Relief Society Lesson 26: Elijah and the Restoration of the Sealing Keys

by Bartholomeus Breenbergh, c 1630

by Bartholomeus Breenbergh, c 1630

by EmilyCC

I tried to resist making this into a Gospel Doctrine lesson, but it still has a lot of Gospel Doctrine type topics.  As usual, my comments/questions are in italics, the lesson is in regular font, and comments and suggestions are always welcomed.


I’m not usually one for reading directly from the manual, but the description in the section, “From the Life of Joseph Smith,” might be good for setting the mood for discussion about the significance of the restoration of keys, but I would get an excellent reader to read this.  Also, I’ve taken out the citations; those don’t need to be read and added some links to remind people who key figures are—should members of your class need refreshers about people we don’t hear about weekly.  I would also recommend singing for opening or closing songs the ones that are listed below.

 From the Life of Joseph Smith

In the spring of 1836, after three years of work and sacrifice, the Kirtland Saints finally saw their beautiful temple complete, the first temple in this dispensation. On Sunday, March 27, more than 900 people gathered in the temple chapel and vestibule for the dedicatory service. Many others met in an overflow session in a nearby schoolroom, while still others listened outside the open windows of the temple. The Prophet himself helped to seat the faithful.

The congregation heard an address by Sidney Rigdon, a counselor in the First Presidency, and then joined together to sing “Now Let Us Rejoice” and “Adam-ondi-Ahman,” written by William W. Phelps. Joseph Smith then rose to offer the dedicatory prayer, which he had received by revelation. In the prayer, he described many of the remarkable blessings that are bestowed upon those who come in worthiness to God’s temple. The choir sang “The Spirit of God,” and the congregation then stood and gave the Hosanna Shout “with such power as seemed almost sufficient to raise the roof from the building.”

“Let thy house be filled,” the Prophet said in the dedicatory prayer, “as with a rushing mighty wind, with thy glory.”  This was literally fulfilled, for many Saints testified that heavenly beings were present during the dedication service. Eliza R. Snow recalled: “The ceremonies of that dedication may be rehearsed, but no mortal language can describe the heavenly manifestations of that memorable day. Angels appeared to some, while a sense of divine presence was realized by all present, and each heart was filled with ‘joy inexpressible and full of glory’.”

That evening, as the Prophet gathered with about 400 priesthood bearers in the temple, “a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power.” According to the Prophet, “many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation.”

In a meeting held in the temple a week later, on Sunday, April 3, manifestations of extraordinary significance occurred. After the Prophet assisted other Church leaders in administering the sacrament, he and Oliver Cowdery retired to the pulpit behind lowered curtains and knelt in solemn prayer. As they rose from prayer, the Savior Himself appeared to them and proclaimed His approval of the temple: “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.”

After this vision closed, Joseph and Oliver saw three separate visions in which ancient prophets appeared to them to restore priesthood keys necessary for the latter-day work of the Lord. The prophet Moses appeared and committed to them “the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth.” Elias came and committed to them “the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham.”

Then, in another glorious vision, Joseph and Oliver saw the prophet Elijah. The coming of Elijah was so important that the ancient prophet Malachi had prophesied of it centuries earlier, and the Savior had repeated the prophecy to the Nephites. Elijah came to commit to Joseph and Oliver the keys of sealing—the power to bind and validate in the heavens all ordinances performed on the earth. The restoration of the sealing power was necessary to prepare the world for the Savior’s Second Coming, for without it, “the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.”

What do you think about these events?
What is the significance of Moses coming? Remember Moses and the Aaronic Priesthood (see Exodus 18)?  It would make sense that the prophet who God chose to bring forth the preparatory priesthood (D&C 84:23-26) would be the one to talk about the preparations necessary for bringing about the complete priesthood.
What was the significance of Elias coming? 
In this case, I find it hard to tell if Elias is a title for someone else.  It seems unlikely that Elijah (Elias is the Greek form of the Elijah), which is why the next question is in blue (although, initially, it feels like it should be in red).
Who is Elias?  (I might spend some time on this, see the link above)
What is Elijah’s role in all of this? (I would highlight Elijah’s role in the Old Testament before delving into this area.  Elijah talking to Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 18), Elijah and the widow (1 Kings 17 and this post’s picture)–this is the caliber of man we want to remember when thinking of him bringing the keys.) 


Teachings of Joseph Smith
The ancient prophet Malachi foretold the coming of Elijah.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said the following about Moroni’s visit to him on the evening of September 21, 1823, as recorded in Joseph Smith—History 1:36–39: “[Moroni] first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus:

“For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

“And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

How do you think Joseph Smith felt when Moroni said this to him?
What Priesthood is Elijah talking about here?

“He also quoted the next verse differently: And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.

Why is this verse such an important one for us as Mormons?
What are the promises talked about here?

Elijah restored the sealing keys—the power and authority to bind in heaven all ordinances performed on earth.

“ ‘And I will send Elijah the Prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord,’ etc., etc. [see Malachi 4:5]. Why send Elijah? Because he holds the keys of the authority to administer in all the ordinances of the Priesthood; and [unless] the authority is given, the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness.”

What ordinances did Elijah bring? Temple ordinances—let the class expound on these.
What power do you find in these ordinances?

Through the sealing power, families can be sealed for time and all eternity, and sacred ordinances can be performed for the dead.

“Now comes the point. What is this office and work of Elijah? It is one of the greatest and most important subjects that God has revealed. He should send Elijah to seal the children to the fathers, and the fathers to the children.

What does this statement mean?
How do we work to be sealed to our families?
What does being sealed to your family meant to you?
Does this just apply to eternal relationships sealed through the ordinances in the temple?
Could it apply to sealing or healing difficult family relationships in this life? (Joseph takes another approach in the following quote)

“Now was this merely confined to the living, to settle difficulties with families on earth? By no means. It was a far greater work. Elijah! what would you do if you were here? Would you confine your work to the living alone? No: I would refer you to the Scriptures, where the subject is manifest: that is, without us, they could not be made perfect, nor we without them; the fathers without the children, nor the children without the fathers [see Hebrews 11:40].

“I wish you to understand this subject, for it is important; and if you will receive it, this is the spirit of Elijah, that we redeem our dead, and connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven, and seal up our dead to come forth in the first resurrection; and here we want the power of Elijah to seal those who dwell on earth to those who dwell in heaven. This is the power of Elijah and the keys of the kingdom of Jehovah. …

What experiences have you found uplifting as you do work for the dead?

The coming of Elijah was a necessary preparation for the Second Coming of the Savior.

“The hearts of the children of men will have to be turned to the fathers, and the fathers to the children, living or dead, to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. If Elijah did not come, the whole earth would be smitten.”

Why would the whole earth be smitten?

“Elias is a forerunner to prepare the way, and the spirit and power of Elijah is to come after, holding the keys of power, building the Temple to the capstone, placing the seals of the Melchizedek Priesthood upon the house of Israel, and making all things ready; then Messiah comes to His Temple, which is last of all. … Elijah was to come and prepare the way and build up the kingdom before the coming of the great day of the Lord.”

Has the message of Elijah’s bringing of the keys changed over time in the Church?
What does it mean to you?


EmilyCC lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She currently serves as a stake Just Serve specialists, and she recently returned to school to become a nurse. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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54 Responses

  1. jacl says:

    ok I am new at this – if you could answer some of the questions that you suggested answering – I can’t tell you how helpful that would be. I am truly overwhelmed with this lesson and don’t know the anwers to these questions myself. How am I going to teach it?

  2. lolo says:

    The Doctrine and Covenants student manual(which you can view on answers a lot of the questions in detail.

  3. lolo says:

    The manual can be found here:

    The helpful parts start on manual page 275 and goes for several pages after that.

  4. EmilyCC says:

    Jacl, it’s a darn tricky lesson, isn’t it? There’s 2 kinds of questions here: the ones with short fact-based answers and the ones that are opinions. I’ll go through and change the font color. Let’s say blue for opinions (which means, as the teacher, all you have to do is listen to people answer and possibly redirect if they get too off-topic) and red for ones that would require a bit more research.

    Lolo, the D&C manual is an excellent resource–thanks for mentioning it!

    I’ll try and get some answers together for the red ones, but if I don’t get to all of them (or if you don’t like my answers), I tried to get enough opinion questions going that this can be a discussion.

  5. jacl says:

    Thanks so much you guys!

  6. Tammy says:

    I have been absolutly dreading this particular lesson for weeks now! When it comes to certain subjects I get so confused because the subject matter is so very alien to a born and raised Baptist! I am not afraid of the women but I am very fearful of misrepresenting a subject that I have difficulty understanding myslef. I so agree w/jacl…thank you for all the work you put into making things a little easier for others like me. This has been an answer to my prayers!

  7. Tosca says:

    Because of a mix up, we already had this lesson, instead of lesson 13.
    What I remember most about the lesson, were the personal experiences this sister had with genealogy.
    She had some material and she told stories of how she got them.
    She got stuck at a certain greatgrandmother, so she googled her, and she found an antique store that had a book, written by her. But it was really expensive. Well, after some hesitation and prayer, and many nights of sleep, she had a dream where this greatgrandmother came to her and told her that this book was what she needed.
    So she decided to buy it. This book contained 20 generations of forefathers and mothers, written by hand by this greatgrandmother!
    Another story was that the hometeacher of her mother was once visiting a jumble sale, and he saw a portrait and there was a sticker on the back with the name of the person in the picture. That man had the same last name as the mother of my teacher. So he bought the picture for almost nothing. And indeed, it was family. And as it happened to be, this man was the husband of the woman that wrote that familyhistorybook!!!

    I don’t remember what else she tought, but her enthusiasm for family history, was to me the spirit of Elijah, that was already a teacher.

    So, teachers, please, do share your personal family history stories with the class.

  8. *Camille says:

    I’ve been waiting to see this post because this lesson has had me up at night! I think it is important to go from the manual because that is what we have been asked to do & teach…how I simplified this lesson was cutting it into 4 pieces (I’m going to divide my chalk board into four swaures). The first is Joseph Smith: Present the people who visited him and their purposes: Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter/James/John, Moses, and then Elijah. The next step is WHO is Elijah, I think it is important to address in a nutshell who this man is – found in Kings, his background. Then the TEMPLE, it’s role in our lives, importance, etc. THe last box will have a big red cut out heart for the Spirit of Eiljah…I found a great quote that talks about Turning the hearts of the children to the fathers = BINDING. When you break it down like this, you simply turn to your manual and reference all the quotes and examples from the Prophet Joseph Smith. I am a littel nervouse because I am not very scripturally strong but I’m hoping it turns out okay…thanks for all the suggestions and for providing questions to ask…those help alot. *Camille

  9. Debbie says:

    Thanks for all the help with this lesson. I am substituting this week and I thought the lesson would be daunting. Now with suggestions I am feeling much better and have a direction for study. Thanks Camille for the lesson idea of the 4 squares! Also thanks Tosca for the examples about family history. Two weeks ago I received a feeling that I needed to get back to my genealogy and renew my search for great-grandparents. With the help of a sister in our ward I have found all but one of the grandparents, but she is the one who is prompting me most so I will continue to search. Maybe this lesson was meant for me.

  10. lora says:

    Thank you so much emilyCC for the work you’ve done on this
    lesson, and for going back through some of the questions.
    What a help. I was feeling a little lost and overwhelmed now I think I have a handle on this lesson. Thank you sisters for your comments. I really like the idea of the 4 squares.

  11. Andrea says:

    Thank you so much for this lesson help!! I was a bit scared but I think I might have it down now!! Thanks.

    I also looked up Elias in the Bible Dictionary, that was really helpful!!


  12. EmilyCC says:

    Tammy, I’m glad you found this post helpful, and I think we have some of the best suggestions listed in the comments, too!

    Tosca, great advice (and the heart of our mission here at the Exponent): personal experiences teach volumes.

    Camille, I love this approach to simplifying the lesson! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Debbie, whoever you’re substituting for owes you 🙂

    Andrea, thanks for that link. I had tried to find it but couldn’t (I think it has something to do with starting lessons around 11 pm. Sigh…).

  13. marsha says:

    Any ideas on lesson 27 ?

  14. EmilyCC says:

    Hi Marsha, we try to post the lessons at least a week before they’re scheduled. Lesson 27 should be up on February 3rd.

  15. ldslesson says:

    I really liked some of the questions on this lesson. I think you do a great job. My biggest problem is always how to start a lesson. I feel like I often just say, “Open your book.” I am really trying to work on that.

    • The government makes an exception to encourage inventors to
      come forward with their creations. ” (The New Encyclopeadia Britannica, Micropeadia, 15th Ed. Qo – S will allow you and your telephone carrier to prioritize traffic according to the type of application using your bandwidth and adjust between your different telephone needs at a moment’s notice.

  16. Karen says:

    Help, please for lesson #27 somebody–anybody!!!

  17. Karen says:

    Any ideas for lesson 27

  18. Caroline says:

    Lesson 27 should be up in a day or two.

  19. Lynn DeBuhr Johnson says:

    Camille, I would like the quote, also. I just received this calling. The first lesson I taught last month Lesson 24: Leading in the Lord’s Way. I was excited about the lesson and had mentioned to the Relief Society president when speaking to her ahead of time that I had found these other articles to hand out to the women after class. She actually became a bit upset and said the class is only to be taught from the lesson book. I’ve always disliked the lesson where you read the lesson in class and answer the questions in the back, without much discussion. Anyway, I think what you have hear will work out great for me. Thanks!

  20. camille says:

    Hey you guys i am at work and will send the quote
    etc tonight…so anyone who wants the quote, or basically my lesson outline…send me your email and i will send it to you tonight (Tuesday). sorry it took me so long to respons *camille

  21. Dottie says:

    Here’s my beginning for Lesson 26. I’m going to hand out index cards at the beginning and tell them to write the names of the names of their grandparents, great grandparents and great great grandparents if they know them. After they have passed them to the front, without saying a word, I’m going to start ripping them up and letting them fall on the table. Then I will ask: “As it relates to the lesson is there any significance to what I am doing?” I will explain that when we do not seek out our kin and perform temple work for them, that we are in effect doing just this. We are disregarding them and the link which binds families together for the eternities is broken. (Something to this effect) Another idea might be to have a chain made from paper links with your ancestors on it and hold it up while breaking the links. I aso plan to display my scrapbook with pages of my ancestors which I have scrapped. I will explain that I have done work which connects each of these families and lead into a discussion of the joy we feel when we do this. Hope this helps someone.

  22. Dottie says:

    Sorry for the words repeated. Next time I’ll proofread more carefully.

  23. bec says:

    Please send me a copy of the quote that has been refered to also

  24. *camille says:

    BEC & LYN send me your emails and I will email you the outline and class handouts…k! *camilles

  25. Kristi says:

    This is an answer to my prayers! I’m so excited to find this website. If you could e-mail me the handout you gave that would be great thanks! Kristi

  26. Kathleen says:

    Camille – would you please email me also your quote on turning the hearts of the children. Thanks so much

  27. Luanna Hatch says:

    I just got ask to sub in Relief Society this week (Lesson 26). I was just released from Primary after 15 years. HELP!!! Camille can you send me your outline? Anyone else that can help me on too on such short notice! I would appreciate it very much!

  28. *camille says:

    LuAnna – just send me your email and i will shoot it over to you! *camille

  29. Karen Davidson says:

    Could you please send me the quote about turning the hearts…=binding

  30. Shae Johnson says:

    Hope I’m not too late to get that quote from you, too. My email is:
    Thank you so much!

  31. pam briggs says:

    dear camille,
    another request for handouts (my lesson is Sunday) hugs………….

  32. EmilyCC says:

    Camille, if you’d like to email me your resources for this lesson, I’m happy to put it all up as a post. It might save you some time 🙂

    I’m at clyde underscore curtis at yahoo dot com

  33. Susan says:

    Camille, please send me your info on Lesson 26 and thanks to you and everyone that took the extra time to help. Thank you so much for your sharing hearts and great minds! I have studied this lesson for weeks and haven’t been able to pull it together in a way that would excite the sisters in the 3rd hour. You gave me so many possibilities.

  34. Kristie says:

    Hi Camille,
    Can I get your quote and info too?
    Thanks! These lessons are so great! My email is

  35. shauna says:

    Could I please get your outlined and quotes for Lesson 26? I have been asked to substitute and am very stressed for tomorrow’s lesson. You are awsome

  36. bethy says:

    I’ve really appreciated all the comments for this lesson. I am going to use the chain object lesson at the end of my lesson tomorrow (thanks Dottie). Except I’m going to have each link represent a generation in my family chain, starting with my daughter and ending with as far as we know on one side of the family. I’m going to say a few words about each individual so that the sisters can be reminded about how our ancestors are people with knowledge and experiences that make them unique.
    I’m also going to have a picture that I have of me, my daughter, my mother, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother all on the same couch on display and ask the class how we can turn our hearts to our posterity and ancestors that are living, something that I had not thought of until reading this lesson (bottome of p.311).
    Finally, I plan to emphasize how the Lord’s great organizing principle of delegation, that is, letting others serve, multiplies the blessings and reinforces how each of us has a unique role to play in the eternities. I think it’s significant that Moses, Elias, and Elijah had a unique role to play and that the Saviour did not restore the sealing keys himself when he appeared in the Kirtland Temple (just as the Lord had Peter, James, and John restore the priesthood and not himself). I plan to tie this idea to a quote from the institute D&C lesson (thanks lolo) where Joseph Smith call temple patrons “saviors on Mount Zion.” This is another way that the Lord has delegated responsibility to us in order to multiply blessings. Imagine if we only attended the temple for our own ordinances and the occasional wedding. Our interdependence with our ancestors (they need us for salvation and we need us for ours) reinforces one of my favorite themes of the gospel: the worth of souls and how each of us plays an eternal role that cannot be abdicated.

    After all my planning, I’m actually looking forward to giving this lesson. I hope the class is engaged in this important topic. Good luck everyone!

  37. amy says:

    Can you post that quote about turn=bind Camille?? That’d be awesome!

  38. Jeralyn Favero says:

    please notify me of future lessons and comments.

  39. Michelle says:

    Hi! Kind of late here, but just found this site. There is a fantastic talk by S. Michael Wilcox – The Temple:Taking An Eternal View. 1997 Women’s conference He quotes Ezekial 47-the river of water flowing from the doors of the temple, giving life to the desert and making everything green and living. He says “One day, the combined rivers from all the temples dedicated in all the lands will bathe this world in light and love and healing.” He said it will heal our families, which reminds me of the vision Brigham Young had where Joseph came to him and told him the families were organized in the world before but now disorganized and in confusion, but would be restored.
    Anyway, I think I will talk about the links of a chain-in this case, each of a us as a link in this chain of our families, welded together. In this case, is this chain as strong as its weakest link? Can we lend our strength to others?
    And the earth be “wasted” if we do not perform this work. What does this mean- the earth is supposed to be not utterly destroyed but transformed into a celestial world, but can this not happen if we do not do this work? Is the plan “wasted” then? We cannot be saved without our ancestors, nor they without us we are told. Anyway, these are as yet disorganized thoughts I need to pull together in the morning. So glad my Relief Society isn’t until 3:00 PM!

  40. Gregory W. Bryant says:

    I found this website in search of help for this lesson. I am a convert and have been a member since August of 2008. My wife has been a member all her life and I am glad that she and her family shared the Gospel with me. I received the Melchizedek Preisthood and spoke in our Stake Conference both in October of 2008. In December of 2008 I accepted my calling as the Elder’s Quorum teacher. I will visit your site often along with our site for help on my lessons. You do such a great job and am I grateful that you have taken time out to share with others what our Heavely Father has layed on your heart. I hope it doesn’t seem weird that someone from the Elder’s Quorum is looking for help from the Relief Society (smile).

  41. Judy Porter says:

    Camille…….thanks so much for the lesson helps. This is a big one. I would also appreciate your handout and quote on “turning the hearts……”

  42. carrie says:

    Hi I have an odd request.Is there a way to get my email address removed from my previous comment.I was in need of Cammille’s lesson plan.I got it shes awesome!! I have never left a comment on any thing before and Now I keep get really odd emails. I havent given my address out to anyone new lately othere than this.I am not saying it’s because of this. I just need to see if it helps at all to remove it. Please help if you can.
    I left my comment on Feb.5,2009 thanks

  43. Debra Pendleton says:

    We also are a little behind the rest of you. I will be teaching this lesson this next Sunday (the 15th). This site really helps me organize my thoughts and the lesson material so that we aren’t reading straight from the manual even though we cover most of the material. I hate to ask Camille, but I would also like the lesson materials you have prepared. My email is debralsp at infowest dot com

  44. rebecca says:

    Still hoping for lesson 27…when will it be up?

  45. Caroline says:

    rebecca, lesson 27 is up. 28 should be coming in a couple of days.

  46. Judy says:

    Dear Camille,
    I would love to have the quote and outline, if you’re willing to share.

  47. Kathleen says:

    Dear Camille: I am desperate about this lesson and would so appreciate it if I could also have your quote and outline. I have really jumped into it this week – I give it this Sunday. Thank you, thank you.

  48. Jennifer says:

    “The center of our lives must be the holy temple. We must always be worthy to enter therein. If we live worthy of the covenants we make with the Lord in His house, we literally bind the Lord to give the blessings He has promised us. The Lord will fulfill His promises if we will be faithful to the covenants we make with Him.” –L. Tom Perry, “The Temple is About Families,” Ensign, Sept. 2006

  49. Chelsea says:

    I’m 18 and this is my first relief society lesson last minute and I’m TERRIFIED. If you by any chance see this in the morning if you or anyone else whose gotten the lesson outline email it to me it would help so much. Thanks!!!
    Chelseawooten at hotmail dot com

  50. mile says:


    We are now doing lesson 26…think we’re behind… Could you please email the outlines, quotes and handouts too? It would really help me out!!
    Thanks so much!

  51. Sherrie says:

    I might be behind the ball- I am in a small branch and we are having this lesson next Sunday- tught by me– very scary! I have been dreading this for 2 weeks! Could you please email me the quote and lesson outline about turning the hearts of the children = binding also.

    And I know this is odd, but– being sealed to immediate family for some people is terrifying because of negative family relationships, etc. I don’t want the sisters to be immediatly turned off when I start talking about sealing- as a number of them are, again- based on the issues they are dealing with in thier childhoods. Is there anything that can make the sealings feel less “stuck with the mom that hits me for eternity”? I know that is a different lesson altogether, but it is a very real topic.


  52. *camille says:

    Sherrie & Mile I just need your email addresses and I’ll send it over! *camille

  53. maude says:

    Camille-I think quite a few people are asking for your jeopardy game for the missionary service lesson. Thanks!

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