An Offering in Righteousness
Through Malachi, the Lord posed a question: “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth?” The answer to the question is only those who are purified and clean (3:2). Then the Lord said that he would put his hand to the task of purifying the priesthood: “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness” (3:3). Recall that the priesthood in Malachi’s day had become corrupt, offering invalid sacrifices (see 1:6-14).
It appears that with the restoration of the priesthood in the last days, the Lord would begin the process of purification. John the Baptist conferred the priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery with these words: “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness” (D&C 13). Oliver Cowdery remembered John the Baptist saying: “Upon you my feloow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!”[xvii]
It may be that the phrase “sons of Levi” simply has reference to priesthood holders. Notice the similarity of Malachi’s prophesy, and John the Baptist’s confirmation to a revelation on the priesthood given to Joseph Smith on 22 and 23 Sept. 1832 wherein the Lord stated that “the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house” (D&C 84:31). There is no question in this verse that “the sons of Moses and also the sosn of Aaron” have reference to all priesthood holders.
The offering they were to offer was to be done in the temple. At least a partial fulfillment of all these statements is accomplished by doing work for the dead. In a letter recorded in D&C 128, Joseph Smith wrote: “Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter?day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation” (vs. 24).
 See, Meredith G. Kline, “Oath and Ordeal Signs,” Westminster Theological Journal (Vol. 27, 1964-65), pp. 115-139; Gerhard F. Hasel, “The Meaning of the Animal Rite in Genesis 15, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (Vol. 19, 1981), pp. 61-78; Martin Noth, “Old Testament Covenant-making in the light of a Text from Mari,”in The Laws in the Pentateuch and other Studies (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1967), pp. 108-117 ; David L. Petersen, “Covenant Ritual: A Traditio-Historical Perspective,” Biblical Research (Vol. 22, 1977), pp. 7-18; G. J. Wenham, “The Symbolism of the Animal Rite in Gensis 15: A Response to G. F. Hasel, JSOT 19 (1981) 61-78,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (Vol. 22, 1982), pp. 134-137; Donald J. Wiseman, “Abban and Alalah,” Journal of Cuneiform Studies (Vol. 12, 1958), pp. 124-129.
 Theodore M. Burton, “Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, July 1971, p. 17.
[i] Neal A. Maxwell, But for a Small Moment, Salt Lake: Bookcraft, 1986, p.98.
[ii] Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1833-1951). 6 vols. James R. Clark, ed. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1975, Vol.1, p.257-259.
[iii] See Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd Ed., Salt Lake: Bookcraft, 1966, p.720
[iv] Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, April 1970, p.58-59.
[v] Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple, Salt Lake: Bookcraft, 1980, pp. 82-84; emphasis added.
[vi] Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Press, 1938, pp. 337-338.
[vii] McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.683.
[viii] Bruce R. McConkie, “Promises Made to the Fathers,” in Studies in Scripture Vol 3: Genesis to 2 Samuel, ed. Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, Salt Lake City, UT: Randall Book Co., 1985, pp. 47-62.
[ix] McConkie, “Promises Made to the Fathers,” pp. 61-62.
[x] McConkie, “Promises Made to the Fathers,” pp. 62.
[xi] Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Salt Lake: Bookcraft, 1955, Vol.2, pp.42?43.
[xii] Joseph F. Smith, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, Salt Lake: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1998, p. 411.
[xiii] Howard W. Hunter, “Elijah the Prophet,” Ensign, Dec. 1971, pp. 71–72.
[xiv] Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, October 1911, p.121.
[xv] Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.121.
[xvi] Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.120
[xvii] Oliver Cowdery, Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1 (October 1834), pp. 14-16; quote can be found in a note in the Joseph Smith – History, 1:71..