The latest podcast about Sidney Rigdon is now available
I believe that Sidney Rigdon will be one of the greatest prophets that ever lived after he has completed his commission from the Lord.
In the podcast I briefly mentioned that it appears to me that Sidney Rigdon had actually been called to his ministry by God BEFORE Joseph Smith was called to his ministry.
Sidney Rigdon apparently held lineal priesthood.
Because of this, it was arguably Sidney Rigdon that actually began the setting up of the Kingdom of God that is spoken about in the Book of Daniel.
Since I was not able to fully develop this concept during the podcast, I thought I would provide a little additional information in this post.
In the Book of Daniel we are informed that in the latter days, God would set up his kingdom. The prophetically cryptic narrative likens the kingdom to a stone and informs us that the “stone” (kingdom of God) would be cut out of a mountain without hands.
44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
Modern revelation informs us that the kingdom spoken of in the Book of Daniel had been set up during Joseph Smith’s ministry.
It had been set up prior to the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple that was given on March 27 1836 (Section 109)
It also decodes the cryptic meaning of the phrase “cut out of the mountain without hands” to refer to the fact that the kingdom would be “set up without hands“.
72 Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connections, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth; that the kingdom, which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth;
73 That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners; D&C 109:72-73
Although it is nice to get that clarity, the mystery of how the kingdom was set up without hand is still not solved.
In fact, the above clarity creates somewhat of a conundrum.
More on that later.
What is the difference between setting up God’s kingdom “with hands” or “without hands“?
To me, it is obvious.
Modern revelation makes it clear that it takes priesthood authority to set up God’s kingdom. One of the things we learn from Joseph Smith’s ministry is that priesthood keys and callings can be bestowed or confirmed by hand. In other words, by the laying on of hands. .
Indeed Moroni informed Joseph Smith that Elijah the prophet would reveal the priesthood by hand before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
“And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: 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.”
Although Elijah the prophet did in fact appear to Joseph and Oliver a few days after the dedicatory prayer, (Section 110) he did not reveal anything by hand.
He simply declared that the prophecy of his coming by Malachi, had already been fulfilled.
He verified that the “keys” (that he had previously revealed by the laying on of hands) had been committed to “their hands“.
13 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:
14 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—
15 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—
16 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.
How is it possible that Elijah the Prophet had already bestowed priesthood keys by hand? After all, according to the history of the church, section 110 represents the first time that Elijah appeared during the LDS restoration movement.
We have covered that mystery in previous posts. The Inspired Joseph Smith Revision of the Bible reveals that Elijah the Prophet from the Old Testament, is also John the Baptist in the New Testament.
Hence, Elijah the Tishbite, had already appeared to Joseph and Oliver in the personage of John the Baptist, and revealed and restored the priesthood by hand, back on May 15 1829. (Section 13)
1 Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness. Doctrine and Covenants 13:1
The chapter heading in Section 13 informs us that –
“the ordination was done by the hands of an angel..”
One of the trademarks of Joseph Smith’s ministry that differentiates it from most other Christian traditions is the bestowing of priesthood authority and power and spiritual blessings by the laying on of hands.
John the Baptist conferred the priesthood by the laying on of hands.
The elders began confirming members of the church by the laying on of hands.
The Melchizedek Priesthood was confirmed by the laying on of hands according to the voice of God out of heaven.
So why does the Book of Daniel inform us that the Kingdom of God that was set up, would be set up without hands?
Doesn’t that seem counterintuitive and contradictory to the official storyline of the latter day saint restoration?
Yes and no.
Hidden in plain site in the restoration narrative is the fact that priesthood authority does not always appear to be bestowed or confirmed by hand.
There is a secret backstory that has been omitted from the official history of the church.
This back story was revealed and declared by Joseph Newton, William Richards, and William Stanley, in 1863. These three individuals had identified Sidney Rigdon as the only possible successor to Joseph and Hyrum Smith as the prophet, seer and revelator of the restored church. They were reaching out to Latter day Saints to prove their case.
The name of their essay was “An Appeal to the Latter day Saints”
Here is a snippet from their thesis:
“Turn to the Book of Mormon and the former commandments,” 8th section and 13th paragraph of Doctrine and Covenants, we read thus:
“And now behold I give unto you (O. Cowdery), and also unto my servant Joseph, the keys of this gift, which shall bring to light this ministry.”
What ministry? Surely the ministry which was to finish the work of bringing to pass the restoration of Israel, and through these means prepare the way for the coming of Christ.
It is worthy of remark here, that the Spirit did not say, I give to you this ministry, but the keys to bring it to light.
Did they bring it to light? In the 11th section and 2nd paragraph, the following things on this subject are found. Let us here state a fact in relation to this revelation. It was written the first time that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon met; they had never seen each other till then.
“Behold, verily, verily I say unto my servant Sidney, I have looked upon thee and thy works. I have heard thy prayers, and prepared thee for a greater work. Thou art blessed, for thou shalt do great things. Behold thou wast sent forth even as John, to prepare the way before me and before Elijah which should come.”
Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith were told that they had the keys of this gift which should bring to light this ministry; and they say of Sidney Rigdon: “Thou art the man;” and who dare say they falsified?
Here the great question is settled. Those to whom it was given to point out this ministry, have pointed to the very man, calling him by name. No dispute can ever exist among those who turn to the Book of Mormon and the former commandments about it. Sidney Rigdon.. is the one who is to gether up the residue, after all others are broken and scattered…”
Section 35 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants is where the complete revelation is recorded. It informs us that God had called Sidney Rigdon to the ministry and sent him forth by simply inspiring him and placing a desire within his heart to preach the gospel. This calling from God took place without the opening of the heavens, without the visitation of angels, and WITHOUT THE LAYING ON OF HANDS!
One of the trademarks of Sidney’s preliminary ministry is that it was not initiated or conducted by the laying on of hands.
Yet he had a valid priesthood calling and ministry from God-
4 Thou art blessed, for thou shalt do great things. Behold thou wast sent forth, even as John, to prepare the way before me, and before Elijah which should come, and thou knewest it not.
5 Thou didst baptize by water unto repentance, but they received not the Holy Ghost;
6 But now I give unto thee a commandment, that thou shalt baptize by water, and they shall receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, even as the apostles of old.
As you can see, Sidney’s calling and ministry and priesthood authority was valid and endorsed by God.
Yet there was no laying on of hands.
I believe this reveals the great secret of how God’s kingdom was initially SET UP WITHOUT HANDS.
It appears to me that God did not initiate the latter day restoration movement through Joseph Smith. He did it through Sidney Rigdon. Rigdon prepared the way before Joseph’s ministry just as John the Baptist prepared the way before Christ’s ministry.
Joseph’s public ministry did not begin until about 1829-30 when he brought forth the Book of Mormon and formally organized the church. However, Sidney began preaching before 1820 and had established himself as one of the great Bible scholars and orators BEFORE the official restoration of the church.
Sidney Rigdon was a literalist. He knew that the true Church of Christ would be established just like the New Testament Church was and that it would have all of the miracles and spiritual gifts that the New Testament Church had enjoyed. He also was convinced that the body of Christ would have all things in common.
His associate Alexander Campbell disagreed.
This is why he parted ways with Alexander Campbell.
God had placed Sidney Rigdon and the members of his congregation in the land of Kirtland where the latter day restoration and gathering was to begin.
It was Joseph’s congregation that needed to relocate to Sidney’s place in the vineyard.
Sidney and his congregation had been practicing a form of New Testament communitarianism long before Joseph received a revelation validating that necessity of the practice.
On the very day that Sidney Rigdon met Joseph Smith, God revealed that He would use Sidney Rigdon as a divine vessel to bestow the Holy Ghost.
When the great, last work begins, all those that desire to preach the everlasting gospel must come before Joseph and Sidney to be ordained.
Sidney was to stand side by side with Joseph Smith in conducting the latter day work of taking the gospel to the world:
2 And I will lay my hand upon you by the hand of my servant Sidney Rigdon, and you shall receive my Spirit, the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom;
3 And you shall declare it with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna, blessed be the name of the most high God.
4 And now this calling and commandment give I unto you concerning all men—
5 That as many as shall come before my servants Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jun., embracing this calling and commandment, shall be ordained and sent forth to preach the everlasting gospel among the nations—
6 Crying repentance, saying: Save yourselves from this untoward generation, and come forth out of the fire, hating even the garments spotted with the flesh.
7 And this commandment shall be given unto the elders of my church, that every man which will embrace it with singleness of heart may be ordained and sent forth, even as I have spoken.
Although Joseph and Sidney worked in concert together, they each had separate and distinct ministries and administrations.
The Lord further differentiated and clarified their separate administrations in Section 90.
Notice how he acknowledges that the kingdom is in the process of coming forth for the last time:
Thus saith the Lord, verily, verily I say unto you my son, thy sins are forgiven thee, according to thy petition, for thy prayers and the prayers of thy brethren have come up into my ears.
2 Therefore, thou art blessed from henceforth that bear the keys of the kingdom given unto you; which kingdom is coming forth for the last time.
3 Verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come;
Although the kingdom had already begun to be set up and was in the process of emerging and that this emerging kingdom was coming forth for the last time, it is heavily implied that the kingdom would flee from the earth for a while leaving only the written oracles to guide people-
4 Nevertheless, through you shall the oracles be given to another, yea, even unto the church.
5 And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house.
The Lord makes it clear that Sidney and Frederick hold the keys of the last kingdom jointly and equally with Joseph Smith.
6 And again, verily I say unto thy brethren, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams, their sins are forgiven them also, and they are accounted as equal with thee in holding the keys of this last kingdom;
Now the Lord is going to differentiate between Joseph’s administration and the administration that is given to Sidney and Frederick.
7 As also through your administration (Sidney and Frederick) the keys of the school of the prophets, which I have commanded to be organized;
8 That thereby they may be perfected in their ministry for the salvation of Zion, and of the nations of Israel, and of the Gentiles, as many as will believe;
Sidney and Frederick are to organize and instruct the elders so that they may become perfected in their ministry. This is why Sidney was the principle instructor in the school of the prophets and this is why he wrote the Lectures on Faith.
Now the Lord addresses Joseph’s administration:
9 That through your administration (Joseph Smith) they may receive the word,
Joseph was to act as a revelator and bring forth the word of God and to deliver it to Sidney and Frederick.
Now the Lord addresses the ministry of Sidney and Frederick again:
and through their administration (Sidney and Frederick) the word may go forth unto the ends of the earth, unto the Gentiles first, and then, behold, and lo, they shall turn unto the Jews.
Sidney began setting up the kingdom of God before Joseph was called to his ministry.
He was called by God to that work without the laying on of hands.
Joseph was later called to his ministry and given priesthood keys by the laying on of hands.
Sidney joined forces with Joseph Smith and they worked together in laying the foundation of a future work. In other words, they were helping to establish and set up the Kingdom of God on earth even though it would not come forth in power to destroy all of the earthly kingdoms of the world until a future time.
This is why the Lord informs them that the keys will remains with them in life and death.
Both Joseph and Sidney are to return at a later time to finish their ministries and the administrative commissions they were given.
I believe it was Sidney Rigdon’s ministry that initiated the process of setting up of the kingdom of God on earth. This initial setting up of the kingdom through Sidney was NOT done by hand.
That is why one of the first things Joseph and Oliver were commanded to do with the keys of their gift, was to bring to light Sidney Rigdon’s ministry.
Do the revelations that Joseph brought forth validate lineal, inherited priesthood that Transends the need for reception through the laying on of hands?
Have you ever wondered why God found it necessary in section 68 of the D&C to state that those who are literal firstborn descendants of Aaron have a legal right to the Bishopric without needing to be ordained by the laying on of hands?
“There remain hereafter, in the due time of the Lord, other bishops to be set apart unto the church, to minister even according to the first; Wherefore they shall be high priests who are worthy, and they shall be appointed by the First Presidency of the Melchizedek Priesthood, except they be literal descendants of Aaron. And if they be literal descendants of Aaron they have a legal right to the bishopric, if they are the firstborn among the sons of Aaron; For the firstborn holds the right of the presidency over this priesthood, and the keys or authority of the same. No man has a legal right to this office, to hold the keys of this priesthood, except he be a literal descendant and the firstborn of Aaron.” D&C 68:16-18
I could never understand why God provided the above information since it never appeared to be applicable to anyone in the Church. Is it possible that there are other aspects of priesthood that are also inherited?
We are also informed that all “evangelical ministers” must be identified and called by revelation, because they also have a legal right based on patriarchal-lineal descent.
39 It is the duty of the Twelve, in all large branches of the church, to ordain evangelical ministers, as they shall be designated unto them by revelation—
40 The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.
Clearly, there is much about priesthood that we don’t understand.
We know that Joseph and Oliver both obviously had lineal priesthood. But where did they get the priesthood “keys” of the “gift” by which they were to identify Rigdon’s ministry?
It was not by hand!
Joseph and Oliver are told that they have the keys of a gift in Section 6 which was given in April of 1829.
This was before John the Baptist had revealed and restored the priesthood of Aaron by hand.
It was before the church was even organized.
Hence it can be said that even Joseph’s ministry and his work in bringing forth the kingdom of God was not initially set up by hand.