Over one hundred years ago, President Lorenzo Snow issued a mandate to the Church: “It is high time to establish Zion.” What has been holding us back all these years?
Lorenzo Snow's Call to Establish Zion
(This article was adapted from my new book, The Three Pillars of Zion. Click here to receive a free sample. Use this code in the coupon box for a 20% Christmas discount: Meridian. Good until December 15th.)
Over one hundred years ago, President Lorenzo Snow issued a mandate to the Church: “It is high time to establish Zion.”[i] What has been holding us back all these years?
To become Zion people, we must make a decision. Once and for all, we must commit to both believe and live what we have received. It is not enough to go through the motions of being a Latter-day Saint. We must thoroughly study and understand the new and everlasting covenant, which is the offspring of the Atonement. Receiving, committing to, studying, and living the Covenant are the vehicles that allow us to become Zion people. In the final analysis, it is what we have become that will determine our eternal possibilities.[ii]
If we are to become Zion people, what will be our characteristics?
“How Long Halt Ye Between Two Opinions?”
If Zion is our aspiration, this description is what we must become. And it all starts with making a commitment. Well did Elijah challenge his contemporaries: “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.”[iii] As long as our commitment waits, Zion’s blessings remain unclaimed.
In a conference address entitled “Becoming the Pure in Heart,” President Spencer W. Kimball taught that we should keep uppermost in our minds the vision of who we are and what we are about. He said, “For many years we have been taught that one important end result of our labors, hopes, and aspirations in this work is the building of a latter-day Zion, a Zion characterized by love, harmony, and peace—a Zion in which the Lord’s children are as one.” Then he quoted Doctrine and Covenants 48, in which the Lord gives us a glimpse of the latter-day Zion:
Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand. . . .
Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you—that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come; and also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand.
And after that cometh the day of my power; then shall the poor, the lame, and the blind, and the deaf, come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, and partake of the supper of the Lord, prepared for the great day to come. Behold, I, the Lord, have spoken it.[iv]
With the gift of seership, President Kimball proclaimed that this scripture will be fulfilled. The day of Zion will surely come, and it is our destiny to cause it to happen. Then he asked if these promises do not inspire us to lengthen our stride and quicken our pace to do our part in this marvelous latter-day work. At that point he mourned that many of us are still mired in Babylon, uncommitted and floundering between two divergent philosophies. He said,
Unfortunately we live in a world that largely rejects the values of Zion. Babylon has not and never will comprehend Zion. . . . Zion can be built up only among those who are the pure in heart, not a people torn by covetousness or greed, but a pure and selfless people. Not a people who are pure in appearance, rather a people who are pure in heart. Zion is to be in the world and not of the world, not dulled by a sense of carnal security, nor paralyzed by materialism. No, Zion is not things of the lower, but of the higher order, things that exalt the mind and sanctify the heart. Zion is “every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.” (D&C 82:19.) As I understand these matters, Zion can be established only by those who are pure in heart, and who labor for Zion, for “the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.” (2 Nephi 26:31).[v]
Our duty and our opportunity are clear. We need only to commit.
“It Is High Time to Establish Zion”
In an address given to the Saints on May 2, 1842, Joseph Smith rejoiced in the coming day of Zion, which assumes that some individuals within the Church will have prepared themselves to become the pure in heart:
The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are the favored people that God has made
To establish Zion, whether in the heart of an individual, a marriage, a family, or in a priesthood community of Saints, President Lorenzo Snow admonished us to cease the destructive practice of competition and the selfish building up of our own kingdoms. We must resolve now, he said, to center our efforts on the building of God’s kingdom for the establishment of Zion:
It is high time to establish Zion. Let us try to build up Zion. Zion is the pure in heart. Zion cannot be built up except on the principles of union required by the celestial law. It is high time for us to enter into these things. It is more pleasant and agreeable for the Latter-day Saints to enter into this work and build up Zion, than to build up ourselves and have this great competition which is destroying us.