In my Come, Follow Me studies this week, I studied a lot about Joseph Smith and the persecution that he and his family faced because he said that he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The studies included Doctrine and Covenants 2, which is an extract from Joseph Smith – History. This section relates the words of the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith on the evening of September 21, 1823, in Manchester, New York. Moroni was the last of a long line of historians who kept the records that were translated into what we know as the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ. These words spoken by Moroni to Joseph Smith now constitute Doctrine and Covenants 2:
1 Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
2 And he will plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.
3 If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.
The first sentence in this section says that Elijah would come to reveal the Priesthood. John the Baptist had already come to bring the Aaronic Priesthood, and Peter, James, and John had already come to bring the Melchizedek Priesthood. What priesthood would Elijah reveal when he appeared in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836? Elijah came to bring the keys of the sealing power of the priesthood. According to the Prophet Joseph Smith:
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 Melchizedek 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….
… What is this office and work of Elijah? It is one of the greatest and most important subjects that God has revealed. He should send Elijah to seal the children to the fathers, and the fathers to the children….
Again: The doctrine or sealing power of Elijah is as follows: -- If you have power to seal on earth and in heaven, then we should be wise. The first thing you do, go and seal on earth your sons and daughters unto your fathers in eternal glory (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 311-12).
The Prophet Joseph Smith was not the only latter-day prophet to write about Elijah’s mission in 1836. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that Elijah’s visit brought the greatest blessings possible to the children of God through the powers of the priesthood.
Elijah’s mission was the sealing power. He held the keys by which the parents could be sealed together, and children sealed to parents. He bestowed these keys upon the Prophet Joseph Smith. And that applies to the dead as well as the living since the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
… But what was the nature of his mission to the earth in these latter days? It was to restore power and authority which once was given to men on the earth and which is essential to the complete salvation and exaltation of man in the kingdom of God. In other words, Elijah came to restore to the earth, by conferring on mortal prophets duly commissioned of the Lord, the fulness of the power of priesthood. This priesthood holds the keys of binding and sealing on earth and in heaven of all the ordinances and principles pertaining to the salvation of man, that they may thus become valid in the celestial kingdom of God (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:117).
Elijah, the Old Testament prophet, visited the Prophet Joseph Smith and bestowed upon him the power to seal in heaven and on earth. Elijah used the power to seal the heavens. The drought became so bad that crops would not grow. The heavens remained sealed until Elijah unsealed the heavens.
That same power was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and it has been handed down from prophet to prophet, the from the days of Joseph Smith to the time of President Russell M. Nelson. The sealing power can be used in many ways, but it is mainly used to seal children to their parents.
Latter-day revelation tells us that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by lineage or by adoption. My patriarchal blessing tells me that I come through the loins of Ephraim, the son of Joseph, the same Joseph who was sold into Egypt. President Nelson, then Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the promises of God’s covenant with Abraham:
The covenant God made with Abraham and later reaffirmed with Isaac and Jacob is of transcendent significance. It contained several promises, including:
· Jesus the Christ would be born through Abraham’s lineage.
· Abraham’s posterity would be numerous, entitled to an eternal increase, and also entitled to bear the priesthood.
· Abraham would become a father of many nations.
· Certain lands would be inherited by his posterity.
· All nations of the earth would be blessed by his seed.
· And that covenant would be everlasting – even through “a thousand generations” [Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Chronicles 16:15; Psalm 105:8].
Some of these promises have been fulfilled; others are still pending….
… We have received, as did they of old, the holy priesthood and the everlasting gospel. We have the right to receive the fulness of the gospel, enjoy the blessings of the priesthood, and qualify for God’s greatest blessing – that of eternal life.
Some of us are the literal seed of Abraham; others are gathered into his family by adoption. The Lord makes no distinction. Together we receive these promised blessings – if we seek the Lord and obey His commandments (Ensign, November 2011, 87-88).
When the scripture says that God would plant the promises made to the fathers in the hearts of the children, He was referring to the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, when He referred to the hearts of the children turning to their fathers, He was referring to dead ancestors.
This scripture about Elijah returning with the sealing power is the beginning of the family history program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the Church research to find their ancestors and then take their names to the temple where the sealing ordinances are done. Thus, sealing children to their fathers as far back as possible in one great chain of family. The sealing of families together for eternity is so important that “the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming” without it.