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Revelations of Hope: Connecting Liberty Jail and the Nauvoo Temple

October 20, 2023

Liberty Jail and the Nauvoo Temple, Steven Olsen

In Joseph Smith's darkest moments: cold, hungry, and imprisoned in Liberty Jail, the Lord spoke peace to Joseph's soul with the promise of ordinances and glory to come.

Steven Olsen, Senior Curator for the Church History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke Thursday, September 28, on the link between the revelation given to Joseph in Liberty Jail and the truths revealed to him in and regarding to the Nauvoo Temple.

Image of Steven Olsen

Olsen compares passages from The Doctrine & Covenants using a literary framework. Sections 121 and 124 for example, both exhibit that the ordinances are an essential part of the restored gospel. In D&C 121:19, the phrase, "ordinances of mine house" is used in the scriptures for the first time. Then, in D&C 124:40-41 the Lord says, "Let this house be built unto my name that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people."

Even though Joseph’s experience was wearisome and hopeless, the "sublime truths that were introduced or substantially enlarged in the revelations of Liberty Jail were so innovative" claims Olsen, "that they required new/redefined vocabulary to express them, new rituals to enact them, and new built forms to contain them." These head-spinning mysteries for Joseph are common knowledge for members today, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less sublime when we’re in our own wearisome and hopeless places.

Like they did for Joseph Smith, promises from the Lord can bring hope to our lives when difficulties arise. The blessings of Nauvoo, known as the "cornerstone of Zion" have not been revoked. When we recognize connections in the scriptures it will increase our capacity to receive and recognize those blessings. When we are trapped in a web of opinion and interpretation, we can rely on the Lord to repeat himself in his scripture to us, just like any good teacher of children would.

"It was a wonderful lecture" said one student who attended, continuing, "I loved the details, analysis, and comparison of the Liberty Jail [revelations] to the Nauvoo temple, and how they relate to the promises of our dispensation and the Restoration."

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