Joseph Smith: Mormon Prophet-Persecution
Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith was only fourteen years old when he was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ (known as the First Vision). This was in response to questions he had on which church to join. He was told to join none of them, and that the true Church of Christ was not yet restored to the earth. 'As time progressed and the young boy proved his worthiness, he was given a divine mission as a prophet of God. Through him, God accomplished a great and marvelous work that included bringing forth the Book of Mormon, restoring the priesthood, revealing precious gospel truths, organizing the true Church of Jesus Christ, and establishing temple work.'1
From the time that Joseph Smith received this First Vision until his death in 1844 he was despised, attacked, imprisoned, and tarred and feathered. He was also loved, honored, and respected by many.
Whether one believes in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ or not, one has to take stock in the fact that this man, who was and is the first prophet of the Mormon Church, deserves respect from all mankind.
No other man was with the Mormon prophet when he experienced this Vision of seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ. What he spoke to his family and others caused much respect or hatred among them. Many called him sacrilegious for speaking of deity and making 'up such a story'.
When he spoke of the experience to his mother and father, they believed him and knew in their hearts and in their spirits that their son was telling the truth and that they could not deny it. And the prophet could not deny it!
"So it was with me. 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…2
Joseph was attacked physically on many occasions and was often hounded by false charges continually throughout his short life, but he never wavered from his divine calling.
At one time, he was kidnapped by two men who held cocked pistols to his head and repeatedly threatened to shoot him, if he moved a muscle. The Prophet Joseph endured these threats for a time and then snapped back, "Shoot away; I have endured so much persecution and oppression that I am sick of life; why then don't you shoot, and have done with it, instead of talking so much about it?"3
And, during a public sermon in Nauvoo, he declared: "The burdens which roll upon me are very great. My persecutors allow me no rest, and I find that in the midst of business and care the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Although I was called of my Heavenly Father to lay the foundation of this great work and kingdom in this dispensation, and testify of His revealed will to scattered Israel, I am subject to like passions as other men, like the prophets of olden times."4 And, a month before he was martyred, he declared, "I never told you I was perfect – but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught."5
1 "True to the Faith", a gospel reference, pg 89
2 "Book of Mormon", Joseph Smith-History 1:25
3 "Journal of discourses, 2:167; "History of the Church, 5:440
4 "History of the Church", 5:516
5 "The Words of Joseph Smith" by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, 1980, pg 369
For more information visit the following sites:
Fulfilled Prophecies of Joseph Smith
BBC – Religion & Ethics – The Story of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith: Biography and Much More From Answers.com
Joseph Smith – Lightplanet
Joseph Smith – bellsouth
Joseph Smith, Jr. – Wikiquote
Joseph Smith: Prophet, Revelator, Human; Interview with Richard Lyman