When Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1823, among the prophecies he quoted was Malachi 4:5–6, though with some differences from the way it is found in the King James Version of the Bible (see Joseph Smith—History 1:29–33, 36–39). Section 2 contains that prophecy as Moroni delivered it. It was placed in the Doctrine and Covenants in 1876 under the direction of President Brigham Young and is the earliest revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants. The message of Malachi is so important that it has been repeated in each of the standard works (see Malachi 4:5–6; Luke 1:16–17; 3 Nephi 25:5–6; D&C 2; 27:9; 98:16–17; 110:13–16; 128:17–18; Joseph Smith—History 1:37–39). For added insight see the historical background for section 2 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (p. 6).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 37–39.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 6–8.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 2:1–3. The keys brought by Elijah had to be restored or the earth would be destroyed at Christ’s coming.
Draw a keystone arch like the one depicted here. Ask students what doctrine of the gospel they think might be compared to a keystone. After some discussion, share this statement by Elder John A. Widtsoe, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:
“The beginning and the end of the gospel is written in section two of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is the keystone of the wonderful gospel arch; and if that center stone should weaken and fall out, the whole gospel structure would topple down in unorganized doctrinal blocks” (in ElRay L. Christiansen, in Conference Report, Apr. 1960, 48).
Write the accompanying chart on the board. Leave it blank except for the scripture references in the left-hand column. Have students read and compare Malachi 4:5–6 and Doctrine and Covenants 2. Fill in the chart, and note the differences between the two versions of this prophecy.
Read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
“Both of these translations are correct; both convey the mind and will of the Lord; and both teach sound and true doctrine. Taken together, they give us an expanded and comprehensive view of the mission of Elijah that we would not gain from either of them alone” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man , 266).
Give each student one of the following questions, and have the students search for the answer using the accompanying references. When they finish, read each question and have the students share their findings.
Who is Elijah? (see Bible Dictionary, “Elijah,” p. 664).
What are “the promises made to the fathers”? (D&C 2:2). (Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “Who are the fathers? They are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom the promises were made. What are the promises? They are the promises of a continuation of the family unit in eternity; of posterity in numbers as the dust of the earth and the stars in the firmament; of eternal increase; and of the consequent glory, and honor, and exaltation, and eternal life inherent in such a way of eternal existence” [Millennial Messiah, 267]).
Why would the earth be “utterly wasted” if Elijah did not come? (see D&C 128:17–18).
Ask students how they have been affected by Elijah’s coming. Bear your testimony of the importance of Elijah’s mission.