Laying the Foundation of Zion Lesson 22: Sections 57-59

Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324-325, (1981), 43–44


Joseph Smith was called by the Lord’to lay the foundation of Zion in these latter days.

Theme Analysis

  • A.

    The place for the city of Zion was identified by the Lord.

    1. 1.

      Lands were to be purchased in Missouri as an “everlasting inheritance.”

    2. 2.

      The Saints in the land of Zion were to prepare for others to come.

  • B.

    The Lord indicated that blessings would come after tribulations.

  • C.

    Many early Saints were honored to assist in laying the foundation for Zion.

    1. 1.

      Those traveling to Missouri were to bear testimony along the way.

    2. 2.

      The establishment of the latter-day Zion would fulfill ancient prophecies.

    3. 3.

      The bishop was to act as judge in dividing inheritances.

    4. 4.

      The land and temple lot were to be dedicated and consecrated.

  • D.

    The Saints were commanded to observe the laws of the land.

  • E.

    The Saints were counseled to act without needing always to be commanded.

    1. 1.

      The fulfillment of the Lord’s promises to man is based on his obedience.

    2. 2.

      The Saints were enjoined to build up the Church in all regions.

    3. 3.

      The gathering to Zion was to be according to wisdom and order.

  • F.

    The inhabitants of Zion were to be blessed as they obeyed the gospel.

    1. 1.

      The Lord reiterated several commandments.

    2. 2.

      Works of righteousness will be rewarded.

Study Sources

Student Manual

Sections 57-59; Enrichment B, “Establishing Zion”

Use material from Historical Background and Notes and Commentary to teach each revelation in its historical context.

Standard Works

  • D&C 57-59. Keeping in mind the theme of this lesson, read and ponder these sections.

  • D&C 1:15-22. What was the Lord’s intention in restoring the gospel?

  • D&C 6:6; 11:6; 12:6; 14:6. What was the Lord’s response to several of the early brethren who sought his will concerning them?

  • D&C 21:7. What was Joseph Smith personally assigned and inspired to do?

  • D&C 63:25-31; 101:69-75. How did the Lord instruct his Saints to obtain lands for an inheritance in Zion? What method were they commanded not to use in obtaining lands in Zion?

  • D&C 52:3, 7-8, 22-33. What instructions were given to the elders mentioned here? See also Doctrine and Covenants 53:5; 55:5; 56:5.

  • D&C 58:19-23. What laws were the Lord’s people commanded to obey in the land of Zion?

  • D&C 136:37-38. Was Joseph Smith successful in fulfilling the Lord’s command to lay the foundation of Zion?

  • D&C 64:33. Although Zion had small beginnings in Joseph’s day, what was the Lord’s evaluation of it?

Basic Library

  • A of F, pp. 345-55. We believe in two Zions-the Old and the New Jerusalem.

  • Teachings, p. 34. Even the Prophet Joseph Smith did not know the full means by which the establishment of Zion would be accomplished.

  • Teachings, p. 17. The latter-day Zion will be built in America.

  • Teachings, pp. 79-80. God designated to Joseph Smith “the very spot” for the city of Zion or New Jerusalem of the latter days.

  • Teachings, p. 160. “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object.”

  • Teachings, pp. 231-32. “The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age.” We are the people blessed with the privilege of bringing it about.

  • Discourses, pp. 119-20. Zion is the pure in heart as well as a specific place on the earth—North and South America and eventually the whole earth.

Additional Sources

  • Marion G. Romney, “To Save Souls,” Relief Society Magazine, Feb. 1970, p. 86. “It has been the vision of Zion, with the hope and expectation of securing a place therein, which has held the righteous on course through the ages.”

  • Wilford Woodruff, in Journal of Discourses, 17:250. Zion can only be built up by celestial law, and those who inherit it must abide by that same law.

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

Why Should Zion Be Established? (Scripture Analysis)

Students need to know why it is so important to establish Zion. Using the Zion societies of the past as examples, have students identify from the scriptures the benefits which come to those who establish such a society. List in detail the characteristics and blessings which come to a Zion people. Give students the following references and help them discover these concepts: Moses 7:18-21, 62-69; JST, Genesis 14:33-36; Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35; 4 Nephi 1:1-18; Doctrine and Covenants 45:66-71.

Prophecies Concerning the City of New Jerusalem (Scripture Analysis)

Many prophets have anxiously anticipated this dispensation. In the dispensation of the fulness of times, preparations for the return of the Son of God will be completed. Ancient prophets knew, and some saw, that as part of that work a city of holiness, the New Jerusalem, would be established. Review with students some of the prophecies that have been given about the city of New Jerusalem as recorded in Moses 7:60-64; Ether 13:1-10; and 3 Nephi 20:22; 21:1-29.

Review with students the role of the early Saints in laying the foundation of Zion. Discuss what they must do themselves to prepare to complete the work.

Joseph Smith’s Role in the Latter-day Zion (Discussion)

Point out that Joseph Smith was chosen of the Lord to lay the foundation of the latter-day Zion by revelation (see D&C 21:7). He was to be assisted by others who were “honored in laying the foundation” (D&C 58:7).

Review the events associated with Joseph Smith’s visit to Missouri in 1831 and the dedication of the land of Zion and the temple lot. You may want to also discuss Joseph Smith’s plan for the city of Zion (see William E. Berrett, The Restored Church, pp. 87-92; B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:311-12).

Also discuss the following questions:

  1. 1.

    How successful were these early Saints in establishing Zion?

  2. 2.

    Why did Zion not become a reality? (see D&C 101:6-8). Did they fail? (Point out that although Zion was not built, its foundation was laid. Joseph Smith in particular was commended by the Lord in regard to his faithful labors (see D&C 136:37-39).