Discourse by Elder Orson Pratt, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, March 10, 1872.
The speaker who addressed you this forenoon, referred to another book, that is called the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. I will select a few words from that book this afternoon—a part of the 8th paragraph, of the 21st section, being a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, in September, 183l. The word of the Lord to the Prophet reads thus: “For, behold, I say unto you that Zion shall flourish, and the glory of the Lord shall be upon her; And she shall be an ensign unto the people, and there shall come unto her out of every nation under heaven. And the day shall come when the nations of the earth shall tremble because of her, and shall fear because of her terrible ones. The Lord hath spoken it. Amen.”
Much has been said since the rise of this Church in regard to the Zion of the latter days, and much more might be said, for after we have said all that we can say, as far as God has revealed, I presume that we shall not be able to portray scarcely anything compared with the glory and greatness and the excellency and the beauty of that people and of that city that are called Zion, to be built up on the earth in the latter times.
The first question that naturally presents itself to the mind in regard to Zion is this: What is Zion? What are we to understand by its term? Is it a city? Is it a people? Is it a good people or a bad people? What may we understand by the term as used in the Scriptures? There are a great many ideas among the children of men in reference to this term, especially among all Christian denominations. I presume there is not a people on the whole face of the earth who profess to be Christian but what have their definition of the term Zion. If we go to the Catholics they tell us that they are Zion—that they are the only people whom the Lord acknowledges as Zion. If we go to the Greek Church, that has existed contemporary with the Catholics for many centuries, and inquire of them what their understanding is concerning Zion, they will tell us that it is the Greek Church. You go to all the Protestant denominations that have dissented from the Catholics and from the Greek Church and inquire of them what Zion is, and the answer of the greater portion of them will be, it is the various Christian denominations, such as the Lutherans, the Church of England, the Methodists, the various order of Baptists, and the various Christian denominations that have arisen during the last three or four centuries. Go to the Latter-day Saints and inquire of them what Zion is, and they will tell you it is the Church of the living God wherever it can be found. Consequently in order to ascertain what Zion is it is necessary for us to understand what the Church of the living God is, and try to distinguish between that Church and all other Churches. I shall endeavor, in a very few words, to mark out some of the distinguishing features between the true Church of the living God and Churches built up by human wisdom; and when we have ascertained what the true Church is we shall then have learned what the true Zion is.
I will begin with some of the first principles which God has revealed, and which it is necessary for mankind to obey before they can constitute a part and portion of Zion. Before Zion, or the Church of the living God, can have any existence on the earth it is very important and necessary that there should be divine administrators. What I mean by this is, men having a divine mission, a divine call—being called of the Lord by the spirit of revelation to build up Zion on the earth. And when I speak of men having a divine call I do not mean those who have merely an impression, as a great many ministers among all religious denominations say that they are called of God because they have an impression that God has sent them, and they go forth and preach their peculiar doctrines, as a mission which they have to deliver to the people. One man who says he is sent of God preaches baptism by sprinkling; another man sent by the same God, or who professes to be, teaches baptism by pouring water on people. A third man, who says he is sent of God, and has an impression to preach, preaches that baptism by immersion is the only true mode, and is to be administered to those who have experienced religion, and have obtained forgiveness of sins. A fourth man comes forth and says he is called of God, and has a divine mission, and the way that God has taught him is to be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins.
Now we must not undertake to suppose that God is the author of all these different methods, and that he sent all these different ministers. If he sent any one man to baptize by sprinkling, then those who baptize by immersion are false teachers, running of their own accord. If he sent any one man to pour water on those who are candidates to be baptized, he has never sent any persons to sprinkle, neither to baptize by immersion; and if we can ascertain who it is that is sent, and what the form of ordinances is that are to be administered, then we shall understand something towards the first principles of the building up of Zion on the earth, or, to come more directly to the point, concerning these divinely authorized messengers. How should true messengers of heaven be sent? In what way has God always sent them? By divine revelation. Now there never was a dispensation since God made man on the earth wherein a message was sent forth to the human family unless there was revelation connected with that message, unless the ministers who bore that message forth to the human family were divinely called by revelation, new revelation I mean. I need not go back and trace the callings and the gifts of God unto the patriarchs before the flood, nor those who lived immediately after the flood, nor in the days of Moses, nor in the days of the prophets who followed Moses; nor in the days of Jesus, nor in the days of the Apostles. All these are before the people, the callings and the gifts that were manifested in those days among the various dispensations which God has introduced among the human family. In all these various dispensations God has directly spoken from the heavens; he has communicated his will to the human family. He has raised up revelators and inspired them, he has filled his servants with the spirit of prophecy, that they should foretell the future. He has inspired them to write revelations, and hence in all these different dispensations the God of heaven has thus authorized the children of men to build up his Zion on the earth, and without these no such thing as Zion can be built up among the children of men.
Those persons were not only called by revelation, but they also were guided after they were called by the spirit of revelation in all their travels. Sometimes when they, of their own accord, would have a disposition to visit a certain city, town, neighborhood or nation, the Spirit would speak unto them and say: “Not so, that is not the place for you;” and they would be constrained by the Holy Ghost not to travel in that direction, but to go to some other city that that same Spirit should designate and point out to them. Thus they were guided and directed where they should go, what they should preach, what form of doctrine to deliver to the people, what kind of ordinance to administer to them; every particular was given by revelation from the Most High.
Let us stop right here and enquire. Have there been any Christian denominations for the last seventeen centuries that have enjoyed this spirit of divine revelation? If there have been, then Zion existed on the earth during the period this spirit of revelation was enjoyed. When this spirit of revelation ceased Zion ceased; when people ceased to be called by direct revelation, and the Scriptures ceased to receive any additional books, then Zion ceased among the children of men. When mankind came to the conclusion that their own wisdom was all-sufficient, independent of any more revelation, Zion ceased from off the earth.
How long is it since Zion ceased? For everybody will admit, among all Christian denominations, that there has been no revelation for some seventeen hundred years—among all the Protestants of the present day, among all the Catholics that lived before them and that now live, and among all the different peoples and nations and tongues that have received the doctrines of the Catholics, or of the Greek Church. They all admit that, they all testify and acknowledge that God has had no inspired men on the earth since the days of the Apostles, consequently he has had no Church on the earth, for whenever the Church of God exists there exists prophets and men who are capable of writing Scripture; there exists men who have communion and fellowship with God; there exists men to whom the Lord communicates his will by the ministration of holy angels and by his own voice. Therefore when these things ceased, and men ceased to be inspired to write Scripture, and the Scripture was pronounced full and complete, sealed up as it were, that moment the people called Zion are banished from the face of the earth; or in other words the Church of the living God has no existence thereon.
There was a Zion on the earth in the first century of the Christian era. They were Christians; they believed in Christ; they worshiped Christ, they received his ordinances, they were filled with the spirit of revelation, they had their inspired prophets and revelators; they had their heavenly visions; they had the ministration of angels; they could hear the voice of God; they could behold in heavenly vision the face of the Lord Jesus Christ after he had ascended to his Father and was glorified at his right hand. They bore testimony that they had seen him, that he had conversed with them and that he had communicated his will unto them. These were Christians; that was the Christian Church; that may be pronounced Zion.
What existed after this? The Apostles were put to death; they were hunted from nation to nation; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins in the dens and caves of the earth, of whom the world was unworthy. Their followers were put to death by hundreds, by thousands, by tens of thousands; and after a while there sprang up a people that pretended to be Christians—followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, having no apostles, no inspired men, no revelation, no ministration of angels, none of the characteristics, except a few forms, of the Christian Church as it existed in the first century of the Christian era. This class of men, calling themselves Christian, uniting with the various forms of the pagan religion, adopting many of their cere– monies and institutions, became very popular, and finally some of the pagans embraced Christianity and were placed, as it were, upon the throne, and what they termed Christianity became very popular indeed. How long has this order of things existed, this dreadful apostasy, this class of people that pronounced themselves Zion, or Christians, without any of the characteristics of Zion? It has existed for some sixteen or seventeen centuries. It has spread itself and grown and gone into the four quarters of the earth. It is the great ecclesiastical power that is spoken of by the revelator John, and called by him the most corrupt and most wicked of all the powers of the earth, under the name of spiritual Babylon, or in other words Babel, which signifies confusion. This great and corrupt power is also represented by John as presenting a golden cup to the nations, full of all manner of filthiness and abominations.
She is termed, in other places, by the same prophet, “The whore of all the earth,” making the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Some three centuries ago there came out some excellent men, named Martin Luther, John Calvin and many others that might be mentioned, who protested against the wickedness and abominations of the Church wherein they had been educated, and of which they had been members. Because of their protestations against the mother Church they were called Protestants. They pronounced her the whore of all the earth; they declared that she had no authority, that she had none of the blessings and gifts which characterized the ancient Christians. They came out and established other Churches. The Lutheran Church prevailed in Germany and various portions of northern Europe. The Calvinist Church or Presbyterian Church was also established. Henry the Eighth established and became head of the English Church. Wesley, at a later period, established a Church which has grown to great numbers at the present day. But among all these Churches where are the characteristics of Zion? We hunt for them in vain. Go to all these 666 different Protestant denominations that have come out from the mother Church, and inquire of them, Have you inspired men among you? And their united voice is that God speaks no more in our day; no other message is given from heaven; no voice is heard from the eternal worlds; no angels are sent in these days; no inspired apostles are raised up to establish the Church and the Kingdom of God; no men are filled with the spirit of prophecy to portray the events of the future, or to accomplish and perform the work of God in our day. We enquire, “What have you?” “Oh we have 666 different denominations and we have surnamed ourselves Christians. We are Bible Christians.” How mistaken they are! Bible Christians were those who believed in having apostles and inspired prophets among them. Bible Christians could receive more revelation and add more books to the Bible; Bible Christians could converse with the Lord, and oftentimes beheld the face of Jesus; they could commune with holy angels; they had authority from God to lay hands upon those whom they baptized, for the reception or baptism of the Holy Ghost. This was what constituted ancient Zion; but inquire for these characteristics among these 666 different Christian denominations and they will tell you they are all gone, they have not any of them amongst them. Now suppose we take their word for it! I do, I really believe them. I think they tell the truth when they say they have no inspired men. I believe them when they say they have neither prophets nor apostles among them. Why do I believe them? Because they have received no new books in addition to the Bible, and whenever God had a people on the earth they were constantly giving new books, inspired from on high, and when that ceases we draw the conclusion that inspiration has ceased.
Under these circumstances what is to be done? If the world has thus apostatized, and there has been no Church of the living God, no Zion among the nations for the long period I have named, what are we to expect? Is the world always to remain in this condition? Has God spoken for the last time? Were the few favored Christians who lived in the first century of our era the last ones who were to be favored with a message from heaven? I think not, the Bible tells us a different story altogether. That book tells us that there is to be one of the greatest dispensations ushered in upon the face of the earth that ever has been since the creation of man, and I profess to believe the Bible. When I read the words of the Apostle Paul about the new dispensation that should take place after his day, I believe it. You will find in the first chapter of his epistle to the Ephesians that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he shall gather together in one all things that are in Christ, whether they be in heaven, or here on the earth. A dispensation of gathering, a dispensation called the dispensation of the fulness of times, a dispensation in which the very heavens, and all the spirits of men that are behind the veil are to be gathered in one; all things that are in Christ to be gathered in one, preparatory to the great resurrection that will take place in that dispensation.
The dispensation that was introduced in the days of the apostles was not a dispensation of gathering. When the apostles went forth to build up the Church of Christ at Corinth or at Ephesus, in Galatia or any other part of the earth, the Christians all remained where they received the Gospel except those who were driven into the mountains by the persecutions of their enemies. But in the last dispensation there is to be one feature characterizing it that did not characterize the dispensation established by the ancient apostles, namely the gathering together of the people—all that are in Christ from the ends of the earth. When that dispensation is introduced Zion will be introduced again, the Lord will bring again Zion.
Many of you who are Bible believers have read a great many prophecies about the Zion of the latter days and how the Lord should bring again Zion, which seems to intimate that Zion was once on the earth, that it was lost from the earth for a certain period of time, and that the Lord was going to restore it once more. Let us hear what Isaiah has said on this subject: “Thy watchmen shall lift up their voice, with the voice together shall they sing, for they will see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion.” But perhaps strangers may inquire, How are we to know the period or age of the world when the Lord shall bring again Zion, or in other words restore his Church to the earth? What are the signs of that day, that we may discern the signs of the times? I will tell you how you may know that period. If you will go to the 102nd Psalm of David you will find a clue to that period. I think I will read a little of that psalm for the benefit of strangers. “When the Lord shall build up Zion he shall appear in his glory.” I think this gives a clue to the period, for everyone will admit that the Lord has not yet appeared in his glory. We are looking for him. The Christians of all denominations expect that he will appear in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. The Latter-day Saints expect this in common with all other Christians. But before he appears in his glory he is going to build up Zion, that is, Zion must again be built up on the earth: and if there is not a Zion built up on the earth before he comes, or in other words, if there never is to be another Zion built up on the earth, then he never will come. But when we see the day arrive that the Lord begins to establish his Church on the earth once more, characterized by apostles and prophets, and introduces a dispensation of gathering, wherein all in Christ shall be gathered together in one; when the period of time shall come that the watchmen in that Zion shall see eye to eye and with the voice together sing, we may know that the Lord is coming in his glory, and is near at hand.
We will read a few other passages in the same psalm. “Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come.” The Lord has a set time for a great many of his purposes. A set time for the scattering of Israel; a set time for Jerusalem to be trodden down by the Gentiles until their times are fulfilled; a set time for the stone out of the mountain to be cut without hands and the kingdom of God to be organized on the earth; a set time for the coming of the angel with the everlasting Gospel to be preached to all people, nations, kindreds and tongues; a set time for the Lord to favor Zion, as is here declared. “For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.”
Now do not mistake, any of you strangers, and think that this was fulfilled in the days of David. It was written for a period long after his day. This shall be written for the generations to come. “And the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.” That is, future generations of the earth—those who live at that peculiar period of time when the Lord should again build up Zion on the earth. For “he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth; To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those who were appointed to death; To declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem.” But, says one, “That means the first time he came.” Let us read the next verse and see if it really means that period. “When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.” Now, were the people gathered together in the days of the first coming of Jesus? No. Were the kingdoms then assembled to serve the Lord? No. Recollect that Paul predicted that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, all things in Christ are to be gathered together in one. Then the heathen nations and the kingdoms of the earth shall be gathered. What for? To be taught in his ways, and instructed to walk in his paths.
We will now quote another passage that has reference to the same great event. It is contained in the 2nd chapter of Isaiah the prophet. “And it shall come to pass in the last days”—recollect now it is a work of the latter time—“It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” When was this fulfilled? Every person with any reflection whatever, that has the least particle of faith in this prophecy, knows that it never has been fulfilled. The Zion that was built up in the days of David and that he dwelt in, the Zion that was in existence at Jerusalem 1,800 years ago was thrown down. Zion was plowed like a field, as the Prophet Micah predicted it would be. The houses, palaces and mansions in Jerusalem that were called Zion were all thrown down, and the beautiful Temple was also torn down and not one stone left upon another. But in the last days “The mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the tops of the mountains, shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” This shows that it will be a work that will attract the attention of the nations. It will not be a work like that which is performed by erring humanity, by men without inspiration; but a work of the Lord our God. When he shall build up Zion he will appear in his glory; when he builds up Zion he will bless the inhabitants, the habitations, the palaces, the gates and everything round about that Zion, and the towers within that Zion, all will be blessed according to the testimony of the prophets.
But let us read a little further to show more fully that this was a work of the latter days. “And all nations shall flow unto it and many people shall go and say ‘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.’” Two separate and distinct places. The whole of the twelve tribes of Israel are to return back to Palestine in Asia and rebuild their city of Jerusalem and a temple within that city before, and preparatory to the coming of the Lord. Ezekiel, in describing the latter-day building of Jerusalem, says, “And the name of the city from that day forward shall be ‘The Lord is there.’” After the rebuilding of that city it will never be forsaken, or plucked up. As Jeremiah says in his 31st chapter, “It shall never be plucked up or thrown down henceforth and forever.” It will stand while all the generations of the earth shall stand when the house of Israel shall return and rebuild it under the direction of the Almighty.
But Zion is also to be built up. Another city, not old Jerusalem, but a new Jerusalem, called Zion, upon the great western hemisphere, preparatory to the coming of the Lord. “Out of Zion shall go forth the law,” says the prophet. What law? A law to regulate the nations, a law teaching them how to be saved, a law informing the kings and emperors and the nobles of the earth how they can save themselves, and how they can save their dead. When the mountain of the house of the Lord is established on the tops of the mountains they will gather from all those nations to this house of the Lord, to be instructed in his ways, that is to learn how to save themselves, and how to save their ancestors from generation to generation. How to be baptized for the dead, according to the custom practiced by the ancient apostles; how to administer for and in behalf of the dead. The temple of the Lord, the house of God, that we heard of this morning, is built for that express purpose. See what follows: “And he shall judge among the nations, and rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Now every person will acknowledge with me that such an order of things has not yet been fulfilled. It is the Millennium, it is that glorious period of rest when Jesus, personally, will reign on this earth, when his throne will be built in the temple at Jerusalem, when he will descend on the Mount of Olives on the east of Jerusalem accompanied by all his Saints, as you will read in the last chapter of the Prophet Zechariah: “The Lord thy God shall come,” says Zechariah, “and all his Saints with him, and he shall stand his feet in that day on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem to the east; and the Mount of Olives shall divide asunder, half of the mountain moving towards the north, and half towards the south, and there shall be a very great valley,” and so on. And when he descends with all his Saints on that mountain, and this great convulsion of the earth takes place, then will Jesus proceed down to the new gate that will be built on the east side of the temple—the east gate of the temple, and he will enter into that temple and will seat himself on the throne that will be built in that temple. Ezekiel when describing this, in the 43rd chapter of his prophecy, says, or rather the Lord through Ezekiel says, “Son of man behold the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever. And they shall no more defile my name,” and so forth. Here is a prediction that, in that temple will be a certain apartment dedicated and set apart for the throne of the Lord, where he will sit, as the Prophet Zechariah and many of the Apostles have predicted, on the throne of his father David, and judge the whole house of Israel. Dwell with them personally, be in their midst. Where will be the twelve Apostles that wandered about with him, when Jesus comes and sits upon that throne? They will also be sitting upon thrones. Where? In Palestine. “Ye who have followed me in the regeneration shall sit upon twelve thrones, and shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel, and you shall eat and drink at my table at the time you shall do this.” What? Immortal beings sitting upon thrones, having a table set for them and eating and drinking at the table of Jesus in Jerusalem? Yes, this is what is promised, and what we are looking for; this is the order of things that will come when Zion is fully established on the earth preparatory to that order of things. No wonder that nations will no longer lift up sword against nation! No wonder that kings will no longer fight against kings, and emperors against emperors! No wonder that they will beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks, for it will be a day of peace and rest, of which our present Sabbath is typical. As there is one day out of seven set apart, sanctified and ordained as a day of rest, so there is one thousand years set apart as a day of rest out of the seven thousand which will constitute the temporal existence of our earth. That will be the time when the Lord Jesus will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. That will be the time when the kings and nations will come up to Zion and also to Jerusalem. The kingdoms will be gathered together to serve the Lord.
Supposing some of them should happen to refuse, those that live off a great distance should conclude to refuse, and not go up to worship the Lord of hosts, let us see what will be– come of them. After having spoken of the Lord coming with all the Saints with him, and standing his feet on the Mount of Olives, the prophet says: “And it shall come to pass in that day that the light shall not be clear or dark, but it shall be one day, which shall be known to the Lord; not day nor night, but it shall come to pass that at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day that living waters shall go out of Jerusalem, half towards the former sea, and half towards the hinder sea; in summer and in winter shall it be.” Again he says, speaking of Jerusalem, “Men shall dwell in it. There shall be no more utter destruction, Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited. And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet; their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongues shall consume away in their mouths.” Again he says: “And it shall be that whosoever will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them there shall be no rain; and if the family of Egypt go not up that have no rain, there shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. In that day there shall be upon the bells of the horses ‘holiness unto the Lord.’” We see then that the nations of the earth around about Jerusalem will be under the necessity, by the law which God has ordained, to fulfil these prophecies, to go up once a year for the purpose of beholding Jesus sitting upon his throne in the midst of Jerusalem, and of beholding the twelve Apostles as they sit upon their thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. From year to year they will have to go up for the purpose of worshiping him. By and by some of them, perhaps, will get it into their hearts that there is no use in their going up. “What is the use of our taking this long journey to Jerusalem?” and they will begin to say within their hearts—“We can serve God here in our own land just as well as going up to Jerusalem.” Just as soon as they begin to apostatize in this way the Lord will send a plague, a famine, that is, withhold the rains of heaven, so that their lands will be parched up, and if the family of Egypt, that have no rain, refuse to go up, there will be a peculiar plague set apart for them, namely, the same kind of a plague that will come upon the various nations that gather up against Jerusalem to battle just before the Lord comes and stands his feet upon the Mount of Olives. It will be no judgment, no calamity whatever for no rain to be given to the land of Egypt, because they depend on the waters of the Nile, by irrigation they overflow the land, hence it is no particular consequence to the people of Lower Egypt to have no rain.
I mention all these things in order that the Latter-day Saints may be re-refreshed in regard to the great events that must take place in the latter times, and that strangers who are in our midst may have a more full understanding of the views of the Latter-day Saints in regard to the ancient prophecies. You see we are looking for the building up of Zion on the earth, for the lifting up of the standard of the Lord, an ensign for the nations; or in other words, as I read at the commencement of my remarks: “For behold Zion shall go forth and become the joy of the whole earth, and the glory of God shall be upon her and the day shall come when the nations of the earth shall fear and tremble because of her, and shall fear because of her terrible ones.” Why? Because the Lord himself will be in the midst of Zion, before he comes on the Mount of Olives.
Now here is the difference between Zion and old Jerusalem. The Jews, or many of them, will gather back to Jerusalem in a state of unbelief in the true Messiah, believing in the prophets but rejecting the New Testament, and looking for the Messiah to come, honest-hearted no doubt, many of them. And they will rebuild Jerusalem after the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. While in that state of unbelief Gog and Magog, the inhabitants of Russia and all those nations in northern Europe and northern Asia, a great multitude, will gather against the Jews before Jesus comes, and they will fill up the great valley of Armageddon, the great valley of Jehosaphat and all the surrounding valleys; they will be like a cloud covering the land. Horses and chariots and horsemen, a very great army, will gather up there to take a spoil. For you know when the Rothschilds and the great bankers among the Jewish nation shall return back to their own land to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, carrying their capital with them it will almost ruin some of the nations, and the latter will go up against Jerusalem to take a spoil. And they will succeed in taking half the city captive; and when they are in the act of destroying that city, behold the Lord will come with all his Saints, and he shall stand his feet on the Mount of Olives, “And in that day” says the Prophet Zechariah “shall the Lord go forth and fight against all those nations that have fought against Jerusalem, and their flesh shall consume away upon their bones, their eyes in their sockets. This great calamity comes upon the Jewish nation in consequence of their unbelief in the true Messiah.
Not so with Zion, she will be built upon the great western hemisphere in North America, and become a righteous people long before the Jews will gather home. Zion will be built up by the gathering of the Saints from all the nations and kingdoms of the earth. Zion will be built up, her habitations will be reared, her Temple will be built and the glory of God will rest upon them long before these great events in connection with the house of Israel will be fulfilled. Hence there is a difference between Zion and Jerusalem in the latter days.
We will now read something more about this Zion. Isaiah, as I have already quoted in the second chapter, has told us about the house of the Lord, and the great peace that should come, the beating of swords into ploughshares, &c., and then he goes on to portray the blessings that are to come upon Zion. He says, “In that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach. In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely.” Thus we see that Zion is to become glorious. The branch of the Lord, the branch of his own planting, established by his own power, the building up of a people and city by his own instructions and administration by the inspiration of his servants, the establishing of Zion no more to be thrown down. And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion and upon her assemblies a cloud and smoke by day, and shining, flaming fire by night; and upon all the glory shall be a defense and there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge and for a covert from storm and from rain. How often I have quoted this passage! I am not tired of quoting it yet. It is among the great events of the latter days; it is among those marvels and wonders that are just at hand. A Zion to be built up; a city of Zion having habitations, and upon these habitations a supernatural light by night, and a supernatural cloud by day. No such event has happened since this prophecy was uttered by the Prophet Isaiah, it remains to be fulfilled in the latter days. No wonder then that the Lord said to Joseph Smith in the year 1831, that is, before we were a great people, while we were only a few hundreds, well did the Lord inspire him to say that Zion should become great and glorious and the day should come that the nations of the earth should tremble because of her, and should fear because of her terrible ones; for the glory of God shall be there, and the power of the Lord shall be there when the day comes that the city of Zion is clothed upon with the glorious appendage that is herein predicted; when the branch of the Lord becomes beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth excellent and comely, when that day shall come that seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach,” when that day shall come that the Lord God shall show forth his power in Zion—upon her Tabernacle, upon her Temple, her meeting places, her residences, palaces, towers, walls and gates, when that day shall come it will astonish the nations even unto the ends of the earth. Thus you see the reason why the kings of the earth will go up to Zion. They would not go if there was not something very extraordinary happened. Do you suppose the kings would forsake their thrones and their earthly glory and go up to the mountain of the Lord to be taught in his ways and instructed in his paths, and that many nations would say, “Come let us go up to the house of the Lord,” if there was not something very extraordinary manifested in the midst of Zion? You might go and preach to them, as the sectarians preach, until you were greyheaded, and you could scarcely get near the throne of a king, much less would you be able to persuade him to leave his kingdom and throne and go up to Zion. But when the Lord begins to move, and show forth his power, when he begins to light up the habitations of Zion, when he comes to Zion to turn away ungodliness from Jacob, then I think the nations will begin to wake up.
Let us read a little more about the glory of Zion in the 59th and 60th chapters of Isaiah. I told you a little while ago that Jesus would come to Zion and would show forth his glory there, while the Jews would be reserved for a great chastisement and would be afflicted by the nations gathering against them, fighting against them and taking half the city captive, and so on. Now let me read a prophecy in the latter part of the 59th chapter of Isaiah. “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me, this is my covenant with them saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words that I put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth even forever. Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” You notice here, then, that the Redeemer is to come to Zion, at the time when every habitation is lighted up with his light, and to all that turn from transgression in Jacob.
Now let me here remark that this remnant of the house of Israel or Jacob, which we term the American Indians, are eventually to become a righteous branch of the house of Israel; when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, they will be numbered among the people of the covenant made with ancient Israel, they will be a branch of the Lord, beautiful and glorious, excellent and comely, and the power of the Lord will be upon them. In that day Jesus will come to them, they being a remnant of the tribe of Joseph. Then will be fulfilled that which was predicted by the Patriarch Jacob upon the descendants of Joseph. Speaking of Joseph he says, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the Shepherd, the stone of Israel.)”
When Jesus comes to Zion as is here predicted, in the 59th chapter of Isaiah, he will come in the character of a great shepherd. Not in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; but appearing in the midst of Zion and administering to the remnants of Joseph in the character of a shepherd. From thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel. Now we all know that Jesus sprang from Judah; but here is a declaration that from Joseph is the shepherd, the stone of Israel. That is, he will come the second time as a shepherd. He will gather his flock, or as the Psalmist David has said, “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock, stir up thy strength and come and save us.” He will come as a shepherd, he will stir up his strength and show forth his power and the remnant of Joseph will be led by their shepherd, long before the Jews are redeemed. “Arise and shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”
What condition do you suppose the wicked will be in in those days, even all the inhabitants of the earth except Zion? “For behold darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” What a difference between Zion and the rest of mankind! Darkness covering the whole four quarters of the globe. Why darkness? Because the salt of the earth is gathered out; the children of light are gathered together to Zion, and those who are left behind are in darkness, that is, a great many of them. No doubt there will be honest ones, and vast numbers who will come to Zion, notwithstanding the darkness that covers the earth.
We will read the next verse: “And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” “Thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.“ What! No people or nation left that will not serve Zion? Not one. What will become of this great republic with its forty millions of people, and which is spreading forth continually? If they will comply with the ordinances of Zion, repent of their sins and be prepared for this great and glorious day, God will save them; but if they will not they will be utterly wasted away. Thus have the prophets declared. “The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet, and they shall call thee, The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” Now here is a little comfort to you miners: “For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness. Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders.”
Wars will cease in those days. “The sun shall no more be thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.” Zion will not need the sun when the Lord is there, and all the city is lighted up by the glory of his presence. When the whole heavens above are illuminated by the presence of his glory we shall not need those bright luminaries of heaven to give light, so far as the city of Zion is concerned. But there will be a great people round about, dwelling in other cities that will still have need of the light of the sun and the moon; but the great capital city where the Lord will establish one of his thrones—for his throne is not to be in Jerusalem alone, it will also be in Zion, as you will find in numerous places in this Bible. When therefore, he shall establish his throne in Zion and shall light up the habitations thereof with the glory of his presence, they will not need this light which comes from the bright luminaries that shine forth in yonder heavens, but they will be clothed upon with the glory of their God. When the people meet together in assemblies like this, in their Tabernacles, the Lord will meet with them, his glory will be upon them; a cloud will overshadow them by day and if they happen to have an evening meeting they will not need gas light or lights of an artificial nature, for the Lord will be there and his glory will be upon all their assemblies. So says Isaiah the Prophet, and I believe it. Amen.