Elijah’s Prophesied Return in the Last Days

In addition to this article and video, our previous article “The Priesthood of Elijah, Church of the First Born, Kingdom of God and Other Terms Not Understood For the Past 100 years” is a fantastic overview of the doctrines restored and modern implications of that doctrine.

This is taken from a Facebook post by a Mathias Cole responding to a small but vocal group trying to get people to reject this important truth taught by the prophet Joseph Smith. We hope you will find it a useful tool in defending the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ against its modern enemies dressed in sheep’s clothing.

A certain YouTube personality is held up as a trusted authority by those who have embraced the narrative that Joseph Smith never taught or practiced plural marriage and that Brigham Young was a wicked man who hijacked the church.

While this YouTube personality claims to be strictly concerned with the truth, throughout his popular videos he engages in intellectual dishonesty and faulty logic to try and convince his viewers to support his anti-polygamy and anti-Brigham Young agenda.

In a 15 minute YouTube video the charge is levied that the appearance of Elijah in the Kirtland Temple to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery as recorded in D&C 110 never happened. It is claimed that Brigham Young made the story up as a lie to bolster his illegitimate claims to having the sealing power to perform plural marriages.

In levying this charge against Brigham Young, the YouTuber tries to initially distract and confuse his target audience by focusing on the date in which the account of the visitation of Elijah to Joseph and Oliver in the Kirtland Temple was first publicly presented to the church (1852) and the date on which it was first added to the D&C (1876). While the YouTuber would have us believe that this is evidence that the account was made up, it does nothing of the sort.

What the YouTuber fails to inform his audience about is that the account of the visit of Jesus Christ, Moses, Elias, and Elijah in the Kirtland Temple was recorded in Joseph Smith’s journal by Warren Cowdery, who was serving as the official church Scribe and Assistant Recorder during the exact same time period as the visitation occurred.

“Visions, 3 April 1836 [D&C 110],” p. 192, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed September 26, 2021,  https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/visions-3-april-1836-dc-110/1?fbclid=IwAR1V-rAunx7Or0bS6CE45LVjLia5v-YGFXIUrVh95ynjcAM_zahfnraULS4

Warren Cowdery served in this capacity from 1836 to 1837. The fact that the account of the visitation was recorded in Joseph Smith’s journal by a man who was serving as his scribe, a man who had acted as the scribe for the temple dedication only a few days earlier, is very strong evidence that the account is truthful and actually happened.

Additionally it is impossible for Brigham Young to have ordered Warren Cowdery to have made this account up in 1852 or at any time after he began to preside over the church. Warren Cowdery left the church in 1837 over the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society. He was then part of a brief attempt to form a splinter group, which briefly took control of the Kirtland Temple, but this group broke apart within a few months. Warren Cowdery lived the rest of his life in Kirtland and never rejoined the church or joined a rival splinter group. He died February 23, 1851.

The above evidence alone is enough to prove that the YouTubers claims are unfounded and that he is being intellectually dishonest. But there’s more. He claims that Joseph and Oliver never mentioned the visitation and that Joseph spoke of the coming of Elijah as a future event in Nauvoo, several years after the visit of Elijah in Kirtland was said to have taken place.

This portion of the video the YouTuber first focuses on a handful of statements by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo talking about the need for Elijah to come. According to the Youtuber these statements mean that since Joseph Smith didn’t directly say that Elijah had already come and that he spoke of the need for him to come, that this means that it was a future event and that the account in D&C 110 is a lie. The problem with this logic is that the YouTuber doesn’t account for the very real possibility that Joseph and Oliver were instructed not to reveal that this visitation had happened until an appropriate time in the future. There is actually a scriptural precedent for this very thing.

The appearance of Moses and Elias on the Mount of Transfiguration to Jesus, Peter, James, and John is very similar to the appearance of Jesus, Moses, Elias, and Elijah to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. We learn a couple of important things from this account that help explain why Joseph and Oliver didn’t discuss the event and why Joseph spoke of the coming of Elijah as a future event.

Matt 17:1 And after six days, Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John, his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain, apart, and was transfigured before them; and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Matt 17:2 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias, talking with him.
Matt 17:3 Then answered Peter and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here; if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles: one for thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias.
Matt 17:4 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and, behold, a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Matt 17:5 And when the disciples heard the voice, they fell on their faces and were sore afraid.
Matt 17:6 And Jesus came, and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
Matt 17:7 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
Matt 17:8 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man until the Son of Man be risen again from the dead.
Matt 17:9 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
Matt 17:10 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come and restore all things, as the prophets have written.
Matt 17:11 And again I say unto you that Elias has come already, concerning whom it is written, Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and they knew him not and have done unto him whatsoever they listed.
Matt 17:12 Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them.
Matt 17:13 But I say unto you, Who is Elias? Behold, this is Elias, whom I send to prepare the way before me.
Matt 17:14 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist, and also of another, who should come and restore all things, as it is written by the prophets.
JST Matthew 17

First, in these verses we see that Jesus charged his three ancient apostles not to tell anyone about the event until after he was risen again from the dead. It is therefore not at all inconceivable that he told Joseph and Oliver to keep the appearance in the Kirtland temple a secret.

Secondly, we see that the prophecy of the coming of Elijah was to have multiple fulfillment’s. Which means that in Nauvoo Joseph could have been speaking of the need for yet another fulfillment of this promised coming of Elijah. And indeed he was. He was speaking about the coming of Elias (Elijah) who was to come and restore all things and gather the tribes of Israel. This is not Elijah the prophet, but rather the Angel ascending from the east in the book of Revelation. See D&C 77:9 and Revelation 7:2.

So there is a very plausible and scripture based explanation for why Joseph and Oliver didn’t mention the appearance in the Kirtland Temple and why Joseph spoke of the need for the coming of Elijah in Nauvoo.

In his video, the YouTuber also lists several statements by Joseph and Oliver in which they mention the appearance of other angels but not Elijah. While Fotherington doesn’t realize it he actually completely destroys his own argument while trying to present D&C 128 as a proof text for his conspiracy theory.

16 And now, in relation to the baptism for the dead, I will give you another quotation of Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:29: Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?
17 And again, in connection with this quotation I will give you a quotation from one of the prophets, who had his eye fixed on the restoration of the priesthood, the glories to be revealed in the last days, and in an especial manner this most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel, namely, the baptism for the dead; for Malachi says, last chapter, verses 5th and 6th: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
18 I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time.

Joseph Smith connects the coming of Elijah and the turning of the hearts of the children to the hearts of the fathers with baptisms for the dead. The saints had been performing baptisms for the dead at Joseph Smith’s direction for 2 years at the time of this letter to the church. Would Joseph have instructed the saints to perform baptisms for the dead without having received the authority from Elijah to do so? Not a chance. This means that Elijah had already come, just like D&C 110 says.

Those statements Joseph Smith made in Nauvoo about the coming of Elijah are actually referring to two things. On the one hand he was talking about the coming of Elias (Elijah) who will restore all things and gather Israel, also known as the angel ascending from the east. And on the other hand he was alluding to the appearance of Elijah that had already taken place in Kirtland, without revealing that it had happened already.

It is very apparent that the YouTuber is being intellectually dishonest in this video. He obviously set out with a predetermined conclusion (which originated from Denver Snuffer) and then tried to twist the facts to trick people into believing that the visit of Elijah in D&C 110 never happened and that Brigham Young made it up.

Knowledge is the best inoculation against the lies of those lying in wait to deceive. We hope you will also watch this presentation with additional evidence on the return of Elijah in the last days in an effort to help others become inoculated against the lies of these modern day Korihor’s.

 

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