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I feel like a theme I’ve found in my studies lately has been New Jerusalem and the idea of what Zion is. Sections 49 and 50 don’t directly speak of New Jerusalem, but stick with me and we’ll come full circle.
We’ve all heard the saying that the world is wicked enough for the Second Coming; it’s just not righteous enough yet. And I’ve realized that in so many ways, that’s true.
We all laugh and joke about waiting for the prophet to call us all to Zion, but what do we think Zion is? Is it just a place where everyone is going to have the same opinions and it’s going to be easy to get along? Zion is not just a place, and in the end, the place doesn’t really matter. The Lord could have designated any spot to be New Jerusalem. The real point of Zion is the people. The people are righteous and unified. The people have the glory of God upon them, and so the people are protected from all the chaos surrounding them. If we were all called to Zion tomorrow, the same Spirit that prevails in our wards, stakes, and homes would prevail in Zion. We are Zion, or at least, we have been asked to become Zion.
Look at the people around you in your wards and stakes. Look at your leaders. Look at past wards where you didn’t necessarily get along with very many people. Look at your brothers and sisters with opposite opinions. If we were called to Zion tomorrow, what spirit would you be bringing along? Would we be a Zion people? It’s not enough to live in Missouri. Will the glory and protection of the Lord actually be upon us if we all moved there?
I have recently discovered that for me, the answer is, as of yet, no. I’m not ready. I’m ready in the sense that I’m ready to feel safe for the Second Coming, but I’m not ready in the sense that I don’t have my act together yet. I still have some forgiving to do. I still need to find more charity for others. I still need to be more concerned about my neighbors and listen better and seek to understand more than I talk.
If I want the Lord to call us to Zion already, I have to be ready to create it.
What is spiritual light?
Doctrine and Covenants 50:24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
This verse always confused me a little bit, probably because I’m far too literal. Light could mean so many different things. What is Christ saying?
Well the funny thing about symbolism is that symbols can have multiple meanings. However, for this post, I found some information in the institute manual that I want to talk about.
“Receiving spiritual light is the process of gaining spiritual knowledge and growing in personal righteousness.”
Two things. 1) Spiritual knowledge and 2) Personal righteousness.
Going back to verse 24, God has all the spiritual knowledge and all the personal righteousness. We can receive it from Him and act on it. As we continue that process over and over day after day year after year into eternity, we find ourselves at the perfect day. We find ourselves like our Heavenly Father. We find ourselves ready to build Zion.
So if we really all want to be called to Zion, and if we really all want to survive the Second Coming, we need to gain spiritual knowledge and increase personal righteousness. A simple formula, and yet how many of us are spending adequate time in these pursuits?
Joseph Smith taught, ““… A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.”
It is not easy to grow in the Spirit, and I’m convinced that if the Lord attempted to pour out too much at once, we would be crushed. Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith received Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants while in Ohio. After receiving the revelation, Sidney Rigdon had to lay down from exhaustion from having received the vision. Joseph Smith, too, when he received his First Vision, fell down exhausted.
You are physically tired after a workout. You are mentally tired after studying for too long. You are spiritually exhausted after General Conference. We have to work on increasing our capacity for revelation and knowledge.
Doctrine and Covenants 50:40 Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.
This cannot happen overnight. I think of the response that occurred for the pandemic. People ran out and panic bought as much as they could, but in so many cases, it was not enough. You cannot build a year’s food supply and water supply overnight. You cannot prepare your mind to receive everything you need to know in the night before the end of the world. It is physically impossible. It will be too late. We have to seek knowledge and grow our capacity for revelation while it is still day.
If you don’t know how to study, pray about it. Ask a friend. Simply open and read. Do something. The Lord can prepare and teach you and guide you along if you’re doing something. There will be many days when you will not be able to study adequately. There will be many days where you will be so overwhelmed with the things of the world that you will wonder why you even tried to study the scriptures. These are yet more reasons why we need to start today. We need time to increase our capacities.
This is a broad topic with a million directions and applications and discussions that we could cover. But I suppose for this particular instance, we’ll talk about preparing for Zion.
When I think of Zion, I think of a few things. Unity, industriousness, a love for the things of God over the things of the world. I think of a people who assume the best of their neighbors when mistakes are made or different views are shared. I think of people who sincerely, truly, deep down love their enemies.
When our friends betray us, are we willing to welcome them back into the fold as Joseph Smith did. Or better yet, when our friends betray us, are we willing to suffer for them as Christ did? We may not be called upon to suffer for them, but are we willing to? And are we willing to do it without giving ourselves a high five for Christlike?
There have been people who have hurt you. There may have even been people who hurt you on purpose, with evil intent and malicious feelings. You need to forgive them, just as I need to continue to work on forgiving mine. You need to forgive them because you are running out of time to do so, and if you are not prepared for Zion, you are certainly not prepared to live with our Heavenly Father.
Just as with spiritual knowledge, this does not occur overnight. We have to start the processes today.
Relying on Him
This verse makes me think about my toddler. She’s growing and experiencing new feelings that she’s never experienced before. Her frustration and anger and devastation come on strong at times. In so many ways, our frustration and anger and devastation come on strong at times. However, my toddler is much better at leaning on me than I am at leaning on my Heavenly Father. She’s never afraid or ashamed to come and tell me she got hurt or to ask for help. She never ceases to rely on me for whatever she needs.
Doctrine and Covenants 50:41 Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;
Our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, are the source of both spiritual knowledge and righteousness. In other words, they are the source of light. Turn to Them to receive more and more and more and more light until the perfect day.