The building of the Kirtland temple marked a pivotal moment in the history of the earth, a time yearned for for centuries, when this key part of the covenant would be restored to the earth. That power was manifest in astonishing ways that we will talk about today.
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The building of the Kirtland temple marked a pivotal moment in the history of the earth, a time yearned for for centuries, when this key part of the covenant would be restored to the earth. The Lord said, “I gave unto you a commandment, that you should build an house, in the which house I design to endow those whom I have chosen, with power from on high” (Sec. 95:8).” That power was manifest in astonishing ways that we will talk about today.
Hello, we’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast where today we are looking at Doctrine and Covenants Section 109 and 110. These include the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple and the restoring of priesthood keys to the earth that happened the next week.
Now, you are the first to hear about this. We just have received shipment on next year’s Come Follow Me wall calendar, and we couldn’t be more pleased. It features my photography taken in Israel and Egypt, representing the Old Testament stories we’ll study next year. The Sinai desert, the place where Elishah’s servant saw that they that be with us are more than they that be with them, a mural cut in stone depicting the Assyrians attacking Israel. The reading assignments appear each week, so, at a glance you can know how to keep up with your studies. It is beautiful addition to your wall, art that also informs. Many people like to give these in multiples to their neighborhoods, friends in the ward, people you serve with and family members, so we expect, like every year, that we will sell them by the scores. Come to www.latterdaysaintmag.com/2022 to order your calendars–and come early because they always sell quickly. That’s latterdaysaintmag.com/2022
Latter-day covenant Israel, which we are, must understand clearly, that the restoring of the “Abrahamic covenant path leads to and through the temple.” The temple is a template that gives us that special, covenant connection to God. It gives us that covenant blessing that He is our God and we are His people. When we talk about the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, then, we are talking about a renewing and restoring of that which had been lost for centuries—the opportunity for covenant blessings, without which life can seem very random and barren. We hardly recognize the blessings that flow to us, that began at the Kirtland Temple. The astonishing sacrifice that went into building the temple was met with astonishing, unprecedented, divine manifestations that many beheld. What the restored gospel did that had been lost and was therefore not evident in any other religion, was tie the covenants of Abraham and the ancient prophets to this day. The Lord works with His children in covenants. We’ll explore the awe-inspiring manifestations, but first some context.
We have talked about Kerry Muhlestein’s book God Will Prevail, before, but we highly recommend it. This is what he says about how restoring the covenant with its attendant blessings had been part of the restoration from the beginning.
He says, “By Joseph Smith’s day, the world had spent too long wandering in mists of darkness rather than pursuing the covenant path. The need for the reinstatement of the Abrahamic covenant was stressed in the opening moments of the Restoration. In his First Vision, Joseph Smith was taught that one of the reasons God was displeased with the world was that ‘the Everlasting Covenant was broken.’ In the next phase of bringing about the Restoration, the angel Moroni expanded on the need for restoring the covenant. Moroni taught the young prophet that he had been ‘sent to bring the joyful tidings, that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled, that the preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah commence.’
“This emphasis on the renewed covenant continued throughout Joseph Smith’s ministry, but it was especially prevalent in the early years of the Church. The first section of the Doctrine and Covenants teaches that mankind had broken the everlasting covenant, but that part of the purpose of the Restoration was so that God’s ‘everlasting covenant might be established’ (D&C 1:15, 22). As Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon, he learned that an important part of his role was to make the covenant known, for Joseph of Egypt was told that a latter-day Joseph would ‘do a work for the fruit of thy loins, his brethren, which shall be of great worth unto them, even to the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers’ (2 Nephi 3:7–8).
Muhlestein continues: “Just after this, in the same year that the Book of Mormon was published (1830), God told Joseph Smith that the promises of the covenant with Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham remained in force with their descendants (D&C 27:10). The next year, God made repeated references to the importance of the covenant, such as when He sent forth missionaries with instructions to baptize people and gather them together so that ‘ye may be my people and I will be your God’ (D&C 42:9). This use of the most oft-employed covenant catch phrase makes it clear that God was having His saints spread the gospel so that the Abrahamic covenant could be restored.
‘Similarly, a short time later, God instructed the Saints to gather together in a land which He would ‘consecrate unto my people, which are a remnant of Jacob, and those who are heirs according to the covenant’ (D&C 52:2).115 In the months between those revelations, God said specifically that He was sending forth ‘mine everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning’ (D&C 49:9). Sometime during that year, Joseph Smith learned that the promises made to Abraham were still in effect, that he was descended from Abraham (D&C 132:30–31),116 and that the blessings promised to the tribes of Israel—especially Ephraim and Judah—were still to be fulfilled (D&C 133:30–35).
When you begin to see these scriptures all lined up together, the emphasis on covenants broken and covenants restored becomes so clear and important. The Lord’s hand has been over the covenant from the beginning and continues to the end. In the eyes of the world we may be a new religion, but in God’s eyes we are part of an ancient order and promise.
Muhlestein said, “The next year [in section 84], the Lord revealed that those who obtained the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods became sons of Aaron, Moses, and Abraham (D&C 84:33–34). The same revelation said that ‘the Lord hath redeemed his people, Israel, according to the election of grace, which was brought to pass by the faith and covenant of their fathers’ (D&C 84:99). In 1835, more information about those covenants was provided as Joseph Smith translated the records of Abraham, which expanded the Saints’ understanding of what the covenant was…
Muhlestein said, “The Book of Mormon teaches that the covenant needed to be restored. In Nephi’s great vision, he saw a book that was written by the Jews and would go forth to the world. This book was clearly the Bible. In describing the book to Nephi, an angel told him that it ‘is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; . . . [and] they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore they are of great worth unto the Gentiles’ (1 Nephi 13:23). As the Bible was introduced to Nephi, the emphasis was on the covenants it contained.
“Nephi then saw that a great and abominable church would arise. He was told its members ‘have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away’ (1 Nephi 13:26). In this way, it was made clear to Nephi, and to us, that while teachings about the covenant were once abundant in the Bible, many were excised at some point, and the loss of these covenant teachings and the attendant covenant consciousness was one of the great losses of doctrine from the Bible It is likely that the covenant teachings given to Abraham, as recorded in the Book of Abraham, which were so clear as to the need to share the gospel and spread the covenant (Abraham 2:9–11), were among the things that were removed from the Bible. God’s children have suffered as a result, and thus one of the major purposes of the Restoration was to renew the covenant.” [End Quote] (Kerry Muhlestein, God Will Prevail, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book).
Remember the covenant leads to and through the temple. A temple is required for the covenant blessings and power to be available. No wonder the Lord gave such urgent instructions to build the temple, despite their impoverished conditions and lack of manpower. His people had to be given the covenant blessings and power.
Karl Ricks Anderson said, “These sacred manifestations came after disciplined schooling, methodical organization, and difficult trials. The Saints met the prerequisites necessary for their spiritual rewards by consecrating their worldly goods and their efforts to the Lord’s work.” (Karl Ricks Anderson, “The Kirtland Temple—‘A Pentecost and a Time of Rejoicing’, Meridian Magazine.)
Karl Ricks Anderson has done more research on the Kirtland period than anyone else. We love his work and rely on it here. He notes, “The major activity in Kirtland from July 1833 through March 1836 centered around construction of the temple. According to the Prophet’s mother, the Saints ‘had to endure great fatigue and privation, in consequence of the opposition they met with from their enemies, and which was so great, that they were compelled to keep a guard around the walls much of the time until they were completed. They “gave no sleep to their eyes, nor slumber to their eyelids, until they found a place for the Lord, a habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.’ . . . There was but one mainspring to all our thoughts and actions, and that was, the building of the Lord’s house.’” (Karl Ricks Anderson, Joseph Smith’s Kirtland, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book).
Though the brethren had first thought to build the temple out of brick, they changed to stone since the Stannard Stone Quarry was so close by. “Heber C. Kimball told how, when the brethren returned to Kirtland from the march of Zion’s Camp, ‘Joseph said, “Come, brethren, let us go into the stone quarry and work for the Lord.” And the Prophet went himself, in his tow frock and tow breeches and worked at quarrying stone like the rest of us. Then, every Saturday we brought out every team to draw stone to the temple, and so we continued until that house was finished.’” (See Ricks, Joseph Smith’s Kirtland). In fact, Joseph Smith was the foreman of the quarry, doing the hard, dirty work, shoulder to shoulder with the rest.
Anderson notes, “Obtaining sufficient wood for the temple was a problem because a vast quantity was needed quickly. Much of the freshly cut wood from neighboring forests had to be dried and seasoned before it could be cut and used. In order to expedite the drying and seasoning process, a board kiln was built in the flats. The board kiln was apparently located adjacent to the sawmill so that when the wood was ready, it could be cut.
“The kiln, which required heat and evidently open flame, caught fire frequently. The Prophet recorded in his diary on December 10, 1835, ‘The board kiln had taken fire, and on our return we found the brethren engaged in extinguishing the flames. After laboring about one hour against this destructive element, we succeeded in conquering it, and probably saved about one-fourth part of the lumber. I do not know the amount of loss the committee have sustained, but it must have been considerable, as there was much lumber in the kiln. There were about two hundred brethren engaged on this occasion; they displayed much activity and interest, and deserve much credit.’
“Three days later he wrote, ‘Today the board kiln, took fire again,’ and the next day he recorded that he met ‘to make ar[r]angements to guard against fire, and organized a company for this purpose.’”
“Daniel Tyler recalled:
“’How often have I seen those humble, faithful servants of the Lord, after toiling all day in the quarry, or on the building, when the walls were in course of erection, weary and faint, yet with cheerful countenances, retiring to their homes with a few pounds of corn meal that had been donated. And, in the case of those who lacked a cow to give a little milk, the corn meal was sometimes, for days together, all that they and their families had to subsist upon. When a little flour, butter or meat came in, they were luxuries. Sometimes a little New Orleans molasses, not as good as our sorghum, would be donated; but oftener the hands had to seek a job elsewhere to get a gallon or so, and then return to the labor on the temple.”
Karl Ricks Anderson notes:
“The women in Kirtland contributed toward completing the temple by providing support for the workers. Heber C. Kimball reported:
“’Our women were engaged in spinning and knitting in order to clothe those who were laboring at the building, and the Lord only knows the scenes of poverty, tribulation, and distress which we passed through in order to accomplish this thing. My wife toiled all summer in lending her aid towards its accomplishment. She had a hundred pounds of wool, which, with the assistance of a girl, she spun in order to furnish clothing for those engaged in the building of the Temple, and although she had the privilege of keeping half the quantity of wool for herself, as a recompense for her labor, she did not reserve even so much as would make her a pair of stockings; but gave it for those who were laboring at the house of the Lord. She spun and wove and got the cloth dressed, and cut and made up into garments, and gave them to those men who labored on the Temple; almost all the sisters in Kirtland labored in knitting, sewing, spinning, etc., for the purpose of forwarding the work of the Lord.”
When the building was nearing completion, the women also made carpets and heavy canvas veils or curtains to divide the large rooms into smaller rooms.
Polly Angell, wife of the Church architect, said that the Prophet told them: “Well, sisters, you are always on hand. The sisters are always first and foremost in all good works. Mary was first at the resurrection; and the sisters now are the first to work on the inside of the temple.”
Anderson continues: “Many accounts tell of persecution and mob violence. Heber C. Kimball wrote from firsthand experience: ‘While we were building the Temple, in Kirtland, . . . we were persecuted and were under the necessity of laying upon the floor with our firelocks by our sides to sustain ourselves, as there were mobs gathering all around to destroy us, and prevent us from building the Temple. And when they were driven, every man that was in the church, arose, and we took our firelocks, to reinstate our brethren, and in the night we laid upon the floor; we laid upon Brother Joseph’s floor, and upon Sidney Rigdon’s floor, so as to be ready to keep our enemies at bay.’
Joel Hills Johnson said that the Saints had ‘but very few friends’ while they also had ‘thousands of enemies who were holding their secret meetings to devise plans to thwart and overthrow all of our arrangements. . . . We were obliged . . . to keep up night watches to prevent being mobbed, and our work being overthrown.’
“In December 1833 the Prophet wrote to Church members in Missouri: ‘The inhabitants of this county threaten our destruction, and we know not how soon they may be permitted to follow the example of the Missourians; but our trust is in God, and we are determined, His grace assisting us, to maintain the cause and hold out faithful unto the end.’” Consider what a very real threat this possible violence and secret plans against them were to the Saints. They had already seen what enemies of the Church could do in Missouri. This was not an abstract idea or an unfounded fear, but a living, breathing reality.
Seeing the great poverty of the Church, Sidney Rigdon “frequently used to go upon the walls of the building both by night and day and . . . wetting the walls with his tears, crying aloud to the Almighty to send means whereby we might accomplish the building,” wrote Heber C. Kimball.
“After nearly three years of sacrifice, when many families had lived together in small quarters or even without homes, this magnificent structure was completed. There was a thrill in every heart on Sunday, March 27, 1836, when a large congregation began to assemble at the temple at seven o’clock in the morning for its dedication. Six hundred were there before the doors were to be opened. Joseph and Sidney and Oliver seated as many of the Saints as they could. Nearly a thousand packed into the first meeting.
“Sidney Rigdon said to those assembled, ‘There [are] many houses, many sufficiently large, built for the worship of God, but not one except this, on the face of the whole earth, that was built by divine revelation; and were it not for this the dear Redeemer might, in this day of science, this day of intelligence, this day of religion, say to those who would follow Him: ‘The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.’
“Hymns sung at the temple dedication emphasized the Saints’ feelings: ‘In faith we’ll rely on the arm of Jehovah/To guide through these last days of trouble and gloom.’ Then the dedicatory prayer was offered by the Prophet Joseph: ‘We ask thee, Holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of thy bosom . . . to accept of this house. . . . For thou knowest that we have done this work through great tribulation; and out of our poverty we have given of our substance to build a house to thy name, that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people.’ (D&C 109:4-5.)
“The choir then rose to their feet and sang a hymn written for the occasion, thrilling every soul: ‘The Spirit of God like a fire is burning!/The latter-day glory begins to come forth;/The visions and blessings of old are returning,/The angels are coming to visit the earth./We’ll sing and we’ll shout with the armies of heaven—/ Hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb!/Let glory to them in the highest be given,/Henceforth and forever: amen and amen!’” (Scot Facer Proctor, Maurine Jensen Proctor, Witness of the Light, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book).
As it is in all temples, the dedicatory prayer that morning was a written prayer, and as we said became Section 109 of the Doctrine and Covenants. We know that Oliver Cowdery assisted in its writing. We mentioned that this temple was to restore and renew the opportunity to create a covenant people and the very first verse starts with that: “Thanks be to thy name, O Lord God of Israel, who keepest covenant.” Then Joseph prays, what we also hear in all temple dedications: “we ask thee, O Lord, to accept of this house,” a house that they had given so much for.(v 4). One could build the most beautiful building in the world and it wouldn’t be a temple, unless the Lord accepted it as such. In this case, God answers that prayer the following Sunday, 3 April, 1836, when the Lord appeared to Joseph and Oliver saying, “I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here” (D&C 100:7). We will talk more about this.
They have sought to obey the commandments and prepare, following this, “Organize yourselves, prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” If ever there were a description of a temple—a place of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, order and a house of God, this is it. “That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord, that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord” (vv. 8,9).
This reminds us of something we learned in Israel. In sifting through the soil just south of the temple mount, archaeologists found a bullae from the second Temple period. A bullae is an ancient clay seal about the size of a coin, and hundreds of these are found, but this one caused a stir because on it were these significant words “deka Leyah.” In Aramaic, this means “pure for God.” Another translation of this could be Holiness to the Lord.
Why did this seal matter so much? It gave us a critical glimpse into ancient temple worship. This was a seal of purity required to mark any products that could be brought into the temple and used in worship. They had to be “ure for God” or they could not be brought into the temple, into that holy place. They had been marked, sealed, approved as pure, ready for the Lord’s house. Nothing profane was allowed there.
Just as any item that came into the house of the Lord, had to be pure for God, so did the people through discipline and sacrifice. “No unclean thing shall be permitted to come unto thy house to pollute it” (v. 20). Their ingoings and outgoings had to be in the name of the Lord and they sought to be worthy, “that thy glory may rest down upon thy people, and upon this thy house..that all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house may feel thy power and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness” (vv. 12, 13).
Think of this marvelous prayer, “We ask thee Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them.” These are covenant promises, and again they are reiterated.
“Put upon thy servants the testimony of the covenant, that when they go out and proclaim thy word, they may seal up the law, and prepare the hearts of thy saints for all those judgments thou art about to send..that thy people may not faint in the day of trouble” (v. 38).
Since it is the privilege and charge of those who have the covenant to bear this news to the whole world and bring others to it, Joseph asks that “from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth” (v. 23) and that “no weapon formed against them shall prosper,” “that no combination of wickedness shall have power to rise up and prevail over thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in thy house” (v. 26).He is asking here for the covenant promise of protection against all enemies who would come against God’s people. This theme of protection rings throughout the Old Testament. The covenant people are protected against their enemies, including “all those who have spread lying reports abroad” (v. 29).
Remember the fear of Elisha’s servant when he arose and saw the city compassed about with a great host of Assyrian horses and chariots? “Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (2 Kings 6: 17) He said, “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.” This is the same covenant promise that Joseph asks for
Joseph also prays for the same power of heavenly outpouring that was seen on the day of Pentecost in the New Testament. “Let the gift of tongues be poured out upon thy people, even cloven tongues be poured out upon thy people…and let thy house be filled, as with a rushing mighty wind with thy glory” (vv. 36,37). This was answered in an unprecedented outpouring.
Again, we turn to Karl Ricks Anderson, who has researched journals and gathered these quotes which involve so many witnesses there is no doubt of their veracity.
“Joseph Smith called this period ‘a pentecost . . . a year of jubilee, and time of rejoicing.’ Daniel Tyler testified, ‘All felt that they had a foretaste of heaven . . . and we wondered whether the millennium had commenced.’ Orson Pratt declared that ‘the people were blessed as they never had been blessed for generations and generations.’
“Lorenzo Snow enumerated blessings received in the temple during this pentecostal period: ‘There we had the gift of prophecy—the gift of tongues—the interpretation of tongues—visions and marvelous dreams were related—the singing of heavenly choirs was heard, and wonderful manifestations of the healing power, through the administrations of the Elders, were witnessed. The sick were healed—the deaf made to hear—the blind to see and the lame to walk, in very many instances. It was plainly manifest that a sacred and divine influence—a spiritual atmosphere pervaded that holy edifice.’
Anderson noted, ”The Savior appeared in five different meetings held in the temple. Visions, including a vision of the Father and Son, were beheld at eight meetings, and the congregation saw heavenly beings or angels in nine meetings. In other sessions many Saints reported that they experienced such manifestations as the gift of tongues, the sounds of a mighty wind, a pillar of fire resting down upon the temple roof, prophesying, and the voices of angels…
Anderson said, “The Savior himself spoke of the far-reaching implications of these blessings when he appeared and accepted the temple in April 1836. He told Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery: ‘Yea the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have been endowed in this house. And the fame of this house shall spread to foreign lands; and this is the beginning of the blessing which shall be poured out upon the heads of my people.’ (D&C 110:9-10.)
“The pentecostal experiences in the temple [leading up to the dedication] commenced with an overpowering vision of Deity accompanied by the ministering of angels, communion with heavenly beings, and glorious visions given to key priesthood leaders. On January 21, 1836, Joseph Smith and others experienced a vision of the Father and Son at a meeting on the west end of the temple’s upper story,” that became Section 137. They saw the celestial kingdom, the “blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son” and much more.
The building of the temple ushered in a pentecostal period, and when the day of dedication came, it was astonishing in its power and left no question that these people were involved in the Lord’s great work.
“Heber C. Kimball relates that during the ceremonies of the dedication, an angel appeared and sat near Joseph Smith, Sr., and Frederick G. Williams, so that they had a fair view of his person. He was tall, had black eyes and white hair; wore a garment extending to near his ankles, and had sandals on his feet. ‘He was sent,’ President Kimball says, ‘as a messenger to accept of the dedication’ (Whitney’s Life of Heber C. Kimball, p. 103). A few days afterwards. a solemn assembly was held in accordance with a commandment received (See Sec. 108:4), and blessings were given. ‘While these things were being attended to,’ Heber C. Kimball says, ‘the beloved disciple John was seen in our midst by the Prophet Joseph, Oliver Cowdery, and others’ (Ibid., p. 104). (Hyrum M. Smith, Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book).
“In the evening meeting, Brother George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy, ‘when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and ‘I beheld,’ Joseph recorded, ‘the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation. The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place.’ Eliza R. Snow wrote, ‘The ceremonies of that dedication may be rehearsed, but no mortal language can describe the heavenly manifestations of that memorable day. Angels appeared to some, while a sense of divine presence was realized by all present.’” (Scot Facer Proctor, Maurine Jensen Proctor, Witness of the Light, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book.)
“Prescindia Huntington’s records tell of pentecostal events in two temple meetings:
“’I was in the temple with my sister Zina. The whole of the congregation were on their knees, praying vocally, for such was the custom at the close of these meetings when Father Smith presided; yet there was no confusion; the voices of the congregation mingled softly together. While the congregation was thus praying, we both heard, from one corner of the room above our heads, a choir of angels singing most beautifully. They were invisible to us, but myriads of angelic voices seemed to be united in singing some song of Zion, and their sweet harmony filled the temple of God.
“’We were also in the temple at the pentecost. In the morning Father Smith prayed for a pentecost, in opening the meeting. That day the power of God rested mightily upon the saints. There was poured out upon us abundantly the spirit of revelation, prophe[c]y and tongues. The Holy Ghost filled the house; and along in the afternoon a noise was heard. It was the sound of a mighty rushing wind’”.
Prescindia also described a meeting she did not attend:
“A little girl came to my door and in wonder called me out, exclaiming, “The meeting is on the top of the meeting house!” I went to the door, and there I saw on the temple angels clothed in white covering the roof from end to end. They seemed to be walking to and fro; they appeared and disappeared. The third time they appeared and disappeared before I realized that they were not mortal men. Each time in a moment they vanished, and their reappearance was the same. This was in broad daylight, in the afternoon. A number of the children in Kirtland saw the same.
“When the brethren and sisters came home in the evening, they told of the power of God manifested in the temple that day, and of the prophesying and speaking in tongues. It was also said, in the interpretation of tongues, ‘That the angels were resting down upon the house.’ (See Anderson Joseph Smith’s Kirtlalnd).
Speaking of angels and fire upon the roof of the temple as we’ve seen described in these journals, you and I, Scot, chased down a story that had been passed down for generations to see if it was true and we could publish it. The story goes that a reporter from the anti-Mormon newspaper The Painesville Telegraph had come to report on the temple and, seeing the bright lights on the temple, assumed it was on fire and hurried back to write a story about the Kirtland Temple burning to the ground. We wanted to know if that was true or just a pleasing rumor. Nothing could diminish or add the magnificent manifestations that actually did happen at the temple, but we wanted to know the truth of this. The Kirtland Temple dedication happened on March 27 and, since the newspaper was published every Friday, it would have been in that Friday, April 1st issue. We wanted to check it out. We started at the Church historian’s library, and went through the file of Painesville Telegraph newspapers. We found all the issues, but Friday, April 1st was mysteriously missing.
Next, we turned to the Library of Congress. We made the inquiry about this April 1st issue of the Painesville Telegraph, and they reported back, that they had all the issues, but this one. Why didn’t we try the Western Reserve archives that would have the most thorough record of all? We called them, asked for the the April lst issue and the librarian said, “Oh, I’m sure we have this.” She called back a couple of hours later dismayed. They, too, had every issue but April 1, 1836. She said, “It’s almost as if it has been pulled.”
So we may never be able to verify that story, but we do not need it because the witnesses to this divine outpouring are so many and so fervent. The Sunday, following the dedication was April 3, 1836, an Easter Sunday and also Passover. A congregation of 1000 people had gathered and after much prayer and speaking, the veils were dropped around the pulpits, and Joseph and Oliver bowed themselves in solemn and silent prayer.
They arose from their prayer, and a great vision opened to their view. Before them, on the breastwork of the pulpit, stood the risen Lord, and “under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.” (D&C 110:2.)
“His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.
“Behold your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore lift up your heads and rejoice” (Doctrine and Covenants 11: 3-5).
What we see in this description of the Lord, is that His glory is indescribable in something as weak as the words we have, and so metaphors like “the brightness of the sun” and “the rushing of many waters” is used instead. Since no unclean thing can stand in the presence of God, their sins must be forgiven them. He accepts this house. This partitioned off area of the temple becomes for this period of time a Holy of Holies where man goes to meet God.
What follows is a series of priesthood keys that were necessary now for the kingdom to roll forth and covenant blessings to be fulfilled. The heavens were opened Moses appeared before them and “committed unto [them] the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.” (D&C 110:11.)
What this means is that missionary work will begin in greater earnest. Moses had the keys to gather Israel out of Egypt, and now those keys are given again. It is noteworthy that it is after this that the first missionaries are called to England where such a bumper crop of people are waiting, who will become some of the most stalwart converts ot the church.
Right. In June, 1837, when things are in an uproar in Kirtland and it couldn’t be a more unlikely time to send one of your most stalwart lieutenants away, Heber C. Kimball was sitting in the Kirtland Temple and the Prophet came to him and said quietly, “The Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me, “let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.”
Heber, who would have spared no sacrifice for the restored gospel, was staggered by the weight of the call and his own weakness. “O Lord,” he payed, “I am a man of stammering tongue, and altogether unfit for such a work; how can I go to preach in that land, which is so famed throughout Christendom for learning, knowledge and piety; the nursery of religion, and a people whose intelligence is proverbial!” He later wrote, “The idea of such a mission was almost more than I could bear up under. I was almost ready to sink under the burden which was placed upon me.” (Maurine Jensen Proctor, Scot Facer Proctor, The Gathering: Mormon Pioneers on the Road to Zion, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book.) But go he did, and many missionaries followed. That entirely changed the future of the Church.
After this Elias appeared and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham to them.
Then, Joseph wrote, “another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet . . . stood before us, and said: Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (D&C 110:12-14.)
“The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the ‘spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelation, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fullness of the Melchizedec Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God, even unto the turning of the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven.’ Why would the earth be wasted without the coming of Elijah? ‘Because there could be no sealing up against the day of destruction, no sealing of parents to each other, no sealing of children to parents, no contracts, bonds, obligations entered into that would be valid on the other side—because the clinching power was not there.” The mission of Elijah is to complete, finish, seal, or—to use President Joseph Fielding Smith’s word— clinch the work of the priesthood upon the earth and thus prepare it for the return of the Savior.” ( Garrett and Robinson, Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 4, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book)
It is noteworthy that Elijah came during the Jewish Passover, as he had been anticipated since ancient times. Remember the Jewish tradition of leaving an empty chair at their Passover meal for him. What an intriguing fulfillment.
That’s all for today. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this has been Meridian’s Come Follow Me Podcast. Next week we’ll study Doctrine and Covenants 111-114 called “I Will Order All Things for Your Good.” Thanks to Paul Cardall for the music and Michaela Proctor Hutchins who produces this show. See you next week.