What Is the New Jerusalem?

Heavenly Father wants His children to have unity, holiness, and charity. The ancient prophet Enoch taught his people about God, and they established a city which exemplified these three attributes:

  1. UNITY – “They were of one heart and one mind”
  2. HOLINESS – “and dwelt in righteousness”
  3. CHARITY – “and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18).

God showed Enoch many significant future events, including the life of Jesus Christ and His eventual return to the earth. In preparation for that Second Coming, God explained that a city like Zion would be established:

Righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem (Moses 7:62).

The first Jerusalem would not be built for thousands of years, but Enoch learned about a second Jerusalem which would be built much later.

Another ancient prophet, Ether, prophesied that the New Jerusalem would be built on the American continent. His ancestors had migrated to America at the time of the Tower of Babel. He never saw the Old Jerusalem, but he prophesied that it would be rebuilt and would function as a place of gathering. Additionally, a different city, the New Jerusalem, would be built on the American continent with the same purpose (Ether 13:4-6).

When Jesus Christ visited the American continent following His death and resurrection, He spoke twice about this New Jerusalem:

This people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you (3 Nephi 20:22).

[The Gentiles] shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you (3 Nephi 21:23-24).

The apostle John also wrote about this city, the new Jerusalem, “coming down from God out of heaven” (Revelation 3:12, Revelation 21:2).

As I wrote yesterday, Old Testament prophets used the terms “Zion” and “Jerusalem” interchangeably to represent God’s people on the earth. The tenth Article of Faith clarifies that the New Jerusalem is also synonymous with Zion. It represents a specific city in a specific location, but more importantly it represents a group of people who are prepared to have Jesus Christ with them. In that sense, we can work to build “Jerusalem” wherever we live in the world. I love, for example, the following words written by the English poet William Blake:

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land (“JerusalemPreface to Milton a Poem, 1810).

Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave us this call to action:

Let us seek to build up Zion through unity, godliness, and charity, preparing for that great day when Zion, the New Jerusalem, will arise (“Come to Zion,” General Conference, October 2008).

Today, I will strive to contribute to the building of the New Jerusalem. I will strive to promote unity, holiness, and charity so that I and others will be prepared to welcome the Savior when He returns to the earth.

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