Angels with Flaming Swords and Joseph Smith
Genesis 3:24; “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
There are a lot of places in the Bible where we find angels mentioned and by a lot that means 108! About a third is in the first four books of the Old Testament, eleven in Psalms, nineteen times in Zechariah and twenty in Judges. Whew!
The amazing thing about this is seeing how the Lord utilized His angels with each having a specific duty to fulfill. Some served to defend Israel with a sword (2 Chron. 32:21), some will serve in the future to defend her (Zech. 12:8), some delivered messages from God (Judges 2:1) and then we have one angel who stood guard in the Garden of Eden with a flaming sword (Genesis 3:21).
Today we’re looking at a specific experience Joseph Smith kept encountering in his life. He seems to be the only person in the history of the world who had an angel with a sword (sometimes flaming) threatening him with death and destruction if he didn’t practice polygamy. There’s virtually nothing in the Old or New Testaments where this phenomena occurs.
In the LDS monthly periodical, Ensign (Oct 1994), a question was raised about the nature of Joseph’s visiting angels. The Church answered by saying he had numerous encounters by angels, although they’re not completely sure of how many or all the reasons why and listed a table providing the reasons they know about along with references. Here in part is what they said;
“It is true that the Prophet Joseph Smith was visited by many heavenly messengers who helped inaugurate this final dispensation… Joseph Smith “was taught for years by visions and revelations, and by holy angels sent from God out of heaven to teach and instruct him and prepare him to lay the foundation of this Church”… He was the preappointed agent through which communion with the heavens and the earthly ministry of angels were resumed in a grand manner. Through faith, his weaknesses became strengths, and he nobly fulfilled his great foreordained mission—because heavenly messengers were his guides.”
You can read their full response here. The problem with their response is the lack of information they supplied about the angel commanding Joseph to practice polygamy or face death.
This of course isn’t true of his counterparts who had no problem sharing info about Joseph’s encounter with the mysterious sword wielding angel. You can find a number of testimonies by members telling why they chose to believe him.
It’s unheard of that God would demand followers to participate in a sex-for-salvation religion. On the contrary, we find many times when the Lord has warned believers that while they’re in the world, they certainly aren’t part of it. The compromising scenarios Smith cornered the early believers into are reminiscent of what pagan cults were doing in the ancient temples of Artemis in Paul’s day.
Families would give their eldest daughters to the temple ensuring their virginity to the cult of Artemis (Diana). After moving to the temple to worship the goddess Artemis, the young girls who had barely reached puberty would be married off and more times than not had little to no say in their own lives. In turn the family would be looked upon with favor and were promised blessings of grandeur and prosperity in the afterlife.
You can learn more about worship services of the Romans here and info about worship in the Temple of Artemis here.
In addition to making and selling their silver charms and amulets (Acts 19:24-27) there was a huge problem with worshiping and praying to lesser known deities and gods for their ancestors while invoking magical rites such as palm readings, foretelling the future by reading the entrails of animals from earlier sacrifices and chanting in prayer circles in “sacred groves”.
When the Apostle Paul preached at the amphitheatre in Ephesus he spoke against false gods, Gnosticism and magic. His mere appearance there threatened the economic stability of the region. Silversmiths were making a fortune casting their wares which would later be sold for people to carry as they walked through the temple performing a variety of prayers for themselves and ancestors. Later these charms would be dropped off at local homes to be used as protection against harm for its residents.
The similarities of the religious and worship practices of those in Ephesus carries a strong similarity to what’s going on in the religious practices of Mormonism two thousand years later.
Below are excerpts of diaries and testimonies from a handful of Mormons who were told by either Joseph or his brother Hyrum that an angel with a sword threatened destruction if he didn’t practice polygamy. Helen Mar Kimball’s life story mimics that of the young girls being given to the false goddess Artemis at her temple. In both examples the young virgin bears the burden of her family’s salvation upon her shoulders…
We pray the Mormon people will prayerfully and honestly consider the information we’ve provided and ask themselves if this sounds reasonable. Would God send an angel to a prophet and threaten destruction if that person doesn’t marry multiple people?
What does God say regarding adultery? How does the commandment not to lie with anyone but your spouse line up with this “new and everlasting covenant” of Mormonism?
If you’re LDS know that we’re praying for you and if you’re Christian, please, come alongside us to pray and witness won’t you?
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor 1:18
Zina Diantha Huntington’s Testimony
In Sacred Loneliness, page 80-81; “19 year-old Zina remained conflicted until a day in October, apparently, when Joseph sent [her older brother] Dimick to her with a message: an angel with a drawn sword had stood over Smith and told him that if he did not establish polygamy, he would lose “his position and his life.” Zina, faced with the responsibility for his position as prophet, and even perhaps his life, finally acquiesced.” – Todd Compton
Benjamin F. Johnson’s Testimony
“My Life’s Review”, Benjamin F. Johnson Autobiography (1818-1846), pp. 7-107; “About the first of April, 1843, the Prophet with some of the Twelve and others came to Macedonia to hold a meeting…Early on Sunday morning he said, “Come Brother Bennie, let us have a walk…“…His brother, Hyrum, said to me, “Now, Brother Benjamin, you know that Brother Joseph would not sanction this if it was not from the Lord. The Lord revealed this to Brother Joseph long ago, and he put it off until the Angel of the Lord came to him with a drawn sword and told him that he would be slain if he did not go forth and fulfill the law.””
Heber C. Kimball’s Testimony
Life of Heber C. Kimball, pg 321-325; “A grand and glorious principle had been revealed, and for years had slumbered in the breast of God’s Prophet, awaiting the time when, with safety to himself and the Church, it might be confided to the sacred keeping of a chosen few. That time had now come. An angel with a flaming sword descended from the courts of glory and, confronting the Prophet, commanded him in the name of the Lord to establish the principle so long concealed from the knowledge of the Saints and of the world—that of plural marriage.
Well knew the youthful Prophet the danger of his task. Well knew he the peril and penalty of disobedience. Fearing God, not man, he bowed to the inevitable, and laid his life—aye, was it not so?—upon the altar of duty and devotion. Among those to whom Joseph confided this great secret, even before it was committed to writing, was his bosom friend, Heber C. Kimball…
322 …It was this same principle that crucified the Lord Jesus Christ, and will cause the people to kill the Prophets in this generation…
323 One of the grand principles of the everlasting Gospel “unlawful to be uttered” to the multitude, yet one day to be thundered from the house-tops in the ears of all living…
325 …In Nauvoo, shortly after his return from England, my father, among others of his brethren, was taught the plural wife doctrine…at the same time Joseph told him not to divulge this secret, not even to my mother…” – Orson F. Whitney
Why We Practice Plural Marriage, 1884, pg 53; “Though looked down upon by the world we consider ourselves the most highly honored people on the earth and console ourselves with the reflection that we will yet be looked up to and regarded as the founders of a superior system of Christianity. This fact the Lord revealed to His prophet, Joseph Smith, as early as the year 1831. And yet, had it not been for the fear of His displeasure, Joseph would have shrunk from the undertaking and would have continued silent, as he did for years, until as angel of the Lord threatened to slay him if he did not reveal and establish this celestial principle.” – Helen Mar Kimball
Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner’s Testimony
“The Testimony of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner”, Address at Brigham Young University, April 14, 1905; “…Mary Lightner 1905 Address, typescript, BYU, p. 1 – p. 2
“I know whereon I stand, I know what I believe, I know what I know and I know what I testify to you is the living truth. As I expect to meet it at the bar of the eternal Jehovah, it is true. And when you stand before the bar you will know. He preached polygamy and he not only preached it, but he practiced it. I am a living witness to it. It was given to him before he gave it to the Church. An angel came to him and the last time he came with a drawn sword in his hand and told Joseph if he did not go into that principle, he would slay him.”
…“Well,” said I, “don’t you think it was an angel of the devil that told you these things?” Said he, “No, it was an angel of God. God Almighty showed me the difference between an angel of light and Satan’s angels. The angel came to me three times between the years of 1834 and 1842 and said I was to obey that principle or he would slay me.”
…“Said I, “If God told you that, why does he not tell me?”…”Well,” said he, “pray earnestly for the angel said to me you should have a witness.”…A few nights after that an angel of the Lord came to me…” – Mary Lightner
Joseph Smith’s Testimony
Contributor, Vol. 5, October 1883-September 1884, pg 259; “The same God that has thus far dictated me and directed me and strengthened me in this work, gave me this revelation and commandment on celestial and plural marriage, and the same God commanded me to obey it. He said to me that unless I accepted it, and introduced it, and practiced it, I, together with my people would be damned and cut off from this time henceforth. We have got to observe it. It is an eternal principle and was given by way of commandment and not by way of instruction.” – Joseph Smith
Joseph F. Smith’s Testimony
Journal of Discourses 20:28-29; “When that principle was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith … he did not falter, although it was not until an angel of God, with a drawn sword, stood before him; and commanded that he should enter into the practice of that principle, or he should be utterly destroyed, or rejected, that he moved forward to reveal and establish that doctrine…” – Joseph F. Smith, Salt Lake City, July 7, 1878
Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, p. 69-70; “…God, who is above all, had given the commandment, and He must be obeyed. Yet the Prophet hesitated and deferred from time to time, until and angel of God stood by him with a drawn sword, and told him that, unless he moved forward and established plural marriage, his Priesthood would be taken from him and he should be destroyed! This testimony he not only bore to my brother, but also to other – a testimony that cannot be gainsayed.” – Eliza R. Snow
“Erastus Snow reported that the angel accused the Prophet of “being neglectful in the discharges of his duties” and spoke “of Joseph having to plead on his knees before the Angel for his Life.” 
4. Erastus Snow quoted in A. Karl Larson and Katherine Miles Larson, Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, 2 Volumes, Utah State University Press, Logan, Utah, 1980, 2:611, entry for June 17, 1883.”” – Joseph Smith’s Polygamy by Nathan Hales
“Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage”, pg 67-68;“Introduction of Celestial and Plural Marriage Additional testimony of a few out of the multitude of witnesses who were taught these principles by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and who knew that he received the revs known as section 132 in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.
AFFIDAVIT OF PRESIDENT LORENZO SNOW
In the month of April, 1843, I returned from my European mission. A few days after my arrival at Nauvoo, when at President Joseph Smith’s house, he said he wished to have some private talk with me…He there and then explained to me the doctrine of plurality of wives…he foresaw the trouble that would follow, and sought to turn away from the commandment; that an angel from heaven then appeared before him with a drawn sword, threatening him with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment.
He further said that my sister Eliza R. Snow had been sealed to him as his wife for time and eternity. He told me [p68] that the Lord would open the way, and I should have women sealed to me as wives. This conversation was prolonged, I think one hour or more, m which he told me many important things.
I solemnly declare before God and holy angels, and as I hope to come forth in the morning of the resurrection, that the above statement is true.
Territory of Utah, Box Elder County
Personally came before me J. C. Wright, Clerk of the County and Probate Courts in and for the County and Territory aforesaid, Lorenzo Snow, and who being duly sworn deposeth and says that the foregoing statement by him subscribed is true of his own certain knowledge.
Witness my hand and seal of Court, at my office in Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah Territory, this 28th day of August, A. D. 1869. J.C. Wright” – Joseph F. Smith, Jr. & Richard C. Evans
Whether an angel appeared to Miss Lucy or not isn’t known or expressed, but her testimony that Smith told her she could receive her own testimony from the Lord was assured in her affidavit with others who mentioned the angel in Blood Atonement and The Origin of Plural Marriage, pgs 68-69.http://archive.org/stream/bloodatonementor00smit#page/68/mode/2up
Wilford Woodruff’s Testimony
Wilford Woordruff’s Journal Vol. 8, pg 235; “An Angel of God Stood by him (Joseph Smith) with a drawn Sword and told him he should be slain & Cut off from the Earth and the kingdom of God if he did not obey that Law (of polygamy). George Q Cannon was of the same opinion, that a man must have more then one wife at a time in order to obey that Law.” – Wilford Woodruff
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