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Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Nauvoo Temple, Elijah and the Unfinished Restoration

The Lord's Word on the Subject

An in-depth perusal of D&C 124 will provide us with a starting point for what was expected of the Saints in Nauvoo, and what depended on the completion of that expectation.
 28 For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.
[This indicates that at the time this revelation was given (1841), the fullness of the priesthood was not available.] 
 29 For a baptismal font there is not upon the earth, that they, my saints, may be baptized for those who are dead— 
 30 For this ordinance belongeth to my house, and cannot be acceptable to me, only in the days of your poverty, wherein ye are not able to build a house unto me. 
 31 But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me. 
 32 But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.
[There was a fixed time for the saints to complete the temple. After that, the ordinances therein (which included more than just baptism, but the other ordinances had not yet been revealed) would not be valid and the Lord would reject the church.] 
 33 For verily I say unto you, that after you have had sufficient time to build a house to me, wherein the ordinance of baptizing for the dead belongeth, and for which the same was instituted from before the foundation of the world, your baptisms for your dead cannot be acceptable unto me
 34 For therein are the keys of the holy priesthood ordained, that you may receive honor and glory.
[Clearly, if "the keys of the holy priesthood" must be ordained in the temple that was not yet built, the keys of the holy priesthood were not yet ordained, and would not be until the temple was completed.] 
 35 And after this time, your baptisms for the dead, by those who are scattered abroad, are not acceptable unto me, saith the Lord. 
 36 For it is ordained that in Zion, and in her stakes, and in Jerusalem, those places which I have appointed for refuge, shall be the places for your baptisms for your dead. 
 37 And again, verily I say unto you, how shall your washings be acceptable unto me, except ye perform them in a house which you have built to my name? 
 38 For, for this cause I commanded Moses that he should build a tabernacle, that they should bear it with them in the wilderness, and to build a house in the land of promise, that those ordinances might be revealed which had been hid from before the world was. 
 39 Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name. 
 40 And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people;
[All of these ordinances (and many are referred to here that were not yet revealed to anyone but Joseph) belong to the temple. This casts serious doubts on the validity of the "ordinances" received in places other than the temple prior to the death of Joseph. It also calls into question whether these were everything that had been revealed to Joseph.] 
 41 For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times. 
 42 And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof, and the place whereon it shall be built.
[It does not say he will show it to Brigham or anyone else. Joseph did not show the brethren everything the Lord had shown him before he was murdered. Therefore, God's intent with the Nauvoo temple was not realized, and subsequent temples built on that model also fall short from God's intent.] 
 43 And ye shall build it on the place where you have contemplated building it, for that is the spot which I have chosen for you to build it. 
 44 If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy. 
 45 And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.
[The Saints were moved out of their place. In fact, they were run out by mobs before the dedication of the temple. (See timeline below)] 
 46 But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them. 
 47 And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord
 48 For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practice before me, saith the Lord
 49 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.
[This was not the case in Nauvoo. The Saints had ample means to complete the temple, but instead preferred to hoard their money or spend it otherwise. They were actively investing in property, building lavish brick homes for themselves, and even building a spacious masonic temple.] 
 50 And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord God.
[The Lord indicates here that this curse would last 3 or 4 generations. Interestingly, we are now at the close of the 4th generation from Nauvoo if you use the line of the church patriarchs: Hyrum Smith (died in Nauvoo)->John Smith->(John's son did not serve)->Hyrum G. Smith->Eldred G. Smith, who died 4 April 2013.] 
 51 Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson county, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies, saith the Lord your God. 
 52 And I will answer judgment, wrath, and indignation, wailing, and anguish, and gnashing of teeth upon their heads, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord your God. 
 53 And this I make an example unto you, for your consolation concerning all those who have been commanded to do a work and have been hindered by the hands of their enemies, and by oppression, saith the Lord your God.
[Note that "their enemies" included many members of the church who were rebelling against God] 
 54 For I am the Lord your God, and will save all those of your brethren who have been pure in heart, and have been slain in the land of Missouri, saith the Lord. 
 55 And again, verily I say unto you, I command you again to build a house to my name, even in this place, that you may prove yourselves unto me that ye are faithful in all things whatsoever I command you, that I may bless you, and crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life.
["In this place" God was going to crown the faithful with "honor, immortality, and eternal life."]

The Nauvoo temple was not completed prior to the death of Joseph Smith. The reason, according to Joseph (see Nauvoo discourses in Words of Joseph Smith) was that the Saints thought that building brick houses, a masonic temple, and other speculations were of higher importance than giving their time and money to the temple. One attendant recalled one example of this:
"I never shall forget the words he spoke on the first Sunday after I came to Nauvoo. The temple was built a few feet above the ground. While preaching he pointed towards it and said, 'The Lord has commanded us to build that temple. We want to build it, but we have not the means. There are people in this city who have the means, but they will not let us have them. What shall we do with such people? I say damn them!' and then he sat down." (recollection of Elder William E. Jones) 
Joseph repeatedly warned that there was a time given by the Lord for them to build the temple, and, as the Lord said in D&C 124, if the Saints didn't fulfill the commission in time, they would lose the opportunity to gain the promised blessings.
"I will now ask this assembly and all the Saints if you will now build this house and receive the ordinances and blessings which God has in store for you; or will you not build unto the Lord this house, and let Him pass by and bestow these blessings upon another people? I pause for a reply." (June 11, 1843.) DHC 5:423-427. TPJS p312
Joseph was murdered before the temple was completed. We hear a lot about how "the temple was completed." This is strictly true, as the temple was finally dedicated before it was destroyed. However, the details are important and frequently glossed over.

Nauvoo Temple Timeline

I've compiled the following timeline from "Nauvoo Temple History" by David R. Crockett.

1841 Nov - The basement rooms were enclosed and a temporary roof was constructed.  A temporary wooden font resting on twelve wooden oxen was used for baptisms.
1844 Jun - At the time of the martyrdom, the walls were not yet built up to the final height.
1845 May - Walls completed. The Saints conduct a hosanna shout. The interior was not at all finished, the attic level was not framed, roof not shingled.
1845 Oct - General conference held in the temple. Temporary floors and chairs used, as the real ones were not finished. Brigham Young partially dedicated the partially completed temple.
1845 Nov - Attic level dedicated. The rest of the interior was unfinished, and the attic level was not furnished or organized. The attic level was then used for endowments.
1845 Feb - Brigham ceases the ordinances in the temple. After this date, no ordinances are conducted in the Nauvoo temple. Note that only the attic was finished at this time. The Saints began moving west. Before leaving, members of the 12 prayed in the temple that the Lord would "bless their move to the west and asked Him to enable them to complete the temple and have it formally dedicated" as it was not yet "formally dedicated." The day after this, the roof caught fire.
1846 Feb - Floor cracks under weight, some smash windows to make it out of the building. All 12 except for Orson Hyde were now gone from Nauvoo. He is charged to watch over the temple.
1846 Apr - General conference held in basement of temple, as the other floors were still being worked on. At the end of the month the carpenters reported finishing the woodwork in the building. The brethren make plans to sell the temple. The mob activity was so great that, for fear that it would be forestalled, the first "total" dedication of the completed temple, done by Joseph Young, was conducted in secret.
1846 May - A public dedication was held with a one dollar cover charge. Orson Hyde states "If we moved forward and finished this house we should be received and accepted as a church with our dead, but if not we should be rejected with our dead.  These things have inspired and stimulated us to action in the finishing of it which through the blessing of God we have been enabled to accomplish and prepared it for dedication.  In doing this we have only been saved as it were by the skin of our teeth." By this time, the main body of Saints had fled Nauvoo leaving only the poor, elderly, and those who would not follow Brigham Young behind. It is important to understand that the mob was so severe and active at this time that Winter Quarters, with makeshift shelters during the frigid winter where several hundred died, was more hospitable than Nauvoo. Elders Hyde and Woodruff, the last apostles in Nauvoo, head west.
1846 Jun - The mob takes over the temple. "Holes have been cut through the floors, the stone oxen in the basement have been considerably disfigured, horns and ears dislodged, and nearly all torn loose from their standing."
1846 Sept - Lightning strikes the steeple of the temple.
1848 Oct - The temple burns down.
1849 Mar - The temple is sold by the church to another church.
1859 May - A cyclone knocks down the north wall of the charred ruins, leaving only part of the west wall standing. The stones are used to build other buildings.

Facts about the Nauvoo Temple:


  • The ordinance work was not only started but fully shut down over 5 months before the building was finished.
  • The attic which was dedicated apart from the rest of the temple to allow for the pre-exodus endowment required field-expedient canvas "room" separators, since the wall layout in the attic was not designed for that purpose.
  • Mob persecution was so great that the Saints fled Nauvoo 5 months prior to the temple's completion.
  • The Saints had fled Nauvoo five months before the temple was finished, leaving only a skeleton crew of workers behind to finish the project.
  • The 12 attempted to sell the temple before it was completed and fully dedicated. They were not successful in finding a buyer who would offer what they thought it was worth, thus retained it long enough to finish it.
  • The 12 succeeded in selling the temple to another church.
  • The completed temple was taken over by a mob within 30 days of completion and vandalized.
  • The temple was destroyed by a fire and a cyclone, and the stones were recycled for other buildings.

What Now?

From the foregoing, it is clear that Joseph preached often enough about the importance of the Nauvoo temple that Saints pushed hard to complete at least the structure of the temple to avoid the promised cursings. They thought there was still time. However, Joseph had not revealed to them what exactly was meant to happen there. One reason for this was that most of what was supposed to happen there was not based on what they would do at all, but what heaven would do after they had completed the temple (more on this later).

When Joseph was killed, this divine channel of instruction did not continue with Brigham Young or anyone else. We know this because we have snippets like this:
"Pres Young said that Joseph taught him [that] under the pulpit on the west end [of the Nauvoo temple] will be the place to offer sacrifices; there will be an altar prepared for that purpose so that when any sacrifices are to be offered they should be offered there." (Journal History, Dec 18, 1857)
that show us that Joseph had said enough about the intended purpose of the temple for us to point out that it did not achieve its intended purpose, but he didn't provide enough detail for Brigham and others to implement that intent.

In actuality, the use of the temple was demonstrably far removed from the intended purpose (more on this later).

In absence of its intended purpose, the structure didn't quite fit what Brigham used it for. This picture shows how canvas curtains had to be erected in the attic story to retrofit the architecture to fit Brigham's endowment ceremony.



If the endowment ceremony conducted by Brigham (which, incidentally, was different than the one we have today) was exactly the way Joseph had showed him, why didn't the architecture approved by Joseph fit the needs of the ceremony?

Moreover, it is incorrect to assume that modern temples (St. George and forward) were modeled after Nauvoo. Only the attic story and baptistry were used for ordinances in the Nauvoo temple. And even these, as described above, were ill-suited for Brigham's use of them.

The best illustration of this can be gained by comparing Joseph's Nauvoo temple with the modern reconstructed replica. Though great lengths were taken to make it look similar on the facade, the interior is quite different.

"At its base the Nauvoo Temple was 128 feet (39 m) long and 88 feet (27 m) wide with a tower and weather vane reaching to 65 feet (20 m). The second temple of the Latter Day Saint movement was built 60% larger in dimensions than its predecessor, the Kirtland Temple. Like Kirtland, the temple contained two assembly halls, one on the first floor and one on the second, called the lower and upper courts. Both had classrooms and offices in the attic. Unlike Kirtland, it had a full basement which housed a baptismal font." (Wikipedia)

Though the dimensions are nearly the same on the facade (the tower of the new temple is 2 feet lower than the original), "the intererior of the temple, however, is a different story." This article tells about the differences.

Here is the original floor plan:






The current floorplan is similar to any modern temple, centered around the rooms of the endowment. From here: "The first floor Assembly Room, featuring ten chandeliers, was duplicated on a smaller scale allowing enough area for planned administrative offices. The second floor has dressing rooms, and the upper floors house the six sealing rooms and endowment rooms, which were arranged in progressive style to include a Creation Room, Garden Room, World Room, Terrestrial Room, and Celestial Room."

Was the Restoration Completed?

Frequently, we hear people in the church say, "the gospel was restored through Joseph Smith." Did Joseph complete his assigned mission? Do we have everything that God has promised to give before the Second Coming?

Some have taught, since at least the time of John Taylor's tenure as President, that Joseph Smith restored the fullness of the gospel, meaning everything that ever pertained to previous dispensations. It is also commonly understood that God, through Joseph (and, according to some, others) everything has been given that is required to be received before the Second Coming. What would it mean if that claim was not true? How would we be inclined to act differently as individuals and as a community if we did not yet possess what we need to in order to be prepared for the Second Coming? How would that challenge the common narrative? My goal here is to lay out a case that God has told us that more is needed before we are prepared for the Second Coming. Much of that case rests on the idea that Elijah has not yet revealed the priesthood, as Joseph and others foretold he would.

John Taylor taught,
"How perfect it was in the days of Enoch we are not told, but everything that they had revealed to them pertaining to the organization of the Church of God, also pertaining to doctrine and ordinances, we have had revealed to us, excepting one thing, and that is the principle and power of translation; that, however, will in due  time be restored also."  (John Taylor JD 23 p 28).
This quote provides us with two points. First, we can dismiss out of hand the notion that God has revealed to us all that we need for the Second Coming, or all the power that he gives to men on earth, as John Taylor points out one obvious exception: the keys to translation.

Do we have any other sources which indicate something that was promised to be restored, but has not yet been restored? We do. Here are some passages of interest, with a bullet list following each which enumerates what has been promised but not fulfilled.
``it is generally supposed that Sacrifice was entirely done away when the great sacrifice was offered up—and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of Sacrifice in future, but those who assert this, are certainly not acquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the priesthood. or with the prophets The offering of Sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the priesthood. It began with the priesthood and will be continued until after the coming of Christ from generation to generation—We frequently have mention made of the offering of Sacrifice by the servants of the most high in ancient days prior to the law of moses, which ordinances will be continued when the priesthood is restored with all its authority power and blessings. Elijah was the last prophet that held the keys of this priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and delive[r] the Keys of this priesthood in order that all the ordinances may be attended to in righteousness.'' ("Words of Joseph Smith", 5 Oct 1840)
  • Animal sacrifice. Animal sacrifice requires fresh ("living") water to wash the animal in before killing it. Interestingly, the original Nauvoo temple originally had a well in the basement.
  • A future return of Elijah, with priesthood keys.
``the offring of Sacrifice which also shall be continued at the last time, for all the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by the priesthood under the direction and commandments of the Almighty in the last dispensation at the end thereof in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensation. Therefore all things had under the Authority of the Priesthood at any former period shall be had again—bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all the Holy Prophets.'' (Words of Joseph Smith)
"For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood." (D&C 124:28, given Jan 19, 1841, long after Kirtland). 
"It will be necessary here to make a few observations on the doctrine, set forth in the above quotation, As it is generally supposed that Sacrifice was entirely done away when the great sacrife was offered up---and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of Sacrifice in future, but those who assert this, are certainly not aquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the priesthood. or with the prophets The offering of Sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the priesthood. It began with the prieshood and will be continued untill after the coming of Christ from generation to generation---We freequently have mention made of the offering of Sacrifice by the servants of the most high in antient days prior to the law of moses, See which ordinances will be continued when the priesthood is restored with all its authority power and blessings. Elijah was the last prophet that held the keys of this priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and delive[r] the Keys of this priesthood in order that all the ordinances may be attended to in righteousness." (Words of Joseph Smith, 5 Oct 1840)
  • Animal sacrifice, as well as any other ordinance or duty that has ever been required by the priesthood.
``It is a very prevalent opinion that in the sacrifices of sacrifices which were offered were entirely consumed, this was not the case if you read Leviticus [2] Chap [2-3] verses you will observe that the priests took a part as a memorial and offered it up before the Lord, while the remainder was kept for the benefit maintenance of the priests. So that the offerings and sacrifices are not all consumed upon the Alter, but the blood is sprinkled and the fat and certain other portions are consumed These sacrifices as well as every ordinance belonging to the priesthood will when the temple of the Lord shall be built and the Sons Levi be purified be fully restored and attended to then all their powers  ramifications and blessings—this the Sons of Levi shall be purified. ever was and will exist when the powers of the Melchisid Priesthood are sufficientIy manifest. Else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by all the Holy Prophets be brought to pass be brought to pass It is not to be understood that, the law of moses will be established again with all it rights and variety of ceremonies, ceremonies, this had never been spoken off by the prophets but those things which existed prior Mose's day viz Sacrifice will be continued—It may be asked by some what necessity for Sacrifice since the great Sacrifice was offered? In answer to which if Repentance Baptism and faith were necessary to Salvation existed prior to the days of Christ what necessity for them since that time.'' (Words of Joseph Smith)
  • Animal sacrifices and any other ordinance or duty that has ever been required of the priesthood.
  • The building of a temple where animal sacrifice will be done.
  • The restoration of the temple service of the Levites.
``The dispensation of the fulness of times will bring to light the things that have been revealed in all former dispensations, also other things that have not been before revealed. He shall send Elijah the prophet &c., and restore all things in Christ.'' (Words of Joseph Smith, 3  October  1841)
  • A return of Elijah, who will be the one through whom "all things" are restored.
"Elijah was the last Prophet that held the keys of the Priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and deliver the keys of the Priesthood, in order that all ordinances may be attended to in righteousness...'And I will send Elijah the Prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord,' etc., etc. Why send Elijah? Because he holds the keys of the authority to administer in all the ordinances of the Priesthood; and without the authority is given, the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness." (HC 4:207-212)
  • A return of Elijah, who will "restore the authority and deliver the keys of the Priesthood" 
"...it is generally supposed that sacrifice was entirely done away when the Great Sacrifice the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was offered up...but those who assert this are certainly not acquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the Priesthood, or with the Prophets. .... These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings....else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the Holy Prophets be brought to pass[?]"
We learn at Church that the Aaronic priesthood was revealed through John the Baptist, and that Peter, James, and John restored the Melchezidek priesthood to Joseph Smith sometime after that. So this priesthood being revealed must be something other than what we understand to be the Aaronic and Melchezidek priesthoods. Is this possible? Are there any writings that suggest this is the case? Yes, there are.
``1st Levitical which was never able to administer a Blessing but only to bind heavy burdens which neither they nor their father able to bear 2 Abrahams Patriarchal power which is the greatest yet experienced in this church 3d That of Melchisedec who had still greater power even power of an endless life of which was our Lord Jesus Christ which also Abraham obtained by the offering of his son Isaac which was not the power of a Prophet nor apostle nor Patriarch only but of King & Priest 22 to God to open the windows of Heaven and pour out the peace & Law of endless Life to man 23 & No man can attain to the Joint heirship 24 with Jesus Christ with out being administered to by one having the same power & Authority of Melchisedec'' (Words of Joseph Smith, 27 Aug 1843)
What was this patriarchal power that was yet unexperienced in the church? Note that endowments and sealings had been performed for some time before this date. Some content that, although there were some who had been endowed and sealed, it was not a general practice. My counter to that is, why was it not a general practice? If Joseph wanted to, couldn't he have sealed and endowed anyone he wanted? Joseph already was told by God that whatever he sealed on earth would be sealed in heaven. He was already carrying out that privilege. Also recall that, although Joseph was killed before Elijah restored the patriarchal power, Brigham Young made the endowment and marriage sealing open to all members of the church before they left Nauvoo. So, either the patriarchal power was something different than the power to conduct plural sealings and endowment ordinances, or Brigham Young and subsequent leaders have been doing that without God's sanction. I don't see a third option.
Are there scriptures that refer to another priesthood? Yes. The refer to it as the Melchizedek priesthood, but it has clear distinctions to what we call the Melchizedek priesthood today.

JST Genesis 14 says:
 25 And Melchizedek lifted up his voice and blessed Abram.
 26 Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.
 27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
 28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
 29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.
 30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
 31 To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.
32 And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.
What are the features of this priesthood?
  • It is given via a covenant directly from God to the individual, by his own voice.
  • It does not come by the will of man (including priesthood leaders) nor by inheritance, but by God himself. This is a key that ties it into the prophecy of what Elijah was going to restore (see above).
  • EVERY ONE being ordained to it will have power to break mountains, divide seas, etc.
  • EVERY ONE being ordained to it will stand in the presence of God.
  • Men "coming up unto this order of God were translated and taken up into heaven."
Was this list of fruits seen in Nauvoo, before, or since? When was the last time you saw a "high priest" command the waters or put at defiance an army? When was the last time you met a high priest who stands in the presence of God, or is translated?
Note that this is the priesthood referred to in the "Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood" which actually requires an oath and a covenant, not simply an interview and ordination at the hands of men. D&C 84 says: 
40 Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved. 41 But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come. 42 And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.
So the "higher priesthood" in D&C 84 seems to be the same one talked about that Elijah would reveal. The oath and covenant are given by the Father (see v40 above), not a man. Also note that this group (in 1832) are told by Christ that he confirms this priesthood upon them at that time (v42). 
  • The resumption of "every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood", including animal sacrifice.
  • The return of Levites doing temple service.
  • A temple where these things can take place.
 ``how shall god come to the rescue of this generation. he shall send Elijah law revealed to Moses in Horeb—never was revealed to the C. of Israel and he shall reveal the covenants to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. 11—anointing & sealing—called elected and made sure 12 without father &c. 13 a priesthood which holds the priesthood by right from the Eternal Gods.—and not by descent from father and mother 14'' (Words of Joseph Smith, 27 Aug 1843)
  • Elijah will reveal covenants to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children.
  • He will reveal "a priesthood which holds the priesthood by right from the Eternal Gods and not by descent from father and mother" and some tie to anointing and sealing and calling and election, which is tied to the fathers.
"The world is reserved unto burning in the last days—he shall send Elijah the prophet. and he shall reveal the covenants of the fathers in relation to the children.—and the children and the covenants of the children in relation to the fathers." (WoJS 13 Aug 1843)
  • Elijah will come to reveal the covenants of the fathers in relation to their children as well as covenants of the children in relation to the fathers.
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. 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. (Moroni's version of Malachi 4:5-6) "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." (Malachi 4:5-6)
Who were the fathers?
Abraham 1:31
"But the records of the fathers, even the patriarchs..."
Abraham 1:2
2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. [These are blessings of the faithful and chosen of God, not blessings automatically dispensed to random sires of children]
Abraham 1:31
31 But the records of the fathers, even the patriarchs [NOTE: Not his apostate dad!], concerning the right of Priesthood, the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands; therefore a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers, have I kept even unto this day, and I shall endeavor to write some of these things upon this record, for the benefit of my posterity that shall come after me.
Romans 9:4-5
"Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." 
"The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God, even unto the turning of the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven." (TPJS p337)
The fathers are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. You could also include Shem, Noah, and Noah's line back to Adam in that group. These are they who were promised eternal life from the Lord during their lives here on earth. They are the prototypes of saved beings. They are those who received promises (covenants) from God, including promises about their posterity.
Most of what we know about the fathers was restored through Joseph Smith. Through him, God gave us knowledge of the covenants made to the fathers, and the knowledge of how to obtain that covenant for ourselves. We were told about the covenant God made to Adam (D&C 107: 53-57). We were told about the covenant God made to Enoch (Moses 7:60->). We were told about the covenant God made to Abraham (Abraham 1,2) and so on. So Elijah can't restore a knowledge of the covenants God made to the fathers, because we already have that. He is going to restore the covenants themselves. Better said, he will be the administrator who offers those same covenants to us.
Today we are told that we receive these same covenants in the temple. I can't buy that. The covenants made to the fathers were not conditional, as is the sealing covenant in D&C 132. However, everything you receive in the temple is conditional, it's right there in the words. Also, each of the fathers was chosen by God. It was not a general experience available to anyone. [sidenote: For those who will object with "But the temple recommend interview---": Recall that this did not exist for decades after Joseph's death and reacquaint yourself with the lives of the patriarchs. What they went through to qualify to be chosen was much more than paying a little money and not drinking tea. Joseph said that any who want to receive the blessings of Abraham must do the works of Abraham.]
Despite all the attempts to make Malachi's promise seem fulfilled with the attention to family history work, the real meaning is far from that. First, realize that work for the dead today is very different than anything taught or practiced by Joseph or Brigham or John Taylor. Briefly, the doctrine in Joseph's day was to become saved yourself, obtain the sealing power, then seal ancestors you could personally vouch for (having known them in life) to yourself. That changed to up to 4 generations back in Brigham's day. By the time Wilford Woodruff was president, he decided to change the focus, which was you getting sealed to THE fathers (patriarchs---called the law of adoption) to you getting sealed to YOUR fathers (a geneological interpretation). He did not cite revelation in that change. From wikipedia: "In a church general conference address on 8 April 1894, Wilford Woodruff stated that 'I have not felt satisfied, nor has any man since the Prophet Joseph Smith who has attended to the ordinance of adoption in the temples of our God. We have felt there was more to be revealed on this subject than we have received … and the duty that I want every man who presides over a Temple to see performed from this day henceforth, unless the Lord Almighty commands otherwise, is let every man be adopted to his father.' Thus, as of 1894, the practice of the law of adoption ceased in the LDS Church."
Compare this to what Joseph taught:
"When a seal is put upon the father and mother it secures their posterity so that they cannot be lost but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father." (Words of Joseph Smith, 13 August  1843) (This is an unconditional situation)
"if you have power to seal on earth & in heaven then we should be Crafty, the first thing you do go & seal on earth your sons & daughters unto yourself, & yourself unto your fathers in eternal glory, & go ahead and not go back, but use a little Craftiness & seal all you can; & when you get to heaven tell your father that what you seal on earth should be sealed in heaven 31 I will walk through the gate of heaven and Claim what I seal & those that follow me & my Council" (Words of Joseph Smith, 10 March 1844)
I believe that the meaning of Moroni's version of Malachi 4 was exceedingly clear in Joseph's day. However, generations of differing interpretations have led us to interpreting it in a way other than the way it is written. To counter that, I would suggest the following version, which (I think) is as plain as can be:
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And I will make to the children the promises made to the fathers, because the hearts of the children will be like the hearts of the fathers. For all those whose hearts are not like the hearts of the fathers will be consumed by fire when I return." 
  • Elijah will come to reveal the promises made to the fathers, and the children's hearts will turn to their fathers so as to prevent the whole earth being wasted at his coming.
  • These teachings will include the revelation of "the ordinances of his house" AND "the glories of His kingdom," which things cannot be taught and practiced outside of a temple. Thus, the endowment practiced in Brigham's administration (and the highly modified version practiced today) could not be what Joseph was referring to because a) these endowments had occurred previous to this quote, and b) they occurred outside the temple, such as in the red brick store.
"What was the object of gathering the Jews, or the people of God in any age of the world? I can never find much to say in expounding a text. A man never has half so much fuss to unlock a door, if he has a key, as though he had not, and had to cut it open with his jack-knife. The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose." (TPJS p308, 11 Jun 1843)
"As the Father hath power in Himself, so hath the Son power in Himself, to lay down His life and take it again, so He has a body of His own. The Son doeth what He hath seen the Father do: then the Father hath some day laid down His life and taken it again; so he has a body of His own; each one will be in His own body; and yet the sectarian world believe the body of the Son is identical with the Father's. Gods have an ascendency over the angels, who are ministering servants. In the resurrection, some are raised to be angels, others are raised to become Gods. These things are revealed in the most holy places in a Temple prepared for that purpose. Many of the sects cry out, "Oh, I have the testimony of Jesus; I have the spirit of God; but away with Joe Smith; he says he is a prophet; but there are to be no prophets or revelators in the last days." Stop, sir! The Revelator says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; so by your own mouth you are condemned. But to the text. Why gather the people together in this place? For the same purpose that Jesus wanted to gather the Jews---to receive the ordinances, the blessings, and glories that God has in store for His Saints." (TPJS p312)  

SUMMARY:

Here are all the above points in one list:
  • Translation.
  • Animal sacrifice.
  • A future return of Elijah, with priesthood keys.
  • Animal sacrifice, as well as any other ordinance or duty that has ever been required by the priesthood.
  • Animal sacrifices and any other ordinance or duty that has ever been required of the priesthood.
  • The building of a temple where animal sacrifice will be done.
  • The restoration of the temple service of the Levites.
  • A return of Elijah, who will be the one through whom "all things" are restored.
  • A return of Elijah, who will "restore the authority and deliver the keys of the Priesthood" 
  • The resumption of "every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood", including animal sacrifice, which are beyond what is contained in today's endowment.
  • The return of Levites doing temple service.
  • A temple where these things can take place
  • Elijah will reveal covenants to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children.
  • He will reveal "a priesthood which holds the priesthood by right from the Eternal Gods and not by descent from father and mother" and some tie to anointing and sealing and calling and election, which is tied to the fathers.
  • Elijah will come to reveal the covenants of the fathers in relation to their children as well as covenants of the children in relation to the fathers.
  • Elijah will come to reveal the promises made to the fathers, and the children's hearts will turn to their fathers so as to prevent the whole earth being wasted at his coming.

Let's now combine these points where possible:
  1. Elijah will return to restore all things ever revealed, including:
    1. A priesthood which holds the priesthood by right from the Eternal Gods and not by descent
    2. The administration of the Levites in the temple, including animal sacrifice
    3. The covenants made to the fathers (the patriarchs, not our ancestors) will be offered to the children, which will turn the children's hearts into the hearts of the fathers.
  2. A temple where these things can take place

CONCLUSION

In April 1842, the Prophet said: “The Church is not fully organized, in its proper order, and cannot be, until the Temple is completed, where places will be provided for the administration of the ordinances of the Priesthood." (History of the Church, 4:603; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Apr. 28, 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Eliza R. Snow)

Would Joseph consider the church fully organized today?

Every disciple of Christ should ponder the historical facts surrounding this critical time in the restoration. The facts are clear. What God promised would happen if the Nauvoo temple was completed in time did not happen. God's indication of the purpose of the Nauvoo temple was not fulfilled. The promised signs to accompany God's rejection of the church immediately happened in full, and they happened prior to the completion of the temple.

Elijah's promised visit to the Nauvoo temple did not happen, and all he was promised to accomplish is now a future event.

Should we:

  • Continue constructing copies of the St. George temple, whose purpose deviates from what God revealed through Joseph?
  • Continue spending time and money on this watered down version of temple work?
  • Continue claiming the restoration was a completed event?

Or should we:
  • Realize that the restoration was not completed.
  • Realize that we, as a church, have been rejected with our dead.
  • Recognize that modern temple ordinances are a vain and impotent pantomime of the real thing. How can we give to the dead what we have not yet received?
  • Realize that we are not "the Lord's church", as we were disowned the moment Joseph was killed.
  • Humble ourselves in sack cloth and ashes, seek forgiveness for our arrogance and high-mindedness, and seek the Lord to re-establish his covenant with us?
  • Be searching for further light and truth through true messengers?