What Is Zion?


Six generations after Adam, there was a man named Enoch. The Bible tells us that “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).

In 1830, Joseph Smith learned additional information about Enoch. He had preached the gospel courageously, performed miracles, and led the people of God. Those people organized a city which was called “the City of Holiness, even Zion.” The city was characterized by righteousness and unity:

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 7:18).

In time, Enoch and all of his people were taken into the presence of God:

Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is Fled (Moses 7:69).

Many centuries later, King David conquered a city which had been formerly inhabited by a tribe called the Jebusites. The city was called Jerusalem, and within the city was a fortress which was called Zion. The Jebusites were so sure of their safety that they taunted David, telling him that even “the blind and the lame” could defend their city from his armies. When David captured the city, it became his capital, and he renamed it the city of David (2 Samuel 5:6-7).

When David’s son Solomon built a temple, the hill on which it sat was called Mount Zion. (See Bible Dictionary, “Zion.”)

Subsequent writers in the Old Testament used the terms “Zion” and “Jerusalem” to represent God’s people, both on the earth and in heaven. For example, consider the following passages from Isaiah, all of which are quoted in the Book of Mormon:

  • “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3, 2 Nephi 12:3).
  • “The redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away” (Isaiah 51:11, 2 Nephi 8:11).
  • “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion” (Isaiah 52:8, Mosiah 12:22, Mosiah 15:29, 3 Nephi 16:18, 3 Nephi 20:32).

Early in the Book of Mormon, an angel teaches Nephi about the important role of Zion in our day:

Blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be (1 Nephi 13:37).

Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught us earlier this year that we build Zion by promoting unity, godliness, and charity in our homes, in our churches, and in our communities. Building Zion on the earth paves the way for the return of Jesus Christ by establishing a group of people who are prepared to receive Him:

This great and last dispensation is building steadily to its climax—Zion on earth being joined with Zion from above at the Savior’s glorious return. The Church of Jesus Christ is commissioned to prepare—and is preparing—the world for that day…. Let us be about building up Zion to hasten that day (“Preparing for the Lord’s Return,” General Conference, April 2019).

Today, I will work to build up Zion. I will strive to promote unity, purity, and kindness among the people I interact with. I will remember that God wants His children to be united and to be holy. When they achieve that state, the distance between heaven and earth narrows and they are prepared to return to His presence.

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