The Spirit of Elijah

From MormonWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

The word genealogy is derived from the two Greek words “γενεά,” which means “generation,” and “λόγος,” which means "knowledge.” Therefore, the term “genealogy” can literally be translated as “the knowledge of generations.” The term is often used synonymously with the term “family history” and is thus defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the history of a particular family showing how the different members of the family are related to each other.” Another rendering of the definition is “the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history.” [1]

Elijah appears in Mormon temple

There are many people throughout the world who have a keen interest in family history for various reasons to include: (1) the desire to carve out a piece of the larger picture of history that is specific to one’s family, (2) a sense of self-satisfaction in having the ability to accurately relate the story of one’s family, and (3) a sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations. To obtain information about a family, and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of family members, those engaged in family history research use such tools as oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other available resources to display the results of their research in charts or written narratives.

Family History Research and Its Importance

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon” Church by the media and others), like many other researchers of family history, find discovering who their ancestors are to be of great interest, but there is an even higher purpose for doing the research. Latter-day Saints believe that knowing who their ancestors are affords the ancestor and his family the opportunity to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. The doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ teaches that “marriage and families can continue beyond this life. But this can only happen when families are sealed together in one of the Lord’s holy temples around the world and united for all eternity” [2].

Latter-day Saints further believe and teach:

When Christ organized His Church anciently, it included vicarious work for the dead and the practice of performing ordinances for deceased relatives "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?" 1 Corinthians 15:29. Christ’s restoration of His original Church to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith included the ancient practice of performing these ordinances for our deceased relatives in holy temples. The gospel of Jesus Christ includes the same blessings today in holy temples. [3]

Promise and Spirit of Elijah

As aforementioned, there are various reasons that people give for their interest in finding who their ancestors were, but at the core of that reasoning is the fact that they have been touched by the spirit of the work.

According to the prophecies of Malachi in the Old Testament, the prophet Elijah was to come back and prepare the way of the Lord. These are the words that are recorded, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Malachi 4:5

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the spirit of Elijah is the spirit of family kinship and unity. It is the spirit that motivates the concern to search out ancestral family members through family history; and, on their behalf, to perform proxy baptisms, temple endowments, and sealing ordinances (History of the Church 6:252). This is seen as fulfillment of the prophecy of Malachi that in the last days Elijah "will turn the heart [in Hebrew, the innermost part, as the soul, the affections] of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." Malachi 4:6 [4]

This spirit was renewed when Elijah the Prophet appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple in 1836 and gave them the priesthood keys to the sealing power, which binds in heaven what is bound on earth. Doctrine and Covenants 110:13-16

Genealogy is the Forerunner of LDS Temple Work

Genealogical or family history research is the essential forerunner of temple work for our deceased ancestors. We do it to obtain names and other genealogical information so these temple ordinances can be performed for our kindred dead. Our ancestors then are taught the gospel in the spirit world and have the choice to accept or reject the work performed for them. [5]
The spirit of Elijah is active in the impetus anyone feels toward finding and cherishing family members and family ties past and present. In the global sense, the spirit of Elijah is the spirit of love that may eventually overcome all human family estrangements. [6].