We believe in God the Father, who is the Great Jehovah and head of all things, and that Christ is the Son of God, co-eternal with the Father. (T & S 3:578)
When the Saints dedicated the Kirtland Temple in 1836, they prayed to the “Holy Father” and continuously interchanged His name with “Jehovah,” “Lord God Almighty”, and the “Mighty God of Jacob.” (See D. & C. 109:4, 10, 14, 34, 42, 47, 56, 68, & 77.) They considered the Father to be Jehovah.
Then in Section 110, some of the passages seem contradictory at first, but upon closer examination, the conflict disappears:
We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.
His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father. (D & C 110:2-4)
Notice that it says His voice was AS “the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah,” indicating that His voice had the powerful sound of rushing water and the sound of Jehovah–not that it was the actual voice of water or of Jehovah.
So here we have Jesus Christ appearing as a glorified resurrected being in the Kirtland Temple, talking with the same power and authority as Jehovah (God, the Father). In 1820 God had introduced His Son, Jesus Christ, to Joseph Smith, and He said, “This is my Beloved Son, Hear Him.” (J.S. 2:17) The young Joseph was instructed to listen to Jesus Christ–not only on that particular occasion but throughout his earthly mission. At this time, the Resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ, was assigned by the Father to deal directly with the Prophet and leader of this dispensation–though Jesus may use different titles and function in various offices during that time.
Today, the Latter-Day Saints are told that Jesus was the God of the Old Testament. But after considering the information presented in the last few pages, how could that be? Brigham Young was referring to the God of the Old Testament when he said:
Have you faith, that if necessary, He would again shower manna from Heaven and send flocks of quails to allay your hunger and cause water to burst from the rock to quench your thirst as He did when the Children of Israel were passing through the Wilderness? Do you believe that He is the God whom Moses followed and by whom he was dictated? “Yes” says the whole House of Israel. Well, that is the very God that we, the Latter-day Saints, are serving. He is our Father. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (and) He is the Father of our Spirits. (Doc. of the Priesthood 1:100, Collier)
Hence, the God of the Old Testament is the Father of our spirits. That could not be Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother. God the Father is the Jehovah who revealed Himself to the ancient prophets. And again from Brigham Young:
Who commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Who is that God? He is my Father . . . your Father. We are his offspring! (JD 6:236)
Brigham Young followed the teachings of Joseph Smith with implicit accuracy. Those teachings emphasized that Elohim and Jehovah are just different names for the same individual–our God. In 1867 Brigham said:
We obey the Lord, Him who is called Jehovah, the Great I Am, I am a man of war, Eloheim, etc. We are under many obligations to obey Him. (JD 12:99)
President Young and his associates were overwhelmingly convinced that Jehovah was God the Father, Creator of the earth, and God of the Old Testament.
For example, Orson Pratt, an avid scholar: of the Bible, had no doubt that the title Jehovah referred to God the Father:
“God is love,” says the Apostle John, “and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” If, then, this is one of the great attributes of Jehovah, if he is filled with love and compassion towards the children of men, if his son Jesus Christ so loved the world that he gave his life to redeem mankind from the effects of the fall, then, certainly, God the Eternal Father must be in possession of this passion. (JD 18:288)
Pratt had also written an article in which he said:
The work of creation was performed by a plurality of persons, as is evident from the description given by Moses. “In the beginning, the ALEHEEM created the heaven and the earth.” The translators of the English Bible have rendered the word “Aleheem”, in the singular, whereas, in the Hebrew, it is plural, and should be translated, “Gods” instead of “God.” * * * This word occurs in the first chapter of Genesis no less than thirty times, and in each place it is in the plural form, showing in the most positive manner that a plurality of persons were engaged throughout the whole process of creation. Again after the fall of man, “The Lord God (Jehovah Aleheem) said, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” (Mill. Star 11:281-82)
From another article in the Millennial Star, Parley Pratt
The eternal Jehovah has revealed Himself to man as enthroned in the heavens, while the earth is his footstool, and Jesus Christ as his Son seated at his right hand as a Mediator…. (Mill. Star 2:187)
Then in his book, Key to the Science of Theology, Parley Pratt wrote:
. . he conversed with angels, and was favored with a personal interview with the Great head and founder of the science, who became his guest, and, after eating and drinking with him, blessed him and his wife, promised him an heir in their old age, . . . (5th edition, p. 6)
This statement remained unchanged and was published in Pratt’s book for many years–as late as the 1891 fifth edition. However, in the 6th edition it was changed to read–
. . . he was favored with a personal interview with the Great Head and Founder of the science, who blessed him and his wife…. (10th edition, p. 16)
The reason for the change was because Jesus, as a spirit, could not be “eating and drinking” mortal food with Abraham. Either the “Great Head and Founder” who visited Abraham was God (a resurrected being) and was able to eat and drink with him, or it was Jesus who could not have dined with him. Even though the early editions of Pratt’s book had been read and approved by many church leaders, after 1891 it was concluded that Parley must have been in error, and so the change was made to be consistent with the Jehovah/Jesus doctrine that was just beginning to be promoted. Since they no longer believed that the Father was Jehovah, such statements had to be changed.
Wilford Woodruff also held to the doctrine of the Father being the God of the Old Testament. When he offered the dedicatory prayer of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893, he prayed to the “Father” as the “God of Israel” and “Ruler of Mankind.” He also prayed, “Thou Great Father of the spirits of all flesh” and “Thou God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (See Temples of the Most High, pp. 120 and 122). Since “Jehovah” was the God of the Old Testament, and Woodruff prayed to the “Father of the spirits of all flesh”, he must have believed that the Father was Jehovah.
Richards and Little wrote a Compendium of the Faith and Doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1882. This was a volume originally written by Richards in 1857 and published by Orson Pratt in England. Both editions contain a list of 45 “Names, Titles, and Characters Given to Jesus.” Interestingly, the name Jehovah is not on the list!
There is a different Jehovah (or God) for each world. Before the creation of this earth, there was a Council of Gods including the Jehovah, or God, on Michael’s world. It was He who was told by Elohim (representing the Council of Eloheim) to go down with Michael and create this world. The temple ceremony clearly portrays the voice of Elohim commanding Jehovah and Michael to “go down” and organize matter for an earth, and Jehovah answers, “We (meaning Jehovah and Michael) will go down.”
President Young explained to the School of the Prophets that “Elohim, Yahova & Michael, were Father, Son and Grandson. They made this earth and Michael became Adam.” (Joseph F. Smith Journal, June 17, 1871) Thus, that Yahova in the creation of this earth was in reality our “Grandfather” in heaven. These terms are applied to different persons in different councils, just as the term “God” has been.
In another sermon, Brigham stated that “this earth was organized by Elohim, Jehovah and Michael, who is Adam our common Father.” (L. John Nuttall Journal, Feb. 7, 1877) He expressed this same view again:
Michael is one of the grand mystical names in the works of creations, redemptions, and resurrections. Jehovah is the second and the higher name. Eloheim–signifying the Gods–is the first name of the celestial trinity.
Michael was a celestial, resurrected being, of another world. (Women of Mormondom, p. 179)
President John Taylor, in a poetic song, identified the Father as Jehovah:
As in the heavens they all agree,
The record’s given there by three, * * *
Jehovah, God the Father’s one
Another His Eternal Son,
The Spirit does with them agree,
The witnesses in heaven are three.
(Sacred Hymns and Spiritual Songs, p. 295, #262)
Edward Stevenson, (hymn composer) recorded in his diary in 1896 his views on the identity of Jehovah:
Certainly Heloheim and Jehovah stand before Adam, or else I am very much mistaken. Then 1st Heloheim, 2nd Jehovah, 3rd Michael-Adam, 4th Jesus Christ, Our Elder Brother, in the other world from whence our spirits come …. Then who is Jehovah? The only begotten Son of Heloheim on Jehovah’s world. (E. Stevenson Diary, March 3, 1896)
Like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young apparently did not see Jesus as being among the Gods mentioned in the temple ceremony. References as to exactly who Brigham Young did consider this Elohim and Jehovah to be, and  their relationship to Michael/Adam are sparse and ambiguous. However, both Brigham and Joseph had the same concept of a “head God” (who was superior to our “Father in Heaven”) as the one who directed the creation: “The head God called together the Gods and sat in the grand council to bring forth the world.” (TPJS, p. 348)
In describing the pattern that developed as Brigham Young referred to the Gods, Boyd Kirkland summarized:
Thus we see the flexibility with which Brigham Young used the divine names. To recap: (1) He never referred to Jesus as Jehovah. (2) He referred to God the father variously as Jehovah, Elohim, Michael, Adam, Ancient of Days, I Am, and other Old Testament epithets. (3) He also referred to Gods superior to God the Father as Elohim and Jehovah. (“The Development of the Mormon Jehovah Doctrine, 1830-1916”, B. Kirkland, p. 9)
In a meeting of the School of the Prophets in Salt Lake City, President Young was asked why some of the scriptures seemed to put Jesus Christ on an equal basis with the Father. He replied that “the writers of those scriptures wrote according to their best language and understanding.” (S.L. School of the Prophets Minute Book, June 9, 1873) This indicates that many of the writers of the scriptures were not fully informed on all things at all times. Some of the great prophets clashed on certain points, as in the case of Paul and Peter, on occasion. Thus, we cannot take every single scripture and assume that it is absolutely correct–especially since some of them don’t even agree. (See As It Is Translated Correctly, Kraut)
Although Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Sidney Rigdon, Lorenzo Snow, Wilford Woodruff, and others designated Jehovah to be the Heavenly Father, it was never a defensive statement. It appears that no one actually believed that it ever had any reference to Jesus Christ.
Though there are some passages in the Book of Mormon that lead to differences of identification, it is still this same Book of Mormon that tells us that if we want to know the authenticity of that book, we should “ask God, the Eternal Father . . . and he will manifest the truth of it unto you….” (Moroni 10:4)