I love Spy Books. Jason Bourne, James Bond, and my latest favorite Mitch Rapp. All of these guys are cool under pressure, underestimated, under appreciated, smarter, and more tuned into the small details around them that tip them off to the bad guys’ plan. Its always a continuous nail biting experience until, in the end, they narrowly escape almost certain death, and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The story never gets old. The hero always wins. These unbelievably amazing stories are, of course, pure fiction.
However, many stories of actual heroes who have lived and battled actual evil are scattered throughout history. You could look at George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Paul Revere and many others. All of these real heroes did a lot of good for a lot of people. But, even these great guys are actually small characters in the spy book of the history of the world.
If we look at our life and purpose here on earth from God’s perspective, things tend to look quite a bit different. Things we thought really mattered, don’t. Each small covert act we carry out can alter a person’s life for the better, and can have overwhelming potential impact on that person’s future, and potentially their entire posterity’s future. The heroes that have truly effected the most people in history from this perspective, are the prophets. God’s prophets throughout the ages now seem to be the Jason Bournes of the spy book of real life.
Many of the prophets from history are still famous. Adam, Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Lehi, Nephi,Mormon, and Alma. All these guys are well known, and their works are well known. Their impact on the meaningful history of the world is common knowledge. But, just like my favorite characters in my spy books, I like the guys that fly under the radar.
One of the greatest prophets that has ever lived, is, in my opinion, one of the least known, or truly appreciated. His impact on all of us is expertly embedded in the very fabric of the gospel. Not only was he crucial to the survival of God’s true religion against the idolatry of the prophets of Baal in the old testament times. He totally beat them down in a little 450-on-one call-fire-down-from-heaven my-God-is-better-than-yours challenge. He also played, quite possibly, the most vital role in the restoration of the gospel when he appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith. So who is this guy? The one and only Elijah.
Think about some of the most famous stories of the Bible. You may think of Moses’ parting of the Red Sea and the children of Israel crossing on dry land. Did you also know about Elijah parting the river Jordan and crossing it on dry ground (2 kings 2:8)? We know about Jesus feeding the 5,000 with just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish? What about Elijah blessing the widows last handful of meal and oil, and then that last meal lasting and sustaining her and her family throughout the famine (1 Kings 17:8-16). Jesus raising Lazerus from the dead? Elijah raised that same widows son from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24) We know Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. That had to be a record right? Well, it was tied by Elijah. He also fasted for 40 days (1 Kings 19:8). It is no wonder that Jews, to this day, open their doors for him and await his return.
So, what makes Elijah so great and important? All we really talk about is the “spirit of Elijah” in the annual lesson on family history in Elders quorum when 90% of us are asleep and the other half are figuring out how to check on their fantasy football scores without seeming too obvious. The Spirit of Elijah is more than just a reminder to do family history though. Its the reason behind it. The word “spirit” could probably be changed out for a different word. Its more like the “power” of Elijah, or the sealing power that he restored to the Earth. Elijah was one of the very few to ever have been entrusted with the sealing power. It was the power to seal or bind on earth and in heaven. That is pretty huge. What you seal on earth, is honored in heaven. Heaven is bound. That is rare. Power over the elements is included. You want it to rain? You got it. Drought? No sweat. Move a mountain? Just say the word. Nephi received this same power in the book of Helaman, and used it to “convey” out of the midst of his enemies. In today’s jargon, he totally disappeared, vanished into thin air.
Sealing power is the authority to bind families together. This is the essence of the Gospel. To bring everyone possible to join the family, and seal them together. When we think of binding families together, our natural tendency is to think of our own immediate family, our wives and kids. But it is beyond just that. We all are sons and daughters, as well as Fathers and Mothers, and Grandparents and so forth. So, “family” has to be extended to mean God’s family. All of us. The only way this is even possible is with Elijah’s “power” or his “spirit” that is mentioned originally in Malachi, and later repeated in a more pure form to Joseph Smith by Moroni. He said, “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet…..And he shall plant in he hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to the fathers.” The priesthood he restored to Joseph Smith, is the sealing, binding, authority to make a family forever, and become a permanent member of the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God’s family. “If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” It would be wasted because we would not have had temple ordinances sealing ourselves together, and thereby connecting us with our fathers, and God’s family. God can only save His family. His family that is bound to Him through baptism, and temple ordinances. Our big brother paid for our sins, so that we all could be a family once again.
So, when Elijah came to Joseph about a week after the Kirtland temple was dedicated. It was kind of a big deal. Elijah is kind of a big deal. And absolutely crucial in restoring the power to seal. Its just the kind of story I love. The amazing under the radar guy, seemingly single handedly saves the day, and barely gets a mention in the footnotes of history, and it will be totally awesome to meet Elijah someday and hear him tell us first hand about his royal beatdown of the 450 prophets of Baal. I think he may have also been the first prophet to officially talk some smack after that whole thing went down…some guys just have it all.