My Come, Follow Me studies
for this week took me to Moses 7 where I learned more about the story of Enoch.
This chapter tells how Enoch and his people achieved something that no other
group of individuals has been able to do. They built a society where there was
no poverty and no violence – the ideal society.
A term that is often used to define such
effort is “building Zion.” Building Zion includes caring for the poor,
promoting peace, making covenants, living together in righteousness, and
becoming one in heart and mind with Jesus Christ (Moses 7:53). Enoch’s Zion
existed on earth for 365 years before it was taken into heaven. We learn the
following about Enoch’s city of Zion from the book of Moses 7:18-19, 68-69:
And the Lord called his people Zion,
because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness;
and there was no poor among them.
And Enoch continued his preaching in
righteousness unto the people of God. And it came to pass in his days, that he
built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion….
And all the days of Zion, in the days of
Enoch, were three hundred and sixty-five years.
And Enoch and all his people walked with
God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not,
for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the
saying, ZION IS FLED. [Emphasis added.]
The scriptures teach of two other
groups of people who created Zion-like societies for shorter periods of time before
becoming unrighteous. The first such society existed in New Testament times and
is discussed in Acts 4:31-32.
And when they had prayed, the place was
shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the
Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
And the multitude of them that believed
were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought
of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
The New Testament saints were “all
filled with the Holy Ghost,” were of “one heart and of one soul,” and “had all
things common.” This means that everyone shared in whatever the society owned. We
do not know how long this society existed.
The second group lived in Book of Mormon
times. We read in Fourth Nephi 1 that the “people were all converted unto the
Lord,” there were “no contentions and disputations among them,” and “they
had all things common among them.” In fact, “there were not rich and
poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly
gift” (4 Nephi 1:2-3). [Emphasis added.]
We read further in Fourth Nephi 1 that thirty-seven
years passed, and “there still continued to be peace in the land” (4 Nephi
1:4). A few verses later, we read that fifty-nine years passed, and “there was
no contention among all the people” (4 Nephi 1:13). The next verse tells us
that one hundred years passed (4 Nephi 1:14). Then we learned why there was no
And it came to pass that there was no
contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the
hearts of the people.
And there were no envyings, nor strifes,
nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, or murders, nor any manner of
lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people
who had been created by the hand of God.
There were no robbers, nor murderers,
neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one,
the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God (4 Nephi 1:15-17).
This Zion-like society was created
because the people loved God. They maintained peace in the land for eighty-four
years before wickedness began to divide and separate them. By the end of four
hundred years, they were had totally destroyed themselves.
Nearly 250 years have passed since the
Declaration of Independence was signed and Americans fought for a new
government. Nearly two hundred years have passed since The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints was established. Neither Americans nor the members
of the Church of Jesus Christ have established Zion.
So, how did Enoch and his people build
Zion and keep it righteous when they were surrounded by wickedness? We need to
learn their secret because the work of establishing Zion continues in our day
even as wickedness increases in the world around us. One lesson that Enoch taught
is that Zion is more than a city – it is a condition of the heart and spirit. The
Lord taught the early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
that “Zion [is] the pure in heart” (Doctrine and Covenants 97:21).
The simple truth of the matter is
that we can develop a Zion-like society one person, one family, one community
at a time. Zion is built on principles, such as love, service, work,
self-reliance, consecration, and stewardship. (See R. Quinn Gardner, “Becoming a Zion Society,” Ensign, February 1979.)
Creating a Zion society is not an
easy thing to do. In every dispensation from the time of Adam to the current
one, prophets have called people to have faith in Jesus Christ and to repent of
their sins. The fact that there has been only one true Zion in more than six
thousand years attests to the difficulty for people becoming of one heart and
one mind. However, we are not excused because the task is difficult.
We are tasked with the responsibility
to prepare society to be ready to welcome Jesus Christ when He returns to earth.
Such a society must be pure in heart. A society is composed of many individuals
and families, and it is within those individuals and families that Zion must
first be created. When individuals and families are pure in heart, they will
have a powerful effect on society as a whole. Enoch showed us that people can
live righteous lives even while surrounded by wickedness, and we have his
example to help us create Zion in our own day.