Thoughts on Lesson Thirty-Nine

The seed planted by the Lord, through Elijah's appearance to Joseph Smith in 1836, was not a full-grown tree, but only a seed. At that time there were no genealogical societies in existence. Thus, just eight years after that small seed of genealogical interest in our ancestors was planted by Elijah, it began to grow until now... the lowly seed has become a beautiful, fruit-bearing tree. To your silent questions, Where should I begin? What should I do? we say, Seek out those who are called to direct this work in your ward or branch. Go to your family history center and the temple. Identify those of your ancestors whose identity may be lost to human memory. Get started now, and the Lord will help you.
—Earl C. Tingey, "Redemption of the Dead," Ensign, May 1991

A royal family is a family that has a heritage. Many of our Church families have a pioneer heritage. There are many other kinds of heritages inherited by other families of the Church of which they can be duly proud. In our society a heritage is best perpetuated by a family history. Family histories should be kept up to date by succeeding generations. In addition, each member of the family should keep a daily journal, and from that he can prepare a personal history. President Kimball kept a personal journal, and from that was written a personal history that has made a valuable contribution to the literature of the Church.
A personal history becomes a family treasure that enables children to emulate the virtues and personal characteristics of their forebears. Their forefathers become the David, the Samson, the Moses, and the Abraham of their lineage. Writing family and personal histories is becoming the popular thing to do. More and more people throughout the world are becoming interested in this exciting pastime to them, but sacred responsibility to us. The hearts of the children are indeed turning to the fathers.
A royal family is not necessarily confined to the political kingdoms ruling the nations of the world. You too can belong to a royal family. If you have not already done those things that will make it so, start today, so that coming generations in your family will be faithful to those principles which characterize royalty in the kingdom of God. The self-discipline you exercise will enrich your life and the lives of your family members. That you may build this enrichment into your family to be perpetuated for generations to come, that we, indeed, may be a chosen people, a royal priesthood--yes, a royal family in the kingdom of God-- so that the world will not be wasted at his coming.
—Royden G. Derrick, "The Heritage of Royal Families," Ensign, May 1979

I personally believe that the writing of personal and family histories will do more to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers and the fathers to children than almost anything we can do. I am sure you will never turn your own children's hearts more to you than you will by keeping a journal and writing your personal history. They will ultimately love to find out about your successes and your failures and your peculiarities. It will tell them a lot about themselves, too. They will get a great desire to raise a family of their own when they see what a great blessing they were to you.
—Hartman Rector Jr., "Turning the Hearts," Ensign, May 1981

One of the great evidences that the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery spoke the truth when they declared that Elijah had visited them and had given them the sealing power by which the hearts of the fathers would turn to their children and the hearts of the children to the parents, is found in the fact that since the 3rd day of April 1836, all over the Christian world, the hearts of the children have turned to their fathers. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, merely by making such a declaration, could not have turned this key by which such a miracle was accomplished. The following facts are very important:
The year following the coming of Elijah, Great Britain passed laws requiring the proper recording of vital records and filing them in a central place. In the year 1844, the New England Historical and Genealogical Society was organized in Boston, although some steps had been taken a short time previously in this direction. In 1869 the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society was incorporated in New York. Since that day many other societies have been organized in many of the other cities and states, principally in the older settlements along the Atlantic where the people first settled when they came to this country. In more recent years societies for the research and compilation of genealogical information have come into existence in most of the states from Maine to California. It is but natural that the first societies of this kind in this country would be formed in the New England and Atlantic states, for there is where the oldest settlements are found and the beginning of family history in this country. There have been also in several parts of the country special bequests provided in wills for the purpose of genealogical research. Some of the older states have also set aside funds by legislative enactment for the gathering, compiling and publishing of vital records of their several towns. In the past fifty years [before 1915] organizations of this nature have been formed in most of the counties of Great Britain and the spirit of this work has crossed to the continent into all lands from whence have been gathered the scattered sheep of the house of Israel. Thousands of genealogical records have been compiled at enormous expense by individuals and family organizations. The compilers do not seem to know what force it is that impels them onward in this work. They think they are doing it as a matter of family pride and the desire to have some record of their ancestors, but back of it all is the inspiration which comes from the restoration of the keys of this turning of the hearts of children to parents and parents to their children.
—Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, vol. 3

Missionary work is not limited to proclaiming the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people now living on the earth. Missionary work is also continuing beyond the veil among the millions and even billions of the children of our Heavenly Father who have died either without hearing the gospel or without accepting it while they lived on the earth. Our great part in this aspect of missionary work is to perform on this earth the ordinances required for those who accept the gospel over there. The spirit world is full of spirits who are anxiously awaiting the performance of these earthly ordinances for them. I hope to see us dissolve the artificial boundary line we so often place between missionary work and temple and genealogical work, because it is the same great redemptive work!
—Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball

Elijah shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers. As Joseph Smith expressed it, "He shall reveal the covenants of the fathers in relation to the children, and the covenants of the children in relation to the fathers." (Teachings, p. 321.) Who are the fathers? They are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom the promises were made. What are the promises? They are the promises of a continuation of the family unit in eternity; of posterity in numbers as the dust of the earth and the stars in the firmament; of eternal increase; and of the consequent glory, and honor, and exaltation, and eternal life inherent in such a way of eternal existence.
Elijah shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. His coming shall unite families, unite them in this life and unite them in eternity. Because he comes, all of the ordinances of salvation and exaltation shall be binding on earth and in heaven, both for the living and for the dead. Because he comes, we can be sealed together as husband and wife in the holy temple so that our marriage union shall endure both in time and throughout all eternity. Because he comes, the living children will seek after their dead fathers, identifying them through genealogical research, so that the sealing ordinances may be performed for them vicariously in the holy temples.
—Bruce R. McConkie, Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man

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