Recently in this column, we noticed that mortal mankind, springing from God himself, is a sturdy race.
Unfortunately — and this is a good reason to be sent away from heaven to do some growing up for a while — this race is more sturdy than steady. Mortals are unfinished souls, able but not so stable, durable but not always enduring.
Most everything in nature is pretty consistent and reliable, except where some of these undeveloped humans are involved.
Their walls sometimes settle and crack. Their fences may lean. Some dieters start eating cake and ice cream again. Students forget information, sometimes within hours or minutes after passing the test.
New owners wash their cars less and less often. Projects get started, but are not always finished. Exercise bicycles and weight machines gather dust and even cobwebs. Given enough time, perhaps unturned pages of scripture may eventually be petrified to stone.
It is a special person who starts some good thing and then sees it through. God — who himself "is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity" — appreciates such people (Moroni 8:9). He depends on them, and so do we.
We see steadiness in those who are called to the Quorum of the Twelve. And one who has served in that council for the longest unbroken period — day by day, decade by decade carrying out the most exacting work on earth without recoiling or stumbling — becomes the senior apostle. He presides over God's enterprise on earth. He was appointed long ago, with precision and infinite foresight. This proven and steady servant will not lead us amiss. We sustain him without reservation.
By that same divine wisdom, a certain man was selected to be senior among all the prophets. This leader — known as Michael before the earth was made — has long been steady and unflinching. As President Thomas S. Monson is to the billions of our generation, so Adam is to the hundreds of billions of humanity.
Joseph Smith explained just one of Adam's responsibilities in this way: "(God) set the ordinances to be the same forever and ever, and set Adam to watch over them, to reveal them from heaven to man, or to send angels to reveal them. … These angels are under the direction of Michael or Adam, who acts under the direction of the Lord" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 107).
Of course, a Redeemer would also be sent, the one we worship as we worship the Father himself.
But Adam was sent first, to begin his long vigil over the family, his multimillennial watch over all things sacred. Worship him? Of course not. Follow his path through this school? By all means.
The first student and first teacher became the ultimate, trusted father on earth. He guards truths and gifts that issue from the ultimate, trusted Father in Heaven.
A sentinel and champion of this kind is sorely needed, for even the most entrenched human creations come and go. Stone monuments and sound businesses, honored schools and massive shorelines evolve and dissolve.
Vast farmlands can be gutted by wind and water if not conserved. Massive ships can drift away unless some watchman keeps an eye on their moorings. In this world, things need constant care.
So why not saving truths and pristine ordinances? Though declared in primordial councils and unanimously sustained, though God reveals them in no uncertain terms, it takes the steady hand of our oldest grandfather to keep them ever fresh and unchanged.
Adam, and the other watchmen who serve with him, are called to make sure the important things stay put.
Wayne E. Brickey, who lives in Gallatin, Mo., is a retired Church Educational System teacher and curriculum writer and has been a tour guide to Holy Land and Mormon history sites. His novel "Before His Manger: The Long Wait for Christ's First Coming" can be found in serialized segments on MormonTimes.com.