Lesson 12 Class Preparation Material: Establishing the Cause of Zion

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“Lesson 12 Class Preparation Material: Establishing the Cause of Zion,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material (2019)

“Lesson 12 Class Preparation Material,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material

Lesson 12 Class Preparation Material

Establishing the Cause of Zion

Indianapolis Indiana Temple

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 186). As you study this material, look for truths that will help you understand what Zion is, why we need to build Zion, and what you can do to help with this effort.

Section 1

What does it mean to establish Zion?

In December 1830 while Joseph Smith worked on the translation of the Bible, the Lord revealed, as is now recorded in Moses 7, that the Old Testament prophet Enoch had built a city called Zion.

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Study in Preparation for Class

Read Moses 7:18–21.

City of Zion translated

Watch the video “Teachings of Joseph Smith: Preparing for Zion” (1:42), or study the Prophet Joseph Smith’s statement below:

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared:

Brother Joseph

The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; … they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; … we are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory; it is left for us to see, participate in and help to roll forward the Latter-day glory.

Anyplace where the Saints gather is Zion, which every righteous man [and woman] will build up for a place of safety for [their] children. …

…The time is soon coming, when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her stakes. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 186)

In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord declared that Zion also refers to “the pure in heart” (Doctrine and Covenants 97:21).

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

D. Todd Christofferson

Zion is both a place and a people. …

Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens. … If we would establish Zion in our homes, branches, wards, and stakes, … [it] will be necessary (1) to become unified in one heart and one mind; (2) to become, individually and collectively, a holy people; and (3) to care for the poor and needy with such effectiveness that we eliminate poverty among us. We cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen—Zion will come only as they happen. …

We will become of one heart and one mind as we individually place the Savior at the center of our lives and follow those He has commissioned to lead us. (D. Todd Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 37–38)

For more information about the characteristics of a Zion-like people, see 4 Nephi 1:1–4, 15–18.


Ponder in Preparation for Class

How can placing the Savior at the center of my life and following Church leaders help me become like the people described in Moses 7:18 and Doctrine and Covenants 97:21?

Section 2

What happened to the Saints in Missouri who tried to build Zion?

One year after the organization of the Church, the Lord designated Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, as “the center place” (Doctrine and Covenants 57:3) of Zion where the Saints would gather and build the holy city of Zion, also referred to as the New Jerusalem (see Doctrine and Covenants 45:64–66; 57:1–3).

Plat of the City of Zion

The plot map for the City of Zion was prepared under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith and sent to the Saints in Missouri in June 1833, along with architectural plans for the first temple in Zion.

Under the Prophet’s direction, early members of the Church attempted to establish a city of Zion in Jackson County but struggled to develop a good relationship with the citizens there. Disagreement over issues of religion, slavery, politics, and the swelling population of Saints incited many of the other citizens of Jackson County to call for the expulsion of the Saints from the county.

On July 20, 1833, a mob of citizens in Jackson County confronted local Church leaders in a meeting at the courthouse and demanded that the Saints close their printing office and store and leave the county. Church leaders refused, so the mob destroyed the Church’s printing office and tarred and feathered Bishop Edward Partridge and Church member Charles Allen. Three days later, the mob threatened further violence. Under duress, local Church leaders agreed to leave the county by the following spring. However, when Church leaders and members later decided to stay and fight for their rights in the fall of 1833, mob violence continued.

Parley P. Pratt recounted:

Pratt, Parley P.

Companies of ruffians were ranging the county in every direction; bursting into houses without fear, … frightening women and children, and threatening to kill them if they did not flee immediately. …

… Women and children fled in every direction. One party of about one hundred and fifty fled to the prairie, where they wandered for several days, mostly without food; and nothing but the open [sky] for their shelter. Other parties fled towards the Missouri River. During the dispersion of women and children, parties were hunting the men, firing upon some, tying up and whipping others, and some they pursued several miles. …

The shore [of the Missouri River] began to be lined on both sides of the ferry with men, women and children; goods, wagons, boxes, provisions, etc., while the ferry was constantly employed. … Hundreds of people were seen in every direction, some in tents and some in the open air around their fires, while the rain descended in torrents. Husbands were inquiring for their wives, wives for their husbands; parents for children, and children for parents. Some had the good fortune to escape with their families, household goods, and some provisions; while others knew not the fate of their friends, and had lost all their goods. …

… Every member of [our] society was driven from the county, and fields of corn were ravaged and destroyed; stacks of wheat burned, household goods plundered, and improvements and every kind of property destroyed. (Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. [1938], 101–3)

Saints Driven from Jackson County Missouri

C. C. A. Christensen (1831–1912), Saints Driven From Jackson County Missouri, c. 1878, tempera on muslin, 77 1/4 x 113 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of the grandchildren of C.C.A. Christensen, 1970.

More than 1,000 Saints were driven from Jackson County, and more than 200 of their homes were burned.

Section 3

What prevented the Saints from establishing Zion in Jackson County, Missouri?

In the months following the Saints’ violent expulsion from Jackson County, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith the reasons He had permitted His Saints to be persecuted and driven from their lands and homes. As you study the following scripture passages from Doctrine and Covenants 101 and 105, look for what actions and attitudes prevented the Saints from establishing Zion in Jackson County, Missouri.

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Study in Preparation for Class

Read Doctrine and Covenants 101:2–3, 6–8 and Doctrine and Covenants 105:3–6.


Record Your Thoughts

Looking back through these scriptures, mark or list the actions and attitudes that the Lord requires of those in the latter days who desire to establish Zion.

Section 4

What is the future of Zion?

Elder Christofferson taught that as we establish Zion, we prepare ourselves and the world to receive the Savior at His Second Coming:

D. Todd Christofferson

Crucial for the Lord’s return, is the presence on the earth of a people prepared to receive Him at His coming. …

In ancient times, God took the righteous city of Zion to Himself. By contrast, in the last days a new Zion will receive the Lord at His return. …

While we strive to be diligent in building up Zion, including our part in the gathering of the Lord’s elect and the redemption of the dead, we should pause to remember that it is the Lord’s work and He is doing it. …

This great and last dispensation is building steadily to its climax—Zion on earth being joined with Zion from above at the Savior’s glorious return. … Let us be about building up Zion to hasten that day. (D. Todd Christofferson, “Preparing for the Lord’s Return,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2019, 82–84)


Ponder in Preparation for Class

What are you doing to help build up Zion in preparation for the Lord’s Second Coming? What more can you do?