“When the Lord commanded Moses to tell Aaron to smite the waters of Egypt with his rod, he did so, and the waters were turned into blood; and when by the order of Moses, Aaron smote the dust with his rod, “the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt;” and many mighty miracles did Moses and Aaron perform in the sight of Pharaoh, by smiting with the rod. Are we in a day more mighty than that? Yes, and we will see more mighty works in the latter days, than were the wonders performed in Egypt. The power and manifestation that was in every dispensation will be manifested in this kingdom. It is the last time that God will set to His hand to gather His people.” 1
Appeared to Brigham Young
The Father, and the Son, and all the servants of God of every dispensation that ever was on the earth, are engaged in inspiring those brethren who now faithfully hold the Priesthood in the flesh. You are aware that the Lord said that in the last days he would have laborers who would labor with their might to gather up the wheat for the last time; and this is the last time. You need not ask who administer to brother Brigham; for I will tell you: They are Moses and Aaron, Elijah, Jesus, Peter, James, and John, brother Joseph, Michael the Archangel, and the hosts of the righteous behind the veil: they are all engaged in this great work. 2
Urim and Thummim
The breastplate of Aaron that you read of in the Scriptures was a Urim and Thummim, fixed in bows similar to the one Joseph Smith found. Aaron wore this Urim and Thummim on his breast, and looked into it like looking on a mirror, and the information he needed was there obtained. This earth, when it becomes purified and sanctified, or celestialized, will become like a sea of glass; and a person, by looking into it, can know things past, present, and to come; though none but celestialized beings can enjoy this privilege. They will look into the earth, and the things they desire to know will be exhibited to them, the same as the face is seen by looking into a mirror. 3
Aaron and the Aaronic Priesthood
The office of a Bishop belongs to the lesser Priesthood. He is the highest officer in the Aaronic Priesthood, and has the privilege of using the Urim and Thummim—has the administration of angels, if he has faith, and lives so that he can receive and enjoy all the blessings Aaron enjoyed. At the same time, could Aaron rise up and say, “I have as much power and authority as you, Moses?” No; for Moses held the keys and authority above all the rest upon the earth. He holds the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which is the Priesthood of the Son of God, which holds the keys of all these Priesthoods, dispensing the blessings and privileges of both Priesthoods to the people, as he did in the days of the children of Israel when he led them out of Egypt. 4
“If we had among us a literal descendant of Aaron, who was the firstborn, he would have a right to the keys, or presiding authority of the Bishopric. But then he would have to be set apart and directed by the First Presidency, no matter what his or their claims might be, or how clear their proofs.” 5
Ancestor of John the Baptist
Joseph Smith waited patiently for years, until the due time of the Lord, when He should send a heavenly messenger, and He did send John the Baptist. John held the authority in ancient days to baptize for the remission of sins, and held the keys—having inherited them from his great ancestor Aaron, of the Aaronic Priesthood, which Aaron held, and which authority his descendents exercised among the children of Israel, until the days of John, who was called the Baptist. This John, Jesus said, was a prophet than whom none greater had ever been born of woman. He was a mighty man, and was distinguished above all men upon the face of the earth in this, that God chose him to be the instrument to baptize His Son Jesus Christ in the waters of Jordan. He was a unique character in this respect. John was beheaded, as we know, to satisfy the priests and the murderous disposition of a wicked woman. When he died he held the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood—that Priesthood, as I have said, which he derived from his great ancestor Aaron, the brother of Moses. He carried with him that authority, and there having been no bestowal of it from his day until the day of Joseph Smith, it became his legitimate right, when the authority was once more to be restored to the earth, to come and confer it. He did so. He laid his hands upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and ordained them to the authority which he himself held. He bestowed upon them the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, that he had exercised while in the flesh. 6
- Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 4:212-13, February 1, 1857.
- Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 5:205, October 12, 1856.
- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 9:86-7, May 7, 1861.
- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 9:87, May 7, 1861.
- John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 21:361, August 8, 1880.
- George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, 24:342-43, October 7, 1883.