Malachi and Moroni said Elijah would come

Among the biblical prophecies quoted by the Angel Moroni during his visit to young Joseph Smith on Sept. 21 and 22, 1823, was Mal. 4:5-6. The angel, however, quoted the verses differently from the King James version of the Bible. The differences are significant, particularly in the context of the dawning of the current gospel dispensation.

The phrasing used by Moroni more clearly pertains to the sealing ordinances in latter-day temples that link generations of families together by priesthood authority.Moroni's rendering of the verses from Malachi is important enough to warrant placement in the Doctrine and Covenants as Section 2:

"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 the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.

"If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming."

In his book The Holy Temple, Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve commented: "There seems to have been guidance in the selection and placement of that quotation as a section in the Doctrine and Covenants. Other references that Moroni quoted, from Isaiah or Joel or Acts or the `many other passages of scripture' [see Joseph Smith - History 1:41T were not thus honored."

Elder Packer further explained: "Elijah would return. Why? If that turning of the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers were not accomplished, the Lord would smite the earth with a curse,' as the King James Version of the Old Testament says, orthe whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming,' as Moroni quoted it to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

" . . . President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: `Why would the earth be wasted? Simply because if there is not a welding link between the fathers and the children - which is work for the dead - then we all stand rejected; the whole work of God will fail and be utterly wasted. Such a condition, of course, shall not be.' (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:122.)

" . . . It happened! This signal event [Elijah's comingT went unheeded by the world, but it would influence the destiny of every soul who has ever lived or ever will live. Things began quietly to happen. The Church became a temple-building church.

"In the world there emerged here and there, in a way thought to be spontaneous, people and organizations and societies interested in tracing genealogies. This has all taken place since the appearance of Elijah in the Kirtland Temple."

****Additional information

Greatness begins with humility

It is instructive to observe that Joseph Smith received the remarkable visitation from the Angel Moroni while acknowledging his weaknesses before God and supplicating the Lord for forgiveness of his sins and follies.

Influenced, no doubt, by the Holy Ghost, the boy prophet had earlier felt a conviction of his weaknesses and imperfections and his need for repentance. (See Joseph Smith - History 1:29.)

The incident illustrates this doctrine in the Book of Mormon: "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27.)

As a result of Moroni's visitation - and other heavenly manifestations - Joseph Smith did indeed become strong, one of history's greatest prophets.

"It is only by obedience to the laws of God," said President Joseph F. Smith at the October 1903 general conference, "that men can rise above the petty weaknesses of mortality and exercise that breadth of affection, that charity and love, that should actuate the hearts and the motives of the children of men."

First Vision: `bedrock theology'

The visitation of God the Father and Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith, dramatic in its own right, is fundamental to the theology of the Church. Upon the reality of the First Vision (See Joseph Smith - History 1:1-26.) rests the Church's claim to divine authority.

"What followed Joseph Smith's prayer in the spring of 1820 irrevocably illuminated our view of God, ourselves, others, life, even the universe," said Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve at April 1992 general conference. "But young Joseph certainly did not go into the Sacred Grove seeking the restoration of the holy priesthood and the holy endowment, the sealing power, and all the keys thereof. He did not even know of their existence. He merely wanted to know which of several churches to join. His prayer was for personal and tactical guidance. The response, however, was of global and eternal significance."

In a speech in Salt Lake City on May 20, 1984, President Ezra Taft Benson declared: "The first vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith is bedrock theology to the Church. The adversary knows this and has attacked Joseph Smith's credibility from the day he announced the visitation of the Father and the Son. You should always bear testimony to the truth of the First Vision. Joseph Smith did see the Father and the Son. They conversed with him as he said they did. Any leader who, without reservation, cannot declare his testimony that God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith can never be a true leader, a true shepherd. If we do not accept this truth - if we have not received a witness about this great revelation - we cannot inspire faith in those whom we lead.

"Some of our own members have attempted to interpret the experiences of Joseph Smith and his revelations. They say that it really is not important whether or not Joseph Smith actually saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. What matters, they claim, is that he thought he did. That is preposterous!"

Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.

Information compiled by R. Scott Lloyd

Sources: Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple; Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 2:122; Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine; April 1992 Conference Report; The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed