How do the latter day Gentiles play into the Lord's plans for the establishment of Zion in the latter days? If they, (the Gentiles) carry the responsibility for restoration of truth, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon, (1Nephi 15: 13 and 3Nephi 21: 5-6) then what about a role in establishing Zion as a place for the Lord to come and dwell among His people?
The Lord has declared His intention to "bring again Zion" (Isaiah 52: 8) in the latter days. This will be His doing. He will bring Zion. No institution will, or can bring or create Zion. From the beginning of time, Zion has never grown out of, or resulted from the efforts of an earthly institution of any kind. The Lord defines Zion as "The Pure in Heart." (D&C 97: 21) The pure in heart are blessed to "see God." (3Nephi 12: 8) The defining feature of Zion is the actual presence of God among His people. (2Nephi 22: 6) Only those that are pure in heart and can endure the presence of the Lord will be found in Zion. The Lord instructed the early Saints: "I, the Lord, require at their hands, that there may be a house built unto me for the salvation of Zion—Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God." (D&C 97: 12,16) The wicked cannot endure the presence of the Lord, only the pure in heart. There will be only a few (3Nephi 14: 14) that will be sufficiently pure to be able to endure His presence in the flesh in Zion. (D&C 76: 118)
Moroni recounts teachings of the prophet Ether from the Jaredite record. Ether spoke of the future establishment of Zion on the American continent. He said:
"Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land... that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old;" (Ether 13: 4,6,8)
The remnant of Joseph to whom this land belongs by promised inheritance is the seed of Nephi's father. (3Nephi 15: 13, 1Nephi 13: 30) Lehi, Nephi's father was a descendant of Joseph. (1Nephi 5: 14) Though this remnant of Israel through Joseph's lineage was to be scattered, driven, and afflicted by the Gentiles of the latter day upon this, their land of inheritance, (1Nephi 13: 14) it will be them, (the remnant of Israel) that will finally find the favor of the Lord. It will be that favored remnant of Israel that will establish and build the New Jerusalem unto the Lord.
The Lord, while teaching the Nephites during His ministry pronounced a series of awful woes upon the Gentiles. (3Nephi 21: 14-21) After pronouncement of all the woes to befall the Gentiles, the Lord in his mercy makes this provision, (3Nephi 21: 22-24)
"But if they (still speaking of the 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."
The role of Gentiles in building Zion, if they are willing to repent, hearken to His words, and harden not their hearts, will be to "assist" the remnant of Jacob. This doctrine of the Lord, when it is understood, will come as a major blow and disappointment to Gentiles who await the word of leaders to pack up and get ready to move to Zion under their direction. The Gentile's understanding of Zion, how it will happen, where it will take place, and who will be involved, is so much the precepts of men at this point, it has nothing whatever to do with the prophecy of the Lord Jesus and the prophets of the Book of Mormon. No wonder the Lord condemns the Gentiles for their unbelief of these things:
"And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written- That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay." (D&C 84: 54-59)
Despite the unbelief and wickedness of the Gentiles after the blessing they have received by the Lord in the restoration of the gospel, (3Nephi 20: 15) they may yet repent and be numbered among the remnant of Israel whose right it is to inherit this land. If any Gentile will repent, hearken to the word of God, and harden not their heart, they may come and assist the remnant of Israel in building the city New Jerusalem.
"And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel." (Ether 13: 10)
"And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst." (3Nephi 21: 25)