False Prophecies: Temple In Missouri

26 Oct

This is the first in a series of prophecies given by Joseph Smith. Each is listed on various websites as false prophecies. My purpose is to show how those claims are wrong, and that each of these prophecies is, in fact, true and from God.

 See also False Prophecies

Doctrine and Covenants 84: 2-3, 31

This is probably the most frequently cited prophecy by those bringing accusations against Joseph Smith. It is the second one listed at CARM, and I don’t know a list that doesn’t contain this reference.

They claim the prophecy is that a temple would be built in Jackson County, Missouri during the generation then alive. As this revelation was given in 1832 and there is still not a temple in Jackson County, Missouri the prophecy is obvious a false prophecy. With only a superficial look at the text their claim seems to be right; but let’s look at the text more closely.

Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem. Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased… 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 (Verse 2-3, 31)

In the above quotation the underlined portion is what is used to make the claims against Joseph Smith. But what are these verses really saying. Notice what is being stated in the beginning. The Lord is speaking to the church, and he lists the reasons why the church was established. He gives two reasons; the restoration of his people, and the gathering of the saints at the city of New Jerusalem.

Now, to make sure there is no confusing as to his meaning the Lord also tells us of New Jerusalem. It will be built centered at the temple lot, located in western Missouri and revealed to Joseph Smith and others.

After describing New Jerusalem the Lord then gives the following command.

Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. (Verse 4)

So, God commanded the saints to build the city of New Jerusalem, starting at the place of the temple. After giving this command God then gives the following prophecy.

For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house. (Verse 5)

As we see, everything that came before this verse had nothing to do with the prophecy. The prophecy states only that a temple would be built; it does not specify where it would be built. It also states that a cloud should rest upon it and fill the house, which would be the glory of God.

Of course, the revelation doesn’t end with this. You will notice that those who criticize also reference verse 31. In this verse it states that “the house of the Lord…shall be built unto the Lord in this generation.” The claim is that this reinforces the prophecy that the temple would be built in Missouri. However, as we saw that the references to Missouri were commands, not prophecies, this verse reinforces those commands, not the prophecy.


So, when we separate the command from the prophecy we can deal with each in turn.

Speaking of the command God excuse the saints from it. He said

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… 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. (D&C 124: 49, 51)

So, because of the persecutions that arose from the enemies of the church, God no longer required that generation to build the temple in Missouri.


Speaking of the prophecy, the Kirtland Temple was dedicated in 1836, four years after the prophecy was given. On that occasion many witnessed the glory of God as angels filled the temple. It is recorded in the History of the Church, volume 2, near the end of chapter 29, that

Brother George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation. The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place. This continued until the meeting closed at eleven p. m.

It was soon after that that many ancient prophets appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and restored priesthood keys. So, as the prophecy stated, Joseph Smith’s generation did build a house unto the Lord, and the glory of God filled it. The prophecy was thus fulfilled.


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