President John Taylor, one of the prophets who succeeded Joseph Smith said, “The Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world than any other man that lived in it.”
The Lord has shown a pattern of choosing humble men to be His Prophets, seers and revelators in the world. These men, though limited in their skills and capacity but stalwart in their faith and testimony, had brought about many miracles for the salvation of God’s children here on earth. In this last dispensation, a period when God calls for a prophet to direct His Church, the Lord called for the boy Joseph to open this special time – humble, meek, and simple servant to His children but strong to the Lord.
Who helped the boy Joseph to be the revered prophet from the time he searched for the truth until today? Who is Joseph Smith to his family and his associates?What sacrifices did he make for the establishment of the Kingdom of God? Among other questions, some faithful truth seekers always love to know the truth behind the man who was instrument to the restoration of the fullness of the gospel, even to the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon.
The boy Joseph was born from humble circumstances from Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith. Joseph’s family was composed of 11 souls and all of them understood hard work at such a young age. They all were trying to live righteous lives and Joseph’s parents has always been educating their children the gospel of Jesus Christ through Bible readings and attendance to Church meetings. When he was 11 years old, the Smith family moved to Palmyra, New York where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was re-organized.
A seeker of truth
Palmyra, a western village in New York, was famous for the religious excitement that was ever present in those years. In the 1800s, the subject of religion was an intense discussion and caused every minister to proactively invite and convert people into their beliefs. Ministers seemed to be the judges of a person’s eternal destination depending on which religion he/she joined. The religious excitement was so great that conversion was thinning because most of the people already were part of their choice religion. The Smith family was torn from differing beliefs among their family members. But, one thing was a sure realization, which of churches was true. The boy Joseph, young as he was, also desired to belong to the true church.
At the age of 14 and at the time that he firmly decided that he had to choose a church, Joseph could not help but think deeply about the matters of religion. If he had to join a church, he had to know the criteria of a true church. The Prophet wrote:
In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?” To more fully learn the truth, Joseph attended the meetings of the different religions and immersed himself deeply in the scriptures. One particular scripture stood out to him; it was like a passage telling him what he should do. It was a powerful scripture passage for someone seeking for the truth. The passage is found in James 1:5 “If any of you lacked wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
A prophet of God
Joseph Smith’s question seemed to only have one solution and that is to ask of God. In Joseph Smith History 1:13, the Prophet wrote:
At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.
Although unsure of the method of asking what he would need to do, the young Joseph exercised faith in those early years by retiring to the woods and asking Heavenly Father which among the churches that time was true.
Indeed, the adversary was strong in making sure that the curious boy Joseph won’t be able to communicate with Heavenly Father. As he was began his prayer, he felt a power that seemed to pull him into despair and destruction. However, with great faith and determination, the boy Joseph eventually received his answer in what we now all know as the First Vision. The eager boy was told not to join any church and he also received instructions during that time. That moment has indeed opened the latter-day dispensation, even the last before the second coming of Jesus Christ. Joseph knew from then on that he has a divine mission.
A leader of the latter-day Church
The Prophet Joseph Smith has never denied His vision and his prophetic calling to God’s children no matter he was persecuted. He diligently followed the plan of the Lord in delivering His children to establish the foundation of the Church today. He called able men to help him in his ministry and organized God’s Church.
With just one prayer of a boy, the last dispensation was opened; and the faith and testimony of this stalwart boy brought about many blessings for the children of men. And although the First Vision opened Joseph to ridicule, accusations, and threats to his life, the Prophet held on to its truthfulness and the answers he received. It was the start of a life filled with challenges and blessings. In an article introducing Joseph Smith in mormon.org, it states:
Early Mormons endured serious persecution because of a perceived commercial, political and religious threat to their neighbors, so Joseph and the people he called to assist him had to lead multiple Mormon migrations to friendlier areas of the country. Despite all of the suffering they endured, early members of the Church built temples, did missionary work, [and] built thriving cities… Years before Joseph died, the Lord directed him to organize the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and eventually he bestowed upon them all the keys, rights, and authority necessary to lead the Church.
With just one prayer of a boy, the final period before Jesus Christ’s second visitation to us has been set. The faith and testimony of this stalwart boy brought about many blessings for the children of men. And although the First Vision opened Joseph to ridicule, accusations, and threats to his life, the Prophet held on to its truthfulness and the answers he received.
For more reference to Joseph Smith’s life: Mormon.org