Joseph Smith, Mormon Prophet
Joseph Smith was born in Vermont in 1805. Following some financial challenges, his family moved to a small town in upstate New York. It was there, during his teen years, that Smith began seeking answers to religious questions.
Confused about the many religions and their differing beliefs, Smith responded to the biblical teaching found in 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.”
Joseph Smith went into the woods near his home and prayed to find out which church he should join. Then, according to Smith, God and Jesus visited him. They told him not to join any church because they were all wrong. They also told him that he would be instructed what to do at another time. Members of the LDS church refer to the event as the “First Vision”.
A short time after Smith had his experience in the woods, he was praying in his room, when a heavenly being visited him. The being identified himself as Moroni, a prophet who lived on the American continent 1400 years ago. Moroni told Smith that there was a book written on gold plates. He said Smith would find the buried book and translate the writings. The book would be part of the gospel which would come forth at a later date.
The next day, Smith found the spot that Moroni had told him about, and attempted to retrieve the plates. He was instructed not to get them at that time, but to return in a year for further instruction. Every year, for several years, Smith would return to the location where the plates were buried, but was told not to take them.
Finally, in 1827, Moroni instructed Smith to take the plates, along with the tools necessary for him to translate them. He commenced with the translation, but due to many factors, wasn’t able to finish until 1829. In 1830, Smith published the book, known as the Book of Mormon. He formed the Church of Christ (later to get its full name, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. The new church started in New York, but moved the next year to Kirtland, Ohio.
Over the next dozen years, opposition from locals forced Smith to move the church from place to place. After unsuccessfully trying to settle Jackson County, Missouri, and Kirtland, Smith moved to Far West, Missouri. Trouble with the locals forced another move, this time to Nauvoo, Illinois. Smith and his followers converted the swamp into a nice city, where they dwelled for many years. However, just like what happened in the past, the non-members in the region began having conflicts with the church. Those problems culminated with the arrest and imprisonment of Smith and his brother, Hyrum, for treason. On June 27, 1844, Smith and Hyrum were killed by a mob in the Carthage, Illinois jail.
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