CLICK HERE to read Ether 13.
(NOTE: I cannot read this chapter apart from Revelation 2, 20, and 21).
Moroni continues now with Ether’s story (verse 1). Ether (verse 2):
truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land, it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof
The Lord provided this chosen land, and the conditions upon which a people – any people – get to live here is that they serve the Lord in righteousness, and live in peace, providing for each other.
This place will become the “New Jerusalem… the holy sanctuary of the Lord” (verse 3).
This sanctuary, or Temple, will “come down”. This is the return of Enoch and his city of Holiness, including its temples there. The city of Enoch and those righteous people were translated, and so still have their physical bodies to continue temple work from where they are now. They will return with the Savior, and in fact are one of the signs that will confirm it is, indeed, the Savior (for those who will try to explain it away). There may also be many other “Zions” besides Enoch’s that come, for many will come to see this place from which our Savior did the physical acts of the atonement (Orson Pratt said all the Zions – all the Temples from all the planets – will be brought to this place at that time).
So we have the Zions brought here to this planet, and we have the Zion that shall be built here, all of them combined into one great Zion – just as all the nations are really families, and must become at-one, and just as all families are really couples that must become at-one. This is what we must teach our children, how to be at-one, and it is by this righteousness that Satan will be bound for the thousand years.
We, ourselves, are the Temples of God – we are Zion. See 1 Corinthians 6:16:
… ye are the temples of the living God; as God hath said, I dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
This is why we must be prepared to meet them, to meet Him, to become part of the city of Holiness.
Moroni then explains that Ether saw the days when Christ returns as King, and reigns with His people living in righteousness (verse 4). This place will be “a holy city unto the Lord” (verse 5), built on this land for the descendants of Joseph (verse 6).
Moroni points out the precedent for this pattern, that there has been a type and shadow of this already (verse 6). He says that when Joseph brought his family into Egypt, that is where they also died; and so when his descendants left Jerusalem, they were given promises that they would not perish out of this land (verse 7). So the “house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall built up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away” (verse 8).
So not only will a New Jerusalem be built here, but also the Old Jerusalem will be rebuilt.
“And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth… and then cometh the New Jerusalem, and blessed are they who dwell therein…and then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants therein…” (verses 9-11).
After the thousand year reign of Christ, the City-of-all-the-Zions and the New Jerusalem and the Old Jerusalem – along with all the righteous people in them – will be removed while the earth is made into the celestial earth. Then the Old and New Jerusalems will be returned to be as capital cities of the celestial earth (see Journal of the Discourses, volume 1, page 332).
Elder McConckie said (Millenium Messiah) this is why the promise to the descendants of Joseph (Ephraim and Manassah) are so important: that we will not be confounded means that as we live the gospel, we will be prepared to become righteous – and teach our children to become righteous, so that we will be a part of these cities. We will build this Zion that will meet the Savior and His Zions, His kingdoms established in other places.
The “new heaven and new earth” refer to two times: one at the beginning of the thousand year reign, when the Zions meet, and one at the end of the thousand year reign, when the earth is literally new (made celestial).
But it has all three meanings: the return of the Zions with Enoch and others, the New Jerusalem in Jackson County, and the Old Jerusalem restored.
“And when these things come… to pass the scripture which saith… they who were first, who shall be last; and there are they who were last, who shall be first” (verse 12; see also JST Luke 13:30, 1 Nephi 13:42, and Jacob 5:63).
This is in reference to the Jews having the first opportunity to hear the full gospel, but the full gospel first being received by the Gentiles.
“And I was about to write more, but I am forbidden; but great and marvelous were the prophecies of Ether…” (verse 13).
This is Moroni, who has access and permission to read Ether’s record, the part that is sealed to us. We know that Ether had the same vision John saw, but that we only (at this time) have John’s record of it. It was John’s duty to record the vision, as he had the keys as revelator to share it (1 Nephi 14:20-30).
But the people did not listen to Ether, and they cast him out and away from them. He had to hide himself in a cave during the day, and at night he “went forth viewing the things which should come upon the people” (verse 13). This was a man who had great faith, one who practiced great diligence and obedience, and one who pondered. He was one who continued to study, and who carefully recorded his revelations (verse 14).
Moroni then continues the story of the people: when they rejected the prophet, they were choosing their own destruction (verse 15). They were a people who had studied war (verse 16), and who did not repent (verse 17), and so were killed by their own devices of killing for power and wealth (verses 18-19).
But the Lord loves His people, and sent Ether the prophet to the people again, telling them that “if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people” (verse 20). But if they would not repent, they would choose their complete destruction (verse 21). The people would not repent, and tried again to kill Ether the prophet (verse 22).
The people were then left to their own contention, fighting back and forth (verses 23-24), until there was “war upon all the face of the land” and everyone fighting for their own cause (verse 25). Wickedness reigned (verse 26), and the people battled in anger (verse 27) without restraint (verses 28-31).
They should have listened to the prophet.
We still, even now, can listen to the prophet.
We are called to live by celestial law, even while in a terrestrial state (D&C 105:5).
In the Lectures on Faith (2:55), it says:
“that after any members of the human family are made acquainted with the important fact that there is a God . . . the extent of their knowledge respecting his character and glory will depend upon their diligence and faithfulness in seeking after him, until, like Enoch . . . they shall obtain faith in God, and power with him to behold him face to face”
We will not know more of God than we make effort to get to know Him, and the only way to get to know Him is to be obedient to His laws (and therefore also receive the blessings predicated upon obedience to those laws, thus experiencing a fuller interaction with Him).
We must be Zion. We are Zion. We must be Zion now.
… Zion is here. Whenever we are disposed to give ourselves perfectly to righteousness, to yield all the powers and faculties of the soul (which is the spirit and the body, and it is there where righteousness dwells); when we are swallowed up in the will of Him who has called us; when we enjoy the peace and the smiles of our Father in Heaven, the things of His Spirit, and all the blessings we are capacitated to receive and improve upon, then we are in Zion, that is Zion… If a community of people are perfectly devoted to the cause of righteousness, truth, light, virtue, and every principle and attribute of the holy Gospel, we may say of that people… “Ye are the temples of God.” … What a delightful aspect would this community present if all men and women, old and young, were disposed to leave off their own sins and follies, and overlook those of their neighbors; if they would cease watching their neighbors for iniquity, and watch that they themselves might be free from it!… If this people would be careful not to do anything to displease the spirits of those who have lived on earth, and have been justified, and have gone to rest, and would so conduct themselves, that no reasonable being upon the face of the earth could find fault with them, what kind of society would we have?… every man’s mouth would be filled with blessings, every man’s hand would be put forth to do good, and every woman and child in all their intercourse would be praising God and blessing each other. Would not Zion be here? It would!… they carry Zion with them, they have one of their own, and it is increasing, growing, and spreading continually…. This proves that we are in a state of exaltation, it proves that we can add to our knowledge, wisdom, and strength, and that we can add power to every attribute that God has given us… Let us fill up our days with usefulness, do good to each other, and cease from all evil. Let every evil person forsake his wickedness. If he be wicked in his words, or in his dealings, let him forsake those practices, and pursue a course of righteousness. Let every man and woman do this, and peace and joy will be the result.
We read it also in Moses 7:18, in reference to the example Enoch and his people set for us:
And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of oneheart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.
Brigham Young also said (Journal of the Discourses volume 1, page 245) that “We must begin and make Zion in our own hearts, and then extend it to our neighborhoods, and so continue until the Lord shall reign upon the earth”.
It is not until I am at-one with my family that I can be at-one with God.
It is not until we are at-one with those who live around us that we can be at-one with God.
It is not until we are at-one with other nations that we can be at-one with God.
It is not until we are at-one that we can establish Zion.
It is not until we establish Zion, until we become righteous, that we will be prepared and worthy to meet the other Zions, and will be later removed with them with the Earth is sanctified and made celestial.
It is through righteousness that we qualify to be there, in that ultimate temple, which is “The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb” (Revelation 21:22) – which is to say, that it is through righteousness that we qualify to return again to their presence.