Prayerfully select the lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.
Explain that the word Zion has various meanings in the scriptures. Read the following scripture passages with class members. Identify the meaning of Zion in each passage, and write the meaning on the chalkboard.
D&C 97:21. (The pure in heart.)
D&C 82:14. (The Church and its stakes.)
Moses 7:19. (The city of Enoch.)
2 Samuel 5:6–7; 1 Kings 8:1. (The ancient city of Jerusalem.)
D&C 45:66–67; 57:1–2; Articles of Faith 1:10. (The New Jerusalem, which will be built in Missouri.)
Hebrews 12:22–23. (The dwelling place of those who are exalted.)
Emphasize that in the scriptures, Zion can mean the Lord’s people (the pure in heart), a specific place, or both. In this lesson, when we speak of building Zion in our day, we are referring to purifying our hearts so that the places we live can be called Zion.
One of the most frequently mentioned subjects in the Doctrine and Covenants is the establishing of Zion in the latter days. There are more than 200 references to Zion in these revelations. Some of these refer to a physical location, some to a condition of the heart, and some to building the Lord’s Church. Even before the Church was formally organized, the Lord directed a number of brethren to “seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion” (D&C 6:6; 11:6; 12:6; 14:6).
For the early Saints, establishing Zion not only meant becoming pure in heart and living in unity. It also meant building the city of Zion, or New Jerusalem. In July 1831, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that the city of Zion should be built in Missouri, with Independence as the center place (D&C 57:1–3). After this revelation, many Saints gathered to Missouri. They prospered for a time, but contentions and divisions soon arose among them. There were also tensions with other settlers in the area. In November 1833, mobs drove the Saints from their homes. A few months later, in July 1834, the Lord revealed that the Saints would have to “wait a little season for the redemption of Zion” (D&C 105:9). (See lessons 12 and 27 for more information about establishing the city of Zion in Missouri.)
Why were the early Saints unable to build the city of Zion? (See D&C 101:6–8; 105:1–12.) What can we learn from their experience that can help us build Zion today? (Explain that to build Zion—whether in a city, in our stakes, or in our homes—we must develop the qualities of a Zion people: pure hearts, unity, and unselfishness.)
Explain that although the building of the city of Zion was postponed, latter-day prophets have exhorted us to continue our efforts to establish Zion in our hearts, stakes, and homes. President Harold B. Lee said:
“The borders of Zion, where the righteous and pure in heart may dwell, must now begin to be enlarged. The stakes of Zion must be strengthened. All this so that Zion may arise and shine by becoming increasingly diligent in carrying out the plan of salvation throughout the world” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 5; or Ensign, July 1973, 3).