One summer day a few years ago in Alaska we were driving home in the late evening just as the sun was slowly setting behind us. It was nearly midnight. Before us rose the snow-capped Chugach mountains, and to our left the gray-blue waters of the North Pacific. It was a beautiful, rainy day with billowing clouds that would burst forth with rain in patches, then stop before raining again somewhere else. The sun was behind us, lingering on the horizon, casting a horizontal, yellowed light under the clouds, brightly illuminating the earth and the underside of the clouds.
At this moment rain burst just ahead of us while we were still in the bright sunlight. Suddenly we saw the most magnificent rainbow I have ever seen. It was a perfect double arch with colors so bright they were nearly blinding. The top of the arch was as bright as both ends. All of the colors were visible from the most piercing violet to blue, green, yellow, orange, red and back to purple. Above it the second arch was somewhat less vivid with a darkened sky between them. It looked other-worldly, almost apocalyptic.
The most amazing aspect of the rainbow was that it appeared to us that the end of the rainbow was landing on the hood of our car. We slowed, as did everyone on the highway. The rainstorm was moving down the road at approximately the same speed, keeping this spectacular vision clearly before us for many minutes. Then, the rain moved on, the sunlight changed, and the rainbow simply vanished.
The rainbow is not just a phenomenon of nature, but an eternal monument to a divine covenant. Most of us have lived all of our gospel lives without realizing what the covenant associated with the rainbow actually was. Most think it has something to do with not flooding the earth ever again. In reality it is much more glorious.
When Enoch’s people obtained the presence of God, and their gifts of translation, they attempted but were not able to spread the gospel across the world and usher in an era of millennial righteousness. The world’s rejection of their witness and testimony actually brought about the flood of Noah. They mourned and prayed mightily with a combined voice that they might be privileged to see a day when righteousness would flood the earth, and evil would not be found upon her face. Elder Orson Pratt spoke of Enoch and the covenant of the Father with Enoch in a conference address given in the Old Salt Lake City Tabernacle July 19, 1874.
“Enoch and his people prayed that a day of righteousness might be brought about during their day; they sought for it with all their hearts; they looked abroad over the face of the earth and saw the corruptions that had been introduced by the various nations, the descendants of Adam, and their hearts melted within them, and they groaned before the Lord with pain and sorrow, because of the wickedness of the children of men, and they sought for a day of rest, they sought that righteousness might be revealed, that wickedness might be swept away and that the earth might rest for a season.” (JD, 17: 148)
In response to their righteous prayers, the Lord covenanted with Enoch and his people that they would see just such a day, and that He would answer their prayers, but not in that era. Accordingly, God took Enoch and his city off of the face of the earth to reserve them to come back in the day when their prayers could be answered. They would return in the latter days and complete their mission, when as a result of their renewed ministry upon the mortal world, righteousness would sweep the earth prior to the Second Coming of Christ.
“God gave them visions, portrayed to them the future of the world, showed unto them that this earth must fulfill the measure of its creation; that generation after generation must be born and pass away, and that, after a certain period of time, the earth would rest from wickedness, that the wicked would be swept away, and the earth would be cleansed and sanctified and be prepared for a righteous people. “Until that day,” saith the Lord, “you and your people shall rest,Zion shall be taken up into my own bosom.” Ancient Zion should be held in reserve until the day of rest should come, “then,” said the Lord to Enoch, “thou and all thy city shall descend upon the earth, and your prayers shall be answered.” (JD, 17: 148)
This covenant with Enoch was so momentous that God placed the rainbow in the sky to remind all future generations of this grand covenant, to keep it before the minds of mankind until it was fulfilled.
“21 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.
22 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;
23 And the general assembly of the Church of the Firstborn 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 thy father Enoch.” (JST Genesis 9:21-23)
The rainbow we see in our skies represents God’s promise to Enoch that when men upon the earth “should keep all my commandments” and are righteous at last, that He will fulfill their righteous prayers, and bring Zion back onto the earth in an era where their missionary labors will bring that righteousness which will cover the earth in the millennial day. And, by extension, when Zion is upon the earth, Christ will come and begin His millennial reign.
In words that shake the earth, the God of heaven proclaims that when we, Enoch’s counterparts of the latter-days, embrace the truth and understand our relationship to Enoch’s Zion, and employ our hearts and faith and hands in building up Zion upon the earth, that Enoch and his people will look downward and all the heavens “shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy”. Then, Enoch will descend out of heaven and rush to embrace his great and righteous posterity, and they will fall upon our necks and kiss us. (Moses 7:63) Then together with us, Enoch and his Zion will possess the earth and have a place upon it until the earth becomes the future Celestial Kingdom. And, this is the covenant of the rainbow, which God made with Enoch—and since it has been renewed in our day—with us.
© May 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.