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A question came up in the Sunday school class I teach for which I haven’t yet found a good answer. Is there anything “sealed” on earth as in heaven (Priesthood keys of Elijah) other than marriages? Thanks.





Dear David,

The prophet Joseph Smith received quite an education on Elijah’s post-mortal mission. Set the Wayback Machine to early in the Joseph’s life: earlier than the doctrinally rich Nauvoo period; earlier than the pentecostal Kirtland period; earlier than even the translation and founding period. Take a look at that first visit by Moroni. The angel tells the young man that he is ushering in the last days, and drops this golden nugget on him:

“36 After telling me these things, he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament. He first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus:


37 For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.


38 And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.


39 He also quoted the next verse differently: 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. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” (Joseph Smith-History 1:36-39).

Joseph was taught early to pay special attention to Elijah’s dispensation and his role in that work. In 1836, his faithfulness and diligence were finally rewarded when Elijah came in person to the Kirtland temple to give him “the keys of this dispensation“. Even with these keys committed, the prophet does not introduce the practice of vicarious temple work until the next decade.

Shortly before his death, Joseph spoke about these keys and Elijah’s power and influence in these last days. “The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah,” he says, “is that ye have power to hold the key of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers, and endowments of the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the Kingdom of God, even unto the turning of the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven. … What is the office and work of Elijah? It is … to seal the children to the fathers, and the fathers to the children” (“Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” page 137).

That’s a wide gamut. We’re all aware of the keys’ far reach – stretching across the veil to the spirit world – but Joseph has it including all administrations relating to the families. Joseph used the word “seal” in particular, and that becomes a key as we search the scriptures for examples.

The first stop in our search is an earlier time when Elijah visited earth as an angel. The Mount of Transfiguration stands as a parallel for Jesus’ apostles receiving the “keys of the kingdom” and Joseph receiving dispensational keys. They are visited by Moses and Elijah and if it wasn’t for Joseph’s similar experience, much of the significance would be completely lost. One week prior to this sacred experience, Jesus promises Peter the keys of the kingdom, which include the stipulation that “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matt. 16:19).

For the modern parallel in action we need look no further than D&C 128, which lays out a doctrinal foundation for the efficacy of our baptism for the dead. The previous verse in Matthew is here mentioned again, to explain the wondrous doctrine of … bookkeeping. Faithfully dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s is “a bold doctrine” and yet a necessary one. We are judged out of the books that are written about us, and a part of that judgment will include whether or not we received the proper ordinances, so we had better make sure those ordinances are properly recorded in heaven. This is where Elijah’s sealing power comes in, that “whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven”. This plays out in all our temple ordinances, not just the ones we speak of as “sealing”. Simply put, Elijah’s sealing keys ensure that “whatsoever … [is done] in authority, … truly and faithfully, [with a] proper and faithful record …, [is] a law on earth and in heaven”.

When we look at Elijah’s life we see this same sealing power, which would be completely unrecognizable had we not already learned that it was the power to bind in heaven whatsoever is decreed on earth. Elijah himself, exercising these keys, proclaims the heavens shut up, and heaven and earth respected it. These keys will be exercised again in a similar manner in the last days.

These keys are also used in modern times in another form of “sealing”. Sometimes the scriptures speak of being “sealed up unto eternal life“. Joseph, in the same sermon mentioned above, taught that “the power of Elijah is sufficient to make our calling and election sure” (“Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” page 338).

Elijah’s sealing keys ultimately bind in heaven whatever is bound on earth under the direction of one holding such keys. You can see this manifested in a number of ways throughout scripture. Elijah himself proclaims the heavens shut up, and heaven and earth respect it. In latter days, when we perform a baptism (or any other work) for our dead, it is duly recorded, and such record is respected in heaven at the day of judgment. You properly note that this also includes our records of the dead and living getting sealed together through marriage and family-binding ordinances. Finally, these keys can also be exercised to declare an individual’s calling and election sure (sealed up unto eternal life), and heaven and earth will respect it.






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