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Saturday, October 2, 2021

What Happened at the Dedication of the Kirtland Temple?

             My Come, Follow Me lesson for this week took me to Doctrine and Covenants 109-110. The revelations contained in these two sections of the Doctrine and Covenants are about the dedication of the Kirtland Temple and the Lord’s acceptance of it.

            Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints placed the cornerstones for the Kirtland Temple on July 23, 1833, and members labored diligently and made great sacrifices to build the temple as directed by Jesus Christ (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:119; 95:8-9). While the men worked on the temple, the women made clothes and provided food for them.

            While preparing for the dedication of the temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith, with the assistance of Oliver Cowdery, wrote a prayer of dedication. The prayer was “given to him by revelation” (Doctrine and Covenants 109, section heading). The Prophet offered the prayer at the dedicatory service held on Sunday, March 27, 1836.

The prayer is recorded as Doctrine and Covenants 109, and it contains pleas to the Lord to “accept the dedication of [the temple] unto [Him],” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:78), to bless “all people who shall enter [it]” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:13), and to “remember all [His] church, … that the kingdom, which [He has] set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:72).

The Saints were excited to have the temple completed and dedicated. Those hoping to attend the dedication services began lining up at least an hour before the doors to the temple opened at 8:00 on the morning of March 27, 1836. The pews as well as the aisles quickly filled with the eager Saints, and a second location quickly filled. Church leaders began planning for a second session.

Mortals were not the only people who were anxious to attend the dedication. Multiple witnesses testified that they saw angels inside the temple and on the roof during and after the dedication. Why would people on both sides of the veil be so excited about the dedication of the Kirtland Temple?

One of the reasons for which the Saints gathered to Kirtland in the first place was a promise that they would be “endowed with power from on high” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:32). There were greater blessings promised for the future. “This is the beginning of the blessing which shall be poured out upon the heads of my people” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:10).

One week after the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, it was Easter Sunday, and 1,000 people gathered to the temple to worship. A worship meeting was held in the morning, and a second meeting was held in the afternoon. After the administration of the sacrament in the second meeting, the Prophet “Joseph Smith Oliver Cowdery went to the elevated pulpits on the west end of the lower court of the temple and lowered the ‘veils,’ or canvas curtains, that surrounded the pulpits” (see The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, Volume 5: October 1835-January 1838, 225.

After Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery prayed, they received a vision of the glorified Jesus Christ. He spoke to them and accepted the temple. When the vision of the Lord closed, other visions opened with the appearance of Moses, Elias, and Elijah. Each prophet committed priesthood keys to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Moses gave them the keys to the gathering of Israel, Elias brought the keys to the Abrahamic covenant, and Elijah bestowed the keys of sealing power. Doctrine and Covenants 110 is the record of the visions. The Prophet Joseph Smith began the record with the following description of Jesus Christ.

1 The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened.

2 We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.

3 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:

4 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.

5 Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice.

6 Let the hearts of your brethren rejoice, and let the hearts of all my people rejoice, who have, with their might, built this house to my name.

7 For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house.

One of the principles contained in Doctrine and Covenants 109 is that the Lord wants to bless His people in His holy house. For that reason, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became a temple-building people with the Kirtland Temple being the first temple built in the latter days. Temple building and dedicating accelerated over the years, and temples now dot the earth with more in the planning and building phases. Temple ordinances and temple blessings are now available to millions of the living and their departed loved ones.

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