When are the Gentiles and the Jews going to be gathered? Is it soon or are they already being gathered? In Isaiah it says that Zion will be gathered in Jerusalem. If Jerusalem is Zion how is America chosen to be the new Zion? How do we explain to a person that America is now Zion and where the building of the third temple mentioned in the Bible is going to be?
I’m not sure you can explain it to someone who’s already dead set on his own understanding of things. Such a mindset means that they have no intention of learning anything new. So, I wouldn’t bother trying to teach him anything.
But I hope that you are not that person, and I’ll try to explain it to you.
I want to delve into three definitions of words:
- Their original meaning.
- Their figurative or sometimes colloquial meaning among any group of people.
- Their common usage today.
Originally, the name “Zion” came from a hilltop fortress around Jerusalem that was owned by the Jebusites. We suppose it to have been derived from the Arabic word meaning “fortress” or “stronghold”. This fortress was taken by King David through conquest. He then set it up as a tabernacle. Since that fortress is now long gone, we can’t be referring to that meaning of “Zion”.
Figuratively, sectarian Christianity speak of Zion as being a stronghold for the Jews. The common practice is to say “Jews” instead of “House of Israel.” But the Jews are largely only one tribe (Judah) of twelve. There are other tribes. And the modern Jews have only a small representation of the other houses.
As Latter-day Saints, we’re largely of three tribes (Ephraim, Manasseh, and Judah). But we refer to ourselves as the “House of Israel”. Yet, we know that still other tribes will eventually join us en masse. So, when we speak of “Zion” in this context, we’re talking about a place of gathering and refuge for all the House of Israel.
When speaking of a worldwide Church, it wouldn’t make for good math if we only referred to one city as the place of refuge for all the faithful of the House of Israel. There must be multiple gathering places. So, we often say that “Zion is where the pure in heart are.” In the common tongue, we’d call this “faithful members of the Church.” However, it ignores the fact that our places of refuge in the last days will also include those of other faiths who also have faith in Jesus Christ.
So, the answer to your first question is that “Zion” can be applied to multiple locations for the reasons I’ve specified.
As for your second question regarding the third temple:
A special temple will be built in BOTH the old Jerusalem in Israel, and in the New Jerusalem in Jackson County, Missouri. Depending on which reference you’re talking about, the special temple of the last days will be either one or the other, or both. They are meant to be twin symbols of the same thing, so they are often referenced as one. They serve pretty much the same purpose — one for the old world, the other for the new world.
Christ will come visit the temple in Missouri first to announce that the day is at hand. Then he will visit the temple in Jerusalem to usher in the Millennial era by placing his foot upon the Mount of Olives, initiating a transformation of the whole world.