Why do we Mormons use the term “Zion” to refer to the Church here in Utah? It’s because our LDS forefathers were actually, physically engaged in building a real-live Zion society here during the 1850s and beyond. Our use of the term in that context today is just an echo of their determined efforts to build the real thing.
President Brigham Young stated in 1853 that the Saints gathered to Utah because they “anticipated deliverance from [the economic and religious] hell [of their homelands], to find a heaven with the Saints; [they] expected to exchange [Babylon’s] confusion for a Zion of order and beauty….”
In 1854, Apostle Heber C. Kimball expressed the hope that he and Brigham would “live many years yet to assist in making permanent the foundations of Zion”.
In 1855, President Young said, “When our Elders go out to preach the Gospel, they tell the people to gather to Zion. Where is it? It is at the City of the Great Salt Lake in the Valleys of the Mountains, in the settlements of Utah Territory—there is Zion now.“
In 1856, the sometimes-brash Young bellowed, “Let [Congress] attend to their own business, and we will build up Zion while they go to hell.” (Bravo!)
1857 – “You hear brethren talk of coming to Zion to enjoy the blessings of this land; but do you not see that it is the short-sightedness of men which causes their disappointment when they arrive here? They read in the [scriptures] about Zion, and what it is to be; but [they] could not realize… that they were the ones to help to build up Zion. They gather here with the spirit of Zion resting upon them, and expecting to find Zion in its glory, whereas their own doctrine should teach them that they are coming here to make Zion.” – Brigham Young.
1860 – “The Lord has led the people carefully along… from place to place, until, finally, we have come into these valleys in the mountains. Why? The Lord… has known, from the beginning of creation, that this is the land whereon to build this Zion.” – Brigham Young.
It’s 154 years later and there’s no Zion society in sight. Zion was derailed in the 1880s. Babylon reigns in confusion. But wait… there is still hope for us!
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© 2014 by Jesse Fisher