The remnant of Israel (the latter day remnant seed of ancient Joseph and Lehi) will receive the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and will build the New Jerusalem, the holy city Zion. (Ether 13: 4, 8-10 and 3Nephi 16: 11-12 and 3 Nephi 21: 23)
"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)
In order for a person to be a participant in Zion, the holy city, at least two conditions must exist in the person 1. The person's garments must be "white through the blood of the lamb," and 2. The person is to be "numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph." Both of these conditions are comprised of interesting words. We will be rewarded to understand and believe the meaning of the words of the conditions of membership in Zion, the holy city. This entry will address the first requirement mentioned by Ether, the second requirement we will address in the next entry.
The first thing to be noticed about the two conditions for participation in the holy city, Zion, is what is NOT required. Glaringly missing are nearly all of the conceptions latter day people have come to believe in their traditions about Zion. There is nothing in the two requirements about any man "calling" anyone to go anywhere to build a city. There is nothing implied in the two conditions that remotely suggest Zion will grow out of any earthly institution. Participation in Zion is an entirely individual thing. Institutions cannot have "their garments white through the blood of the Lamb," nor can an institution be "numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph."
Individuals qualify and become members of Zion, individually. The process of qualifying for membership in Zion is the process by which a person's "garments are (made) white through the blood of the Lamb. First and foremost, citizens of the holy city Zion will "know" the Lord, (John 17: 3), will have received His testimony to them, (D&C 76: 5 and D&C 131: 5-6), and will have received all the ordinances, blessings, witnesses, and assurances from His own mouth, that will enable a person to abide His presence. Otherwise, without these things, there is no flesh that can endure His presence. (D&C 84: 19-22)
All the smooth words of assurance, all the carnal security, and promises of "all is well," will never have power to save anyone. In fact, such assurances are designed to destroy. And they do destroy Gods children in droves, even those who are sure they are bound for celestial glory because they belong to the right church, or the right family, and follow the right men. (Isaiah 30: 10 and 2Nephi 28: 7-8, 21-25)
“Garments washed white in the blood of the Lamb” is a requirement for every citizen of Zion. Garments washed white in the blood of the Lamb enable one to abide the presence of the Lord. Having garments washed white means to be sanctified, to be "pure" and "spotless" before God. (Alma 13: 11-12) Fallen man (you and me) can only be made pure and spotless by the pronouncement of God's own mouth. If not for that, there is nothing we can do of ourselves, there is nothing any other person can do or say that can make us pure and spotless. His ordinances invite us to become clean and spotless so that we can be part of His family with Him there. It is His power and pronouncement that actually accomplishes making us clean. (Ether 3: 13 and D&C 64: 10) We must be pronounced clean by Him in order that our "garments be washed white" in His Holy Blood.
Zion will be a holy city because the Lord will be there. He will make the city holy because it will be His own abode. Two separate times while teaching the Nephite offspring of Joseph in the recorded words of the Book of Mormon, the Lord promised them His own presence in the holy city they would build in the latter days.
"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." (3Nephi 20: 22)
23 And they (Gentiles) 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.
24 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.
25 And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst. (3Nephi 21: 23-25)
The Lord told Enoch the same thing:
70 And righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine own 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.
72 And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years shall the earth rest. (Moses 7: 70, 72)
It is interesting to note that the same promise the Lord gave to the Nephites and to Enoch about coming to His Zion as the place of His abode, is the very same promise He made to the early members of the Church when He extended the opportunity for them to build a Zion in their day. Commanding them to build the Nauvoo temple He said to them:
"For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood...And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people;...If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy." (D&C 124: 28, 40, 44)
The Lord's promise to come to the Nauvoo temple and grace it with His presence and make it holy by His own presence and ordinances was never fulfilled. There is no known record that shows the Lord (or angels) ever came to the Nauvoo temple to "consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy." The way it would have been made holy is by the presence of Holiness itself. In my observation, that never happened. Joseph Smith was never able to successfully establish Zion and bring the people to the point where they could endure the presence of the Lord. For their failure, the early saints were moved out of their place, (Nauvoo) and suffered terrible tribulation and hardships as promised by the Lord. (D&C 124: 45-48) Moses failed in his desire and efforts to bring his people into the presence of the Lord as well. (D&C 84: 22-25)
“Garments washed white in the blood of the Lamb” is a gift and bestowal from God. It is required for each individual in order to participate in Zion. Sanctification comes neither from any man nor the practices of men. (2Nephi 9: 41) God personally sanctifies, makes known, and invites, those that will participate. (D&C 131: 5-6) The presence of the Lord in His holy city, the New Jerusalem, to be built by the remnant of Jacob (and Joseph through Lehi), will require anyone there to be able to abide His presence. It will not be possible for someone who is not able to abide the presence of the Lord to be a part of Zion. Someone who has not had his garments made white in the blood of the Lamb simply will not be able to be there. It will not be possible.
Joseph Smith taught:
"Men and angels are to be co-workers in bringing to pass this great work, and Zion is to be prepared, even a new Jerusalem, for the elect that are to be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, and to be established an holy city, for the tabernacle of the Lord shall be with them." (HC 2: 260-62)
Angels bring us to Christ. (Moroni 7: 29-32) It is the work of angels to select and bring those who are prepared to the Lord. (D&C 77: 11) Angels are now busy preparing the elect for Zion. It happened in Alma's day, (Alma 13: 22-26) it happens today, in earnest. The day of the Lord's latter day Zion approaches.
“And Enoch beheld angels descending out of heaven, bearing testimony of the Father, and of the Son. And the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion.” (Moses 7: 33-34) This is how men and angels are to be co-workers in bringing to pass this great work, and Zion is to be prepared, even a new Jerusalem.
Mighty repentance each and every day of our lives, hearts, minds, and hands that are clean and pure, submitting ourselves to Him completely, following every word of His commands, will receive the notice of angels. They will bring us a personal invitation to come to Him. When we do come to Him, He will assure a place for us in His Zion because He will say, "this day you are clean before me." Then, your garments are white in the blood of the Lamb because He said so. He will do all things required to prepare you for His Zion.