How Zion Shall Be Redeemed
By Richard Price
A Sermon Given at the First Restoration Festival in 1978
The Temple in Zion
By Nancy Harlacher
Over the past years I have had the joy and opportunity of studying in the Doctrine and Covenants concerning the Temple of the Lord, and in that process have come to some understandings about Zion which I did not previously have, which I would like to share with you today. My testimony is that the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is God's only true Church, and that the Restoration Movement of 1830 was an act of God.
In fact, this act of God, in bringing forth the Restoration, was the first move in what we call the "work of the Father," or the work which Jesus Christ has called "my strange act." This act is the work of preparing the earth for the Millennium. The Restoration is extremely important, because it is the work of building the first phase of Zion—that the other phases may follow, and that Zion might be established for the pure in heart to be gathered to, to save them during the days of tribulation which are spoken of in the Scriptures and have been mentioned by other speakers at this festival [Restoration Festival, Lamoni, Iowa, September 22–24, 1978].
So we ask the question, "How shall Zion be redeemed?" I would like to give an example of how it shall be, for we have it in the Scriptures. The Lord gave us Section 36 so we would know how Zion is to be redeemed. We can see there a pattern which the Lord uses in the zionic process. There are three steps in this section about Enoch, being the three phases that the city went through in the process of reaching perfection.
In step one there was a group of godly people with whom God could work. The Scripture states that "Our father Adam taught these things, and many have believed, and become the sons of God" [Genesis 7:1]. So the first step in the building of Zion is to have a group of people who believe, and who believe righteously enough that they become sons and daughters of God. I believe that today there are in the Church some people who are in this condition; and therefore are in a position to move into the second step.
I am thankful to see this possibility that exists among us as it did among the people of Enoch. You remember that Adam and Seth and a number of other patriarchs were still living at the time Enoch's City was established. They were a group of righteous people, in a world of wickedness, at that time. Thus they were able to be in a position to provide the Lord with a nucleus or remnant with which to build Zion.
The second step in the Zion-building process occurred when the Lord gave the Endowment to Enoch. The Endowment brings about the second step (or second phase or degree) of Zion. We find this expressed in Section 36:1c–d, in the statement concerning Enoch. He said, "I was clothed upon with glory, and I saw the Lord; he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talks one with another, face to face" [italics added]. This is a tremendous and beautiful statement, in which we find the prophet saying, "I was clothed upon with glory," as he was called up to the high mountain to talk with the Lord. This was Endowment! One of the activities or functions of being crowned is to be transfigured, which he was expressing here when he said, "I was clothed upon with glory."
After this Endowment, Enoch preached the Gospel with power beyond anything known in the religious world of today. The Saints who were already sons and daughters of God accepted this ministry. As a result of the Endowment they were enabled to build a Holy City, and to convert and gather others.
We see Zion developing through these same phases or steps in the New Testament Church. Jesus had been among the people for three years in His natural state, but there was no Zion. When Jesus returned in His resurrected state and appeared to them in glory, then there came Endowment. It states that He "breathed on them" and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost" [John 20:22]. The Lord appeared to the New Testament people about eleven times in His resurrected state. On one occasion five hundred saw Him at one time. Through sharing the Lord's presence upon these occasions, the New Testament Saints received endowmental power, and the second phase of Zion.
As a result, the New Testament says that they had all things common and that "they brought forth the sick" out of "cities round about" and "they were healed every one" [Acts 5:15–16]. And so we look forward to that time when we shall have the Endowment among us and will be able to preach the Gospel in power. The sick will be healed when they are brought before the elders, and the Church will be in a spiritual condition far beyond what it is today.
The second phase of Zion is when the Lord appears in His Celestial state to the Saints from time to time. In this second phase there is great spiritual power in the Church, even though the Saints are yet scattered and the Holy City is not yet sanctified.
Then comes the third phase of Zion, which we find in the account of Enoch, in which the Lord came and dwelt among His people. It states that "the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness" [Genesis 7:20]. And "the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and of one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there were no poor among them." But I want you to notice that something happened before that. Something much more important—and that was that the Lord came and dwelt in Zion. This is the important thing about the story of Enoch's City, and the thing that we should have been emphasizing all these years. Zion was not called "Zion" until after the Lord came and lived in that city.
I am telling you today that the Lord is going to come to Independence and live in Independence—and then it will be Zion. That is, He will live there in the third or ultimate phase of Zion. The third phase of Zion is when there is a Holy City in which Jesus Christ actually dwells in His Celestial state. The example of this is given for us in the closing verse of Section 36, which states that "Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion." Of course, such a city is sanctified—that is, no one can live in it except the pure in heart who have become righteous. Others could not live there because no one can endure the presence of Christ without first becoming righteous or sanctified. In the case of Enoch's City it states that those who could not endure living in the sanctified city, where Christ's presence pervaded all, had such great fear "that they fled and stood afar off [Genesis 7:18].
This Scripture about the Lord dwelling in Zion has burned my soul many times. It has a most significant meaning to me! Enoch's City became an ultimate Zion only when the Lord came and dwelt among His people. And what He did for Enoch, He intends to do for us in Independence!
Of course, Independence is Zion today, but it is only in the first or the initial phase.
I have some calculations here (or perhaps they should be called theses), defining what Zion is:
- First, every time Zion, or a zionic community, has been built, it has been preceded and sustained by the personal appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ in His glorified, Celestial state. In another example, when we think about how Zion came to the people of Nephi in the Land Bountiful, we notice that first of all the Lord appeared. He ministered to the people in person. In this case He did not stay and dwell with them, but He appeared from time to time for a few days. The results of these visits were that He established among them a Celestial or zionic community which lasted two hundred years. This was a second-phase Zion, not equal to Enoch's City. The reason it was a second-phase city was because the Lord only visited there and did not dwell among them. Every time there has been a zionic community, it has been preceded by the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Celestial body. This is the theme of my message today.
- Let me say this in a different way: The personal appearing of the Lord to the Saints is the creating element of Zion. That is, His presence is the generating factor in the Zion-building process. There will be no Zion if the Lord does not dwell in it!
- Another way to say it: It is the presence of the Lord that makes a people Zion. Zion is a community of the pure in heart which is experiencing the actual and physical presence of the Lord.
It is obvious that Zion shall be redeemed by the Lord's coming to dwell among us. How will the Lord come? Will He just appear where we are someday, or will He come in some other way to the Saints? What would happen if He should suddenly come to the Auditorium during General Conference? I am sure it would cause chaos because the Saints could not endure His presence.
Knowing this, God has designated a place for Him to meet the Saints, so they can become worthy to dwell with Him—the Temple! Zion shall be redeemed by the Lord dwelling in the Temple. The Lord has always wanted to dwell among His people. We find Him telling Moses in Exodus 25:8, "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them." This is a key as to how He shall dwell among us; He had our fathers build a Tabernacle in the wilderness so He could dwell among them. The word "tabernacle" means "a dwelling place." So the Lord is to have a dwelling place today when He is to dwell among us.
Christ shall come first to Kirtland Temple—and afterward to the Temple in Zion, which is not yet built. He shall come to both of them before the Millennium begins. There is a marvelous little book which explains this. It is called Three Visitations of Christ and His Coming in Glory by Brother Adolph Lundeen. It gives us an understanding that Christ is to come three times before the great Advent, in what Brother Lundeen calls "non-glory" visitations. The Lord shall come four times altogether. The last time shall be the great Advent at the beginning of the Millennium. But before that time, He would come as a thief in the night three different times. He will come and appear to the Saints, but will not come as the world's Messiah then.
The Lord Himself said in Luke 12: 41. "He cometh in the first watch of the night, and he shall also come in the second watch, and again he shall come in the third watch." He continues by explaining that He had already come. In other words, His life in Palestine in the meridian of time was His first visitation.
And He has promised to come two more times in a similar manner. And so we look for the Lord to come before He comes. In other words, we look for the Lord to come to the Saints in the Church before the great Advent.
He told the Saints in the early Church, in the days of Joseph Smith, that He would appear to them in Kirtland Temple if they would qualify. Joseph wrote, "You will see that the Lord commanded us, in Kirtland, to build an house of God, and establish a school for the prophets. This is the word of the Lord to us, and we must, yea, the Lord helping us, we will obey: as on conditions of our obedience He has promised us great things; yea, even a visit from the heavens to honor us with His own presence" (RLDS History of the Church 1:271).
The Lord has always wanted to be among His people—to actually dwell among them physically. Joseph continues, "We greatly fear before the Lord lest we should fail of this great honor, which our Master proposes to confer on us; we are seeking for humility and great faith lest we be ashamed in His presence" (ibid.).
They were ashamed, for they never qualified; and Christ could not come in person to Kirtland Temple to appear to them. They did not develop the spirituality which would enable the Lord to bestow the Endowment upon them. So the Lord could not bring Zion to the Church and the world at that time. For over a hundred years now we have had to wait for the time when the Saints would become righteous enough again so the Lord could bring them into His presence.
These decades have proven that even the Saints, left to themselves, yes, even under the Spirit's guidance, shall never redeem Zion; but the time will come when the Lord will not wait any longer. Then He will separate the wheat from the tares, as it is told us in Section 84. He will separate the Saints. The remnant which is left, "those who shall be left of them"—as it says in Section 107:2d—they will be the ones whom the Lord shall use to build Zion.
When the Lord first comes to give the Endowment and start moving the Church into the second phase of Zion, where shall He first appear? First, in Kirtland Temple! That is why Kirtland Temple was built and preserved. It is a sacred, holy place; and one to which we should look for the beginning of Zion.
Zion shall begin at Kirtland Temple! This is a testimony that has come to me in a profound degree from time to time. Section 92 tells concerning Kirtland Temple, "the building of mine house, for the preparation wherewith I design to prepare mine apostles to prune my vineyard for the last time, that I may bring to pass my strange act, that I may pour out my Spirit upon all flesh" [verse 1b–c]. The "strange act," again, is to prepare the earth for the Millennium, and the earth shall be prepared by pouring out His Spirit upon all flesh. He did not do this during the 1836 Endowment, so it is yet to be done. In the future the Lord will pour out His Spirit in that house. Section 92 continues by saying, "...in the which house I design to endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high, for this is the promise of the Father unto you" [verse 2a]. This is a very important statement: The Father has promised that in that House the Lord would pour out His Spirit to such an extent that the Gospel would be taken to all flesh! That has not happened yet, has it? And so we look to Kirtland Temple, through these scriptures, for the beginning of the second phase of Zion.
In 1836, Joseph and Oliver had the marvelous experience of seeing the Lord in a vision at Kirtland. But that was not the second "thief-in-the-night" visitation of Christ, because He did not appear physically among the prophets in the School of the Prophets. And they did not take this Gospel to all the world as a result. He only appeared to the two leaders in vision. But that which did happen was a tremendous experience. It was the greatest experience anyone has had since the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos saw the Lord in His glory. In the vision which Joseph and Oliver experienced together, the Lord told them that the Kirtland Temple was blessed. And He closed His message by saying,"This is the beginning of the blessing which shall be poured out upon the heads of my people" in this House (RLDS History of the Church 2:47). There is much yet to come from Kirtland.
I would like to introduce to you another book which is particularly appropriate upon this subject. It is The Endowment by Brother Earl R. Curry. This is a tremendous booklet—a book of prophecy of what the Lord intends to do at Kirtland. Brother Curry tells us that he went to the Temple to pray two hours a day for months. During those experiences the Lord gave him much information, which he has put into the book. In it is the promise that the School of the Prophets shall be reestablished and endowed there.
It is my testimony that this is how Zion shall begin its next phase. The School of the Prophets at Kirtland Temple shall receive that great Endowment! The Lord shall appear to those men at Kirtland and give to them great power, and they shall go out and turn the Church into the same kind of instrument that it was during the New Testament times. Go back and read the Book of Acts, chapter five, and see the kind of Church that we shall have after the coming Kirtland Endowment. It will be the same kind as the Nephites had when the Lord appeared to them. These are examples of a second, or an intermediate, phase of Zion.
Brother Curry tells (in his Easter message of 1975) about the testimony of Apostle Garver and Elder A. E. Stone (and others) having the promise from the Lord that He would again appear in Kirtland Temple and minister to people there. Through Brother Curry the Lord said, "But I say you have not yet begun to dream of that which I, the Lord, had in mind in the building of this Temple [the Kirtland Temple], things which as yet have only been partially realized, and when they are, their effect and their influence shall be felt throughout the wide, wide world."
Brother John Blackmore, one of the Church historians, said that he believed that the School of the Prophets would be reestablished at Kirtland. High Priest Louis Moffett testified to me that in the High Priests' Conference in 1950 in Kirtland Temple, he had the experience of watching Patriarch Elbert A. Smith give a revelation that occurred at that time. He said he could see the Lord standing by Brother Elbert, very plainly. He said that every time Brother Elbert would pause, the Lord would motion to him, and he could see the Lord speaking. Brother Moffett could not hear the Lord, but he could see His lips moving. And as He would speak, Brother Elbert would repeat the words. In that experience the Lord said that He was not a stranger in that house; that He had been there many times. He promised many wonderful things yet for Kirtland Temple.
There has come to me as I have studied day after day concerning the Temple of the Lord, a vital testimony. It is, that if the Church had continued after that High Priests' Conference and had established the School of the Prophets at Kirtland, that the Lord would have already come in His second "thief-in-the-night" visitation. If the Church with all its heart had turned to Kirtland Temple through all these years, the Lord would have already endowed the School of the Prophets there, and those prophets would be building the second phase of Zion that we have been talking about—the New Jerusalem. Independence would be established as the Holy City, and the Temple in Zion would be in the process of construction. This is the testimony that came to me in the most profound and powerful experience I have ever had in my life.
I firmly believe that the Saints must turn back to Kirtland, and back to the Restoration; this is the means that God is going to use to build Zion. He is going to use the same means which He has already announced and provided. He has given a plan to the early Church with which to build Zion, and He shall use that plan! It shall not be done any other way. If we turn back to the Restoration, and have faith again in God's plan, the Lord will move among us and build Zion. The works and purposes of God cannot be frustrated. His program or plan is not on trial—we are.
Of course, you know we are not going to build Zion. It is the Lord who shall build it. We can prepare ourselves, and we can get ourselves ready—this we must do—but He is the builder of it. Remember that in Section 36 concerning Enoch's City, the Lord said, "a place which I shall prepare; an holy city" [Genesis 7:70; italics added]. So the Lord will do it! And when He does, He will separate those who are ready from those who are not. Then with that group (however small or large it might be)—He shall use that group to build Zion.
Now about the ultimate or third phase of Zion. It is the phase in which Christ shall dwell in Zion—that is, in Independence, Missouri—in the Temple in Independence. His third "thief-in-the-night" visitation will be when He comes to dwell in the Temple in Zion. It will be in an awesome time—a time of glory for Zion, and tribulation in the rest of the world.
Brother Adolph Lundeen tells us of this time, when the 144,000 men mentioned in Revelation 7 and in Section 108 will be endowed in the Temple in Zion (Three Visitations, 24–27). He states that these 144,000 men will then be sent out to help in the great gathering (ibid., 29–30; see also Times and Seasons 5:596). They shall be sent out from Zion to preach the Gospel to every person, and will help fulfill Section 36, which states, "Righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out my own elect from the four quarters of the earth unto a place which I shall prepare; a holy city, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming" [DC 36: 12f–g].
Now let us understand that the Lord is going to build Zion before the Millennium begins. Some of the Saints have said that the time for Zion is past, but that certainly is not true, for the Lord said that while the Saints are in Zion they shall be looking forth to His coming. Again, Section 36:12 tells us that the Saints shall be gathered to Zion, "that my people may . . . be looking forth for the time of my coming." So Zion must be built first if the Saints are to be in it while they wait for the great Advent. Section 49:5a–b also testifies that Zion shall be built before the Millennium. It states that "before the great day of the Lord shall come . . . Zion shall flourish."
I repeat, the Lord shall dwell in Zion before He comes at the great Advent, at the beginning of the Millennium. Section 36:12g continues, "that my people may . . . be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle." And remember that a tabernacle is a dwelling place! So the Lord's dwelling place shall be Independence, Missouri, before the Millennium. Of course, the world will not recognize it, just as it did not recognize Christ in New Testament times.
In that exceptional chapter of Third Nephi 10, the Lord speaks about His coming and dwelling in Zion. (Read the first twenty-five verses of this chapter, because they tell the whole story of the Church in our times—the Utah apostasy, the period when we are without the Endowment, and more.) This passage declares in verse four, "And then shall the power of heaven come down among them." This is the Endowment. The "power of heaven" is the Endowment. "and I also will be in the midst." Isn't this tremendous? The Lord shall be in the midst of Zion. "...and then shall the work of the Father commence." The Lord shall be in the midst before the work of the Father begins. The work of the Father is the task of gathering all of the righteous from all over the world to protect them during the great Tribulation period.
Brother Kenneth Briggs [a previous speaker] has stated that "Zion is the Ark of the latter days." It shall carry the pure in heart through the Tribulation period. That is why we speak of fleeing to Zion for refuge. It will be refuge from the Tribulation.
Now let me bring evidence that when Christ suddenly comes to His Temple, it will be the Temple in Independence, rather than in Jerusalem. We find this in the Scriptures. Malachi says,"The Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in" [3:1]. Some have supposed that Malachi was talking about the Temple in Jerusalem. Zion shall be built in Jerusalem also, but His coming to the Temple in Jerusalem will not be sudden, for when the Lord suddenly comes to Jerusalem (or makes His first appearance there) He will appear first upon the Mount Olivet. Remember that during the Battle of Armageddon the Lord will suddenly appear and vanquish the armies of the enemy which are occupying the city. At this time Jesus will stand upon the Mount of Olives and His presence will split the mountain in twain. And once He has made this sudden appearance, His going on to the Temple in the city could not be called sudden.
Another evidence that the Lord's sudden appearance at His Temple will be at the Zion Temple in Independence, is found in the fact that Ephraim is to be the leading tribe in the latter days. Ephraim will have his headquarters in Independence, in Joseph's land, while the Jews will have theirs in Jerusalem (according to Section 108). Thus the Lord will come suddenly to the Zion Temple in Independence.
We can be very grateful for latter-day revelation, for it gives some specifics about the Lord's dwelling in the Temple in Zion. Section 94 is a tremendous section! In this section the Lord commanded the early Saints to build the Temple in Zion. In that time He gave them promises concerning the Temple: "Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that an house should be built unto me in the land of Zion. . . . And inasmuch as my people build an house unto me . . . my glory shall rest upon it; yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it" [verses 3a, 4a, b].
The Lord has promised that He will actually come into the Temple in Zion after it is built! This is where the greatest Endowment shall occur. Section 87:3 tells us about this last great Endowment. After telling about other wonderful things which are yet to happen in Kirtland Temple, it states, "Then cometh the day when the arm of the Lord shall be revealed in power in convincing the nations, the heathen nations, the house of Joseph, of the gospel of their salvation" [d]. The day of power shall be when the Lord comes to the Temple in Zion in His third "thief-in-the-night" visitation.
This third and last Endowment shall be the greatest one of all, for He shall then endow the 144,000 men previously mentioned, and send them out to preach the Gospel with power. Section 87:4 continues concerning this: "For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fullness of the gospel"—that is, the fullness of the true Gospel as found in the Three Scriptures—"the fullness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them, for the revelation of Jesus Christ." Or to put this into my words, these men shall receive the Holy Spirit of Promise, which is the "other Comforter," or the greatest degree of Endowment. And they will receive it as a result of seeing the Lord in His Celestial state while they are in the Zion Temple (see Three Visitations, 22–24). This experience, and the blessings that they shall receive at that time, shall enable them to preach the Gospel in the language of every people around the world. Every human on earth at that time is going to hear this Gospel preached by these men in tremendous power. This is what is meant by the expression that "the knowledge of the Lord shall sweep the earth as a flood."
Then the people who hear them shall have the choice of gathering to Zion in Independence or Jerusalem, or the choice of remaining where they are and suffering the plagues and destruction that are to come in the Tribulation period. Brother Joseph Burton, in his testimony in Infallible Proofs, describes a vision which he had of the experiences of one of these great missionaries (Knisley, Infallible Proofs, 109–112).
Last of all, I want to bear testimony that God the Father shall be seen, or shall at least appear, in the Temple in Zion. This is to me a most significant and profound thing! It is totally beyond our comprehension! It is something that we have overlooked as a people. We have not had the faith that we should have had concerning it. I plead with you to have faith in God, and to read the Scriptures over and over again. Dwell on these words in the precious Books, and behold the wonderful promises. For it says in Section 94 that all the pure in heart that come into the Temple in Zion shall see God.
Section 83:3 bears the same testimony as it explains the Temple ministries which are to be conducted in the Zion Temple. It explains the Melchisedec ministry in the Temple—that these ministers shall bring the people to the condition where they shall see God the Father in that Temple. That is the meaning of the words, "without this, no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live." This is telling us that God the Father shall appear in the Temple, just as Section 94 told us He would.
I invite you to walk with God, and to respond to Him, and go on in this great work. This Church, which God restored in 1830, is God's only true Church, and its greatest days are yet ahead.
(Restoration Festival , 91–99; Vision 53 [July 2006]: 11–15)