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Cover image via Gospel Media Library.
A couple of years ago, I typed the Pearl of Great Price as a way to understand it better and discover unique vocabularies. In the process I realized the Restoration led by the Prophet Joseph Smith was not the only restoration. Throughout history, when decadence was the norm and the people became ripe in iniquity, God called a prophet to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each head of each dispensation did a reset on truth, restoring pure doctrine, priesthood, covenants, ordinances, and organization.
It is interesting to me that our shortest book of scripture, just sixty-one pages, contains such specific detail about how the seven heads of the seven dispensations restored the gospel. As a bonus, there are first-person quotes from Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, and Joseph Smith. To me this testifies that our Father in Heaven’s great and eternal plan is consistent, enduring, and all-encompassing.
As you read the summaries below, I think you will find it interesting as you watch for patterns and similarities in how revelation is received. Also, the repetition of certain words adds remarkable cohesion, for example: Only Begotten; Holy Ghost and Spirit; priesthood and order; talked, conversed, spake, face-to-face, and baptize.
God talks to Adam: “Adam… was the son of God, with whom God, himself, conversed” (Moses 6:22).
God teaches Adam and Eve: “If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son… ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Moses 6:52).
God commands: “Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children” (Moses 6:58).
Adam asks a question: “ Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water” (Moses 6:53)?
Adam is baptized: “Adam… was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water. And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man. And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying: Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost” (Moses 6:64-66).
Heavenly Father and Jesus are the witnesses to Adam’s baptism: “This is the record of the Father, and the Son, from henceforth and forever” (Moses 6:66).
Adam receives the priesthood: “Thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity” (Moses 6:67).
Despite Adam and Eve’s example and efforts, their posterity became ripe in iniquity. The authorized Church of Jesus Christ was no longer upon the earth. A restoration was necessary.
Enoch describes his first vision: “[I] cried unto the Lord, [and] there came a voice out of heaven…. I beheld the heavens open, and I was clothed upon with glory; and I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face” (Moses 7:2-4).
God teaches Enoch: “My son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people…. 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 have not kept the commandments, which I gave unto their father, Adam” (Moses 6:27-28).
Enoch baptizes: “The Lord said unto me: Go to this people, and say unto them—Repent…. And he gave unto me a commandment that I should baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, which is full of grace and truth, and of the Holy Ghost” (Moses 7:10-11).
Enoch preaches: “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” (Moses 7:19).
The City of Enoch is translated: “Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion” (Moses 7:69); “And lo, Zion, in process of time, was taken up into heaven” (Moses 7:21).
In the generations that followed, the residue that were not translated became ripe in iniquity. The authorized Church of Jesus Christ was no longer upon the earth. A restoration was necessary.
Wickedness fills the earth: “The earth was corrupt before God, and it was filled with violence” (Moses 8:28).
God is angry: “Behold mine anger is kindled against the sons of men, for they will not hearken to my voice” (Moses 8:15).
Noah receives the priesthood and his calling: “And the Lord ordained Noah after his own order, and commanded him that he should go forth and declare his Gospel unto the children of men” (Moses 8:19).
God walks with Noah: “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord for Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and he walked with God, as did also his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (Moses 8:27).
Noah teaches and prophesies: “Noah prophesied and taught the things of God, even as it was in the beginning” (Moses 8:16).
God warns: “If men do not repent, I will send in the floods upon them” (Moses 8:17).
Noah preaches baptism and confirmation: “Believe and repent of your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, even as our fathers, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost” (Moses 8:24).
Despite Noah and his family’s example and efforts, their posterity became ripe in iniquity. The authorized Church of Jesus Christ was no longer upon the earth. A restoration was necessary.
Abraham lives in a day of corruption and violence: “My fathers, having turned… from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given unto them… were set to do evil, and… endeavored to take away my life by the hand of the priest of Elkenah” (Abraham 1:5-7).
Abraham prepares himself: “I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same having been myself a follower of righteousness…, desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God” (Abraham 1:2).
Abraham receives the priesthood: “Abraham, Abraham, behold, my name is Jehovah…. I will lead thee by my hand, and I will take thee, to put upon thee my name, even the Priesthood of thy father, and my power shall be over thee” (Abraham 1:16, 18).
Abraham is called: “As it was with Noah so shall it be with thee; but through thy ministry my name shall be known in the earth forever, for I am thy God” (Abraham 1:19).
God teaches Abraham: “I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another; and he told me of the works which his hands had made…. I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof” (Abraham 3:11-12).
Despite Abraham’s example and efforts, the people became ripe in iniquity, and the authorized Church of Jesus Christ was no longer upon the earth. Another restoration was necessary.
God appears to Moses: “The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain, And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him” (Moses 1: 1-2).
God calls Moses: “Moses lifted up his eyes unto heaven, being filled with the Holy Ghost…. And calling upon the name of God…. he heard a voice, saying: Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee…. And lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days; for thou shalt deliver my people from bondage, even Israel my chosen” (Moses 1:24-26).
God teaches Moses: “He also gave me commandments… saying: Call upon God in the name of mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:17). “Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth” (Moses 2:1).
Moses is commanded to make a record: “And now, Moses… thou shalt write the things which I shall speak. And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold, I will raise up another like unto thee; and they shall be had again among the children of men—among as many as shall believe” (Moses 1:40-41).
Despite many, many miracles, the people became ripe in iniquity, and the authorized Church of Jesus Christ was no longer upon the earth. A restoration was necessary.
God the Father testifies of His Son: “Mine Only Begotten Son… is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men” (Moses 6:52).
God prophesies of His Son’s coming: “Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge… shall come in the meridian of time” (Moses 6:57).
Jesus Christ identifies Himself: “My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee” (Abraham 2:8).
Jesus proclaims His mission: “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” (Moses 7:53).
Jesus warns: “Take heed that no man deceive you” (JS-Matthew 1:5).
Jesus commands: “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived, for the Son of Man shall come, and he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet” (JS-Matthew 1:37).
Jesus promises: “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” (Moses 7:60).
After Jesus’ resurrection, the Apostles were killed. In time, as the people became ripe in iniquity, the authority and keys were lost. The Church of Jesus Christ was no longer upon the earth. A restoration was necessary.
Joseph describes his first vision: “I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description… One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him” (Joseph Smith-History 1:17)!
Joseph and Oliver Cowdery receive the priesthood: “On a certain day we [Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery] went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins…. While we were… praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying: Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron” (JS-History 1:68-69).
Joseph and Oliver baptize each other: The angel “commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and that afterwards he should baptize me” (JS-History 1:70).
More keys and priesthood will come: The angel “said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us” (JS-History 1:72).
Now to the question: Is another restoration needed? Brigham Young stated: “This kingdom they [the wicked] cannot destroy, because it is the last dispensation—because it is the fulness of times. It is the dispensation of all dispensations, and will excel in magnificence and glory every dispensation that has ever been committed to the children of men upon the earth. The Lord will bring again Zion, redeem his Israel, plant his standard upon the earth, and establish the laws of his Kingdom” (lds.org/manual/teachings-brigham-young/chapter-14?lang=eng&_r=1). To me it is comforting and wondrous and to know the Church will not be taken from the earth again.
Your Personal Restoration
As important as these restorations have been and are, which cannot be overstated, the need for personal restorations has crucial and eternal significance to every child of God.
My calling, my opportunity, my duty, my covenant is to use my time and talents to further the Lord’s work however, whenever, and wherever He calls. In my allotted dispensation, in my personal restoration, I want to live daily according to the principles I know to be true. When I fall short and fall into a little apostasy, not in renunciation of my beliefs but in sloppiness, I pray to realize my fault, rally my courage, remember my covenants, and restore that which is lost. Simply, to repent.
Each convert experiences a personal restoration of truths once known. Each person who wanders in the wilderness of the world’s ways, falls into the fountain of the filthy river, or takes up residence in the great and spacious building or even goes for a weekend can experience a personal restoration. According to the dictionary, restore means to return, reinstate, reestablish, refurbish, renovate, repair, rebuild, recondition, and I add another, repent. Restore and repent are part of the same process.
Each time God called a prophet to lead a dispensation, revelation opened the heavens for the benefit of every person who ever lived on planet earth. How blessed we are to live in this final dispensation when the fullness of the gospel is available as never before. As Jacob, the Book of Mormon prophet, said, “O how great the plan of our God” (2 Nephi 9:13)!
You can read Marilynne’s book Evidences for the Prophet Joseph Smith as Found in the Pearl of Great Price at https://www.evidencesfortheprophetjosephsmith.com. To read the entire book, click on the three lines on the top left, go to Archive, September 2019. To read specific chapters navigate from the homepage.