According to the scriptures, Enoch’s people, who succeeded in becoming a city of Zion, most nearly parallel and resemble the prophesied latter-day Zion. The book of Moses, for instance, links these two Zions rhetorically and typologically and shows that they will become one people of God. But just how did the Lord’s people in Enoch’s day become a Zion people? How did they rise from being a wicked people—those who needed to repent lest God’s judgments come upon them (Moses 7:10)—to being a righteous people, so righteous that the Lord came and dwelt among them (Moses 7:16)? Although the scriptures do not give us the details, they do enable us to piece together some parts of that marvelous transformation.
In Moses 6:28, the Lord commissions Enoch to preach repentance to a people who have gone astray; who deny the Lord their God; who seek their own counsel, not the Lord’s; who do not keep God’s commandments but who devise murders. The Lord’s anger is kindled against his people because their hearts have waxed hard, their ears have become dull of hearing, and their eyes “cannot see afar off” (Moses 6:27). They form secret combinations, for whom the Lord has decreed a hell and death from the foundation of the world (Moses 6:29–30). These descriptions reflect the unrighteous conditions in which the Lord sends Enoch to minister to the people.
Not surprisingly, Enoch, the Lord’s “servant” and “son,” is hated by the people (Moses 6:27, 31). They describe him as “a strange thing in the land,” saying, “a wild man hath come among us” (Moses 6:38). As Enoch goes about the land, lifting up his voice, he becomes a proverb and a curiosity. Because he testifies against wickedness, bidding people to serve their Maker, “all men [are] offended because of him” (Moses 6:33, 37–38). Yet, God’s power is with Enoch, so that people tremble with fear and cannot withstand him (Moses 6:39, 47). The Lord gives Enoch power to shake the earth, to move mountains and turn the course of rivers (Moses 6:34; 7:13), literally and figuratively. The Spirit of God rests upon Enoch and he speaks the words the Lord gives him (Moses 6:26, 32).
Out of that situation arise two kinds of people—the “people of God” and their “enemies” (Moses 7:13–14). The people of God, we assume, are those who repent when Enoch preaches to them. These consist of inhabitants from seven lands—all except the people of Canaan, whom God has cursed (Moses 7:8–12). The enemies of God’s people, on the other hand, are those who do not repent but who harden their hearts. These consist of the “residue” of all the lands’ inhabitants (compare Moses 7:22). One thing that is important for our paradigm, then, is that God’s people have enemies, those who take it upon themselves to fight against their brethren (Moses 6:43; 7:13).
By reading between the lines (because the account in the book of Moses is cryptic and sparse), we observe a scenario much like other scriptures describe: those who convert to the Lord come under attack by unbelieving brethren. What characterizes the enemies of God’s people is not that they are ignorant of the Lord. They understand prophecy and the commandments of God (Moses 6:28, 38). Their sin is that they counsel among themselves and deny the God of heaven (Moses 6:28, 43). As for the people of God, the opposition they receive serves as a refiner’s fire. In many ways, such persecution is the very means by which they become a Zion people. Through Enoch’s ministry, they learn to keep the commandments of God, to become of one mind and one heart, dwelling in righteousness, with no poor among them (Moses 7:18). But what can precipitate that process like the pressure of persecution?
From the movements and migrations of peoples in Enoch’s day, we see that the wicked pursue the righteous, not vice versa (Moses 7:13–15). In fact, one of Enoch’s concerns, in building his Zion, is the safety of the people of God (Moses 7:19–20). As we see in times of war or national calamity, nothing makes a people unite as does a shared plight. With God’s commandments preached to them often, nothing would compel a people to bear one another’s burdens more than the expediency of their common survival. One half of the equation is that they must keep the commandments of God even as Enoch teaches them. The other half is that they must wade through persecution or else be caught in sin: they must endure refining trials as a result of choosing good or they must sin like an enemy by acting in kind. Persecution thus has a sanctifying influence—the Lord comes to dwell with a holy people, a people who remain loyal in the face of every hardship.
(Taken from The Last Days: Types and Shadows from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, pp. 264–267.)