What is meant by temple being reared in New Jerusalem in this generation? The revelation was given 179 years ago, so obviously no one from that generation is still alive, and the temple hasn’t been built yet.
The Missouri period of the church is a dolorous chapter in our history. It is filled with suffering, skirmishes, accusations, trials, imprisonments, threats, evictions, and hardships that I would not wish on anyone. When my family went on a trip to see church history sites, we were amazed at the spirit we felt in Liberty Jail. Joseph and the saints have hallowed that ground through their sufferings. So great were their trials that in our history Missouri is paired with persecutions.
It is in the context of the saints’ expulsion and the relative peace of the Nauvoo period that the Lord gives a new revelation. In D&C 124 the saints are again commanded to build a temple, and they are temporarily relieved of their obligation to build the temple in Missouri.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.
And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord God.
Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson county, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies, saith the Lord your God.
And I will answer judgment, wrath, and indignation, wailing, and anguish, and gnashing of teeth upon their heads, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord your God.
And this I make an example unto you, for your consolation concerning all those who have been commanded to do a work and have been hindered by the hands of their enemies, and by oppression, saith the Lord your God.
For I am the Lord your God, and will save all those of your brethren who have been pure in heart, and have been slain in the land of Missouri, saith the Lord.”
They were excused from building the Missouri temple because of the intense persecution they faced interfering with the holy work. As you read this, note that the Lord is referring to D&C 84 as a commandment, not a prophecy. Now reread verses 2-5 of Chapter 84 with that mindset.
“Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem. Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.
Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.”
The Lord is commanding (not prophesying) that the city of Zion be built and that a temple be erected in that generation. For their obedience and diligence, they are promised the Lord’s physical approbation.
Elder Parley P. Pratt saw the Missouri persecution as a direct result of their failure to start work on the Zion temple. “This revelation was not complied with by the leaders and Church in Missouri, as a whole; notwithstanding many were humble and faithful. Therefore, the threatened judgment was poured out to the uttermost, as the history of the five following years will show” (Autobiography of Parley P Pratt ch 13).
The humbled saints learned their lesson from Missouri and, when they were commanded to build a temple in Nauvoo, continued work on it even after the Prophet’s martyrdom.