Could you please explain what is meant by the scripture in D&C 2:2 “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers? When I was in seminary, I was told that this scripture, cross-referenced with Malachi 4:5,6 talked about genealogy. If so, what do the words “the promises made to the fathers” and “the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers” refer to? Please help explain this in terms that young primary children would be able to understand.
Haroldeen, from Hawaii
First, who are the fathers? They are our ancestors. Since we are generally of the House of Israel, our fathers are the descendants of Abraham. Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple on 3 April, 1836 and restored to the earth the spirit of genealogy work, turning the hearts of the children toward their fathers, or ancestors.
Before the appearance of Elijah to Joseph and Oliver, there was essentially no interest in seeking information about one’s ancestors. About the only interest that was manifest was by members of the royal families who needed to determine their genealogy in order to establish their right to the throne. However, immediately after the appearance of Elijah, interest in genealogy began to emerge in different parts of the world. The British national registry, called Somerset House, that requires the recording of births, marriages and deaths was established in July of 1837. In 1844 the New England Historic Genealogical Society was formed in Boston, and genealogy in America really dates with the founding of this society.
So the spirit of Elijah turns the hearts of the children to their fathers so that by proxy work done the temples they may enjoy gospel blessings. One of the promises made to the fathers, i.e., the descendants of Abraham, was that in them and in their seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. So, the missionary work goes forward, and as those of the House of Israel are found and are awakened to the truth, they partake of the saving ordinances of the gospel and then search out their ancestry so that the those same ordinances may be performed in the holy temples in their behalf.