josephsmith

This past week, Jewish adherents celebrated Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles, or Feast of Booths), one of three biblically mandated festivals, requiring pilgrimages to Jerusalem. “According to the prophet Zechariah, in the messianic era [the millennium], Sukkot will become a universal festival and all nations will make pilgrimages annually to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast there. (Zech 14:16-19).” [1]

Sukkot is a harvest festival, usually occurring in late September (15th day of the lunar month Tishrei, during the Fall equinox), and lasts seven to eight days. Anciently, families gathered together in small booths or tabernacles (sukkah) for the final harvest. Today, meals are eaten outside under small enclosures covered with leafy green tree limbs or palm leaves, reminiscent of the temporary structures Israel lived in during their 40 years of wandering journey in the wilderness enroute towards the promised land.

“During the holiday, some Jews recite the ushpizin prayer which symbolizes the welcoming of seven exalted guests’ into the sukkah. These ushpizin (Aramaic ‘guests’), represent the seven shepherds of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. According to tradition, each night a different guest enters the sukkah followed by the other six. Each of the ushpizin has a unique lesson which teaches the parallels of the spiritual focus of the day on which they visit.” [2] In some Sukkot traditions, on the last day of the festival, families emerge from their structures to welcome the Messiah, the ultimate Shepherd of Israel.

Sukkot occurs during the final fall harvest and is symbolic of the final gathering or harvesting of souls. It is a celebratory reminder to Israel of the end of their wandering, the gathering of the righteous from the fields (the world), and securing the harvest of souls into garners (the temples of the Lord), and eventually into God’s permanent garner (the celestial kingdom). Thus, Sukkot is not only a fall harvest festival, but also a type and foreshadowing of the gathering of Israel in the latter days. [3] It’s no coincidence that during the very time this festival was being held, Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith (September 21st, during fall harvest season), and revealed the Book of Mormon-the record designed by God to gather Israel from the four quarters of the earth. [4] The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is the great sign given by the Lord that the final harvest had begun. [5]

Angels Played Key Roles in Restoration

Besides the angel Moroni, ancient prophets foretold that Moroni and numerous other angels would play important roles in the restoration of the Gospel, and the transmission of priesthood keys for the final gathering of Israel. Peter prophesied that, in preparation for the Second Coming, the Father and the Son would return to the earth, together, to begin the restoration of all things. [6] King David prophesied that truth would spring out of the earth (the Book of Mormon), and righteousness (angelic ministers) would look down from heaven. [7]

Enoch was told: “And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.” [8] John the Revelator also declared he saw an “angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come.” [9]

No One Has Stepped Forward to Claim the Fulfillment of These Prophecies

Despite the fact that these and other scriptures foretell that the Father and Son would appear to begin the restoration, that angels would come down from heaven to assist, and that a book would come forth out of the earth, no one in Christian history has ever stepped forward to claim the fulfillment of these prophecies. None of the Christian Priests nor any of the Reformers ever claimed to have seen the Father and the Son, been ministered to by angels and given priesthood keys, nor received a book of scripture that came forth out of the ground as Isaiah, King David and Enoch had foretold. [10] But beginning in 1820, and continuing for the rest of his life, the Prophet Joseph Smith testified that all these ancient prophecies and more were fulfilled through the ministry of angels. Three of the Thirteen Articles of Faith deal with continuing revelation, gifts of the Spirit, and the literal gathering of Israel by miraculous means. [11] We believe in the ministry of angels. The word “angel” or “angels” appears in the Book of Mormon 135 times. [12]

Joseph Smith wrote that during the First Vision he was not only taught by the Father and the Son (who called him by name, and told him he had a mission to fulfill), but said he also saw “many angels” during the vision who testified that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. [13]

Numerous other angelic appearances followed. The Father and the Son appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith on at least five separate occasions. [14] From 1823 through 1827, the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith at least 22 times [15], giving counsel, tutoring, and finally turning over the ancient plates from which the Book of Mormon would be translated. In 1829, John the Baptist, as a resurrected being, appeared and laid hands on Joseph Smith’s head and restored the Aaronic Priesthood and the keys to baptize people (the very authority by which he baptized Jesus Christ). [16]

Within a month, Peter, James and John appeared and laid hands on Joseph’s head and gave him the Melchizedek priesthood and ordained him to preside over the Church-the very same authority they had been given by Jesus Christ. [17] In 1836, following the dedication of the first temple in this dispensation at Kirtland, Ohio, Moses, Elias and Elijah appeared and laid hands on Joseph’s head and committed to him the keys of the gathering of Israel (from Moses), the keys to seal husbands and wives for time and all eternity (from Elias, a prophet from the days of Abraham), and the keys to seal children to their parents (from Elijah). [18] Malachi foretold this event. [19] Jewish people believe Elijah would return during Passover. Even today they set an extra place for Elijah, hang a special chair on some synagogue walls for him, raise a fourth cup of wine and open the door to welcome Elijah inside. And in the Kirtland Temple, on April 3, 1836-Passover–Elijah did indeed appear precisely as prophesied. Not in a Jewish home, but in the first temple built in these latter days. [20]

Other angelic beings whom Joseph Smith testified had appeared to him and tutored him include: Adam (Michael) and Eve, Noah (Gabriel), Raphael, Joseph of Egypt, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch, the Twelve Apostles of Christ’s Church, the three translated Nephite Apostles, Nephi, Seth, Alma, and other unnamed angels.


[21] Joseph of Egypt prophesied that God would raise up a “choice seer” in the latter days, whose name would be Joseph, and who do a work which would be of great worth to the entire world. [22] It’s one thing to read the Bible and know the Bible. It’s something else entirely to know the Bible’s authors!

Joseph once told an associate, Joseph Bates Noble, that he was so familiar with the ancients that he could recognize them by the sound of their voice: “He told me that the voices of the angels became so familiar that he knew their names before he saw them.” [23]

Gathering All Things Together in Christ

The Apostle Paul taught that this final “dispensation of the fullness of times” is when God would “gather together in one all things in Christ.” [24] What better way to recover all the keys, ordinances and doctrines from previous dispensations than to have prophets and apostles from all earlier gospel dispensations appear to and tutor Joseph Smith. President George Q. Cannon insightfully noted: “He, therefore, received the ministration of divers angels-heads of dispensations-from Michael or Adam down to the present time; every man in his time and season coming to him, and all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, Joseph, the head of this dispensation, Prophet, Seer and Revelator, whom God raised up, received from all these different sources, according to the mind and will of God, and according to the design of God concerning him; he received from all these different sources all the power and all the authority and all keys that were necessary for the building up of the work of God in the last days, and for the accomplishment of His purposes connected with this dispensation. He stands at the head. He is a unique character, differing from every other man in this respect, and excelling every other man.” [25]

Joseph’s brother, Hyrum Smith, once commented, “There were prophets before, but Joseph has the spirit and power of all the prophets.” [26] And Joseph understood perfectly his place among the prophets. He taught: “In the days of Noah, God destroyed the world by a flood, and He has promised to destroy it by fire in the last days.” [27] Lorenzo Snow once overheard the Prophet respond to the question, “Who are you?” with the reply, “Noah came before the flood. I have come before the fire.” [28]

In Matthew 24:14 the Savior prophesied “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come”. Samuel W. Richards, a good friend of Joseph in Nauvoo, said that on May 12, 1844, the Prophet Joseph taught that the “kingdom” must be “preached to a man who should be a witness to all people.” [29] George Laub added that the Prophet said that the Lord would “send … another witness and he shall preach this gospel to all nations.” [30] Both men recorded that they heard Joseph teach that he was this witness “chosen for the last dispensation or Seventh Dispensation.” [31]

President John Taylor testified: “The principles which he had, placed him in communication with the Lord, and not only with the Lord, but with the ancient apostles and prophets; such men for instance, as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Adam, Seth, Enoch, and . . . the apostles that lived on this continent as well as those who lived on the Asiatic continent. He seemed to be as familiar with these people as we are with one another. Why? Because he had to introduce a dispensation which was called the dispensation of the fullness of times.” [32]

In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith to the Church, at Kirtland, Ohio, on March 7, 1831, the Lord declared that this His gospel would be restored through Joseph Smith and that it would be sent into the world. It was sent by angels who ministered to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “And even so I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it, and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me. Wherefore, come ye unto it…” [33]

 

Notes

[1] Wikipedia: “Sukkot”.

[2] Wikipedia, “Sukkot”.

[3] “The Golden Plates and the Feast of Trumpets,” Lenet Hadley Read, Ensign Jan. 2000; “Symbols of the Harvest—Old Testament Holy Days and the Lord’s Ministry,” Lenet Hadley Read, Ensign, Jan. 1975.

[4] Moses 7:62 and D&C 27:5.

[5] 3 Nephi 21:1-7.

[6] Acts 3:19-21.

[7] Psalms 85:11.

[8] Moses 7:62.

[9] Rev. 14:6-7.

[10] Isaiah 29 and 2 Nephi 27; Psalms 85:11 and Moses 7:62.

[11] Articles of Faith #7, 9, and 10.

[12] For more on this topic, see Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s “The Ministry of Angels,” Liahona, Nov. 2008. To see a compiled list of many of the ancient Apostles and Prophets who ministered to Joseph Smith, see H. Donl Peterson’s “Moroni”.

[13] See the 1835 account of this First Vision in “Diary of Joseph Smith, Jr.”, in Jessee, Dean C, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book (published 2002). See also “Joseph Smith’s Recitals of the First Vision,” Ensign, January 1985, by Milton V. Backman. Also in “First Vision,” Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith’s Teachings, comp. Larry Dahl and Don Cannon [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000], 252-269.

[14] The five known appearances are (1) the First Vision in the Sacred Grove, in Palmyra, New York, Spring 1820; (2) During the third general conference of the Church at the Isaac Morely home in Kirtland, Ohio, June 1831; (3) during the Vision (D&C 76) at the John Johnson home in Hiram, Ohio, 16 Feb. 1832; (4) in a meeting of the School of the Prophets in the Newell K. Whitney home/store in Kirtland, Ohio, 18 Mar. 1833; and (5) in the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio, 21 Jan. 1836 (see D&C 137:1-3).

[15] H. Donl Peterson, “Moroni-Joseph Smith’s Tutor,” Ensign, Jan. 1992.The list of appearances is in H. Donl Peterson’s book “Moroni,” and is also cited in Joseph Smith: The Prophet, The Man [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1993], 183.

[16] See D&C 13.

[17] See Porter, Larry C. “Dating the Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.” Ensign June 1979, pp. 5-10. Also: “The Prophet and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic Priesthood on May 15, 1829, under the hands of John the Baptist. He informed them that he acted under the direction of Peter, James, and John, who held the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and that that priesthood would be given to them (JS-H 1:72).


Although the precise date of this restoration is not known, it is certain that it occurred after May 15, 1829, and before August 1830 (D&C 27:12). The documents available and the date of the formal organization of the Church give support to a time of restoration before April 6, 1830. Many students have concluded that late May or early June 1829 is the most probable time frame (HC 1:40n-42n)” by Jay R. Ballif, Lightplanet.com “Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.”

[18] D&C 110. Caution should be exercised in trying to define too precisely the differences between the keys restored by Elias and Elijah. Both had to do with sealings for time and all eternity.

[19] Malachi 4:5-6.

[20] D&C 110.

[21] H. Donl Peterson, Moroni-Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger, in the list Appearances to the Prophet Joseph Smith; also cited in Joseph Smith: The Prophet, The Man [BYU Rel. Studies Center, 1993], 186.

[22] See 2 Ne. 3:6-9, 15, and JST Gen. 50:27, 30-31, 33, in the JST Appendix.

[23] “Autobiographical Sketch of Jos. Bates Noble,” Mormon Biography File, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah; cited in Mark McConkie, Remembering Joseph, Deseret Book, 2005.

[24] Ephesians 1:10.

[25] Journal of Discourses, 23:361.

[26] History of the Church, 6:346.

[27] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (1938), 337.

[28] See this report of President Snow under the entry 1-1-1892, in Diary of Abraham H. Cannon, 16:30. See also Dennis B. Horne, ed., An Apostle’s Record: The Journals of Abraham H. Cannon (Clearfield, Utah: Gnolaum Books, 2004), 229.

[29] The Words of Joseph Smith, Ehat and Cook, p. 371.

[30] The Words of Joseph Smith, Ehat and Cook, pp. 369-70.

[31] The Words of Joseph Smith, Ehat and Cook, p. 370.

[32] Journal of Discourses 21:94.

[33] D&C 45:9-10.