D&C 127:2, 10; “And as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; and for what cause it seems mysterious, unless I was ordained from before the foundation of the world for some good end, or bad, as you may choose to call it. Judge ye for yourselves…10 I will say to all the saints, that I desired, with exceedingly great desire, to have addressed them from the stand on the subject of baptism for the dead, on the following Sabbath. But inasmuch as it is out of my power to do so, I will write the word of the Lord from time to time, on that subject, and send it to you by mail, as well as many other things.”
Today we’re looking at what was going on in the life of Joseph Smith at the time he wrote this instruction above.
Holman’s Bible Dictionary had many descriptions about a prophet’s life, but a few that stuck out to me the most were;
The experiences of the prophet’s life prevented an oversimplification in his life
Prophets always spoke the word of God
They worked symbolic acts which served as dramatic living parables.
Now let’s take a look at some of the prophets in the Bible as a measuring stick of how God used men as prophets.
Meaning the one who was drawn out. Led Israelites to Canaan. Wrote the Torah. Son of Amram, descendant of Jacob. The 2-3 descriptions here are filled with miracles, God’s love and Moses’ dedication to God.
Meaning God is judge or God’s judge. Known for wisdom and righteousness. Taken captive during the Babylonian takeover. Unshakable faith in God of the Bible. Known for dream interpretations. Tossed into lion’s den. Interpreted the writing on the wall. One of four young men taken away during the takeover to be trained and later serve in the Babylonian courts – the other three were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
Meaning God will strengthen. Taken captive during Babylonian takeover. Widowed (Ezek. 8:1, 24:18). Consulted by elders. Born to priest Busi. Prophesied of Jerusalem’s fall.
Meaning salvation. Known as the prophet of doom and restoration. Son of prophet Beeri. Prophet of the Northern Kingdom in 8th Century. Commanded by God to marry the prostitute Gomer. Lived through capture of Northern Kingdom by Assyrians.
Meaning Yah exalts. Known as the weeping prophet. Taken captive during Babylonian takeover of Jerusalem. Prophesied of Jerusalem’s fall and Israel’s idolatrous behavior. Son of priest Hikiah. Spoke against false prophets. Beaten and shackled at Upper Gate of Benjamin.
As you can see from our small samples above and a few highlights from these men’s lives, not one of them ever told the people they might take the time to write scripture as Joseph Smith said he would do.
None of the men encouraged the Israelites to perform any ordinance or function for dead people. As we all know from the Bible communicating with the dead, touching the dead, or even performing works in pagan temples for the dead made one unclean in the eyes of God.
None of the prophets set aside time to have revelations to give to the Israelites – when it came time to have a revelation it just happened. God was the one giving the revelation to His prophet and they in turn would relay His message to the people. God was in control of these things, not the prophet and certainly not the people.
None of the prophets surmised their message might be for good or bad. They already knew the messages from God wouldn’t be well received unless it was a blessing. They knew the prophecies were ultimately for God’s glory and the people’s benefit. Joseph sounds as if he’s trying to garner sympathy for his “reluctant” call of being a prophet of God.
None of the prophets were self-proclaimed.
Joseph’s life was a culmination of man-made efforts and the consequences thereof. The paradox couldn’t be plainer. Or to use the proverbial phrase we now have from the time of Daniel – we can see the writing is indeed on the wall.
If you use Joseph Smith’s life as a living parable we’d see how God despises adultery of any kind, whether it’s worshipping idols or not honoring your marriage vows. In each aspect of his life, prophetic and otherwise, we witness a calamity.
Joseph Smith’s experiences spoke of an autocratic personality determined to make a name for himself regardless of the outcome.
At the time he wrote this he was trying to lay low and stay away from the law. The government had traveled from Missouri to Nauvoo looking for him, knocked on the door and he slipped out the back only to run through his corn field and finally hide in Newel Whitney’s home. He continued to hide in Whitney’s and other members’ homes until they left town. See History of the Church 5:145.
What happened to taking solace and direction from the Lord especially if you’re one of His prophets?
Jeremiah 1:8-9; “Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. 9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.”
Is this the mark of a man of God? Was Smith’s behavior a reactionary one because he hadn’t stopped beforehand to pray and receive assurance from the Lord He would protect him? How does hiding from the law glorify God? How does having sexual relations with married women glorify God? What can the Mormon people (or even “Gentiles”) glean from his life that would make us want to worship the god he does?
Isn’t participating in polygamy and getting arrested for it too simplistic? Wanting power, money and sex is so human, not godly. This is the behavior of ordinary men and not the mark of someone who stands out from the crowd while calling on God’s children to turn to Him and someone willing to put their life on the line for His cause.
Did Joseph Smith proclaim the word of God or denounce and marginalize it? Where in any of Smith’s writings do we find an admonition to trust God’s word? Do we find any proclamation from Smith to the people that God’s word is everlasting?
Smith’s prophecies called on people to embrace a different god with another gospel and shun God’s word. Certainly we must reject Smith’s message and discount everything he represented and proclaimed.