We Are Living In Babylon

Written by our good friend Tanner


NEWSFLASH: YOU ARE LIVING IN BABYLON!

Please don’t freak out. Take deep breaths. You good? Good.

So how does it feel to live in Babylon? Pretty normal, right? That’s because you were born here. You’re a native. You, me, everybody. We are legal citizens of Babylon, with birth certificates, passports and punch cards for free Babylonian milkshakes to prove it.
“So what,” you might say. “Things don’t seem too bad here. What’s the problem with living in Babylon?”


NEWSFLASH #2: EVERYBODY IN BABYLON GETS DESTROYED!

Thus saith the Lord: “All the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.” (1)

Ouch.

To sum up- We are currently in Babylon and if we stay in Babylon, we will end up as piles of smouldering ash. Sound fun? Not really. Sounds like a bunch of Babylogna!

So how do we get out of Babylon?

Answer: We have to go to Zion!

“Dude, I totally already live in Utah. I’m like, already in Zion bro.”

NEWSFLASH 3: ZION HAS YET TO BE BUILT

The people who dwell in the city of Zion must be of one heart and one mind, dwell in righteousness, and have no poor among them (2). Does that sound like any city or group of people you know? Definitely not.

Zion is not here yet, but it needs to be built up before the second coming of the Lord. And guess who get’s to build it? That’s right, us!

Maybe.

We only have the opportunity to build Zion if we rise up and choose it. Otherwise, we opt to just chill in Babylon and leave the heavy lifting to some future generation.

I once heard a man of an older generation observe with some sarcasm that every generation is called “the chosen generation.” A response to his observation stuck with me: “We call every generation ‘the chosen generation’ in hopes that one generation will actually believe it and do something about it.” Indeed, many are called but few are chosen.

I, for one, would like to be in the generation that builds Zion.

So where to begin?

It all starts in our hearts. “For this is Zion– THE PURE IN HEART” (3)

When I dream of Zion, I dream of a people that have learned to live together without malice, without prejudice, without anger, without bitterness or jealousy. I dream of a people who are quick to follow the counsel of the Lord, quick to lend a helping hand, quick to offer a kind word, and quick to “throw the cloak of charity” over another’s shortcomings. (4)

If our hearts are not yet one, we are not ready for Zion. “For if ye are not one, ye are not mine,” saith the Lord. (5)

Once our hearts are one, it is much easier for the next step—to be of one mind.

I have friends whose hearts are “knit together in unity” with mine (6) . Though we are all committed to God, occasionally there are times we don’t see eye-to-eye on certain matters. However, because of the love respect we share and because of our desire to do God’s will, we are able to work through the questions until we are on the same page.

While we are reasoning together, nobody takes offense because we know that nobody intends it. No feelings are hurt because no hurtful words are said. Nobody is concerned with who is right because we are only concerned with what is right.

In this manner, the unity of hearts allows us to work on a unity of minds. The success of this process comes only when each individual in the group is primarily concerned with having the same heart and mind as God. The more unified we are with God, the more unified we are with each other.

Thus, the paramount duty of the would-be citizens of Zion is to focus on their personal relationship with God. Christ’s appearance in Zion will not be a surprise, for those who dwell there will already have known Him individually before they did collectively.

Speaking of the covenant offered to Zion, the Lord said: “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.” (7)

How could a people ever be righteous enough to have the Savior Himself dwelling among them? The key is in the last attribute listed in Moses 7:18- “And there were no poor among them.”

Saith the Lord: “In your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.” (8)

Do you see that? We have to be equal in our temporal things, otherwise spiritual things are withheld from us.

Are we currently equal in temporal things? Are there currently poor among us? How many among us go without adequate food, shelter, or clothing? Even among Latter-day Saints, the numbers are staggering.

Why is this? Is there not enough money among the Latter-day Saints to provide for each other? Or are we simply not concerned enough with this requirement? Where is our heart? Is it on the needs of our fellow men? Or is it on riches? Is our heart in Zion or Babylon? How many “manifestations of the Spirit” are being withheld as a result?

Said Brigham Young: “Wherever there existed a hunger for ease and wealth in place of the hunger for righteousness, sooner or later the parties thus inclined would lose the spirit of God and go into darkness… The elders of Israel are greedy after the things of this world.” (9)

I often ask myself, “Self, are we any less greedy after things of this world than the pioneers were?” The answer always is a resounding “NO!”

I am quick to admit that I am not there yet. It’s a difficult process to rid ourselves of vanity, to simplify, to be content with less, and to care about others more than ourselves. But it is essential. Until we have done so, we do not have Zion.

Joseph Smith once said, “The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight. We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object.”

My heart longs for Zion. I dream of seeing Zion in my lifetime. I know that the space between a dream and reality is merely a choice—a choice to believe, to become, and to receive.

I’ll close with the words of a favorite hymn:

Israel, Israel God is calling
Calling thee from lands of woe

Babylon the great is falling
God shall all her towers o’erthrow.

Come to Zion! Come to Zion!
Ere His floods of anger flow
Come to Zion! Come to Zion!
Ere his floods of anger flow

Israel, Israel, God is speaking
Hear your great Deliv’rer’s voice
Now a glorious morn is breaking
For the people of his choice
Come to Zion! Come to Zion!
And within her walls rejoice
Come to Zion! Come to Zion!
And within her walls rejoice! (10)

 

(PS: Anyone who wants to do more to help the poor and needy among us should take a look at www.liahonachildren.org and consider making a donation)
 

1) D&C 64:24

  1. Moses 7:18

  2. D&C 97:21

  3. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 193

  4. D&C 38:27

  5. Mosiah 18:21

  6. Jeremiah 31:33-34

  7. D&C 76:14

  8. Hugh Nibley, BYU speech: “Exaltation and Eternal Life: Words of Brigham Young”

  9. “Israel, Israel God is Calling” LDS Hymn Book, 7

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