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The Elias Who Restores All Things: Additional Evidence Pointing to the Davidic Servant
When previously writing about the Davidic servant, 2 Nephi 3 guided the information conveyed in analyzing the lineages associated with this figure. Perhaps the most important information within that post apprised the reader concerning the connection this figure has with Lehi’s seed, namely through his son Joseph who was born in the wilderness. This post will not focus much on this aspect of the servant’s lineage; rather, the examination here will delve into other prophecies foretelling the coming of this messianic leader. To conduct this investigation, scriptural analysis again will be the main method for exhuming key insights for preparing the believer in the last days, and yet the reader will soon learn this exercise does not offer the run-of-the-mill interpretation but something atypical. The details presented here may seem bewildering and quite astonishing, to say the least. And those with less faith perhaps will balk at the very ideas this author derives from the scriptures. This is all well and good, but please, for the time being, attempt to consider the things expounded upon and suspend your disbelief.
The topic for consideration deals with revealing the Davidic servant to be none other than the Elias Who Restores All Things. The name Elias will presumably cause some confusion for the reader given that this term has often been linked with John the Baptist and his mission as forerunner preparing the way before Christ’s first advent. Perhaps some will refuse to accept more concerning this name because this standard understanding rivets the mind, as many traditions do. To move forward requires additional insights that Joseph Smith revealed on this subject that provides more than one understanding of the name.
The spirit of Elias is to prepare the way for a greater revelation of God, which is the Priesthood of Elias that Aaron was ordained unto. And when God sends a man into the world to prepare for a greater work, holding the keys of the power of Elias, it was called the doctrine of Elias, even from the early ages of the world. 1
Notice from Joseph’s words he labeled this term Elias as a Priesthood office, which further insinuates that it’s a priesthood title. This office enables the person under charge to prepare the way before something greater transpires, like the Second Coming if we’re going to think in terms of our day. To understand that the term Elias associates with a priesthood office, a few examples should suffice in clarifying this, perhaps first taking a look at John the Baptist.
The Office of Elias: Christ and John the Baptist
The Gospel of John provides the initial point at which any investigator into this matter should turn. Here it must be stressed the need for the reader to obtain a copy of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, often called the “Inspired Version,” for studying this topic and for gaining a testimony of the revelatory correctives Joseph restored to the Bible that illuminate this topic as well as many others.2 Within this version, John 1 presents the narrative introducing John the Baptist on the scene in Jerusalem, and recounts certain Jews approaching him to inquire about exactly who he was.
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem, to ask him: Who are thou? And he confessed and denied not that he was Elias; but confessed, saying: I am not the Christ. 3
Having approached John as the Jews did perhaps signaled their deference towards this man and the power with which he exhorted the surrounding inhabitants to repent and prepare the way for the Messiah. Or perhaps deference had nothing to do with it. Perhaps fear had everything to do with these men paying John a visit. Prophesying the coming of a greater power into the Kingdom of Judah undoubtedly caused no small consternation among the ruling elite who more than likely aggrandized themselves with the lucre they exacted in taxes and tithes. John’s preaching perchance attracted those oppressed from the policies and underhanded dealings of the priestly aristocracy subservient to Rome’s dictates. To maintain order and their positions required an interrogation of this upstart roaming about in the wilderness for ensuring that this fellow was not the being he preached of. Should the person John preached of appear, he would disturb the societal power structure in place. John himself, however, caused fear in the Jews as result of his being esteemed a prophet by the masses.4
The Jews, having received information from John about his own authority, seemed bewildered by his response causing a conundrum in their minds. He claimed to be Elias, and yet he had no real power, at least these interrogators thought, to attribute such a title to himself.
And they asked him, saying: How then art thou Elias? And he said, I am not that Elias who was to restore all things. And they asked him, saying, Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 5
Called as he was to the position he held, John’s authority and power encompassed a smaller jurisdiction that allowed him only to preach and baptize those who professed belief and desired to move forward with change in their lives.6 The denial of having greater authority than this conceivably disarmed the Pharisees’ messengers concerning the probable threat John may have posed, for the latter proclaimed that he indeed was not a different Elias whose power presented a grave danger to the establishment. Yet John did not withhold information from these inquirers but willingly apprised them of the being that so troubled their thoughts, saying “He it is of whom I bear record. He is that prophet, even Elias, who, coming after me, is preferred before me.”7 The scriptures do not equivocate here, pointing directly at Jesus Christ who also held the priesthood office of Elias.
Two ideas needing further expounding remain ensconced in the few excerpts offered. The first pertains to the notion that more than one person can hold the office of Elias on the earth at the same time, something apparent from John professing to be an Elias and his testimony of Christ being one as well. The second adds some nuance to the analysis given thus far. John’s testimony noted his inability to fulfill certain priesthood ordinances when asserting “whose [Chirst’s] place I am not able to fill.”8 Immediately following the clause just cited, the word “for,” operating as a causal conjunction, indicates what actions Elias Christ, can do, and what Elias John, cannot do: “for he shall baptize, not only with water, but with fire, and with the Holy Ghost.” The distinction between the abilities of John the Baptist and Christ should be apparent.
Joseph Smith provided more clarity on the differences inherent to each of these prophets. As mentioned above, those possessing the Spirit of Elias usually served as a forerunner to something greater; it is a preparatory office and was why Joseph noted Aaron, Moses' brother, held this position. Christ's abilities under this title reveal a greater capacity for performing spiritual ordinances on behalf of others, a capacity Joseph noted resides under the jurisdiction of the Spirit and Power of Elijah. Then why label Christ an Elias too since His power eclipsed that of John the Baptist? Well, technically, Christ’s label as an Elias qualifies as being warranted; the name Elias is the Hellenized term for Elijah: אֵלִיָּה, a Hebrew form of Elijah, becomes ’Ἠλίας transliterated into English as Elias. Thus, the priesthood office of Elias can fulfill two functions: either for preparatory or advanced purposes, and perhaps even both at the same time. Also, focusing on these two verses and the little evidence provided should not lead the reader to believe that John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were the only ones permitted to fill this role—far from it!
The Coming of Another Elias
Jesus Christ, though holding the office of Elias Himself, taught his apostles of another who should hold this station at a later date. This teaching followed on the heals of the supernatural encounter experienced by Christ and a certain few of his disciples. While upon the Mount of Transfiguration, they witnessed the appearance of both Moses and Elias, with this latter figure being John the Baptist.9 The apostles, however, had not realized that the Elias whom they witnessed was John the Baptist. In fact, they did not think that Elias had yet appeared in the flesh because of this manifestation. This is evident in their questioning Jesus on the subject: “Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?”10 Jesus’s answer to this question informed his followers that the Elias they had seen was indeed the very man whom the Lord had sent to “prepare the way,” but the authorities “knew him not, and have done unto him, whatsoever they listed.”11 Ensconced within his teaching concerning Elias being John the Baptist, Christ also alluded to another Elias, not Himself nor John, who should come at a future date “and restore all things, as the prophets have written.”12 Christ indeed came to make things new but not to restore the political power of the entire House of Israel. This becomes apparent when one considers that during Christ’s ministry the entire Northern Kingdom of Israel was no where to be found within the confines of Judea, for the Assyrians, in 722 B.C., had taken this kingdom captive, having deported them out of their lands into the northern reaches of their empire. Had Christ intended to restore the political kingdom of God on the earth, these tribes would have needed to be brought back into the surrounding regions. This insight, along with several others not mentioned here, indeed point to the need for another messianic figure to come and accomplish this task.
These insights restored to the scriptures, coupled with various other aspects of the Gospel, by Joseph Smith certainly turned the minds of many within the Church, then and now, towards the entrenched belief that the latter-day prophet was the Elias Who Restores All Things. His obtaining both priesthoods, Aaronic and Melchizedek, alone perhaps warrants the conclusion that he absolutely was this figure to usher in the Second Coming of the Lord. Certain scriptures and Joseph's own words, however, seem to indicate that he had not come to restore all things; rather, he “was called” by “Heavenly Father to lay the foundation of this great work and kingdom in this dispensation.”13 Notice Joseph's use of the word foundation, a word denoting the beginning of something. Using the analogy of a house, the foundation provides the principal structure upon which the remaining rooms and amenities of the house are erected: the walls, the roof, etc. Surely Joseph did much more than laying the foundation of the restoration, right? Brigham Young received revelation from the Lord after Joseph’s death, revealing that this was all he was able to do because of the persecution from his enemies, both within and outside the Church.
Therefore, marvel not at these things, for ye are not yet pure; ye can not yet bear my glory; but ye shall behold it if ye are faithful in keeping all my words that I have given you, from the days of Adam to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Jesus and his apostles, and from Jesus and his apostles to Joseph Smith, whom I did call upon by mine angels, my ministering servants, and by mine own voice out of the heavens, to bring forth my work; which foundation he did lay, and was faithful; and I took him to myself. Many have marveled because of his death; but it was needful that he should seal his testimony with his blood, that he might be honored and the wicked might be condemned. 14
The words of the Lord through Brigham indicate Joseph’s faithfulness in laying the foundation of the restoration and leads to further inferences being drawn. For instance, since Joseph Smith only laid the preliminary foundation—priesthood authority, temple, the Book of Mormon, etc.—then there remains more to come, but not under the direction of Joseph excepting other functions promised him.
Elias Comes Amidst Apostasy
The completion of the restoration comes at a time when the Church apostatizes from the basics Joseph Smith inaugurated at the behest of the Lord. Speak to anyone in the Church today, however, and they balk even at the whisper that they and the leadership could succumb to apostasy, for they often give off the air of haughtiness when questioned about such a disaster befalling them and proclaim they have the truth. They believe that merely having received the truth warrants their entering into the celestial kingdom, but holding such a notion leads to complacency and laxity when, in fact, the laws of God are quite strict in their exactness. Investigating the Book of Mormon confounds members’ sentiments about their supposed inability to forsake the doctrines and teachings of the Lord. Closely reading the scriptures apprises attentive readers of a future falling away by the Gentile membership of the Church, with even Jesus Christ going so far as to sermonize on this before the Nephites during his visit to America.15 As He did so, notice that Christ spoke the words of the Father before the people, and these words happened to be compiled into the Book of Mormon by the chief editor of the text, Mormon. This knowledge not only conveyed the authority with which Christ spoke on this matter but also its relevance to future readers of the book, namely members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them. 16
This should cause, at minimum, some self-introspection among both the leadership and membership of the Church. Alarming as these words are, the majority of Church members refuse to believe that they are in the wrong.
To help them see their folly requires the Lord to send another messianic figure to call the masses to repentance, and, given Joseph Smith’s death, this person will not be him. In fact, Christ mentions to Joseph that this figure exists and alludes to his appearing at a later date.
Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel, to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim; And also Elias, to whom I have committed the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, concerning the last days. 17
Again, notice the Lord informing Joseph about the Elias Who Restores All Things and didn’t even hint that the prophet was this same being; rather, Christ apprised Joseph that after His return to the earth, He would sit with several individuals for a cup of wine: Joseph Smith, Moroni, and the Elias Who Restores All Things, John the Baptist, Elijah, Joseph of Old, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Peter, James, and John the Beloved.18 Christ also uttered words that warrants inferences providing more clarity into the identity of this person. For instance, the Elias spoken of already holds the keys for bringing about the restoration of all things and appears to have been commissioned already for the task at hand. Referencing “keys”and “the last days” should turn the reader’s mind toward D&C 113:6 in which Christ helps Joseph Smith understand the interpretation of Isaiah 11.
Behold, thus saith the Lord, it is a descendant of Jesse as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign, and for the gathering of my people in the last days.
The parallels between these two verses under investigation are striking, to say the least, and yet there is another verse, presented in a previous post, that also fits in nicely here.
And there shall rise up one mighty among them, who shall do much good, both in word and in deed, being an instrument in the hands of God, with exceeding faith, to work mighty wonders, and do that thing which is great in the sight of God, unto the bringing to pass much restoration unto the house of Israel, and unto the seed of thy brethren. 19
It should be apparent to the reader that this person, and not Joseph Smith, will finish the restoration, an event requiring the gathering of Israel in the last days. Furthermore, the few scriptures presented provide more clues indicating that the Elias Who Restores All Things and the Davidic servant are one and the same person.
Joseph Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.335-336.
The most apt edition to obtain is the version the RLDS church published in 1974. (Smith, Joseph Jr. The Holy Scriptures: Inspired Version (Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, 1974).
John 1:20-21 JST
Matthew 14:4 JST
John 1:22 JST
Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 336
John 1:28 JST
Mark 9:3-4 JST cf. Matthew 17:1-3 JST
Matthew 17:9 JST
Matthew 17:11 JST cf. Matthew 14:9-12 JST
Matthew 17:10, 14 JST
Joseph Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 315 cf. D&C 1:30, 21:2, 58:6-7, 64:33.
D&C 109:60. Here Joseph Smith specifically indicates the Gentile identity of Church members.
3 Nephi 16:10
2 Nephi 3:24 cf. Isaiah 49:2 Gileadi Translation