Thursday, December 31, 2009

ZION: The Old Testament (Genesis)


JST Genesis 7:11-78

This chapter of revelation is at once the foundation and the capstone of all God has revealed to us concerning Zion. It is not coincidental that these verses will appear at the end of this treatise as Moses 7:9- 69 in the Pearl of Great Price because the text is precisely the same in both places except for minor variations and verse numbers.

This chapter is the account of the work of Enoch in establishing the city of Zion. In this account we have the type and shadow of events that will yet come to pass in our dispensation, all in fulfillment of the restoration of all things. Note particularly the pattern in the process of establishing Zion:

1. The prophet pleads for repentance.
2. The more wicked part of the people ignores the warnings of the prophet.
3. Destruction ensues as prophesied and commanded by the prophet.
4. Zion is established and separated out from among the wicked.
5. Those who remain in their wickedness are utterly destroyed.

Before proceeding with the words of the revelation we must include a word about the doctrine of translation as it pertains to Enoch, Zion, and the Latter day Saints in our dispensation. There are few doctrines of the kingdom less understood, but we have many kernels of truth in connection with it from the holy writ produced by Joseph Smith.  (See the following: Alma 45:18-19; 3 Nephi 28; 4 Nephi 14, 37; Mormon 8:10-12; 9:22; Ether 12:17; D&C 7; 49:8; 50:26-30; 77:7-11, 14; 84:25, 98-100; 107:48-49, 57; 110:13-16; 129:1-3; 130:4-7; 133:52-56; Moses 6:32-34; 7:13, 16-23, 27, 61-69; JST Genesis 9:21-25; 13:13; 14:25-36).

Joseph Smith prepared a written text for a sermon delivered by his scribe, Robert B. Thompson, at General Conference, October 5, 1840, the background of which is an interesting story (see Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith, [Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1980], 50-1). The Prophet prepared this sermon in advance entitled "Treatise on Priesthood," the only time we know of that he did so. He said in part, speaking of the doctrine of translation:

. . ."And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah 300 years, and begat sons and daughters, and all the days of Enoch were 365 years; and Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him." (Genesis 5:22.) Now this Enoch God reserved unto Himself, that he should not die at that time, and appointed unto him a ministry unto terrestrial bodies, of whom there has been but little revealed. He is reserved also unto the presidency of a dispensation, and more shall be said of him and terrestrial bodies in another treatise [a treatise, we must insert, that Joseph never produced]. He is a ministering angel, to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation, and appeared unto Jude as Abel did unto Paul; therefore Jude spoke of him (14, 15 verses). And Enoch, the seventh from Adam, revealed these sayings: "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His Saints."
Paul was also acquainted with this character, and received instructions from him. "By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God; but without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a revealer to those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:5.)
Now the doctrine of translation is a power which belongs to this Priesthood. There are many things which belong to the powers of the Priesthood and the keys thereof, that have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world; they are hid from the wise and prudent to be revealed in the last times.
Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness, but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great a fullness as those who are resurrected from the dead. "Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." (See Hebrews 11:35.)
Now it was evident that there was a better resurrection, or else God would not have revealed it unto Paul. Wherein then, can it be said a better resurrection. This distinction is made between the doctrine of the actual resurrection and translation: translation obtains deliverance from the tortures and sufferings of the body, but their existence will prolong as to the labors and toils of the ministry, before they can enter into so great a rest and glory.
On the other hand, those who were tortured, not accepting deliverance, received an immediate rest from their labors. "And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for from henceforth they do rest from their labors and their works do follow them." (See Revelation 14:13.)
They rest from their labors for a long time [that is, those who are translated], and yet their work is held in reserve for them, that they are permitted to do the same work, after they receive a resurrection for their bodies. But we shall leave this subject and the subject of the terrestrial bodies for another time, in order to treat upon them more fully.  (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], 170-1, hereafter cited as "TPJS").

Adding additional commentary to that which the Prophet included in his discourse cited above, President John Taylor in his work, Mediation and Atonement, offers the following:

It would appear that the translated residents of Enoch's city are under the direction of Jesus, who is the Creator of worlds; and that He, holding the keys of the government of other worlds, could, in His admini¬strations to them, select the translated people of Enoch's Zion, if He thought proper, to perform a mission to these various planets, and as death had not passed upon them, they could be prepared by Him and made use of through the medium of the Holy Priesthood to act as ambassadors, teachers, or messengers to those worlds over which Jesus holds authority. . .
Jesus [held priesthood] keys relating to the ministration of its powers and blessings, but it is not unreasonable to suppose, when other worlds are concerned, over whom also He holds the keys of salvation, that these considerations would not necessarily interpose, and that He would send or commission members of the translated priesthood of Enoch's Zion amongst terrestrial worlds whithersoever it pleased Him, in the interests of the peoples thus situated.  (John Taylor, Mediation and Atonement, [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Co., 1882], 74-78).

Let it be remembered that the millennial era of this earth's history will be lived out in a terrestrial environment, when all things pertaining to the telestial order to which we are now subjected shall have passed away. The inhabitants of the latter day Zion yet to come, like Enoch's Zion, will in course of time be "taken up" in the same way his city was through the exercise of priesthood keys of translation. It is through this process that we shall meet our cousins of Enoch's society.

So it was, and so it shall be, that all the words of the prophets may be fulfilled. Enoch's account details not only his own dispensation, but his vision extends down all the annals of time to the final victory scene of the Savior's coming to usher in the Millennium. Enoch's vision was revealed to Moses, who bore record of it in the book of Genesis, the account was subsequently excluded from the canon of inspired writings and then restored by Joseph Smith.

And it came to pass, that the Lord said unto me, Look, and I looked, and I beheld the land of Sharon, and the land of Enoch, and the land of Omner, and the land of Heni, and the land of Shem, and the land of Haner, and the land of Hanannihah, and all the inhabitants thereof.
And the Lord said unto me, Go forth to this people, and say unto them, Repent; lest I come out and smite them with a curse, and they die.
And he gave unto me a commandment, that I should baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, who is full of grace and truth, and the Holy Ghost which beareth record of the Father and the Son.
And it came to pass, that Enoch continued to call upon all the people, save it were the people of Cainan, to repent.
And so great was the faith of Enoch, that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them, and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command.
And the rivers of water were turned out of their course, and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness.
And all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.
There also came up a land out of the depths of the sea; and so great was the fear of the enemies of the people of God, that they fled and stood afar off, and went upon the land which came up out of the depths of the sea.
And the giants of the land also stood afar off; and there went forth a curse upon all the people which fought against God.
And from that time forth, there were wars, and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness.
And the fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord which was upon his people.
And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish.
And the Lord called his people, Zion, because they were of one heart and of one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there were no poor among them.
And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God.
And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the city of Holiness, even Zion.
And it came to pass, that Enoch talked with the Lord, and he said unto the Lord, Surely, Zion shall dwell in safety for ever. But the Lord said unto Enoch, Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed.
And it came to pass, that the Lord showed unto Enoch all the inhabitants of the earth, and he beheld, and lo! Zion in process of time was taken up into heaven.
And the Lord said unto Enoch, Behold mine abode for ever.
And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam, and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam, save it were the seed of Cain; for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.
And after that Zion was taken up into heaven, Enoch beheld, and lo, all the nations of the earth were before him; and there came generation upon generation.
And Enoch was high and lifted up, even in the bosom of the Father and the Son of Man; and, behold, the powers of Satan were upon all the face of the earth; and he saw angels descending out of heaven, and he heard a loud voice, saying, Woe! woe! be unto the inhabitants of the earth!
And he beheld Satan, and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.
And Enoch beheld angels descending out of heaven, bearing testimony of the Father, and of the Son.
And the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion.
And it came to pass, that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying, How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains? And Enoch said unto the Lord, How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?
And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, and millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations;
And thy curtains are stretched out still, and thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also, thou art just, thou art merciful and kind for ever;
Thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end. How is it that thou canst weep?
The Lord said unto Enoch, Behold, these thy brethren, they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge in the day that I created them.
And in the garden of Eden gave I unto man his agency; and unto thy brethren have I said, and also gave commandment, that they should love one another; and that they should choose me their Father.
But, behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood; and the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them; for my fierce anger is kindled against them.
Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name also. Wherefore I can stretch forth my hands and hold all the creations which I have made, and mine eye can pierce them also.
And among all the workmanship of my hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren; but, behold, their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers; Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of my hands.
Wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer? But, behold, these which thine eyes are upon shall perish in the floods; and, behold, I will shut them up; a prison have I prepared for them, and he whom I have chosen has plead before my face;
Wherefore he suffereth for their sins, inasmuch as they will repent, in the day that my chosen shall return unto me; and until that day they shall be in torment.
Wherefore for this shall the heavens weep, yea, and all the workmanship of my hands.
And it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Enoch, and told Enoch all the doings of the children of men.
Wherefore Enoch knew and looked upon their wickedness, and their misery; and wept, and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity, and his bowels yearned, and all eternity shook.
And Enoch saw Noah also, and his family, that the posterity of all the sons of Noah should be saved with a temporal salvation.
Wherefore Enoch saw that Noah built an ark, and the Lord smiled upon it, and held it in his own hand; but upon the residue of the wicked came the floods and swallowed them up.
And as Enoch saw thus, he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren, and said unto the heavens, I will refuse to be comforted.
But the Lord said unto Enoch, Lift up your heart and be glad, and look. And it came to pass, that Enoch looked, and from Noah he beheld all the families of the earth, and he cried unto the Lord, saying, When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the righteous be shed, that all they that mourn may be sanctified, and have eternal life?
And the Lord said, It shall be in the meridian of time; in the days of wickedness and vengeance.
And, behold, Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh; and his soul rejoiced, saying, The righteous is lifted up; and the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world; and through faith I am in the bosom of the Father; and behold, Zion is with me!
And it came to pass, that Enoch looked upon the earth, and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying, Woe! woe! is me, the mother of men! I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children! When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which has gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?
And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying, O, Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth? wilt thou not bless the children of Noah?
And it came to pass, that Enoch continued his cry unto the Lord, saying, I ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus Christ, that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah, and his see, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods.
And the Lord could not withhold; and he covenanted with Enoch, and sware unto him with an oath, that he would stay the floods; that he would call upon the children of Noah; and he sent forth an unalterable decree, that a remnant of his seed should always be found among all nations, while the earth should stand.
And the Lord said, Blessed is he through whose seed Messiah shall come; for he saith, I am Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of heaven, which is broad as eternity; and whoso cometh in at the gate, and climbeth up by me shall never fall.
Wherefore, blessed are they of whom I have spoken, for they shall come forth with songs of everlasting joy.
And it came to pass, that Enoch cried unto the Lord, saying, When the Son of Man cometh in the flesh shall the earth rest? I pray thee show me these things.
And the Lord said unto Enoch, Look; and he looked, and beheld the Son of Man lifted up on the cross, after the manner of men.
And he heard a loud voice, and the heavens were veiled; and all the creations of God mourned, and the earth groaned; and the rocks were rent; and the saints arose, and were crowned at the right hand of the Son of Man, with crowns of glory.
And as many of the spirits as were in prison came forth and stood on the right hand of God. And the remainder were reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.
And again Enoch wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying, When shall the earth rest?
And Enoch beheld the Son of Man ascend up unto the Father; and he called unto the Lord, saying, Wilt thou not come again upon the earth? for inasmuch as thou art God, and I know thee, and thou hast sworn unto me, and commanded me that I should ask in the name of thine Only Begotten; thou hast made me, and given unto me a right to thy throne, and not of myself, but through thine own grace; wherefore I ask thee if thou wilt not come again on the earth?
And the Lord said unto Enoch, As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfil the oath which I made unto you concerning the children of Noah.
And the day shall come that the earth shall rest. But before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth.
And great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve; and righteousness will I send down out of heaven, and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men.
And righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine own elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare; an holy city, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion; a New Jerusalem.
And the Lord said unto Enoch, Then shalt thou and all thy 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;
And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years shall the earth rest.
And it came to pass, that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth, in righteousness, for the space of a thousand years.
But before that day, he saw great tribulation among the wicked; and he also saw the sea, that it was troubled, and men's hearts failing them, looking forth with fear for the judgment of the Almighty God, which should come upon the wicked.
And the Lord showed Enoch all things, even unto the end of the world. And he saw the day of righteousness, the hour of their redemption, and received a fulness of joy.
And all the days of Zion, in the days of Enoch, were three hundred and sixty-five years.
And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion.
And it came to pass, that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is fled. And all the days of Enoch were four hundred and thirty years.

JST Genesis 9:17-25

Again we must rely on the JST to supply this missing passage in the KJV. It will be remembered that God established the covenant of his gospel among Enoch’s brethren and sisters, and after they were taken up the covenant remained with Noah's seed. The token of the new and everlasting covenant -- the promise that Zion will once again come upon the earth in the last days -- is the rainbow. Without the added light of the JST we would be left to conclude that the rainbow merely symbolized the promise of God never to flood the earth again with water.

Joseph Smith had additional insights about the rainbow, as it pertains to the signs of the Second Coming. Father Miller, a protestant minister of Joseph's day, had prophesied concerning the Second Coming. The date of the following discourse is March 10, 1844, four months before his martyrdom:

I have asked the Lord concerning His coming; and while asking the Lord, He gave a sign and said, "In the days of Noah I set a bow in the heavens as a sign and token that in any year that the bow should be seen the Lord would not come; but there should be seed time and harvest during that year; but whenever you see the bow withdrawn, it shall be a token that there shall be famine, pestilence, and great distress among the nations, and that the coming of the Messiah is not far distant."
But I will take the responsibility upon myself to prophesy in the name of the Lord, that Christ will not come this year, as Father Miller has prophesied, for we have seen the bow; and I also prophesy, in the name of the Lord, that Christ will not come in forty years; and if God ever spoke by my mouth, He will not come in that length of time. Brethren, when you go home, write it down, that it may be remembered. (TPJS, 340-1).

Let us now examine the words of Moses concerning the covenant the Lord made with Noah, as restored to us through the Prophet Joseph Smith:

And I will establish my covenant with you, which I made unto Enoch, concerning the remnants of your posterity.
And God made a covenant with Noah, and said, This shall be the token of the covenant I make between me and you, and for every living creature with you, for perpetual generations;
I will set my bow in the cloud; and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember my covenant, which I have made between me and you, for every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant, which I made unto thy father Enoch; that, when men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth, the city of Enoch which I have caught up unto myself.
And this is mine everlasting covenant, that when thy posterity shall embrace the truth, and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy;
And the general assembly of the church of the firstborn shall come down out of heaven, and possess the earth, and shall have place until the end come. And this is mine everlasting covenant, which I made with thy father Enoch.
And the bow shall be in the cloud, and I will establish my covenant unto thee, which I have made between me and thee, which I have made between me and thee, for every living creature of all flesh that shall be upon the earth.

JST Genesis 14:25-40

While this passage does not specifically include the word Zion in the text, its content in relation to Zion will be clearly evident. These are likewise "missing" verses in the King James Version of the Bible, and give us as much information as there is in the scriptures concerning Melchizedek, the great high priest. It is clear from the description that, like Enoch and his city, Melchizedek and his people "obtained heaven." Except for this reference we have little information about Melchizedek. We do know, however, that the keys of translation survived the flood, and that God kept his covenant with Adam and his posterity alive through Melchizedek.

There is evidence extant from the revelations of John Taylor and Joseph F. Smith that Melchizedek was Shem, one of the sons of Noah. Writing in the Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, 746, under date of December 15, 1844, John Taylor said, following commentary about the scattering of the people after the building of the tower of Babel:

From this definite account of driving the "nations apart, when the ancient hills did bow," all reflecting minds may judge that man was scattered over the whole face of the earth. And with the superior knowledge of men like Noah, Shem (who was Melchizedek) and Abraham, the father of the faithful, three contemporaries, holding the keys of the highest order of the priesthood: connecting the creation, and fall; memorizing the righteousness of Enoch; and glorying in the construction of the ark for the salvation of a world; still retaining the model and pattern of that ark, than which a great, ah, we might say, half so great a vessel has never been built since; for another ark, be it remembered, with such a ponderous living freight will never be prepared as a vessel of mercy by command of Jehovah.  (The following scriptural references may also be studied in connection with Melchizedek, his identity and his ministry: Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 5:6; 7:1-3, JST Genesis 14:17-40; JST Hebrews 7:1-3; Alma 13:14-19; D&C 84:14; 107:1-4).

President Joseph F. Smith, writing of his vision of the spirit world, made reference to Shem's identity also:

Among the great and mighty ones who were assembled in this vast congregation of the righteous were Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all.
And our glorious Mother Eve, with many of her faithful daughters who had lived through the ages and worshipped the true and living God.
Abel, the first martyr, was there, and his brother Seth, one of the mighty ones, who was in the express image of his father, Adam.
Noah, who gave warning of the flood; Shem, the great high priest; Abraham, the father of the faithful; Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, the great law-giver of Israel. (D&C 138:38 41).

Melchizedek obtained the fullness of the priesthood with its attendant powers and keys. Melchizedek conferred these powers and the fullness of the priesthood upon Abraham. Abraham was ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood by Melchizedek, but also received the fullness of the priesthood under the hands of Melchizedek as well. Joseph Smith said:

The King of Shiloam (Salem) [referring to Melchizedek] (see JST Genesis 14:36) had power and authority over that of Abraham, holding the key and the power of endless life. Angels desire to look into it, but they have set up too many stakes. God cursed the children of Israel because they would not receive the last law [meaning the law of consecration] from Moses.
The sacrifice required of Abraham in the offering up of Isaac, shows that if a man would attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life; he must sacrifice all things. When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned. The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law.
What was the power of Melchizedek? 'Twas not the Priesthood of Aaron which administers in outward ordinances, and the offering of sacrifices. Those holding the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings. In fact, that Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and stands as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam.
Abraham says to Melchizedek, I believe all that thou hast taught me concerning the priesthood and the coming of the Son of Man; so Melchizedek ordained Abraham and sent him away. Abraham rejoiced, saying, Now I have a priesthood. (TPJS, 322-3).

The pattern of Melchizedek’s and Abraham’s lives has specific application to each of us as we contemplate the future of this dispensation. The events of the last days will undoubtedly follow this historical pattern as the blessings of a terrestrial order are established and displace the telestial order as we know it now. In each dispensation since the first and continuing through to the last, the prophets have sought to prepare a nation of kings and priests with their wives standing at their sides as queens and priestesses. (See Genesis 35:9-12; Exodus 19:6; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:10, for example. Brigham Young perhaps said it best: "We are trying to teach this people to use their brains, that they may obtain knowledge and wisdom to sustain themselves and to dictate for others; that they may be worthy to be made Priests and Kings to God, which they never can be unless they learn, here or somewhere else, to govern, manage, legislate, and sustain themselves, their families, and friends, even to the making of nations, and nation after nation. If they cannot attain to this they will have to be servants somewhere" [JD, Vol.11, 328]). 

This fact is further evidenced by the haste that was made in the waning days of Nauvoo to endow and seal as many of the saints as possible before the exodus began and the temple was destroyed. (The Nauvoo Saints hastened to finish the temple before their exodus, knowing full well the edifice shortly would be abandoned. They understood that the temple was necessary to culminate their baptismal covenants and to give them the spiritual strength and knowledge to sustain them through the rigors of the westward journey. From December 1845 to early February 1846, some 5,500 Latter-day Saints received their temple blessings, said Milton V. Backman Jr., BYU professor of Church history. “Nearly everyone who followed Brigham Young [in leaving Nauvoo in 1846] had gone into that temple and received their temple blessings. And thus, the Saints were spiritually prepared to conquer the desert, because they had received a special blessing in the House of the Lord.” (From a lecture given at the Sons of Utah Pioneers Church History Symposium, Nov. 11, 1995.)

In this dispensation the Prophet Joseph was murdered in his attempt to establish Zion. Brigham Young led the saints west to build Zion in the desert, thereby hoping to achieve Joseph’s vision. But the saints rejected the crowning doctrines pertaining to eternal life and exaltation that Joseph could not openly teach during his lifetime. Many glorious temple doctrines were introduced in Kirtland and Nauvoo, including the ancient washings and anointings, the endowment and eternal marriage. All these were revealed to strengthen the saints spiritually and to give them hope for the arduous journey that lay before them in conquering the American West. The United Order as an institutional application of the law of consecration is another example of a doctrine Joseph and Brigham taught that was eventually abandoned and rejected.

As the twentieth-century saints became interwoven in the fabric of the Gentile nations, they began their gradual decline spiritually and became more and more infatuated with the world and its ways. Latter-day Israel was a mirror reflecting the behavior of our ancient counterparts who wandered forty years in the wilderness then ingratiated themselves with their gentile neighbors in the promised land of Canaan. The fulfillment of all that Joseph and Brigham had feared most was well under way by the late 1800’s, perhaps manifesting itself best in the culminating affectation with the world embodied in the award of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games to Salt Lake City.

The chosen mantra by the power elite who championed the effort for the Games was “The World Is Welcome Here.” It still drips with irony in light of the Old Testament pattern, but it was President Gordon B. Hinckley who reminded us all that the appointed time had arrived for Zion "to put on her beautiful garments" and to "come out of obscurity and darkness."  And shine Salt Lake City did after all the drama and the fraud associated with the bid process was finally put to rest!  To solely rely upon the historical precedents we observe in Holy Writ and to abandon the counsel of living prophets is not the pattern we signed on for as true disciples in the last days!

Brigham Young was trying to separate the saints from the world and hide them out in the mountains of Utah where they could live their religion. The saints, however, sought acceptance from the world and sought to amend their covenants along the way. It is a startling similarity with our ancient cousins in Israel. It appears all that makes us unique from them is in this last dispensation the Lord’s work will be cut short in righteousness.  (D&C 52:11. The rest of the verse suggests there will be judgment associated with deliverance: “. . .for the days come that I will send forth judgment unto victory.” See also D&C 84:97; 109:59). Otherwise, we would undoubtedly repeat the patterns of ancient Israel to the fullest degree.

We need to be reminded often that we are in substance no better than our forbearers, and we need deliverance in our day in order to establish Zion, for we have failed in our own wisdom by rejecting God’s pattern.

Finally, the program of the United Order was repealed (though the law of consecration has never been rescinded) because the saints overthrew the will of God and his prophets and proved unworthy of their inheritances. The Lord declared that Zion could have been established in the days of Joseph had the saints been willing and obedient. (See D&C 105:2, 9, 13. Because of transgression the timing for the redemption of Zion was delayed. Later in D&C 136 as Brigham Young was preparing to move the saints to the west, the Lord declared, “Zion shall be redeemed in mine own due time.”).

However, we must not despair. As it was, so shall it yet be, and we can wait patiently for the marvelous power of the Lord to be revealed in fulfillment of all his promises. These are the inspired words of the JST as revealed through Joseph, describing the powers of the fullness of the priesthood Melchizedek bestowed upon and possessed by Abraham:

And Melchizedek lifted up his voice and blessed Abram. Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.
And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch.
It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.
For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.
And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.
And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace.
And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter days, or the end of the world;
And hath said, and sworn with an oath, that the heavens and the earth, should come together; and the sons of God should be tried so as by fire.
And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.
And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God;
Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.
Wherefore, Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need.
And it came to pass, that God blessed Abram, and gave unto him riches, and honor, and lands for an everlasting possession; according to the covenant which he had made, and according to the blessing wherewith Melchizedek had blessed him.

The blessings referred to here in the last verse can be considered collectively as “the Abrahamic Covenant,” the same covenant blessings of lands and spiritual blessings that were bestowed by covenant upon each succeeding generation that followed Father Abraham. The promise of lands of inheritance and an eternal numberless posterity were the substance of the covenant restored through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith in our dispensation. Nowhere is the covenant described more explicitly than in the words of Abraham:

But I, Abraham, and Lot, my brother's son, prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord appeared unto me, and said unto me: Arise, and take Lot with thee; for I have purposed to take thee away out of Haran, and to make of thee a minister to bear my name in a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice.
For I am the Lord thy God; I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my voice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot; I say to the mountains -- Depart hence -- and behold, they are taken away by a whirlwind, in an instant, suddenly.
My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;
And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.
Now, after the Lord had withdrawn from speaking to me, and withdrawn his face from me, I said in my heart: Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee;  (Abraham 2:6-12. See also D&C 132:29-50; Genesis 17; 22:15-18; Galatians 3. The Abrahamic Covenant was renewed with Isaac [see Genesis 26:1-4, 24], then later with Jacob [see Genesis 28; 35:9-13; 48:3-4]. The covenant is extended to all who receive the ordinance of celestial marriage [see D&C 132:29-33]. The blessings bestowed by men holding the fullness of the priesthood powers upon other men and their wives are all conditional based upon faithfulness until confirmed by the voice of Lord himself, as Joseph Smith taught).

The doctrines concerning the establishment of Zion and the Abrahamic Covenant are inextricably linked. Joseph Smith was consumed and fascinated with the restoration of all the priesthood powers and authority necessary to administer in all the ordinances of the Lord’s house. The Restoration was a wondrous flood of light and power, but the full picture with all its facets emerged slowly, culminating in the final days of his life in Nauvoo. His early exposure to the world and powers of the patriarchs as he worked on the Inspired Version no doubt prepared his fertile mind for all the revelations that followed.

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