Friday, January 28, 2022

Wide as Eternity: The Visions of Enoch

The Backdrop of the Vision of Enoch

The opening verse of Moses 7 encapsulates the greatest and most persistent problem of the family of God: that “many have believed [the gospel as taught by Adam] and become the [children] of God, and many have believed not, and have perished in their sins, and are looking forth with fear, in torment, for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God to be poured out upon them.”

Because of this revelation, Enoch began to prophesy from that time forth. (See verse 2.) As he preaches, he tells his audience about the visions he has been shown for their benefit. Those who listened and learned became the City of Enoch and were taken up into heaven. Although the story of the City remained in the Old Testament, the truths learned by them were lost from the earth until Jesus restored them in the meridian of time, and Joseph Smith restored them in the translation of Moses 7.

The vision of Enoch is a revolutionary scripture, overturning concepts that have been the basis of most nations, religions, cultures, and even individuals--that there is an “us” and a “them,” that we are right, and they are wrong, and that we will achieve happiness when we are avenged and triumph over our enemies. The vision teaches the concept that we are all brothers and sisters and only completely uniting the family of God will lead to a fulness of joy.

This concept was revolutionary in Enoch’s day--so revolutionary, it didn’t even make it into the Old Testament. It was again revolutionary in Jesus’s day and formed the basis of the original Christian church. It is revolutionary again in our day as we recover from centuries of misunderstanding about God, about sin, about judgment and salvation, and about the relationship between all the peoples of the earth. In restoring this truth, Joseph Smith upended the teachings promulgated by the greatest “Christian” thinkers and leaders since the apostles were killed. (For the history and details of this loss, I highly recommend the books by Terryl and Fiona Givens, The God Who Weeps, All Things New, and The Christ Who Heals. Really, every Latter-day Saint should read at least one of these books.)

Revolutionary Concepts #1 and #2: The mighty God of heaven is a PERSON, and He took the time to talk with one of His lowly creations.

“I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face, face” (verse 4).

Revolutionary Concept #3: Despite great wickedness and wars on the earth, a group of people could become as holy as heaven.

“The Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness” (verse 16). “The glory [great joy] of the Lord…was upon his people.   “The Lord called his people Zion, because they were on one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (verse 18). “[Enoch, in passage of time] built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion. (verse 19).  “Zion, in process of time, was taken up into heaven” (verse 21).

Revolutionary Concept #4: God experiences emotions, including sorrow; He cares about his children. Although they were “looking forth with fear, in torment, for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God to be poured out upon them” (verse 1), God Himself was weeping at their estrangement. While Enoch was rejoicing that Zion was safe from evil, God was mourning the separation from “the residue of the people” who remained in wickedness (verse 28). (Although God cursed them [verse 20], it is an indirect cursing—simply the natural consequence of breaking His laws.) Enoch is utterly shocked that God, who is all powerful, all knowing, eternal, kind, perfect in every way, and has just seen the success of Zion, is now weeping (verse 31).

Revolutionary Concept #6: Our enemies are not our enemies, but our siblings. There are groups of people mentioned in the chapter who are hateful of each other: the people of Canaan are at war with people of Shum (verse 7). The war brings about a barrenness in the land, presumably from destruction of crops and other plants, and changes the climate of the area (verses 7-8) from which it never recovers. Possibly as a consequence of this--since it is announced in the same sentence--the people of Canaan experience a blackening of appearance that further separates them and causes all other people to despise them (verse 8). Multiple other groups of people in lands that are unknown to us today are mentioned, and the Lord commands Enoch to preach repentance to them (verse 9-10). Enoch preaches the gospel of Christ, encapsulated today in our Fourth Article of Faith, to all of these groups except the people of Canaan (verse 12). No explanation is given as to why He didn’t preach to them.

Because of the terrifying miracles Enoch can perform to protect his people, their enemies “fled and stood afar off and went upon the land which came up out of the depth of the sea. And the giants of the land, also, stood afar off…” (verses 13-15). There are wars everywhere, violence, hatred, bloodshed—separation (verse 16). The seed of Cain still were excluded from other societies because of the color of their skin (verse 22).

Only the people of Zion are spared from war, but whereas Enoch has previously been glorying that his city is rescued from their enemies, the Lord points out that the enemies are Enoch’s brethren.  “The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren… (verse 32).” From this point on, the word enemies disappears, replaced by brethren and children: family members!

Revolutionary Concept #5: Becoming holy does not create complete joy;  instead, holiness brings acute awareness of the suffering of our siblings (our enemies) because of their sins. I gave unto man his agency; and unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me [as] their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood (verses 32-33).” “Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer? (verse 37)? It is separation from God and from each other that causes suffering among human beings.

The heavens weep, not for the sin of the people, but for the suffering that sin causes before their redemption (verse 37): “Until that day they shall be in torment; wherefore, for this shall the heavens weep, yea and all the workmanship of mine hands (verses 39-40).

Noah would build an ark to protect his family from the flood, and God would “smile” upon it, but “the residue of the wicked” would perish.

When Enoch saw this, he “wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook” (verse 41). He “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” (verse 44).

Revolutionary Concept #6: Christ’s atonement will cover even those who did not learn righteousness and unity while on the earth.  Enoch looked and no longer saw the wicked as his enemies, but as the families of the earth, and he asked when Christ would atone for them, and “they that mourn” will be sanctified and have eternal life (verse 45). And then he saw “the day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh; and his soul rejoiced…” (verse 47).

After the agony of the cross and the agony of the earth in response to the crucifixion, not only do “saints” arise and to be crowned at the right hand of God (verse 56), but also “the spirits as were in prison came forth, and stood on the right hand of God (verse 57). But a remainder (the word remainder suggests a small number) still waits “in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.”

Revolutionary Concept #7: A fulness of joy is only achieved with complete unity. The earth will finally rest when Christ comes again and enmity is removed from the family of God. Then “righteousness and truth will sweep the earth as with a flood” just as the waters swept the wicked off the earth previously (verse 52). The City of Enoch will come down to join Zion on earth, the New Jerusalem, “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” (verse 63). There will be a thousand years of peace upon the earth. Finally at the end of the world a fulness of joy is finally achieved (verse 67).

What does this mean in your life?

We are confronted many times daily, even hourly, with the temptation to separate. We view others’ successes with jealousy.

We polarize ourselves into political groups.

We struggle to view other races and cultures as less than ours, even when we are trying to be kind.

We have no idea how to feel about people with nonbinary sexual orientations.

We may think our country is the greatest.

We may resent immigrants or refugees or people who don’t learn to speak our language.

We may be suspicious of those who are different.

We may have struggles to forgive those who have wronged us.

We may say that everyone is a child of God, but we feel that perhaps our group contains the best children of God, as if the rest are a different class of family members.

In all of these daily situations, we are only free to be truly happy when we unite ourselves with our Heavenly Father and view all “others” as our suffering siblings. Once we have this view, the Holy Ghost can guide us in how to love and accept others and how to share the gospel with them so that we can be one.

Kansas City Temple
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