To help class members understand what the scriptures teach about Zion and to inspire them in their efforts to establish Zion.
Prayerfully study the following scriptures and other materials:
Review the material for this lesson in the Class Member Study Guide (35686). Plan ways to refer to the material during the lesson.
Ask a class member to prepare to summarize the account of the city of Enoch as recorded in Moses 7:12–19, 68–69.
If you use the attention activity, bring a piece of paper and a pen or pencil for each class member.
Suggestions for Lesson Development
As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.
Give each class member a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Ask them to write down five important things they would like to accomplish in life. After they have had time to write, read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object. … The time is soon coming, when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her stakes” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 160–61).
Ask class members to ponder the following questions without answering aloud:
As you look at your list, how many of the items could help build up Zion? How might you modify your list to respond to the admonition of the Prophet Joseph Smith?
The revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants contain many instructions about building up Zion. This lesson discusses what Zion is and what is required of us to help establish it.
Discussion and Application
Prayerfully select the lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.
1. The word Zion has several meanings.
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.)
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.
2. Zion has existed in previous dispensations.
Explain that there have been a few times in previous dispensations when Zion has existed among God’s people. The city of Enoch is one example of a people who established Zion. Ask the assigned class member to summarize the events recorded in Moses 7:12–19, 68–69.
What will happen to the city of Enoch in the Millennium? (See Moses 7:61–63. It will return to the earth and become part of the New Jerusalem.) Why is the account of Enoch and his people important to us today? (In addition to helping us understand the destiny of the city of Enoch, the account can help us understand what we must do to establish Zion.)
3. The Saints of our dispensation have been commanded to establish 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).
Read D&C 82:14–15 with class members. What did the Lord command in these verses? What are some specific things we should do to build Zion? (Have class members read the following scriptures and identify what they teach about building Zion. Summarize the information on the chalkboard. Select some of the following questions to encourage discussion.)
D&C 97:21. (Strive to be pure in heart.) The Lord gave the simplest definition of Zion when He called it “the pure in heart” (D&C 97:21). What can we do to help us become pure in heart? (See Moroni 7:47–48; 10:32.)
D&C 38:27. (Become unified.) The people in the city of Enoch were described as “being of one heart and one mind” (Moses 7:18). Lack of unity was one of the reasons the early Saints were not able to build the city of Zion (D&C 101:6; 105:4). What are some effective ways to increase unity in families? How can we be more unified in our ward?
D&C 64:34–35; 105:3, 5–6. (Be obedient.) In D&C 105, the Lord cited disobedience as one of the reasons the city of Zion was not to be established at that time. In what ways have you or your family been strengthened as a result of obedience to gospel principles? How has your ward or stake been strengthened by members’ obedience to gospel principles?
D&C 105:3. (Care for the poor and afflicted.) The Saints who were trying to establish Zion in Missouri were chastised by the Lord for failing to care for “the poor and afflicted among them” (D&C 105:3). Why is caring for the needy a necessary part of building Zion? What opportunities do we have to care for those who are in need?
D&C 105:10. (Teach one another and learn our duties more perfectly.) What can we do to improve teaching in our families and in formal Church settings? In what ways might we need to learn our duties more perfectly?
D&C 133:8–9. (Preach the gospel to the world.) The Lord directed the elders of the Church to call people out from Babylon (the world) to Zion. In what ways does preaching the gospel strengthen the stakes of Zion?
4. The scriptures include glorious promises about the future of Zion.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord speaks of many blessings that will come to Zion in the last days. For some examples of these blessings, have class members read D&C 97:18–25, and invite them to identify specific blessings promised to Zion. See also the following list.
What must we do to enjoy these blessings? (See D&C 97:25.)
How do you feel as you consider the future of Zion?
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; 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 [chosen] to bring about the Latter-day glory” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 231).
Share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“I see a wonderful future in a very uncertain world. If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel, we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way. We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness.
“‘And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord … : for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem’ (Isaiah 2:3).
“Great has been our past, wonderful is our present, glorious can be our future” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 94; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 69).
Encourage class members to establish Zion within their hearts, their families, and their stakes. As prompted by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.
Additional Teaching Idea
You may want to use the following idea to supplement the suggested lesson outline.
Hymns of Zion
Prepare to have class members sing or read the words to one of the following hymns: