A few weeks ago during my personal study, I came across a couple of verses in The Pearl of Great Price.
In Moses 3:5 we find the following “For I, the Lord Go, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.”
Immediately, I thought of the Plat of Zion and how the gathering places of the Saints were created “spiritually first” and then implemented across different settlements.
This concept is further discussed in verse 7 “nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word” and in verse 9 “For it was spiritual in the day that I created it”.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintain that Joseph Smith, Jr. was a Prophet, and as such, received revelations for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in all temporal and spiritual matters. Joseph, provided a plat shortly after the place of the New Jerusalem was revealed to him. The Plat of Zion is closely linked to the concept of the “New Jerusalem” which would eventually become the dwelling place of the Savior during 1,000 years of peace spoken of in the Bible. There are literally hundreds of individual verses discussing “Zion” and “The New Jerusalem”, here I will focus on a few.
The first mention of the “New Jerusalem” in modern scripture is found in Doctrine and Covenants 42:9 “Until the time shall come when it shall be revealed unto you from on high, when the city of the New Jerusalem shall be prepared, that ye may be gathered in one, that ye may be my people and I will be your God”. This revelation was dated February 9, 1831. This verse describes the New Jerusalem as a “gathering place” to become “one” and learnt to be a “people”.
Doctrine and Covenants 45:66 was received in March 7, 1831 “And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God”. The concepts of peace, refuge and safety are prevalent here.
The actual place for the New Jerusalem was revealed to Joseph while he was preaching the gospel to the Native Americans near Independence, Missouri. The following revelation took place in July 20, 1831. See Doctrine and Covenants 57:1-3
“1 Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.
2 Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.
3 And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.”
I am sure that shortly after the location of the New Jerusalem was identified, Joseph spent much time thinking about how this “city” would be organized in the physical environment. In 1833, he sent the official Plat of Zion to the members of the Church in Missouri with instructions in how this should be done. Shortly after the first draft was sent to them, an updated one was created with minor revisions.
There is an important pattern here, all things are created first Spiritually, then Physically. This leads me to believe that the Plat of Zion was a heavenly design; a place that would foster all the concepts of the New Jerusalem in creating a people that would be of: one heart and one mind, dwell in righteousness and take care of the poor. Out of all the available city designs and patterns available at the time, Joseph chose this one for the implementation by the Saints.
In future posts I will attempt to highlight the Spiritual implications of the Plat of Zion in achieving these spiritual goals.