From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Doxey, Graham W.
For Latter-day Saints, the gathering of Israel in the last days, and the building of the city of Zion and of the New Jerusalem, are closely related concepts.
The tenth article of faith, written by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1842, declares that the New Jerusalem will be built upon the American continent. He learned this as he translated the Book of Mormon (3 Ne. 20:22; Ether 13:2-6). Additional revelation on this subject came in September 1830 and was further clarified in the subsequent months (D&C 28:9;42:33-36, 62, 67;57:3). In July 1831, Joseph Smith traveled to Jackson County, Missouri, at the command of the Lord, where it was announced that the long-awaited gathering of Israel would commence. The city of Zion (also called the New Jerusalem) and its temple would be built in Independence, Missouri (D&C 57:1-3).
Even as the ancient tribes of Israel were scattered north of the Holy Land and their identity was lost, their prophets foretold a gathering of Israel in the last days in a consecrated land (Jer. 31:1-12). Zion would be reestablished. This prophecy includes the promise that the "pure in heart" will receive the higher principles and truths of the full gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 97:21;100:16;101:18). Both where and how they live will come about under divine influence. Since favorable spiritual conditions may exist anywhere in the world, cities of Zion and of Zion people, the "pure in heart," could be located anywhere in the world (D&C 97:21). However, there is to be a "center place," or capital city, of Zion. It is referred to both as "the city of Zion" and as "the city of New Jerusalem" (D&C 57:2;84:2; cf. 45:66-67).
The writings of Ether, written prior to 125 B.C., abridged by Moroni 2 in the Book of Mormon, prophesy of the preparations for the coming of the messiah and of a New Jerusalem in the Western Hemisphere. It is to be built by the remnant of the seed of Joseph of Egypt (Ether 13:3-10). Ether also speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem of old, adding that it will be rebuilt with a temple and become a holy city (Ether 13:11).
Also, the book of Revelation speaks of "the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven" (Rev. 21:2, 10). This may relate to the return of the city of Enoch, the Zion that in Enoch's day was caught up into heaven (Moses 7:12-21, 59-64).
The future rebuilding of the Holy Land for the house of Judah and the building of the New Jerusalem in the Western Hemisphere for the house of Joseph are associated with the return of the Messiah to the earth. Of this era, the 1845 Proclamation of the Twelve (MFP 1:252-66) says: He will assemble the Natives, the remnants of Joseph in America; and make them a great, and strong, and powerful nation: and he will civilize and enlighten them, and will establish a holy city, and temple and seat of government among them, which shall be called Zion.
And there shall be his tabernacle, his sanctuary, his throne, and seat of government for the whole continent of North and South America for ever. In short, it will be to the western hemisphere what Jerusalem will be to the eastern .
The city of Zion, with its sanctuary and priesthood, and the glorious fulness of the gospel, will constitute a standard which will put an end to jarring creeds and political wranglings, by uniting the republics, states, provinces, territories, nations, tribes, kindred, tongues, people and sects of North and South America in one great and common bond of brotherhood. Truth and knowledge shall make them free, and love cement their union. The Lord also shall be their king and their lawgiver; while wars shall cease and peace prevail for a thousand years [pp. 259-60].
The prophet Isaiah declared that in a future time "out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:2-3; cf. Micah 4:1-2). Latter-day Saints believe this refers to the two Zion headquarters in the two hemispheres from which the Messiah, the returned Son of God, will reign triumphantly over the whole earth. GRAHAM W. DOXEY