Chapter 22: Building the Glorious City of New Jerusalem

The City of Zion, in beauty and magnificence, will outstrip anything that is now known upon the earth.1

The city of New Jerusalem will become the center of law and order during the thousand years of the Millennium. It will be known throughout the world as the central location of the Kingdom of God; the capital city of government that will rule the nations during the Millennium after His Return. At the same time, the city of Old Jerusalem will be known as the religious center of the world and the location from which the word of the Lord will issue forth.2

New Jerusalem will be a resplendent city of beauty and glory. The prophets have told us that its construction will take tremendous effort and labor by the Saints, in order to complete it according to the design given by the Lord. Within its walls the Saints will find peace, safety and joy.

Prophecies of the Rise of the City of New Jerusalem

Many of the prophets have prophesied of the rise of the city of New Jerusalem in the latter days. Enoch was shown the city in vision,3 as was the prophet Ether.4 The Savior prophesied of its rise to the Nephites and Lamanites, telling them that their posterity would take part in its construction and promised that, as its completion, He will dwell among them:

“It shall come to pass that I will establish my people, O house of Israel. And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you.”5

“But if they [the American Gentiles] will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance; and they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.

“And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem. And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.”6

The Prophet Joseph Smith testified to the people that the city of New Jerusalem will be built in the latter days, and it will become a place of refuge for the righteous. He wrote:

“The city of Zion . . . will be built upon the land of America, ‘And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their head’ [Isaiah 35:10]; and then they will be delivered from the overflowing scourge that shall pass through the land. But Judah shall obtain deliverance at Jerusalem.”7

The prophets have been overcome as they have seen in vision the beauty and glory of the city of New Jerusalem, describing it in artistic and poetic terms in their writings.8 On September 18, 1837, Bishop Newel K. Whitney and his counselors sent a message to all of the Latter-day Saints, appealing for their help and assistance in building up Zion and moving the Church forward in strength. In this epistle, these brethren beautifully described the future destiny of Zion, weaving together the prophecies of Isaiah:

“It is in Zion where the Lord is to create upon every dwelling place and upon her assemblies a cloud of smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. It is upon the glory of Zion that there will be a defense. It is in Zion that there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge and for a covert from storm and from rain [see Isaiah 4:5-6]. It is upon the walls of Zion where the watchmen shall see eye to eye [see Isaiah 52:8].

“Whatever is glorious, whatever is desirable, whatever pertains to salvation, either temporal or spiritual, our hopes, our expectations, our glory, and our reward, all depend on our building up Zion according to the testimony of the prophets.”9

Understanding the Blueprint for the City of New Jerusalem

The Lord has not yet revealed how the city of New Jerusalem will be organized and built, but a few hints of it can be found in examining the early history of the Church.

In June 1833 the Lord gave the Prophet Joseph an inspired plan for a typical city of Zion. These Zion cities were designed to cover an area of one mile square, and they held about fifteen to twenty thousand people. After a city was filled with inhabitants, the Saints were instructed to go to other locations and build additional cities, until the world was filled with these cities of Zion.10

Joseph and the brethren sent the plans for these inspired cities to the Saints in Missouri. At this same time he also sent them instructions for the temple in Jackson County, and the plans that he sent them were quite similar to the temple that was being built by the Saints in Kirtland.11 However, these were not the plans for the city of New Jerusalem, nor were they the final plans for the majestic temples to be built there someday.12 These plans were merely an inspired directive of how the cities of the Saints should be organized.

Additional revelation from the Lord will be necessary in order to learn all of the details of how the city of New Jerusalem should be organized and constructed.13 After the Prophet Joseph has returned, he will be able to reveal the Lord’s inspired plans of how to lay out, organize and build the city of New Jerusalem.

The Construction of the City of New Jerusalem

As the Saints begin the construction of the city of New Jerusalem, they will discover that it will not be a simple task. President Brigham Young told us that it will take all of the workmanship and skills known to mankind to build that magnificent city. Just as Noah, Nephi and the brother of Jared were guided by revelation so that they would know how to build their ships,14 added knowledge from the heavens will be needed so that the city of New Jerusalem can be built correctly in all of its beauty and glory. President Young said:

“In building the great and notable cities of the world, it required the genius of the architect, and the skill and labor of the artisan, in all their variety.

“In building up the cities of Zion, and an earthly kingdom unto God, it will require all the wisdom and skill and cunning workmanship that are displayed in the arts and sciences now known to man, and revelation from heaven for still further advancement in the knowledge of every handicraft and means of adornment, to beautify the cities and temples that will be built by the people of God in these last days.”15

It will only be through the vigorous labors of the Saints that the city of New Jerusalem will be built. It will be a herculean effort, which will require all of the hearts, brains and sinew that the Saints can muster. Even though heavenly assistance will be available, the people will still need to do the actual building of the city, as President Young explained:

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“I have many times asked the questions, ‘Where is the man that knows how to lay the first rock for the wall that is to surround the New Jerusalem or the Zion of God on the earth? Where is the man who knows how to construct the first gate of the city? Where is the man who understands how to build up the kingdom of God in its purity and to prepare for Zion to come down to meet it?’

“‘Well,’ says one, ‘I thought the Lord was going to do this.’ So He is if we will let Him. That is what we want: we want the people to be willing for the Lord to do it. But He will do it by means.

“He will not send His angels to gather up the rock to build up the New Jerusalem. He will not send His angels from the heavens to go to the mountains to cut the timber and make it into lumber to adorn the city of Zion. He has called upon us to do this work; and if we will let Him work by, through, and with us, He can accomplish it; otherwise we shall fall short, and shall never have the honor of building up Zion on the earth.”16

Before any of the work on the city of New Jerusalem can begin, the Saints will need to be unified in their hearts and minds. It is only then that their labors will be blessed. When a spirit of unity is found in Zion, the Lord will enable the Saints to accomplish many wonderful and seemingly-impossible tasks. President Young admonished:

“The Lord wants to build up His Zion, and He wants to build it up through you and me. We are the ones He has called upon. Will we consent to do this? I firmly believe that, before we make any very effectual progress in the accomplishment of that work, we must become more united and more fervent in our faith and practice than we have ever yet been at any time. We have to become more like a single family, and be one, that we may be the Lord’s.”17

The Beauty of the City of New Jerusalem

When the city of New Jerusalem is finally completed, President Young testified that it will be a resplendent and glorious city to visit. The earth will be blessed, and the righteous will be privileged to live in the peace and beauty found in the city of New Jerusalem. President Young said:

“The City of Zion, in beauty and magnificence, will outstrip anything that is now known upon the earth. The curse will be taken from the earth, and sin and corruption will be swept from its face.”18

President Young was privileged to see the future city of New Jerusalem in vision, and he described it privately to Wilford Woodruff and several other brethren when they were visiting Temple Square:

“Once, while Brigham Young was walking through the Temple Block in Salt Lake City, his thoughts turned to Jackson County. He described what he thought the great temple might look like. Each building would have its own tower, and in the center of the ‘temple complex’ there  would be a ‘high tower’ and a square beautified by ‘hanging gardens’ where the people could meet.”19

New Jerusalem will be a stunningly beautiful and marvelous city. It will rise in tribute to the Lord God Jehovah who will someday dwell there during the Millennium. The peace and joy that will be found therein will be indescribable.

The Lord told Enoch that the Saints will look forward to the Second Coming of the Savior after they have gathered to the lands of Zion. They will anxiously await the glorious day of His Return as they sanctify themselves and their families in Zion:

“And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; His resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.”20

The Saints Will Find Protection in Zion

The scriptures contain many prophecies of the protection that the Saints will find in the city of New Jerusalem and other cities of Zion. In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord said:

“And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the Saints of the Most High God; and the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.

“And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.

“And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another. And it shall be said among the wicked: ‘Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.’

“And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy.”21

The city of New Jerusalem will not be the only place where the Saints will gather to receive protection in the latter days. The Saints will find safety and security in many cities of Zion that are appointed by the leaders of the Church. We know this because not all of the Saints will go to New Jerusalem, yet they will still find safety in Zion, as President Young explained:

“If we live our religion, we shall stay here in these mountains [of the American West] forever and forever, worlds without end, and a portion of the priesthood will go and redeem and build up the Center Stake of Zion.”22

Zion Will Spread Throughout the World

During the time of the Millennium, the peace and order that prevail in the city of New Jerusalem will begin to spread throughout the land to eventually cover all of North and South America. The whole continent will become a holy and consecrated place known as the land of Zion. The Prophet Joseph told us:

“You know there has been great discussion in relation to Zion---where it is, and where the gathering of the dispensation is, and which I am now going to tell you. The prophets have spoken and written upon it; but I will make a proclamation that will cover a broader ground. The whole of America is Zion itself from north to south, and is described by the prophets, who declare that it is the Zion where the mountain of the Lord should be, and that it should be in the center of the land.”23

The Lord first began His work upon this continent when He placed the Garden of Eden in the land of Missouri,24 and this is the land where He will conclude His work, as President Young has said:

“It is true this is Zion---North and South America are Zion, and the land where the Lord commenced His work. And where He commenced, He will finish.”25

As the people throughout the world observe the peace, law and order that exist in Zion, they will want to partake of these things. They will bring their families to the lands of Zion where they can live in tranquility. Many of these immigrants will not be Latter-day Saints, and they will have no desire to join the Church. In fact, President Young tells us that some of the members of the Church will not even live up to their full potential in these Zion communities:

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“All classes of people will come to Zion. Will there be Methodists there? Yes; and they will have the privilege to worship a God without body, parts, and passions, just as they do now, if they choose to. Every person and every community will receive according to the extent of their capacity and ability.

“Every person then will be blessed, will be filled with joy, will be filled with peace, with light, and intelligence according to the endowments with which they are endowed. Will all become kings and priests? No; not even all that will embrace the fullness of the gospel.”26

Every man and woman will be given the opportunity to live and grow according to the light which they are willing to receive. Those who strive to grow in the knowledge of the Lord---who relish and thrive upon the inspiration and personal revelation that they are given---will be blessed with peace and intelligence, flowing from the source of truth and all knowledge. But those who choose to not participate in this glorious existence will not have it forced upon them, and they will not be as blessed as those who are more diligent.

An Important Council at Adam-ondi-Ahman

Once the Saints are living again upon the sacred lands where Adam raised his posterity, it will be possible to convene a special priesthood council that the prophets have predicted since the days of Daniel. This council will occur at Adam-ondi-Ahman.27 This is the same location where a special council was held in 3003 B.C.28 We learn in the Doctrine and Covenants:

“Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, who were all high priests, with the residue of his posterity who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing. And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel.

“And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him: I have set thee to be at the head; a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a prince over them forever. And Adam stood up in the midst of the congregation; and, notwithstanding he was bowed down with age, being full of the Holy Ghost, predicted whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation.”29

The future council to be held at Adam-ondi-Ahman will be an important and sacred meeting in which each of the dispensation leaders will return his priesthood keys to Father Adam, who will then give these keys to Christ.30

One of the dispensation leaders who must return his priesthood keys is the Prophet Joseph Smith. In order to transfer these keys, Joseph must be a resurrected being, since a spirit cannot transfer his priesthood keys.31 This clearly indicates that Joseph’s resurrection must take place before this council can convene at Adam-ondi-Ahman.

The council at Adam-ondi-Ahman is an important precursor to the Second Coming, as the Prophet Joseph explained:

“Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days; he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael. He will call his children together and hold a council with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council.

“This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action. The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion. Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family.”32

Many of the ancient prophets of God will be in attendance at this council, and we have been given a hint of who will be there. Four months after the Church was restored, the Lord gave a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, instructing him that wine was no longer required for the sacramental services of the Church and that water would suffice.33 In this same revelation the Lord described a special feast that will be held in the latter days, and He indicated some of the noble and distinguished individuals who will be there:

“For the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni . . . and also Elias . . . and also John the son of Zacharias . . . and also Elijah . . . and also with Joseph and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham . . . and also with Adam . . . and also with Peter, and James, and John.”34

It would appear that this feast will be held at about the same time as the council at Adam-ondi-Ahman, and that these remarkable men of God will be in attendance there.

The Rule of the Wicked Comes to an End

After the council at Adam-ondi-Ahman has concluded, a significant event will then occur throughout the world: the rule of the wicked will come to an end, and judgment will be given to the righteous. The prophet Daniel testified:

“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the Saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the Saints of the Most High; and the time came that the Saints possessed the Kingdom.”35

The Prophet Joseph Smith also prophesied:

“We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object. When wars come, we shall have to flee to Zion. The cry is to make haste. The last revelation says ye shall not have time to have gone over the earth until these things come. It will come as did the cholera; war, fires, and earthquakes; one pestilence after another, until the Ancient of Days comes, then judgment will be given to the Saints.”36

This will mark the beginning of the end of Satan’s domination of world affairs. As the Kingdom of God spreads throughout the earth, a new epoch of peace will alter the affairs of men. The wars and brutality of our current world will fade into the past as we are blessed with the commencement of a thousand years of serenity and tranquility. As Brigham Young prophesied:

“Zion will be redeemed, the great temple of the Lord will be built, whereupon the glory of the Lord will rest, and a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night; the Saints will be gathering from all nations, and will walk into the temples of God to do the work of redemption for their dead, and saviors will be upon Mount Zion to save the house of Esau. But will the nations know of it? They will not.

“And when the Lord reigns King of nations as he does King of Saints, the inhabitants of the earth will not distrust but that it is the power of some great one, that it is the plans of wise men brought into action.

“Thus they will be governed and controlled, and overruled, and led by the principles of the holy priesthood, and they will never mistrust but that it is the doings of wise men at the head of a powerful nation, schooled in governmental affairs, who know how to control their own nation, and then bring into subjection their neighboring nations, until the whole earth has become subject to them.

“They will not know that it is the Savior who is ruling King of nations as he does King of Saints. A great portion of the inhabitants of the earth will never mistrust but that it is the effects of the wisdom of men.

“The Saints will be instructed how to build up Zion, how to build temples, and do the work of redemption for their dead; and the wicked nations will know nothing about it. When the Millennium is ushered in, no man or woman will know anything about it, only by the power of God. He [the Lord] will rule and reign, and His glory shall be in Zion, and the wicked will not know it is the hand of our God. The Saints will enjoy the light of His countenance, walk therein, and dwell in His presence.”37

This will be a glorious day. The Saints will be richly rewarded for their faithfulness in the midst of adversity. Their children will grow up in peace and righteousness. As the Saints enter into the temples of God to do the work for their kindred dead, families will be sealed together, welding generations back to the commencement of time, and thereby uniting the whole human race as one large family of the children of God.

However, as all of these magnificent things are occurring in the city of New Jerusalem, many important events will be transpiring in the ancient city of Jerusalem as the Jewish people are tested, tried and sanctified as they pass through a period of war and persecution.

Chapter Footnotes

1 . Brigham Young, May 24, 1863, Journal of Discourses 10:172.
2 . Isaiah 2:3; D&C 133:21.
3 . Moses 7:62-64.
4 . Ether 13:2-13.
5 . 3 Nephi 20:21-22.
6 . 3 Nephi 21:22-25.
7 . History of the Church 1:315.
8 . Isaiah 4:2-6, 52:7-12, 54:11-14; Revelation 21:2-4, 9-27; Ether 13:3-10; D&C 45:66-67, 64:41-43, 136:31.
9 . History of the Church 2:517.
10 . History of the Church 1:357-359.
11 . History of the Church 1:359-362.
12 . Richard Cowan, "The Great Temple of the New Jerusalem," Church History Regional Studies--Missouri, (Provo: Brigham Young University, 1994), p. 143.
13 . Brigham Young, November 6, 1864, Journal of Discourses 10:358; Orson Pratt, November 1, 1879, Journal of Discourses 21:153.
14 . Genesis 6:13-16; 1 Nephi 18:1-4; Ether 2:16-18.
15 . Brigham Young, November 6, 1864, Journal of Discourses 10:358.
16 . Brigham Young, April 17, 1870, Journal of Discourses 13:313; emphasis added.
17 . Brigham Young, April 17, 1870, Journal of Discourses 13:314.
18 . Brigham Young, May 24, 1863, Journal of Discourses 10:172.
19 . Cowan, Church History Regional Studies---Missouri, p. 145.
20 . Moses 7:62.
21 . D&C 45:66-71.
22 . Brigham Young, December 11, 1864, Journal of Discourses 11:16; emphasis added.
23 . History of the Church 6:318-319.
24 . D&C 107:55, 116:1; Heber C. Kimball, June 27, 1863, Journal of Discourses 10:235.
25 . Brigham Young, February 10, 1867, Journal of Discourses 11:324.
26 . Brigham Young, July 28, 1861, Journal of Discourses 9:139.
27 . D&C 116:1.
28 . D&C 107:53; Eric N. Skousen, Earth In the Beginning, (Orem, Utah: Verity Publishing, 1997), p. 204.
29 . D&C 107:53-56.
30 . History of the Church 3:386-387.
31 . Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955) 2:110-111.
32 . History of the Church 3:386-387.
33 . D&C 27:2.
34 . D&C 27:5-12.
35 . Daniel 7:21-22.
36 . History of the Church 3:390-391; emphasis added.
37 . Brigham Young, October 3, 1852, Millennial Star 16:594-595 and Deseret News, May 11, 1854.