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A few days after Joseph had prayed in the woods and seen God and Jesus Christ he was with one of the Methodist preachers who had been at the revival. Joseph, being young and inexperienced, began to learn some very hard things. He told the Methodist minister about his experience. Joseph was very surprised by the way the minister acted.
The minister became very cold and told Joseph that his experience had been of the Devil. He said that there were no such things as visions and revelations from God. He said that all of those things had ended when Jesus' apostles were all gone.
From now on all the ministers from all the different churches hated Joseph and told all the people hateful things about him any time that they saw him.
Joseph was only fourteen years old. If his vision had truly been of the Devil and not of God, why did the most important preachers of the different churches hate him so much? Why couldn't they have simply laughed and patted him on the back and told him that he had had a bad dream or something? Why couldn't they have told him to forget the vision and go read his Bible some more? Why couldn't they have tried to help him figure things out? Why couldn't they have ignored Joseph as they probably ignored anybody who they didn't think was important?
Did the people really want to know about God? The preachers liked things the way they were and liked it that people listened to them and showed them great respect. They acted exactly like the people who killed Jesus. Those people did not want to listen to Jesus. They did not want to know about God. They didn't want their comfortable lives as religious leaders to be changed. So they killed Jesus and began to kill anyone who believed in Jesus.
Unfortunately, things have not changed since Jesus was killed and things have not changed since Joseph Smith was hated so much. There are many people who don't want to hear what is true. Those people hate anyone who loves the truth.
Joseph knew that he had seen a real vision. And he knew that it had been Jesus Christ. And he knew what Jesus had said to him. He knew that it would be very, very wrong to tell everyone that he had not really seen it after all. So he simply had to put up with all the mean and nasty things that people said about him.
Joseph had a rough time after that. He didn't really have any friends and sometimes he did things that were wrong and this made some people very happy. Joseph doesn't say what kind of bad things he did, but by the time he was almost eighteen years old he felt ashamed of the things he had done and he prayed to God to forgive him and help him do better.
On the night of September 21, 1823 Joseph was praying for forgiveness in his bedroom. He noticed a bright light come into the room. It got bigger and bigger until the whole room was brighter than noonday. As soon as the room had become light a personage appeared beside Joseph's bed. "Angel" would be another word for what Joseph saw. The personage was standing in the air, his feet did not touch the floor. He wore a loose white robe. The robe was whiter than anything on earth, and it came just a little above the personage's ankles and the sleeves just a little above the wrists. He did not wear shoes or anything else. His face was like lightening and the light was stronger around him than anywhere else. At first Joseph was afraid.
The personage told Joseph that he was sent from the presence of God to Joseph. He said that his name was Moroni.
Joseph did not know at the time, but he knew later, exactly who Moroni was. Moroni was the last person in charge of thin gold plates, or pages, which told the history of people who had lived on the American continent many years ago. He lived about 400 years after Jesus Christ and buried the plates for safekeeping. We now know these plates as the Book of Mormon.
Moroni told Joseph that God had work for Joseph to do. He told him that his name would be known all over the world and that some people would say good things about him, and some people would say evil things about him.
He told Joseph about a book written on gold plates. This book told the history of people who lived on our continent long ago and also told the gospel of Jesus Christ. With the plates there were two stones set in silver bows, like eyeglasses. These stones were fastened to a breastplate. Fastened together, they were called the Urim and Thummim. By using the stones the gold plates could be translated from the language they were written in to English, which we can understand. Then Moroni began to quote scriptures from the Old Testament. He quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi and the fourth chapter. Then he quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah. Then from the New Testament he quoted Acts 3: 22-23. Then from the Old Testament again he quoted Joel 2:28 to the end of the chapter. He also quoted many more scriptures.
These scriptures are all about what will happen in the years before Jesus comes again for the second time.
Moroni then told Joseph that when it was time for him to get the gold plates and the Urim and Thummim he was not to show them to anyone except the few people who God allowed to see them. If Joseph showed them to anyone else he would be destroyed.
In Joseph's mind he could see exactly where the plates were so that when he was there later he knew the place.
Then as Joseph watched, all the light in the room gathered toward Moroni until it was close to him. Then Joseph saw a conduit, or a path, open up into heaven and Moroni went up the conduit and disappeared.
Joseph lay in his bed thinking with amazement of what he had seen and heard. Suddenly the whole thing happened all over again like a rerun and then Moroni told Joseph of things that would happen on the earth in Joseph's generation. Then he left just as he had before.
As Joseph was lying there, again the whole thing happened a third time! This time Moroni also warned Joseph that Satan would tempt him, or try to get him to do what was not right. Joseph's family was not rich, they were farmers and workers like many other people. The gold plates could be used to make them rich. But Moroni warned Joseph that he could only get the plates to give glory to God and to work for the kingdom of God. Then Moroni left for the third time.
Now it was morning and Joseph had not slept at all! Joseph was so tired that he could not do his work. He was working with his father. Finally his father, knowing that something was wrong with Joseph, told him to go home.
Joseph was so tired that as he was trying to climb over the fence to go home he fell down on the ground senseless. The first thing he heard was his name being called and there was Moroni again. Moroni told him everything he had told him before and then told Joseph to go and tell his father about his experience.
So Joseph went back and told his father everything. Joseph's father believed him and told him that the experience was from God. He told Joseph to do whatever the angel told him to do.
Joseph then went to where he knew the plates would be. The place was on the tallest hill in the neighborhood. Joseph knew the exact spot where the plates would be because he had seen it in the vision. There was a large stone which was partly buried in the ground, the center of the stone was exposed. Joseph dug the earth away from the stone and found a stick to use for a lever. He lifted the stone away and under it was a box made of stone. Two stones were lying crossways in the box. On top of the two stones lay the gold plates, the Urim and Thummim and the Breastplate.
Joseph was going to take them out of the box when Moroni appeared and told him that he could not take them yet. It would be four years before Joseph could take them. But Moroni told Joseph to come there in exactly one year. He would come there each year until it was time to take the plates.
Adapted by Lois M. Anderson from
The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Volume 1 pages 10-16
to be continued . . .
Copyright 2001 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: August 7, 2001