4 Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.
5 And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come–after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel–
6 And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.
In the previous chapter, Moroni shares some of Ether’s teachings about faith and hope and emphasizes the importance of being able to see things “with an eye of faith” (Ether 12:19). Now he shares something which Ether actually saw many years in advance: the establishment, destruction, and rebuilding of Jerusalem in the land of Israel, and the subsequent establishment of a New Jerusalem on the American continent.
Jerusalem was built in the same location as an earlier city called Salem, which means peace (Psalm 76:1-2, Genesis 14:18, Hebrews 7:1-2, Bible Dictionary: Jerusalem). It is often identified with Zion in the scriptures (1 Kings 8:1, Psalm 76:2, Isaiah 62:1). Ether’s declaration that Jerusalem would “become a holy city of the Lord” and that another city of peace would be built on the American continent evokes an image of centers of peace and holiness like Enoch’s city of Zion. (See Articles of Faith 1:10.) This represents a significant expression of hope for a prophet who lived in a time of chaos and violence, and who was rejected by the people he was called to teach.
The ideal of Jerusalem as a peaceful and holy city has inspired people in many times and in many locations around the world. Consider, for example, the anthem “Jerusalem,” based on a poem by William Blake, written in the early 1800s. Here are the last two verses of the hymn:
Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land (“And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time,” Wikipedia)
Today, I do what I can to help realize Ether’s vision of Jerusalem in my home, in my ward, and in my city. I will remember that God wants all of His children to live in holiness and peace, and I will strive to make that ideal a reality in my own place and time.