The first latter-day temple, the Kirtland Temple, was dedicated on March 27, 1836. The Saints held general Church meetings, like sacrament meetings, on the first floor. The upstairs was used as a school for the Apostles. The Prophet Joseph Smith and the Church waited to be taught the full purpose of temples and to receive the priesthood keys necessary to continue the work.
“Sunday, 3 [April, 1836].—Attended meeting in the Lord’s House. … In the afternoon, I assisted the other Presidents in distributing the Lord’s Supper to the Church. … After having performed this service … , I retired to the pulpit, the veils being dropped, and bowed myself, with Oliver Cowdery, in solemn and silent prayer. After rising from prayer, the following vision was opened to both of us—
“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. …
“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:
“… behold, I have accepted this house, … 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.
“After this vision closed, … Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth. …
“After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.
“After this vision had closed, … Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:
“Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—
“To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—
“Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands.” (D&C 110:1–3, 7–8, 11–16.)
The keys given to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery that day, in addition to keys previously received, gave them the right to preside over and direct the Church and to perform sealing ordinances of the temple.
(See History of the Church, vol. 2, pages 434–436.)