Presentation on theme: "The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood; or, a Revelation on the Temple D&C 84."— Presentation transcript:
The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood; or, a Revelation on the Temple D&C 84
Priesthood in Antebellum America Martin Luther started a revolt against formalized priesthood Most Protestant denominations associated “priesthood” as “salvation” Priesthood was understood to be papist, hierarchical, and insidious Priesthood structure was especially odious in early America
Priesthood in the Early Church D&C 20 gave loose guidelines Angelic ordinations were not spoken of The message of the restoration was much more important than the authority figures Revelation and translation was more important than priesthood authority in Joseph Smith’s position
Priesthood in the Early Church June 1831: First ordinations to the High Priesthood November 1831: told to appoint a “President of the high Priesthood,” which was accomplished two months later February 1832: “The Vision” declared that those who inhabited heaven would be “priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchezidek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the only begotten Son”
Section 84 Origin A "beardless boy" named Evan Greene was an experienced missionary by the time he noted his eighteenth birthday near the end of his 1832 journal. Fresh from the mission field, he was one of several elders who met with Joseph to report their missions. "While together in these seasons of Joy," Joseph's history says, "I enquired of the Lord and received the following" revelation. Evan rarely spoke of the sacred experience. When he did he emphasized the solemnity of uniting in prayer with Joseph and witnessing "the glory which shown upon his countenance" and hearing "the exquisite cadence of the voice in which he spoke. It was as if they beheld the face of the Lord Jesus. And they did hear his voice as He declared those sacred truths.“ Joseph rose from his knees and began to dictate the revelation just as Oliver Cowdery entered the room and sat near the fire. The other brethren "sat as if transfixed, watching and listening." Joseph finished. "Boys, have you got that written," Oliver asked. But no one had thought of writing. As he had so often done, Oliver then put his pen to the paper to scribe for the revelator. Joseph made a few corrections as Oliver read the text aloud. Joseph had the temple on his mind. The Lord had already revealed to him the site for a temple in Independence, Missouri. Joseph had dedicated the ground. This revelation tells the saints to build the temple and forges the gospel links between their missionary work, the gathering of scattered Israel, the fulfillment of ancient prophecies, and the building of New Jerusalem, crowned with its holy temple. Section 84 is a landmark revelation with a breathtaking scope. Joseph's history designates it a "Revelation... On Priesthood." It is certainly that, and can just as accurately be described as a revelation on temple ordinances, covenants, the gathering of Israel, missionary work, the law of consecration, and the imminent coming of the Savior to "reign with my people," in Zion, as He says in closing (D&C 84:119).
The Oath and Covenant in the Bible With an oath by himself; that everyone being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; to put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command subdue all principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world. And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven – Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 14:30-32.
[Joseph] prophecied that “not all the powers of hell or earth combined can ever overthrow this boy” for he had a promise of life from the eternal God. He spoke concerning the priesthood of Melchisedek Pd was to have the power of an “endless lives.” He showed that the everlasting covenants could not be broken, and by the sacrifice required of Abraham the fact that when God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man and he refuses to receive it he will be damned, mentioning the case of the Israelite[s] praying that God would speak to Moses and not to them, in consequence of which he curse[d] them with a carnal law. – William Clayton Journal, August 27, 1843
When [a man] has proved himself by a worthy life, having been faithful in all things required of him, then it is his privilege to receive other covenants and to take upon himself other obligations which will make him an heir, and he will become a member of the Church of the Firstborn. Into his hands the Father has given all things. He will be a priest and a king, receiving of the Father’s fulness and of his glory.... And the fulness of these blessings can only be obtained in the temple of the Lord. – Joseph Fielding Smith, Way to Perfection, 208
Section 84 Outcomes One would think this revelation would provide the saints enough incentive to begin building a temple on the dedicated site in Independence, Missouri—Zion. But they did not. There are several complicated reasons why, and later revelations will cover these. If the saints have been scourged for their part of the failure to fulfill Section 84's prophecy to build the temple in Independence, Missouri, they have worked to fulfill many of its commands and have received many of its promised blessings. Temples were built by saints who were present when Section 84 was revealed. They received the priesthood endowment Section 84 describes. The saints obeyed Section 84 in other specific ways. A council of high priests assigned Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith to write a rebuke the church leaders in Missouri as verse 76 commanded. As instructed in verses 112-114, bishop Whitney and Joseph Smith left Kirtland "to fulfill the Revelation," making important contacts in New York City, visiting Albany, and prophesying in Boston. Evan Greene went over and over again into the mission field, as have so many since, in response to Section 84's instructions to preach the gospel to "all who have not received it" (D&C 84:75) and "to teach them of a judgment which is to come"(D&C 84:87). Many have made the covenant of the priesthood—to receive, obtain, and magnify it according to the oath and covenant outlined in Section 84. Many if not all have obeyed the law of consecration as instructed in verses 103-110. Perhaps the most important result of Section 84 is that is raised Joseph's consciousness of the fundamental importance of priesthood and, inseparably, the temple. He had listened attentively all night at age seventeen as Moroni explained the imperative need to obtain restored priesthood in order to seal the human family together before the Savior's coming, but the doctrine of the priesthood distilled on Joseph like dew from heaven (D&C 121:45). Considerable dew condensed during the night of September 22-23, 1832 as Section 84 explained the priesthood's past and projected its future use in temples.
If unappreciated at the time, the priesthood revelation laid the foundation for the later development of Joseph’s temple practices. Once he had reinvigorated a sacral priesthood, he could adopt rituals manifesting that power…From these texts, the temple rituals would emerge over the next four years. As early as the winter of 1833, he began foot washing, expanded in the winter of 1836 to washings, anointings, and sealings patterned after the consecration of priests. The priesthood doctrines opened a ritual world that Protestantism, with its emphasis on preaching, had closed off. Joseph’s temple ordinances had the spirit of Roman Catholic practices but resembled even more the rituals of ancient Israel. -Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 205
Still Under Condemnation As he participated in a later temple dedication, President Ezra Taft Benson "received the distinct impression that God is not pleased with our neglect of the Book of Mormon." The Lord condemned the saints for treating lightly what the Lord had given them, including the Book of Mormon and the law of consecration (D&C 84:57). Temples and holy cities are not built by covenanting to consecrate. They are built by keeping the covenant to consecrate. Thus, one result of Section 84 is that the children of Zion voluntarily "remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon, and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which is written" (D&C 84:55-59). This passage prompted President Ezra Taft Benson to declare that "we not only need to say more about the Book of Mormon, but we need to do more with it. Why? The Lord answers: “That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.” (D&C 84:58.) We have felt that scourge and judgment!”
Discussion The “Ancient” Priesthood The Priesthood and the Temple Paradox of Individualism and Communalism Equality of the Priesthood Coming forth of the Book of Mormon in our day