Zion was anciently called the “City of Holiness, even ZION” (Moses 7:19). Built by Enoch, Zion arose from the ruins of a wicked and dying world.
The term Zion was not new. The Lord had previously called his believing people Zion because they had succeeded in becoming “of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness” (Moses 7:18). Consequently, “there was no poor among them” (D&C 97:21).
Later, those same ancient Zion people gathered together to build a city, where they sought protection from their enemies and where they could live a holy life. That city took on the name of its people: Zion.
From that day until now, the term Zion can be traced back to Enoch’s city and “the pure in heart” people who lived there.
Zion as a Location
Few words permeate the Bible more than Zion or Sion. The term Zion has a number of meanings, foremost of which are “a group of God’s followers or a place where such a group lives” (EM, 1624).
Zion is also used to describe a promised land, inferring that God has set apart a consecrated location where he dwell among his covenant people (Moses 7:69).
In biblical times, Zion often referred to the land of Israel or specifically Jerusalem. Mount Zion was a mountain in the precincts of Jerusalem, where the City of David was established. Later, David’s son, Solomon, built a temple there. Thus, Mount Zion was forevermore linked to the House of the Lord.
Like the ancient Jews, Latter-day Saints also use the term Mount Zion in reference to the holy temple, where Zion people worship and where the work of Zion is perfected.
Zion is the Pure in Heart
In today’s world, the word Zion or Zionism is sometimes connected to a political movement that promotes and protects the establishment of a homeland in Israel for the Jewish people. But of all the definitions of Zion, the meaning that stands preeminent was given by the Lord to his latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith: “This is Zion—THE PURE IN HEART” (Moses 7:69).
A description of pure-hearted Zion people is found in the Book of Mormon: “…the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent…has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2).
Thus, above all other considerations, Zion people are identified by their having experienced this “mighty change of heart.” Such people make sacred covenants to live peacefully by embracing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Zion is established on the Royal Law of Love
Zion people embrace what the scriptures call the “royal law” (James 2:8) — “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” According to Jesus, the royal law is “the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:36–40).
The result of fully living the royal law is astonishing. Zion people create an environment in which there are “no poor among them” (Moses 7:18).
Motivated by love for God and his children, Zion people voluntarily offer their time, talents and resources to eradicate financial, emotional, spiritual and physical poverty.
To live the royal law of love, Zion people must make a choice between God and mammon. Since love comprehends all righteousness (Matthew 22:36–40), Zion people choose righteous acts that are motivated by selfless love over indulging themselves in self-centered interests. They consecrate all that they have and are “to the good of all and to the work of salvation according to their individual talents” (EM, 1625; D&C 82:3; Alma 1:26).
Zion – The Highest State of Happiness
Zion people enjoy what is called “fulness of life” or “fulness of happiness.” This fulnessis the pinnacle of happiness that can be achieved in this life, happiness that can only be realized by obedience to the laws of God. “By living the principles of Zion, the people live together according to the celestial law that governs the highest order of heaven and partake of the life it promises” (4 Nephi 1:3,16; Mosiah 16:11).
This quality of happiness, or “fulness of life,” means being alive to all that is good. Zion people believe that if they remain faithful, they will eventually experience the perfection of happiness in the world to come.
Zion – Our Ideal
This, then, is an overview of Zion. As a location, Zion signifies the most holy places where God comes to dwell with his people. As an edifice, Zion refers to the holy temple. As a description of individuals, marriages, families or priesthood societies, Zion is achieved by a mighty change of heart brought about by the conscious choice to live the laws of God.
Such pure-hearted Zion people strive to level up those who are in need by countering poverty and suffering wherever they encounter these conditions. Thus among Zion people there are no impoverished souls—neither financially, emotionally, physically nor spiritually poor.
Zion people voluntarily consecrate that which they are and have to bless the lives of others. Zion people strive to become unified, or one, with God and his children. They are motivated by love and live the Royal Law: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (James 2:8).
The result of living Zion principles are unparalleled happiness. The Book of Mormon describes the Nephites, who achieved Zion after the coming of Christ:
And there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift….
there still continued to be peace in the land….
And the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land….
And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.
And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered…and there was no contention in all the land (4 Nephi 1:2-4, 7, 15-18).
Such is the condition of the pure in heart people of Zion.
More about “Zion”
“Zion” was written by Larry Barkdull. The subject, “Zion,” is of vital importance to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you would like to know more about Mormons with no obligation, please click on the following links:
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