The Work and the Glory of the God of Israel
Even though the wicked descendants of Adam were completely destroyed by the great flood, the Lord, knowing the end from the beginning, provided, through the posterity of Noah, for the continuation of human life on earth. There was much yet to be accomplished. In particular, the Savior’s mission was yet to be fulfilled.
However, before it was taught him, Enoch didn’t know how God would overcome evil in the end. Evidently, he didn’t understand that, in the long-term, evil would be completely vanquished, and, though Satan and his angels would rejoice at the destruction of so many of the children of God, they would ultimately mourn, for as the Lord promised Adam, in the Garden of Eden, Satan would have the power to bruise the heel of mankind, but mankind would have the power to crush his head, through the atoning sacrifice of the Only Begotten, who was to come in the meridian of time, or, in other words, in the middle of the mortal history on earth.
But not knowing how this would come about, Enoch was distraught at the prospect of the flood, and the destruction of so many, with only Noah and his family surviving, and Moses tells us that he was bitter and refused to be comforted, as we’ve already seen. Yet, it bears repeating:
And Enoch also saw Noah, 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 that the Lord smiled upon it, and held it in his own hand; but upon the residue of the wicked the floods came and swallowed them up.
And as Enoch saw this, he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren, and said unto the heavens: I will refuse to be comforted…; (Moses 7:42-44)
Nevertheless, the Lord encouraged Enoch, showing him the ultimate triumph of mankind that would come in the end, giving him an understanding of just how far the wisdom of God exceeds the cunning of the devil. He showed him the coming of the Savior, and the fulfillment of his mission as the Sacrificial Lamb that would take away the sins of the world:
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: Wo, wo 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 is 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 seed, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods. (Moses 7:44-50)
That the scene of wickedness, death and destruction that Enoch witnessed, and the cry of the very earth for relief from the filthiness of her children, would bring such grief to the prophet, is no surprise, but that he would cry unto the Lord for mercy, that the Lord would never again do such a thing, shows how real and how great a threat Satan’s opposition is to the plan of happiness. Enoch understood that, because of man’s agency, nothing was guaranteed, that man was free to choose good or evil and that most of the time he chooses evil.
To Enoch’s way of thinking, unless the Lord did something to prevent it, there was a very real possibility that this horrible scene could be repeated, the thought of which was obviously unbearable to him, so he cried unto the Lord, with all the energy of his soul, that he would have mercy on the children of Noah, that they might not be totally destroyed, as were Noah’s contemporaries.
Again, what follows is one of the most plain and precious truths of the work of God that was once lost, but is now restored, as he has set his hand to recover the remnant of his people. Moses writes:
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; 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? Forasmuch 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 have 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 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 of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest. (Moses 7:51-64)
Thus, Enoch learned to more fully appreciate that God knows the end from the beginning and that all flesh is in his hands. The great covenant that the Lord made with Enoch, that he would preserve a remnant of the seed of Noah, that they would be found among all nations as long as the earth should stand, means that he would work a great work to bring it to pass, even a marvellous work and a wonder; It would be a work that would cause the wisdom of the wise to perish and the understanding of the prudent to be hid.
It’s as if he were saying that he would take even more measures, than he did before the flood, to protect man from his own self-defeating behavior, measures that would tend to preserve the righteous from the wicked, much like a wise farmer takes various measures to preserve the productivity of his vineyard, year after year, so that he may continue to preserve the fruit thereof against the season thereof. This he would do, promised the Lord, even if it must so be that the righteous would have to be saved by fire. The voices from the dust testify of this:
For behold, saith the prophet, the time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned.
For the time soon cometh that the fulness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.
Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire.
Behold, my brethren, I say unto you, that these things must shortly come; yea, even blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke must come; and it must needs be upon the face of this earth; and it cometh unto men according to the flesh if it so be that they will harden their hearts against the Holy One of Israel.
For behold, the righteous shall not perish; for the time surely must come that all they who fight against Zion shall be cut off.
And the Lord will surely prepare a way for his people, unto the fulfilling of the words of Moses, which he spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.
And now I, Nephi, declare unto you, that this prophet of whom Moses spake was the Holy One of Israel; wherefore, he shall execute judgment in righteousness.
And the righteous need not fear, for they are those who shall not be confounded. But it is the kingdom of the devil, which shall be built up among the children of men, which kingdom is established among them which are in the flesh— (1 Ne 22:15-22)
With Zion gone, and the wicked destroyed, the world changed after the flood. The average life span of man dropped from hundreds of years to one hundred twenty. More importantly, the separation of the righteous from the wicked had to become less distinct. In order for the Lord to keep his covenant with Enoch, the righteous would have to remain on the earth until the “restoration of all things” that was to come, as shown to Enoch. Therefore, God’s judgments upon the wicked, and his preservation of the righteous, took on a different character after the flood, than it had before the flood.
Whereas, before the flood, the righteous were gathered out from among the wicked, concentrated in the city of Zion, protected by the power of God, and eventually removed temporarily from the earth, to await its cleansing in the last days, after the flood, the righteous remain on the earth where they are “hid in Christ;” That is, the righteous are no longer separated out from the wicked, leaving the wicked fully exposed to the justice of God, as they were in Sodom and Gomorrah, once the righteous Lot and his family left.
Before the flood, the righteous did not remain on the earth; They were separated out and taken up, not left to live among the wicked, as unrecognized heirs of salvation, unrecognized by the unbelieving. But after the flood, the righteous were not taken out of the world. Since then, they have been left in the world, even though they are not of the world. The wicked are now as tares among the wheat, both growing together until the harvest. Paul explained this in his letter to the Colossians:
If ye then be risen [through baptism of water and Spirit] with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead [as to things of the world], and your life is hid with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Col 3:1-4)
In this way too, the righteous become the servants of God on earth, laboring to turn the hearts of the people to God, becoming the saviors of men, as it were, ministering to the poor and needy, and thus becoming the salt of the earth, preserving it from destruction.
Hence, it is important to understand that the prophets of old were sent to teach the gospel of Christ in every age. Indeed, the spirit of prophesy, which makes a prophet a prophet, is the testimony of Christ, and those who have this testimony are his servants in bringing to pass the purposes of the Lord God, in preserving the seed of Noah; that is, in preserving a remnant of the descendants of Noah, who have a knowledge of the God of their fathers, who have the testimony of Jesus, and hold the priesthood of God, the righteous labor with their Lord, as his suffering servants.
However, as in the case of Lot, God must intervene from time to time, according to his wisdom, and separate out the righteous from the wicked, in order to preserve them, not by taking them from the earth, but by leading them to other lands on the earth. The Lord promised Enoch that he would stay the floods, that he would call upon the children of Noah, issuing “an unalterable decree, that a remnant of [them] should always be found among all nations, while the earth should stand,” but, in order to do this, he would have to constantly work with them, in order to keep them from being overcome with evil.
Unfortunately, many times the salt of the earth loses its savor. Then, it is good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. If the Lord didn’t intervene in the affairs of men, there would be no way to ensure that a remnant of Noah’s children would be able to last for thousands of years, without being completely overcome with evil, any more than a farmer could neglect his fields and orchards for years on end and still expect them to be plenteous and fruitful, free of weeds and corruption. In like manner, we see that the Lord’s promise to Enoch committed him to his act, his strange act, and his work, his strange work, as described by Isaiah. He became a Husbandman, as it were, and Israel his pleasant plant.
Looking back, we can see that the greatest part of this strategy was implemented through God’s covenant with Abraham, which we know about through the record of the Jews, but the voices of the dust, coming from the record of Joseph, tell us how the Lord revealed to them another part of the plan that was unknown to the Jews in Jerusalem. When we learn about this covenant, it sheds a great deal of light on the Lord’s work, and we see why the book, which becomes the vision of all, in Isaiah 29, is a sealed book.