Sunday, October 28, 2012

Re-Visiting the First Vision





The Lord's Hand of Providence was over the Joseph and Lucy Smith family. They had devastating losses moving 9 times in 20 years of marriage. Although they didn't know it at the time, each trial had a high "providence"purpose. Each one putting them in the right place, at the right time in history to bring about, what they all wanted, what the world needed, and what God had in store:

The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith and their family moved to Manchester County New York,where they eventually purchased 100 acres of land.They lived down town in Palmyra for a while before moving to their land where they built 2 different houses here: the log home, and the frame home.

During the early 1800's religion was a hot topic in Palmyra and also in the whole region and district as Joseph wrote in his history. I would also add, that it was a hot topic in the Joseph and Lucy Smith home.


Lucy and several of the children joined the Presbyterian church and were baptized. Joseph Sr., Alvin, and Joseph Jr. did not. They were waiting to know or to find God's true church. They received a lot of pressure from the religious community for their un-baptized condition. To not be a part of a religion, and joining that faith with baptism was seen as "worldly". While being "worldly" isn't looked down in today' society by many...in Joseph's era, that was a serious judgement.




The Joseph Smith Story

3 aI was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five, on the twenty-third day of December, in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, State of Vermont … My father, bJoseph Smith, Sen., left the State of Vermont, and moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) county, in the State of New York, when I was in my tenth year, or thereabouts. In about four years after my father’s arrival in Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario—

Joseph Smith's log home
The family kitchen in the log home.

5 Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, a“Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist.
 
Palmyra is the only place in the US with 4 major churches on each corner of the main intersection
Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist

6 For, notwithstanding the great alove which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more bpretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.

lds.org
7 I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My father’s family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church, namely, my mother, Lucy; my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison; and my sister Sophronia.
8 During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and astrife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was bright and who was wrong.

9 My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others


10 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 aright, which is it, and how shall I know it?
An 1820 era Bible.
Joseph read James 1:5 from a Bible like this.

11 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of aJames, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads:

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.

12 Never did any passage of ascripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did;

 
13 At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkenss 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.



 
 
A Witness Tree
-trees that are large enough to have been witnesses to the First Vision
14 So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.


15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
16 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm,

I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me
 

I saw two Personages whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son Hear Him!

 

18 My object in going to ainquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all awrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those bprofessors were all ccorrupt; that: “they ddraw near to me with their lips, but their ehearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the fcommandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the gpower thereof.”
 
20 He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself alying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home.
 

 

What does the First Vision show us?

here's a few I came up with
 

  • The scriptures can help us solve our problems
  • God answers prayers
  • The power of Satan is a real power 
  • The heavens are  now open
  • God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ have bodies and are two separate personages
  • The Lord knows us by name
  • The power of God is stronger than the power of Satan
  • The true gospel of Jesus Christ in it's complete fullness was not on the earth at that time, but has since been restored through Joseph Smith the Prophet
 
What else happened in the grove that morning?  Did other angels visit on that epic morning? How long were they there?  What else did Joseph learn or see? 
As a prophet, as young as he was, he was shown a lot!  Like Moses, Abraham, and Nephi, he was possibly shown aleverything. Not sure, but it is a thought!

He tells us in his history that he cannot tell us everything that happened.

 "...many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time."
 

 When he got home, he was reflecting by the fireplace, when his mother asked  him if something was wrong. He did not share with his mother at this time about his vision.  He said, "I am well enough off...I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true" [kind of an all encompassing answer]



My husband pretending to be Joseph in the classis line
"I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true"

My own testimony:

This would not be complete with out my personal testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. 
 
I wish that I could have lived at that time to have personally known, seen, and been acquianted with Joseph.  I know that he saw what he said he saw in the Sacred Grove.  To have made up this story and then endured a life-time of severe persecutions for himself and everyone that he was associated with, would have be impossible. At some point, enough would have been enough, if it was false. No one would have sacrificed that much or given up everything, unless it was true and from God.
 
 It is true!  Like Moses, Abraham, Adam, Noah, and other ancient prophets, he was a prophet, called during this dispensation to bring back what was lost: the gospel of Jesus Christ in it's fullness, with the proper authority of the priesthood, prophets, and apostles.
 
In Joseph's own words:
 
" I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsley for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation." [Joseph Smith-History 1:25]
 
 
If anyone questions this...I would tell you to do as Joseph did,
 
Ask of God
 
 
 
 
Previous Posts in the Church History Series :