The Old Testament speaks of “Cities of Refuge”:
They were “six Levitical towns in the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah in which the perpetrators of accidental manslaughter could claim the right of asylum. Maimonides, invoking talmudic literature, expands the city of refuge count to all 48 Levitical cities. Outside of these cities, blood vengeance against such perpetrators was allowed by law. The Bible names the six cities as being cities of refuge: Golan, Ramoth, and Bosor, on the east (left bank) of the Jordan River, and Kedesh, Shechem, and Hebron on the western (right) side. (Wiki)
Interestingly, modern revelation also speaks of cities of refuge in the end times, although with a different slant. Instead of providing refuge for those who have committed accidental manslaughter, they will provide refuge for every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor during a time of global unrest and civil war. (D&C 45)
Below is a keyword search on cities of refuge and the term refuge in general in the D&C:
Earlier in this series we noted that Hyrum Smith identified the cornerstone of Zion in Nauvoo as a place of refuge wherein the Lord would hide his elect from the indignation that will scourge the wicked;
Hyrum paraphrased the prophecy of Isaiah to identify Nauvoo as the “hiding place“.
“..therefore tarry not in any place whatever, but come forth unto this place from all the world, until it is filled up, and polished, and sanctified according to my word, saith the Lord, come ye forth from the ends of the Earth, that I may hide you from mine indignation that shall scourge the wicked..”
Here is what Isaiah says:
20 ¶ Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
Some people feel that there will be interim cities of refuge (tent cities) before the final gathering out to Zion. In fact, a non-member of the church had some strong impressions about cities of refuge while touring the Cardston Temple in 1921. (Ref)
With all of this in mind, I found it interesting when a friend from Missouri sent me a link about how Kosciusko County, Indiana is now a Constitutional Rights Sanctuary. The main website lists other cities that have become sanctuary cities. I noticed two cities in Idaho that are listed as sanctuary cities, Eagle Idaho and Kuna City Idaho.
“Rooms” in the Nauvoo Boarding House of the Lord
As previously touched on in this series, one of the interesting things about the Nauvoo House of the Lord is that it was to not only be a place for the weary traveler to contemplate the word of the Lord and seek His face, it was also to be a house wherein all of the leading presiding priesthood offices were to have “rooms“:
143 The above offices I have given unto you, and the keys thereof, for helps and for governments, for the work of the ministry and the perfecting of my saints.
144 And a commandment I give unto you, that you should fill all these offices and approve of those names which I have mentioned, or else disapprove of them at my general conference;
145 And that ye should prepare rooms for all these offices in my house when you build it unto my name, saith the Lord your God. Even so. Amen.
Rooms were to be prepared for the offices (officers) of the priesthood. This gives context to the use of the word room, when speaking about how William Law, was to be appointed, ordained, and anointed, as counselor unto Joseph Smith, in the priesthood “room” of Hyrum Smith.
91 And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant William be appointed, ordained, and anointed, as counselor unto my servant Joseph, in the room of my servant Hyrum, that my servant Hyrum may take the
office of Priesthood and Patriarch, which was appointed unto him by his father, by blessing and also by right;
92 That from henceforth he shall hold the keys of the patriarchal (evangelical) blessings upon the heads of all my people,
93 That whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Whether or not the use of the terms “room” and “rooms” in section 124 relative to the Boarding House of the Lord, are used symbolically or literally is not really clear.
What does seem curious, is that Joseph Jr.’s assistant in the first presidency is to be ordained in Hyrum’s priesthood “room” instead of Joseph’s priesthood “room”.
Hyrum is being acknowledge as the highest priesthood officer in the church and kingdom.
Even higher than Joseph.
This passage of scripture is the first and only time in scripture that anyone is acknowledged as holding the “office of priesthood and patriarch” in those specific terms even though the office had clearly already been in existence.
Office of Priesthood??
What is that?
Even more curious is the fact that Hyrum’s ascension to the highest priesthood office in the church is declared to be valid based on two things-
- Being the oldest living son of Joseph Smith Sr.
- Having been ordained to the office by Joseph Smith Sr.
The following quote is from a patriarchal blessing given to Hyrum Smith by his Father, Joseph Smith Sr., on December 9th 1834
He shall stand in the tracks of his father and be numbered among those who hold the right of patriarchal priesthood, even the evangelical priesthood, and power shall be upon him that in his old age his name may be magnified on the earth. (Recorded by Oliver Cowdery)
Bottomline: Joseph Smith Sr., who had died several months previous to this revelation known as section 124, had previously held the same position that section 124 was declaring his son Hyrum to hold. Indeed, Hyrum was replacing his father in that patricarchal/evangelical ministry. Father Joseph Smith Sr. had been the highest presiding authority over the Church of the latter day saints, that Hyrum was being ordained to.
As it turns out, Father Smith had presided in the highest Evangelical /patriarchal priesthood position over the entire church of the latter day saints, for about six years before he died in September of 1840.
If you are new to this blog and have been steeped in the orthodox history of the church, you are probably having a huge brain-fart right now because you have never heard that Father Smith held such an esteemed position of authority over the entire church.
You may be thinking, “with all due respect, how could an old feeble man who was seldom heard from, have been presiding over Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and the entire church?”
More on that later, however, it is critical for new readers to understand that from June of 1831 to December of 1834, Joseph Smith presided over the restored “Church of Christ” by the law of common consent as a high priest of the Melchizedek. That 3 1/2 year period is a prophetic period prophesied of in ancient scripture.
Following that 3 1/2 year period, the Lord pronounced the church leaders and members to be condemned and the church was downgraded in priesthood authority.
The Church of Christ was renamed the Church of the Latter day Saints and it was now presided over by lineal patriarchal priesthood hierarchy which is also referred to as “evangelical” priesthood authority.
The evangelical priesthood is determined based on lineage from father to son, and it is a lesser priesthood authority and power than that of Melchizedec priesthood which is not determined by the calling of God’s voice out of heaven.
Joseph Smith declared that
He later clarified the three orders of priesthood once the saints got to Nauvoo, after the saints had become condemned and downgraded in presiding priesthood authority. Several different accounts of Joseph’s discourse are provided below and all of them confirm that Melchizedek’s priesthood is greater than ,Abraham’s patriarchal priesthood.
The official history of the church contains this summary of the discourse relative to the three orders of priesthood-
3 grand orders of priesthood referred to here.
1st. King of Shiloam–power & authority over that of Abraham holding the key & the power of endless life.–… must sacrifice all to attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life… anointing & sealing–called elected and made sure without father &c. a priesthood which holds the priesthood by right from the Eternal Gods.–and not be descent from father and mother.
2d Priesthood, patriarchal authority finish that temple and god Will fill it with power.
3d Priesthood. Levitical”
The above demenstrates that the highst priesthood is not based on lineal descent from father to son, rather it requires the sacrifice of all things
The following is from the journal entry of James Burgess:
Hebrewes 7 chap. Paul is here treating of three different preisthoods, namely the preisthood of Aron, Abraham, and Melchizedeck, Abraham’s preisthood was of greater power than Levi’s and Melchizedeck’s was of greater power than that of Abraham.
Here is the Journal entry of Franklin D. Richards confirming that the Melchizedek priesthood is greater than patriarchal priesthood and clarifying that it is a greater authority that that of patriarch or apostle-
There are 3 grand principles or orders of Priesthood portrayed in this chapter
1st Levitical which was never able to administer a Blessing but only to bind heavy burdens which neither they nor their father able to bear.
2 Abrahams Patriarchal power which is the greatest yet experienced in this church
3d That of Melchisedec who had still greater power even power of an endless life of which was our Lord Jesus Christ which also Abraham obtained by the offering of his son Isaac which was not the power of a Prophet nor apostle nor Patriarch only but of King & Priest to God to open the windows of Heaven and pour out the peace & Law of endless Life to man & No man can attain to the Joint heirship with Jesus Christ with out being administered to by one having the same power & Authority of Melchisedec..
Understanding the distinction between high priests in the Melchizedek priesthood and those that officiate in the patriarchal priesthood, which also sometimes includes the designation of “high priest” is essential in understanding the significance of the priesthood order that is spoken of in section 124.
Hyrum Held Two Positions
Interestingly, the Lord also appointed Hyrum to be a prophet, seer and revelator unto the church just as Joseph and the other members of the presidency were.
94 And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph;
95 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;
96 That my servant Hyrum may bear record of the things which I shall show unto him, that his name may be had in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever.
The fulness of the Mechizedek priesthood is not necessary to be a prophet, seer and revelator. Joseph functioned in that capacity shortly after John the Baptist restored the keys of the evangelical priesthood and several years before the higher priesthood was restored.
Getting back to the Nauvoo ear and section 124-
It may seem somewhat unusual that Hyrum was being asked to function in the first presidency as a prophet seer and revelator as well as to preside over it in the “office of priesthood and patriarch“, however, God was preparing to temporarily release Joseph from his calling in the first presidency per the succession prophecy contained in Section 43.
“..there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.
But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.”
As documented in previous posts, Joseph did in fact resign from his position a few years later, as a prophet for the church.
Hence, the Lord was placing Hyrum in the batter’s box to create a seamless transition when Joseph would eventually acknowledge that he was no longer going to prophesy for the church.
Even though Hyrum was acting as the presiding patriarch and president over the first presidency and the entire church, he would need to be counselled by Joseph in learning how to receive revelation as a prophet seer and revelator.
This patriarchal order seems typological to ancient kingdoms in Israel. For instance, King David held the highest patriarchal priesthood office over his kingdom yet, the prophet Nathan seemed to have the highest gift of revelation and was the one that the word of the Lord to David often came through. He would deliver messages to David from the Lord. (notwithstanding David was also somewhat revelatory as well. )
But I digress.
In this episode, I wanted to address “priesthood rooms” in the Nauvoo Boarding House of the Lord and the office of “priesthood and patriarch“.
More specifically, I want to focus on the life of Father Joseph Smith Sr. relative to his role and contribution in the LDs restoration movement.
William’s Ordination was to Take Place
in Hyrum’s Room
If William Law was to be a counselor to Joseph Smith Jr., why was his ordination and anointing to take place in the “room” of Hyrum Smith, rather than the room of Joseph Smith Jr.?
Because Hyrum Smith was replacing his father in the office of “priesthood and patriarch” over the whole Church and as such, he was higher in the patriarchal (evangelical) order of the church than Joseph, Sidney or William.
Hence, the presiding elders of the first presidency were all under the priesthood direction of the Patriarch and President over the entire church, which was now Hyrum Smith.
At least symbolically, we know that the cornerstone stake of Zion and the Lord’s boarding house was to be polished with the refinement of a palace.
Imagine a majestic palace with lots of windows which represents many rooms in the palace.
Why many rooms?
Because countless strangers from the seed of Abraham would be accepting the gospel and coming to seek the face of the Lord.
Some of those rooms pertained to priesthood offices and would possibly have smaller rooms or compartments within them.
This series has taken us through quite an evolution in our perception of the Nauvoo Boarding house, from perceiving it to be a small motel that accepts credit cards from non-believers, to the magnificent and majestic palace and pavilion of the Lord wherein only those that are worthy will be crowned with honor and glory once inside.
Again, this of course may seem confusing to those that have been indoctrinated in the orthodox history of the church.
If in fact Hyrum was higher in evangelical administrative leadership than Joseph, by virtue of being the eldest living son of Joseph Smith Sr., and also by virtue of the fact that he had been ordained by Joseph Smith Sr., then this begs the question, when and how did Joseph Smith Sr. become so important and higher up in priesthood authority than Joseph Smith?
We find ourselves needing to dig a little deeper into the history of the church and into the life and role of Father Smith to get the proper context of what is going on here.
Understanding these principles are requisite for understanding the priesthood organization of the church and also what is being communicated in section 124.
Over the years I have felt impressed to focus on and pay tribute to various historical figures in the LDS restoration movement. I did this primarily because I felt they did not get adequate recognition and a fair reporting of their contribution to the movement from the orthodox history of the church. Additionally, we need to understand the Lord’s promises about these men returning to fulfill their callings.
Among these personalities were Sidney Rigdon, William Law and Lyman Wight, three of my favorite heroes of the LDS restoration movement. While the orthodox history paints them as villains and traitors that did not endure to the end, I consider them to be heroes. They will be among the first laborers of the last kingdom who will return to initiate the final gathering to Zion.
In this post, we shall focus on another hero of mine that does not get the credit he deserves.
Like many historical figures, Joseph Smith Sr. is not adequately portrayed by historians.
Like the others listed, he played a remarkable role that has not been properly characterized and acknowledged.
LDS.org provides a rather short bio on Father Smith that highlights the following facts about his life and contribution to the Lord’s work
- Father of 11 children
- Business bankruptcy of his ginseng root venture
- Resistance of organized religion
- One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon
- Labored on the Kirtland Temple
- Attended the School of the Prophets
- Served as member of the high council
- Served as assistant counselor in First Presidency
- Called as Patriarch to the Church
While everything in the above bullet points are true, they do not paint a valid and complete picture of his real contribution to the work nor do they adequately emphasize his role as the president of the church for six years after the fulness of the priesthood was lost and the church was condemned by the Lord.
My Attorney Friend
The reason I decided to focus on Joseph Smith Sr. in this episode is because of a very emotional phone call that I got from an attorney friend of mine about three months ago which I have not been able to get off of my mind.
My friend began the phone call by asking if I had read the book Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman.
I informed him that I had but it was a long time ago.
I pulled it off my bookshelf and brushed off the dust and opened it, noticing countless notations that I had previously made in it but forgotten about.
He then asked if he could read a few pages out of it to me beginning at the end of page 261
These pages contained a historical sketch of Father Smith’s life and revealed in great clarity the business failures and poverty he experienced which led to a serious problem with an alcohol addiction.
Bushman is considered a top-notch LDS historian, but unlike most active LDS church historians, he does not attempt to sanitize the history. He pulls no punches when relating the cold hard facts of history.
As my friend began reading about Father Smith’s life to me, he began to weep several times.
I was really touched by the eloquence in which Bushman described the painful life of Father Smith, as well as my friend’s emotional response to it.
In the narrative, it is mentioned that Joseph Smith Jr. ordained his father to be Patriarch of the Church and it acknowledges the fact that there is a dispute among historians as to whether this ordination took place in December of 1833 or December of 1834.
Most orthodox histories place his ordination in December of 1833 which is erroneous. More on that later.
But for now, I want to provide a few short snippets from Bushman’s book that my friend read to me which paint a rather bleak picture of Father Smith’s life.
Bushman begins with the blessing Father Smith received from his son Joseph to lay the foundation-
“Although couched in formal language, Joseph’s blessing on Joseph Sr. expressed the feelings of a son for a father who had suffered repeated defeats. This was a man who had lost one farm when his storekeeping business failed, who had been reduced to tenancy for fourteen years while his children were young, and then lost a second farm when he missed the mortgage payments.
Fifty-eight years old when the Church was organized, Joseph Sr. was back in tenancy, with no house or land to call his own. Defeated by the rigors of the economic order he was told by his son he would be a prince over his posterity. “Blessed of the Lord is my father, ” Joseph said, “for he shall stand in the midst of his posterity and shall be comforted by their blessings when he is old and bowed down with years and he shall be called a prince over them.”..
Whatever else Joseph Sr. lacked, “his seed shall rise up and call him blessed… his name shall be had in remembrance to the end”
The summation of Joseph Sr.’s life above, arguably paints him as a miserable failure. But the happy news that Bushman want to emphasis is that his seed will rise up and call him blessed, thanks to a blessing from a compassionate son.
Bushman goes on to suggest that Sr.’s life had to be redeemed by his sons-
“Joseph Smith Sr. seemed to understand that his sons had redeemed his life. When he blessed Joseph and hyrum in December 1834, he thanked them for enduring the hardships of their early lives. Hyrum, Joseph Sr. said, had “born the burthen and heat of the day” and “labored much for the good of thy father’s family.”The father was grateful for Hyrum’s kindness in tolerating Joseph Sr.’s weakness.
“Thou hast always stood by thy father, and reached forth the helping hand to lift him up, when he was in affliction, and though he has been out of the way through wine, thou has never forsaken him, nor laughed him to scorn.” Joseph’s Sr.’s candid words speak the sorrows of a failing father in a cruel time. Besides his business failures, his weakness for wine brought him down and opened him to the scorn of his won children. Joseph was grateful that his sons did not laugh; “For all these kindnesses the Lord my God will bless thee”
In return, he could bless Hyrum with “the same blessings with which Jacob blessed his son Joseph, for thou art his true descendent.” He could not give his son wealth, but he could say “thy posterity shall be numbered with he house of Ephraim, and with them thou shalt stand up to crown the tribes of Israel.”
According to Bushman, Joseph Smith Sr. seemed to realize that his sons had redeemed his life.
His life was so pathetic and his contribution to the work so miniscule that it needed to be redeemed by his sons?
Bushman authoritatively opines:
Joseph Smith Sr. could make these promises because Joseph Smith Jr. had given him priesthood, while the father had given his son only hardship.
Father Smith could only offer hardship.
He brought nothing of value to the table.
I ask you, was it Joseph that decided give Father Smith priesthood through pity, because he was a looser, in an effort to restore some semblance of dignity in his life or was it the Lord giving Father Smith priesthood keys which were legitimately deserved by right, handed down from the fathers?
Was “hardship” and humiliation really the only contribution that Father Smith made to his sons and the work of the Lord the Smith family was involved with?
Joseph Sr.’s blessing on Joseph Jr. acknowledged that “thou has suffered much in thy youth, and the poverty and afflictions of thy father’s family have been a grief to thy soul.”
Joseph Jr. had mourned his family’s humiliations and assumed responsibility for lifting them from their low state. “Thou has stood by thy father, and like Shem, would bave covered his nakedness, rather than see him exposed to shame”
Yes, being the son of an accused drunkard and living in poverty was obviously humiliating, but seriously, was hardship all that Father Smith had offered?
Bushman’s historical sketch of Father Smith presented him as a pathetic useless eater, addict that contributed but pain and embarrassment to his family and nothing substantial to the work of the Lord.
One gets the opinion that the calling Joseph gave his Father was a symbolic, honorary calling of no real substance. At best Father Smith was a placeholder.
While I appreciate that Bushman has a good heart and wants to illustrate the pain that the Smith Family had over Father Smith’s business failures, depression and alcohol addition, I beg to differ with the overall characterization of Father Smith as a failure with very little serious contribution to the work.
In previous blogs we have uncovered an astounding backstory that has been lost or deliberately obscured to the orthodox history.
One of the remarkable discoveries that has surfaced is that the Melchizedek priesthood was not restored in 1829 by Peter James and John, rather it was restored in June 5th 1831 by the voice of God from heaven, at the special conference at the Morley Farm.
That began a 3 ½ year period when the fulness of the Gospel was on the earth, ending on December 5th 1834 when God revealed that both the leaders and members of the restored church had been condemned!
Why is this 3 ½ year period significant when reviewing the role of Father Smith?
Because once you realize that his ordination took place the day after the Church was condemned and told they must have a REFORMATION IN ALL THINGS, the significance of Father Smith’s ordination becomes obvious.
The church was no longer being presided over by Melchizedek Priesthood once the church was condemned on December 5 1834. It was now being presided over by the Patriarch of the Evangelical Priesthood, namely Father Joseph Smith Sr.
That is why the research of Quinn is so earth shattering important!
Thanks to the detective work of historian Michael Quinn, we now know the true date of this ordination did not take place in December of 1833, it took place on December 6th 1834, one day after the fulness was taken from the saints and the Lord declared that the church was under condemnation.
It took place one day after the Lord said that there must be a REFORMATION IN ALL THINGS (including the priesthood order of the church).
Here are some of the observations and conclusions that Quinn makes in identifying the true date of the ordination:
“The traditional account of this office traces its beginnings to 18 December 1833, when Smith is said to have ordained his father, Joseph Smith, Sr. However, as is the case with other details in the traditional history, this dating is incorrect.
Again, the confusion comes out of changes made in earlier documents. historians have long acknowledged complications associated with this dating.. Cowdery’s introduction to the blessing book describes Joseph Sr. being ordained first a president of the priesthood and then a patriarch. Cowdery goes on to describe meetings in December of 1834 rather than December 1833 which match these particulars. According to Cowdery, on 6 December 1834 Smith, Rigdon, and Williams ordained Joseph Sr. and Hyrum Smith “presidents of the high priesthood. ”
Because Cowdery had been ordained “assistant” (associate) president on 5 December 1834, he was able to assist in ordaining the elder Smith as patriarch a day later along with other members of the presidency-Joseph Jr., Rigdon, and Williams.
Three days later on 9 December 1834 “Joseph Smith, Senior, a Patriarch, and President of the high Priesthood .. pronounced” blessings “upon his children, assembled at the house of his son Joseph.” Why would Joseph Smith, Sr., have waited over a year to pronounce his first blessing if he had ben ordained patriarch in 1833?… It was on 6 December 1834 not 18 December 1833- that Smith ordained his father a president and patriarch.. holding the keys of the patriarchal priesthood over the Kingdom of God on earth, even the Church of the Latter day Saints”
I might add that in addition to the historical detective work of Quinn, there is another glaring piece of evidence embedded within the blessing that Joseph Smith Jr. gave to his father.
In it, Father Smith was told that he would hold the ” keys of the patriarchal priesthood over
the Church of the Latter day Saints”
Did you catch that?
Father Smith was to hold the priesthood keys over the “church of the latter day saints”
The name of the church was not changed from the “church of Christ” to the “church of the latter day saints” until May 3rd 1834. Before that time, the term never existed in the history of the church. That proves categorically that the ordination had to have taken place AFTER the erroneous date of December 18 1833.
Clearly, the erroneous assumption that the ordination took place in 1833 is easily proven false even without the more detailed research and observations of Quinn, although Quinn’s research is critical in identifying the exact date.
This is what the Lord said in a revelation given on December 5th 1834 just prior to Oliver Cowdery’s ordination into an office in the Church of the Latter day Saints is provided below:
‘Verily, condemnation resteth upon you, who are appointed to lead my Chu[r]ch, and to be saviors of men: and also upon the church: And there must needs be a repentance and a refor[m]ation among you, in all things..” See Joseph Smith Papers
The higher Melchizedek priesthood which had been restored 3 ½ years earlier at the conference at the Morley Farm was lost because the saints had failed to live the law of consecration and the fulness of the gospel, and the leaders and members of the church were pronounced by the Lord to be under condemnation. This means that the Melchizedek priesthood was no longer presiding over the Church.
Further, the saints needed to have a reformation in all things, including the priesthood and priesthood structure by which it was governed.
Joseph Sr. was not just being given some honorary calling as a patriarch by Joseph Smith out of sympathy or to restore his reputation. Father Smith was literally being called of God to preside over the church at the highest level of evangelical priesthood!!
The Melchizedekian priesthood was no longer presiding over the church. It was now Patriarchal priesthood that was presiding.
Father Smith was not just being called to be a patriarch over his family or over a stake, he was being called to preside over the entire church and kingdom.
He would “be numbered among those who hold the right of patriarchal priesthood, even the keys of that ministry“
So shall it be with my father: he shall be called a prince over his posterity, holding the keys of the patriarchal priesthood over the kingdom of God on earth, even the Church of the Latter Day Saints;
A little tid-bit in church history that few people pay much attention to or realize the significance of, is the fact that a few years later when the dedication of the Kirtland temple took place, it was Father Joseph Smith Sr that sat in the highest seat in the administrative temple pulpit!
“In the seating in the Kirtland temple, Joseph Sr. sat in the highest pulpit above his son.” (pg 263 Rough Stone)
Because in addition to his position as the Patriarch over the entire church, Father Smith was also the President over the entire church and held the keys of the evangelical/patriarchal kingdom of God on earth.
It should be remembered that evangelical priesthood is handed down from father to son by the literal descendants of the chosen seed. In addition, one must be identified and called by revelation:
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.
41 This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner: (D&C 107)
This explains why the Lord Justified Hyrum’s calling to take the office of priesthood and patriarch based on the fact that he held the right of his father, Joseph Smith Sr. by calling and by lineal right:
that my servant Hyrum may take the office of Priesthood and Patriarch, which was appointed unto him by his father, by blessing and also by right;
92 That from henceforth he shall hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people,
93 That whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (D&C 124)
I want to say that I think brother Bushman did a magnificent job of describing the pain that Father Smith and his boys felt about his business failures, depression and struggle with alcohol.
However my frustration is that only part of the story is being told about the true magnificence and importance of Father Smith’ role and contribution in the work of the Lord.
I want to suggest that both the bio of Joseph Smith Sr on LDS.org as well as the one written by brother Bushman in Rough Stone Rolling really missed the boat in describing the huge role that Father Smith played in the restoration Movement.
Notice the chronological profundity of the following dated sequence of three major events that took place directly after the fulness of the gospel was rejected.
On December 5 1834 the Lord declares the church to be under condemnation
On December 6th 1834 Father Smith is ordained as President and Patriarch of the Church
On December 9th 1834 Father Smith gives his children patriarchal blessings and Joseph’s blessing reveals that he will
It is notable that patriarchs were not called in the church until towards the end of the 3 ½ year period when the fulness was on the earth, another validation that the priesthood structure of the church was being restructured.
Was Father Smith a Type of Noah?
Ok, Just about everything that we have covered about Joseph Smith Sr and the reorganization of the church priesthood hierarchy up to this point is probably yesterday’s news to many old time readers of this blog. However, I want to point something out to you that you may not have pondered before.
Have you ever noticed that Joseph Smith Sr. likened himself to Noah in both the patriarchal blessing to Joseph Jr. AND Hyrum?
|Joseph Sr blessing to Hyrum
December 9 1834
|Joseph Sr Blessing the Joseph Jr.
December 9 1834
|“..thou hast always stood by thy father and reached forth the helping hand to lift him up when he was in affliction; and though he has been out of the way through wine?, thou hast never forsaken him, nor laughed him to scorn,..||“..Thou hast stood by thy father, and like Shem, would have covered his nakedness, rather than see him exposed to shame: when the daughters of the Gentiles laughed..”|
Many critics have lambasted Father Smith for being an alcoholic and used that to assassinate his character.
First of all, I think it is interesting that Christians and Mormons can marginalize the seriousness of Noah’s alcohol indulgence while taking a much less charitable view of Father Smith’s.
Why is this?
If a high-profile ancient prophet/patriarch thousands of years ago was a winebibber, it is no big deal. We can cut him some slack. But if it is done by someone in relatively recent times, who is not publicly known for a substantial contribution to the Lord’s work, it is a glaring condemnation on the man’s character.
I suppose some would suggest that Father Smith was just using Noah’s penchant for wine as a justification of his own, to marginalize his actions.
Others see the Noah comparison that Father Smith made about himself as a legitimate one to emphasize the humiliation that Father Smith felt and the empathy and loyalty that his sons showed him.
I believe the comparison is deeper than that.
I actually believe that the great prophet/patriarch Noah and the great patriarch/prophet Joseph Smith Sr., had something more in common with each other.
I want to suggest that Father Smith and his associates acted as latter day intercessors just as Noah and his family did.
Dispensational Transition Points
Let me suggest that throughout religious history there have been prophets and patriarchs that have stood in the gap as intercessors during dispensational transition points.
My use of the term dispensational transition points has reference to any point in time when God’s relationship with his people significantly changes. Regardless of whether that change is positive or negative.
For instance at one point during Moses ministry, the Lord declared that he was going to wipe the children of Israel off of the earth in his hot displeasure. At that time, Moses stood in the gap as an intercessor to prevent that from happening at that time.
That would be an example of a transition point in God’s relationship with his people.
On the other hand, Enoch stood in the gap during a time when God’s people were transitioning from a fallen state to a Zion state.
That is also an example of a transition point.
Now, getting back to Father Smith and Noah-
Noah stood in the gap at a time when the inhabitants that he had preached to ultimately rejected the gospel and God decided to destroy all flesh from off the face of the earth. During this dispensational transition point, Noah and a handful of people entered the ark and eventually facilitated in the peopling of the earth.
Noah warned those that got destroyed. He saved enough souls to people the earth again.
The atonement statute in Leviticus 16 and many other related passages alludes to the fact that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon and others would jointly offer an intercession during a dispensational transition point.
In past posts we have talked about the amazing role of Joseph and Sidney and we have speculated as to who some of the others were, such as Hyrum and Oliver, etc.
However, I have never really considered Father Smith to have been one of them until I realized Father Smith’s role in the revised leadership of the church after the church was condemned.
Clearly, Father Smith played a significant role during a dispensational transition point.
Getting back to the Noah pattern, notice what the Lord said during Noah’s ministry, shortly before he wiped the inhabitants of the world from off the face of the earth
And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Gen 6:12
The earth was corrupt before God; and it was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence; and behold, I will destroy all flesh from off the earth. (Gen 8:17-18)
Look at the similar verbiage used before the 3 ½ years when the fulness was on the earth:
For all flesh is corrupted before me; and the powers of darkness prevail upon the earth, among the children of men, in the presence of all the hosts of heaven—
12 Which causeth silence to reign, and all eternity is pained, and the angels are waiting the great command to reap down the earth, to gather the tares that they may be burned; and, behold, the enemy is combined. (D&C 38)
That passage is very similar to the ones at the time of Noah which preceded the flood. It was given on January 2 1831 about a ½ year before the fulness was restored to the earth.
Now look at the following declaration by the Lord on July 23 1837, about 2 ½ years after the fulness was taken form the earth.
23 Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face.
24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.
25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
These ominous pronouncements demonstrate that the saints were in a severe state of darkness prior to the restoration of the fulness and then returned to it after the fulness was taken. However, it also demonstrates that a dispensational transition point similar to the one Noah was involved with, took place when Father Smith intervened to lead the church after the church fell into condemnation.
In the case of Noah, the inhabitants of the world were destroyed. In the case of Father Smith, an intercession took place which prevented the world from being destroyed.
Although we often credit Joseph and Sidney as being the two primary intercessors, I think it is fair to say that Father Smith and others played a huge role as well. In my view, his comparison to Noah is deeper and more complex than historians give credit for.
Father Smith was Quite Revelatory
In closing I would point out that if in fact patriarchal blessings can be considered “revelations”, then Father Smith was among the most revelatory brethren in the restoration movement. He gave many patriarchal blessings.
To get a feel for the depth of his soul, one should read the many blessings that he gave.
One of the most revelatory blessings that Father Smith gave was on July 20th 1840 just a few months before he died. In that patriarchal blessing given to Robert D Foster, he very possibly prophesied about brother Fosters future involvement in the Nauvoo Expositor four years later. He also reveals that he will be one of the servants of the Lord that returns during the end times:
“thou mayest have many aff[l]ictions, and trials, but the Lord will deliver thee from them all, if thou will put thy trust in him, and look unto him with full purpose of heart, be patient, for in Patience we possess our Souls,
.thy enemies will rage, and persecute thee, and foam out their own Shame, and Shall See the error of their ways, and be constrained, to acknowledge their error..
.. the Lord has a great work for thee, if faithful to do all his will, and keep all his commandments, thou art of the tribe of Joseph and of the Seed of Ephraim, being of the household of faith, and entitled to all the Blessings of our forefathers, and the Blessings Shall be upon thee and on thy posterity forever, thou Shall instruct thy companion, if living and gain her, into the kingdom, many of her friends Shall obey the truth, thou must yet go to the west, to the north and to the South, thou Shall yet travel to the east, thou Shall Sail on the ocean, thou Shall cross the mighty deep, thou Shall preac[h] to Captains at Sea, and Baptise them in the briny deep,
thou Shall speak to the raging Sea, and its angry waves Shall be Still the winds Shall be Still at thy bidding, Angels Shall minister to thee if thou will exercise faith sufficient to Stand the[i]r appearing thou Shall hear the voice of God, thy mind Shall be enlarged thy understanding Shall grow, thou Shall Stand to see great thing[s] take place, thou Shalt behold thousands fall by the Sword, and hundreds perish in famine, thou Shall See many widows, and the orphans left destitute, but thou Shall have power to take up the orphans and provid[e] for them, for god will be with thee and thou Shall have means to do good,
I bless them with the choice Blessings of Joseph, thy Name is written in heaven, and enrol[l]ed amongst the Sanctified, thou Shall be one of the hundred and forty and four thousand, I seal all these blessings upon the[e] if thou art faithful to walk in obedience, and keep all the commandments of God and I seal thee against the destroyer, and the Devil, and all delusion Spirits, and the destroying Angle [Angel] Shall pass by thee I seal [thee] up to Eternal life in the name of Jesus Christ Even So Amen”
Praise God for Father Joseph Smith Sr., one of the great men of the kingdom.