On December 5 & 6th 0f 1834, four members of the Presidency of the Church of the Latter day Saints met to Ordain Oliver Cowdery as one of three assistants to President Joseph Smith Jr..
During this event, some pretty amazing stuff was revealed that I am going to commentary about in this post.
Over the years, as I have searched the scriptures and the history of the church, I have found it to be absolutely astounding how much incredible information has been made available to historians during the last for four generations, and yet the significance and meaning of much of this information has remained sealed up by the Lord.
Although historians, researchers and authors have acknowledged and referenced much of this raw historical data in books and papers, they have largely been oblivious to what it all means because the Lord has previously sealed up the meaning of this information from us. It is only in recent times that the Lord God appears to be taking the partial blindness off of Israel and opening up the meaning behind much of the historical details that has always been available to researchers.
Because of this, it is now possible to create an understandable timeline of what really happened during Joseph Smith’s ministry.
The title of the “notes” taken in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery is:
“Account of Meetings, Revelation, and Blessing, 5–6 December 1834”
I will be quoting some, but not all of the above mentioned text. Those that would like to read the entire document for greater context, or simply check the accuracy of the quotations I provide, to a copy of the original source, are encouraged to view the online transcript that is available at the Joseph Smith Papers website.
In this commentary we will document that exactly 3 1/2 years to the day, after the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood at the Morley Farm Conference, the Lord placed both the leaders of the church and the members of the church under CONDEMNATION and told them that they needed to have a REFORMATION IN ALL THINGS. This revelation was clearly documented at the time, and eventually entered into the official history of the church, but never canonized in the D&C.
Below is a snippet from the revelation:
“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..”
The pronouncement of condemnation upon the leaders of the church was not a new thing. In September of 1832, (D&C 84:54-58) the Lord had declared that the leaders of the church had brought the whole church under condemnation because of their vanity and unbelief. The main difference between the two revelatory rebukes, was that the revelation in 1834 was a second rebuke, requiring a reformation of all things. In my opinion, the declaration that there must be a reformation in all things can only mean one of two things (or both);
1- All things within the church had become totally corrupt through transgression and therefore the church need to repent, reform, and return to the original gospel that had initially been revealed.
2- Because of extenuating circumstances having to do with the transgression of the church and the breaking of the New and Everlasting Covenant, an intercession was taking place the necessitated the introduction of ancient laws and statutes. This would bring about a priesthood reformation. This might account for the declaration that Joseph would be making about how the Lord had revealed to him that “Something new must be done for the salvation of the church”.
It is my contention that the three and a half year period, from the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood until this revelation was given, is very significant and that it fulfills prophecies in the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation.
It marks the time period during which the “Church of God” came out of the wilderness of darkness and struggled to establish the kingdom of God on the earth, (see the conditional prophecy in D&C 103:5-8) but ultimately fled back into the wilderness of darkness. It marks the period of time that the Gentiles received and then rejected the fulness of the gospel/priesthood.
The Book of Daniel informs us that following this brief emergence of the Kingdom of God on earth, the “horn” would “make war with the saints and prevail against them until the Ancient of days” returns to the earth. At that time, the true saints will possess the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21-22)
In this historical document that we are going to dissect, we shall observe what I consider to be definitive revelatory proof (for those who are being taught by the spirit as they read the scriptures and history provided herein) that the appearance of Christ and three ministering angels to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, as detailed in section 110, was a true historical event and that it had been foretold in the blessing of Oliver Cowdery as well as in a revelation to… well, more on that later in this post..
This definitive proof is provided in the inspired ordination of Oliver Cowdery, given by Joseph Smith a little over a year before the event documented in section 110 took place.
In this revelatory ordination it was declared by the spirit of prophecy that Oliver Cowdery would eventually
1. hear the voice of the Lord
2. receive ministering angels
3. have the blessings of Abraham bestowed upon him
Those three prophetic petitions represent a summary of what happened a little over a year later, on April 3 1836
At that particular time in the history of the church, the focus had been on Christ’s atonement and the fulness of the Gospel. Nothing was being said about receiving the blessings of Abraham. Indeed, the emergence of “patriarchal blessings” and the emphasis on tracing lineal priesthood right, did not take place until after the Gentiles rejected the fulness.
The very first patriarchal blessing that Joseph Smith Sr. gave would not take place until a few days after this ordination of Oliver Cowdery which takes place at the culmination of the 3 1/2 year period, hence, the concept of receiving blessings and priesthood ordinations relative to or stemming from one’s Abrahamic lineage was a relatively foreign concept at the time. I will demonstrate in the post that the blessings of Abraham were now becoming significant at this point in time because the church was experiencing a secret change of priesthood administration. Although the facts were all made public, few people understood the significance of the changes taking place. The prophetic events related thereto completely changed the trajectory of the church. More on that later.
The following article speaks to the fact that God’s promise to Abraham that his posterity would bless the nations of the world in the latter days is not fully explained in the Bible, yet it is revealed in the Book of Abraham. The article documents how the Book of Abraham provides the missing explanation of the prophecy that would provide the interpretive keys to understanding what the “dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham” really was referring to, in section 110. Bottom-line: Contextual proof that the Book of Abraham is authentic and true
Reading Abraham While God Winks
Hence, it is really quite unlikely and quite remarkable that, at the time of the final rejection of the fulness of the gospel, and the official condemnation of the leaders and members of the church, the Lord is foretelling that the blessings of Abraham will be bestowed upon Oliver, so that another preparatory ministry and gathering could take place during the “little season” prior to the redemption of Zion.
Obviously all three of the above listed events from the blessing mentioned in Oliver Cowdery’s ordination took place a about a year later during the vision that took place behind the veil in the Kirtland Temple.
In this post, exact quotes from the above mentioned historical document will be provided in bold maroon to help the reader distinguish between my commentary and the historical document. When I provide supporting historical documentation or scripture, it will usually be in bold black text .
“Friday Evening, December 5, 1834. According to the direction of the Holy Spirit, Pr[e]s ident Smith,assistant Presidents, [Sidney] Rigdon and [Frederick G.] Williams, assembled for the purpose of ordaining<first> High Counsellor [Oliver] Cowdery to the office of assistant President of the High and Holy Priesthood in the Church of the Latter-Day Saints.
It is necessary, for the special benefit of the reader, that he be instructed <into, or> con cerning the power and authority of the above named Priesthood.
First. The office of the President is to preside over the whole Chu[r]ch; to be considered as at the head; to receive revelations for the Church; to be a Seer, and Revelator <and Prophet—> having all the gifts of God:— having taking <Moses> for an ensample. Which is the office and station of the above President Smith, according to the calling of God, and the ordination which he has received.
Second. The office of Assistant President is to assist in presiding over the whole chu[r]ch, and to officiate in the abscence of the President, accor ding to their<his> rank and appointment, viz: President Cowdery, first; Pres ident Rigdon Second, and President Williams Third, as they <were> are sev erally called. The office of this Priesthood is also to act as Spokesman—taking Aaron for an ensample.
The virtue of this the <above> Priesthood is to hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven, or the Church militant.”
The notes continue on to explain that the delay in ordaining president Cowdery to this office and call was due to his attendance in Zion while helping William W. Phelps conduct the church printing business. This is why presidents Rigdon and Williams were apparently ordained prior to Oliver Cowdery even though Oliver was the first assistant to the President called. Nevertheless, it appears that presidents Rigdona and Williams were given similar blessings to Oliver’s following Oliver’s ordination.
For those wondering how Oliver could be called to the above office in the above mentioned priesthood, now that the fulness had been cumulatively rejected by the Saints, let me point out two significant details.
First- less than a week prior to this meeting, Joseph and Oliver Cowdery had privately united together and entered into the “covenant of tithing [consecration]” for the “continuance of [priesthood] blessings“. Hence, even though the church had cumulatively broken the covenant of consecration contained in the law of the gospel (D&C 42), Joseph and Oliver -entered into the covenant jointly in what appears to be some kind of intercession that would enable gospel blessings from the priesthood to continue on until the temple was completed and the “acceptable offering” of the “sons of Levi” could be fully consummated.
Secondly- It needs to be pointed out that the particular priesthood office being addressed in this particular ordination was to the “office of assistant President of the High and Holy Priesthood in the Church of the Latter-Day Saints.” That is not necessarily the same high and holy priesthood of the church of God.
Notice the use of the new name of the church. Notice that the terms “Church of Christ” and “Church of God” that had previously been used in revelation by the Lord, had been discarded. This is because the Lord had taken His name out of the name of the restored church because of the breaking of the consecration covenant. This event took place in a special conference that had previously taken place on May 3 1834.
One of the amazing things we learn from the plat of the city of Zion that Joseph produced in 1833, is that there is a multiplicity of priesthood callings and offices that are not commonly understood or talked about.
It is apparent in reading the Old Testament that the Levitical priesthood had the office of “high priest” that was not the same office of “high priest” that function after the order of Melchizedek.
This fact is further verified in Joseph Smith’s Zion plat. In it, there were 24 separate temples and numerous pulpits with priesthood designations on them. One of them was:
“House of the Lord, for the Presidency of the High and Holy Priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek”
and another was:
“House of the Lord, for the Presidency of the High and Holy Priesthood, after the Order of Aaron”
As you can see, the Melchizedek and Aaronic orders both had the office of “high priest”
One needs to be aware of these things and pay close attention to the wording being used as one studies the history of the church in order to get the story behind the story.
I have preciously pointed out in other posts that the secret ushering in of the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham in 1836, at the time when the saints were expecting the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, represented a huge change in trajectory.
It was at that time that the saints were anticipating the high priests to be endowed with power from on high so that the gospel could be taken to the world in power for the last time, culminating in the redemption of Zion. But that clearly did not take place. No missionaries went forth in power directly after the eight days during which dedications, petitions behind the veil, the solemn assembly, and finally the secret visitation took place.
Instead, the church was shell shocked and seemed to go into somewhat of a tail spin. Months went by without the gospel going forth for the last time in power, as described in section one of the Doctrine and Covenants. Shortly after that, Joseph Smith announced that “Something new must be done for the salvation of the church“. At that point, Joseph Smith began making preparations for establishing foreign missions, under the direction of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, for the purpose of taking the “knowledge” of the fulness of the gospel to the “house of Israel” (This was fulfilling the prophecy of Christ in 3 Nephi 16.)
Strangely enough, a third revelation of condemnation, specifically censuring the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had been received on November 3 1835. This caused the following declaration from Joseph Smith to the Twelve Apostles as they were getting ready for the temple solemn assembly
“the endowment you are so anxious about you cannot comprehend now, nor could Gabriel explain it to the understanding of your dark minds”
Clearly, the Quorum of the Twelve was in a state of apostasy going into the eight day temple ritual and the fact that they continued to be in apostasy from then throughout the establishment of foreign missions is evidenced by a multitude of historical evidences. But few were more powerful than the fact that Thomas B. Marsh, the president of the quorum, asked Joseph to petition the Lord in behalf of his wayward brethren. In the revelatory response that was given July 23, 1827, the Lord commanded Marsh to “pray for thy brethren of the Twelve. Admonish them sharply for my names sake, and let them be admonished in their sins, and be ye faithful before me unto my name. And after their temptations and much tribulation, behold I the Lord will feel after them..”
Shortly after that revelation in response to President Marsh’s petition, March apostatized and lost his place in the Quorum.
Continuing on in the commentary at hand, the explanatory narrative within the notes written by Oliver Cowdery regarding the events relating to his ordination in 1834 informs us that an angel had previously promised that Oliver would be ordained to that calling:
“.. but that this promise [or Ordaining Oliver to the Presidency of the High Priesthood] was made by the angel while in company with President Smith, at the time they recievd the office of the lesser priesthood.”
This is really quite a remarkable declaration. It is just one more proof that there is a distinction between the two lineal priesthood endowments involving angels in 1829, and the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood in 1831. Furthermore, the priesthood ordination that Oliver was being given in 1834 may have been something other than what one might suppose.
There are two possible ways to interpret the above snippet and the historical narrative regarding the restoration of priesthood from John the Baptist and from Peter, James and John.
Some historians have speculated that there was no visit from Peter James and John, and that Joseph and Oliver’s ordination to the office of Elder in the church back in those early years represented the office of Elder in the Aaronic priesthood, not Melchizedek priesthood.
This is clearly a possibility.
However, in previous posts I have challenged this interpretation and offered another one.
My contention is that while John the Baptist bestowed priesthood “keys” pertaining to the Aaronic priesthood, Peter James and John were simply ordaining Joseph and Oliver to the office of elder in the “Abrahamic”, otherwise referred to as “patriarchal” priesthood that they already held by virtue of their lineage. (See Joseph’s discourse detailing the fact that there are three categories of priesthood, not two)
Since the patriarchal priesthood of Abraham is inherited according to lineage, it did not need to be restored or bestowed, only a church office within that priesthood would need to be “bestowed” through “ordination”.
There are accounts regarding the ordination of elder wherein only one angel (singular) was doing the ordaining, instead of three. That is consistent with the above snippet.
Additionally, in previous posts, I have provided another obscure historical tidbit that also supports my above contention. I offer it again below. When Joseph Smith dictated his first attempt at a personal history in 1832 he made these remarks:
“A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Christ the son of the living God of whom he beareth record and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brought forth and established by his hand firstly he receiving the testimony from on high
[The first vision]
secondly the ministering of Angels
[Moroni -Book of Mormon plates]
thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministring of Angels to adminster the letter of the Gospel – the Law and commandments as they were given unto him – and the ordinencs
[Clearly referencing priesthood reception from more than just John the Baptist (Peter, James and John) ],
forthly a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God power and ordinence from on high to preach the Gospel in the administration and demonstration of the spirit the Kees of the Kingdom of God confered upon him
[clearly referencing the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood according to the voice of God from heaven at the Morley Farm]
and the continuation of the blessings of God to him &c”
The above account, demonstrates that more than one ministering angel was involved in the bestowing of priesthood keys and’or offices in or about 1829. Interestingly, the first priesthood administers the “letter of the law” (law and commandments), while the next lineal priesthood has the authority to administer the saving ordinances.
These first two priesthoods are separate and distinct from each other and also separate and distinct from the final priesthood and which is described as the “holy order of the son of the living God” and the “power and ordinence from on high to preach the Gospel in the administration and demonstration of the spirit the Kees of the Kingdom of God”
Interestingly, some critics of the restoration have claimed that Joseph Smith never mentioned the reception of the priesthood from John the Baptist and Peter, James and John until 1836 or after, yet we have just seen one account written in 1832 and one in 1834.
Continuing on with the examination of this document and associated event. Joseph gives an account of the revelatory rebuke that the Lord gave them just before Oliver is ordained. Notice the preliminary characterization that is offered to guide the mind of the reader:
“After this short explanation, we now proceed to give an account of the acts, promises, and blessings of this memorable Evening:
First. After assembling, we received a rebuke for our former low, uncultivated, and disrespectful manner of communication, and salutation, with, and unto each other, by the voice of the Spirit, saying unto us:
‘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, in your ensamples before the Chuch, and before the world, in all your manners, habits and customs, and salutations one toward another—rendering unto every man the respect due the office,and calling, and priesthood, whereunto I the Lord have appointed and ordained you. Amen.'”
Ok, I am now going to take issue with how Joseph Smith (or Oliver, who ever is responsible for constructing these notes) re-frames the contextual content of the revelation before he even reveals what the revelation says.
The official narrative ( which I am assuming was dictated or at least approved by Joseph Smith ) appears to reduce the short revelation of censure to a rebuke for the fact that the leaders and members of the church were not treating the Lord’s appointed leaders of the church with the proper respect due them in their office, callings and priesthood..
I strongly disagree with Joseph’s simplified assessment of the Lord’s chastisement and I will provide my reasons later in this post.
Directly following the recital of the revelation, the narrative declares, Joseph and his associates rejoiced at the fact that they were reproofed because they repented and reformed in every particular, according to the instruction given:
“It is only necessary to say, relative to the foregoing reproof and instruction, that, though it was given in sharpness, it occasioned gladness and joy, and we were willing to repent and reform, in every particular, according to the instruction given. It is also proper to remark, that after the reproof was given, we all confessed, voluntarily, that such had been the manifestations of the Spirit a long times since; in consequence of which the rebuke came with greater sharpness.
Not thinking to evade the truth, or excuse, in order to escape censure, but to give proper information, a few remarks relative to the situation of the chu[r]ch previous to this date, is necessary. Many, on hearing the fulness of the gospel, embraced it with eagerness; <yet,> at the same time were unwilling to forego their former opinions and notions relative to church government, and the rules and habits proper for the good order, harmony, peace, and beauty of a people destined, with the protecting care of the Lord, to be an ensample and light of the world.
Frankly, I think the above narrative, does in fact represent the evading of the truth and an attempt to escape the full censure that was being proffered. More on that later, continuing on:
They did not dispise government; but there was a disposition to organize that government according to their own notions, or feelings. For example: Every man must be subjected <to> wear a particular fashioned coat, hat, or other garment, or else an accusation was brought that we were fashioning after the world. Every one must be called by their given name, without respecting the office or ordinance to which they had been called: Thus, President Smith was called Joseph, or broth er Joseph; President Rigdon, brother Sidney, or Sidney, &c.
This manner of address gave occasion to the enemies of the truth, and was a means of bringing reproach upon the Cause of God. But in consequence of former prejudices, the church, many of them, would not submit to proper and wholesome order. This proceeded from a spirit of enthusiasm, and vain ambition—a desire to compel others to come to certain rules, not dictated by the will of the Lord; or a jealous fear, that, were men called by thier respective titles, and the ordinance of heaven honored in a proper manner, some were in a way to be exalted above others, and their form of government disregarded.”
If I understand Joseph’s commentary above, a major part of the problem is that some of the Saints did not want to show special reverence and honor to those called to priesthood positions by addressing them as “president Rigdon” or “president Smith” instead of just “Sidney” or “Joseph”. Frankly, I sympathize with those that felt it was wrong to show priesthood “class distinction” because there had been several warnings from the Lord about how people were not to excel one above another.
Notice how the Lord, after addressing the fact that each man is to teach others according to the “office” they have been appointed, is to esteem his brother as himself!
“But, verily I say unto you, teach one another according to the office wherewith I have appointed you;
And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practise virtue and holiness before me.
And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself.”
No matter what your calling is, or isn’t, everyone is to be esteemed by each other equally!
Notice the following rebuke to William W. Phelps who seemed to want to excel, possibly because of his priesthood appointment:
“And also let my servant William W. Phelps stand in the office to which I have appointed him, and receive his inheritance in the land; And also he hath need to repent, for I, the Lord, am not well pleased with him, for he seeketh to excel, and he is not sufficiently meek before me.”
In section 78 The Lord gives a specific commandment regarding the “organization” of his people by the High Priests regulating the affairs of the storehouse. In it he stresses that his people must be equal in all earthly and heavenly things:
“THE Lord spake unto Joseph Smith, Jun., saying: Hearken unto me, saith the Lord your God, who are ordained unto the high priesthood of my church, who have assembled yourselves together;
2 And listen to the counsel of him who has ordained you from on high, who shall speak in your ears the words of wisdom, that salvation may be unto you in that thing which you have presented before me, saith the Lord God.
3 For verily I say unto you, the time has come, and is now at hand; and behold, and lo, it must needs be that there be an organization of my people, in regulating and establishing the affairs of the storehouse for the poor of my people, both in this place and in the land of Zion—
4 For a permanent and everlasting establishment and order unto my church, to advance the cause, which ye have espoused, to the salvation of man, and to the glory of your Father who is in heaven;
5 That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things.
6 For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;
7 For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.
8 And now, verily thus saith the Lord, it is expedient that all things be done unto my glory, by you who are joined together in this order”
The importance of showing equality among all of the saints is consistent with section 76 wherein we are informed that all members of the church of the firstborn are “equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.”
In section 101 we are informed that one of the problems experienced by the original high priests is that “ there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.”
I find it hard to believe that class distinction in priesthood callings did not play into the contentions and envyings and jealousies that took place.
Previous to that revelation the Lord had identified jealousies and fears as the primary reasons that the high priests were not seeing the face of God as expected.
“And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.”
Certainly the jealousies experienced were at least partly related to the spiritual class distinction that takes place when some priests begin claiming Pentecostal experiences and others cannot make the same claims. Ordinations to specific callings in addition to their ordination as a High priest, also no doubt caused jealousies.
I am not disagreeing with what the Lord is saying, I am dissagreeing with the interpretation being offered by Joseph Smith. Yes we should treat the appointed leaders with the proper respect. But should we not treat he or her that is least in the kingdom with the exact same respect?
Clearly it is important to treat leaders with support and respect. One of the problems that the church had just experienced, had to do with the high priests in Zion, and the high priests in Kirtland being publicly critical of each other and speaking disrespectfully of each other and making accusations. We have covered that in a previous post. That clearly did prejudice the non-Mormons against the latter day work.
My concern is that Joseph’s summation of the revelation minimized, if not overlooked, the obvious fact that the Saints had just failed to live the everlasting covenant of consecration that they had entered into. Yes, disrespecting appointed leaders was one of many problems, but hardly the only one. And calling leaders by their titles was hardly the main problem in my opinion.
Opening the Door to Prophet Worship
It appears to me as if Joseph and his brethren may have misinterpreted what the Lord was saying and that by emphasizing the exaltation of leadership positions, it created a problem with regard to the terrible plight of “prophet worship” that the church has been plagued with from that time onward to the present time. I have noticed that contemporary general authorities of the apostate church love to take snippets of the above revelation and Joseph’s interpretation to really emphasize how important it is to call authorities by their proper titles, etc.
The act of the entire congregation standing in humble reverence when the president of the apostate church walks into a ward meeting is an abomination in the site of God. I doubt that Joseph Smith would have allowed such a pompous vanity to exist even in his darkest hours.
Frankly, Joseph’s interpretation of the revelation kind of reminds me of when the Lord commanded Moses to provide water for the thirsting Israelites by striking the rock. Following that, Moses was supposed to “sanctify the Lord” (give all credit and glory to the Lord). Since Moses did not do exactly as instructed and since he took credit for the act himself, encouraging the children of Israel to put their faith in the arm of flesh, he was prevented from crossing the river and had to die.
Of course we know the story behind the story. Moses was simply acting out his role as an intercessory offering and that is why he committed the sin. The sins of the people had been put upon him.
Is it possible that this event marks the same intercessory spot in Joseph’s intercessory role?
I disagree with the supposition that the condemnation of the church had to do primarily with the fact that the saints were not calling leaders by their priesthood titles. I doubt Jesus referred to Nephi as Elder Nephi or President Nephi after giving him authority and I doubt Nephi addressed his brethren of the Twelve that way either.
I think the condemnation had more to do with how the saints refused to obeyed the word of the Lord coming through the appointed leaders. That, in my opinion, is the root of the problem and what the Lord was angry about.
Let’s analyse the prophetic rebuke.
I believe there are basically three separate, though related, major points being made and that the third point does not represent the full explanation of the first two points, but rather it is simply a related sub-topics of the first topic:
1. 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:
2. And there must needs be a repentance and a refor[m]ation among you, in all things,
3. in your ensamples before the Chuch, and before the world, in all your manners, habits and customs, and salutations one toward another—rendering unto every man the respect due the office,and calling, and priesthood, whereunto I the Lord have appointed and ordained you. Amen.'”
The major point of the rebuke is that the entire church had been condemned.
The second point is that the church now needed to reform in all things.
Finally, as a sub-category of points #1 & 2, the Lord noted that the Saints had not been showing the proper respect for their appointed leaders by virtue of the fact that the saints were not obeying the commandments of God coming through the leaders.
Let me point out a chronological keyword sequence that provides context to the declaration that the saints need to have a reformation.
prophetic Sequence #1
In March of 1829 (BoC Chapter 4) The Lord gave a revelation in which he prophesied that after the church was restored, they would need to have a reformation and that if they failed at the reformation, he would deliver them over to Satan: “if the people harden not their hearts ..I will work a [future] reformation…”
Prophetic Sequence #2
Then, as demonstrated in this historical document that we are reviewing, on December 5th 1834,, exactly 3 1/2 years after the fulness was restored to the earth, the Lord declares that the entire church is condemned and must have a reformation in all things: 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,
Prophetic Sequence #3
Interestingly, in July 16th 1843, (WofJS pg 232-3) two years after Hyrum had been ordained to act in concert with Joseph as the presiding High Priest of the church, Joseph publicly announced that he would no longer prophesy for the church, leaving Hyrum as the sole president of the church. He then publicly declared that “Hyrum held the office of prophet & he was going to have a reformation”. This is really quite amazing because it shows that Joseph was still very much aware of the rebuke and warning that the Lord had given to the entire church back in 1834. The first thing Hyrum did at that point is to go around with two other presiding officers of the church and try to stamp out polygamy. Sadly, Hyrum was converted to polygamy through the efforts of Brigham Young, but the attempt to have a reformation did not end with Hyrum’s attempt.
Prophetic Sequence #4
Finally, on June 7 1844, William Law published the Nauvoo Expositor in which he exposed Joseph’s involvement in polygamy and he invited the church to have a REFORMATION. The prospectus of the paper stated:
“It Is intended to be the organ of the Reformed Mormon Chnrch”
The following snippet is taken from the text of the paper:
“Many of us have^sought a reformation in the church, without a public exposition of the- enormities of crimes practiced by its leaders, thinking that if they would hearken to counsel, and sew fruit meet for repentance it would be as acceptable with God, as though they were exposed to public gaze..”
The Need for Reformation was systemic
As we can see from the four part chronological keyword sequence of the reformation of the church, the scolding of the Lord given in 1834 had been prophesied way back in 1829. The rebuke in the 1834 revelation was much more severe than simply chastising the saints for not acknowledging the priesthood titles of those that had been ordained to lead the church.
Since readers of this analysis are probably mortified that I seem to be criticizing Joseph’s characterization of the rebuke from the Lord, let me remind you of the book of Mormon’s expanded translation of Isaiah 29:10
“For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.” (2 Nephi 27:5)
As you can see, the latter day prophets and seers (like Joseph, Oliver and Sidney) stumble because the Saints reject their warnings, declarations and commandments that the Lord utters through them.
The five part sequence of Joseph Smith’s ministry that I have been documenting since 2008 clearly demonstrates that it is at this time in the history of the church (at the end of the 3 1/2 year period) that the eyes of the seers are being covered.
Because the saints had rejected the prophets!
That is the real point the Lord was making when he said that the saints would not submit to proper order! The saints did not show due respect to Joseph, Sidney and Oliver by virtue of the fact that they did not obey the commandments given through them!
They broke the everlasting covenant! (See Isaiah 24)
“But in consequence of former prejudices, the church, many of them, would not submit to proper and wholesome order”
For even greater context from which to interpret the Lords rebuke, here is a brief chronology of events that took place within a year leading up to the revelation, showing how the Church had struggled:
April 23rd 1834 (Section 104) “the covenants [had been] broken through transgression”
May 3, 1834 (HC 2:62-63) Conference of the Church held ten days after breaking law of consecration and officially removes the name of Christ from the name of the Church and changes name to “Church of the Latter day Saints” Note how this document being reviewed refers to the church as the “Church of the Latter day Saints”
June 22 1834 section 105 The Lord informs the Saints that they must wait for little season of chastisement and learning before the redemption of Zion can take place
June 23 1834 Secret revelation to Zion High Priests who will gather strength of God’s house in the 3rd watch.
November 29 1834 Covenant of tithing for the continuance of blessings
Those events culminated in the final revelation of condemnation:
December 5 1834 The Saints and Leaders of the Church are condemned and need a reformation in all things
As you can see, a contextual reading of the 1834 condemnation, in view of the above summary of events leading up to the condemnation, makes it pretty obvious that the condemnation and call for reformation in all things is caused by much more that showing respect for the “titles” of authorities and the other misc things mentioned in the text being analyzed.
Ok.. I will suspend my rant for now while we continue reviewing the amazing piece of church history:
“After addressing the throne of mercy, President Smith laid hands up on High Counsellor Cowdery, and ordained him to the Presidency of the High priesthood in the Church, saying:
Brother, In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was crucified for the sins of the world, that we through the virtue of his blood might come to the Father, I lay my hands upon thy head, and ordain thee a President of the high and holy priesthood, to assist in presiding over the Chu[r]ch, and bearing the keys of this kingdom—which priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek—which is after the order of the Son of God—
And now, O Father, wilt thou bless this thy servant with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding— give him, by the Holy Spirit, a correct understanding of thy doctrine, laws, and will— commune with him from on high—
let him hear thy voice, and recieve the ministries ministring of the holy angels—
deliver him from temptation, and the power of darkness— deliver him from evil, and from those who may seek his destruction, — be his shield, his buckler, and his great reward— endow him with power from on high, that he may write, preach, and proclaim the gospel to his fellowmen in demonstration of the Spirit and of power— may his feet never slide— may his heart never feint— may his faith never fail.
Bestow upon him the blessings of his fathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and of Joseph—
Prolong his life to a good old age, and bring him in peace to his end, and to rejoice with thy saints, even the sanctified, in the celestial kingdom; for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
Oh my gosh… I feel it coming on…
There is the preliminary petition foretelling what was going to happen on April 3 1834
1. hear the voice of the Lord
2. receive ministering angels
3. have the blessings of Abraham bestowed upon him
But it gets even better.
Since the Lord is revealing through Joseph Smith’s ordination of Oliver Cowdery that the event in Section 110 is going to be taking place, lets search the revelations being given at about this time to see if there are any other prophecies that foretell the upcoming event documented in Section 110, wherein the Lord secretly comes to his temple as a thief in the night.
Notice section 106 given on November 25 1834, just days before this ordination takes place
“And again, verily I say unto you, the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and it overtaketh the world as a thief in the night— Therefore, gird up your loins, that you may be the children of light, and that day shall not overtake you as a thief.”
Oh my gosh… I feel it coming on again…
There it is. The Lord is warning the saints that the coming of the Lord is nigh and that it would result in ushering in a new “day” that the world would be virtually unaware of.
But what about the Saints of the restoration?
Would the saints be aware of it?
Only if they took heed and gird up their loins.
The Lord had previously declared that the drop dead date for the redemption of Zion would be on or before September 11th of 1836. ( see D&C 64:21) He had informed the Saints that at that time in history, it was called “today”, but once the Son of man comes, it would be a new day:
“Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing [consecration] of my people; for he that is tithed [consecrated] shall not be burned at his coming.” (D&C 64:23)
He also declared that “if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today.”
This explains why the anticipated missionary work by the High Priests that were to be endowed with power from on high and take the gospel to the nations for the last time, never took place after the Kirtland Temple Solemn Assembly, as anticipated. The final endowment did not come at the appointed time and a new day was secretly ushered during the eight days of the Kirtland Temple dedictation and acceptation period. The window of time for that work had ended.
Shortly thereafter Joseph would declare that “something new must be done for the salvation of the church“.
Up until the secret coming of the Lord to the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith had been encouraging the Saints that had been scattered from Jackson County to relocate to places close by Jackson for the sole purpose of redeeming Zion at the up coming appointed time in September 1836. Understandably, Joseph quit talking about that strategy once the secret coming of the Lord took place as a thief in the night. He knew that the bridegroom had tarried with regard to the appoint meeting with the virgins and that they would not enter the chamber at that time. It would need to take place in the 3rd watch. Nevertheless, the Lord came suddenly to his temple as promised.
In 1830, shortly after the formal establishment of the church, the Lord had declared:
“I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God; wherefore, gird up your loins and I will suddenly come to my temple. Even so. Amen.”
The Lord had warned the saints about 13 times that “I come Quickly“. Most of those pronouncements appear to have been referring to the secret coming during the second watch. One of them clearly had reference to his coming as a thief in the night during the third watch.
in section 51 he said-
“Verily, I say unto you, I am Jesus Christ, who cometh quickly, in an hour you think not. Even so. Amen.”
He repeated this warning again in section 133:
“HEARKEN, O ye people of my church, saith the Lord your God, and hear the word of the Lord concerning you—
The Lord who shall suddenly come to his temple; the Lord who shall come down upon the world with a curse to judgment; yea, upon all the nations that forget God, and upon all the ungodly among you.”
Those declarations were paraphrasing Malachi 3:1.
The prophecy has a dual fulfillment. Once in the 2nd watch and once in the 3rd watch.
The Lord knew the Saints of that generation would cumulatively not be aware of his secret appearance.
Clearly he did come, after the expected time of his coming during the Solemn Assembly, and before the anticipated September 11th deadline. It happened “suddenly”, and “quickly”. in an hour that he was not expected.
Most Mormons erroneously associate the declaration in Section 106, that the Lord’s coming was “nigh” with the Lord’s coming in glory , which has yet to take place four generations later. Therefore they suffer from cognitive dissonance and take modern revelation lightly since it appears to them as if the prophecy about Christ’s eminent return was unfulfilled.
But clearly this revelation documented in section 106 was not speaking about Christ’s coming in glory wherein the whole world sees it and tries to run for cover from the wrath of God, this is referring to the second of three separate and distinct secretative comings as a thief in the night. Those passages are clearly foretelling the secret appearance of Christ to Joseph and Oliver behind the veil at the Kirtland Temple.
It gets even better.
While the revelation documented in section 86, that the Lord’s coming was nigh, was to eventually be made public and canonized in 1835, for the benefit and warning of the whole church, it was, nevertheless being directed specifically to one certain High Priest who was being informed about this secret coming of the Lord.
This High Priest is one of the very few personalities in modern revelation that received praise from the Lord rather than just admonition or even chastisement.
He was informed that he had been the cause of “joy in heaven” because he “bowed” to the “scepter” and separated himself from the “crafts” of men.
He was told that he was “blessed” and that the Lord would have “mercy” on him.
He was promised that he would receive “Grace” and “have assurance wherewith he may stand“.
He was promised that if he would continue to be a “faithful witness” to the “church“, a “crown” had been prepared for him.
Who was this faithful witness that section 106 we addressed to?
In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall ever word be established
The scriptures inform us that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word shall be established. In the case of of the Lord’s coming in secret, as a thief in the night, Joseph and Oliver were the primary witnesses. They were obviously commanded to keep the vision and related prophecy as secret. Yet the Lord wanted future generations to know about the astounding event and thus he had Joseph and Oliver document this event in a church historical journal. It appears the Lord wanted a third independent witness hear the testimony of Joseph and Oliver and write it down above his own name, documenting that he knew of this incredible secret event.
The Lord had Joseph and Oliver dictate this experience to a scribe as he wrote the experience down, prividing three witnesses that the event took place. Following that, there is no historical evident to suggest that any of these three faithful witnesses ever publicly revealed what had taken place.
That person that wrote down the narrative that has become section 110, was Warren Cowdery, Oliver’s brother.
with that in mind, look who section 106 is being addressed to.
1 IT is my will that my servant Warren A. Cowdery should be appointed and ordained a presiding high priest over my church, in the land of Freedom and the regions round about;
2 And should preach my everlasting gospel, and lift up his voice and warn the people, not only in his own place, but in the adjoining counties;
3 And devote his whole time to this high and holy calling, which I now give unto him, seeking diligently the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, and all things necessary shall be added thereunto; for the laborer is worthy of his hire.
“And again, verily I say unto you, the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and it overtaketh the world as a thief in the night— Therefore, gird up your loins, that you may be the children of light, and that day shall not overtake you as a thief.”
And again, verily I say unto you, there was joy in heaven when my servant Warren bowed to my scepter, and separated himself from the crafts of men; [referring to Warrens repentance of his participation of Masonry]
7 Therefore, blessed is my servant Warren, for I will have mercy on him; and, notwithstanding the vanity of his heart, I will lift him up inasmuch as he will humble himself before me.
8 And I will give him grace and assurance wherewith he may stand; and if he continue to be a faithful witness and a light unto the church I have prepared a crown for him in the mansions of my Father. Even so. Amen.”
The High Priest was none other than Warren Cowdery.
He was the faithful witness.
Oh my gosh… I feel it coming on again…
Is it a coincidence that the Lord told Warren Cowdery that the coming of the Lord was nigh at hand and that it overtaketh the world as a thief in the night.. then admonished Warren to watch for it and continue being a faithful witness.. and then, when the historical document of the secret visit of the Lord is found years later, it is none other than Warren Cowery that had written the account down!
Woe unto those that question and mock the veracity of section 110 and question the motives and integrity of Warren Cowdery as the scribe thereof. Ye, wo unto those that deny the revelations of God.
Ok…. I need to self medicate and go to bed. The excitement of doing this commentary has exhausted me. It has been so exhilarating and edifying.
I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
I will now wrap things up.
The narrative ends with the following statement
Much light was communicated to our minds, and we were instructed into the order of the church of the saints, and how they ought to conduct in re specting and reverencing each other. The praise of men, or the honor of this world, is of no benefit; but if a man is respected in his calling, and considered to be a man of righteousness, the truth may have an influence, many times, by which means they may teach the gospel with success, and lead men into the kingdom of heaven. [p. 19]
This concludes my commentary of the “Account of Meetings, Revelation, and Blessing, 5–6 December 1834”
The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true.
The historical details and cryptic revelations that have befuddled historians and authors for generations are beginning to make sense because of God’s mercy and because he is now beginning to take away our partial blindness.
The secret history of Mormonism is coming into the light.
The last great restoration and marvelous work is beginning to be ushered in.
The children of light are soon to be gathered.
Zion will soon be redeemed.
Praise God for the mercy he is showing us.