The first part of this lesson addresses the acceptance, by the Lord, of the Kirtland Temple in 1836 (D&C 110). The second part is from the revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1841 (D&C 124) with the commandment to build another temple, in Nauvoo, as the temple in Kirtland had been lost to the mob and left behind when the Saints fled to Missouri in 1838.
READ D&C 110: 1-10
What is implied by the wording “the veil was taken from our minds and the eyes of our understanding were opened”?
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery could not remove or pierce the veil themselves.
The veil was over their minds, not their eyes.
Removing the veil from the minds caused their understanding to be “opened”.
They could finally “see” what was actually there – i.e. Christ and the spiritual realm.
But it is not about “seeing” with “eyes” as much as it is about “opening” ones’ “understanding” or gaining knowledge.
Why are Christ’s eyes described as “a flame of fire”, His hair as “white like the pure snow”, His voice as the “rushing of great waters”, and His countenance as “shining above the brightness of the sun”?
They are seeing Christ in His glory.
He has not “dequickened” Himself or condescended to hide His glory, as He did with those on the road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:13-33), for example.
These descriptors are an attempt to describe immortal glory in mortal language, to those who have not seen and experienced it themselves first hand – it will always be woefully inadequate to describe the reality.
Why was the Lord standing above them but under His feet was a “paved work of pure gold”?
As a resurrected god, Christ cannot touch this earth again, in glory, without causing catastrophic damage to this Telestial sphere.
When He does walk the earth, He must condescend and hide His glory.
In this case, Christ is seen in glory, to accept His temple, so He is not standing on the telestial earth.
It is possible that Joseph and Oliver are seeing Christ “in vision” meaning that He is there speaking to them but He is actually still in heaven.
Why does Christ begin His acceptance of the Temple with His words in verse 4?
He first establishes who He is.
So that Joseph and Oliver are not deceived; it doesn’t say that they witnessed His wounds, perhaps because He has come in some glory here and they cannot touch Him or they will be destroyed, but the glory itself shows that He is of the Light – and being of the Light, He cannot lie (see Moses 1:1-15).
He is Alpha (the First or the Beginning) and Omega (the Last or the End).
He lived, died and lives again.
It is only through Him that we can be reconciled to the Father – because of His merits and mercy in being the Beginning/First and End/Last.
Why does the Lord next forgive Joseph and Oliver’s sins?
Because they had sins that they needed forgiveness from.
Because to survive in the presence of Christ, particularly in His glory, you must be first forgiven of your sins or you cannot abide for long.
How do we know Christ accepted the Kirtland Temple as His House?
He appeared there in glory.
He declared that He accepted the Temple as His House, with His own mouth.
Those who had qualified to have the veil removed from their minds heard His words and saw Him declare them.
He told them that He would continue to manifest and appear to His people in the Temple – that it might be His house or place of “habitation” and that His people might be able to visit Him there.
The blessings gained through the “endowment” given to His servants in the Temple would bless thousands and tens of thousands.
The fame of the House, as the actual house or habitation of the Lord on earth, would spread to foreign lands – this happened when the Apostles went to England to preach the gospel; since then, millions have read this account in D&C 110.
What was the endowment given to the Saints in the Kirtland Temple, as the modern “Temple endowment” was not given by Joseph Smith to anyone until 1843 in the Red Brick Store in Nauvoo?
An endowment is a permanent provision or gift which gives support (Webster’s 1828).
A spiritual endowment acts the same way; it is a blessing or virtue/light or key of knowledge given to a person which enables them to receive further light; specifically, to rend the veil from their minds and receive the Lord when He comes to them to minister and teach them (see 2 Nephi 32:6), as per Christ’s promise in verses 7-8.
The very sad thing about Kirtland was that while many had marvelous manifestations, and the Lord appeared and accepted the Temple as His House, the people did not keep His commandments but instead polluted His Holy House through their behavior; they did not press on or rise up and receive what they had been invited to receive – for many are called but few are chosen, by their own desires and behavior (see 2 Nephi 32:7).
READ: As this vision closed, the heavens were again opened to their view, and they saw and beheld, and were endowed with knowledge from the beginning of this creation to the ends thereof. And they were shown unspeakable things from the sealed record of Heaven which man is not capable of making known but must be revealed by the Powers of Heaven. They beheld Michael, the archangel; Gabriel and Raphael, and divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the end of time, showing in turns their dispensations, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the Powers of their Priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; endowing them with knowledge, even here a little, and there a little; holding forth hope for the work God was yet to perform, even the revelation of all things which are to come upon the earth until the return of the Lord in glory with His holy angels—to pour out judgment upon the world, and to reward the righteous. And they were unable to take it in; therefore, they were commanded to pray and ask to comprehend by the power of the Spirit, to bring all things to their remembrance, even the Record of Heaven which would abide in them. Amen and Amen.
What endowment of knowledge did Joseph and Oliver receive in the Temple?
The “vision of all” that many of the prophets have also seen (see 1 Nephi 14:18-30; Ether 3:25).
Including the keys of knowledge, experiences with God, and light gained by the Patriarchs.
Why were Joseph and Oliver not able to take it all in and why were they even shown the vision if they could not comprehend it all?
The Lord sometimes gives us what we ask for but may not be fully ready to receive, but because we can “unbundle” His revelations over time as we acquire more light through obedience to His commandments (further light, knowledge, commandments to us), it is not a “looking beyond the mark” situation (see Jacob 4:14), although it could become one if the individuals take pride in their spiritual experiences and refuse to do the labor in study, love/service and sacrifice to truly comprehend what was given.
Not even Joseph was able to take in all of the knowledge he was shown in this vision because he still lacked the light or intelligence or holy spirit to receive it, in 1836.
Judging from Oliver’s coming excommunication, Oliver never received the light needed to fully comprehend it, otherwise he might be a son of perdition, which he was not.
Joseph Smith’s Offering to the Lord
READ D&C 124:1
What was Joseph’s offering, with which the Lord was well pleased?
It is unclear from the record but he did make some kind of offering – either for himself or on behalf of others, which the Lord accepted; because Joseph had already received an assurance of His salvation, the likelihood that this offering was intercessory or on behalf of others is higher.
If one uses the context of the rest of this revelation to attempt to discern Joseph’s offering, it appears that Joseph made an intercessory offering to attempt to regain the High Priesthood for the Saints, which they had lost by 1841 (similar to how the children of Israel had lost it – see D&C 84:19-27); Joseph seems to have gained an opportunity for the Saints to receive that priesthood back, if they build a Temple to God by a set deadline and it was accepted by Him as the Kirtland temple was; if not, the Saints would be rejected (they were already under condemnation…) and perhaps Joseph’s life would be forfeit – as it is possible that Joseph offered his life for the Saints to have another chance to obtain the high priesthood; if Joseph did not pledge his life, he made another offering which was lost, as the Saints failed to build the temple.
Why does the Lord use the weak things of the earth as His tools?
No one can attribute His miracles to the weak things of the world; what He does through them has no other plausible origin but to come from God.
If the Lord did work through one of the great people of the world, the rest of humanity would be much more likely to attribute the accomplishment to the person and not to God.
Pride and seeking one’s own will or gain disqualifies one from associating with the Powers of Heaven – and this is a trait shared by many of the world’s great people; the weak things of this world are inherently humble as it is obvious to them that they are weak – so they are more likely to submit to the Lord and exercise faith in Him, as they have no other choice.
READ D&C 124:2-11
If the Lord was ready to make Nauvoo (“this stake”) Zion, why did it not happen?
The Saints had to first gain back the High Priesthood which they had lost, so that they could stand in the presence of God – which all in Zion must be able to do, as the Lord will dwell there.
The Lord is very willing to enable this; if the Saints will do what is required to receive these blessings – Nauvoo would be “Zion” instead of Independence, Missouri.
But if the people do not as they are commanded, well, then the Lord will not bring again Zion.
What is the difference between how Joseph viewed the kingdoms and leaders of the earth, versus how the Lord sees them?
Joseph “fears them” to some degree – they have “glory” or earthly power that he is concerned about and their hearts have been hardened against him (JS); we know this because the Lord tells him to “fear them not” and that He will soften their hearts.
The Lord does not fear them at all – they are “as grass” to Him or the flowers of the meadow which bloom and quickly fade, while He is the sun itself which enables them to live and bloom, and will continue to rise thousands of years after each plant is dead.
If the Lord’s visitation comes quickly, in an hour Joseph Smith did not expect, what is implied?
Joseph may have thought that Christ’s visitation “comes quickly” means that it would be in his lifetime, and perhaps it would have been, if the Saints had built the temple, received back the high priesthood, entered into God’s presence, and established Zion in Nauvoo.
But Christ’s visitation “comes quickly” could also mean that when it comes, it will “come quickly” or be expedited – at THAT time, which may be in the future; we know that it was not during Joseph’s lifetime or for 200 years after that.
It will come quickly – meaning the events will follow quickly one after another to enable His coming, but it will not come until Zion has been established and a temple has been built by the remnant of Israel in which the High Priesthood has been restored by the Lord, so that He can dwell with His people; as far as I know, no such temple (one accepted by the Lord like Kirtland was, with His presence) exits yet.
What is the Lord’s message to the “great” people of the earth?
Give heed to the light and glory of Zion.
It is to warn them; and if they are warned and do not come to Zion and support the city with their riches (implied is that they were given riches for this very purpose, as God is not an extortioner), they shall be without excuse and will be destroyed when He comes again.
He is reminding them who is the true King of the earth.
READ D&C 124:16-17
Unbeknownst to Joseph Smith at this time, John C. Bennett had been and was continuing to be a predatory adulterer of the first order; why is the Lord saying JCB would be “His” if he stays true to Joseph Smith and receives his counsel?
JS’s counsel to JCB (and all of us) was to repent and come unto Christ himself.
No one is beyond the scope of the atonement, even a serial sinner – if JCB had truly repented, he could have been saved by the Lord.
The Commandment to Build the Nauvoo Temple
READ D&C 124:26-28
What are the saints to build in Nauvoo?
A house built to the name of the Lord – a temple.
A house for the Most High God to dwell in on earth.
Why are they to build this Temple in Nauvoo?
So that the Lord could restore the fullness of the Priesthood or the High Priesthood, which priesthood is required to have if one is to see the Father face to face and live (see D&C 84:19-22).
So that He might take up His habitation in Nauvoo, that all might know Him.
Because in Zion, God dwells with His people, and He will need a house to live in.
Why did the fullness of the Priesthood need to be restored again?
The Saints and the Church did not have the High Priesthood in 1841.
It was given by the Lord to the Saints (see D&C 84:33-42) by 1832 but had subsequently been lost by 1841 (see D&C 121:34-40).
However, the Lord is no respecter of persons and since Joseph Smith had kept his covenants and magnified his priesthood (see D&C 121:41-46), he had never lost the fullness of the priesthood himself; individuals can have the fullness of the priesthood even if the Church loses it – i.e. the prophets in the Old Testament who came to testify of the wickedness of the children of Israel and their officially ordained priests.
How had the fullness of the Priesthood had been lost by 1841, and what is implied?
This is referring to the failure of those who were ordained to the High Priesthood by Joseph Smith and Lyman Wight at Morley Farm in 1831 to rise up and actually receive that priesthood from God; according to Joseph Smith, the High Priesthood was restored for the first time at a conference of the Church held on June 3, 1831 at Morley Farm in Ohio (see Joseph Smith Papers – Documents, Vol 1, p317, 320; D&C 44:1-2; D&C 52-56 – note, the Church, beginning with BH Roberts, has engaged in some revisionist history with regards to this event, saying that it was the office of High Priest and not the High Priesthood, which was conferred); 23 men were ordained but subsequently, most did not exhibit the behavior required to “handle the powers of heaven” as 8 were excommunicated and 4 more left the Church; few (Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, and perhaps Lyman Wight – as all of these saw God) ever demonstrated the associated power (see JST Genesis 14:25-36; Helaman 10:4-10) or entered God’s presence, which is proof of possessing this level of priesthood or fellowship with heaven.
In 1832, the Church was officially condemned by the Lord in D&C 84 – the Lord called the Saints to repentance for failing to take seriously the opportunities He had given them to rise up and receive the High Priesthood and enter into His presence (see D&C 84:49-58), as the children of Israel had also failed to do before them (see D&C 84:23-27).
The proof that the church members had lost the opportunity to receive the high priesthood was further confirmed in the jarring and contention which happened in the Impendence Missouri attempt to build Zion in 1833 (see D&C 101:1-8); the Zion established in Jackson County, Missouri failed because the people polluted their inheritances (or the opportunity they’d been given to establish Zion) through their jarrings, contentions, envyings, strifes, and lustful and covetous desires (see also D&C 121:34-40) and failure to come unto Christ or even listen to God at all; instead of purifying themselves and entering into the presence of the Lord first, and then waiting patiently to be gathered to Zion by angels, they plowed ahead and attempted to craft an unredeemed people (those who have not seen the Lord, see Ether 3:13) into Zion people, but it didn’t work – and I don’t think it can; even in the Book of Mormon, Zion was not possible until the wicked had been destroyed and the remaining righteous each knew the Lord for themselves (see 3 Nephi 9:13; 3 Nephi 10:12-13; 3 Nephi 11:14-15).
These events show that Priesthood is perishable – as an individual, you can gain it and lose it again; even the Church as a body can gain it and lose it again.
In fact, most of the Saints never received or accepted what was offered – they were “called” but not “chosen”, which in this case means they self-selected out (see D&C 84:41-42).
How is the fullness of the Priesthood given or restored?
The Most High God must personally give this priesthood to a person (see JST Genesis 14:28-29; D&C 84:42; TPJS 205:2).
Although He will give it to individuals outside of a formal temple, in Zion a temple is required; this is because God intends not just to enable people to rend the veil and ascend to Him, or to go to earth to visit them, but to make His habitation with them on earth in the city of Zion – this requires a House be built for Him.
READ D&C 124:29-33, 37-38
Why does the Lord require a Temple building be built to perform baptism for the dead, unless the Saints are in poverty?
The Lord requires sacrifice – even when one is poor, He will test the faith of His people and require sacrifice.
The Lord requires order – the universe runs on natural and eternal laws which must be complied with; God Himself would cease to be God if He did not live by these laws and He became God because He aligned His behavior with a fullness of eternal law; as this earth is a probationary state, it is here that we begin to learn about law and order – what happens when we have it and what happens when we don’t.
Baptism of the living should be performed in “living water” (a stream, river, ocean), while baptism for the dead may not – if the Lord requires baptism for the dead to be performed in a font, which is a closed system within a building (not “living”), then perhaps it requires “dead water” to complete the symbolism – not sure, one to inquire of the Lord about.
Why did the Lord set a deadline or “an appointment,” giving the Saints “sufficient time” to build the temple?
While the Lord is not bound by time, we are; time is an essential element of this mortal probation as it constrains our choices – we can either do one thing or another in the time we have and in those choices we reveal our hearts (and our wisdom).
Time can also be used to increase the stress of a situation, requiring more faith to perform an urgent task than would otherwise be necessary; again, this is an important part of maximizing a mortal probationary experience – to get the most out of the proving and testing.
Deadlines make it clear if success has been achieved or not, with its attendant consequences – in a business setting, the clearer the goal, deadline and consequences, the better the performance management – particularly when the resources for accomplishing the goal are available (and in this case, they were, as evidenced by the fact that the Saints built some very nice brick homes for themselves during this period).
In this case, the Lord gave the Saints “sufficient time” to build a temple within which He could come and restore again the High Priesthood; while we do not know how much time He explicitly gave them, it is clear that it was no more than 3.5 years as this revelation was given on January 19,1841 and Joseph Smith was taken 3 years and 5 months from this date; without Joseph, who still held this priesthood, the likelihood of the Lord coming to restore it to the delinquent others, seems very low – otherwise why let Joseph die?
What does it mean to be rejected as a church, with your dead?
The Church is not accepted by or acknowledged by Christ to be His (see Matthew 7:21-23; 3 Nephi 27:7-11, 21) or to possess the knowledge (or correct doctrine) and/or ordinances (authorized invitations) required to save anyone; in other words, it teaches much that is not true as if it was true, and if believed and followed, will not lead a person to God and salvation but rather to damnation.
It means that He will no longer reveal His will, revelations, doctrine or counsel for the Church to the leaders in their roles as Church representatives (which is different from giving them personal revelation for themselves; D&C 138 is an example of this, although it is now canonized because the person who received the vision happened to also be the President of the Church; it was not a revelation given to the Church but a vision given to a dying man for his comfort, who also happened to be the President of the Church at the time) – the heavens are closed to them institutionally; they can no longer say “thus sayeth the Lord”, or that they hold the “keys of salvation” (meaning authority from God to save – which they never had as it is not mankind’s to possess…), or to act in His name, or seal on earth and in heaven (see Mormon 9:19-20).
As a result, He will not come unto them in the flesh and they will not come unto Him now or in the eternities; to preserve their control over their followers, they might insinuate that they are in direct contact with Him but will hedge on the details, claiming they are “too sacred to share”, yet at the same time saying that there is not much need for revelation because there is already a great reservoir of it but that they also still hold the keys given to them by God to administer His kingdom on earth… (see 2 Nephi 28:5-6, 27; Jacob 4:13).
It does not mean that individuals who actually follow Christ’s word and come unto Him are rejected, regardless of which Church they are in – but they are more likely to find Him if they know the Way, which is what true religion is supposed to teach you.
However, it does mean that the dead ancestors of any of the living who have been rejected by God, will also be rejected, unless they’ve been saved themselves (by being sealed up to Christ in the flesh); the ordinances that are performed for them have no lasting effect in the eternities because the sealing power needed to make them efficacious was never returned.
In addition, the Law of Adoption revealed by Joseph Smith teaches that there must be an unbroken chain of redeemed souls who have been adopted by Christ as His Sons and Daughters – although this is unclear to me, it seems that those unredeemed souls (dead or living) who are sealed to those who are redeemed or adopted, also have some kind of salvation or opportunity for salvation that they would not otherwise have; but the inverse is also true, in that sealing the dead to an unredeemed living soul will do nothing for the dead – they are rejected with their living descendent.
Were all baptisms deemed unacceptable to the Lord if the Saints failed to build the Temple, or just baptisms for the dead?
It is not clear from these verses but it is possible to read it that while the Saints were building the temple, all baptisms could be performed outside of it and the Lord would honor them, but after the deadline is passed, if the Temple has not been built, then the baptism for the dead (which must be performed inside the Temple at that point) will not be honored, but baptisms for the living may be, because they are not called out specifically as being void.
However, the “being rejected as a Church” language casts a pall over the effectiveness of any baptisms done after the Church is rejected; but perhaps, since it is Aaronic Priesthood authority being used to baptize the living, and that priesthood seems more durable than the high priesthood, it might have endured making the baptisms acceptable (see D&C 84:23-27).
The proof of the acceptability in heaven of the baptism by water for a living person is whether or not the outward ordinance enabled an inward spiritual change or baptism of fire; did the ordinance enable faith in Christ and repentance – of offering one’s whole soul to the Lord in sacrifice.
READ D&C 124:34
What are the “keys of the holy priesthood” being referenced here?
The keys of the holy priesthood referenced here are found “therein” or are obtained in the Temple.
The keys are knowledge which “unlock” the mysteries (specifically how to walk back into the presence of God and be redeemed) that the Lord would like to reveal to His Saints, by covenant, in the form of ordinances (which are symbols to teach us, and authorized invitations to rise up and obtain what is being taught about) and direct knowledge that He has hidden up (and has only been given it to a few, like Joseph Smith) about how to rend the veil and know Him; the covenant aspect of receiving this knowledge means they must do something to receive the knowledge; they can’t just receive it without changing their lives or the knowledge will damn them because it will set expectations that the Saints have no desire and no spiritual capability to fulfill otherwise (see D&C 124:40-41).
The keys of the holy priesthood referenced here is not the authority to seal on earth and heaven – that authority is only given to those who receive the Holy Priesthood After the Order of the Son of God, which God Himself bestows upon individuals not Churches; but, ironically, receiving that Priesthood enables you to join the true Church of Jesus Christ, which is the Church of the Firstborn and meets in heaven, at least until Christ comes again to reign on earth in the Millennium.
READ D&C 124:39-41
What knowledge via ordinances did the Lord want to reveal to the Saints in the Temple?
Initiatory washings, anointings and clothings are preparatory ordinances which teach that we must be washed clean from the blood and sins of our generation and “anointed” with the Holy Spirit; the body is washed and anointed, symbolic of the “soul” (body and spirit inseparably connected); the clothing or “beautiful garments” are symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice and the grace/light which cover our sins until the time where we ourselves work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, by sacrifice, before God, in some future eon.
The Temple endowment is a symbolic ordinance which teaches how to overcome the fall of Adam, the temptations of Satan, and the “veils” of telestial and terrestrial bodies to reenter the presence of God while in the flesh.
The Temple sealing is a symbolic ordinance which teaches us the true nature of Godhood – that Elohim is a plural word referring to the perfect, eternal man and woman who are one.
To the degree to which “my church” refers to the Church of the Firstborn, Christ desires to share how to come unto the Father in the Heavenly Temple and be sealed up to eternal life (see 2 Nephi 32:6-7; Mosiah 5:15; D&C 88:75).
What is the objective of these ordinances?
To enable the immortality and eternal life of mankind (see Moses 1:39).
To enable the redemption of mankind by teaching them what they must know to come back into the presence of God in the flesh (see Ether 3:13).
To set mankind on the road of becoming precisely like Christ – which requires following the same path as He walked, as He is our example in all things; these ordinances teach us the beginning of His Way (see LoF 7:9, 15-16; TPJS 390-393).
READ D&C 124:42-43
Did Joseph Smith receive revelations detailing “all things” pertaining to the Temple?
Yes, he received the reality of the blessings that the Temple endowment points to (rending the veil, entering the presence of God, and being sealed up to eternal life with one’s spouse); Joseph Smith was teaching according to his direct experience with the reality, which enabled him to understand the symbols contained in the temple rites.
As the “appointment” deadline drew close and the Temple remained very unfinished, Joseph’s anxiety about the Saints grew (see TPJS 372:1-374:1), so he mocked up what he felt he could share into a long endowment ceremony, which he gave to certain individuals in the Red Brick Store, so that the knowledge he was given would not be completely lost if/when the Saints failed to build the Temple and receive the “real thing” from the Lord, and Joseph’s life was forfeit and the Saints lost the connection to heaven they enjoyed through him.
The saddest part of this whole story is this: Joseph realized (perhaps too late), that for Zion to be established, ALL of the Saints needed to have the same connection with heaven that he had; the Lord was willing to enable that connection but a temple had to be built first; Joseph realized at the end how much the Saints were happy to rely upon him as their “strongman” prophet, instead of coming into Christ’s presence themselves – mirroring exactly the children of Israel’s relationship with Moses (see TPJS 266:2; D&C 84:19-27; Exodus 20:18-21; Numbers 11:26-29).
Wasn’t the Temple in Zion supposed to be built in Jackson County? Why is the Lord commanding them to build it in Nauvoo?
The Temple in Zion in the last days was always going to be built in the tops of the mountains, as the Old Testament prophets saw in vision and foretold (see Isaiah 2:2-3; Micah 4:1-2).
God has all things before His face; He knew that the Saints would fail in Jackson County and that they would fail again in Nauvoo, and that the current situation in Salt Lake City (albeit, it resides within, but not in the tops of, the Rocky Mountains) is about as far from Zion as you could hope to be (the City Creek Mall being just one small but damning example…).
But recall that the first mission of the Church was led by Oliver Cowdery to find the remnant of the Lehites in the Rocky Mountains to convert them to the truth so that they (the Indian tribes) could build Zion; but the missionaries only got as far as Independence, MO, where they were threatened with arrest by the US Government Indian Agents when they attempted to cross into Kansas (Indian Territory), where all of the Native Americans from the eastern United States had been gathered, as per the Indian Removal Act.
READ D&C 124:44
What does it mean that a place is made holy and how does this happen?
A holy place is a place that is set apart or sanctified from the profane.
A holy place is pure, while a profane place is filled with dross and darkness.
A holy place is “quickened” or its frequency is raised; it is filled with or infused with more light, until it contains a fullness.
Places and people are quickened by proximity to or from interactions with those who are already holy or filled with light (see Genesis 28:10-22).
For a temple to be made holy, it must be visited by God or Christ.
There is a difference between someone or someplace that is “clothed” with glory to protect it from destruction (but which inherently contains enough dross to cause it to be utterly wasted if exposed to a fullness of glory or heat – see Moses 1:1-2, 5, 9-11; Matthew 22:9-14; Moroni 10:32-33) and someone or someplace that, through obedience to eternal law and sanctification through the Holy Spirit, actually became inherently filled with pure light and glory themselves (see 3 Nephi 12:48; LoF 7:9, 15-16).
What were the conditions upon which the Lord would make this temple holy?
If the temple was built in the allotted time.
If the Saints did the things that God commanded to raise the condemnation they had put upon themselves (see D&C 84:49-58).
God would visit the Temple – actually dwell there – and it would become holy through proximity to His presence and glory.
READ D&C 124:45-46
What was the Lord’s promise to the Saints in Nauvoo?
Build the temple and hearken to my voice, and you will not be moved out of your place (Nauvoo).
But if you do not, you will be moved out of Nauvoo and shall not be blessed but cursed.
What message were the Saints to hearken to, so that they would not be moved out of their place?
To build the temple in the appointed time and hearken to the voice of the Lord such that He will come to it and restore the high priesthood that had been lost.
He had already warned them in 1831 that they were under condemnation for taking the Book of Mormon and its covenants (receiving the fullness of the gospel or a sure knowledge of Christ) lightly (see D&C 84:19-27, 49-58), which would eventually lead to their utter rejection by Him and their losing of the gospel to the remnant of the children of Israel (see 3 Nephi 16:10).
So, really the message was to accept the fullness of the gospel – awake, arise and come unto Christ in the flesh and be redeemed and become His Sons and Daughters.
If the Saints were to bring upon themselves a further curse (remember, they are already under condemnation per D&C 84 in 1832), what would the reason be?
Failing to reobtain the High Priesthood, after Joseph Smith had made an offering on their behalf to give them a second chance to receive it (see D&C 84:42).
READ D&C 124:47
What oath is the Lord referencing here?
The oath to restore the lost High Priesthood to the Saints in the Temple.
The oath and covenant of the Holy Priesthood After the Order of the Son of God (see D&C 84:33-42); which is what was lost.
Was just completing the building the Nauvoo Temple enough to receive back the fullness of the priesthood?
No, they must also do the things that He says: they must labor with all their might and build the House in the time allotted; no other priorities can take the place of building the temple and receiving back the High Priesthood that was lost; even if they are living in tents or shacks, building the temple and sanctifying themselves to receive the priesthood should be their top priority (see D&C 88:66-68).
They must also hearken (listen to and follow) unto His voice (His words) and unto the voices of those who speak His words (those that receive revelation such that they can quote Him directly); they must keep His commandments and align their behavior precisely with eternal law – they must be perfect, even as He is perfect, or at least strive each day to be as perfect as they can be.
They must not pollute His holy grounds and ordinances, or His holy words – in other words, they must not vainly go through the motions without surrendering the inner person and be changed via the baptism of fire – being “called” but not “chosen” is not enough (see D&C 121:34-46).
It is a test of their faith, their righteousness, and of their priorities or desires; completing a temple building and dedicating it in what amounted to a sham dedication after all but a literal handful of the Saints had already left Nauvoo was never going to cut it with the Lord – He promised to “come to” the House to “dwell therein” with His people (this is Zion) but the vast majority (including Brigham Young and the leadership) had already left three months before the date that the temple building was finally dedicated by Orson Hyde on April 30-May 1, 1846 (and Joseph Smith was dead almost 2 years – June 27, 1844).
READ D&C 124:48
If the Saints failed to build the Temple on the Lord’s timetable or even had built the Temple in time but failed to do the things that He said to do, what would the consequences be?
They would be rejected as a Church with their dead.
They would not receive again the fullness of the priesthood, with its sealing power.
They would suffer God’s wrath, indignation, and judgements and would be moved out of their place in Nauvoo.
Why would the Lord curse His people for not doing His will; why not just stop with the natural consequence of failing to get fullness of the priesthood restored again?
Knowingly sinning against more light has a more drastic consequence than never knowing in the first place; it is a kind of open rebellion against God, regardless of how it is rationalized (see all of 2 Nephi 28).
This is particularly true when it is the fullness of the gospel that is being rejected (see D&C 84:19-27).
And in this case, since the Saints had already been offered and rejected the High Priesthood and Fullness of the Gospel (see D&C 84:33-60; D&C 124:28), it appears that Joseph Smith made an offering of his own life in exchange for the Saints to be given a rare last chance at receiving the Fullness so they could help build Zion (see D&C 124:1-2).
So, in addition to the natural consequence of not receiving again that which was lost (this was the consequence they were already experiencing, due to their earlier condemnation, see D&C 84:49-60), the Saints would also receive cursings, wrath, indignation and judgements by their own works for rejecting this second opportunity; this was a just consequence for a second rejection of what had already been offered (see Alma 42:27).
READ D&C 124:49
What does this verse teach us?
The Lord is merciful to those who attempt with all diligence to keep His commandments but fail due to no fault of their own.
The Lord may allow the agency of evil or fallen people to negatively affect His work.
It may not be possible to judge if the Lord has accepted an offering just by the output of the sacrifice alone.
However, one can judge whether or not the Lord has accepted an offering by the outcome or response of the Lord – i.e. the gifts of the spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Moroni 10:8-18), the fruits of the spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:8-9) or the realization of specific promised blessings (see D&C 124:45) or the absence of specifically articulated curses (see D&C 124:48).
READ D&C 124:50
How long will the Lord’s curse last?
Through the fourth generation of the posterity of those who received the curse – the great-great-grandchildren of those who were cursed.
Why are the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren also effected by the curses of a “called” people who fail to do the Lord’s will?
God is in control of all births and deaths in this mortal realm – that doesn’t mean that He dictates it all, as we have our agency, but He can control when He sends certain spirits to earth and under what conditions they will live.
It takes 3 to 4 generations after a rejection of the fullness of the gospel for the false traditions and cultural mores of the fathers who sinned to be diluted enough that individuals born into that line can have a chance to really consider and accept the truth in an unbiased enough way without rejecting the truth out of hand due to the strength of the traditions of the fathers in their upbringing and society at large (see Abraham 1:1-7).
Those born within that 3 to 4 generation time frame are placed there by God, based on His foreknowledge, love, and in His mercy, for a reason that we do not fully understand; while the children and descendants of those who reject the gospel are heavily affected in this life by that rejection, their sins are visited upon the heads of their fathers and they and their descendants will receive mercy from God, to one degree or another (see 2 Nephi 4:3-7).
READ D&C 124:55
Was the Nauvoo temple accepted by the Lord and made holy, or not?
The temple was only half completed by 1844, when Joseph Smith was martyred, as per the offering he had made to the Lord to buy the Saints a second chance that the children of Israel under Moses had never received - but which he may have purchased with his own blood; as Joseph was the only one to whom “all things pertaining to this house” had been revealed, it is a plausible assumption that his death signaled the end of the “appointed time”, especially since the Saints had completed the Masonic lodge, the Cultural Hall, the Seventies Hall, many brick homes, and manufacturing and retail buildings by the time of Joseph Smith’s death; the ungrateful and oblivious Saints (despite JS’s warnings and exhortations to finish the temple) may have squandered a prophet’s life with their careless indifference (see 2 Nephi 32:7).
Even though the temple was unfinished, undedicated and unaccepted by the Lord, Brigham Young “informally dedicated” the attic (only) of the Temple and used it to administer to the Saints a type of the endowment ceremony Joseph Smith had given to him and others in the Red Brick Store before his death; it is interesting to note that the attic where BY conducted these endowments was burned in a fire in February 1846, from an overheating stove pipe, causing major damage to the place where the endowments had been conducted and roof of the building, too – opening the building to the heavens and “baptizing it in fire” but not in the way that the Kirtland Temple was (see D&C 110:1-10) – more of a fiery curse than a blessing.
The Saints were forcibly removed from Nauvoo in February 1846, before the temple was officially dedicated.
The temple was finally officially dedicated in April 1846; immediately after which the few who had remained to finish it and dedicate it were forced to leave.
There is no record of the Lord ever visiting the Nauvoo temple – before or after it was dedicated.
In a twist of fate, within a couple of years after the dedication, the temple was burned in a fire, hit by a tornado (which seemed to be targeting it, as per an eyewitness) and not one stone was left to stand upon another.
If the Lord never visited the Nauvoo Temple, what are the implications?
It was never accepted by Him (contrast that with Kirtland – D&C 110:7-8).
It was never made holy by His presence.
The fullness of the priesthood was never restored again by Him to the Saints.
Was the Church rejected with its dead?
Yes. The Lord gave us a very clear proof of whether or not the conditions were met: in affect He said, “if you do what I ask and receive the blessings I have offered to you, you will not be moved out of your place; if you do not, you will be removed from Nauvoo and will suffer cursings, wrath, indignations and judgements.”
What happened? The Saints were forcibly removed from Nauvoo and suffered cursings in the pioneer trek and in Utah for years (physically) and generations (spiritually) after the expulsion.
Was the curse ever lifted?
No. In fact, President Benson reiterated the condemnation scripture in D&C 84 again in 1986.
But the fourth generation after the original group who were cursed are now dying; for example, Eldred Gee Smith was the great-great grandson (the 4 generation) of Hyrum Smith and held the general authority office of “Patriarch” (which was given to Hyrum in verses 91-96) and was sustained as a prophet, seer and revelator; Eldred died in 2013 at the age of 106 years old; the church had discontinued the office (which had been hereditary) in 1979 – making him “emeritus”; not only is this an example of the death of those in the 4th generation from those at Nauvoo, but Eldred held the right to the last visage of official “fullness” priesthood, as an official church calling – he is dead and the church has discontinued the office.
So, the question remains – now that the fourth generation is dead or dying, might the Lord give the Gentiles one final chance to rise up before He closes the door on us? (see 3 Nephi 16:10); if He does, it will likely come to (and through) faithful “Abinadi-like” outsiders, rather than the proud descendants in Church leadership of the men who rejected Joseph Smith’s plea to build the Temple and failed to rise up to receive the heavenly gift from God, back in Nauvoo.
Hyrum Receives the High Priesthood
READ D&C 124:91-96
What priesthood did Hyrum receive from the Lord in this revelation?
The fullness of the Priesthood, which has the power to pronounce and seal blessings and cursings on earth and in heaven (see Helaman 10:5-10; JST Genesis 14:27-31).
Hyrum was one of those who was ordained to receive this priesthood at the Morley Farm in June of 1831; it took him ten years to prepare himself to actually receive that Priesthood from God after the initial ordination (see JST Genesis 14:28-29; Moses 6:26-39).
It is ironic that the bulk of this revelation is focused on telling the residue of the Saints what they need to do to receive the fullness of the Priesthood while at the same time, bestowing that same High Priesthood upon Hyrum – the Lord is truly no respecter of persons.
What is the Office of Priesthood and Patriarch and why is it hereditary?
It is to be a prophet, seer and revelator unto the Church.
It is the Patriarchal Priesthood birthright which was passed from father to son (“from generation to generation, forever and ever”, see D&C 107:40), beginning with Adam and extending nine more generations to Shem/Melchizedek (see Moses 6:10-23; D&C 107:41-53; LoF 2:37-52), then being lost until Abraham sought it out and reconnected via Melchizedek (see Abraham 1:1-7; JST Genesis 14:25-36), to extend it another four more generations through to Ephraim.
Hyrum, as the son of Joseph Smith Senior (who first held the office among the Gentile Church) and older brother to Joseph, held this birthright priesthood “by right” (v91) – it was given to him in 1841 because he had finally prepared himself to receive it; it passed to Joseph Smith when Hyrum died, as Joseph was also worthy to hold the birthright – this is why Hyrum died first in Carthage Jail, so that Joseph would also die as the holder of this authority – and the birthright would die with him as no one else was worthy to carry it forward.
What is implied by the fact that Joseph is to “show unto Hyrum” the keys whereby he may ask and receive blessings and glory, as opposed to Joseph “giving unto Hyrum” those keys?
“Keys” are not what we are taught they are in the Church (a stamp of authority from God saying that “this guy is in charge – whatever he says, I’ll honor it on earth and in heaven”).
A key is knowledge (truth, intelligence…light, glory) which unlocks a “door” or a “mystery” – somewhere we cannot otherwise go or something that is unknown; this includes the greatest of all mysteries or hidden knowledge which is how to enter back into the presence of God and abide there without being utterly wasted – which includes the “key” or knowledge that to do so, you must be precisely as God is (see LoF 7:9).
In this case, Hyrum, who is already a priesthood holder, had to use "the keys whereby he may ask and receive" in order to receive "priesthood (meaning the High Priesthood), and gifts of the priesthood (meaning the ability to seal on earth and heaven)".
The bottom line is that Joseph didn’t and couldn’t give this Priesthood to Hyrum; Hyrum needed to use the keys to inquire of the Lord Himself to receive them from Him as per the revelations.
What is being described in verses 94-96?
The temple endowment – or more accurately, the temple endowment is a “key” or symbol or teaching tool through which men and women can learn how to be ask and receive the blessings of being “chosen, called up and anointed a king/queen and priest/priestess”.
The temple endowment is one of the “keys” of the mysteries of the kingdom – it is intended to teach us how to live a life which will enable us to find the Lord through the veil, part it, and enter His presence so that He can lead us to the throne of the Father in His Celestial Kingdom and seal us up to eternal life (see D&C 84:19).
The temple endowment is an ordinance or authorized invitation from God to “rise up” and claim these blessings – to be a prophet, seer and revelator which requires one look into heaven and teach and testify of what one has seen there, and to be crowned with eternal life – which is to be precisely like Christ and the Father are; Hyrum is “appointed” that he “may” have these things – in other words, he is being promised or is being given a “hope” of receiving these things in the flesh, as Joseph had.
Did Hyrum rise up and receive these blessings?
It is very interesting that John Taylor used the phrase “the testators are now dead, and their testament is in force” to describe the martyrdom of both Joseph and Hyrum – so yes, he rose up, received the blessings and testified of such through his words and deeds, to at least John Taylor (see D&C 135:5).