“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” – Amos 3:7
In the scriptures and throughout the history of the church, it has been somewhat easy to determine revelation from the Lord given to the people by one of His servants, a prophet. As examples, here are some declarations which make it pretty clear that it is coming from the Lord.
"And God said..."
"For thus saith the Lord..."
"And it shall come to pass in the last days..."
"And again, verily I say unto you, O inhabitants of the earth..."
"For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory..."
"The Word and Will of the Lord..."
There are many other examples, but this is a few.
In the modern church, we seldom, if ever, hear words such as these from our Prophets, Seers and Revelators. In fact, we have even heard President Hinckley say that he was NOT prophesying.
“Now, brethren, I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying, that I am not predicting years of famine in the future. But I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order.”. President Gordon B. Hinckley, “To the Boys and To the Men,” General Conference, October 1998
It was but a few short years after this talk that the Internet bubble burst and many people were thrown out of work.
So do we, in fact, receive revelations from our Leaders? With the passing of President Hinckley, I look back at a few of the most important revelatory accomplishments received by the church through him. This is by no means a complete list, but a few that seem to me to be most important.
- “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” – While this Proclamation was in the works for about two years before, it’s issuance was under the President Hinckley’s administration. According to Elder Holland, the document was worked on by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles off and on over that period until they felt it was right. Both Elder Ballard and Elder Packer have called it “prophesy.” It was read by President Hinckley at the Relief Society General Meeting on September 23, 1995. It has engendered both positive and negative response from church members as it touches issues of marriage between man and woman, parental responsibility, gender identity, women as nurturers, husbands as chief providers, the sin of abuse and the consequences of failure to fulfill family responsibilities. It has become the topic of many talks in General Conference, Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society lessons and many family home evenings.
- Construction of the Conference Center – To accommodate those who wish to view General Conference in person and to have a place where other church and community events could be held. In April 1996, President Hinckley said this, “About a year ago I suggested to the Brethren that perhaps the time has come when we should study the feasibility of constructing another dedicated house of worship on a much larger scale that would accommodate three or four times the number who can be seated in this building. The vision of a new hall was clearly in mind. Various architectural schemes were studied. One was finally selected. It included a massive structure to seat 21,000 with a theater accommodating another thousand. There would be no interior pillars to obstruct the view of the speaker. There would be trees and running water on the roof. Ground was broken July 24, 1997, the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first pioneers in this valley. That was an historic event.
We did not know it at the time, but in 1853 Brigham Young, in speaking of temples, said, “The time will come when … we shall build … on the top, groves and fish ponds” (Deseret News Weekly, 30 Apr. 1853, 46).
In 1924 Elder James E. Talmage of the Council of the Twelve wrote, “I have long seen the possible erection of a great pavilion on the north side of the Tabernacle, seating perhaps twenty thousand people or even double that number, with amplifiers capable of making all hear the addresses given from the Tabernacle stands, and in addition to this a connection with the broadcasting system, with receivers in the several chapels or other meeting houses throughout the intermountain region” (journal of James E. Talmage, 29 Aug. 1924, Special Collections and Manuscripts, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah).
In 1940 the First Presidency and the Twelve had their architect draw up a plan of a building that would seat 19,000 and would stand where this building stands. That was 60 years ago. They thought about it, they talked about it, but finally they dropped the idea entirely.
These statements and actions were wonderfully prophetic. We knew nothing about them. All of them have come to our attention since we began this construction.” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 88-89; or Ensign, May 1996, 65.
Those who have seen the building and been inside would agree it is a magnificent structure.
- Building Smaller Temples Round the World –On October 4, 1997, President Hinckley announced the construction of smaller temples to accommodate members in remote areas. “…there are many areas of the Church that are remote, where the membership is small and not likely to grow very much in the near future. Are those who live in these places to be denied forever the blessings of the temple ordinances? While visiting such an area a few months ago, we prayerfully pondered this question. The answer, we believe, came bright and clear. We will construct small temples in some of these areas, buildings with all of the facilities to administer all of the ordinances. They would be built to temple standards, which are much higher than meetinghouse standards. They would accommodate baptisms for the dead, the endowment service, sealings, and all other ordinances to be had in the Lord’s house for both the living and the dead.”
It started with three Temples, Anchorage, Alaska; in the LDS colonies in northern Mexico; and in Monticello, Utah and quickly spread all over the world. President Hinckley set a goal of having 100 Temples by the end of 2000. With the dedication of the Boston Temple, he met that goal. There are now 125 operating temples with 12 in planning or construction. When President Hinckley was born, there were only 4 operating Temples, all in Utah.
- Rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple – On April 4th, 2000, at the closing session of General Conference, President Hinckley made this surprise and almost off-handed announcement, “In closing now, I feel impressed to announce that among all of the temples we are constructing, we plan to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple. A member of the Church and his family have provided a very substantial contribution to make this possible. We are grateful to him. It will be a while before it happens, but the architects have begun their work. This temple will not be busy much of the time; it will be somewhat isolated. But during the summer months, we anticipate it will be very busy. And the new building will stand as a memorial to those who built the first such structure there on the banks of the Mississippi.”
The member referred to was James Sorenson, who recently passed away. He and his family donated $30 million to the construction. When it was complete, more than 200,000 people had come to that isolated community to the open house. When it was dedicated on June 27,2002, it was witness by church members all over the word via satellite broadcast. It is an impressive and breath-taking sight to see the Temple, having been built by the blood, sweat and tears of members who eventually had to leave it, once again stand on the banks of the Mississippi.
The idea of rebuilding the temple is not a new one. President Hinckley said that his father, while president of the mission that included Nauvoo in 1939, suggested to the First Presidency that the Nauvoo Temple be rebuilt. But the idea wasn’t accepted at that time when the country was just coming out of the Depression and the Church didn’t have a lot of money. His father was disappointed at that time, President Hinckley said, adding, “But I count it something of a strange and wonderful coincidence that I’ve had a part in the determination of rebuilding this temple.” (www.ldstemples,com/nauvoo)
- Perpetual Education Fund – At April Conference, 2001, President Hinckley announced the fund, patterned after the Perpetual Emigration Fund, which made funds available for 30,000 early Church members journey to the Salt Lake Valley from Europe in the mid to late 1800s.
He said this, “Now, my brethren, we face another problem in the Church. We have many missionaries, both young men and young women, who are called locally and who serve with honor in Mexico, Central America, South America, the Philippines, and other places. They have very little money, but they make a contribution with what they have. They are largely supported from the General Missionary Fund to which many of you contribute, and for these contributions we are very deeply grateful. Then comes the day of their release. They return to their homes. Their hopes are high. But many of them have great difficulty finding employment because they have no skills. They sink right back into the pit of poverty from which they came. Because of limited abilities, they are not likely to become leaders in the Church. They are more likely to find themselves in need of welfare help. They will marry and rear families who will continue in the same cycle that they have known.
In an effort to remedy this situation, we propose a plan-a plan which we believe is inspired by the Lord. The Church is establishing a fund largely from the contributions of faithful Latter-day Saints who have and will contribute for this purpose. We are deeply grateful to them. Based on similar principles to those underlying the Perpetual Emigration Fund, we shall call it the Perpetual Education Fund.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Perpetual Education Fund,” CR, April 2001)
To date, the fund has helped More than 26,000 members from Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico,Peru, and the Philippines.
These seem to me to be the most significant accomplishments. I suspect, if I went back and reviewed all the many talks he gave over the 12 plus years he was President of the Church, I would find significant things he told us that are of a prophetic nature even if a “thus saith the Lord” did not accompany it.