It may seem ironic that the warning against “kings” on the land of the Americas (2 Ne. 10:11) was recorded by a man who was himself a king (2 Ne. 5:18). However, the gentile model of “kings” is not the same as the Nephite model of “kingship.” The Nephite kingship is well explained by King Benjamin:
I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear me, or that ye should think that I of myself am more than a mortal man. But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen by this people, and consecrated by my father, and was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king over this people; and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me. I say unto you that as I have been suffered to spend my days in your service, even up to this time, and have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you; Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery; nor even have I suffered that ye should commit any manner of wickedness, and have taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you— And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day. Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day. Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God. And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another? And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King! (Mosiah 2:10-19.)
In contrast to this model, Christ explained the problem with gentile kings: “And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.” (Luke 22:25.)
Nephi’s warning against “kings” occurs in connection with the promised Zion:
And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles. And I will fortify this land against all other nations. And he that fighteth against Zion shall perish, saith God. For he that raiseth up a king against me shall perish, for I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words. (2 Ne. 10:11-14.)
Zion cannot be founded on “kingship” other than the Lord, the king of heaven, who will be Zion’s only king.
The return of the “kingdom of God” will be to prepare the earth for Christ’s return in glory. Zion, the New Jerusalem and the “kingdom of God” all relate to each other and will be developed and functioning in the last generation before the Lord returns. If this does not happen, the whole earth will be cursed. (D&C 128:18.)
The “kingdom of God” has been described as a stone “cut out without hands” (Dan. 2:34) which will proceed to “smite the image… and brake them to pieces.” (Id.) The stone will then become “a great mountain, and fill the whole earth.” (Dan. 2:35.) Yet this is all to be accomplished without violence and based on the principles considered by the council in 1844.
Remember, the “kingdom of God” will be a form of Theocracy to be planted with no intention to interfere with any government of the world. It will offer no violence to governments. But its citizens will live far above their laws. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 88.)
How can the “kingdom of God” smite the false governments of the world and grind them to dust without violence? How can it be non-confrontational, yet succeed in filling the whole earth? Such a revolution will be God’s work. God will not need to use violence, compulsion, treachery, unlawful dominion, pride, corruption or any of the other conventions used by the usurping governments of man. Hence the saying it will be a stone “cut without hands” or in other words accomplished by the wisdom of God.
It should be clear from the prophecies that this work will start with a small group chosen to begin the work. A temple and rites will provide the legal, cultural, and covenant foundation for a new society. These people will learn how to become the “kingdom of God” and will learn His ways and to walk in His paths. When they know how to live in peace, and have obtained the original Holy Order, others will be invited to join them and learn how to live according to a new, higher way of life. The challenge of teaching new people this new way of organizing society will be daunting. The community will struggle together to learn how to overcome the social infection that comes from Babylon anytime a new family flees Babylon and comes to Zion.
As the group grows, they will increase their aptitude to assimilate new members. Skills will be gained in helping people overcome the world. The infections from Babylon, the Medes, Persians, Greeks, Romans and all modern world governments will be eradicated. People of the New Jerusalem will learn a godly way of governing and holiness of character.
As the New Jerusalem grows, eventually it will divide, and there will be another group established nearby where both communities will be able to take in new families and teach them of the Lord’s way.
Isaiah described these people:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isa. 2:2-3.)
Modern revelation explained it:
And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land. And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants. And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence. And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim. And they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy. Behold, this is the blessing of the everlasting God upon the tribes of Israel, and the richer blessing upon the head of Ephraim and his fellows. And they also of the tribe of Judah, after their pain, shall be sanctified in holiness before the Lord, to dwell in his presence day and night, forever and ever. (D&C 133:29-35.)
The work of obtaining Zion from the Lord is to walk back to Eden. Its purpose is to renew mankind and be redeemed from the fall. The objective is to create a place where God can come and dwell with people, as He once did in the Garden of Eden. Because they lack the knowledge to dwell in righteousness, mankind is held captive by false governments: “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.” (Isa. 5:13.) Fools prize ignorance and speculation over what the Lord is offering as a gift.
Then will Isaiah’s prophecy be fulfilled:
they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord. (Isa. 2:4-5.)
Then too will the 10th Article of Faith be accomplished:
We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
Everything will need to change before the prophecies can be fulfilled. All the culture, law, social arrangements, ambitions, economies and pride of the nations will need to be rejected by the group. The new way of life must be organized after the original pattern taught in the beginning. The “rights belonging to the fathers,” which Abraham obtained as an inheritance from the first man Adam, will be recovered and lived by the those occupants of the New Jerusalem. They must not only say, but do, what is asked of them by God. His purpose is to make mankind joyful, which cannot be attained by wickedness. “Wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10.)
When God gives mankind this opportunity, they are rarely interested. The last time God offered, the opportunity was spoiled by “jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.” (D&C 101:6.) Even people who think they would like to see Zion, fight against the truth now being rolled out in plain sight. They err, and prize delusion over active engagement with God.
He offers again. But whether mankind is any better prepared, or more willing than before remains to be seen. It will require all from us, or we will be left with nothing.