The Lord Jesus Christ called Joseph Smith as a prophet to prepare the way for His coming in glory. Joseph Smith’s life is a testimony to the reality of that calling. “I was called of my Heavenly Father to lay the foundation of this great work and kingdom in this dispensation,1 and testify of His revealed will to scattered Israel.”2
“This ‘dispensation’” is our time—the time prophesied when God will “gather . . . all things in Christ.”3 Ancient prophets foretold a final gospel dispensation and prophesied of Joseph Smith, who would lead it. Jesus Christ4 and His prophets Moses,5 Moroni,6 and Joseph of Egypt7 are just a few that spoke of a great prophet to come.
Joseph Smith was foreordained8 by God to restore His work from all previous dispensations. “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world,” taught Joseph Smith, “was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council9 of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council.”10
Joseph Smith Quotes
“The work of the Lord in these last days, is one of vast magnitude and almost beyond the comprehension of mortals. . . . It is truly the dispensation of the fullness of times, when all things which are in Christ Jesus, whether in heaven or on the earth, shall be gathered together in Him, and when all things shall be restored, as spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world began; for in it will take place the glorious fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers, while the manifestations of the power of the Most High will be great, glorious, and sublime” (History of the Church, 4:185).
“Whenever men can find out the will of God and find an administrator legally authorized from God, there is the kingdom of God; but where these are not, the kingdom of God is not” (History of the Church, 5:259).
Brigham Young, Second President of the Church, 1847–1877
“It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (1954), 108).
Joseph F. Smith, Sixth President of the Church, 1901–1918
“I come nearer the possession of the actual knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, through the testimony of Joseph Smith[,] . . . that he saw Him, that he heard Him” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), 495).
Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of the Church, 1995–2008
“I know that he [Joseph Smith] was foreordained to a mighty work to serve as an instrument of the Almighty in bringing to pass a restoration of the work of God of all previous dispensations of time” (in Susan Easton Black and Charles D. Tate, eds., Joseph Smith: The Prophet, the Man (1993), 11).
What do we mean when we say Joseph Smith was a prophet of God?
Joseph Smith was a prophet in the same way that Moses, Isaiah, or Paul were prophets—God spoke directly to Joseph just as He did to the ancient prophets. Then Elder Wilford Woodruff said of Joseph Smith: “He had to be taught, not by man nor by the will of man, but he required the angels of God to come forth and teach him; it required the revelations of God to teach him” (Deseret News, Nov. 26, 1873, 676; see also Doctrine and Covenants 13; 110; 128:20–21).
Was the mission of Joseph Smith foretold in ancient scripture?
Yes. Among the ancient prophets who foresaw the mission of Joseph Smith were Isaiah, who foretold the deliverance of a book to one who is “not learned” (see Isaiah 29:10–14; see also Joseph Smith—History 1:64–65); Ezekiel, who referred to this same book as “the stick of Joseph” (see Ezekiel 37:15–19); and Joseph of Egypt, who prophesied of a “choice seer” who would bring this record to light (see Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:24–33; 2 Nephi 3:6–15).
Online Resources at ChurchofJesusChrist.org
- “Heavenly Tutors Were Sent to Joseph”—in “Chapter 1: Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2004), 8
- “Many Angels Visited Joseph Smith”—in “Chapter 1: Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2004), 7
- “Prelude to the Restoration”—Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2003), 1–13
Online Resources at BYU
- “Parting the Veil: The Visions of Joseph Smith”—Alexander L. Baugh, BYU Studies, vol. 38, no. 1 (1999), 22–69. Survey of Joseph Smith’s visions using the accounts of Joseph and others.