Our earth is presently passing through its "temporal existence." This stretch of 7,000 years began with the Fall of Adam, and will continue through the end of the millennial reign of Christ. Someday, we will know more about the non-temporal era that was interrupted by the Fall. And we hope to personally experience the non-temporal, lofty eras that lie ahead.
For now, the not-so-lofty part in between invites our attention. We might call it the long week of history, where each "day" is 1,000 years. The Sabbath-like Millennium draws near. And our moment has been called the Saturday night of time.
With that in mind, the 1,000 years following the Fall might be called the Monday of time. (Pushing this a little further, the meeting Adam held at age 927, attended by his faithful descendants, was a kind of home evening that took place on the Monday night of time.)
That long Monday generated a host of traditions. Some were in harmony with pure truth. Others deceived and scarred the hearts of mankind. Most, like powerful echoes, still cascade through the canyons of history.
This is true in many fields of human interest, chief of all religion. Brigham Young explained it very simply:
"Adam was as conversant with his Father who placed him upon this earth as we are conversant with our earthly parents. … The things that pertain to God and to heaven were as familiar among mankind, in the first ages of their existence on the earth, as these mountains are to our mountain boys. … From this source mankind have received their religious traditions."
The echoes glance off the pocked and ragged surfaces of human opinion and doubt. From Monday through Saturday night, with each day lasting 10 centuries, delicate and exacting truths can become badly garbled.
Of course, if you know what to listen for, and what to ignore, you can almost detect in those distortions the message as it once was. We can do that best when prophets are sent to sound the messages afresh.
For example, about 1,200 years before the birth of Christ, Moses was sent into just such a scene. (That dates him to "Wednesday," you might say.) His audience, the enslaved children of Israel, lived in a deafening barrage of decayed, depressing echoes.
Moses said they could break free and become a nation of nobles — a landed, covenant people with sacred work to do.
But demeaning messages splattered up from their mud pits. The loud scorn of taskmasters invaded their sun-blistered huts. The rasping echoes of Monday registered in the weary hearts of Wednesday.
The words of Moses seemed like gibberish. The people could not comprehend, so they could not hear. There was not so much as a desire to believe.
But the Lord had in mind just what they needed — a book.
By revelation, Moses produced something called "Bereshith." From Greek and Latin roots, we get the familiar translation of that title — "Genesis," which means beginnings, origins, birth, foundations.
The book gave those distracted, defeated people a shining heritage. It told of the promises made to their fathers.
Like the groggy sons of Lehi, like Alma's people before the word came to them, like the latter-day world foreseen by Isaiah, and something like Adam before Eve came into his life, the Israelites had been in a "deep sleep."
The book awoke them. Under the influence of living prophets, it can still do that on Saturday night.
References: Doctrine & Covenants 77:6; 78:7-8; 107:53; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:149; 2 Nephi 1:13; Alma 5:7; Isaiah 29:10; Moses 3:21.
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.