What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
The three-fold mission of the Church is:
- Perfect the Saints
- Proclaim the Gospel
- Redeem the Dead
The keys and missions of the three men to visit Joseph in the Kirtland temple after Jesus’ appearance are as follows:
- Moses: Keys of gathering
- Elias: Keys of Abrahamic covenant and dispensation
- Elijah: Keys of sealing power
What’s interesting is that the keys restored by these three men perfectly coincide with and support their corresponding mission of the Church.
1. Keys of Gathering
With the keys bestowed by Moses to Joseph, the Prophet is able to lead the work of gathering (both physical and spiritual) to Zion. A Zion society is one where the members can feed off each other, build each other up, and strive together to create unity.
The Lord confirms that Zion can only be established by a righteous body of Saints living a higher law:
And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself. (D&C 105:5)
A gathered group of Saints (ideally) live in exclusion of Babylonian influences, thus creating a clean society wherein Zion can be established and righteousness reign freely. The citizen Saints in such a location are more easily perfected, thus facilitating the first mission of the Church.
2. Keys of Abrahamic covenant and dispensation
The Bible Dictionary succinctly explains this charge:
Being an heir to the Abrahamic covenant does not make one a “chosen person” per se, but does signify that such are chosen to responsibly carry the gospel to all the peoples of the earth. Abraham’s seed have carried out the missionary activity in all the nations since Abraham’s day.
To fulfill the covenant God made with Abraham – having particular reference to the fact that the literal seed of his body would be entitled to all of the blessings of the gospel – a number of specific and particular things must take place in the last days. The gospel must be restored [check!], the priesthood must be conferred again upon man [check!], the keys of the sealing power must be given again to mortals [see #3], Israel must be gathered [see #1], and the Holy Ghost must be poured out upon the gentiles [in process]. All this has already taken place or is in process of fulfillment. (BD, Abraham, Covenant of, comments mine)
If that doesn’t perfectly describe “proclaim the gospel”, I don’t know what does. Spot on.
3. Keys of sealing power
The keys delivered by Elijah allow for the sealing of individuals in the family unit one to another. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, speaking of the importance of such a sealing, has said:
I believe that the most important single thing that any Latter-day Saint ever does in this world is to marry the right person, in the right place, by the right authority; and that then–when they have been so sealed by the power and authority which Elijah the prophet restored–the most important remaining thing that any Latter-day Saint can ever do is so to live that the terms and conditions of the covenant thus made will be binding and efficacious now and forever. (“Agency or Inspiration–Which?”)
Included in such sealing power is the authority and duty to perform vicarious work for the dead, providing them the same saving ordinances we can enjoy. Elder Petersen explains:
But be it understood that if we go to the temple, and not for our own dead, we are performing only a part of our duty, because we are also required to go there specifically to save our own dead relatives and bind the various generations together by the power of the holy priesthood.
We must disabuse our minds of the idea that merely “going to the temple” discharges our full responsibility, because it does not. That is not enough.
We must get down to specifics and do the work for our own dead progenitors.
God holds each of us responsible for saving our own kindred—specifically our own. (Mark E. Petersen, “The Message of Elijah,” Ensign, May 1976, 14)
And so, Elijah restored the sealing (and loosing) power allowing us to bind ourselves to our ancestors.
Three men, three missions. Each restored and conferred the keys pertaining to a specific portion of the Church’s mission which exist as a subset of God’s mission.
It’s a perfect plan. God lives, and He sure knows what He is up to. Thank the heavens for that reassuring fact.