Not only was building Zion a central part of the mission of the early LDS Church, as we saw last time, our leaders made it very clear in the mid-1800s that building Zion was a central element in God’s over-arching, big-picture plan in the Last Days to prepare Earth for the second Coming of Christ. Here are five quotes, spread out over four decades, showing just that:
In 1853, President Young said, “…we will round up our shoulders, and bear up the ponderous weight, carry the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth, gather Israel, redeem Zion, and continue our operations until we bind Satan, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ; and no power can hinder it…. for the Lord manages the helm of the ship of Zion; and on any other ship I do not wish to be.”
Seven years later, in 1860, Brigham further expouded:
“The Latter-day Saints throughout the valleys in these mountains and throughout the world ought to be learning what they are on this earth for. They are here to increase and multiply, to enlarge, to gather the house of Israel, redeem Zion, build up the Zion of our God, and to promote that eternal intelligence that dwells with the Gods… until every obnoxious principle in the hearts of men is destroyed, and the earth returns to its paradisaical state, and the Lord comes and dwells with this people, and walks and talks with them as he did with Father Adam. That is our business, and not to suffer all our energies to be expended in merely preparing to die [or, in our day, retire].”
In 1879, one and a half years after Brigham passed, President John Taylor made it very clear that this doctrine had not changed. He said, “…the time had come, in the councils of heaven, that it was necessary to start the latter-day work, and to prepare a people, gathering them together to build up Zion and establish the kingdom of God upon the earth, that His will might be done upon the earth as it is done in heaven.”
In 1883, Apostle Charles W. Penrose outlined God’s big-picture plan for the earth in the most eloquent language. He said, “The Saints of God will be gathered, and there is no power [that] can stop their gathering. They will come to Zion, and build temples to the Most High God. They will unite together, and build up the Zion of God, and prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus, whose right it is to reign…. Then there will be liberty to all. Then the chains and shackles that bind the oppressed will fall to the ground, and light and truth will go forth until the whole earth is immersed in the spirit thereof, and every nation, kindred, tongue and people will sing praises to the Most High and to the Lamb forever.”
In 1889, nearly two years after John Taylor’s death, President Wilford Woodruff briefly summarized God’s over-arching plan, and Zion’s role in that plan, when he said “…Joseph Smith was reserved to lay the foundation of this great Kingdom and dispensation of salvation to the whole human family in these last days, to build up Zion, to establish God’s Kingdom, and to prepare it for the coming of the Son of Man.”
Now the tough question, “Is it logical to assume that because the Church was unable to ‘give birth’ to Zion due to social, political, and economic pressures in the 1880s, that the Lord has forgotten Zion or changed His plans regarding her? Unlikely. It makes more sense that He is waiting for his children to tire of living in Babylon and determine in their hearts to build Zion.