Ye are the children of Israel, and of the seed of Abraham, and ye must needs be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm. And as your fathers were led at the first, even so shall the redemption of Zion be.1
After the wicked in the United States have been decimated and destroyed, and the land has been sanctified because of their removal, the righteous will prepare to return to the land of Zion and redeem the land.
The resurrected Prophet Joseph will take part in the redemption of Zion---a task that he was assigned by the Lord before his death.2 Surrounded and protected by the powers of God,3 he and the Saints will return to the center of the North American continent in the state of Missouri. He will lay claim to the lands previously purchased by the Saints, where the holy city of New Jerusalem will be built in preparation for the Second Coming and the Millennium.
But how did the Saints originally lose the land of Zion? And how must we prepare ourselves to redeem that sacred land again?
The Expulsion of the Saints from Jackson County
When the Saints first gathered to the lands of Jackson County, Missouri in 1831, they were overjoyed to be living where the city of New Jerusalem would be built. Unfortunately, even from the beginning, events did not transpire as the Lord had directed. Some of the Saints rushed to Missouri and arrived without the proper paperwork from their Church leaders in Kirtland.4 This was contrary to the specific commandments of the Lord.5 The Lord had also directed the Saints to live under the law of consecration and stewardship, but this soon fell apart because of jealousy and greed.6
In addition, the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in the city of Independence,7 but this did not occur. After two years of living in Missouri, nothing had been done to begin the construction of the temple.8
To add even more to their list of transgressions, when the Lord had given many of the sacred revelations to the Prophet Joseph, He had told the Saints to “keep these things from going abroad unto the world until it is expedient in me.”9 Instead of obeying this commandment, they had boasted to their Missouri neighbors that all of the land in Jackson County would soon be given to the Saints as their eternal inheritance.10 It was not a good way to win friends, and the settlers soon began to resent the members of the Church.
When the angry mobs descended upon the Saints in November 1833, the Lord was unable to intercede because of their unrighteousness, and the mobs were allowed to remove the Saints from the land of New Jerusalem. The Lord later told them that they had been forcibly evicted from Jackson County because of their sins and transgressions:
“I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions; . . . therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son. For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.
“Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances. They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble.”11
The Land of New Jerusalem Will Be Redeemed by a “Man Like Moses”
When the Saints were ejected from Jackson County, Missouri, the Prophet Joseph Smith sincerely wanted to know why they had lost their precious land of Zion, so he approached the Lord in prayer on Monday, December 16, 1833. In the revelation that followed, the Lord promised that when the land of Zion is redeemed, it will be accomplished by a servant of God who is a “wise steward in the midst of mine house, a ruler in my kingdom.”2
In this same revelation the Lord spoke by parable and said that this servant of God will “take all the strength of mine house, which are my warriors, my young men,” and march “straightway unto the land of my vineyard, and redeem my vineyard.”13 A few weeks later, in another revelation, the Lord revealed that “my servant, Joseph Smith Junior, is the . . . servant”14 who will lead this army of the Lord.
With a fervent hope that the Church would be able to live up to these promises, Joseph gathered the men of Zion’s Camp, and they bravely marched toward Missouri to reclaim the homes and property of their brethren in Zion.
After a long and toilsome journey across the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, in the midst of very difficult circumstances, the brethren were surprised to learn that they would not be able to complete their mission of redeeming the land of Zion.
In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph, the Lord said that the members of the Church were not worthy to have the land of Zion redeemed at this time.15 Sadly, the Lord said that “the strength of mine house have not hearkened unto my words.”16 An insufficient number of brethren had been willing to volunteer, and without their faithful diligence, Zion’s Camp was not able to fulfill its mission. However, the Lord said that He was grateful for those men who had valiantly served in Zion’s Camp. He thanked them for their sacrifices on this journey, and He promised to bless them for their diligence.17
Even though the redemption of Zion was delayed until some future day because of the unrighteousness of the Church, the Lord did promise that the land of Missouri “shall be redeemed in mine own due time.”18 When that day arrives, Zion will be redeemed under the direction of a powerful and inspired leader. The Lord told the Prophet Joseph:
“The redemption of Zion must needs come by power; therefore, I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel.”19
This man, “like as Moses,” who will be “raised up,” or resurrected, is the glorified Prophet Joseph Smith. The Lord Himself said that the Prophet Joseph was like Moses,20 thousands of years before he was born, and Joseph Smith has been given the important assignment to someday redeem the sacred land of Zion, where the holy city of New Jerusalem will be built.21
The Lord has given the righteous an everlasting promise concerning the lands of New Jerusalem, mandated from His royal courts on high:
“Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered. They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion---and all these things that the prophets might be fulfilled.”22
Someday the Saints will fulfill this prophecy. They will return to the future location of the city of New Jerusalem and complete the redemption of Zion.
What Is the Redemption of Zion?
We read of “the redemption of Zion”23 in the scriptures, but what does that phrase actually mean? In a fascinating talk that was given on September 22, 1889, Orson F. Whitney explained what will actually occur when the land of Zion is redeemed:
“What does ‘redemption’ mean? It means to save. It means to reclaim. It means to regain possession of something that was lost. When the Savior descended from the worlds of glory, and died that all men might live, He gave His life as a ransom, to regain possession of that which was lost, to pay the price of redemption for a world that had been placed in pawn, so to speak, by the transgression of Adam. Death was the pawnbroker, the world was the thing pawned, and Christ was the price paid for its redemption.”24
The redemption of Zion is nothing less than saving and reclaiming the land of Zion from all wickedness, cleansing it of all iniquity, and returning it to its original state of purity. The beginning stages of the redemption of Zion will actually take place before the Saints arrive there, when the wicked are removed through the judgments of Almighty God. As Orson Hyde told the Saints:
“The scripture says that in the last days His people will go forth and build up the waste places of Zion [see D&C 101:18.] But they must first be made desolate, before they can be called ‘the waste places of Zion.’ Then the hands of the Saints will be required to build them up.”25
The Saints Must Be Righteous in Order to Live in the Lands of Zion
The Saints will not be allowed to return and redeem the sacred land of the city of New Jerusalem until they are worthy. The land where the city of New Jerusalem will be located is the same sacred and holy ground where Father Adam and Mother Eve lived and raised their children.26 President Brigham Young testified that the Saints will need to change their hearts and purify their lives before they are allowed to return there:
“This is the land of Zion; but we are not yet prepared to go and establish the Center Stake of Zion. The Lord tried this in the first place. He called the people together to the place where the New Jerusalem and the great temple will be built, and where He will prepare for the City of Enoch. And He gave revelation after revelation, but the people could not abide them; and the Church was scattered and peeled, and the people hunted from place to place till, finally, they were driven into the mountains, and here we are.
“Now, it is for you and me to prepare to return back again . . . to build up the Center Stake of Zion. We are not prepared to do this now, but we are here to learn until we are of one heart and of one mind in the things of this life. Do all the Latter-day Saints arrive at this? . . . Are their eyes single to the building up of the kingdom of God? No; they are single to the building up of themselves. . . .
“By-and-by, perhaps, their wealth will depart from them, and when left poor and penniless, they will humble themselves before the Lord, that they may be saved.”27
President Young repeated this message in another discourse, warning the Saints that they must whole-heartedly accept and obey the commandments of God in order to be worthy to inhabit the sacred lands of New Jerusalem:
“Some may ask why we did not tarry at the Center Stake of Zion, when the Lord planted our feet there? We had eyes, but we did not see; we had ears, but we did not hear; we had hearts that were devoid of what the Lord required of His people; consequently we could not abide what the Lord revealed to us. We had to go from there to gain an experience. . . .
“If we could have received the words of life and lived according to them, when we were first gathered to the Center Stake of Zion, we never would have been removed from that place. But we did not abide the law the Lord gave to us.”28
President Young also taught that the Saints must lead and be led by proper priesthood principles before Zion can be redeemed and built again. The people cannot be forced and intimidated, as the Prophet Joseph explained,29 but they must be guided through patience, love, kindness and meekness. The Saints must also learn to humbly submit to wise priesthood counsel. President Young said:
“The consent of the creature must be had in these things, and until you and I do consent in our feelings and understand that it is a necessity that we establish Zion, we shall have Babylon mixed with us.”30
The Righteousness of the Saints Can Hasten the Day of Zion’s Redemption
How soon will the land of Zion finally be redeemed? Ever since the days of the Prophet Joseph, the Saints have anxiously desired to redeem the land of New Jerusalem and build the holy city of New Jerusalem. They have often wondered how soon these prophecies of the Lord will come to pass. President Brigham Young asked the Saints in his day when the promised redemption of Zion would occur, and he prophesied that it would depend upon the righteousness of the members of the Church:
“When will Zion be redeemed? When will the Savior make His appearance in the midst of His people? When will the veil be taken away, that we may behold the glory of God? Can any of you answer these questions? Yes, readily, when I tell you. The redemption of Zion is the first step preparatory to the two last-named events.
“Just as soon as the Latter-day Saints are ready and prepared to return to Independence, Jackson County, in the state of Missouri, North America, just so soon will the voice of the Lord be heard, ‘Arise now, Israel, and make your way to the Center Stake of Zion.’ We must be pure to be prepared to build up Zion.”31
“When are we going back to Jackson County? Not until the Lord commands His people; and it is just as much as you and I can do to get ready to go when He does command us.”32
In another discourse given shortly before he passed away, President Young prophesied that the Saints will be privileged to redeem the land of Zion when the mountain valleys of the western United States are filled with hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saints. He also informed us that only a portion of the Saints will return to the land of Missouri:
“Are we going back to Jackson County? Yes. When? As soon as the way opens up. Are we all going? Oh no! Of course not. The country is not large enough to hold our present numbers. When we do return there, will there be any less remaining in these mountains than we number today? No, there may be a hundred then for every single one that there is now.”33
The Prophets Saw in Vision the Return of the Saints to Missouri
The return of the Saints to the land of New Jerusalem will be a significant and momentous occasion. Some of the prophets were privileged to see this journey of the Saints in vision. One of these visions was seen in the months leading up to the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. Many of the Saints were shown heavenly visions at this time, and the Prophet Joseph noted in his journal:
“My scribe also received his anointing with us, and saw, in a vision, the armies of heaven protecting the Saints in their return to Zion, and many things which I saw.”34
Two years later, when the Saints were living in the city of Far West in Missouri, Brigham Young also had a vision of the future redemption of Zion. He later told the Saints:
“Before we were driven out of Missouri I had a vision, if I would dare to say that I had a vision, and saw that the people would go to the east, to the north and to the west; but we should go back to Jackson County from the west. When this people return to the Center Stake of Zion, they will go from the west.”35
President Young emphasized this point again in another discourse, explaining how some of the Saints would travel from the Rocky Mountains to the state of Missouri to redeem the land of Zion. This will be done under the direction and leadership of the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“Those who live their religion will enjoy the Spirit, and that enjoyment will increase; and if we will be faithful, the Lord will make our feet as firm in these valleys as are the everlasting riches in these mountains, and no power can remove us. He will give us a sure place in these mountains until we go forth and redeem Zion. Do right, be faithful, and make no calculations about removing before the time comes.”36
“If we live our religion, we shall stay here in these mountains forever and forever, worlds without end, and a portion of the priesthood will go and redeem and build up the Center Stake of Zion.”37
Heber C. Kimball also prophesied of this, adding his witness to President Young’s testimony:
“But wake up, ye Saints of the Most High, and prepare for any emergency that the Lord our God may have pleasure in bringing forth. We never shall leave these valleys till we get ready: no, never; no, never. We will live here till we go back to Jackson County, Missouri. I prophesy that, in the name of Israel’s God.” The congregation shouted “Amen,” and President B. Young said, “It is true.”38
Heber C. Kimball also prophesied that the time would come in which the Saints would be able to travel in complete safety to and from Missouri. This wonderful epoch will be brought about when the wicked are destroyed and the Saints are completely free from danger:
“The time will come in which you will dwell in peace and safety; and when the time comes that you will go back to Jackson County, you will be independent, and live without any opposition at all. Can the Lord do it? Yes.
“All the people are in His hands, and He can turn the nations as I can an obedient horse. They are governed and controlled by the Almighty as much as we are. What can they do against us? Why nothing whatsoever, but if we do not do right, they will be a scourge in the hands of God to scourge us.”39
“We are gathered, and we never will be scattered again---no never, while the earth stands, if you will do as you are told. Will we go to Jackson County? Yes, we will go there, just as we will to the city of Fillmore, independently.
“We will go and come at our pleasure, and no one to molest us; and we will build up that city, and that, too, upon natural principles, just as we go and build up Farmington, in Davis County, or this city, or any place we occupy.”40
Inheritances for the Saints
As the Saints arrive in Jackson County, it will be the Prophet Joseph’s divinely appointed task to divide and distribute the inheritances of the Saints in that area.41 By revelation he will determine the location of the cities that will be established there, including the marvelous city of New Jerusalem.42 According to Heber C. Kimball, Joseph will also be assisted in this task by other resurrected brethren:
“I am pretty sure of one thing---we shall go to Jackson County, Missouri; that is, those who do right and honor their calling, doing what they have been told to do. You will be blessed, and you will see the day when Presidents [Brigham] Young, [Heber C.] Kimball, and [Daniel H.] Wells, and the Twelve Apostles will be in Jackson County, Missouri, laying out your inheritances. In the flesh? Of course. We should look well without being in the flesh!
“We shall be there in the flesh, and all our enemies cannot prevent it. Brother Wells, you may write that. You will be there, and Willard [Richards] will be there, and also Jedediah [M. Grant], and Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and David [W. Patten], and Parley [P. Pratt].”43
After these inheritances have been surveyed and appointed to each of the Saints, they will be able to use the principles of the law of consecration and stewardship to build up the waste places of Zion.
Within a short period of time the land will begin to blossom as the industrious Saints improve the land through their hard work and diligence. In fulfillment of the words of the prophets, the city of New Jerusalem will begin to rise in majestic glory from the center of the North American continent.
1 . D&C 103:17-18.
2 . D&C 101:55-58; 103:15-16, 21; 105:30.
3 . D&C 103:17-18.
4 . Brother Joseph, p. 384.
5 . D&C 58:55-56, 63:24, 72:24-26.
6 . D&C 85; Brother Joseph, pp. 397-401.
7 . D&C 57:3, 84:3-4, 97:10-11.
8 . Brother Joseph, pp. 457-458.
9 . D&C 45:72.
10 . Brother Joseph, pp. 452, 480.
11 . D&C 101:2-7.
12 . D&C 101:61.
13 . D&C 101:55-56.
14 . D&C 103:21.
15 . D&C 105:9.
16 . D&C 105:17.
17 . D&C 105:12, 18-19.
18 . D&C 136:18.
19 . D&C 103:15-16.
20 . Moses 1:41.
21 . D&C 103:21; 101:55-60.
22 . D&C 101:17-19.
23 . D&C 101:43; 103:15, 18, 29; 105:9, 13.
24 . Orson F. Whitney, “Zion and Her Redemption,” September 22, 1889, Deseret News Weekly 40:73-79, in Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, volume 1, (Woodland Hills, Utah: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987).
25 . Orson Hyde, December 18, 1864, Journal of Discourses 10:376.
26 . D&C 57:1-3, 84:2-4, 107:53, 116:1, 117:8.
27 . Brigham Young, February 10, 1867, Journal of Discourses 11:324-325.
28 . Brigham Young, May 15, 1864, Journal of Discourses 10:290.
29 . D&C 121:39-44.
30 . Brigham Young, August 18, 1872, Journal of Discourses 15:134.
31 . Brigham Young, July 28, 1861, Journal of Discourses 9:138; emphasis added.
32 . Brigham Young, August 28, 1859, Journal of Discourses 6:269.
33 . Brigham Young, April 6, 1877, Journal of Discourses 18:355.
34 . History of the Church 2:381.
35 . Brigham Young, December 11, 1864, Journal of Discourses 11:17; see also Brigham Young, February 17, 1856, Journal of Discourses 3:209.
36 . Brigham Young, June 7, 1860, Journal of Discourses 8:285.
37 . Brigham Young, December 11, 1864, Journal of Discourses 11:16.
38 . Heber C. Kimball, August 30, 1857, Journal of Discourses 5:165.
39 . Heber C. Kimball, August 13, 1853, Journal of Discourses 2:108.
40 . Heber C. Kimball, June 7, 1857, Journal of Discourses 4:335.
41 . D&C 85:7-9.
42 . D&C 42:9, 84:2-3.
43 . Heber C. Kimball, April 7, 1861, Journal of Discourses 9:27.