A personal acquaintance of mine recently asked me the following question. “Why would God give the commandment of polygamy, and then rescind the commandment later.” Part of his concern is that maybe there wasn’t specific revelations received from God to his prophets (Wilford Woodruff & his counselors) specifically commanding them to rescind polygamy. In my friend’s opinion polygamy was a doctrine that was so special and sacred, it was a requirement to get into heaven. And if it was so sacred, how is it possible for God to rescind that commandment. What I am looking for is some scriptural references, hopefully from the Bible, where God has given a commandment for a period of time and then rescinded the commandment. Thank you for your diligence and your help.
Just to clear up a point– Where did your friend ever get the idea that polygamy was a requirement to get into heaven? It’s not even a requirement to achieve exaltation in the celestial kingdom.
Now you asked when did God ever give a commandment and then rescind it? How about the commandment he gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and later rescinded the commandment because of the wickedness of the people?
“Just as authority in the priesthood had been given to Adam and his sons, the patriarchs, so also were they given the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ and participated in the blessings and ordinances and covenants that pertain to exaltation in the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and King. Only when the people refused to accept this higher priesthood and higher law at the time of Moses were they given the lesser priesthood and the lesser law which was to be a taskmaster to lead them eventually to accept Jesus Christ and the higher law which he had given to the prophets of old and which he gave again in his earthly ministry.” (Elder Theodore M. Burton, Conference Report, October 1964, Afternoon Meeting, p.34)
How about the Lord giving to Oliver Cowdery the power to translate and then rescinding it because Oliver did not properly understand the procedure. Here are excerpts from two revelations given by God to Oliver Cowdery
Ask that you may know the mysteries of God, and that you may translate and receive knowledge from all those ancient records which have been hid up, that are sacred; and according to your faith shall it be done unto you. (D&C 8:11)
Be patient, my son, for it is wisdom in me, and it is not expedient that you should translate at this present time.
Behold, the work which you are called to do is to write for my servant Joseph.
And, behold, it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you. (D&C 9:3-5)