Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Strengthing the Stakes of Zion

Isa. 54: 2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

LDS congregations are referred to as wards and are organized into groups called stakes. While individual wards are presided over by bishops, the stake is presided over by a stake president and council of High Priests. Where does the word stake come from? The term stake comes from Isa. 54:2 where Isaiah likens the Daughter of Zion, Israel, or the Kingdom of God to a tent. Encouraging the people of God to "lengthen their stride," Isaiah tells the people of Israel to expand the borders of the tent, lengthen the tent cords, and strengthen the stakes. This instruction may not mean much to the modern camper, but before the age of spring bar tents, this was how tents were set up. Today's spring bar tents are set up by first unrolling the tent, or enlarging the place of they tent as Isaiah says; but the poles are placed first and then the cords and stakes are set in place. Conversely, earlier tents going back to the time of Isaiah, after unrolling the tent on the ground, the stakes were pounded in first, and then the center poll was placed last. And this is exactly how Zion is being built today.

When the LDS Church first began, the center place or New Jerusalem was revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith as being in Independence, MO. The church began buying land there and planning to establish a perfect city after the manner God would reveal to His Prophet and Apostles. However, because the Saints in Missouri weren't quick to build a temple, the people were run out of the state by lawless mobs and the infamous extermination order signed by Gov. Boggs. The New Jerusalem would have to wait for future generations. But according to Isaiah, this initial failure seemed to be according to the grand and eternal design of God. Before placing the center pole in the center place, which would be represented by Christ appearing to His people in the New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God would need to first enlarge the place of the tent through missionary work, lengthen the cords via family history work and redeeming the dead, and strengthening the stakes by perfecting the saints through temple service. Only then could the great tent of God's kingdom be pitched and stand triumphantly throughout the Millennium.

D&C 57: 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.

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