One of the earliest messages delivered from heaven to the prophet Joseph Smith was that the priesthood would be revealed “by the hand of Elijah the prophet”:
“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. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and hearts of the children shall turn to the their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” (D&C 2:1-3)
In this passage Moroni indicates that the Priesthood would be “revealed” through Elijah. A typical definition of “revealed” includes the idea of disclosing or bringing to light something that was previously unknown–in this case, the “Priesthood.” The verses don’t necessary spell out in any more specific detail what exact priesthood, but they do connect priesthood to the idea of planting in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers.
Ever since the 1850’s when Orson Pratt gave a talk on the Latter-day Mission of Elijah the Mormon church has linked the visitation of Elijah as recorded in Section 110 to sealing keys supposedly received by Joseph in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836. This view permeates all that the church does with respect to teachings around eternal marriage, celestial polygamy and the sealing together of families for eternity. This despite the fact that Section 110 says nothing about Elijah conferring anything by hand upon Joseph and Oliver.
“After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, 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 come-
To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse-
Therefore the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.” (D&C 110: 13-16)
Notice that Elijah only makes the declaration that “the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands.” There is no evidence here that he laid hands upon their heads to give the priesthood or to convey authority. Read it very carefully.
A little history regarding Section 110 is in order. Many assume today that Joseph and Oliver shared this sacred experience with others after having it on April 3, 1836. This is simply not the case. This vision did not come to light until after Joseph, Oliver, and his brother, Warren were all deceased. The record we have was penned by Warren in the third person (D&C 110 is in the first person) in Joseph Smith’s journal. Following this event Joseph doesn’t make another journal entry until two years later in 1838! When he does it is in a completely new book-the previous journal being closed despite having additional pages left over. What gives? Joseph has just seen the Lord and 3 Old Testament prophets and he doesn’t tell anyone. How strange. You can read the original account here in the Joseph Smith papers.
When Brigham Young and his cohorts discovered the journal they published the account of the vision in the Deseret News on November 6, 1852. They must have realized that this event needed to be spun to support the “dispensation of the fulness of times” narrative which we have today. Section 110 (changed to the first person) was published in the 1876 version of the D&C, one year before Brigham’s death.
So where in Section 110 does it say that Elijah conveyed the keys of the dispensation of the fulness of times or laid hands on Joseph and Oliver?
The answer is nowhere. Read it carefully.
Elijah only says that the keys of THIS DISPENSATION are committed into your hands. To find out what “this” refers to you must read earlier verses 11 and 12:
“After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us 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.
After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.”
Bingo. The keys being transferred are of the gathering of Israel and the Dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham. There is no other specific reference to keys being transferred or priesthood being conferred except for those two. We have previously explored the fact that the church was under condemnation for rejecting the covenant of consecration and that they had lost the fulness. What Section 110 is really telling us is that they had been downgraded to the preparatory Gospel of Abraham and that those keys were being committed into the hands of Joseph and Oliver, not the keys of the dispensation of the fulness of times as is commonly taught.
When you understand the downgrade, it is very easy to see why Joseph wanted to keep it a secret from the saints (I suspect the Lord commanded him to “seal up the vision” and not talk about it during his lifetime) and why he didn’t write in his journal for 2 years following the events of April 3, 1836.
Anciently, God made a covenant with Abraham that through him and his posterity all the nations of the earth would be blessed with the blessings of the gospel. Abraham was an evangelist (patriarch) who preached the preparatory gospel of repentance and baptism and that was what was re-instituted at the Kirtland Temple.
So the real mystery is WHEN DID ELIJAH CONVEY THE PRIESTHOOD BY HAND? What I am about to share was hard for me to believe at first. I had to dig into the scriptural evidence and cast off previous traditions of my fathers. I suggest you do the same by examining closely every evidence I am about to lay out for you that brought me to the following conclusion:
The Priesthood was conveyed to Joseph and Oliver by the hand of Elijah when they were ordained to the Priesthood that Aaron (Patriarchal Priesthood) by John the Baptist. The reason we can conclude it was the Patriarchal Priesthood is because of the all the spiritual blessings Joseph and Oliver received after being ordained — something that would not have attended an ordination under the Levitical (Aaronic) Priesthood which Joseph taught was only to administer cursings and not blessings.
In other words, John the Baptist is the reincarnation (transmigration) of Elijah the Tishbite.
Now before you start to throw rocks let’s look at the evidence. Joseph made some startling changes to the Bible in his Inspired Version that clearly teach that John is Elijah.
In John 1:19-21 it is recorded that the Jews sent priests and Levites to inquire of John the Baptist as to who he was. The King James Version records:
“And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? and he answered, No.”
The Jews were asking whether or not John was Elijah (Elias is the Greek form of the Hebrew Elijah) and the Jews were sufficiently grounded in scripture to understand that Elijah would be returning. According to the account in the King James Version and other versions of the Bible, John the Baptist denies that he is Elijah. However, Joseph changes that in the Inspired Version:
“And this is the record of John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed and denied not that he was Elias, but confessed, saying, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, saying, How then art thou Elias? and he said, I am not that Elias who was to restore all things. And they asked him, saying, Art thou that prophet? and he answered, No.” (Inspired Version, John 1:20-22)
So according to Joseph Smith’s version, John confesses and denies not that he is Elijah (the preparer) but disclaims that he is that Elijah who should restore all things. A discussion of the two Elijahs (the Preparer and the Restorer) is beyond the scope of this blogpost but I will tease you with the idea that Elijah the Preparer passed the keys to Elijah the Restorer.
There is another change made be Joseph that points to John being Elijah. It is found in Mark 9 where Jesus goes up to the mountain with Peter, James and John to be transfigured. The King James Version records:
“And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.” (Mark 9:4)
“And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses, or in other words, John the Baptist and Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.” (Inspired Version Mark 9:3)
The LDS version of the bible dictionary tries to explain this away with the following:
“The curious wording of JST Mark 9:3 does not imply that the Elias at the Transfiguration was John the Baptist, but that in addition to Elijah the prophet, John the Baptist was present.”
To which I would respond: It is not an implication, rather the wording is a direct statement. How many ways can you parse “or in other words?” But these are not the only evidences. Let’s examine John’s calling more closely from the scriptures. When Zacharias was visited by an angel he was told about his future son. He was informed that:
“…he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15)
The original manuscript version of D&C 84:28 informs us that John was baptized “while yet in the womb.” This has subsequently been changed to while in “his childhood” by an unknown hand. Both of these scriptures strongly suggest that John was previously baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost prior to his birth. That would certainly make sense if he were the reincarnation of Elijah the Tishbite.
Continuing in Luke we receive further clues about John.
“And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias (Elijah), to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17)
Holy Smokes! There is the link to Elijah and turning the hearts of the fathers to the children staring at us in plain sight. Think about John having the spirit and power of Elijah, because he was Elijah in another body with the calling to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. This is exactly what he did when he appeared to Joseph and revealed the priesthood BY HAND which would help turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, etc. Joseph also taught that translated beings are designed for future missions (HC 4:425). What is to prevent that from being via reincarnation after being taken up to heaven without tasting death?
It is pretty amazing how clear the doctrine is when you actually believe the scriptures instead of the interpretations that men have placed upon them. If the fact that John the Baptist is the transmigrated Elijah is still unbelievable to you I invite you to search diligently because the puzzle really does fit together when you cast off the blinders.
As you dig deeper in the scriptures you will also discover other instances where the phrase “turn the heart” is used (I suggest you do a word search on ‘turn the heart’) which provide additional clarity:
“Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children; And again, the hearts of the Jews unto the prophets, and the prophets unto the Jews; lest I come and smite the whole earth with a curse, and all flesh be consumed before me” (D&C 98:16)
“And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and hearts of the children shall turn to the their fathers.” (D&C 2:2)
It is my contention that the promises to the fathers spoken of are associated with the Abrahamic covenant (the great Patriarchal father) whereby the gospel would be made available to the children and that through the ordinances of baptism for the dead, those who had passed on could also receive the blessings of the gospel. Joseph elaborates on this in a letter he wrote that is canonized as D&C Section 128 which links the concept of turning the hearts to the subject of baptism for the dead. After citing Malachi 4:5-6 he explains:
“I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other–and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect.” (D&C 128:18)
It all comes back to the simplicity of the baptismal covenant of the gospel. The turning that takes place is to the gospel covenant preached by the patriarchs (fathers) of old. When Elijah (John the Baptist) appeared to Joseph and Oliver on the banks of the Susquehanna River he revealed the Patriarchal Priesthood BY HAND which would unlock the key allowing for the preaching of the gospel and of turning the heart of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers in preparation for the return of the Lord in the last days.
What is plainly taught in the scriptures has been tortured into another interpretation by men to justify abominations. Cursed is he who puts his trust in the arm of flesh. Don’t trust me either. Trust the scriptures and truly believe them. John the Baptist is the reincarnated Elijah the Tishbite.