Both the Jewish faith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a strong relationship to a prophecy at the end of the Old Testament concerning the return of the prophet Elijah. Elijah is famously known for his showdown with the Priests of Baal in 1 Kings 18. His return was prophesied hundreds of years later in Malachi 4 (KJV):
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 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.
NIV Translates it thusly:
5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
Both verses list the consequence for Elijah not coming and the hearts not turning as a type of a curse with the NIV version being more aggressive listing what the KJV translators had termed a curse to total destruction, but what if it wasn’t about destruction? What if the root was something closer to wasted and was understood as ‘being laid to waste’ or cursed in the Old Testament translations?
The historical word used here Early in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there is the record of an angel visiting Joseph Smith and recounting the prophecy in Malachi:
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.
The change from curse (KJV) and total destruction (NIV) in this quoting is listed as the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. In combination with the other translations it appears to just be another word for the destruction that is prophesied as part of the second coming. But I like this version, because it works beautifully when cross referenced.
To be clear Elijah has returned, and with him the Priesthood authority to bind families on earth and throughout the eternities. The ordinance is considered to be just as important as baptism. Hence there is an ordinance done in temples known as sealing. The work in temples is done for the living and on behalf of those who have died. This work is the highest ordinance that we can obtain here on the earth and so The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints considers it a part of their mission to have the work performed for all those who have ever lived on the earth (those who have died still have to accept the work on their behalf). These sealings bind one generation to another turning the hearts of the children to their fathers and enabling the eternal life with our families.
So, what should we cross reference Malachi’s prophesy with? How about a verse in the Book of Moses? In chapter 1, Moses is shown all of God’s creations and marvels. In the revelation the Lord not only shows his works, but also their purpose. In verse 39 we read:
For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
Moses speaks of the purpose of earth and all of God’s creations as bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. The immortality and eternal life that come from receiving all the ordinances (baptism and sealings being among them) that are necessary for salvation. Malachi speaks of the importance of combining the human family together. The two scriptures are in wonderfully perfect harmony. If the entire human family isn’t brought together then literally the earth would be wasted–not wasted in the sense of a curse–but wasted as in the sense of rubbish–unable to serve a purpose and tossed aside.
Now, isn’t that cool?