough for Adam. It never is for Zion people. Adam wanted to perpetuate the Covenant among his children and bring as many of them to Christ and Zion as he could. Therefore, he sought for and received the authority of God to administer the Covenant to his children so that they might too escape Babylon and come home to Zion.
God said to Adam, “And thou art after the order [priesthood] of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity. Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus [by receiving the Holy Priesthood] may all become my sons. Amen.”[xiii] No one can do Godlike work without the authority and power of God.
The oath and covenant of the priesthood is second pillar of Zion!
“What Lack I Yet?”
Now back to the story of the rich young man. We recall that he posed had approached the Master hoping to discover the key to perfection. The Lord answered, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor.” Although the rich man was clearly a good man who had lived the commandments, he could not bring himself to accept the Lord’s lifestyle, which is defined by the law of consecration or the law of the celestial kingdom.
Imagine! The key to perfection rests on our rescuing the poor, which is the essence of the law of consecration!
When the young man went away sorrowing, Jesus turned to his disciples and noted, “A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Truly,it is hard for a rich man-or for that matter, a proud, selfish, power-hungry, recognition-seeking man-to lay aside the things of this world and still achieve heaven.
That selfish lifestyle, which is quintessential Babylon, stands opposite of that which defines Zion. Embedded in the Lord’s explanation is an introduction to the law of consecration. This law is our safety net from the preoccupation of wealth, and it is a key to our becoming perfect and embracing the Lord’s lifestyle.
The law of consecration is the third pillar of Zion!
Becoming a Son or Daughter of God’ and a Savior’ to Mankind
How grand is the Father’s construct of Zion-the Atonement, the new and everlasting covenant, the oath and covenant of the priesthood and the law of consecration!
Now the once-doomed Adam could become the Adam who was reconciled with God. Now the once-fallen Adam could become the redeemed, saved and exalted Adam. Now Adam could become one with God in knowledge, might, dominion, lifestyle, and now he could become heir to all that the Father has.
Now covenant Adam became authority-endowed Adam, empowered to bless others with the Covenant, disseminate the blessings of the priesthood, teach God’s children the principles of the divine lifestyle, and thus do the work that only a God can do-the work of redemption!
This is the essence of Zion people- sons and daughters of God, who, through covenant, become the reconciled, the redeemed, the saved, the exalted, the heirs of God and his kingdom forever!
Having thus received the Atonement, Covenant, priesthood, and law of consecration, which holds the key to God’s lifestyle and government, Adam was now empowered to come back into God’s presence. Thus, he became a true citizen of Zion, a son of God[xiv] in the similitude of the Son of God.[xv] Significantly, Adam was also empowered through this Zion process to become a savior to his family[xvi] in the similitude of the Savior, who would provide salvation to the family of God.
Telestial and Celestial Work
Because of the Fall, Adam was required to work for his support; but now that he had received the Atonement, the Covenant, the priesthood, and the key to God’s lifestyle and government, he redefined his work as the work of God. That reprioritization is essential to becoming a Zion person. Although Adam would continue to work to support his family, he would adopt as his real work the teaching, preaching and administering of the Covenant to all the souls of men so that they, too, could become Zion people.
Following the Examples of Adam and Eve
How, then, do we, the children of Adam and Eve, likewise flee Babylon and find our way back to Zion? By following the example of our first parents: receive Jesus Christ and his Atonement; receive and keep the totality of the new and everlasting covenant; receive the priesthood covenant and its blessings, and embrace and teach law of consecration: the celestial lifestyle and government of God.
If the definition of Zion is “perfection,” then the definition of a Zion person is someone who strives for perfection by building the foundation his life upon the principles, covenants and laws of Zion. A Zion person strives to become pure in heart and desires to become one with God. Such a person will find his way home.
Surety of a Better World
Accepting the Atonement, making and keeping the Covenant, seeking to qualify for the priesthood and its blessings, and striving to live as does God are worth the effort. The Book of Mormon prophet, Ether, said, “Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world.”[xviii]
That better world is Zion, a place or condition devoid of pettiness, selfishness and wickedness, a place or condition of abundance and no lack, a place or condition of oneness, equality and righteousness. As Mormon said, “Surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.”[xix]
This article was adapted from the Pillars of Zion series. You can download the free PDFs here: www.PillarsOfZion.com. If you want to follow our Internet missionary project, click here: www.gospelideals.org