Satan and his legions are out to destroy in full fury today. To destroy confidence, reputation, and truth.
I see this every day as I monitor and respond to YouTube comments on our Called to Share channel.
Three of the most common comments I see in direct opposition to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its mission are:
- You are in a cult
- Mormons aren’t Christian
- Joseph Smith was a false prophet
This accusatory fog that is cast over the truth – this mist of darkness, is design to prevent people from approaching the truth and opening their heart to learn of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His church.
To be honest, one of the hardest things about reading these comments is seeing people insult, attack, lie about, and profane a prophet of God. If only these people knew the truth character of the prophet Joseph Smith.
One of my favorite books is, They Knew the Prophet: Personal Accounts From Over 100 People Who Knew Joseph Smith. I love it because I can see the Prophet Joseph through the eyes of those that actually knew him.
When I read comments each day from people who hate him, I realize that those who knew the prophet best, loved him the most. In turn, those who know him the least (people commenting on a YouTube channel in the 21st century) hate him the most.
I got thinking one day about how many people in Joseph Smith’s time actually accepted him as a prophet of God. If we had to put a number on it, how many would that be? According to the 2013 Church Almanac, church membership in 1844, the year the Prophet Joseph died, was 26,146.
Of those 26,146, how many actually knew Joseph Smith? How many of those people did Joseph Smith feel sustained, supported, and loved by?
I think of our current day where, at the time of writing this article, there are over 17 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
How would Joseph feel if today he could stand in front of us all and be presented for a sustaining vote – and he could see us all raise our hands to testify of the reality of his call as a prophet of the living God? How would he feel if we could bear witness to him that we know he saw God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, that the Book of Mormon which he translated is the word of God, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true?
I hope to express in some small way what I, and many of these 17 million, feel about Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration.
A Letter to Joseph Smith
Joseph, this is a message that I hope God lets you read.
Almost 200 years ago, you were given a promise by the angel Moroni who appeared in your room at night.
Moroni said your “name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.”
In your lifetime, the fulfillment of that promise seems to have been more of a curse than a blessing.
To be honest, I’m not sure how much of the “good” you were aware of in your day. There certainly was plenty of evil spoken of your name.
Though published after your death, Governor Thomas Ford’s description of you would certainly have been the majority voice at that time.
“Thus fell Joe Smith, the most successful imposter in modern times; a man who, though ignorant and coarse, had some great natural parts which fitted him for temporary success, but which were so obscured and counteracted by the inherent corruption and vices of his nature that he never could succeed in establishing a system of policy which looked to permanent success in the future.”
Not exactly a fitting eulogy for the prophet of the restoration. Imposter. Ignorant. Coarse. Corruption. Vices of his nature. Failure.
Estimates at the time of your death put church membership northwards of 26,000 members – many of those living in Europe. Thus, many church members never even met you. Those who used your name for good on their lips didn’t number many.
You certainly had a few friends, family, and followers who had your back, but you had many more that were against you. The hatred, the persecution, the betrayal – it was constant and unrelenting.
You were called a liar, a cheat, an adulterer, a fraud. You were keenly aware of the evil that Moroni prophesied of.
We know it pained you deeply. As we read your history, that pain drips off of the pages.
It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.
Perhaps now is the time that members of the church throughout the world join together to send you a powerful message, one that will pierce through the veil of this earth and shake the heavens.
I’m hoping that the words I write will stir their hearts and lead them to declare your name for good to the world. Let there be a rallying cry for those who are #FriendsOfBrotherJoseph.
I’ve considered your heart.
You were labeled as money digger and imposter your whole life, so you could what? Give up your own bed to strangers and food off of your table to care for the hungry?
I know you are honest.
You showed grace in understanding why so many doubted you, yet you carried that weight alone.
“You don’t know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself. I never did harm any man since I was born in the world. My voice is always for peace.”
I’ve pondered your emotional pain.
You had to obtain and translate the Book of Mormon being the only witness of the golden plates for years – not being able to show the plates to anyone until you finished the translation. Your mother Lucy recorded your reaction when you were allowed to show three witnesses:
Father, mother, you do not know how happy I am: the Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself. … They will have to bear witness to the truth of what I have said … I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear.
I’ve imagined your fears at the loss of the 116 pages.
“Oh, my God, my God,” you uttered, “all is lost! What shall I do? I have sinned. It is me that tempted the wrath [of] God by asking Him [for] that which I had no right to ask…how shall I appear before the Lord? Of what rebuke am I not worthy from the angel of the Most High?” You wept and groaned and paced the floor, forsaken.
I’ve rejoiced in your joy.
“Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!” – Doctrine and Covenants 128:19
I believe your testimony.
“I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.”
Brigham Young famously said in one of many sermons to the Saints regarding Joseph Smith: “I feel like shouting Hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet whom the Lord raised up and ordained, and to whom he gave keys and power to build up the Kingdom of God on earth and sustain it.”
I will shout from the digital rooftops until the day I die, that you are a prophet of God and the prophet of the restoration. I will share with the world your goodness, your pure heart, your divine connection, and your sacred role.
Millions shall know Brother Joseph again – a phrase in a poem written by William W. Phelps, soon after your death and published in August 1844 Times and Season – a phrase that is now coming to pass. Millions DO know Joseph Smith – 17 million and counting!
“The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision [those who will know his name for evil], and hell shall rage against thee;
“While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous [those who will know his name for good], shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand” (Doctrine and Covenants 122:1-2).
Joseph, we know you are a prophet of God. We know you saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and what a glorious and earthshattering day that must have been. We know you did your best. We know you made mistakes, but we also know that you repented and relied on the grace and atoning power of the Lord Jesus Christ, who you knew so intimately.
The Prophet called on all who held the Priesthood to gather into the little log school house they had there. It was a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. But it held the whole of the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were then in the town of Kirtland. … When we got together the Prophet called upon the Elders of Israel with him to bear testimony of this work. … When they got through the Prophet said, ‘Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.’ I was rather surprised. He said, ‘It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.’”
We love you Brother Joseph. Thank you for sacrificing your life to bring us the knowledge of the true nature of God. Thank you for your testimony of Jesus Christ. Thank you for initiating this marvelous work and a wonder. Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!
Please share your comments and testimony of Joseph Smith. Those who read this article in the future will be strengthen by it. Also, feel free to share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag [#FriendsOfBrotherJoseph].
Editor’s Note – This article has been in the works for many years. I was reminded of my draft when I read the following a few years ago, A Letter to Emma Smith. I’m glad it inspired me to finish this after all these years.