Section 124 Makes Reference to Section 110

Embedded in Section 124 is a remarkable reference to the secret visitation behind the veil that is  described in section 110:

“And from this time forth I appoint unto him [Hyrum] that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph;

 That he may act in concert also with my servant Joseph; and that he shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall show unto him the keys whereby he may ask and receive,  and be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery..”

Can anyone produce a documented event in the life of Oliver Cowdery, other than the one described in section 110 that fits the descriptives of blessing, glory, honor, priesthood and gifts of the priesthood?

The Keys Jointly Shared By Joseph and Oliver

 It is an amazingly cohesive narrative, that we have Joseph and Oliver kneeling beside each other receiving an ancient priesthood containing the keys to the ministering of angels, in 1829, and again, five years later they jointly enter into the “covenant of tithing” for the “continuation of blessings” in 1834. Then, in 1836 they were kneeling beside each other a third time receiving the ministration of angels and being visited again by Elijah who makes prophetic reference to the last time he visited these two servants of the Lord.

Yet the reception of the Aaronic priesthood was kept secret for years. The covenant of tithing was little more than a quiet footnote in the history of the church that few people knew about, and the vision behind the veil, was, in the words of Daniel, sealed up and kept secret.

Outwardly Contextually Confusing

Although the secret behind the scenes narrative, is consistent from a doctrinal point of view, it makes no sense from a surface contextual view of church history. Indeed, it seems somewhat disjointed and out of sync with the events of church history. It seems odd that Oliver was the one participating in the covenant of tithing. Even more curious is that he was the one behind the veil with Joseph because. Before those two events took place, Sidney Rigdon had long since joined the church and appeared to have largely replaced Cowdery in prominence and pertinence.

It was Rigdon that replaced Cowdery as Joseph’s scribe in translating the Bible. Rigdon was participating in the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood at the Morley Farm while Cowdery was oddly missing. It was Rigdon that taught at the school of the prophets and Rigdon that sat by the side of Joseph Smith during the vision known as section 76.

It was Rigdon  that was given the privilege of dedicating  the place of the temple in Jackson County. Indeed, the references, promises and privileges of Cowdery in modern revelation pale in comparison to those of Rigdon. Rigdon  and Smith were virtually inseparable during the years leading up to the dedication of the temple while Cowdery was fading into the background.

Rigdon was clearly more engaged in overseeing the building of the Kirtland Temple than Cowdery. We have tales of Rigdon pacing back and forth on top of the  temple petitioning the Lord in tears and being the primary speaker at the dedication while Cowdery takes a lower profile. All things considered, Joseph’s obvious choice of a companion behind the veil would have been Rigdon, not Cowdery.

Nevertheless, the remarkably cohesive behind the scenes narrative called for Oliver to participate in all three of the key events leading up to and including the secret visitation behind the veil. And that is evidence that God was directing things, not Joseph.

It is also evidence that Oliver and Sidney had two very different roles to fill.

Oliver and Joseph had a Secret

As previously noted in other posts, Joseph Smith had been forbidden by the Lord to teach out of the inspired version of the Bible until it had been canonized with another book of scripture and was ready to be sent to the world. He was forced to keep several things secret. This is undoubtedly true with some of his closest associates. Both Oliver and Sidney helped with the translation of the Bible and were undoubtedly aware of some of the great prophetic secrets.

Oliver obviously knew that the angel who ordained him and Joseph in 1829 was the same angel that secretly visited them behind the veil in the temple in 1836. It is interesting that after the secret visitation behind the veil was eventually revealed, the true identity of Elijah continued to be withheld.

It is very possible that Oliver’s criticism of Joseph shortly after the visitation, had to do with Oliver’s understanding of the prophecies contained in Malachi in relation to the latter day apostasy of the church and some of the disconcerting things he saw taking place with Joseph and the church.[3] He may even have been aware of the atonement statute and the implications that it would have upon the outward actions of Joseph.

Cowdery Leaves the Church

Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated at Far West on April 12, 1838, right at the time that a string of revelations were being received by Joseph Smith. It is unlikely that Oliver was unaware of these revelations, yet, he was obviously unimpressed enough with them and Josephs conduct, to remain unrepentant and estranged from the church for many years thereafter.[4] When Oliver Cowdery and his brother in law David Whitmer were interviewed at the same time by Thomas Marsh about leaving the church, they both expressed their belief that Joseph was a fallen prophet.[5] They remained convinced that they would yet play a future role when the great work begins again. [6],

Nevertheless something eventually happened to Oliver that caused an amazing change of heart.  It appears that his epiphany could not be shared with David Whitmer.

This change of heart may well have taken place when Oliver Cowdery was confronted with Section 124. He may well have been convicted in his heart that Joseph still had the gift of prophecy when he viewed the content in 124. There is reason to believe that it was after reading section 124, that he desired to return to the church.[7]

Previously, Cowdery had expressed to David Whitmer that he felt they had priesthood keys that gave them the right to preside over the other splinter groups:

True it is that our right gives us the head” and “We have the authority and do hold the keys.”

Yet he later declared that section 124 changed his mind:

When I wrote that letter I did not know of the Revelation [D&C 124:95] which says, that the keys and power conferred upon me, were taken from me and place upon the head of Hyrum Smith. And it was that revelation which changed my views on this subject.

Evidently during their private discussions with Oliver in late October 1848, Orson Hyde and George A. Smith had made him aware of the January 1841 revelation. [8]

Why did Oliver accept section 124 when he had previously rejected sections 115-119?

There could have been numerous factors. I would suggest that verse 95, which conferred the same blessings upon Hyrum that had previously been placed upon Oliver, provided undeniable proof to Oliver that the revelation was valid:

“Let Hyrum] and be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery”

Contemporary members of the church back at that time, reading those passages would have been unaware of the secret visitation behind the veil. They must have thought the following descriptives were unwarranted for someone who had been ordained to be the assistant President of the church:

  • Blessing
  • Glory
  • Honor
  • Priesthood
  • Gifts of the Priesthood

When had Oliver been given blessing, glory, honor, priesthood and gifts of the priesthood? That passage was certainly referring to something more than the bestowal of the Aaronic priesthood and his priesthood ordination as the assistant President of the Church. No other revelation received by Joseph Smith up to that time had bestowed such incredible accolades upon one of God servants.

I believe that had the secret visitation behind the veil been made public, that passage would have been interpreted by the Saints as having reference to the visitation.

It apparently had a significant impact on Oliver Cowdery.

It appears that he got the message loud and clear. He knew full well that those cryptic descriptives were indicative of, and explicitly describing the secret event in the Kirtland Temple wherein he and Joseph were JOINTLY given the keys of the gathering of Israel, the dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham, and the remarkable promise that in Joseph and Oliver, all of the seed of Joseph and Oliver and all generations after them, would be blessed! Clearly, Section 124:95 refers to and testifies of the validity of section 110!

Following Oliver’s reading of section 124, a very different Oliver Cowdery emerged. Unlike the angry and arrogant Cowdery that left the church, a very humble and contrite Cowdery begged for re-entry and he emphasized that he was not expecting or seeking position, just membership.

The Ring and the Robe

Back in April of 1843, Joseph directed that a letter be written to Oliver in Missouri.  He instructed that in the letter it ask if Oliver had “eaten husks long enough.”  This was an unmistakable reference to the parable of the Prodigal Son, who, after squandering all his inheritance, was sent to the fields to feed the swine where “he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat” (Luke 15:16).  Oliver was cryptically being reminded that he and Joseph had jointly received priesthood keys, a priesthood dispensation, and the same promise regarding his posterity and future generations that Abraham had received.  Joseph directed that the letter ask Oliver if he was “almost” ready to return and be clothed with the “robes of righteousness.”[9]

prod son

According to the parable that Joseph was quoting from, the prodigal son was restored to his former position and given the ring and the robe:

“And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  And they began to be merry.”[10]

In my opinion, Section 124 is one of the most powerful testimonies that section 110 was true. regardless of whether it was the epiphany that changed Olivers heart, I believe that verse 95 is referring to the blessing, glory, honor, priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood that Oliver and Joseph received on April 3, 1836.

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[1] Section 128 proves that the dispensation of the fulness of times had not yet been ushered in. ” for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in” (128 :18) Joseph would later clarify that it could not be fully ushered in until the Nauvoo Temple was completed.

[2] This concept will be further developed when we examine Joseph’s Letter to N.C. Saxton, 4 january 1833

[4] Section 115 (April 26) 116 (May 19) 117, 118 & 119  (July 8) Oliver certainly knew of these prophecies but was less than impressed with them as indicators that Joseph was not in transgression. During his estrangement in 1838 he had alluded to the fact that he did not believe every revelation pronounced by Joseph Smith to be true “I will not be influenced, governed, or controlled, in my temporal interests by any ecclesiastical authority or pretended revelation whatever, contrary to my own judgment.” http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/OCowd-his.html

[5] Source: “History of Thomas Baldwin Marsh [by himself],” MS 26 (1864):406. After making preparations I [Thomas B. Marsh] started from Far West [1838] and moved three miles out of town, ostensibly for the purpose of settling, and soon moved off to Clay County, and from thence to Richmond, Ray County, where I saw David, John and Jacob Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery, who had all apostatized. I enquired seriously of David if it was true that he had seen the angel, according to his testimony as one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon. He replied as sure as there is a God in heaven, he saw the angel according to his testimony in that book. I asked him, if so, why he did not stand by Joseph? He answered, in the days when Joseph received the Book of Mormon, and brought it forth, he was a good man and filled with the Holy Ghost, but he considered he had now fallen. I interrogated Oliver Cowdery in the same manner, who answered similarly.

[6]  In a private letter,” Oliver expressed his conviction that he still held the priesthood keys and authority conferred upon Joseph Smith and him.. He readily admitted that he did not know whether the Lord would again call David and him to “work in his great cause.” As before, Oliver’s concern for reputation and character resurfaced. He explained that, If ever the church rises again in true holiness, it must arise in a measure upon our testimony, and upon our characters as good men. Such being the case…. some ONE should step forward—capable and worthy, who knew us well, and whose heart the Lord should or has touched, whose duty and office should be to vindicate our characters, and disabuse the minds of the honest of those prejudices which they do and would otherwise labor under. All this must be done without solicitation on our part. And it is expedient it should be done by [some]one who has known us from the beginning… To his trusted relative, Oliver declared his willingness, when circumstances were appropriate, to be involved again in the building up of the Lord’s kingdom. In the letter’s conclusion, Cowdery summarized his heartfelt feelings about his involvement in the latter-day work, “I will only say that when the time comes, I AM READY! But I am not persuaded that it has yet fully come. Let the Lord vindicate our characters, and cause our testimony to shine, and then will men be saved in his kingdom.” (http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/transcripts/I00050-The_Return_of_Oliver_Cowdery.html)

[7] “Brethren, for a number of years I have been separated from you. I now desire to come back. I wish to come humbly and to be one in your midst. I seek no station. I only wish to be identified with you. I am out of the Church. I am not a member of the Church, but I wish to become a member of it. I wish to come in at the door. I know the door. I have not come here to seek precedence.” http://olivercowdery.com/history/Cdryhst2.htm

[9] See HC 5:368

[10] Luke 15:21-24

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4 Responses to Section 124 Makes Reference to Section 110

  1. Ryan says:

    Very good observation.

    Growing up with section 110 I have taken it and many other things in the D&C for granted.

    Footnotes 1 and 2 do not appear in the body of the text. You might want to insert them so readers, like myself 🙂 , know where you had made the reference noted.

    Also, I’ve been researching this and trying to come to a conclusion.

    Where did Jospeh get the sealing keys? Was it at the Morley Farm? I have erroneously believed that it was in section 110. At least I had been taught that for so long. But as you made mention in the comment section of a previous post that a careful reading shows that that’s not the case.

    I know that Nephi in Hel. 10 is given the sealing keys from God as he spoke out of heaven and wonder if that’s when/how Jospeh received them.

    Especially since 110 was kept secret.

    How did the church know that he had been given the keys? Have you a blog post about this?

  2. Yea I copied it from a word doc that had footnotes at the bottom of each page and it corrupts when it is put in wordpress.

    I will be adding it to the online pdf and the footnotes will show up properly then. I’ll do that after my next and last post of the series which covers Daniel’s prophetic numeric testimony of Section 110 and also Joseph’s newspaper article.

    More on the sealing keys later

    Watcher

  3. Roy Moore says:

    Hi Watcher,

    This comment doesn’t pertain to Section 110, per se, but I discovered the excerpt below in the lds.org website where the 2013 Seminary Teacher’s manual is available for viewing. BKP’s twist on Section 124:32 and Sec. 124:45 doesn’t answer the begging questions “well, were the saints moved out of their place, or not?”; and, “did the saints being expelled from Nauvoo constitute the Lord’s rejection of the church with its dead, or not?”; and, “were the Nauvoo saints blessed, or not?” (D&C 124:46). The gist of BKP’s admonishment is: anything bad that happens to the saints is because they didn’t hearken to their leaders. However, history says the leaders in Nauvoo were focused on building mansions, masonic temples, and business enterprises instead of the Temple and the Nauvoo House. I never recognized before the methodology used by The Church(TM) to coerse people into submitting everything to ones “leaders” (arm of flesh, imo). The scales are gone and no longer cloud my vision. Wish I could say the same for the seminary students. Thanks for your blog and profound insight.

    [Commentary and Background Information
    Doctrine and Covenants 124:45. “They shall not be moved out of their place”

    When the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple, He also promised that they would “not be moved out of their place.”

    President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

    “During a very difficult time, the Lord gave the sternest warning that I know of in all scripture. It had to do with the building of the Nauvoo Temple. The Saints knew from experience that to proceed to build a temple would bring terrible persecution, so they delayed. The Lord extended the time and said, ‘If you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God’ [D&C 124:32].

    “Often overlooked in that revelation is a marvelous promise: ‘If my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place’ [D&C 124:45].

    “Remember this promise; hold onto it. It should be a great comfort to those struggling to keep a family together in a society increasingly indifferent to, and even hostile toward, those standards which are essential to a happy family. …

    “I repeat the promise that those who hearken to the voice of these men whom the Lord has raised up ‘shall not be moved out of their place’ [D&C 124:45].

    “But the promise was followed with this caution: ‘But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest’ [D&C 124:46]” (“The Twelve Apostles,” Ensign, Sept. 2005, 20).]

  4. Roy

    That is an interesting find.

    It is surprising that Elder Packer would bring up and dance around such a condemning historical issue even if he didn’t address the difficult and obvious questions.

    Thank you for sharing

    Watcher

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