Jesus Christ offered himself as a sacrifice, so that salvation could be granted to those who have repented of their sins. In likeness of this great sacrifice, God commanded his saints to offer up sacrifices of clean animals upon the altar. These sacrifices have continued at all times, from Adam until Jesus Christ, but whether they should continue subsequently is disputed by some. This is because the ordinances of God have been changed by man.
In these latter days, the Lord God has restored the fullness of the gospel to the earth, and opened up the dispensation of the fullness of times. In this dispensation, the ordinances of God are being established precisely in accordance with those of preceding dispensations. Among these ordinances are sacrifices, which were to be completely restored when the Temple was constructed.
The purpose of this article is to show from the scriptures that sacrifice will be offered in these modern times; that Joseph Smith, a modern prophet, taught that this was about to take place; and that one man, James Strang, succeeded Smith in fulfilling God's commandments by restoring these ordinances.
Everyone who believes that the Bible and the Book of Mormon contain the word of God, should understand that the Law of Moses was fulfilled with the coming of Jesus Christ. This fulfilled law was first added because of the transgressions of Israel, until Christ came. Thus, the particular sacrifices and burnt offerings commanded in the Law of Moses were fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
There were many ordinances of sacrifice that were not attached to, or that existed long prior to the institution of the Mosaic laws, so they could not have been in any way connected with that law, nor fulfilled with it, but instead are still in force.
Latter Day Saints have learned that sacrifice existed as long ago as the days of Adam. Joseph Smith prepared a "New Translation" of the history of gospel, which gives an account of the earliest offering of sacrifice:
And they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the garden of Eden, speaking unto them; and they saw him not, for they were shut out from his presence: but he gave unto them commandments that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandment.
And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying, why do you offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him, I know not; but the Lord commanded me to offer sacrifices.
And the angel said unto him, this thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, who is full of grace and truth.(1)
It is illustrated by this translation of Joseph Smith's, that the Lord did indeed command sacrifices to be offered from the beginning, previous to the added law.
Noah and Abraham each sacrificed also, before the added law, and they built altars unto the Lord their God, and offered up clean animals as sacrifices to him (Gen. 8:20, 12:7-8):
20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.
8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.
Since these men offered sacrifices prior to the institution of the Law of Moses, their offerings could not have been fulfilled with that law. Instead, their offerings had been established by God to be among the perpetual duties of his priesthood.
The Melchizedek priesthood is the highest order of the priesthood that God has established on the earth. This priesthood has the power to administer all the ordinances and sacraments necessary for the sanctification and perfection of the church.
One of the duties of this priesthood has always been to offer certain sacrifices. Hence, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote (Heb. 5:1, 6, 10):
1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:
6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
Wherever this priesthood is found, therefore, the sacraments, ordinances, and sacrifices may be looked for.
Because many of the ordinances of sacrifice were not part of the Law of Moses, they were not necessarily discontinued when Christ fulfilled that particular law. In fact, many of the offerings were specifically intended to permanent laws for the nation of Israel.
One of the offerings still required by Israel is the feast of Passover, and its adjunct feast of unleavened bread. These were given by command of God while Israel was yet in bondage in Egypt, before the added law was given. Both of these feasts required sacrifices, and both were to be kept forever (Exod. 12:14, 17, 24-25, 47):
14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.
25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.
47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
Another feast given to Israel forever was the feast of first fruits, or Pentecost (Lev. 23:14, 16, 21):
14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.
21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
The Lord confirmed a priesthood upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, and gave them authority to slay victims as sacrifices.
28 And it shall be Aaron's and his sons' by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it is an heave offering: and it shall be an heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offerings, even their heave offering unto the LORD.
17 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
18 Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.
19 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:
20 When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD:
21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.
(Lev. 6:14, 18):
14 And this is the law of the meat offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the LORD, before the altar.
18 All the males among the children of Aaron shall eat of it. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations concerning the offerings of the LORD made by fire: every one that toucheth them shall be holy.
22 And the priest of his sons that is anointed in his stead shall offer it: it is a statute for ever unto the LORD; it shall be wholly burnt.
34 For the wave breast and the heave shoulder have I taken of the children of Israel from off the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them unto Aaron the priest and unto his sons by a statute for ever from among the children of Israel.
35 This is the portion of the anointing of Aaron, and of the anointing of his sons, out of the offerings of the LORD made by fire, in the day when he presented them to minister unto the LORD in the priest's office;
36 Which the LORD commanded to be given them of the children of Israel, in the day that he anointed them, by a statute for ever throughout their generations.
37 This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecrations, and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings;
38 Which the LORD commanded Moses in mount Sinai, in the day that he commanded the children of Israel to offer their oblations unto the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai.
15 The heave shoulder and the wave breast shall they bring with the offerings made by fire of the fat, to wave it for a wave offering before the LORD; and it shall be thine, and thy sons' with thee, by a statute for ever; as the LORD hath commanded.
(Num. 18:8, 11, 19):
8 And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Behold, I also have given thee the charge of mine heave offerings of all the hallowed things of the children of Israel; unto thee have I given them by reason of the anointing, and to thy sons, by an ordinance for ever.
11 And this is thine; the heave offering of their gift, with all the wave offerings of the children of Israel: I have given them unto thee, and to thy sons and to thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: every one that is clean in thy house shall eat of it.
19 All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto the LORD, have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt for ever before the LORD unto thee and to thy seed with thee.
Besides these regular offerings, and in addition to the familiar Passover and feast of first fruits, there were also other holy days established in Israel on which feasts were held that included sacrificing. Again, some of these memorials were instructed to be kept forever.
(Lev. 23:26-27, 31):
26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
(Lev. 23:33-37, 41):
33 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.
35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.
37 These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day:
41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
During his ministry, Jesus called and ordained men to the holy priesthood, and gave them various commandments pertaining to the duties of their offices. Included among the teachings of Jesus to his apostles are at least two commandments explaining the order of their offerings. The first said, "every sacrifice shall be salted with salt." (Mark 9:49.) The purpose for Jesus teaching this was that he taught in accordance with the commandment already given: "with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt." (Lev. 2:13.)
The other distinct commandment that Jesus gave his apostles is even more significant (Matt. 5:23-24):
23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Evidently then, Jesus had no intention of discontinuing the offering of gifts upon the altar.
Similarly, Jesus commanded a healed leper to "offer the gift that Moses commanded," (Matt. 8:4, Lev. 14:1-57), for this particular law was still in effect, apparently not being fulfilled as part of the added law.
It is evident that Jesus himself kept the various ordinances of sacrifice, for he kept the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, saying, "I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples." (Matt. 26:18.) The purpose for Jesus keeping the Passover is simple: the Passover had been commanded to be kept long previous to the institution of the Law of Moses, and it was to be kept as a perpetual ordinance. (Exod. 12:14, 17, 24-25, 47.)
It is clear then, that Jesus had to keep this feast as an Israelite, and that this feast of the passover is still supposed to be kept by the generations of Israel. But if sacrifices had all been fulfilled, the feast of the passover could not be kept, for it was a sacrifice. (Exod. 12:26-27):
26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.
The above quotations illustrate that Jesus did teach and practice the ordinances of sacrifice. Since he commanded his saints to follow his teachings and example, they too must continue these ordinances.
In accordance with the teachings of Jesus, the apostles in the early church continued to offer sacrifices upon the altar. There are several different types of sacrifices that were recorded as having been offered. At a time when some people had incorrectly thought that he had been teaching that these customs were done away with, Paul corrects this fallacy by himself sacrificing as an example. (Acts 21:20-24, 26):
20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
The offering that Paul made was part of the law of the Nazarite (Num. 6:1-2, 13-14, 18):
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD:
13 And this is the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:
14 And he shall offer his offering unto the LORD, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings,
18 And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings.
Another sacrifice offered by Paul was that connected with Pentecost, also called the feast of first fruits, as it is written (Acts 20:16):
16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
It is also recorded of Paul in another place (Acts 18:4, 18-21):
4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
This feast of first fruits involves the offering up of a sacrifice (Exod. 23:16-19):
16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.
17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.
18 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning.
19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
The Epistle to the Hebrews also contains evidence that offerings are still supposed to be made, but these writings are complex, and often ambiguous. That offerings could be made, there is no doubt, for it is written, "every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices." (Heb. 8:3.)
The writer continues, writing specifically about sacrifices for sin offerings: "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins." And again, "Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." (Heb. 10:26, 18.)
From the foregoing it is evident that sin offerings were only offered for those sins that were done through ignorance of the law. The writer here had reference to the law that the Lord had commanded Israel, saying (Num. 15:27-31):
27 And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering.
28 And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him.
29 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them.
30 But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
31 Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.
Thus, the writer of the Epistle clarifies the law that had already been given by Moses for the church—that sinofferings were made for sins committed because of ignorance of the law.
The writer continues by showing that there was a purpose for sacrifices, as there is a reason for all of the ordinances. The purpose of sinofferings, for example, was to "sanctify to the purifying of the flesh," (Heb. 9:13), but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was a more perfect offering, for it purified the spirit. (Heb. 9:8, 9, 14, 23; 10:14.)
And although bread and wine have always been partaken of in remembrance of Jesus Christ (Gen. 14:18-19), thereby purifying the spirits of the saints; and the children of God have always been baptized for the remission of their sins (1 Cor. 10:1-4); yet, it was still "necessary" that the followers of God offer up sacrifices for their sins. (Heb. 9:23.)
Having established the fact that sacrifices remained in the New Testament church, an examination of the reasons for their disappearance is necessary. Clement, an early Christian writer, at the end of a long exhortation for the saints to offer their sacrifices according to the appointed times and places, said:
20. The daily sacrifices are not offered everywhere; nor the peace-offerings, nor the sacrifices appointed for sins and transgressions; but only at Jerusalem: nor in any place there, but only at the altar before the temple; that which is offered being first diligently examined by the high priest and the other minister as we before mentioned.(2)
Since the above law was in effect for the Christian church, it seems probable that sacrifices were not discontinued until the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. It is likely that after the Temple was destroyed, the doctrine arose that sacrifices would never be restored to the church.
Daniel prophesied years earlier, that men would begin to teach the dogma that sacrifices should cease. He said that it "cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced and prospered." (Dan. 8:12.) But notwithstanding this false doctrine, it is evident that the true saints would be aware that sacrifices were to be reestablished again, for according to the vision of Daniel, after a lengthy period of time the sanctuary would be cleansed, and this purification would occur "at the time of the end," or in these latter days. (Dan. 8:13-14, 17.)
Hosea was another prophet who prophesied of these same events, saying (Hos. 3:4-5):
4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim [urim and thummim]:
5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.
The above verses show that Israel was to be without a prophet or leader for some time, and that they would be destitute of the ordinances and blessings of God; but in the latter days they would again have a prophet and king of the lineage of David; and the ordinances would be restored, including the offering of sacrifices.
Jeremiah also prophesied of these times, writing the word of the Lord (Jer. 33:14-18):
14 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.
15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.
17 For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want [be without] a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel;
18 Neither shall the priests the Levites want [be without] a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.
From the above it is evident that sacrifices would be restored, and that someone of the tribe of Judah and the lineage of David would again govern Israel. This passage of scripture corresponds very closely with the prophecy of Hosea quoted above.
Another similar prophecy of the restoration of the ordinances of sacrifice is contained in the writings of Malachi. He spoke the word of the Lord, saying (Mal. 3:1-4):
1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
From the above it is clear that the sons of Levi were to again make an offering unto the Lord in righteousness. At the same time, Judah and Jerusalem will once again prosper as it is written by Jeremiah.
Daniel, Hosea, Jeremiah, and Malachi, each of them a prophet, spoke of these latter days in the above quoted verses. They prophesied of a complete restoration of the priesthood, the gospel, and all of the holy ordinances, including sacrifice.
The dispensation in which the restoration was taking place was given first to Joseph Smith, a latter day prophet, who restored the priesthood, the gospel, and many of the ordinances. When Smith and Oliver Cowdery first received the Aaronic priesthood under the hands of an angel in 1829, the words used in ordaining them made it clear that the ordinances of sacrifice would be restored:
1. Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.(3)
The words of the angel quoted above closely resemble the previously quoted prophecy given by Malachi, and the prophecy given by Joseph Smith in 1832 which follows below:
Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses—for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed.(4)
In former days the gospel went first to the children of Israel, by way of Jesus Christ's own ministry, and then it went last to the gentiles. In the latter days, conversely, the gospel went first to the gentiles before going to the people of Israel. The gentiles that were converted by the preaching of the gospel were not go forth as wanderers without a promised land, but instead were to be united with the Israelites. The Book of Mormon gives the Latter Day Saints this promise: "But if the gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel."(5)
The laws of God contain provisions in case any of the gentiles might dwell in Israel (Num. 15:3, 13-16):
3 And will make an offering by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the LORD, of the herd, or of the flock:
13 All that are born of the country shall do these things after this manner, in offering an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
14 And if a stranger sojourn with you, or whosoever be among you in your generations, and will offer an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD; as ye do, so he shall do.
15 One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the LORD.
16 One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.
In 1840 Joseph Smith dictated by the spirit the following article to a scribe, and had it delivered to a conference of the Church held in Nauvoo:
Now the purpose in himself [Christ] in the winding up scene of the last dispensation is, that all things pertaining to that dispensation should be conducted precisely in accordance with the preceding dispensations. And again, God purposed in himself that there should not be an eternal fulness, until every dispensation should be fulfilled and gathered together in one . . . therefore he set the ordinances to be the same for ever and ever . . .
. . . thus we behold the keys of this priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah, that he talked with him [Noah] in a familiar and friendly manner, that he continued to him the keys, the covenants, the power and the glory, with which he blessed Adam at the beginning; and the offering 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 directions and commandments of the Almighty 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; then shall the sons of Levi offer an acceptable offering to the Lord. 'And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord.' (See Mal. 3:3-4.)
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 with the great sacrifice was offered up—and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of sacrifice in the 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.
. . . 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, then all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever was and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek priesthood are sufficiently manifest. Else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by all the holy prophets be brought to pass? It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses' day, namely, 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 existed prior to the days of Christ, what necessity for them since that time?(6)
While Joseph Smith's discourse unquestionably shows that he expected that sacrifice would be restored in the latter days, there are several passages in his translation of the Book of Mormon that may at first seem to indicate that they were permanently fulfilled. First, Jesus told the Nephites that they should offer an offering of a broken heart and a contrite spirit instead. This can be accounted for by the fact that sacrifices were only being offered in Jerusalem at that time, and it is very similar to the situation of David the patriarch, when he spoke of the same thing (Ps. 51:16-19):
15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
It is evident from the above, that the saints were to have a dominion in Jerusalem or in Zion before the Lord would accept their sacrifices. In addition, they were required to build a temple of the Lord first. These conditions were necessary during most dispensations, and neither condition is known to have existed on the American Continent immediately after the resurrection of Christ. Therefore, perhaps the Nephites were unable to make any offerings of that nature.
It is also true that the Nephites taught that Jesus was the last sacrifice, but close study reveals that they were only teaching that he was the last human sacrifice, for some of the evil priests had been unlawfully offering human sacrifices upon the altar.
It would have been quite plain to the Nephites that sacrifices were not permanently removed from the earth, for Jesus taught them from the book of Malachi, saying that the sons of Levi would again "offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness."
The necessity of a temple for the offering of sacrifices is further emphasized in a revelation given to Joseph Smith the prophet in 1841:
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.
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.
And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people;
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.(7)
It is apparent from the above revelation, that there were many ordinances that were only performed in a temple, and had not yet been restored in 1841. This same idea is contained in a letter written by Joseph Smith to the Church in 1842. Speaking of the dispensation of the fullness of times, he wrote:
For it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.(8)
It is evident from Joseph Smith's letter above, and also the preceding revelation, that when the he was martyred in 1844, the dispensation of the fullness of times was only just beginning to usher in, and that many ordinances such as sacrifice had not yet been restored, as he said they would be. It was therefore necessary that a successor be appointed in his office, who was a prophet, seer, revelator and translator, and the first president of the Church.
In accordance with the laws set forth in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, James Strang was appointed to the prophetic office by revelation from God, put in writing by Joseph Smith. He was ordained under the hands of angels to hold this office in the Church, and to have not only the keys of the kingdom that had been given to the twelve apostles, but also the keys of the mysteries and revelations which only one man on earth can hold at a time.
James Strang has been the only man who, like Smith, possessed and used the urim and thummim or interpreters, and the only man besides Smith, to translate ancient records from metallic plates.
James Strang was sent by God, of the tribe of Judah and lineage of David, to prophesy concerning the kingdom of God in the latter days. After Joseph Smith, he is the only person who continued to restore the ancient ordinances into the church of Christ as in former days.
James Strang has been the only prophet besides Joseph Smith who, for his prophesyings, suffered death at the hands of a gentile government.
In a revelation given through the James Strang in 1846, the Lord God commanded the Saints to build a temple at Voree:
6. And then shall my people build a house unto my name, that I may institute those ordinances which pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times. For since my people have been sifted, I will try them again whether they will receive the truth, and pervert it not. And I will show unto my servant James all things pertaining to this house and the priesthood of those who shall minister therein. And I will give unto him the preparation for an holy endowment therein, that he may instruct my people in the principles of the mysteries of my kingdom, as they are severally able to learn.
7. And if my people will build a house unto me according to my commandments, and will not be slothful therein, but will make speed to build, then will I endow them, even so many as are faithful and obey me and hearken to my words and to the words of my servants whom I have appointed to be their leaders.(9)
In fulfillment of those promises, the Lord re-instituted many ordinances, including some of the various types of sacrifice.
In 1851 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints published a new translation, consisting of some of the most important parts of the law given to all Israel, by the voice of God in Mount Sinai. This law was written by Moses, named the "Book of the Law of the Lord," and then placed in the ark of the covenant.
An authorized copy of the ancient book of the law was had by Laban in Jerusalem, written in Egyptian, and engraved upon metal plates. These plates were taken from the house of Laban by Nephi, in the days of Zedekiah, king of Judah, and brought by Lehi to America.
The plates of Laban were restored by divine authority, and from them James Strang translated the law by the gift and power of God.
The first printing of the Book of the Law of the Lord included a revelation given through James Strang, commanding the Saints to assemble in remembrance of the day on which the Kingdom of God was set up on the earth, and dominion given to the Saints:
1. These are the feasts of the Lord; holy convocations, even convocations and feasts unto the Lord your God.
4. As oft as this day [8 July] returneth shall all the saints assemble together. It shall be a holy convocation. They shall assemble in their temples, and in their synagogues, and in publick places, to offer a thankoffering, an offering of praise unto God, because he has given the kingdom to the saints.(10)
This revelation contained in detail, directions for the offering of sacrifice on that day.
The Book of the Law also had commandments for the offering of first fruits:
14. When ye are come into the land which the Lord your God giveth unto you, and have gathered the harvest of your inheritance, ye shall bring a portion of the firstfruits of your fields before the Lord your God, for an offering of firstfruits.
15. At every temple where the name of the Lord your God is named, shall the priest appoint the day of firstfruits, according to the days of your principal harvests of food; and by that day shall ye all bring your offering of firstfruits unto the priest, in the temples and the synagogues, and ye shall have a holy convocation before the Lord in every place to which ye bring the firstfruits.
16. Ye shall lift up unto the priest who ministereth unto the Lord a portion of firstfruits, by the day of the holy convocation of the harvest; on the selfsame day ye shall offer an offering of flesh also; a clean beast, or a clean fowl: it shall be a sacrifice and feast of thanksgiving unto the Lord for the abundance of the harvest.(11)
By 1856, James Strang had completed the translation of additional chapters of the Book of the Law of the Lord. Two of these chapters concerned sacrifice. One of them was a chapter on thanksgiving:
1. When, in blessing, the Lord thy God shall bestow upon thee any great and choice blessing; or, in his abundant charity, shall deliver thee from any great calamity, thou shalt assemble together thy wives, and thy children; thy friends, and thy neighbours; and shalt celebrate his glorious goodness with thankofferings, and feasting, and musick, and dancing.(12)
In the 1856 publication of the book was also a chapter specifically on sacrifice:
1. Thou shalt offer upon the altar of the Lord thy God, and before his Priests, sacrifices for sinofferings, and for trespassofferings, and for memorials, and for peaceofferings, and for thankofferings.(13)
Following the chapter on sacrifice, Strang included explanatory notes, which tell of the nature and purpose of sacrifice. These notes are very similar in enlightenment to Joseph Smith's 1840 discourse on sacrifice.
After 1850, there was a general assembly on July eighth of each year, during which the Latter Day Saints assembled in their tabernacle at Saint James, Michigan, to offer a thank offering, an offering of praise unto the Most High God, because he restored to them his kingdom.
It was a solemn sacrifice, offered at sunrise, in the presence of the whole congregation. Every man offered as a victim, a heifer, lamb, or fowl, according to the size of his household. It was eaten with bread and seasoned with herbs.
Every man, as he brought his victim, said:
I profess this day unto the Lord God, that I am come into the kingdom which he promised by the mouth of all the prophets: praised be his name for his glorious goodness, and his great power.
And when the victim was slain by the priest, the person offering said:
We were a people, few in number; scattered among our enemies: they killed our prophets, murdered our brethren, robbed us of our possessions, and banished us from among them; but God has made us a kingdom: and the fear of us is upon those who hate us.
When the gentiles evilly entreated us, and afflicted us, and thrust us out, we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers; the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and sorrow, and homelessness; and he gave us this land for an everlasting possession; and hath made us a kingdom: and now have I brought unto him this victim for a thankoffering, and a perpetual memorial.
And when they had eaten, the priest at the head of the table said:
I have come into the land which thou gavest to thy saints: I have heard thy law, and have entered into covenant with thee to keep thy commandments, and I have eaten of the sacrifice before thee as a witness forever.
Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless us this day, even all the children of thy kingdom; and the land which thou hast given us, and establish us forever.
And all the people would say "amen".(14)
The feast of first fruits was held once a year, by all the Latter Day Saints that dwelled upon inheritances within the Kingdom. The feast day, held fifty days following the beginning of harvest time, required the Saints to bring a portion of the harvest for an offering, and also a sacrifice of flesh, for a feast of thanksgiving for the abundance of the crop and God's blessings.
There were holy convocations of the Saints whenever they needed to offer thanks to God for his blessings. Such, for example, as one solemn thanksgiving and praise of God, offered at the site of the synagogue, or house of worship, on Holy Island, Lake Mormon, Michigan. In 1854 an assembly was held there because they were delivered from threatened persecution.
It has been demonstrated by the evidence, that it sacrifice is part of the restoration of all things, and that sacrifice has been restored in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
It is has also been shown, that James Strang was a prophet and translator unto the Church, just as Joseph Smith was, each having taught in accordance with the ancient prophets and apostles, and Strang in harmony with Smith, restoring many of the ordinances and blessings which pertain to this dispensation of the fullness of times.
1. Smith, Joseph et al., comps., Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God, (Kirtland: F. G. Williams, 1835), p. 16; Inspired Version (RLDS), Gen. 4:4-7; Pearl of Great Price (SLC), Moses 4:4-7.
2. 1 Clement 18:20.
3. Smith, Joseph, "History of Joseph Smith," Times and Seasons, Aug. 1, 1842, pp. 865-66; D&C 13:1 (SLC).
4. Smith, Doctrine and Covenants, (Kirtland: F. G. Williams, 1835), 4:6; D&C 84:31 (SLC); D&C 83:6 (RLDS).
5. Smith, trans., The Book of Mormon, (Palmyra, New York: E. B. Grandin, 1830), p. 488; 3 Nephi 16:13 (SLC); 3 Nephi 7:38 (RLDS).
6. Smith, "Treatise on Priesthood," handwriting of Robert B. Thompson, scribe, Oct. 5, 1840; Ehat, Andrew F. and Lydon W. Cook, comps. and eds., The Words of Joseph Smith, (Provo: Brigham Young University, 1980), pp. 38-44; Roberts, B. H., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1949), pp. 207-212; Smith, Joseph F., comp., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1976), pp. 166-173.
7. Smith, Joseph, The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God, (Nauvoo: John Taylor, 1844), 103:12-13; D&C 124:38-41 (SLC); D&C 107:12-13 (RLDS).
8. Smith, Doctrine and Covenants, (Nauvoo: John Taylor, 1844), 106:18; D&C 128:18 (SLC); D&C 110:18 (RLDS).
9. [Hajicek, James D., comp. and ed.], The Revelations of James Strang: Consisting of the Revelations Given of God, ([Burlington]: [James D. Hajicek], 1987), 10:6-7 (July 1, 1846).
10. [Strang, James J.], trans., The Book of the Law of the Lord, (Saint James, Michigan: Royal Press, ), 30:1-4; Book of the Law, ([Saint James: Cooper and Chidester, 1856]), 40:1-4, The Book of the Law of the Lord, ([Burlington]: [James D. Hajicek], 1987), 40:1-4.
11. [Strang, James J.], trans., The Book of the Law of the Lord, (Saint James, Michigan: Royal Press, ), 30:14-16; Book of the Law, ([Saint James: Cooper and Chidester, 1856]), 40:14-16, The Book of the Law of the Lord, ([Burlington]: [James D. Hajicek], 1987), 40:14-16.
12. [Strang, James J.], trans., Book of the Law, ([Saint James: Cooper and Chidester, 1856]), 7:1, The Book of the Law of the Lord, ([Burlington]: [James D. Hajicek], 1987), 7:1.
13. [Strang, James J.], trans., Book of the Law, ([Saint James: Cooper and Chidester, 1856]), 8:1, The Book of the Law of the Lord, ([Burlington]: [James D. Hajicek], 1987), 8:1.
14. [Strang, James J.], trans., The Book of the Law of the Lord, (Saint James, Michigan: Royal Press, ), 30:8-13; Book of the Law, ([Saint James: Cooper and Chidester, 1856]), 40:8-13, The Book of the Law of the Lord, ([Burlington]: [James D. Hajicek], 1987), 40:8-13; "Conference," Northern Islander, July 8, 1852.
for the remission
One example of our
concise priesthood lineage
Prophet Joseph Smith,
On this particular page, since January 1, 2004.