"Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise": Building Zion by Becoming Zion

Scott C. Esplin

Scott C. Esplin, "'Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise': Building Zion by Becoming Zion," in You Shall Have My Word: Exploring the Text of the Doctrine and Covenants, ed. Scott C. Esplin, Richard O. Cowan, and Rachel Cope (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012), 134–48.


Scott C. Esplin was an assistant professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University when this article was published.

The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age,” Joseph Smith editorialized in Nauvoo’s Times and Seasons in May 1842. “It is a theme upon which prophets, priests, and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight.” [1] Indeed, the Prophet himself seems to have pondered much about this topic. Numerous revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants trace what its Explanatory Introduction calls “the mighty struggles of the saints in attempting to build Zion on the earth in modern times.” Moreover, Joseph Smith repeatedly returned to the subject in sermons throughout his life. [2] However, like many who dreamed of establishing the City of Zion before him, Joseph Smith “died without the sight.” [3] Of this apparent failure, Elder Robert D. Hales summarized, “This promised Zion always seems to be a little beyond our reach. We need to understand that as much virtue can be gained in progressing toward Zion as in dwelling there. It is a process as well as a destination... . Many are perfected upon the road to Zion who will never see the city in mortality.” [4]

Though Zion certainly will be a place, throughout the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord seems to have expanded the Prophet’s vision beyond the destination to include Zion as a process. In particular, the revelations associated with Joseph Smith’s first trip to Zion (D&C 57–64) outline much about how Zion can be established. When we study the principles contained in these sections in their historical context and in conjunction with other scriptural passages, a pattern emerges for becoming Zion-like while laboring for the city’s establishment.

Locating the City of Zion (D&C 57)

While the concept of Zion is frequently repeated biblically, the first Doctrine and Covenants reference to Zion is in an April 1829 revelation to Oliver Cowdery, wherein the Lord directed him to “seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion” (D&C 6:6). In subsequent sections, the Lord commanded Hyrum Smith and Joseph Knight Sr. to likewise “establish the cause of Zion” (D&C 11:6; 12:6). A year later, he introduced Zion as more than a cause, promising Emma Smith that if she was faithful, she would “receive an inheritance in Zion” (D&C 25:2). Shortly thereafter, the Lord called Zion a city for the first time, directing Oliver Cowdery to head a mission to the Lamanites in September 1830, when he declared, “It is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites” (D&C 28:9). Joseph Smith’s work on the translation of the Bible in December 1830 further highlighted the physicality of Zion, as this translation described the establishment of Enoch’s city by the same name with the promise that in the last days there would be “an Holy City . . . called Zion, a New Jerusalem” (Moses 7:62). Finally, motivating the Saints to build this city, the Lord revealed that Zion would be “a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God” (D&C 45:66).

Understandably, the Prophet and his associates quickly became interested in locating the promised city Zion. Commanded by the Lord in June 1831 to “journey to the land of Missouri” (D&C 52:3), the Saints were promised that “it shall also, inasmuch as they are faithful, be made known unto them the land of your inheritance” (D&C 52:5). In company with Sidney Rigdon, Martin Harris, Edward Partridge, William W. Phelps, Joseph Coe, and Algernon and Elizabeth Gilbert, Joseph Smith left Kirtland for Missouri on June 19, 1831. Traveling by wagon, canal boat, stagecoach, and steamer and on foot, the party arrived in Independence, Missouri, in the middle of July, where their thoughts naturally turned to questions about the location of Zion. On July 20, 1831, the Prophet Joseph inquired of the Lord further, “When will the wilderness blossom as the rose? When will Zion be built up in her glory, and where will Thy temple stand, unto which all nations shall come in the last days?” According to the Prophet’s reminiscence, his “anxiety was soon relieved” by the receipt of D&C 57. [5]

The incomplete nature of the response may have surprised some. In section 57, the Lord answered the question of where Zion would be located, designating Missouri as “the land which [he had] appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints” and as “the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion” (vv. 1–2). Further answering where, he designated Independence as “the center place” with “a spot for the temple . . . lying westward, upon a lot which [was] not far from the courthouse” (v. 3). However, the twin questions of “when . . . the wilderness [would] blossom as the rose” and “when . . . Zion [would] be built up in her glory” went unanswered. Instead, the Lord directed how the city would be built and who would build it, instructing leaders that they were to purchase “every tract [of land] lying westward” (v. 4) while informing them which members were to “plant” themselves in this place (see vv. 6–15). For everything else regarding the establishment of Zion, the Lord promised, “Further directions shall be given hereafter” (v. 16).

A Pattern for Establishing Zion (D&C 58)

Understandably, the Prophet and his associates were anxious for additional instruction about Zion. Twelve days later, on August 1, 1831, section 58 was received, what John Whitmer later called “a Revelation given to the Elders who were assembled on the land of Zion” containing “Directions what to do &c &c &c.” [6] The revelation began addressing both Zion as a people and Zion as a place. “Hearken, O ye Elders of my church, and give ear to my word,” the Lord invited. “Learn of me what I will concerning you [Zion the people], and also concerning this land [Zion the place]” (D&C 58:1). However, in the section as well as in the revelations that follow, focus shifted from Zion as a place to Zion as a process as the Lord outlined how the Saints could become his promised people.

Section 58 parenthetically returned to the earlier question of when Zion would be established, indicating that “the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand” (v. 4) and that “the time has not yet come, for many years, for [the Saints] to receive their inheritance in this land” (v. 44). In contrast to this brief discussion of timing, the Lord heavily emphasized principles of becoming Zion-like. In more modern times, President Ezra Taft Benson highlighted the fact that Zion will be built by living revealed principles. “Only a Zion people can bring in a Zion society,” Benson noted. “And as the Zion people increase, so we will be able to incorporate more of the principles of Zion until we have a people prepared to receive the Lord.” [7]

Received during Joseph Smith’s first trip to Zion, section 58 outlined for the Saints principles required in the process of becoming Zion. Foreshadowing the immediate history of Jackson County, the Lord promised a reward “greater in the kingdom of heaven” for those who are “faithful in tribulation.” He further declared that they “cannot behold with [their] natural eyes, for the present time, the design of [their] God,” but that “after much tribulation [would come] the blessings” (vv. 2–4). For Zion to be built, Saints must faithfully overcome trials—this is a first principle for becoming Zion.

Section 58 continues by outlining obedience to law as a second principle upon which Zion must be built. “My law shall be kept on this land,” the Lord declared (v. 19). Using Martin Harris as “an example unto the church, in laying his moneys before the bishop of the church,” the Lord linked consecration specifically to the establishment of Zion, declaring that consecration is “a law unto every man that cometh unto this land [Zion] to receive an inheritance.” To be a part of Zion, each man must do “with his moneys according as the law directs” (vv. 35–36).

Obedience to God is connected to the proactive use of agency, a third principle outlined in the section. While Saints committed to building Zion are to obey God’s laws, they should also not wait “[to be commanded] in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant” (v. 26). Rather, the Saints “should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness” because “the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves” (vv. 27–28). We do not merely wait for Zion to be built; it is a goal we actively seek to achieve.

The section continued with a fourth principle upon which Zion and Zion-like lives are built—sharing the gospel. Because Zion was to be a place “unto which all nations shall be invited,” the Lord’s representatives had to “push the people together from the ends of the earth” (vv. 9, 45). Those who were “not appointed to stay in this land” were to “preach the gospel in the regions round about,” the Lord commanded, “for, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature” (vv. 46, 64).

Finally, consistent with how Zion was later equated with “the pure in heart” (D&C 97:21), the Lord called both Martin Harris and William W. Phelps to repent in section 58. If Enoch’s Zion was a group of people who were “of one heart” and who “dwelt in righteousness” (Moses 7:18), modern Zion was to become the same. Rebuking Harris and Phelps for seeking “the praise of the world” and “to excel” (D&C 58:39, 41), the Lord counseled them that they could purify their hearts by confessing and forsaking their sins (see v. 43). [8] Indeed, if they did so, the Lord promised he would “remember [their sins] no more” (v. 42). These principles of faithfully enduring trials, obeying God’s laws, exercising agency, preaching the gospel, and purifying hearts—delivered as the Prophet sought instruction regarding Zion’s establishment— provide a pattern for how the Lord’s people would become a modern Zion.

Armed with the knowledge of where to establish Zion and the principles upon which it must be built, Joseph Smith moved forward with focus on its physical location while emphasizing the standards required for its establishment. The day after the receipt of section 58, he assisted recently arrived members of the Colesville Branch in laying the first log for a house “as a foundation of Zion.” On the same occasion, “through prayer, the land of Zion was consecrated and dedicated by Elder Sidney Rigdon for the gathering of the Saints.” [9] Committing the inhabitants of Zion to become Zion, Rigdon challenged the audience, “Do you receive this land for the land of your inheritance with thankful hearts from the Lord?” “We do,” was the enthusiastic answer from all. “Do you pledge yourselves to keep the laws of God on this land, which you have never have [sic] kept in your own land?” Rigdon continued. Again, “we do” was the response. Finally, Rigdon asked “Do you pledge yourselves to see that others of your brethren, who shall come hither do keep the laws of God?” Following a third “we do” and a benedictory prayer, Rigdon concluded, “I now pronounce this land consecrated and dedicated to the Lord for a possession and inheritance for the Saints, (in the name of Jesus Christ having authority from him.) And for all the faithful Servants of the Lord to the rimotest [sic] ages of time.” [10] The next day, in what was described as a “scene . . . solemn and impressive,” Joseph Smith continued to focus on the physical location of Zion, likewise dedicating the spot for the temple. [11]

Implementing the Principles to Establish Zion (D&C 59–64)

While Joseph and his companions labored for Zion’s physical establishment, additional revelations focused the early Saints back on the principles of how to become Zion-like. Just as Elder D. Todd Christofferson emphasized that “Zion is both a place and a people,” the Lord returned to stressing the principles outlined in D&C 58. [12] On August 7, 1831, Joseph Smith’s next revelation, D&C 59, again addressed two earlier themes. The revelation was received following the funeral of Polly Knight, who had traveled with her husband, Joseph Knight Sr., and the rest of the Colesville Branch at the Lord’s direction to settle in Zion (see D&C 54:8). So ill on her journey that her son Newel “bought lumber to make a coffin in case she should die before we arrived at our place of destination,” Polly Knight had her “greatest desire” fulfilled to “set her feet upon the land of Zion, and to have her body interred in that land.” [13] Praising these Saints for having faithfully come to Zion in spite of tribulation, the revelation opened, “Blessed . . . are they who have come up unto this land with an eye single to my glory, according to my commandments. For those that live shall inherit the earth, and those that die shall rest from all their labors, and their works shall follow them; and they shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father, which I have prepared for them” (D&C 59:1–2). As promised in the previous section, people become Zion-like after much tribulation, though their ultimate blessings might be delayed until eternity. Of Polly Knight, Joseph Smith later wrote, “a worthy member sleeps in Jesus till the resurrection.” [14]

In addition to expounding the role of tribulation in becoming like Zion, the Lord praised obedience in section 59. “Blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel,” the revelation continued, “for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth... . And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above” (vv. 3–4). This revelation, however, went further than its predecessor in explaining the role of obedience in shaping Zion. Prohibiting specific sins like stealing, adultery, and murder, the Lord added the caution “nor do anything like unto it” (v. 6). Saints serious about becoming Zion are to live a higher standard of obedience. Furthermore, not needing to be commanded in all things, they go beyond merely not committing sin to avoiding even its very appearance.

While this section seems to cover a host of possible sins with its umbrella-like phrase “nor do anything like unto it,” the Lord did go into significant detail regarding obedience to the fourth commandment, honoring the Lord’s Sabbath. Received on Sunday, August 7, 1831, the text may have some connection to the day and also to the audience who, as farmers arriving late in the planting season, may have been tempted to make up for lost time. [15] However, like the other principles for building Zion, the section may also foreshadow a modern challenge, as the lack of Sabbath observance seems to stifle Zion’s establishment. In 1997, President Gordon B. Hinckley cautioned:

The Sabbath of the Lord is becoming the play day of the people. It is a day of golf and football on television, of buying and selling in our stores and markets. Are we moving to mainstream America as some observers believe? In this I fear we are. What a telling thing it is to see the parking lots of the markets filled on Sunday in communities that are predominately LDS.

Our strength for the future, our resolution to grow the Church across the world, will be weakened if we violate the will of the Lord in this important matter. He has so very clearly spoken anciently and again in modern revelation. We cannot disregard with impunity that which He has said. [16]

Focusing specific attention on keeping the Sabbath holy, section 59 also subtly models the principle of proactively applying agency introduced in the previous revelation. Commanding obedience to the law of the Sabbath, the section outlines principles of proper Sabbath observance rather than prescribing specific behavior (see vv. 9–14), allowing the Saints in Zion the latitude for personal application. This blending of obedience with proactivity is part of the process of becoming Zion. Noting that we should follow this pattern, Elder Dallin H. Oaks observed, “Teachers who are commanded to teach ‘the principles of [the] gospel’ and ‘the doctrine of the kingdom’ (D&C 88:77) should generally forgo teaching specific rules or applications. For example, they would not . . . provide a list of dos and don’ts for keeping the Sabbath day holy. Once a teacher has taught the doctrine and the associated principles from the scriptures and the living prophets, such specific applications or rules are generally the responsibility of individuals and families.” Teaching principles but allowing for individual agency brings power, for, as Elder Oaks concluded, “well-taught doctrines and principles have a more powerful influence on behavior than rules.” [17]

Having accomplished the trip’s purpose of locating and dedicating Zion, Joseph and his associates turned their attention toward their homes in Kirtland. The day after the delivery of section 59, another revelation was given in response to “some inquiry among the Elders what they were to do.” [18] The sections associated with the return trip to Kirtland continue to hearken back to section 58 and the principles outlined for how to become a Zion people. In particular, they stress the declaration that “the gospel must be preached unto every creature” (D&C 58:64). The Lord instructed the elders “to return speedily to the land from whence they came” (D&C 60:1), and he reemphasized that they were to “bear testimony of the truth in all places” (D&C 58:47). To do so, the elders were to return “two by two, and preach the word” (D&C 60:8). After chiding them for having hidden their talents because of fear, the Lord challenged them to travel home “proclaiming [his] word ,... not in haste” (v. 14).

Four days later, on August 12, 1831, the elders were rebuked for having disobeyed the counsel. Commenting on their canoe journey down the Missouri River, the Lord declared, “It is not needful for this whole company of mine elders to be moving swiftly upon the waters, whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief” (D&C 61:3). Though Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery were to make their way speedily home, the “residue” of the elders were to “journey and declare the word among the congregations of the wicked” (D&C 61:30–33). Obeying the counsel, the Prophet pressed for home when the next day he met his brother Hyrum, together with John Murdock, David Whitmer, and Harvey Whitlock. Following “joyful salutations” with this group, who were still journeying to Zion, Joseph again received a revelation from the Lord which is now known as section 62. [19] Having complied with the command to preach by “contending for the faith once delivered to the Saints,” [20] these elders were “blessed, for the testimony which [they had] borne [was] recorded in heaven . . . and [their] sins [were] forgiven [them]” (D&C 62:3). While journeying to Zion, they were becoming Zion, furthering its cause by preaching the gospel.

In the midst of these revelations associated with traveling home, the Lord also expanded upon the principle of proactively exercising agency. When these elders asked what they were to do now that their missions to Zion were complete, the Lord declared, “Concerning your journey unto the land from whence you came. Let there be a craft made, or bought, as seemeth you good, it mattereth not unto me” (D&C 60:5; emphasis added). In a little-used phrase in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord indicated that some decisions may not matter to him. Rather, as these elders were told in section 58, “the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves” (D&C 58:28).

Though the phrase “it mattereth not to me” appears rarely in the revelations of the Doctrine and Covenants, it is used repeatedly in sections 60 through 63. After revealing that there were “dangers upon the waters . . . and especially upon these waters” and instructing the leaders to “forewarn [their] brethren concerning these waters,” the Lord nevertheless encouraged them to make their own choice (D&C 61:4–5, 18). “It mattereth not unto me, after a little,” he concluded, “if it so be that they fill their mission, whether they go by water or by land” (D&C 61:22; emphasis added). Traveling by water was physically dangerous, but requiring that the Lord direct every detail of their trip was spiritually damaging.

When Joseph encountered his brother Hyrum and his companions the next day, the Lord again used the phrase “it mattereth not unto me.” Instructing them regarding the remainder of their journey, he counseled, “You may return to bear record, yea, even altogether, or two by two, as seemeth you good, it mattereth not unto me” (D&C 62:5; emphasis added). The Lord did, however, counsel them to “only be faithful, and declare glad tidings unto the inhabitants of the earth” (D&C 62:5), linking again two of the principles in becoming Zion: the Saints were to use their agency and share the gospel.

Continuing on their journey, the party arrived in Kirtland on August 27, 1831, where the residents were anxious to learn the results of the Prophet’s mission. [21] “In these infant days of the Church,” Joseph Smith later recalled, “there was a great anxiety to obtain the word of the Lord upon every subject that in any way concerned our salvation; and as the land of Zion was now the most important temporal object in view, I enquired of the Lord for further information upon the gathering of the Saints, and the purchase of the land, and other matters.” [22] The responding revelation continued the theme of agency, directing the Saints in their acquisition of the land but again cautioning, “Let all the moneys which can be spared, it mattereth not unto me whether it be little or much, be sent up unto the land of Zion” (D&C 63:40; emphasis added).

Like other elements of the process for establishing Zion, doing “many things of [our] own free will” without waiting for a “command in all things” is a gospel principle. However, in these revelations, this admonition for the proactive use of agency seems especially applicable to those striving for Zion. Saints committed to this ideal don’t wait for Zion to come about; they actively seek to establish it (see D&C 6:6). This principle is consistent with modern counsel. Elder Ezra Taft Benson observed that proper use of agency facilitates divine progression. “Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow,” Elder Benson observed, “but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods. The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit.” This process seems true regarding the early Saints’ efforts to build Zion. Benson continued,

Less spiritually advanced people, such as those in the days of Moses, had to be commanded in many things. Today those spiritually alert look at the objectives, check the guidelines laid down by the Lord and his prophets, and then prayerfully act—without having to be commanded “in all things.” This attitude prepares men for godhood... .

Sometimes the Lord hopefully waits on his children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater prize, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences or else he will have to spell it out in greater detail. Usually, I fear, the more he has to spell it out, the smaller is our reward. [23]

The final principle for establishing Zion as outlined by the Lord in D&C 58, namely that people must purify and sanctify their hearts, was expanded in the revelations Joseph Smith received upon returning to Kirtland. In answer to questions about which people could move to Zion and how they were to purchase the land, the Lord directed, “Wherefore, let my disciples in Kirtland arrange their temporal concerns, who dwell upon this farm. Let my servant Titus Billings, who has the care thereof, dispose of the land, that he may be prepared in the coming spring to take his journey up unto the land of Zion” (D&C 63:38–39). Ironically, however, the property discussed in the revelation did not belong exclusively to Billings. Rather, he had “the care thereof” on behalf of his brother-in-law Isaac Morley, who was still returning from the mission to Missouri. Understandably, upon his return Morley learned of the directive that his farm be sold and must have questioned why. Addressing the concern, Joseph Smith received D&C 64, informing him that God “gave commandment that [Morley’s] farm should be sold,” so that “my servant Isaac Morley may not be tempted above that which he is able to bear, and counsel wrongfully to your hurt” (v. 20).

The sale of the farm highlights what may be the crowning principle in establishing Zion. “If our hearts are set too much upon the things of this world,” Elder Neal A. Maxwell counseled, “they may need to be wrenched, or broken, or undergo a mighty change.” [24] Combining both Zion the place and Zion the process, the Lord stressed, “I, the Lord, will not hold any guilty that shall go with an open heart up to the land of Zion; for I, the Lord, require the hearts of the children of men” (D&C 64:22). To test his people, the Lord declared that in this “day of sacrifice” (D&C 64:23) he “requireth the heart and a willing mind” (D&C 64:34). Like Isaac Morley, those who give their all, be it a farm or their heart, will “eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days” (D&C 64:34). As the Savior declared in the New Testament, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34).

Morley obediently complied with the directive regarding the sale of his farm, a transaction he completed on October 12, 1831, prior to his moving to Zion. [25] Though achieving Zion was difficult, Morley and others personally experienced both the place and process of Zion. Elder Orson F. Whitney later penned, “The redemption of Zion is more than the purchase or recovery of lands, the building of cities, or even the founding of nations. It is the conquest of the heart, the subjugation of the soul, the sanctifying of the flesh, the purifying and ennobling of the passions.” If Saints are to build Zion, they must surrender their hearts. “In her children’s hearts,” Whitney concluded, “must Zion first be built up and redeemed.” [26]


In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord progressively expanded the Saints’ understanding regarding Zion. While the concept continues to be both a cause and a place, the Lord also emphasized Zion as a process because of what it would cause his people to become. “Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens,” summarized Elder D. Todd Christofferson. [27] Focused on the place, Joseph Smith inquired diligently regarding where and when Zion would be created. While the Lord did indicate “the place for the city of Zion,” when it would be established remained, and remains, a mystery. The Prophet was told how to be Zion-like. God’s people are counseled to follow the pattern established in section 58 of the Doctrine and Covenants and highlighted in the subsequent sections associated with the mission to Zion. By faithfully enduring trials, obeying God’s law, properly using agency, sharing the gospel, and purifying our hearts, we will become Zion. Indeed, “we cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen,” Elder Christofferson stressed. “Zion will come only as they happen.” [28]

While elusive, establishing Zion was possible in Joseph Smith’s day. In 1834, following the attempt by Zion’s Camp to restore the Saints in Missouri to their lands of promise, the Lord declared, “Were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now” (D&C 105:2). Explaining the failure, he returned to the principles outlined on the first trip to Zion: “They have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; and are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom” (vv. 3–4). Declaring how the city must ultimately be established, the Lord concluded, “Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself” (v. 5, emphasis added).

Furthermore, becoming Zion and establishing the city remains possible today. Brigham Young counseled, “When we conclude to make a Zion we will make it, and this work commences in the heart of each person... . There is not one thing wanting in all the works of God’s hands to make a Zion upon the earth when the people conclude to make it... . A Zion of God can always be built on the earth.” [29]

In becoming Zion to establish Zion, early settler in Zion Edward Partridge penned a prayer that summarizes the process for all:

Let Zion in her beauty rise;
Her light begins to shine.
Ere long her King will rend the skies,
Majestic and divine,
The gospel spreading thru the land,
A people to prepare
To meet the Lord and Enoch’s band
Triumphant in the air.

Ye heralds, sound the golden trump
To earth’s remotest bound.
Go spread the news from pole to pole
In all the nations round:
That Jesus in the clouds above,
With hosts of angels too,
Will soon appear, his Saints to save,
His enemies subdue.

That glorious rest will then commence
Which prophets did foretell,
When Saints will reign with Christ on earth,
And in his presence dwell
A thousand years, oh, glorious day!
Dear Lord, prepare my heart
To stand with thee on Zion’s mount
And nevermore to part. [30]


[1] Joseph Smith, “The Temple,” Times and Seasons, May 2, 1842, 776.

[2] With twenty-two separate entries, “Zion” is tied as the tenth most frequently recurring topic in The Teachings of Joseph Smith. See Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q. Cannon, eds., The Teachings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), ix, 720–30.

[3] Joseph Smith, “The Temple,” Times and Seasons, May 2, 1842, 776.

[4] Robert D. Hales, in Conference Report, April 1986, 38; emphasis added.

[5] History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:189; emphasis added. The date for this revelation comes from the Book of Commandments and Revelations, also known as Revelation Book I. Robin Scott Jensen, Robert J. Woodford, and Steven C. Harper, eds., Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books, vol. 1 of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2009), “Revelation Book 1,” 159.

[6] Jensen, Woodford, and Harper, Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books, 161.

[7] Ezra Taft Benson, “Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” New Era, May 1975, 18.

[8] In a phrase that was later struck through, the copy of this revelation contained in the Book of Commandments and Revelation preserves the connection to the heart, warning that Phelps was “not sufficiently humble meek in his heart.” Jensen, Woodford, and Harper, Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books, 165.

[9] History of the Church, 1:196.

[10] From Historian to Dissident: The Book of John Whitmer, ed. Bruce N. Westergren (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995), 86.

[11] History of the Church, 1:199.

[12] D. Todd Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” Ensign, November 2008, 37.

[13] History of the Church, 1:199.

[14] History of the Church, 1:199.

[15] Keeping the Sabbath of the Lord holy was a theme of early sermons in the Salt Lake Valley as well, as pioneers likewise arrived late in the season but were counseled by Brigham Young to honor the Sabbath. Wilford Woodruff recalled Young’s Sabbath sermon on July 25, 1847, one day after their arrival in the valley. “President Young . . . Informed the brethren they must not work on Sunday,” Woodruff wrote, and if they did, “they would loose [sic] five times as much as they would gain by it... . And there should not any man dwell among us who would not observe these rules. They might go & dwell whare they pleased,” Young concluded, “but should not dwell with us.” Wilford Woodruff’s Journal: 1833–1898 Typescript, ed. Scott G. Kenney (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983), 3:235–36.

[16] Gordon B. Hinckley, “Look to the Future,” Ensign, November 1997, 69.

[17] Dallin H. Oaks, “Gospel Teaching,” Ensign, November 1999, 79.

[18] History of the Church, 1:201.

[19] History of the Church, 1:205.

[20] History of the Church, 1:205.

[21] The Book of Commandments and Revelations dates the actual revelation as August 30, 1831. Jensen, Woodford, and Harper, Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books, 181.

[22] History of the Church, 1:207.

[23] Ezra Taft Benson, in Conference Report, April 1965, 121–22.

[24] Neal A. Maxwell, “‘Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,’” Ensign, November 1995, 24.

[25] Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), 104.

[26] Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996), 65–66.

[27] Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” 38.

[28] Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” 38.

[29] Discourses of Brigham Young, comp. John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1954), 118.

[30] Edward Partridge, “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise,” Hymns (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985), no. 41.