BY T.F. STERN
I recently had the opportunity to visit historic sites associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). Topping the list would be the Hill Cumorah where the Angel Moroni hid the record of his people so they’d be kept safe until hundreds of years passed, long enough for the United States of America to be established with a Constitution that protected individual liberty and religious freedom along with my being able to visit the house where the Angle Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith Jr., as part of the restoration of the gospel in its fullness.
In case you’re not familiar with the history of the LDS Church and the restoration of the Fullness of the Gospel by Joseph Smith Jr., it can be found through links provided by the LDS Church. This painting is on display on the 2nd floor of the Joseph Smith Home.
When Joseph was a young man there was great excitement regarding the topic of religion; each sect trying to show they were the one to join. Joseph found it all a bit confusing and wanted to be sure he was joining the right church; but found each sect seemed to interpret the Bible differently, so much so that making the decision to join impossible without more information.
He read from James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him”.
Joseph retired to an area behind their home, a grove of trees now referred to as the Sacred Grove, where he beheld a vision which included both God the Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. From this meeting Joseph was informed that he was to join none of the churches, as the true church had yet to be restored. I took this picture within the Sacred Grove on July 25, 2018.
Sometime later when Joseph was in his bed on the second floor of their modest log home where his brothers were sleeping, the Angel Moroni appeared to him. The Angel gave specific instructions to him while reciting sections of the Bible. The visitation repeated two more times before the sun came up the next morning.
Here’s the question posed while we were on vacation visiting the Smith’s Log Home, a replica of the house built on the precise location as the original house.
“Who do you think was more impressed, the Angel Moroni speaking to the young Joseph Smith Jr., or Joseph with the appearance of the Angel Moroni in his sleeping area?”
My friend, Don Guthrie was our tour guide, serving a full-time mission for the LDS Church with his wife Rhonda. I’ve known Don for almost 40 years and we used to play softball back when he pretended to be good at it. (It’s fun to rib Don, even today.) He explained there was no right or wrong answer to his question.
My initial response was that Joseph would have been blown away by the appearance of the Angel Moroni. After all, this was a celestial being sent by the Lord; Joseph certainly must have been impressed beyond words.
Later in the afternoon Don and I were going over the wonderful opportunities we’d had that day to improve our knowledge of the restoration and how it unfolded. We came back to the question, “Who do you think was more impressed, the Angel Moroni speaking to the young Joseph Smith Jr., or Joseph with the appearance of the Angel Moroni in his sleeping area?”
Having had a few hours to consider the question again, the idea occurred to me; perhaps the Angel Moroni was impressed to be in the presence of Joseph Smith Jr. After all, Joseph had been foreordained to become the Prophet of the Restoration, not unlike the foreordination of other Prophets as recorded in the scriptures.
We have been made aware that as children of our Father in Heaven, our spirits are eternal in nature; only our mortal existence is finite. The strongest spirits from the beginning of time were foreordained to become great leaders, Prophets, Apostles, High Priests and so on.
I remember listening to a Patriarch explain how he gives Patriarchal Blessings to individuals who show up at his door. Often times he’s never met these individuals; however, upon placing his hands upon their heads he’d given to know them, his knowledge of their eternal spirit is expanded to include who they were and who they are supposed to become through their experiences here in mortality.
With that information in mind, which Prophet would be more impressive, one who was sent to prepare the Prophet of the Restoration or the young man prepared from before the world was created to become the Prophet of the Restoration?
Like my friend mentioned, there is no right or wrong answer; but considering the eternal nature of each child of God and the purpose of mortality this makes for a fun exercise, now doesn’t it?
I will say this, I’m impressed that my Lord has seen fit to let me ponder the Great Plan of Salvation and how each of us is important to Him.
Self-Educated American, Senior Editor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Houston police officer and, most recently, a retired self-employed locksmith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted political and social commentator. His popular and insightful blog, T.F. Sterns Rantings, has been up and at it since January of 2005.