Mount Zion

There is some confusion in the LDS Church on the meaning of physical Zion.

It appears the location keeps on changing.

I was able to obtain a copy of the 1938 version of Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (from in Utah) 
and  compare it with the current 2008 version that is online at the church's website.

In regards to the physical Zion, Joseph Smith said, "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.  When elders shall take up and examine the old prophecies in the Bible,  they will see it" (Teachings of 
the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 362; History of the Church, 6:318-19; Burton: Discourses of the Prophet  Joseph Smith, 
p. 188).

See also

Joseph Smith's teaching in the 1938 book about all of America being Zion has been omitted from the 2008 version.


The 1938 book also speaks about gathering to the physical land of Zion.  This gathering to the physical Zion apparently 

Former LDS President Hinckley said, "What a marvelous thing it is, my brethren and sisters, to have such a great legacy. 
Now those days  are past. There is no more serious persecution; there is no more  gathering to Zion" (Ensign, August 
1997, News of the Church, online, image, local copy).

President Hinckley's gathering to a physical Zion appeared to be  the United States too because we have no writing 
encouraging believers to gather to Brazil or Venezuela for that matter.

But in today's LDS Church, it seems like Brazil is Zion to the Brazilians, Japan is Zion to the Japanese, France is Zion to 
the French, etc.

People do not understand that the context of physical Zion for the  Old Testament prophets has always been the nation 
of Israel, and not  some other country. The New Testament disciples did not alter these teachings.

We can learn much from the Biblical teachings (Psalm 48:1-2; 74:2;  78:68; 125:1; 135:21; Isa. 8:18; 18:7 as some 
examples). Physical Zion deals with the nation of Israel. It is God's time piece or focal point for lack of a better word.

One of the church's Articles of Faith says, "We believe ... that  Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American 

In chapter 37 of Religion 430-431 - Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, point D1 says, "When Joseph Smith 
translated the Book of Mormon, he learned that America is the land of Zion." (

So, is all of America (North-Central-South) considered Zion or is just the United States considered Zion? How about 
Brazil, Japan, or France?

And where is Mount Zion? Where is the mountain of the Lord that  Joseph Smith wrote about?

Some Latter-day Saints believe Mount Zion is the Salt Lake Temple  in Utah.

Speaking from Temple Square, former LDS President Hinckley said the temple stands a few feet east of here, in fulfillment 
of the words of Isaiah (Ensign, November 1989, An Ensign to the Nations).

ďAnd it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lordís house shall be established in the top of the
mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it" (Ensign, November 1989, Ensign to
the Nations, online, image, local copy).

The is echoed again in an October 1975 speech given by Elder LeGrant Richards, entitled "Prophets and Prophecy". He 
said, "And that brings us also to what Isaiah saw when he said, ďAnd it shall come to pass in the last days, that the 
mountain of the Lordís house shall be established in the top of the mountains, Ö and all nations shall flow unto it.  And 
many people shall Ö say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he 
will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.Ē (Isa. 2:2Ė3.)

This temple on this temple block is that house of the God of Jacob that our pioneer fathers started to build when they were a 
thousand miles from transportation, and it took them forty years to build it. Isnít it a glorious thing, one of the most beautiful 
buildings in the world?
(online, local copy).

Some Latter-day Saints could say, "The Lord's house in LDS vernacular is the temple (whether one or many), several 
of which are built upon the tops of mountains, but not all. Imagery wise it is clear and consistent. Starting in Kirkland 
to the present day temples are being built every year all over the world."

These type of people seem to be going against the intended meaning of Isaiah. He did not refer to houses of the 
Lord or mountains of the Lord. Upon the tops of mountains, but not all? Again, this is not Isaiah's meaning. If you 
want to change house into houses, at least follow through and maintain the context of the passage ... houses shall 
be established in the top of the mountains. There is no such thing as some temples will be in the mountains and other
temples will be on flat lands. A case of exegesis again.

We can also see this in Micah's version: "But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of 
the Lord [singular] shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it [singular] shall be exalted above the hills; 
and people shall flow unto it [singular]".

Why did former President Hinckley appropriate the identity of the mountain and the temple to Salt Lake City when 
Utah is not implied in Isaiah's word to Judah and Jerusalem?

Isaiah 1:1 says "The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of 
Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah".

Is Isaiah also talking about the inhabitants of that western part of the world (now called Salt Lake City) who lived in 
the days of Judah's kings (in the east)?


When one reads the Old Testament, the prophets speak of the mountain of the Lord, and the context is the land of 
Israel. It is also referred to as Mount Zion, the holy mount, and the holy mountain (Exo. 15:17; Isa. 25:6,10; 56:7, 
57:13; 65:9; 65:11; 65:25; 66:20; Lament. 5:18; Eze. 20:40; 34:26; Dan. 9:16; 9:20).

By not getting the correct context, Latter-day Saints have applied the wrong meaning.

On November 3, 1831, this is a written revelation through Joseph Smith at Hiram, Ohio, where he said, "And the graves 
of the saints  shall be opened; and they shall come forth and stand on the right  hand of the Lamb, when he shall stand 
upon Mount Zion, and upon  the holy city, the New Jerusalem; and they shall sing the song of  the Lamb, day and night 
forever and ever" (D&C 133:56).

In this case, the LDS Mount Zion does not appear to be the New Jerusalem (if you render it the same way Latter-day 
Saints interpret the Bible).

If you have a hard time understanding this, then just look at how Latter-day Saints have understood Isaiah 2:1-3 to 
mean Zion and Jerusalem are two different places.

"The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, 
that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above 
the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the 
mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his 
paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

Latter-day Saints believe this "Zion" refers to a future New Jerusalem on the American continent but this is not so.

Isaiah wrote concerning Judah and Jerusalem, not the United StatesThe passage has nothing to do with the 
tribe of Ephraim or America. The law is symbolic of Judah (Gen. 49:10; Ps. 60:7).

A similar theme is repeated by another Biblical prophet:

"The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah 
king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. And 
he said, The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds 
shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither" (Amos 1:1-2). 

Amos wrote concerning Israel, not the United States.

The prophet Zechariah elucidates this further:

"Again the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with 
great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.  Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will 
dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts 
the holy mountain" (Zech. 8:1-3).

Zion = Jerusalem = a city of truth = the mountain of the Lord.  This is not a reference to America.

One year later (after the November 1831 revelation supposedly given to Smith), the LDS identity of Mount Zion and 
New Jerusalem changes yet again.  On September 22 and 23, 1832, a revelation through Joseph Smith at Kirtland, 
Ohio, has him say, "Yea, the word of the  Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the  restoration 
of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his  prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon 
Mount  Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem" (D&C 84:2; History  of the Church 1:286–295).

Now, Mount Zion = the New Jerusalem = the city of Independence,  Missouri (D&C 57:1-3).

The Mormon version of New Jerusalem apparently has a temple.

The biblical New Jerusalem does not have a temple.

According to, the highest point in Missouri is Taum 
Sauk Mountain at 1,772 feet above  sea level. The lowest point is the St. Francis River at 230 feet above  sea level. 
The mean elevation of Missouri is 800 feet above sea level. The city of Independence is 1,033 feet above sea level. 
The city of  Jerusalem is situated on an uneven rocky plateau at an elevation of  2,550 feet. It is 3,800 feet above 
the level of the Dead Sea.

Now lets look at for Utah. The highest point in Utah 
is Kings Peak at 13,528 feet above  sea level. The lowest point is Beaverdam Wash at 2,000 feet above sea  level.

Which American state contains the LDS version of Mount Zion? Will Latter-day Saints try to invent two Mount Zions?

The city of Independence (Joseph's New Jerusalem) is not very high in  elevation. It is surprising then to know that 
he considers it Mount Zion,  whereas other Latter-day Saints view Salt Lake City (4,300 feet above  sea level) as the 
Mount Zion - but Joseph Smith taught Mount Zion =  New Jerusalem = Independence, Missouri.

Do Mormons believe Salt Lake City wins over Jerusalem because it is about 1,800 feet higher (or 500 feet higher 
depending on where you  measure from)? Salt Lake City (4,300 feet) easily wins over  Independence at 1,033 feet.

If one does a search on for "Mount Zion," you will find a talk by former LDS President Harold B. Lee 
about his recent trip to Israel. I think he may have given this discourse at the Salt Lake Temple (source: "I Walked 
Today Where Jesus Walked", Liahona  Magazine, April 1984). According to LDS records, this article was written in 

"As we looked out that night from the veranda of our hotel room,  silhouetted against the sky was Mount Zion, and 
there was King  David’s tower marking, so they told us, the place where they say  the Last Supper was held just 
before the Savior went down to the  Brook Cedron and to his betrayal and judgment and finally to death.  Here on 
this mount Zion or in America’s New Jerusalem (our students  of the scripture are not in agreement as to which) is 
to be  commenced the greatest drama of the whole history of the world to  usher in the second coming of the 
Lord." (online, image, local copy).

Now keep in mind that former LDS President Harold Lee gave this talk about 140 years after Joseph Smith gave 
his revelations.

Imagine that ... LDS President Lee is not even in agreement with  revelations of his own church founder.

It's no wonder Mormon students are not in agreement. How could they be when even the Mormon prophets do not 
know or believe each other on what Mount Zion is? They do not even believe the Biblical teaching.

This is what the Bible says:

"Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe  of Ephraim: But chose the tribe of Judah, 
the mount Zion which he  loved" (Ps. 78:67-68).

Mount Zion is referring to Judah, not the United States.

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