I have often heard people say that one thing or another is or was or will be practiced briefly because of restoration of all things. An example of such a practice I have heard this applied to animal sacrifice. I have heard people teach that there will be a one time animal sacrifice at some time before the second coming because there is supposed to be a restoration of all things.
Now the point isn’t sacrifice, the point is what we mean when we talk about a restoration of all things. The restoration of all things is not just an arbitrary to do list that Heavenly Father laid out. He didn’t just think to himself “why not do all the things in all dispensations during the last one as well” as some sort of divine whim.
In fact, it isn’t literally a restoration of all things because the lesser law given to Moses will not be part of the restoration of all things. That is because the restoration of all things doesn’t mean the restoration of every specific gospel practice that was ever done, it is a restoration of every gospel POWER and BLESSING that has ever existed because the building of Zion requires the full measure of all the gifts and ordinances available through the gospel (which, if you will pay attention, is taught in the endowment).
Now wait, you may say, we the general membership of the church already have everything. You may say we already have all the saving ordinances there are. You may say there isn’t anything else we could have.
We have all that we are willing to receive, but we have a long ways to go.
I mentioned animal sacrifice previously, so I may as well cite some of the relevant teachings on that as an example:
Joseph Smith taught:
“It is a very prevalent opinion that the sacrifices which were offered were entirely consumed. This was not the case; if you read Leviticus 2:2-3, you will observe that the priests took a part as a memorial and offered it up before the Lord, while the remainder was kept for the maintenance of the priests; so that the offerings and sacrifices are not all consumed upon the altar–but the blood is sprinkled, and the fat and certain other portions are consumed.
These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the Holy Prophets be brought to pass? It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses’ day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.”
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 172)
The first paragraph here leaves us in no doubt that we are talking about actual animal sacrifice. He even discusses some of the details of how it is to be done. The second paragraph states that the animal sacrifices that existed prior to Moses’ day will be restored. Whenever this is restored, it is going to be horribly unpopular.
But why does it say they will be restored? Joseph Smith said it was because “this ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek priesthood are sufficiently manifest”.
To put that in plainer speech, it means that we do not have animal sacrifice now because we are not yet ready. As of yet the powers of the Melchizedek priesthood are not sufficiently manifest. When they are, they go hand in hand with animal sacrifice, as was offered by Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the other ancient prophets. According to this statement there are “ramifications, powers, and blessings” that are available only through that ordinance once it is properly restored.
The restoration of all things isn’t a checklist of things other dispensations did before that we need to do again for a moment or two. The restoration is a restoration of all the ramifications, powers, and blessings that have ever existed on the earth, because this is the day in which Zion will be redeemed and in Zion all such powers are fully manifest.
This isn’t limited to animal sacrifice of course. That is probably a small example. We have a long ways to go before we can list the following, which are given only by God’s own voice, among the rights and blessings that are general in the church:
JST Gen 14:27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.
30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
31 To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.
32 And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.
33 And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace.
34 And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter days, or the end of the world;
Note that these powers of the priesthood were relevant to those who built a Zion. It is far, far more that what we generally enjoy now.
I would add another example of this same blessing given to another man besides Enoch. Just as was stated in the last scripture, it was delivered by God’s own voice. We call it the sealing power, but it is a much fuller manifestation of the sealing power than temple sealers are given. After all, as described in the previous scripture, it is only given by God’s own voice:
Helaman 10:2 And it came to pass that Nephi went his way towards his own house, pondering upon the things which the Lord had shown unto him.
3 And it came to pass as he was thus pondering—being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works of darkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities—and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him saying:
4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.
7 Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.
8 And thus, if ye shall say unto this temple it shall be rent in twain, it shall be done.
9 And if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done.
10 And behold, if ye shall say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass.
And there is yet one more example of one who had such power delivered to him. Again, as was stated it was by God’s own voice. I expect this version refers to the fullness of the Melchizedek priesthood we sometimes hear referred to:
JST Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
7 (Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered);
9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
[The JST manuscript has a note that verses 7-8 are a parenthetical references to Melchizedec]
Thus the restoration of all things is not just a restoration of those powers we now generally enjoy, but a restoration of the powers we do not yet enjoy, but that will be enjoyed when we choose generally to become a people who are pure in heart, a people who Christ himself can come and live among, just as he dwelt among the people of the Zion that Enoch built previous to their being taken up into heaven.