Doctrine & Covenants Lesson 40 (D&C 109–110)
September 25–October 1
DEDICATING THE KIRTLAND TEMPLE
Circumstances at the Dedication Service
● In March 1836, the temple as a whole was completed and ready for dedication. The weeks surrounding the dedication of the Kirtland Temple represented the high point in the seven-year Kirtland period and one of the greatest occasions for rejoicing and spiritual outpouring in Church history.
● On March 27, 1836, the long-awaited day of dedication arrived.
—Not even a seven-hour dedication service deterred Saints who had sacrificed for this temple.
—By 7:00 A.M. in the morning, 1,000 persons waited near the temple doors.
—At 8:00 A.M. the temple doors opened, and 1,000 people flowed into the main hall—a space that accommodates barely four hundred today.
—Hundreds could not enter the building, causing some hard feelings.
—To somewhat accommodate the masses of Saints, Joseph Smith directed that a meeting be held in the schoolhouse west of the temple.
—After the schoolroom was filled to capacity, many still remained outside, so the brethren opened the temple windows to allow those outside to participate in the meeting.
—To accommodate the Saints, the Prophet scheduled a repeat dedication service for the following Thursday.
—The dedicatory service began at 9:00 A.M. After prayers, songs, a two-and-one-half-hour sermon by Sidney Rigdon, the sustaining of officers, and an intermission of twenty minutes, the Prophet Joseph Smith then stood and read the dedicatory prayer.
The Dedicatory Prayer
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “The Prophet then arose and presented the prayer of dedication. This prayer was given previously by revelation and is found in [D&C 109]. Naturally, this is a comprehensive prayer that can be studied with great profit. It gives reference to the commandment that the temple should be built and speaks of the purpose for which it was built.”1
● The Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer—the only one recorded in latter-day scripture — inaugurated temple worship in general in the Church and has served as a model for all temple dedications.
— D&C 109:1–5 The Prophet asked the Lord to accept the Saints’ great sacrifice in building the temple. The Lord did “accept of this house” as is evident from the manifestations that followed its dedication and the glorious vision in D&C 110, which took place shortly thereafter.
— D&C 109:7–9, 13–21; D&C 110:8 The responsibilities we have as we enter the temple.
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Holy temples may . . . be defiled and desecrated by members of the Church who go into the temple and make covenants unworthily or which they are not prepared or willing to accept and carry forward. When people go to the temple and then make light of its sacred principles, they are defiling it. When unrepentant people accept the holy ordinances without full determination to prove worthy of them, they are helping to violate the sacredness of the holy temple and they are desecrating holy places.”2
— D&C 109:9, 17–18 One important guideline is that we do all things in the name of the Lord.
— D&C 109:12–13 The Prophet asked the Lord to sanctify the temple and also his Saints. To be “sanctified” means to be cleansed from our sins and to be made holy.
— D&C 109:14–15 We are to seek knowledge by learning and also by faith. This illustrates the importance of the Holy Ghost in all learning, even of secular things (Moroni 10:5).
— D&C 109:22–23 The responsibilities and blessings of those endowed in the temple.
— D&C 109:24–30 No weapon formed against the Church will ultimately prosper.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, t it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”3
— D&C 109:47–53 The Prophet prayed for justice for the Missouri Saints.
— D&C 109:54–67 He also prayed for the gathering of the scattered tribes of Israel.
— D&C 109:68 The Prophet also prayed for himself in this solemn setting.
— The Prophet finished his prayer with a petition for the ultimate triumph of the Church and its mission.
President Brigham Young said, “We never began to build a temple without the bells of hell beginning to ring. . . . I want to hear them ring again. All the tribes of hell will be on the move, if we uncover the walls of this [the Salt Lake] temple.”4
Other Special Parts of the Dedication
● A new hymn composed by W W. Phelps:”The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning” was sung at the dedication and is sung at every temple dedication today.
● The Hosanna Shout was instituted as part of the dedicatory ceremonies, and this has also been done for every temple dedication since that day.
GLORIOUS MANIFESTATIONS IN THE KIRTLAND TEMPLE
Manifestations During the Dedication Services
As the house was being dedicated, the Lord’s acceptance was gloriously manifested in divine endowments of “power from on high.” Hundreds spoke in tongues, prophesied, or saw visions.
Benjamin Brown said, “There the Spirit of the Lord, as on the day of Pentecost, was profusely poured out. . . .We had a most glorious and never-to-be-forgotten time. Angels were seen by numbers present.”5 A heavenly messenger, identified by Joseph Smith as Peter, the ancient Apostle, was seen entering the temple and sat near Frederick G. Williams and Joseph Smith Sr.
Manifestations Following the Dedication
After the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, council and spiritual meetings were held almost daily. On the evening of the day of dedication (27 March 1836) Joseph Smith and over four hundred priesthood bearers met in the temple to instruct and be instructed in the ordinances of the priesthood.
Ivan J. Barrett said, “After giving instructions on the spirit of prophecy to those assembled, Joseph called upon them to prophesy good concerning the Saints; he promised that the first one to speak would be filled with the spirit of prophecy. George A. Smith stood upon his feet and began to prophesy. Immediately the room was filled with the sound of a violent motion of wind, and the vibration seemed to lift the men simultaneously to their feet. Men old and young began to speak in tongues and to prophesy and to see visions. The Prophet beheld the temple filled with angels and informed the brethren of what he saw.”6
William Draper Jr., a counselor in one of the Aaronic priesthood quorums, said, [The outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord was so immense] “that my pen is inadequate to write it in full or my tongue to express it. But I will here say that the spirit was poured out and came like a mighty rushing wind and filled the house, that many that were present spoke in tongues and had visions and saw angels and prophesied; and had a general time of rejoicing such as had not been known in this generation.”7
The Appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ
Sunday, April 3, 1836, was one of the most eventful days in the history of the Church. In the afternoon, following a sacrament service, the Prophet “retired to the pulpit, the veils being dropped, and bowed myself, with Oliver Cowdery, in solemn and silent prayer. After rising from prayer, the following vision was opened to both of us [D&C 110].”8
● D&C 110:1–10 The Lord appeared in glory and accepted the Kirtland Temple as his house. The Lord promised to appear and speak to his people in the temple so long as His people kept His commandments and did not pollute the temple by attending it unworthily.
The Restoration of Priesthood Keys
● D&C 110:11 Moses appeared and restored the keys of the gathering of Israel.
● D&C 110:12; Abraham 2:9–11 Elias appeared and restored “the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham.”
● D&C 110:13–16; Malachi 4:5 Elijah appeared and restored the keys of sealing for time and eternity. These keys are particularly important for temple work; they make it possible for every sacred ordinance, including marriage, performed by the Saints in the temples to be in force in heaven—for the living or for the dead.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Elijah was the last Prophet that held the keys of the priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and deliver the keys of the priesthood . . . Why send Elijah? Because he holds the keys of the authority to administer in all the ordinances of the priesthood; and without the authority is given, the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness.”9
1. Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [1946–1949], 3:75.
2. Ensign, Jan. 1977, 6–7.
3. The Wentworth Letter, March 1, 1842.
4. Discourses of President Brigham Young, sel. Elder John A. Widtsoe , 410.
5. “Testimonies for the Truth,” Gems for the Young Folks, 32.
6. Joseph Smith and the Restoration, 324.
7. “A Biographical Sketch of the Life and Travels of William Draper,” 2–3.
8. History of the Church, 2:434–435.
9. History of the Church, 4:211.