Enoch: What Modern Scripture Teaches


Truth restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith sheds light on the ministry of a mighty biblical prophet.

Enoch:

Three thousand years before the birth of Christ, the peace in which the people of the Lord had been living was broken as fierce enemies moved against them. History does not record the reason for the hatred that drove the attacking army, but they seemed intent on exterminating these early Saints. The soldiers must have felt very confident as they marched in battle array toward the peaceful land. But instead of victory they would find an ignominious defeat, which came about in ways they could not have imagined.

At least 65 years before the invasion, Jared and his wife, followers of God, had welcomed a son into their home. They named him Enoch, a word meaning “teacher.” Enoch grew in righteousness until, apparently when he was 65 years old, the Lord called him to be a spokesman. The Lord promised him, “My Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course” (Moses 6:34).

The Lord was not speaking in hyperbole. Enemy armies approached, “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 all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch” (Moses 7:13).

It takes little to imagine the wonder that must have struck that advancing army as the land quaked and heaved and whole rivers swept out of their courses. The record tells us that the attacking army fled to a “land which came out of the depth of the sea,” and “there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God” (Moses 7:14, 15). Few people have ever wielded such formidable power, but Enoch had proven himself worthy in the eyes of God to exercise it.

Before the Restoration, little was known of this dramatic story or the prophet who stood at its center. To the traditional Christian world, Enoch was an enigmatic figure at whose importance the Bible merely hinted (see chart).

The History of the Church tells us that much of the information the Prophet Joseph Smith restored about Enoch came in response to the Saints’ questions concerning books mentioned in the Bible but no longer extant. The Prophet assured the Saints that the apostolic Church had had some of these writings. For example, he noted that Jude had quoted from a prophecy of Enoch (see History of the Church, 1:132).

What the Saints may not have known was that the Lord was already preparing a way to increase their understanding through the Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible. 1 In December 1830, the Prophet shared with the Saints some of what he had learned. As his history states, “To the joy of the little flock, which in all, from Colesville to Canandaigua, New York, numbered about seventy members, did the Lord reveal the following doings of olden times, from the prophecy of Enoch” (see History of the Church, 1:132–33). 2 This material is now chapter 7 of the book of Moses.

The restored text furnishes us with a number of important details concerning not only Enoch’s ministry but, more significant, his teachings. These teachings highlight the importance of his mission and emphasize the need of the people of his day—as well as our own—to repent.

When the Lord called Enoch, he explained that the people “have foresworn themselves, and, by their oaths, they have brought upon themselves death; and a hell I have prepared for them, if they repent not” (Moses 6:29). Knowing what could happen to them, the Lord commanded Enoch to “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” (Moses 6:27). The evils the people had been committing can be summed up not only as apostasy from the truth but also as outright rebellion against righteousness, for they “denied [God], and … sought their own counsels in the dark; and in their own abominations … devised murder” (Moses 6:28). Enoch’s message to the people was, “Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you” (Moses 6:33). The phrase “this day” underscored the urgency of making the decision immediately. They would have little time to delay or procrastinate. Death and hell would be in their futures if they did not repent.

The escalating tempo of the times immediately drove Enoch to begin exhorting the people. Standing where they could easily see and hear him, he boldly testified of their wicked works. This offended many. Still the prophet persisted. So great was the power of the Spirit upon him that “the people trembled, and could not stand in his presence” (Moses 6:47).

Enoch taught those who would hear that because of the Fall, humankind would experience death, misery, and woe. He taught that “when [children] begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts” (Moses 6:55), and that humankind, having hearkened to Satan, had become carnal, sensual, and devilish. As a result, the family relationship they had once enjoyed with their Father in Heaven had been severed, and all were shut out from the presence of God.

However, Enoch assured his listeners that conditions were not hopeless. Through faith, repentance, and baptism in the name of Christ, the breach could be closed and humankind saved. Using a revelation given to Adam, Enoch explained the symbolic nature of baptism and revealed the beautiful doctrine that stands behind the ceremony (see Moses 6:53–62). As a symbol of rebirth into the kingdom of God, baptism also brought to the individual a state of holiness. The result was that the newborn child in Christ received “the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things” (Moses 6:61). The Lord emphasized that this was part of “the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten” (Moses 6:62).

The Prophet Joseph Smith affirmed “that God clearly manifested to Enoch the redemption which He prepared, by offering the Messiah as a Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world; and by virtue of the same, the glorious resurrection of the Savior, and the resurrection of all the human family, even a resurrection of their corporeal bodies” (History of the Church, 2:260).

In spite of the hope that the plan of salvation offered, humankind stubbornly refused to heed Enoch’s call to repent. Their wickedness, not only in Enoch’s day but also after him, forms the backdrop for many of his teachings. In vision he saw slaughter coming. According to his prophecy, the people of Canaan would move “in battle array against the people of Shum, and shall slay them that they shall utterly be destroyed” (Moses 7:7). From there, war would spread across the lands until most of mankind would be engulfed in bitter conflict. However, the Lord assured Enoch, “Zion have I blessed” (Moses 7:20). In this vision Enoch understood how the Lord’s people would be preserved: they would be taken off the earth.

The consequences of the world’s extreme wickedness were grim. Enoch beheld in vision the growing power of Satan. The evil one held “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” (Moses 7:26). As a result, the Lord looked upon the whole and wept, saying to Enoch, “Among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren” (Moses 7:36). “Misery,” he lamented, “shall be their doom” (Moses 7:37). Indeed, he told Enoch, “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” (Moses 7:38).

The implication of Enoch’s vision is arresting. Hundreds of years before the Flood, both he and his people knew it was coming “upon the residue of the wicked” (Moses 7:43). Neither the Lord nor his people kept the fact a secret. But Enoch knew that most would not respond to the warning, and “he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren” (Moses 7:44). The Lord, controlling his own grief in order to comfort his prophet, revealed to Enoch that Noah and his family would survive and establish humankind upon the earth once more. But Enoch remained troubled. He desired peace and salvation for the souls of men. Therefore, he asked when the Savior would bring about his Atonement, that “they that mourn may be sanctified and have eternal life” (Moses 7:45).

The Lord revealed that the Son would come “in the meridian of time, in the days of wickedness and vengeance” (Moses 7:46). Yet, even so, conditions during the Lord’s ministry would be similar to those in which Enoch himself was living. Enoch saw “the Son of Man lifted up on the cross, after the manner of men; … and all the creations of God mourned; and the earth groaned” (Moses 7:55–56). In his heightened spiritual, if anguished, state, Enoch understood the groaning of 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?” (Moses 7:48).

Enoch once more lifted his soul to God, asking if the Savior would not come again upon the earth to bring peace and rest. The Savior responded, saying that he would again “come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance” (Moses 7:60) and assured Enoch that “the day shall come that the earth shall rest” (Moses 7:61).

Enoch also learned that the last days would be much like Enoch’s own day in two respects: first, “the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth” (Moses 7:61); and second, there would be “great tribulations among the wicked” (Moses 7:66). In addition, Enoch “saw the sea, that it was troubled, and men’s hearts failing them, looking forth with fear for the judgments of the Almighty God, which should come upon the wicked” (Moses 7:66).

Given this terrible scene, the Lord assured Enoch that “my people will I preserve” (Moses 7:61). Indeed, in the last days righteousness would flow from heaven and truth come out of the earth to bear witness of the Lord, as well as of the past and future resurrection of all humankind (see Moses 7:62). Commenting on this, the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “How [are] righteousness and truth … going to sweep the earth as with a flood? I will answer. Men and angels are to be coworkers in bringing to pass this great work, and Zion is to be prepared, even a new Jerusalem, for the elect that are to be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, and to be established an holy city, for the tabernacle of the Lord shall be with them” (History of the Church, 2:260).

The Lord explained to Enoch that in this future mortal Zion the Saints, unlike the wicked of the world, would be looking forward with anticipation “for the time of my coming” (Moses 7:62). Expanding on this, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “the Lord had spoken of the future glory of Zion—of the city, the location of which the Elders were to testify; also of the glory of the temple, with its future cloud by day and pillar of fire by night; of the future union of this New-World Zion with the ancient Zion of Enoch, where the Lord will make His abode” (History of the Church, 3:xxxiv).

The Lord revealed to Enoch that “then shalt thou and all thy city meet [the elect in the last days] there, and we will receive them into our bosom” (Moses 7:63). With the two Zions united, the Son of Man would come “to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years” (Moses 7:65). Then the earth would rest. Enoch then “saw the day of the righteous, the hour of their redemption, and received a fulness of joy” (Moses 7:67).

Yet Enoch’s understanding did not end there. He knew the creations of God were so great that if it were “possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations.” What astounded the seer was not the amount of real estate, however, but that, as he told the Lord, “Thou art there, and thy bosom is there” (Moses 7:30). The Lord confirmed that he was in direct contact with every world and every creature he had made, for he said, “I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also” (Moses 7:36). Enoch came to truly understand that the Lord knew and loved them all.

Even so, God had reserved a special place for Zion; for, as Enoch testified, God had “taken Zion to [his] own bosom, from all [his] creations, from all eternity to all eternity” (Moses 7:31). Therefore, once it is established, it never fails or falls. When the world can no longer stand its glory, God takes Zion to himself.

In fulfillment of Enoch’s vision of what was to occur, the scriptures record of this mighty prophet and his people: “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“ (Moses 7:69).

These early faithful Saints had been translated. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, we understand something of the translated state. The Prophet told the Saints that translation belongs to “the powers of the Priesthood and the keys thereof” and that it is one of the “many things … 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” (History of the Church, 4:209). He went on to explain that translated beings are not taken into the presence of God. “Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters He [God] 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.” The Prophet continued: “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” (4:210).

Enoch’s great work on behalf of the Lord’s kingdom had been recognized by the God he so diligently served. Today, the revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith allow us as modern Saints to learn from Enoch’s profound teachings, which otherwise would have been lost to us. An understanding of Enoch’s message and ministry provides us with an understanding of what is to come and a clear definition of our task. We must become like Enoch’s people, who “were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). Then will we be ready to meet them in Zion, “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” (Moses 7: 63). And there shall God make his abode forever (see Moses 7:21).

A Latter-day Saint View of Enoch

The left column lists the Bible’s teachings about Enoch; the right column lists additional information restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

What the Bible Teaches

What Latter-day Revelation Adds

• Jared, when 165 years old, fathered Enoch (see Gen. 5:18).

 

• Enoch, at 65, fathered Methuselah and also, over the years, a large posterity (see Gen. 5:21–22).

• Enoch was 25 years old when Adam ordained him to the priesthood, and he was 65 when Adam again blessed him (see D&C 107:48).

 

• By his own voice, the Lord called Enoch, apparently at age 65, to be a prophet and seer (see Moses 6:25–27). At that time the Lord showed him the first of three visions of the future recorded in Moses (see Moses 6:36).

• He began a long ministry of testimony, but he was rejected by many (see Moses 6:37).

• Enoch taught gospel principles as they had been revealed by God and angels to Adam (see Moses 6:47–68).

• Some time later into Enoch’s ministry, the Lord appeared to him on Mount Simeon and opened the second vision recorded in Moses (see Moses 7:4).

• Enoch foresaw the Canaanites annihilating the people of Shum (see Moses 7:6–7). In doing so, the Canaanites forfeited their right to gospel blessings and Enoch was forbidden to preach to them (see Moses 7:12).

• The prophet continued to teach throughout the lands except Canaan, calling people to repentance (see Moses 7:9–12).

• He defeated the enemies of the people of the Lord through priesthood miracles, moving mountains and turning rivers from their courses. As a result, his people gained security and peace (see Moses 7:13–17).

• Under Enoch’s leadership, his people became so righteous that the Savior was often in their midst (see Moses 7:16).

• The seer’s people flourished and established a city of holiness called Zion (see Moses 7:17–19).

• The Lord established the laws and government under which the city of Zion would operate. These laws were based on the laws of the celestial kingdom (see D&C 105:5; History of the Church, 5:64).

• Three years before Adam’s death, Enoch, with other righteous leaders, attended a great convocation called by Adam at Adam-ondi-Ahman. There Adam bestowed his last blessing upon his children and related, by the power of prophecy, what should happen to his posterity to the end of time (see D&C 107:53–56). The prophecy was recorded in the book of Enoch (see D&C 107:57).

• Not only did Enoch write the prophesied story of the earth as revealed by Adam, but the Savior also opened to Enoch the third vision of the future recorded in Moses (see History of the Church, 2:261, where the Prophet Joseph Smith, after quoting Revelation 21:3 [Rev. 21:3], states, “I discover by this quotation, that John upon the isle of Patmos, saw the same thing concerning the last days, which Enoch saw”). In this vision Enoch saw the events of the earth until the Millennium (see Moses 7:67).

• Enoch foresaw the first coming of the Savior, his crucifixion and death, and the great destructions of the earth associated therewith (see Moses 7:45–47, 55–56).

• Enoch prophesied that the Lord would come “with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all” (Jude 1:14–15).

• He foresaw the Second Coming of the Lord, the building up of Zion in the last days, and the return of his city to the earth (see Moses 7:60–67).

 

• The Lord personally met with Enoch on many occasions over the 365 years of his ministry (see D&C 107:49).

• Enoch had lived for 365 years when he was taken by the Lord through translation (see Gen. 5:23; Heb. 11:5).

• Enoch was actually 430 years old when he was translated. At that time, Zion had been in existence for 365 years (see Moses 7:68; Moses 8:1).

 

• When the world in general had rejected the law of God, the Lord translated Enoch and his people, taking them and the “government of heaven” off the earth (see History of the Church, 5:64; D&C 38:4).

• Before the Flood, the righteous upon whom the Holy Ghost fell were subsequently taken up into the city of Enoch (see Moses 7:27).

• The Lord appointed Enoch to minister to terrestrial bodies and “to those who shall be heirs of salvation.” In this capacity, Enoch appeared to Jude, author of the Epistle of Jude (see History of the Church, 4:209).

• The Lord has reserved the return of Enoch and his people until a day when righteousness shall come (see D&C 45:11–12).

• The Savior himself spoke of the future glory of both Enoch’s Zion and the Zion of the last days, testifying that they would eventually be reunited and that he would personally abide there. Then the earth would rest for a thousand years (see 3 Ne. 21:1; Moses 7:62–64; History of the Church, 3:34).

[illustrations] Left: Enoch, by Ted Henninger; inset, above: detail from mural in Joseph Smith Building, Brigham Young University, by Stuart P. Heimdal

[illustration] Enoch’s message to the people was, “Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you” (Moses 6:33). The phrase “this day” underscored the urgency of making the decision immediately. (Painting by Robert T. Barrett.)

[illustration] City of Zion Being Taken to Heaven, by Del Parson

Richard D. Draper is an associate professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.

Show References

    Notes

  1.   1.

    The Prophet Joseph Smith received most of the information about Enoch between 21 October 1830 and 8 March 1831 as he worked to make a more accurate translation of the Bible. See Robert J. Matthews, “What Is the Book of Moses?” Studies in Scripture, Volume Two: The Pearl of Great Price (1985), 29.

  2.   2.

    Though only the material in Moses 7 is dated December 1830 in the History, the manuscript record (located in the RLDS archives) reveals that by that time Joseph Smith had actually received a good deal more information than he recorded. He had received the “visions of Moses” (now found in Moses 1) in June of that year. During the summer and fall, Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer acted as Joseph Smith’s scribes, and they had completed the work through what is now Moses 7:2. In early December Sidney Rigdon began assisting the Prophet, and by March 1831 all the material now found in the book of Moses had been restored. See Robert J. Matthews, “A Plainer Translation”: Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, A History and Commentary (1975), 21–29, 96.