On June 30, 1916, "The Father and the Son, a Doctrinal Exposition by The First Presidency and The Twelve," first appeared in pamphlet form. This exposition was reprinted in the August 1916 Improvement Era. Although originally written by James E. Talmage, it was presented to, reviewed, approved and published by The First Presidency and The Quorum of The Twelve. Its purpose was to establish firmly, for the Church, interpretations of the term "Father" as applied to Deity. Four plainly different usages of "Father" used in this sense in the scriptures are discussed.
Although not part of the major message of the exposition, there are several clear and precise statements within the text to the effect that Jesus Christ is and was the Old Testament Jehovah. Following are the four excerpts from that treatise which state that Jehovah was Jesus Christ:
With this meaning ["Father" as Creator], as the context shows in every case, Jehovah, who is Jesus Christ the son of Elohim, is called "the Father," and even "the very eternal Father of heaven and of earth." . . .
That Jesus Christ, whom we also know as Jehovah, was the executive of the Father, Elohim, in the work of creation is set forth in the book Jesus the Christ Chapter 4. . . .
A fourth reason for applying the title "Father" to Jesus Christ is found in the fact that in all His dealings with the human family Jesus the Son has represented and yet represents Elohim His Father in power and authority. This is true of Christ in His preexistent, antemortal, or unembodied state, in the which He was known as Jehovah; also during His embodiment in the flesh; and during His labors as a disembodied spirit in the realm of the dead; and since that period in His resurrected state. . . .
None of these considerations, however, can change in the least degree the solemn fact of the literal relationship of Father and Son between Elohim and Jesus Christ. Among the spirit children of Elohim the firstborn was and is Jehovah or Jesus Christ to whom all others are juniors.
This doctrinal exposition should establish beyond question the mutual understanding of the brethren in 1916. We are aware of no dissenting voice on the identification of Jesus Christ as Jehovah of the Old Testament among the church leadership since 1916.
There are however, several statements by some of the early church writers, such as Parley P. Pratt, Erastus Snow, and Brigham Young, which have been interpreted to indicate that this concept was not always understood in the church. Some, such as Joseph Smith Jr. and Sidney Rigdon, seemed acutely aware of the appropriate usage of "Jehovah" right from the start, while for others the concept appeared to either develop gradually, or not at all.
It is interesting to examine the biblical evidence initially available and see how it is both enhanced and emphasized by Joseph Smith's revelations as the concept of the nature of the Godhead developed among the Church membership. Most of the early converts to the Church had been members of either the Church of England or one of the many Protestant denominations, none of which distinguished between the individuals of the Godhead. "Jehovah" was just another designation of "God," so initially, the topic we are examining held little significance for them.
In early Church literature the distinction between members of the Godhead was not stressed. Pamphlets and early official church publications were heavily relied upon for both doctrinal information and news by the membership, but the vast bulk of data collected from these sources, on the subject of Jehovah, offers no clue to whether the author believed that "Jehovah" was Jesus Christ or not. Generally "Jehovah" was a generic term for God in the Old Testament. Glimpses of insight in which an author speaks of Jesus Christ in Old Testament times, or of Jehovah in new testament times are rare. Most of the references to "Jehovah" in the 1830s and 1840s involve cliches relating to the power of God, such as "the mighty arm of Jehovah," "the throne of Jehovah," or "the great Jehovah," and are simply not concerned with the identity of the being.
Also, It is hoped that this study will dispel concerns caused by recent publications which surmise that Jehovah is actually God the Eternal Father, postulating that the identification of Jehovah with Jesus Christ is an invention of the modern Church, and was never taught by Joseph Smith. It has always been popular among factions and rebellious individuals to disagree with the General Authorities, and to seek for reasons to complain about teachings of the Church. Such persons are always studying, but are never able to come to an understanding of the truth.
TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE
Bible - Section 1: The Old Testament
In the King James Translation of the Old Testament, the word "Jehovah" only appears 4 times, in Ex 6:3; Ps 83:18; Isa 12:2 and Isa 26:4. It appears three additional times as the first part of hyphenated words, one of which identifies a location, "Jehovah-jireh" in Ge 22:14; the other two being the names of altars, "Jehovah-nissi" built by Moses (Ex 17:15), and "Jehovah-shalom" built by Gideon (Jg 6:24). All other direct references to Jehovah in the King James Bible have been altered by the translators. A little background will be helpful in understanding the bible references we will be examining.
There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, all of them consonants. Early Hebrew writing, including the Bible, was written without vowels, and the vowels which belonged with each word were determined by context. Hebrew newspapers are still written this way today. Later, vowels were added by inserting small dots and marks in and around the consonants. This addition of vowel marks was called "pointing," and because of the sacred nature of the text, was done in such a way that not a single consonant had to be moved or altered. Pointing was added to the Bible by a group of scholars in the 9th and 10th centuries AD, called Masoretes, or "traditionalists," and the text they produced was called the Masoretic Text of the Bible.(1) The smallest Hebrew consonant (Y), is Yod, or "jot" and a "tittle," is a small hook or "horn" which distinguishes between two similar Hebrew consonants, hence the saying of the Savior that not one jot or tittle of the law would remain unfulfilled.
The name "Jehovah" in the early manuscripts of the Bible appears as "YHWH," or the "tetragrammaton" which means "four letter word." This name was so sacred that during many centuries of Jewish history it was only spoken aloud once a year, on the Day of Atonement, in the Holy of Holies, and only by the officiating priest. Through lack of use, the actual vowels accompanying these consonants became modified and lost until no one knew the correct pronunciation. Scholars have determined that the most likely pronunciation was Yahweh. In the Masoretic text of the Old Testament, the tetragrammaton (YHWH) appears 5321 times.(2)
Since the old testament is read daily in the synagogues, Jewish youth are taught while learning to read that when YHWH appears in the text, the word "Adoni" (Lord) is vocalized. The only exception is when in the biblical text the word Adoni immediately precedes YHWH, which would then produce "Lord Lord," a form disagreeable in the Hebrew. This combination is therefore pronounced "Adoni Elohim" (Lord God). When the Masoretes began pointing the Old Testament, they felt that placing the vowel markings around YHWH was proximate to pronouncing it - it was difficult not to vocalize the sacred name within the mind; therefore they omitted the vowel markings from YHWH wherever it appeared. This resulted in a compelling attraction of the eye to the only word without pointing, calling attention to the sacred name, which was precisely what they did not want to do. The dilemma was resolved by pointing YHWH with the vowels of Adoni (Lord), producing a form which must be pronounced Yehowah, and is the source of our English form Jehovah.(3) Where the word Adoni (Lord) immediately preceded the word YHWH they followed the vocal tradition by pointing YHWH with the vowels of Elohim (God)(4) and read "Adoni Elohim" (Lord God).
The King James translators chose to translate the word YHWH to "LORD" (all upper case), and the word Adoni to "Lord" or "lord."(5) Where the form Adoni YHWH (Lord LORD) would have appeared, they maintained the verbal form by translating "Lord GOD. The reader should be careful to distinguish between "Adoni YHWH" translated "Lord GOD," "YHWH Elohim" translated "LORD God," and "Adoni Elohim" translated "Lord God."
The choice of the word "LORD," which is not a personal name, in place of the word "Jehovah," which is a personal name, has caused another difficulty in English. Personal names do not use the definite article (one does not say "the Abraham"), and consequently many phrases which contain the word "LORD" have repositioned the definite article. We therefore have such phrases as "the LORD God of Israel," "the LORD God of heaven," "the LORD God of Shem," etc., which should be translated as "Jehovah, the God of Israel," "Jehovah, the God of heaven," "Jehovah, the God of Shem," etc.
The meaning of YHWH gives rise to another translation. YHWH is a form of the verb "to be," which is generally not used in Hebrew. In Exodus 3:14, a translation required by the context yields the "I AM that I AM: ... I AM hath sent me unto you." This translation will become even more significant in our discussion of the New Testament.
Other variations of YHWH also appear in the Hebrew text. The shortened form YH occurs 25 times and was also considered sacred. In the absence of Arabic numerals each letter of the alphabet was given a numerical value. Y had the value of 10 and H had the value of 5, so 15 should have appeared as YH, but because of the sacred nature of that particular combination, it was modified in the sequence. Beginning our example with twelve, counting went: 10 and 2 (12), 10 and 3 (13), 10 and 4 (14), nine and six (15), 10 and 6 (16). "Jehovah" with all its pointings, short forms, variations and combinations appears 6156 times in the Old Testament.(6)
God the Father as Jehovah
There are some Old Testament passages in which the word Jehovah unquestionably refers to God, the Eternal Father. A good example of this is Psalm 110. In that entire Psalm the word "LORD (ie Jehovah)" refers not to Jesus Christ, but to the Father of Jesus Christ. Since the Psalm is short we quote it here in order to make an examination easier:
v1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
v2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
v3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
v4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
v5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
v6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.
v7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.
In this psalm, as in the rest of the Old Testament, the word "LORD" is Jehovah, and the word "Lord" is Adoni.(7) However, it is Christ who is to sit at the right hand of the Father until the Father makes Christ's enemies his footstool, as is made amply clear by Paul in Acts 2:34 and in Hebrews 1:13 and 10:13. Therefore verse one depicts the Father speaking to Christ. This is the same sense in which the Savior quotes this verse to the Pharisees in Matthew 22:41-46(8). Similarly in verse 4, it is the Father who has sworn that Christ is a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek (see Hebrews 5:5-6 and 7:17 in context). This interpretation is further supported by verse 6 because it is Jesus Christ who shall judge among the heathen as we will discuss later, and who will destroy the wicked at his coming, thus filling the places with the dead bodies and wounding the heads over many countries.
This Psalm is sufficient by itself to demonstrate that the designation "Jehovah" is not totally restricted to the Savior but can be used in some instances to denote the Father. There are a few other passages which demonstrate this usage, however they generally do not make specific use of the word Jehovah. In Isaiah 42:1-4 we have the following:
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my spirit delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment on the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
This passage is quoted in Matthew 12:18-21 with specific application to Jesus Christ. In these verses Isaiah does not specifically use the word Jehovah, but verse 5 begins the next paragraph with "Thus saith God the LORD (the El Jehovah), he that created the heavens, and stretched them out;" giving the distinct impression that it was Jehovah speaking of "my servant" in the first four verses of chapter 12. This also fits in the context of Jehovah speaking in chapter 41 of Isaiah, but remember that it is actually Isaiah speaking. It should be no more of a problem to us to think of Jehovah presenting words to Isaiah or David, speaking as though he were the Father, than it is for Isaiah or David presenting words to us speaking as though they were Jehovah: this is the nature of divine investiture of authority. As we have no problem with the prophets speaking on occasion as though they were Jehovah (indeed, some seem to require it, often claiming they are not willing to accept the words of a prophet unless he expresses himself "thus saith the Lord"); why should we then have a problem with Jehovah speaking on occasion as though he were his Father?
Bible - Section 2: The New Testament
The King James New Testament was translated into English from Greek manuscripts. Our Lord probably spoke Greek, and even though most of his teachings would have been in Aramaic, what we have of his words comes through a Greek translation, which may sometimes be heavily influenced by the peculiarities of the Greek language. The same may be said of all of the New Testament writings, especially those which were originally written in Greek. Modern translations can be helpful in understanding the New Testament because Greek manuscripts were not treated with the same meticulous and sometimes fanatic reverence that was characteristic of the Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament. Diddographies, lacunae and variances are common in Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Today we have Greek manuscripts available for every book of the New Testament, which are older (and hence should be more free from transmission error, although sometimes they are not) than any one of the Greek manuscripts available to the King James Translators in 1611.
The King James New Testament translators have done us the favor of italicizing those words which do not appear in the Greek manuscripts, but have been added in the English for clarification. Occasionally it is useful to read one or more passages, deleting italicized words, in order to obtain a better understanding of the original text.
A general characteristic of the New Testament is that references to the word "Jehovah" have been translated, and therefore appear in the form "I am." Most of these have been obscured by the translation, but they are all significant because they almost universally bear witness that the Savior is Jehovah. Those spoken by the Lord himself are probably the most important. Of these, the best known is in John 8:58-59:
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
There are, however, numerous other references in which Jesus makes the declaration that he is Jehovah.(9) In his A Literal Translation of the Bible, Jay P. Green Sr. sometimes translates the Greek words for "I am" as "I AM" because, "It is our firm conviction that in those cases Jesus is identifying Himself as Jehovah."(10) The following verses, (given here as translated by J. P. Green) are included:
And answering Jesus began to say to them, Be careful that no one lead you astray. For many shall come in my name, saying, I AM; and shall deceive many. [Mark 13:5-6]
Again the high priest questioned Him, and said to Him, Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I AM: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. [Mark 14:61-62]
And he said, Watch that you not be led astray. For many will come on My name, saying, I AM! Also, the time has come! Do not go after them, [Luke 21:8]
And when day came, the body of elders of the people, the chief priests and scribes, were gathered. And they led Him away into their sanhedrin saying, If you are the Christ, tell us. And He said to them, If I tell you, you will in no way believe. And also if I ask, in no way will you answer Me, or let Me go. From now on the Son of man will be sitting at the right hand of the power of God. And they all said, Then are you the Son of God? And He said, You say it, because I AM! And they said, Why do we yet have need of witnesses? For we ourselves heard it from his mouth. [Luke 22:66-71]
Therefore, I said to you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins. [John 8:24]
Then Jesus said to them, When you lift up the Son of man, then you will know that I AM; and from Myself I do nothing; but as My Father taught me, these things I speak. [John 8:28]
Jesus said to them, truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham came into being, I AM. Then they took up stones that they might throw them on Him. But Jesus was hidden, and went forth out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. [John 8:58-59]
I do not speak concerning all of you; I know whom I chose out; but that the Scripture might be fulfilled, "The one eating the bread with Me lifted up his heel against Me." From this time I tell you, before it happens, that when it happens you may believe that I AM. [John 13:18-19]
Then knowing all the things come upon Him, going forth Jesus said to them, Whom do you seek? They answered Him, Jesus the Nazarene. Jesus said to them, I AM! And Judas, the one betraying Him, also stood with them. Then when He said to them, I AM, they departed into the rear and fell to the ground. Then again he asked, Whom do yo seek? And they said, Jesus the Nazarene, Jesus answered, I told you that I AM. Then if you seek Me, allow these to depart,--that the word might be fulfilled which He said, Of those whom You gave to Me, I lost not one of them. [John 18:4-9]
In each of these instances the King James translators supplied an object for "I am." In every case the object supplied is in italics, improving the English grammar, but obscuring Christ's reference to himself as Jehovah.
Bible - Section 3: Comparisons
Between the Old and New Testaments
Probably the most direct biblical references identifying Jehovah with Jesus Christ are those concerning one crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the LORD (Jehovah).
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. [Isa 40:3]
Mark makes the prophecy a little more clear at the beginning of his Gospel, where he says:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. [Mark 1:1-3]
Both Matthew and John record that John the Baptist was the messenger spoken of by Isaiah who was to prepare the way before Jehovah (see also Luke 3:2-4).
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. [Matthew 3:1-3]
As recorded in the Gospel of John, John the Baptist himself bore witness that he was the messenger spoken of by Isaiah.
Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. [John 1:22-23]
John said he was preparing the way before one mightier than he, who would baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: [Matthew 3:11]
And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. [Mark 1:7-8]
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: [Luke 3:16]
John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. [John 1:26-27]
Then John identified him for whom he was preparing the way, thus identifying Jesus Christ as Jehovah:
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. [John 1:29-34]
The intent of these passages is so clear that "the wayfaring men, though fools shall not err therein." [Isaiah 35:8]
There are many attributes of Jehovah in the Old Testament which, when compared with the attributes of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, require that they be the same individual:(11)
Each of the following Old Testament references identify Jehovah as the Saviour, while the first three specify that there is no saviour beside him: Isaiah 43:11; 45:21; Hosea 13:4; 2 Samuel 22:3; Isaiah:3,11; 49:26; 60:16; 63:8; Jeremiah 14:8.
The New Testament is just as specific in defining Jesus Christ as the Saviour, in each of the following references: Luke-2:11; John-4:42; Acts-5:31; 13:23; Ephesians-5:23; Philippians-3:20; 1 Timothy-1:1; 2 Timothy-1:10; Titus-1:4; 2:13; 3:6; 2 Peter-1:1,11; 2:20; 3:18; 1 John-4:14.
In the Old Testament Jehovah is the Redeemer: Isaiah 41:14; 43:14; 44:6; 44:24; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 49:26; 54:5; 54:8; 60:16; 63:16; Jeremiah 50:34.
In the New Testament Jesus Christ is the Redeemer / Ransomer / Purchaser: 1 Peter 1:18-19; Gal 3:13; 4:4-5; Rev 5:9; Rom 3:24-25; 1 Cor 1:30-31; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14.
In the Old Testament Jehovah is the Holy One: Isaiah 10:20; 30:15; 43:3; 43:14; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 54:5; 60:14.
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the Holy One: Mar 1:24; Luke 4:34.
In the Old Testament Jehovah is the Creator: Genesis-2:4; 6:7; Psalms-148:5; Isaiah-41:20; 42:5; 43:1; 45:8,18
In the New Testament Jesus Christ is the Creator: John 1:3; Heb 1:2; John 1:10.
More of these comparisons identifying Jesus Christ as Jehovah will be treated in connection with our analysis of Joseph Smith in discussing the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. What we have presented is enough to firmly establish biblical testimony that Jesus Christ and Jehovah are the same person.
The Second Coming
One more topic is worthy of notice in comparing Jehovah of the Old Testament with Jesus Christ of the New Testament, and that is the doctrine of the Second Coming of the Lord. In what follows, all of the Old Testament references to the second coming refer to Jehovah, while all of the New Testament references refer to Christ.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, speaks of his coming, with ten thousand of his saints. (Jude 1:14-15)
Daniel viewed his coming in the clouds of heaven. (Daniel 7:13)
Paul testifies that the righteous dead, and those who remain, will be caught up into the clouds to meet him at his coming. (1 Thes 4:16-17)
Job speaks of standing on the earth in the latter day, and says, "in my flesh I shall see God." (Job 19:25-26)
Isaiah represents him as coming with vengeance and recompense; as coming with dyed garments from Bozrah, treading the people in his anger, and trampling them in his fury; as coming with fire and with his chariots to the destruction of his enemies, and for the joy and deliverance of his saints, even they who tremble at his word. (Isaiah 63:1-4)
Malachi testifies of his coming, and enquires who can abide it; and also of his sending Elijah the prophet before him, to perform a certain mission, which would prevent the curse from smiting the earth entire. (Mal 3:2; 4:5-6)
Zechariah foretells that his feet will stand upon the Mount of Olives, for the deliverance of the Jews, and the destruction of their enemies; that the mount would rend beneath his feet, and be removed, leaving a great valley in its stead; and that all the saints will come with him; and that Jerusalem and the Jews will be holy from that day forward; and all the nations of the surrounding countries will go up to Jerusalem once a year, to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts; and to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zech 14:3-6, 16)
Peter foretells of his coming in flaming fire, to take vengeance; also, that he shall be sent to the Jews, after the Heavens have received him till the times of restitution. (Acts 3:20-21)
Jesus himself has foretold his second coming, with its attendant signs; and that it would bring destruction comparable to the days of Noah; and to the days of Lot. (Luke 17:26-29)
The angels also predicted it at the time he ascended, and even told the manner of it, viz., "This same Jesus shall so come, in like manner as he went up:" that is, personally, bodily, visibly, in the clouds of heaven. (Acts 1:10-11)
The revelation of John often confirms the second advent; and even declares that his enemies shall see him, and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him; and finally closes the volume by saying, even so come, Lord Jesus. (Rev 1:7; 22:28)(12)
TEACHINGS OF JOSEPH SMITH
The Book of Mormon, the Book of Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price were all developed by Joseph Smith, therefore they will be examined chronologically as part of his teachings.
Joseph Smith - Section 1: the Book of Mormon
Although Joseph Smith was not the author of the Book of Mormon, he was the translator. It is fair to say that he believed in the Book of Mormon, and that he understood it much better than we do. It will be assumed here that Book of Mormon references to Jehovah are representative of Joseph Smith's early (1829) feelings on the subject. We shall individually examine both what the Book of Mormon references say, and how well they agree with the testimony of the Bible.
The word "Jehovah," only appears twice in the Book of Mormon, but in each of these the identification of Jesus Christ as Jehovah is clear. In addition, there are several other particularly plain references which shed light on his identity. Each of these references will be discussed separately.
Book of Mormon Reference No. 1
1Ne 19:10 - And the God of our fathers, who were led out of Egypt, out of bondage, and also were preserved in the wilderness by him, yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel.
These prophecies, which must have been available on the brass plates of Laban, were collected from the writings of Zenock, Neum and Zenos, by Nephi. They provide indisputable evidence that Jesus Christ was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who led the children of Israel out of Egypt. That this same individual was Jehovah is attested by numerous Bible and Book of Mormon references. There is a verse in Acts which has caused many to become unnecessarily confused about the identity of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob:
The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. [Acts 3:13]
Here the reference is unquestionably to God, the Father of Jesus Christ, as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob, in the Book of Mormon gives us the insight needed to understand the apparent difficulty in Acts:
For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.
Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son. [Jacob 4:4-5 emphasis added]
Since "all the holy prophets" worshiped the Father in the name of Christ, then the Father was also their God. We worship the Father in the name of Christ; then is Christ our God? or is the Father our God? or can the term "our God" apply to both? So it was with the ancient prophets also. We need to understand that because of the unity between the Father and the Son, terms such as "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," and "the God of Israel," depending upon the context, can refer to either.(13) Such application need not cause confusion, as the context will always be specific if the author feels a need for distinction is important.
Book of Mormon Reference No. 2.
2Ne 29:10-14 - Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews. And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever. [emphasis added]
This passage identifies whoever the "judge of the world" is, with that personage who made the covenant with Abraham that he would remember his seed forever. In the Bible, the Judge of the world is not difficult to identify.
Jehovah, the Judge
In his attempts to save the inhabitants of the city of Sodom from destruction if as many as ten righteous men inhabit the city, Abraham himself calls the LORD (Jehovah) "the Judge of all the earth" (Ge 18:25). One of the attributes of Jehovah is that he is Judge. Although only the more significant references can be given here, throughout the Old Testament the LORD (Jehovah):
Jesus Christ the Judge
In the New Testament, however, it is Jesus Christ who is the judge, and in fact:
The Apostles also bore witness of Jesus Christ, that:
This is in complete harmony with the second half of the Book of Mormon passage we are examining, that it was the same individual who covenanted with Abraham that he would remember his seed forever. In the Book of Abraham we have the following description of the Lord making his covenant with Abraham:
Abr 2:6-11 - But I, Abraham, and Lot, my brother's son, prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord appeared unto me, and said unto me: Arise, and take Lot with thee; for I have purposed to take thee away out of Haran, and to make of thee a minister to bear my name in a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice. For I am the Lord thy God; I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my voice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot; I say to the mountains--Depart hence--and behold, they are taken away by a whirlwind, in an instant, suddenly. My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations; And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father; And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.
Book of Mormon Reference No. 3
2Ne 22:2 - Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation.
This is a quote from Isaiah 12:2, which is itself a quote from either Exodus 15:2 or Psalms 118:14. The passage does not afford us any information beyond the identification of Jehovah with salvation and hence identifying him as the savior. Related scriptures have been examined above and need not be repeated here.
Book of Mormon Reference No. 4
3Ne 11:13-14 - And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying: Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
The expression "God of Israel" is used 204 times in the Old Testament. It appears as "LORD God of Israel," (= Jehovah, the God of Israel), 160 of those times. In most of the remaining 44 usages, the immediate context identifies the God of Israel with Jehovah, and in the few others there is nothing that would indicate that the reference is not to Jehovah. Again, the Book of Mormon reference identifies the God of Israel as Jesus Christ.(14)
Book of Mormon Reference No. 5
3Ne 15:1-5 - And now it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and said unto them, Behold, ye have heard the things which I taught before I ascended to my Father therefore, whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them, him will I raise up at the last day. And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new. And he said unto them: Marvel not that I said unto you that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new. Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses. Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end.
Here we have Jesus Christ, during his visit to the Nephites, not long after his death and resurrection, stating that it was he who gave the law unto Moses. In 1831 Joseph Smith re-emphasized that it was Jesus Christ who gave the law unto Moses, when in his Inspired Revision of the Holy Scriptures, Joseph revised the following verses from the ninth chapter of Matthew to say:
Then said the Pharisees unto him, Why will ye not receive us with our baptism, seeing we keep the whole law? But Jesus said unto them, Ye keep not the law. If ye had kept the law, ye would have received me, for I am he who gave the law. [Mat 9:18-19 (JST)]
Anyone questioning that it was Jehovah who gave Moses the law can refresh his memory by reading any, or all, of the following verses:
All of these verses, therefore, substantiate both that Jesus Christ was Jehovah, and that Joseph Smith knew and understood that Jesus Christ was Jehovah.
Book of Mormon Reference No. 6
Mor 10:34 - And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.
We have already discussed the aspect of Jesus Christ being the Judge of the quick and the
dead, and that the Father will not judge, but that he has given all judgement unto the Son. This
verse contains an additional reference to Moroni being "brought forth triumphant through the air"
which has reference to the righteous (both living and dead) being caught up to meet Christ at his
second coming. The most pertinent scriptural references follow:(15)
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. [Jude 1:14-15]
And then they shall look for me, and, behold, I will come; and they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels; and he that watches not for me shall be cut off. But before the arm of the Lord shall fall, an angel shall sound his trump, and the saints that have slept shall come forth to meet me in the cloud. [D&C 45:44-45]
And there shall be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour; and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled; And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him. And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven--They are Christ's, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God. [D&C 88:95-98]
Consideration of 3Ne 20:25
There is an interesting verse in 3Ne 20:25 which should be examined in relation to the identity of Jehovah. The verse reads as follows:
And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. [3Ne 20:25]
In context these words are spoken by the Savior, and indicate that the Father personally made a covenant with Abraham. Among the words which he spoke were "And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed." When we compare this with the Book of Abraham, we indeed find very similar words:
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of he body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.(16)
but it is Jehovah who is speaking. A strict and isolated comparison of these verses would almost require that Jehovah be God the Father, providing a second reference in which the Father is designated "Jehovah."(17)
In verse twenty-seven, however, Christ continues the quote from the Father, showing that it is not the same instance depicted in the book of Abraham, but must refer to a covenant made with Abraham at some other time:
And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles, which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel. And they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land. Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fullness of my gospel, they if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father. And I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people; and I have covenanted with them that I would gather them together in mine own due time, that I would give unto them again the land of their fathers for their inheritance, which is the land of Jerusalem, which is the promised land unto them forever, saith the Father.(18)
Joseph Smith - Section 2:
Early Revelations, 1830-1836
There is a strange tendency to ascribe to Joseph Smith a lack of understanding of those revelations which he himself received. It is sometimes suggested that the Lord knew what he was saying, so the revelations are correct, but that Joseph did not understand them completely. To be specific, there will be some who will say that the scriptures declare that Jesus Christ was Jehovah, but Joseph Smith did not understand that they were the same individual. There may be some things in the revelations which Joseph did not understand, but the revelations were given to him, in his language, according to his comprehension, that he might come to understanding,(19) so he probably understood them much better than we do. Generally, those who feel they know more than the prophets are attempting to support their own heterodoxy, and there is more doubt thrown upon their own understanding than the understandings of those they accuse.
After publication of the Book of Mormon, the revelations received by the Prophet Joseph Smith continued to demonstrate the identity of Jesus Christ with Jehovah. This assertion is supported by the following four references from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants:
[D&C 29:1-2 (September 1830)]: Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, the Great I AM, whose arm of mercy hath atoned for your sins; Who will gather his people even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, even as many as will hearken to my voice and humble themselves before me, and call upon me in mighty prayer.
[D&C 36:1-3 (December 1830)]: Thus saith the Lord God, the Mighty One of Israel:(20) Behold, I say unto you, my servant Edward, that you are blessed, and your sins are forgiven you, and you are called to preach my gospel as with the voice of a trump; And I will lay my hand upon you by the hand of my servant Sidney Rigdon, and you shall receive my Spirit, the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom; And you shall declare it with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna, blessed be the name of the most high God.
[D&C 38:1-4 (January 2, 1831)]: Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made; The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes; I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me. I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom; and verily, I say, even as many as have believed in my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them.
[D&C 39:1-4 (January 5, 1831)]: Hearken and listen to the voice of him who is from all eternity to all eternity, the Great I AM, even Jesus Christ--The light and the life of the world; a light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not; The same which came in the meridian of time unto mine own, and mine own received me not; But to as many as received me, gave I power to become my sons; and even so will I give unto as many as will receive me, power to become my sons.
On March 7, 1831 the Lord revealed section 45 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Beginning with verse 16, section 45 gives a detailed recitation of the teachings of the Savior to his apostles about his second coming, as they stood on the Mount of Olives.(21) Pertinent to the identification of Jesus Christ with Jehovah is the Savior's explanation to the Twelve of the prophecies found in the 13th and 14th chapters of Zechariah. In Zachariah the context of the combination of these verses is not clear, but Zechariah describes a time in the latter days when Jehovah shall come in the clouds of heaven to the Mount of Olives, which shall cleave in twain, providing a valley into which the besieged inhabitants of Jerusalem will flee for safety. The related Old Testament verses are as follows:
[Zechariah 14:3-5]: Then shall the LORD [Jehovah] go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD [Jehovah] my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
[Zechariah 13:6]: And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.
[Zechariah 12:10]: And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord makes the sequence of events extremely clear, and in so doing identifies himself as Jehovah:
[D&C 45:47-53]: Then shall the arm of the Lord fall upon the nations. And then shall the Lord set his foot upon this mount, and it shall cleave in twain, and the earth shall tremble, and reel to and fro, and the heavens also shall shake. And the Lord shall utter his voice, and all the ends of the earth shall hear it; and the nations of the earth shall mourn, and they that have laughed shall see their folly. And calamity shall cover the mocker, and the scorner shall be consumed; and they that have watched for iniquity shall be hewn down and cast into the fire. And then shall the Jews look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God. And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king.
In Section 78, given in March 1832, the Lord identifies himself as the Holy One of Zion (verse 15), the Holy One (verse 16) and "your Redeemer, even the Son Ahman" (verse 20). If the Holy One, the Holy One of Zion and the Holy One of Israel, are all the same person, which seems likely, then Jehovah is Jesus Christ, because Jehovah is the Holy One of Israel,(22) and Jesus Christ is Son Ahman.(23)
The scriptural proliferation of examples becomes tedious by sheer number, but similar identifications can be made by comparing D&C 98:32-33 (Aug 6, 1833) with Deut. 20:10, Joshua 8:2 and 1 Kings 8:44, and again by comparing D&C 101:95 (Dec 16, 1833) with Isa 28:21. The verses we have quoted and arguments we have made are by no means exhaustive, but we have attempted to include all of the most direct and immediately obvious references.
There are several references to Jehovah by Joseph Smith during this time period which have not been examined here, because they offer no additional information. They contain such phrases as "the arm of Jehovah," "thank the great I AM," etc. There is nothing in any of these usages which would even imply that Jehovah was anyone other than Jesus Christ. These references are all included in Table 1 in the Appendix.
Joseph Smith - Section 3: 1836
and Dedication of the Kirtland Temple
On November 2, 1835 Joseph Smith and several prominent Elders of the Church drove to Willoughby university, just 4 miles from Kirtland, to hear a lecture by a Jewish physician. The physician, Dr. Peixotto, agreed to come to Kirtland and instruct the adult Kirtland School in Hebrew. Within a few days following, Oliver Cowdery was sent to New York to purchase the best Hebrew textbooks he could find, and on his return (November 20th) he presented Joseph Smith with a personal copy of a Hebrew Bible, a Lexicon, and a Grammar. Expectant of the tutelage of Dr. Peixotto, Joseph and a sizeable class of his associates began the study of Hebrew on their own. When after two months Dr. Peixotto still had not arrived, they made other arrangements. Professor Joshua Seixas of the Hudson Seminary was initially hired to teach 40 scholars in Kirtland for a term of seven weeks. There were to be two sessions per day, from 10 to 11 a.m. and again from 2 to 3 p.m., five days per week. Professor Seixas arrived on January 26, and after the first week thirty more students wished to form a class. By the middle of February he was teaching a total of four different Hebrew classes in Kirtland. Joseph attended classes faithfully and was considered one of the Professor's better students.(24)
Page 55 of J. Seixas' Hebrew Grammar, (second edition, 1834), which was used by the Kirtland Hebrew classes, begins a brief treatment of the usage of the word "Jehovah" in the Hebrew language. If Joseph Smith had not been aware of the meaning and grammatical usage of the word "Jehovah" prior to his Hebrew classes, he would have been reasonably well informed by the time of the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, which essentially coincided with the end of the courses of Hebrew study in Kirtland.(25)
Sections 109 and 110 of the Doctrine and Covenants pertain to the Kirtland Temple dedication and contain the first significant and interesting information from Joseph Smith about the nature of Jehovah after the publication of the Book of Mormon. The material is controversial and we have not been able to find an LDS commentator on the Doctrine and Covenants who will broach the problem posed by the direct addressing of Jehovah in the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple.
The dedicatory prayer was not spontaneous, it was written on the day prior to the dedication. Oliver Cowdery says of Saturday, March 26, 1836:
We prepared for the dedication of the Lord's house. I met in the presidents room pres. J. Smith, jr. S. Rigdon, my brother W.A. Cowdery & Elder W. Parrish, and united in writing a prayer for the dedication of the house.(26)
Joseph Smith indicates that the prayer was received by revelation,(27) and it is published as Section 109 of the Doctrine and Covenants. On Sunday, March 27th, the prayer was read at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple.
The revelation begins by addressing "O Lord God of Israel," which by Old Testament requirements must be Jehovah. The revelation continues in subsequent verses addressing "Holy Father" and "Jehovah," which could be consistent in light of the First Presidency message of 1916 which demonstrates that Jesus Christ can be and often is referred to in scripture by that designation. The difficulty arises in verse 4 where the following wording occurs:
And now we ask thee, Holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of thy bosom, in whose name alone salvation can be administered to the children of men, ...
This wording gives the distinct impression that the prayer is to God the Father, in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, which is consistent with the way we have been taught to pray. Subsequent addressing of "Holy Father" and "Jehovah" with no apparent break in context is a strong argument used by those attempting to prove that Jehovah is God the Father, rather than his son Jesus Christ. Indeed, if this prayer is addressed to the Savior, as Jehovah, it is unique in temple dedicatory prayers, because as far as we have been able to determine, all later temple dedicatory prayers were addressed directly to God the Father in the name of his Son.
There are, however, several interesting aspects of this prayer which require further investigation.
v1 Thanks be to thy name, O Lord God of Israel, who keepest covenant and showest mercy unto thy servants who walk uprightly before thee, with all their hearts--
The reference here is to 2Chr 6:14, which is appropriate, because it is the first verse of the dedicatory prayer offered by King Solomon at the dedication of the first temple of which we have any record:
And said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:
"O LORD God of Israel," may be translated "O Jehovah, the God of Israel," and hence confirms that the prayer is to Jehovah. Section 109 continues (omitting verse four temporarily):
v2 Thou who hast commanded thy servants to build a house to thy name in this place [Kirtland].
v3 And now thou beholdest, O Lord, that thy servants have done according to thy commandment.
. . .
v5 For thou knowest that we have done this work through great tribulation; and out of our poverty we have given of our substance to build a house to thy name, that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people.
v6 And as thou hast said in a revelation, given to us, calling us thy friends, saying--Call your solemn assembly, as I have commanded you;
v7 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith;
v8 Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;
v9 That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord, that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord, that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands unto the Most High--
The command to build a temple in Kirtland was given by revelation on December 27, 1832. It is recorded in Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 119:
Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;
Verses 6b through 9 of section 109 are quoted directly from D&C 88:117-119. Therefore Joseph Smith is addressing the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer to that individual who revealed Section 88 in December of 1832. There are several verses in Section 88 which are very interesting pertaining to who that particular revelator was:
v21 And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.
v64 Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you;
v75 That I may testify unto your Father, and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood of this wicked generation; that I may fulfil this promise, this great and last promise, which I have made unto you, when I will.
Joseph Smith is addressing the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer to Jesus Christ, as Jehovah. This is further substantiated in verses 73-75. Prior to verse 74 it might be argued that references to "Holy Father," "Jehovah," and "Lord," etc., could refer to either God the Father or to Jesus Christ, His son. In verses 73-75, however, we have the following:
v73 That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners;
v74 And be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth; that thy glory may fill the earth;
v75 That when the trump shall sound for the dead, we shall be caught up in the cloud to meet thee, that we may ever be with the Lord;
In verse 73, "thy Church" is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, not "The Church of God the Father."(28) In verses 74 and 75, the person addressed is spoken of throughout the scriptures as coming in the clouds of heaven, and it is prophesied that the righteous dead and the living saints will be caught up in the clouds to meet him. This reference is unquestionably to the second coming of Jesus Christ, and not to any predicted appearance of God the Father.
The problem would therefore be resolved if it were not for verse 4 and those subsequent verses which address "Holy Father." It would be convenient at this point merely to remember that Jesus Christ deserves the appellation "Father" in each of four different ways, and dismiss the issue. Verse 4, however, says:
v4 And now we ask thee, Holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of thy bosom, in whose name alone salvation can be administered to the children of men, we ask thee, O Lord, to accept of this house, the workmanship of the hands of us, thy servants, which thou didst command us to build.
In the first half of this verse the words "Holy Father" must refer to God, the Father of Jesus Christ. Whenever, in this setting and context, the term "Holy Father" again appears, it would seem we need some compelling reason to assign the identical words to anyone other than God the Father. The words "Holy Father" appear in verses 4, 10, 14, 22, 24, 29 and 47, and are interspersed with addressing "O Lord," "O Jehovah," "O Mighty God of Jacob," and "O Lord God Almighty, in the following pattern:
Examining the context of each of those portions of this revelation addressed to "Holy Father" yields some further interesting points.
The Kirtland temple is dedicated "unto thee," in verse 12, and in verse 13 it is "thy house," but temples are "The House of the Lord," which we have always felt were houses of Jesus Christ, not specifically houses of God the Eternal Father.
In verse 14 the request is made that all who worship "in this house may be taught words of wisdom out of the best books, and that they may seek learning even by study, and also by faith, as thou hast said;"[emphasis added] Above we noted that the particular words quoted are from D&C section 88, which three different verses indicate was revealed by Jesus Christ. Again, the words "thy house" appear in verses 16, 20 and 21, although this segment is addressed to "Holy Father."
In verse 22, the servants of God (missionaries ?) are to go forth from this house armed with the power of God, and that "thy name may be upon them." Yet we are commanded to do all that we do in the name of Jesus Christ, not in the name of God the Father.
Verse 28 requests that God fight for his people as he did in "the day of battle." The
phrase "day of battle" appears eight times in the Old Testament, and in general it is refers to
Jehovah assisting the Israelites in fighting an enemy.(29)
Nothing distinctive appears in verse 47, although the term "Holy Father" is sandwiched between two references to "O Lord," which verses show some of the same tendencies to refer to Jesus Christ rather than the Father.
On April 3, 1836, one week after the dedicatory prayer was offered, the temple was accepted by the personal appearance of God in the Kirtland Temple.:
The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father. Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice. Let the hearts of your brethren rejoice, and let the hearts of all my people rejoice, who have, with their might, built this house to my name. For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house. Yea, I will appear unto my servants, and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house. Yea the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have been endowed in this house. And the fame of this house shall spread to foreign lands; and this is the beginning of the blessing which shall be poured out upon the heads of my people. Even so. Amen.
Here Joseph Smith states that Jesus Christ, he who was slain and liveth, he who is the first and the last, he who is our advocate with the Father, is Jehovah. The acceptance of the Kirtland temple completes the image that the dedicatory prayer was directed to the Savior as Jehovah, as can be seen in the following:
As a general overview, the entirety of section 109 appears to be addressed directly to Jesus Christ as Jehovah, and not to God the Eternal Father, except for the one phrase at the beginning of verse 4:
And now we ask thee, Holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of thy bosom, in whose name alone salvation can be administered to the children of men,
We can only surmise the reason for this incongruity. It may be as simple as the commandment given to Adam call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore,(31) or it may have been a suggestion from one of those with Joseph Smith during the preparation of the dedicatory prayer and the fact that at this early date the distinctions between members of the Godhead was not stressed. In any event, in light of the above discussion we must conclude that the Kirtland dedicatory prayer was addressed to Jesus Christ as Jehovah; verse 4 begins by directly addressing God the Father, as Holy Father, in the Name of Jesus Christ; and the last half of verse 4, beginning "we ask thee, O Lord," returns to addressing Jehovah. We also conclude that the reason it was addressed to Jehovah as Jesus Christ instead of God the Father, was that Joseph was so directed by revelation.
Joseph Smith - Section 4: 1837-1844
After the dedication of the Kirtland temple, there are few significant statements by Joseph Smith which shed light on the identity of Jehovah. A more complete list of his direct comments on the subject may be examined by reference to table I in the appendix, but basically he speaks of:
Joseph also speaks of:
It is possible, that there is a distinction between two or more of these four usages, but after careful examination we find nothing to warrant any claim to such a distinction.
In all of the references which we have located, there is only one in which he addresses God the Father by the title "Jehovah.: In August of 1842 Joseph Smith recorded in the Book of the Law of the Lord, his deepest feelings of love and affection for his family, his close friends and those who had assisted him in times of persecution, peril and distress. After requesting God's blessings upon those whom he loved the most, Joseph poured out his soul to his Heavenly Father, thanking him for his blessings and requesting continued blessings upon himself and his loved ones:
There are many souls whom I have loved stronger than death. To them I have proved faithful - to them I am determined to prove faithful, until God calls me to resign up my breath. O Thou, who seest and knowest the hearts of all men - Thou eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Jehovah - God - Thou Eloheim, that sittest, as saith the Psalmist, "enthroned in heaven," look down upon Thy servant Joseph at this time; and let faith on the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ, to a greater degree than Thy servant ever yet has enjoyed, be conferred upon him, even the faith of Elijah; and let the lamp of eternal life be lit up in his heart, never to be taken away; and let the words of eternal life be poured upon the soul of Thy servant, that he may know Thy will, Thy statutes, and Thy commandments, and Thy judgments, to do them.(32)
In view of the fact that this is the only instance in which Joseph applied the name "Jehovah" specifically to God the Father, we suggest that it would be reasonable to interpret this statement in a manner which would harmonize with all of his other statements on the subject. Here Joseph is praising his Father and God from the depths of his heart, and is seeking exalted and superlative designations with which to address him in order to better express his love, esteem and humility. If we consider the phrase "Thou eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Jehovah" as an adjective phrase and a superlative, descriptive of God the Father, then Joseph Smith can be considered to have been totally consistent throughout all of his teachings.(33) Please remember that this reinterpretation is not a requirement, both because distinctions between members of the Godhead were not rigorously adhered to at that time, and because the bible itself in Psalm 110 refers to the Father by the designation Jehovah. It is therefore not wrong to refer to the Father as "Jehovah," it is just unusual.
It has been claimed by some, that Joseph Smith never applied the word "Jehovah" to Jesus Christ.(34) We find that claim to be totally irresponsible. What separates Joseph Smith's usage from the more commonplace is that (with the one possible exception discussed above) he never used the word "Jehovah" when speaking of God the Father in a manner that specifically distinguished between him and his son Jesus Christ.
Non-Scriptural References to Jehovah
by Joseph Smith - arranged by date
1. John R. Kohlenberger III, The NIV Triglot Old Testament, Zondervan, 1981, p iv. Also Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, United Bible Societies, New York, Second Edition, Revised, 1979, pp vi-vii.
2. G. Kittle, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Eerdmans, 1965, vol 3, p 1067.
3. J. Weingreen, A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew, Oxford, second edition, p 23.
4. G. J. Botterweck and H. Ringgren, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Eerdmans, 1986, Volume 5, p 501.
5. We have found two exceptions in the King James version of the Old Testament. In Numbers 14:17 and again in Psalms 90:1, Adoni (Lord) has been translated "LORD." These translations which appeared in the 1611 edition of the King James Bible, have been perpetuated into our current LDS Edition, and appear to be an oversight.
6. G. Kittle, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Eerdmans, 1965, vol 3, p 1059.
7. One old manuscript has "Jehovah said unto my Jehovah." See Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary 3:581.
8. "Can there be any question as to how Jesus is interpreting the words of the Psalm? He is saying that it means: 'The Father said unto the Son, Elohim said unto Jehovah, sit thou on my right hand, until after your mortal ministry, then I will raise you up to eternal glory and exaltation with me, where you will continue to sit on my right hand forever.'" Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah p 102. See also Mark 12:35-37.
9. James R. Harris identifies sixty two "I am" passages in the four gospels, examines their authenticity, relates forty seven of them to Christ's identification of himself as Jehovah, and an additional thirteen which make the implication. Only three of the passages are not messianic. We shall briefly discuss here only those passages which have the translational peculiarity of having no direct object. See James R. Harris, "The 'I Am' Passages in the Gospels and in 3 Nephi," Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, 1987, published by Randall Book Company, The New Testament and the Latter-day Saints, 1987, pp 89-114.
10. Jay P. Green, Sr., General Editor and Translator The Interlinear Greek-English NEW TESTAMENT, Volume 4 of The Interlinear Hebrew-Greek-English Bible, The Trinitarian Bible Society, London, England, Printed in USA by Hendrickson Publishers, Thirteenth Printing, 1988, p xiii.
11. Many of the following references are taken from Mark E. Petersen, "Christ, Jehovah and the 'Witnesses.'"
12. Taken with only minor modification from an article by Parley P. Pratt in the Millennial Star 1:9.
13. See for example the discussion by Bruce R. McConkie in The Promised Messiah, pp 122-123.
14. Note that 1Ne 19:13 also identifies the "God of Israel" with Jesus Christ.
15. Other supportive references can be found as follows:
Daniel 7:13; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:63-64; Mark 13:24-26; Mark 14:61-62; Revelation 1:7; D&C 45:16; D&C 76:62-65; D&C 76:106; D&C 109:75; JS-Matthew 1:1; JS-Matthew 1:36; TPJS 132.
16. Abraham 2:11
17. There are some interesting variances of verse 25 in different editions of the Book of Mormon. In the first (1830) edition of the Book of Mormon the verse in question reads as follows:
And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying: Unto Abraham, and in thy seed, shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed: [Book of Mormon, p 497 (1830 edition)]
Note that with only a minor change in punctuation the entire problem is eliminated. In this version, the promise is not made directly with Abraham, but with at least several of the Nephite's "fathers," indicating that all the kindreds of the earth will be blessed "unto Abraham," and that they (the Nephites) will participate in those blessings.
The question now arises, when was the change made, and by whom? The change actually took place in two stages. When the Book of Mormon was reprinted in Kirtland in 1837 under the direction of Parley P. Pratt, the punctuation was modified in such a way as to make it ambiguous.
And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham, and in thy seed, shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed; [Book of Mormon, p 524 (1837 edition)]
This punctuation was retained in all subsequent editions until 1921 when the First Presidency authorized James E. Talmage to make corrections to the Book of Mormon. In 1921 changes to the punctuation were made which removed the ambiguity in the verse, but modified it from the sense of the 1830 edition. The 1921 change has been retained in all editions up to and including the present.
18. 3 Nephi 20:27-29. In the 1830 edition the next sentence begins a new paragraph.
19. See D&C 1:24.
20. Each of the following references identifies Jehovah as the Mighty One of Israel: Isa 1:24; Isa 30:29; 1 Nephi 22:12. Recognizing that Jacob was Israel, we can add four more references that Jehovah was the Mighty One of Jacob: Isa 49:26; Isa 60:16; 1 Nephi 21:26; 2 Nephi 6:18.
21. Other accounts of this discourse can be found in Matthew 24 and in Joseph Smith: Matthew.
22. Isa 10:20; 30:15; 41:14; 43:3,14; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; Jer 50:29; 1 Nephi 20:17; 22:24,26; 2 Nephi 1:10; 3:2; 6:9,10; 9:12,15,18,19,23,24,25,41; 22:6; 25:29; 30:2; Omni 1:26; 3 Nephi 22:5
23. See D&C 95:17. Also of interest is an uncannonized revelation quoted by Orson Pratt in Journal of Discourses 2:342.
24. Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, William W. Phelps, William E. McLellin, Edward Partridge, and Sylvester Smith were selected by Professor Seixas to receive advanced instruction. See Milton V. Backman Jr., The Heavens Resound p. 272.
25. The information on the Kirtland Hebrew classes and Professor J. Seixas is taken from "Joseph Smith as a Student of Hebrew" by Dr. Louis Zucker, as published in the introduction of the 1981 reprint of J. Seixas Hebrew Grammar, see pages v-xxiii. Hebrew classes were continued for two days after the Kirtland Temple dedication before abruptly concluding.
26. Oliver Cowdery Journal (January 1 - March 27, 1836), P. 21, located in the HDC, as quoted in Robert J. Woodford, "The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants," Unpublished Dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1974, p 1440, note 2.
27. HC 2:420.
28. See D&C 115:3-4, "... and unto all the elders and people of my Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, scattered abroad in all the world; for thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Compare with 3Ne 27:8: "And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses' name then it be Moses' church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel."
29. See 1Sam 13:22; Job 38:23; Ps 78:9; 140:7; Pr 21:31; Hos 10:14; Amos-1:14; Zech 14:3.
30. Isa 30:30 And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones.
Rev 8:7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
Rev 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
Rev 16:21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.
D&C 29:16 And there shall be a great hailstorm sent forth to destroy the crops of the earth.
31. Moses 5:8. It should be noted that this prayer was to dedicate the temple in which the fullness of the keys pertaining to temple work would be restored. The absence of those very keys which would be restored in this house could be part of the reason the dedication of the Kirtland Temple was to Jehovah and not to God the Eternal Father.
32. HC 5:127.
33. We have located 47 usages of the word "Jehovah" and its synonyms by the prophet Joseph Smith, exclusive of the 22 references now found in scripture. Boyd Kirkland implies 128 usages by tabulating all references in History of the Church. He does not mention that the majority of his references are not from Joseph Smith, and many are from non-members of the church. He also omits numerous scriptural references that are injurious to his conclusions. See Boyd Kirkland, "The Development of the Mormon Jehovah Doctrine, 1830-1916" Table 2.
34. See Boyd Kirkland, "The Development of the Mormon Jehovah Doctrine, 1830-1916" p 4, and Ogden Kraut Mysteries of Creation, Pioneer Press, 1989, p 75.