Tuesday, August 7, 2012

As the Waters Cover the Sea

The scriptures teach that 'the time cometh speedily' when 'the Holy One of Israel must reign in dominion, and might, and power and great glory' (1 Nephi 22:24-26). Millions of the faithful anxiously wait for this glorious second coming of the Messiah, our Savior Jesus Christ. It is certain He will come.

Far less certain, however, is what will happen after He does. Part of this is likely by design, for 'my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord' (Isaiah 55:8). For what it's worth, there are dozens of clues in the scriptures that begin to paint a picture of what life would be like after Christ comes again.

John wrote that the faithful would live with Christ a thousand years after His second coming (Revelation 20:4). Isaiah explained that Christ, 'will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go for the law... And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares' (Isaiah 2:3-4).

The very mention of Zion points our minds to the example of the City of Enoch, which was transfigured for its righteousness. That flourishing city was called 'Zion' because, 'they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them' (Moses 7:18). We often connect the law of consecration with both mentions of Zion, and rightly so, because 'Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom' (D&C 105:5).

As unfathomable as it is, Millennial Zion sounds like a dramatic transformation from much of the world around us. Yet, it is important to remember that none of this will 'just happen'.

Joseph Smith taught, 'When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves. And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy' (D&C 130:1-2).

In other words, we're not going to automatically transform into wonderful people just because Christ has come again. We must be striving now to be the kind of people that would exist in Zion. We can take comfort in knowing that the laws of the gospel provide a foundation for eternal growth and progress.

Baptismal covenants allow us to take upon ourselves the name of Christ, becoming unified with him and justified with the law through His grace. Sanctification comes through the Holy Ghost by virtue of the Atonement. Together, these principles allow us to live in the eternal glory of the Millennial reign of Christ.

For Zion, the eternal nature of the gospel means that all things must be done of our own free will. The Lord will never take our agency from us. Consecration becomes much less a 'perfected socialism' in this light, as some describe it, and much more a natural result of people seeking to contribute to the interdependent progress of the whole. Call it 'capitalism with a heart'. Call it the baptized economy. Call it a small government monarchy. Whatever you call it, compulsion will not be a part of it.

Our motivation will instead come from knowledge, 'for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea... Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more, for a long time' (2 Nephi 30:16-18). So the truth will make us free from the power of Satan and we will choose to be Christ-like because we will understand perfectly what that is, how it looks and how it changes the quality of our lives.

Sadly, this will not last forever. Millennial Zion will suffer the same fate as the Zion of the Americas after the visitation of Christ. After hundreds of years of peace and prosperity following the coming of Christ, some of the ancient American people began to be prideful. As pride entered their hearts, the devil again had power to persuade them to false teachings, vain ambitions and secret combinations. As with the ancient Americans, so will the people of the Millennium choose to abandon the peace and prosperity of an interdependent society in pursuit of selfish gains and pleasures.

The difference is that the end of Millennial Zion will mark the end of the world:

And again, verily, verily, I say unto you that when the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season; And the end shall come, and heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away... But behold, verily, I say unto you, before the earth shall pass away, Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump, and then shall all the dead awake, for their graves shall be opened, and they shall come forth-- yea, even all. And the righteous shall be gathered on my right hand unto eternal life; and the wicked on my left hand will I be ashamed to own before the Father; Wherefore I will say unto them-- Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

We all know what side we want to stand on when the people of the earth go their separate ways. If we will have the same sociality in the Millennium as we do now, is there anything you or I should change before the Savior comes again? If knowledge of the Lord can bind Satan for a thousand years, can we push Satan's influence out of our lives with faithful scripture study and prayer? If baptismal covenants allow us to abide eternal glory, shouldn't we make absolutely certain that we are keeping those covenants?

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will come again. As we become acquainted with his voice, learn of Him and strive to become unified with him, we will be prepared to meet him and to become an active citizen in Millennial Zion.

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