July 4th, 2006

Zion in the Midst of Babylon

“One of the greatest challenges we will face is to be able to live in [the] world but somehow not be of that world. We have to create Zion in the midst of Babylon”
—Elder David R. Stone, “Zion in the Midst of Babylon”, Ensign, May 2006, p.90-92

I loved the talk from this past general conference by Elder David R. Stone, titled “Zion in the Midst of Babylon“. Due to my studies in recent months I have become more and more troubled about the situation we face today. Corruption and conspiracy in our government, lower acceptable standards in the media, easily-accessible debauchery on the internet, a failing school system, and an overall attack, subtle or not, on Christ-like standards and morals.

There are two talks I have read recently that comfort me. One is “Terror, Triumph, and a Wedding Feast” by Elder Holland. The other is this article by Elder Stone.

Both of these articles give me a sense of peace and reassurance, that despite the chaos around me, I can create Zion in my own home and in my own life. I can “cheerfully do all things that lie in [my] power; and then [I may] stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17).

Another interesting note in Elder Stone’s talk is the following statement:

“People in every culture move within a cocoon of self-satisfied self-deception, fully convinced that the way they see things is the way things really are.”

Wow. I have never heard this thought expressed so succinctly. How prone are we as Americans to believe 100% of what we’re spoon-fed by the media? Conversely, how often do we question the reports we hear on TV or the radio, or even worse, the internet? How firm do we grasp on to our so-called convictions on a given issue, without objectively researching them with an open mind and the spirit of discernment?

I fear that the majority of us are in this exact state Elder Stone describes. Wrapped up warmly in our cocoon, we savor the self-satisfied self-deception. Questioning the proposed truth is hard. Said Patrick Henry:

“We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth. . . Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not. . .? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth.”
—Patrick Henry, meeting at St. John’s church, March 23, 1775 (source)

I quote again from Elder Stone:

“We can live as a Zion people, if we wish to. Will it be hard? Of course it will, for the waves of Babylonian culture crash incessantly against our shores. Will it take courage? Of course it will.”

It will be hard. It wasn’t mean to be any other way. But with God, “all things are possible” (Mark 9:23). We must “be not faithless, but [believe]” (John 20:27).

I am grateful for the inspired leadership of a modern prophet. I know that he and those who serve with him are called of God, and are leading us today if we will only but open our eyes and ears and heed their call. Do we have food storage? Are we working hard to reduce our debt? Are we repenting earnestly of our sins?

Despite all the turmoil and chaos, despite all the reasons to be outraged, depressed, and fearful, let us have faith, and hope for a better world.

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God. (Ether 12:4)

5 Responses to “Zion in the Midst of Babylon”

  1. Jason
    June 24, 2008 at 12:21 pm #

    I do not believe that Zion can be built in the midst of Babylon, it never has in the past. Rather the call has always been to flee from Babylon and come out from among her. How can we live among Babylon, play her game, drink of her poison without being contaminated by her. While Yes we can live in Babylon and try our best not to partake of her, Zion can not be built there.
    It seems that through out history the Lord has led his people out of Babylon, but the people rebuild it as soon as occasion permits. How can we ever truly build Zion with our feet and time still in Babylon?

    We are commanded to live the Law of Consecration, and to build Zion. For a long time that was taken litterally, but it seems as of the past 20-30 years it has become more of a cliche than a reality.

    So yes while we are in Babylon we must strive to avoid taking on the slow stain of the world. But the only true way to build zion is first to flee Babylon the Great.

  2. Connor
    June 24, 2008 at 3:14 pm #

    So yes while we are in Babylon we must strive to avoid taking on the slow stain of the world. But the only true way to build zion is first to flee Babylon the Great.

    Agreed. However, I think that fleeing Babylon before being commanded to do so is incorrect. Until the Lord issues His call to have His saints flee, I feel we must work within the system to save as many as possible, and get others to join our cause so that they, too, will be ready to heed the call.

  3. Jason
    June 24, 2008 at 3:24 pm #

    I agree with you there as well. Zion can only be established by proper priesthood authority. A group of people who move to a chunk of land can not live the united order, unless directed through proper priesthood channels.

    As far as where one decides to live (in the city verses on a farm) that can also only be directed by the Holy Ghost. As you said there are many that are called to build up the Kingdom and to spread the word.

    When Zion is to be built though it will not be in the midst of Babylon, it will be separated and called out to a place of refuge.

  4. Connor
    June 24, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    When Zion is to be built though it will not be in the midst of Babylon, it will be separated and called out to a place of refuge.

    As I posted here, I agree wholeheartedly.

  5. Michelle
    August 22, 2017 at 10:24 am #

    I realize this is an older post, but timely.

    I highly recommend William Bradford’s History of ‘Plimoth Plantation’ in regard to the topic of leaving Babylon for Zion. In particular chapters 1-5. There are many parallels to our day and it gives insights into the details and imperfections, but determination, of those who chose to go.

    Bradford writes that Satan works against the Saints in two ways: have the heathen persecute them and if that fails, sow falsehoods among the Saints and have the Saints contend against each other.

    He states that it was their adversaries slander that said they left Holland because the state was weary of them and had driven them out. He demonstrates that they left of their own free choice and motion. He also says that rather than being weary of their people, the Dutch sought after them as workers because they found by experience they were careful to keep their word and diligent in their callings. (chapter 3)

    After 11-12 years in Holland the wisest members began to understand the danger and see the future and consider a remedy,

    The dangers: the afflictions they faced in Holland, that their enemies may soon surround them, the hard physical labor that overburdened the children to make them physically unwell, and worse: the children began to submit to the temptations around them and were becoming degenerate and corrupted.

    Finally, they wanted a place to begin to build the kingdom of Christ, even if they could only begin and have others build on it.

    They were not at all blind to the dangers, and he listed them in stomach turning detail, but they accepted that God would help them.

    They had a “generall conferrence” as he called it and considered both America and Guiana, but chose Virginia as the best option. Then they got to work.

    While we need to wait for proper authority to go and build Zion as a separate place. We can and should be doing everything to prepare now both temporally and spiritually.

    I, like Bradford and his fellow pilgrims, have felt the afflictions of living in Babylon, I see our enemies gathering, I worry about our children being made unwell by burdens of Babylon. Not the physical labor, but the unhealthy food and entertainment. I see them (and not just the youth, but older people in my own family) leaving the gospel to become degenerate and corrupted by the world.

    Even in Bradford’s time there were many who wanted to live among them in liberty and purity of the gospel, but found it to hard and preferred the prisons of England.

    There will be no separation of Babylon and Zion until there are enough Saints to face the dangers head on, as did the pilgrims, and decide to go, live or die, as long as God went with them.

    Like the pilgrims: I pray for that day.

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