Enoch and his message for latter days

If we consult the Bible for references to the prophet Enoch, we will find six verses in the Old Testament and a record of one of his prophecies in the New Testament. (See Gen. 5:18-19, 21-24; Jude 14, 15.)

However obscure Enoch is to those familiar only with the biblical text, to Latter-day Saints he is one of the most illustrious prophets of the Old Testament. Indeed, Enoch's ministry provides a pattern that must be repeated for our dispensation if we are to merit the promise that God made to Enoch that "when men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth." (JST, Gen. 9:21.)The reason Enoch is such a notable prophet to Latter-day Saints is that the Lord, by revelation, restored to Joseph Smith the ancient text that provides us with a more complete account of Enoch's ministry. It is recorded in the Book of Moses, chapters 6 and 7, consisting of 116 verses. Additional references to Enoch are contained in revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Joseph Smith Translation. This is an extraordinary example of how revelation to a modern prophet expands our understanding of an earlier prophet and provides us with the significance of an earlier dispensation to our own.

Enoch has great significance to the Saints of this dispensation because it is through his revelations, given to Joseph Smith, that we have an account of Adam's Book of Remembrance, and the only account of Enoch's dispensation that becomes a pattern for our own dispensation.

Three years before Adam's death, the Lord appeared to the righteous patriarchs at the place called Adam-ondi-Ahman. Enoch was among those patriarchs. He recorded Adam's prophecies in his own record called the Book of Enoch. (See D&C 107:53-57.) Enoch was the seventh patriarchal leader descended from the family of Adam. Though ordained to the priesthood at age 25, his ministry did not begin until age 65. He subsequently held the presidency of a dispensation.1

Two points about Enoch's ministry deserve emphasis: First, that the eventual righteousness of Enoch's people came about by Saints living their covenants in the midst of a very wicked, corrupt society. The world of Enoch's day was not unlike our own. Those were days of wars, secret assassinations, lying, stealing, conspiracies, violations of other's rights, commandment breaking, agnosticism and intermarriage to non-believers. (See Moses 5:51, 52, 57; 6:28-29; 7:33, 35, 50-53.) Hugh Nibley calls the time of Enoch an era of "sophisticated deception," but also an age of "great intellectual and material sophistication."2 The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "When the world . . . would not obey the commandments of God, after walking with God, He translated Enoch and his Church, and the Priesthood or government of heaven was taken away."3

Second, the righteousness attained by Enoch's people did not come about in just a few years, or a generation, or even a century. Enoch and his people were translated after 365 years. Similarly, the Lord, in our time, will give us sufficient time to be prepared for His coming.

The following five themes from Enoch's writings in the Book of Moses demonstrate their significance to our dispensation:

Enoch's ministry is a pattern for this dispensation. According to President John Taylor, Enoch was one of a number of ministering angels who came to Joseph Smith to restore keys to our dispensation.4 (See D&C 128:21.)

The Lord carefully tutored His modern prophet to lay a foundation for a future Zion. It was therefore necessary that he understand the principles upon which Zion is to be built. Who could better provide that instruction than Enoch of old who had brought his people to that condition? In December 1830, the Lord restored Enoch's abridged account of his ministry, Moses 6, 7, and 8. Then, a few weeks later, the Lord directed Joseph to go to Ohio to obtain "the law" that would be the basis for a future Zion. Note how the Lord introduced Himself to the Prophet in that revelation: "I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine bosom. . . ." (D&C 38:4.) With the tutoring Joseph Smith received, he was prepared to receive "the law" which was given in February 1831. (See D&C 42.)

How Enoch's dispensation is a pattern for our dispensation may be illustrated by the commandments that the Lord gave to the respective prophets of each dispensation. For example, both Enoch and Joseph were commanded to:

Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. (See Moses 6:37; 7:19; D&C 19:21, 31; D&C 38:41.)

Gather the Saints to places of safety. (See Moses 7:17- 19; D&C 33:6; 45:69, 71; 115:6.)

Attain unity and righteousness. (See Moses 7:18; D&C 21:4-7; 38:27.)

Become "pure in heart." (See Moses 7:18; D&C 97:21.)

Care for the poor and needy. (Moses 7:18; D&C 38:35; 42:30-38.)

Build a City of Holiness. (See Moses 7:19; D&C 45:66- 70.)

Enoch's society achieved this ideal by following the counsel of the prophet and thus received the designation "Zion." This dispensation is preparing to attain that ideal. We may now appreciate why President Brigham Young told the Saints: "We are following the customs of Enoch and the holy fathers. . . ."4

Our Heavenly Father loves His children the same in all ages.

It is a sectarian notion that the God of the Old Testament was capricious and vindictive, but the God of the New Testament is a loving and merciful Deity. Certainly, that false idea has no place in Latter-day Saint theology or teaching.

There is no more revealing scene of the true nature of God than that contained in Enoch's record. Enoch saw the wickedness of man, and Satan rejoicing because of it. He saw God weep. Enoch responded: "How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy? . . . (Moses 7:29.) Our Heavenly Father provided Enoch with an intimate portrait of His person and nature, not provided in any other scripture. (See Moses 7:35-40.)

There can be no question from reading the record of Enoch that God loved His children then, and brought about their mortal destruction so they could subsequently repent and receive messengers of the gospel in the spirit world.

Because of God's love for His children, Enoch was shown "all things" - even to the end of this world. This vision was given to bless our generation.

He saw the destruction of his own generation with the exception of Noah and his family. He saw that God would have compassion on His children and send His Son in the meridian of time to redeem them. He saw the Savior's resurrection and the resurrection of the righteous Saints whose spirits awaited deliverance from the spirit world. He also saw that the wicked were detained in spirit prison until the day of judgment.

Then Enoch was shown our day: a day when righteousness and truth would sweep the earth as a flood. He saw that the Saints would eventually be gathered and build a city that would be called a New Jerusalem. But before that event, Enoch saw "great tribulations among the wicked . . . the sea, that it was troubled, . . . men's hearts failing them . . . the heavens . . . darkened . . . the heavens shall shake, and also the earth." (Moses 7:66, 61.) The Lord then promised Enoch, "my people will I preserve." Enoch saw that the righteous of the last days were preserved on the same basis as the righteous in his dispensation.

Enoch was then shown that he and his people would be joined to a latter-day Zion called the New Jerusalem. The Lord said to him: "Then shalt thou and all the city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other." (Moses 7:63.)

This is an "Old Testament" example - and one of the greatest examples in scripture - that God has consistent, loving compassion for His children in all ages.

Principles and ordinances of salvation - called the Plan of Salvation - are the same in all dispensations.

Historically, Christian churches have taught that the gospel of Jesus Christ and ordinances, such as baptism, originated during the mortal ministry of Jesus. All members of the Church should understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ordinances of salvation originated with Adam.

Enoch's record bears witness that Christ's gospel and its ordinances, called the Plan of Salvation, came by revelation to our first parents. (See Moses 6:57-59, 62.) The fact that Adam had the gospel of Jesus Christ, the priesthood, and ordinances for exaltation is a fundamental part of our theology. Latter-day Saints almost take this for granted. But what happened when scholars disclosed that the Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrated that certain teachings by Jesus, including the ordinances of baptism and the sacrament were practiced by people several hundred years before Christ's birth? Some scholars and clerics concluded that Jesus could not therefore be the original founder of Christianity. That false conclusion rocked the foundation of some Christian churches and greatly contributed to a movement that diminished Jesus' divinity.

We speak of this dispensation as being a dispensation of Restoration. In truth, all dispensations after Adam were dispensations of restoration of the gospel of Christ, including the dispensation called the Meridian of Time.

God can and does endow His servants with power and capacities beyond their mortal abilities.

The experiences of both Enoch and Moses bear witness to this truth. Consider for example, Enoch's call: "Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant? And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good." (Now notice the promise to Enoch if he would be dependent on the Lord.)

"Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me." (Moses 6:31-32, 34.)

Because of Enoch's faith in the Lord's promise to him, the Lord fulfilled His promise. (See Moses 7:13.)

The testimony is clear: God can condescend to put His Spirit upon His servants so that the servant may accomplish extraordinary things. When necessary, he may see the future, prophesy, and perform miracles. Both Enoch and Moses were able to see "things which [areT not visible to the natural eyes," qualifying them as seers.

God, our Heavenly Father, did the same with the Prophet Joseph Smith and has endowed His ordained servants today with that same spirit. We thus sustain these men as prophets, seers, and revelators.

Enoch's people were blessed with unity and righteousness precisely because they followed God's anointed prophet. We will be blessed with unity and harmony on the same basis.

The object of every dispensation is to prepare a people who, like Enoch, can walk with God.

Enoch brought a people to dwell with God by administering to them the ordinances of salvation. He led them to righteousness and unity as measured by the standard that they completely eliminated poverty from their society. (See Moses 7:18.) He then caused that a City of Holiness - Zion - was built where justice, truth and equity prevailed.

The great commission given to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors is to `seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion." (D&C 6:6; 11:6; 12:6; 14:6.) Today the Church is in a state of preparation.

And how will the Saints of this dispensation be prepared? The same way Enoch's people were - by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, by following living prophets, and becoming "pure in heart."

The following statements by our current prophet and his predecessor summarize the spiritual preparation that must be made by each member if we are to attain a like society as Enoch's:

President Spencer W. Kimball: "Creating Zion [according to Brigham YoungT commences in the heart of each person.' (Journal of Discourses 9:283.) That it would take some time to learn our lessons was seen by the prophets. In 1863 Brigham Young stated:if the people neglect their duty, run away from the holy commandments which God has given us, seek their own individual wealth, and neglect the interests of the kingdom of God, we may expect to be here quite a time - perhaps a period that will be far longer than we anticipate.' (Journal of Discourses 11:102.)

"Zion can be built up only among those who are pure in heart - not a people torn by covetousness and greed, but a pure and selfless people, not a people who are pure in appearance, rather a people who are pure in heart. Zion is to be in the world and not of the world, not dulled by a sense of carnal security, nor paralyzed by materialism."6

President Ezra Taft Benson: "We must prepare to redeem Zion. It was essentially the sin of pride that kept us from establishing Zion in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was the same sin of pride that brought consecration to an end among the Nephites. (See 4 Ne. 1:24-25.) Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion."7

The promised rendezvous between the Saints of this generation and Enoch's people awaits a time when the Saints of our day will be equal to the standards of righteousness of Enoch's people. Only then will the promise by the Lord be fulfilled: "When men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth. " (JST, Gen. 9:21.)

1Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 170.

2See Hugh Nibley, "A Strange Thing in the Land - The Return of the Book of Enoch," part 8, the Ensign, December 1976, pp. 73- 78.

3Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 251.

4Journal of Discourses 21:94.

5Journal of Discourses 10:306.

6"Becoming the Pure in Heart," Ensign, March 1985, p. 4.

7Conference Report, April 1989, p. 7.

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