Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration

“Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration,” Tambuli, June 1994, 37

Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration

Joseph Smith was a boy of fourteen when he walked into a grove of trees on a beautiful spring day in 1820.

Throughout the next twenty-four years—until he was martyred at age thirty-eight in June 1844, one hundred fifty years ago—the Prophet Joseph Smith bore witness that God the Father and Jesus Christ had appeared to him. He also testified of many other heavenly visits and manifestations. On the following pages are artistic representations of some of these glorious manifestations.

Each of these events had a significant purpose. Through them, Joseph Smith served as the Lord’s instrument in restoring knowledge, truth, and priesthood power and keys. Thus, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not break away from any other religious organization. It was established by God and his prophet through heavenly messengers, who came from the heavens to the earth and restored the authority and teachings that had existed in the Church during the Savior’s mortal ministry.

And now, after the many testimonies that Joseph gave of the Savior during his lifetime, this testimony—which he sealed with his blood—continues to resound in many nations throughout the world: “That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).

The First Vision, 1820. “When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS—H 1:17).

The Visit of the Angel Moroni, 1823. “He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues. …

“He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates. … He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior” (JS—H 1:33–34).

Joseph Receives the Gold Plates, 1827. “At length the time arrived for obtaining the plates. … The same heavenly messenger [Moroni] delivered them up to me with this charge: that I should be responsible for them. …

“By the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand” (JS—H 1:59–60).

John the Baptist Confers the Aaronic Priesthood, 1829. “A messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying:

“Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron. …

“[This] messenger … said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament” (JS—H 1:68–69, 72).

Peter, James, and John Bestow the Melchizedek Priesthood, 1829. “Peter, and James, and John … I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them” (D&C 27:12).

The Voice of God and an Angel Bear Witness of the Book of Mormon, 1829. “Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record. … And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us. … And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true” (Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris, “The Testimony of Three Witnesses,” in Introduction of the Book of Mormon).

A Vision of the Father and the Son, 1832. “The Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about.

“And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness;

“And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever” (D&C 76:19–21).

A Vision of the Celestial Kingdom, 1836. “The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof. …

“I saw the transcendent beauty of the gate through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire;

“Also the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son.

“I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold.

“I saw Father Adam and Abraham; and my father and my mother; my brother Alvin, that has long since slept” (D&C 137:1–5).

The Lord Accepts the Kirtland Temple, 1836. “The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened.

“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” (D&C 110:1–3).

Moses Gives Keys of the Gathering of Israel, 1836. “The heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north” (D&C 110:11).

Elias Bestows Keys of the Gospel of Abraham, 1836. “After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed” (D&C 110:12).

Elijah Confers Keys of This Dispensation, 1836. “After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:

“Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—

“To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—

“Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors” (D&C 110:13–16).

Painting by Greg K. Olsen

Illustration by Tom Lovell

Illustration by Robert T. Barrett

Illustration by Dale Kilbourn

Illustration by Kenneth Riley

Illustration by Gary E. Smith

Illustration by Theodore Gorka