Those that seek to bring forth Zion are not commanded to do so. They seek it out. My mind has been working through the details of chapters 13-14 of 1 Nephi, and one verse sticks out in particular:
1 Nephi 13:37
“37. And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.”
I used to think that the bringing forth of Zion would be by some invitation from Salt Lake City. The more I see the scriptures as describing a complete picture of our current conditions, and what is ahead, I have come to realize that Zion will not come until we build it (D Todd Christofferson Oct 2008 Gen. Conf.).
The opposite of Zion has always been Babylon. Babylon represents a worldly mentality. It includes thoughts of gold, silver, silks, scarlets, fine twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing (similar to what we find in large ritzy malls), described in 1 Nephi 13:6-8. A Babylon people seek the praise of the world, and they are willing to destroy those standing in their way to obtain their desires. Those in Babylon would dig a pit for their neighbor, if it meant capitalizing on their loss. Our modern banking and stock exchange economy is evidence of this.
Joseph Smith tried to establish Zion, but he soon found out that there is a real battle in the hearts of men, waged by the master deceiver, Satan. The early saints in Missouri and Nauvoo did not qualify to build Zion.
“3. But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;
4. And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom;”
“6. There were jarrings, and contentions, and evnvyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.”
How is it that we think we would do any better than the early saints? What makes our approach better? Only one answer can satisfy these questions. We must obey every word that proceedeth forth out of the mouth of Christ. That word comes in many forms: scripture, angels, and from Christ Himself.
The prophecy of the return of the House of Israel to the true doctrine, despite the failure of the Gentile nations, is a good start for those seeking a return (1 Nephi 13:37-42). In other words, those of the natural branches of the olive tree must take the graft, into the original olive tree (Jacob 5). That graft is dependent upon how we seek to know the words of Christ.
We must recognize that the there will be false traditions, introduced by the Gentiles, because of the missing plain and precious truths that have been perverted. But it will be your knowledge of these words that empower you to discern and not partake of the evil gift.
One of those false traditions of unbelief include the idea that salvation can be offered by anyone other than Christ Himself. Belonging to an institution was never intended to provide salvation. Salvation is an individual matter. Meeting together oft was only intended to recognize the pattern of gathering, so those who desire to be gathered by the Lord could align with the words of Christ and become sweet to Him. It was always an individual salvation.
When we choose to build Zion amongst us, it will be founded upon the words of Christ. Those without that foundation cannot enter in. We cannot obtain a salvation on the credit or the coat tails of other people. Those who recognize this, can easily discern true messengers from our Father. It will be the feet of these, who build Zion, who will be beautiful upon the mountains (the ascension upon the mountain of the Lord is implied here). And those who publish peace and tidings of great joy, in the words of Christ, will surely be beautiful.