|Eusebius Pamphilus, Bishop of Caesarea, 4th C. AD|
To me, one of the most fascinating—and comforting—prophecies about the time previous to the Second Coming of our Savior tells of “the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God” (D&C 45:66).
And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion. And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another. And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand. And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy. (D&C 45:67–72; emphasis added.)
What I glean from this passage is that (1) there will be a city or land built up on earth in the last days called the New Jerusalem or Zion, (2) that if we don’t “take up the sword” with our neighbors, we’ll have to flee to this place, (3) Zion will be the only place on earth where the people will not be at war one with another, and (4) great dread will fill the wicked because the inhabitants of Zion will be indomitable. (I plan to focus on the New Jerusalem in a future post.)
And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them, and they shall say that Christ delayeth his coming until the end of the earth. (D&C 45:26).
Today we hear of wars and rumors of wars. These wars can consume our thoughts and make our hearts weary and perhaps fail. Luke tells us of a time when “upon the earth [there will be] distress of nations, with perplexity” (see Luke 21:25) and in modern scripture we read of “the wars and the perplexities of the nations” (D&C 88:79). Is this not our time?
I am reassured that we can “flee unto Zion for safety” now by gathering with the saints wherever they are, having genuine faith in Christ, repenting of our sins, living by the word of God rather than in fear of it, basking in the light of truth, cleansing our hearts, and becoming one, first with our families and then with those around and near us, for the Lord said, “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27).
And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them. (Moses 7:18.)
A fourth-century Christian bishop, Eusebius Pamphilus, wrote in his Church History (3.5.3) of the time when the early saints in Jerusalem were warned to flee the rebellious city before its destruction by Roman armies (66–70 AD):
But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella. And when those that believed in Christ had come there from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgment of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men.
It is a time for us be wise. It is a time to be prepared. It is a time to set aside frivolous preoccupations. We were born in these times to stand up for the truth, and to stand by it in the midst of persecution and war.
In spite of fear and perplexity, we can rest assured that there will be a place of safety, and, even this very day, we can “stand in the holy place” (Matthew 24:15).