After Adam was placed on the earth, he was given commandments, ordinances (including baptism and sacrifice), and the priesthood (Moses 5:4-8; 6:64-68). He taught his posterity the gospel and the Lord similarly gave priesthood power to the righteous men who followed: Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, and so on. These men possessed the fulness of the priesthood and together with their families lived the gospel. This priesthood was sufficient to enter into the presence of the Lord. At the end of Adam's life he gathered these men together in the valley of Adam-ondi- Ahman. Doctrine and Covenants 107 states:
53 Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, who were all high priests, with the residue of his posterity who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi- Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing.The second dispensation: Enoch
54 And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel.
55 And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him: I have set thee to be at
the head; a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a prince over them forever.
56 And Adam stood up in the midst of the congregation; and, notwithstanding he was bowed down with age, being full of the Holy Ghost, predicted whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation.
57 These things were all written in the book of Enoch, and are to be testified of in due time.
Moses 6 gives a good indication of what happened after this. Verse 15 states:
And the children of men were numerous upon all the face of the land. And in those days Satan had great dominion among men, and raged in their hearts; and from thenceforth came wars and bloodshed; and a man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death, because of secret works, seeking for power.The people (Adam's posterity, other than the line through Seth) became wicked. But, the Lord called men to preach repentance. Verse 23 says:
And they were preachers of righteousness, and spake and prophesied, and called upon all men, everywhere, to repent; and faith was taught unto the children of men.Enoch was one of them. In Verses 27-28 we read of Enoch's call to preach. This call was given directly by the Lord. It didn't come from his father or Adam. It came from the Lord, himself:
And he heard a voice from heaven, saying: Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people, and my fierce anger is kindled against them; for their hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off; And for these many generations, ever since the day that I created them, have they gone astray, and have denied me, and have sought their own counsels in the dark; and in their own abominations have they devised murder, and have not kept the commandments, which I gave unto their father, Adam.As the Lord spoke with Enoch and gave him commandments to preach repentance, another dispensation began. So, what did Enoch do? Verse 37 states:
And it came to pass that Enoch went forth in the land, among the people, standing upon the hills and the high places, and cried with a loud voice, testifying against their works; and all men were offended because of him.I think it is typical that people will be offended when we're teaching truth that is new or higher than what is being lived by those hearing the message.
Well, we know what happened. Moses 7 describes this. Enoch was able to preach in such a way that many people repented and they were able to establish Zion. This city was then removed from the earth and taken up into heaven (Moses 7:21). Noah and his family were left on the earth and so began another dispensation as Noah pleaded that the people repent so that they would not die by flood.
The purpose of any dispensation
After examining just these two dispensations it becomes evident that the purpose of any dispensation is (1) the calling of preachers of righteousness, (2) the restoring of the fulness of the priesthood and ordinances in an effort to assist the people to repent and come back into the presence of the Lord. As a group of people are able to live in the presence of the Lord, Zion is established.
So, in fact, the purpose of any dispensation is to establish Zion, where all of one heart and one mind, dwelling in righteousness, and there is no poor among them (Moses 7:18). Each have come to the Lord and He has manifested himself to each of them, while in the flesh. Without that, there is no Zion.
Jeremiah 33:33-34 is a prophecy about Zion in the last days:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.In Zion there will not be people going around inviting others to know the Lord, because each will know the Lord personally. You can't get there by relying on the spirituality of a leader, even if the leader is the meekest of all men, as Moses was described. That model will not work and cannot work as history has shown. Each has to have a personal relationship with Christ. Each need to have received the sealing power from God.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Adam and many others were not able to create a community like this. Moses, like the others, understood this purpose, but the Israelites didn't want that. As each dispensation is examined, it is interesting that although there were individuals who entered into the presence of the Lord, only Enoch and Melchizedek were able to accomplish creating Zion. And, they were able to create this city of Zion because the people did not rely on them, but sought the Lord for themselves.
Zion will require a covenant. This will require the people to meet the requirements and honor the covenant. The Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 9: 21-23 states:
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 first-born 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 my father Enoch.The covenant to bring about Zion was originally promised to Adam, then to Enoch, was made again by God with Noah.
Moving on to the latter days. After a long period of apostasy, Joseph Smith was born. After an inquiry about which church he should join, the Father and Christ and various angels appeared to him, telling Joseph his sins were forgiven and he was not to join any of the churches. Three years later Moroni visited his three times in a night, telling Joseph God had a work for him to do. He was told about the gold plates which he would translate using the Urim and Thummim. And, he talked a lot about preparing for the eventual return of the Lord, including the role that Elijah would play.
Why would Moroni talk about these specific things? Joseph Smith, like Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, and others would be the head of a new dispensation. The gospel would be preached anew with the end aim of having Zion established. Because the gospel along with the fulness of the priesthood had not been on the earth for centuries, a restoration needed to occur. It was a return to the earlier, forgotten truths. The same truths possessed by Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and so on.
Joseph understood that Zion needed to be established and he set out his whole life trying to establish Zion among the people, but he wasn't able to do it. The people were too hard-hearted and relied on Joseph too much, just like the ancient Israelites relied on Moses to provide them with revelation. Thus, the people weren't able to have the experiences they needed to have in order to bring them back into the presence of the Lord, thus creating Zion.
Doctrine and Covenants 101 states why. The people who were in Jackson County, Missouri were experiencing terrible afflictions and were being driven from their homes. Verse 6-7 state the reason they experienced these afflictions:
6 Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances. 7 They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble. They were not living even a Terrestial law and thus were unable to establish Zion.The Restoration has not finished
Too often we think that Joseph Smith restored a fulness of truth and we have everything that will be restored and needed prior to Christ's Second Coming. Joseph aimed for the people to be ready for more to be restored, but they didn't do what was necessary and eventually Joseph died.
Frequently, we hear people say, "the gospel was restored through Joseph Smith" meaning we have everything that ever pertained to previous dispensations. But, do we have everything that was given before? Do we have everything that God has promised to give before the Second Coming? Joseph restored the foundation and one day more will be revealed.
Joseph stated that although the law of Moses would never return, the Gospel practiced before Moses would return. In Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, it states:
Thus we behold the keys of this Priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah that He talked with him [Noah] in a familiar and friendly manner, that He continued to him the keys, the covenants, the power and the glory, with which He blessed Adam at the beginning; and the offering of sacrifice, which also shall be continued at the last time; for all the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by the Priesthood, under the directions and commandments of the Almighty in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensation, therefore all things had under the authority of the Priesthood at any former period, shall be had again, bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all the Holy Prophets; then shall the sons of Levi offer an acceptable offering to the Lord….We can glean several things from this quote: (1) animal sacrifice will be practiced once again; (2) other ordinances might very well be restored; (3) the Levites will perform their duties in this temple; (4) these will be restored when the Temple is built and the question we need to ask ourselves is “which temple is being referred to here and if these things have not yet been restored, has this temple been built yet?”
The offering of sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the Priesthood. It began with the Priesthood, and will be continued until after the coming of Christ, from generation to generation. We frequently have mention made of the offering of sacrifice by the servants of the Most High in ancient days, prior to the law of Moses; which ordinances will be continued when the Priesthood is restored with all its authority, power and blessings.These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of theMelchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the Holy Prophets be brought to pass? (October 5, 1840.) DHC 4:207-212; TPJS pp. 172-173.
As you search the writings of Joseph Smith and the scriptures it becomes evident that there are many other things that Joseph wanted to reveal but didn't get to reveal. It is important to bear in mind that the Gospel really is a search into the ancient order of things, not a jump forward into something new, which we have never heard before.
What did Joseph reveal?
Apart from examining the things that Joseph was not able to reveal, it is vital to explore the things he did reveal. Reading his sermons (the book Words of Joseph Smith is a compilation of all of his Nauvoo sermons and is a good place to start) can aid us in this effort.
One thing Joseph taught was the necessity for people to physically gather. The people did this in his day as they moved together from city to city. Christ revealed to Joseph that this was a necessary thing to do in order to be prepared against the day of desolation preceding the Second Coming. Doctrine and Covenants 29:7-8 states:
And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts; Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked.Joseph Smith said,
In speaking of the gathering, we mean to be understood as speaking of it according to scripture, the gathering of the elect of the Lord out of every nation on earth, and bringing them to the place of the Lord of Hosts, when the city of righteousness shall be built, and where the people shall be of one heart and one mind, when the Savior comes; yea, where the people shall walk with God like Enoch, and be free from sin. (TPJS p.93)However, too often, when we think of gathering we only consider a “spiritual” gathering. But, there is more to the gathering than just accepting the gospel. This lack of understanding that has occurred over the generations will likely lead to people being unprepared when the desolation comes. If we neglect to understand the things Joseph taught, we will find ourselves unprepared when Zion is established.
There are many other doctrines that have changed or are now misunderstood by most Latter-day Saints. It is vital to see how and why they changed and what the Lord wants you to understand.
One day Zion will be established. The prophets of old prophesied over and over how it would be established in this dispensation. It will happen! But it requires us to awake and it requires us to arise. One way to begin preparing is to study the teachings of Joseph, the dispensation head, and the Lord will reveal those things to you that you lack.