As I mentioned in a previous post, Church historians and LDS scholars commonly refer to early LDS history as the beginning of the “marvelous work” or the time of the “restoration”. The scriptures also appear to use these two terms interchangeably most of the time.
Interestingly, NONE of the revelations to the prophet Joseph Smith contained in the Doctrine and Covenants or the Book of Mormon ever uses either of these terms when referring to the time when Joseph Smith restored the church in 1830. The term used in modern scripture to describe the events of the early history of the church is “foundation”.
According to modern revelation, the work that was being accomplished during that period of time had to do with “laying the foundation of the church” (1:30) , “laying the foundation of a great work” (64:33) and “laying the foundation of Zion” (119:2).
The purpose of the first commission of Joseph Smith and the First Elders in the second watch was to lay the foundation for the of the Marvelous Work which would be a separate work that would come later. In their second commission they would return to the vineyard and help to usher in the Marvelous Work at the time of the third watch.
From a scriptural perspective, I believe it would be more appropriate to refer to early LDS history as the “Foundation Movement” instead of the “Restoration Movement”. As previously noted, Joseph Smith taught that the “two witnesses” would “prophesy to the Jews … at the time of the restoration” To my knowledge, these witnesses have not shown up yet! Their ministry takes place at a later time, therefore the restoration/marvelous work begins to usher in again at future time (D&C 77:15)
A close look at modern and ancient scripture indicates that there was to be a significant and distinct period of time between the laying of the foundation during Joseph’s ministry and the commencement of the restoration, (or marvelous work). The term Marvelous work only shows up six times in modern scripture.
The term, “Great Work” shows up five. As noted in a previous post, even though some of these revelations came after the coming forth and translation of the non-sealed portion of the Book of Mormon and the legal restoration of the church, the Lord informs us that a great work is about to come forth among the gentiles...
Modern revelation also refers to the restoration as a future event. Sections 45 and 88 associate it with the restoration of the Jews in the last days section 103 and the 10th article of faith associate it with the redemption and restoration of Zion upon the earth, and Sections 84 and 86 associate the term with the restoration of ALL THINGS that have been spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets which identifies the scriptural term "restoration" as being similar in meaning to the phrase TIMES OF REFRESHING used by the Apostle Paul:
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."
Paul provides us with yet another evidence that the Marvelous Work which is referred to as the restoration OR times of refreshing OR times of restitution of all things, takes place in the end times when the terrestrial souls will finally be forgiven of their sins.
Without exception, when Book of Mormon prophets refer to the time of the restoration, they are referring to a specific time in the latter days when their scattered descendants are spiritually restored to the knowledge of the gospel and physically restored to the lands of their inheritance in America.
Additionally, the Book of Mormon concurs with the statement of Paul in associating the restoration and marvelous work with the restitution of ALL THINGS including the re-establishment of Zion.