The Old Ship Zion


If I have had one dream concerning the OLD SHIP ZION, I have had a hundred.

-- Heber C. Kimball



A Parable


Once upon a time a Master Craftsman built a beautiful sailing vessel. It was created with more inspiration and wisdom than any other ship had been for nearly 2000 years. It contained instruments for its guidance that no other ship possessed. It was fortified with armor to withstand the attack of any enemy. It could weather any storm.

The Master selected a crew of worthy Officers to take her out to sea, giving them chart, compass, and specific written instructions for the course they should pursue. He promised great rewards and joy to all hands when they reached that harbor of peace and plenty from which they would never need to sail again. Everyone became well informed of their course, the dangers of their route and the final destination.

Then the Master Builder launched His beautiful ship for its predestined and maiden voyage. The journey at sea would take many years and great difficulties were to be experienced, but the Master promised success to all who would obey His instructions.

The first captain lived only a short time, but he gave his life for the ship. The second and third captains likewise spent their lives at the wheel carefully charting and navigating the ship according to the Master's plan.

Finally a storm arouse, more severe and threatening than any tempest before. Dark and threatening clouds soon broke into a fury causing the raging seas to thrash against the bow of the ship. Many of the crew and a few of the officers began to murmur among themselves, saying, "What need has our Master of this dangerous course that may destroy us all?" They soon convinced others that they should turn the ship toward another direction, saying that they were sure the same destination could be reached. These mutineers became so demanding and persuasive that nearly all the officers and even the captain became convinced they should sail south where the sea was calm and the climate warm. There they could take a more peaceful journey and follow the same course of other worldly travelers.

Due to the panic of the crewmembers, and the turbulence of the stormy sea, the captain turned the ship's rudder in another direction. Immediately the storm abated. They were then joined by other ships who greeted them with friendship and praise for the change in course they had made. This new direction brought much peace and honor from the other worldly travelers, that this detour was soon hailed as inspired.

But in the midst of all their rejoicing, a few of the crew members were not content. They began to question the others and asked, "Are we not supposed to follow the course that was given to us by the Master?" Then there began to be disputations among them over the right to change the written orders and turn the ship from its original course. Some of the officers argued that those instructios were "no longer needed." They claimed the right and the authority to revoke and change them according to their own unanimous approval. Anyone who disagreed with these new policies would be declared a rebel and confined to prison, thrown overboard, or compelled to compromise by signing an allegiance to the officers.

Other captains came to the wheel who not only continued the new change of direction, but soon declared that the original instructions given by the Master were not only out dated, but were false and evil. Anyone believing in them would suffer condemnation.

Soon other changes were inaugurated and approved by the officers. The armor plate was considered too heavy and burdensome and so it was cast off. The sail was too long and bulky so it was shortened. The instrument panel was too bright and was considered unnecessary, so it was covered up. They also tossed aside the sailing regulations. So, they continued their voyage on the calm sea, in the warm climate, surrounded by other ships who had become their closest friends.

But by and by the Master builder, who knew His ship was off course, came to rescue it from a terrible fate. "What is the cause of this great evil?" He chided the officers. "Why have you not done even as I commanded you?" At this the officers went and gnashed their teeth for they could see there was no excuse for what they had done.

Because those officers had chosen to sail with the worldly travelers, the Master told them that such would be their fate. They were placed aboard passing ships and therefore would arrive at a destination they had not anticipated.

The Master told one of His servants to go below deck and release those prisoners who had suffered for defending His orders. To these few faithful followers the Master promised priceless riches and treasures when they reached the haven of His Port.

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D&C, Abraham, Isaiah