In Psalms 137 it reads:
“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.“
This narrative of weeping for Zion shows up also in Isaiah 30 and also in section 21 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Isaiah prophetically sees the saints of the restored church as being rebellious- “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me..” He relates their rebelliousness to their unwillingness to live the law of the Lord as given in section 42- “That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us , prophesy deceits“.
It is because of latter day Israel’s rebelliousness that their first attempt at establishing Zion failed and yet the narrative continues on to foretell that Zion would ultimately be redeemed which will bring the weeping for it to an end-
“For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.”
Having noted the above passages that include the weeping for Zion narrative, let me ask, why Joseph Smith had been seen by the Lord, weeping for Zion, BEFORE the attempt at Zion had even been made during his ministry?
“Yea, his weeping for Zion I have seen, and I will cause that he shall mourn for her no longer; for his days of rejoicing are come unto the remission of his sins, and the manifestations of my blessings upon his works.”
Why was Joseph weeping for Zion before the Lord used him to restore the church and before he was commanded to establish Zion?
why was he weeping for Zion in New York instead of Kirtland, Jackson, Far West, or Nauvoo? Wouldn’t those time periods when attempts at Zion were failing be a more likely time for him to weep?
Section 21 was received on April 6 1830, the same day that section 20 was given and the same day the church was legally established.
Interestingly, the two revelations read quite differently.
The divine nature of the two revelations are differentiated by the fact that section 20, which laid the foundation of the church, was a human commentary detailing the “Articles and Covenants” of the newly restored church which was inspired by the Holy Ghost ( 21:2).
Conversely, section 21 was a narrative given in the literal words of Christ.
Ancient prophecy had foretold about a latter day servant that would utter the words of Christ ( Deut. 18:18) and section 21 was commanding the saints of the restored church to accept all types of revelation coming from Joseph, as he received them while walking in holiness before the Lord (21:4-5).
The Lord had seen Joseph Smith weeping for Zion before the restoration of the church.
Was Joseph weeping because Zion had fled anciently?
Was he weeping because he learned while translating the first portion of the Book of Mormon that the Zion Christ set up in America had eventually fled the earth after several generations?
Was he weeping because the visit from the angel Moroni and/or additional revelation, had revealed to him that during his ministry the gentiles would reject the fulness resulting in the future failed attempt in Jackson County?
In what context was Joseph weeping for Zion prior to the restoration of the church?
In section 21 the Lord declares:
“For thus saith the Lord God: Him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good, and his diligence I know, and his prayers I have heard.”
Was the above declaration from the Lord talking about Joseph being inspired to move the cause of Zion in the past tense, resulting in the translation of the Book of Mormon and the laying of the foundation of the restored church, or was it a future tense context about future events that Joseph would be involved in?
Doing a keyword crunch of “Zion” AND “Power” may provide some context.
The following passages in modern revelation seem to indicate that the above passage was making a prophetic declaration about a future, successful attempt in establishing Zion by power in the 3rd watch:
41 Behold, I, the Lord, will give unto my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., power that he shall be enabled to discern by the Spirit those who shall go up unto the land of Zion, and those of my disciples who shall tarry.
15 Behold, I say unto you, the redemption of Zion must needs come by power;
37 And inasmuch as they follow the counsel which they receive, they shall have power after many days to accomplish all things pertaining to Zion.
59 We ask thee to appoint unto Zion other stakes besides this one which thou hast appointed, that the gathering of thy people may roll on in great power and majesty, that thy work may be cut short in righteousness.
8 He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost.
The Book of Mormon seems to agree with the above passages in modern revelation. Those of the restored church that would seek to bring forth Zion during the LDS restoration movement, despite stumbling at their first attempt, would endure to the end and ultimately be given the necessary power to become the saviors on mount Zion who would publish peace when the great work is finally accomplished and the elect will be “lifted up” at the last day.
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.