Moroni: Messenger of the Restoration

    Introduction

    On the night of September 21, 1823, Joseph Smith prayed to know God’s further will toward him. Steadily a light grew “as though the house was filled with consuming and unquenchable fire.”1 Moroni, a messenger sent from God, stood before him. In mortal life Moroni had been the last of ancient American prophets having authority2 from God and whose teachings were recorded for our time.

    Moroni declared “that the time was at hand for the Gospel3 in all its fullness to be preached in power, unto all nations” and that Joseph was “to be an instrument in the hands of God” in that work.4 He quoted ancient prophets who had foreseen that this time would come. As Moroni stood before him, Joseph was shown in vision “the place where the plates were deposited” (Joseph Smith—History 1:42).

    Every September for four years, Joseph went to the Hill Cumorah and was taught by Moroni. In September 1827 Joseph met Moroni at the hill and received the gold plates. Twenty-one months later, having completed the translation, Joseph returned the plates to Moroni.5

    Quotes

    Joseph Smith Quotes

    “This messenger [Moroni] proclaimed himself to be an angel of God, sent to bring the joyful tidings that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled, that the preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the Gospel in all its fullness to be preached in power, unto all nations that a people might be prepared for the Millennial reign. I was informed that I was chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring about some of His purposes in this glorious dispensation” (History of the Church, 4:536–37).

    “Let us take the Book of Mormon, which a man took and hid in his field, securing it by his faith, to spring up in the last days, or in due time; let us behold it coming forth out of the ground, which is indeed accounted the least of all seeds, but behold it branching forth, yea, even towering, with lofty branches, and God-like majesty, until it, like the mustard seed, becomes the greatest of all herbs. And it is truth, and it has sprouted and come forth out of the earth, and righteousness begins to look down from heaven, and God is sending down His powers, gifts and angels, to lodge in the branches thereof” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 98).

    Witnesses

    Joseph Knight, Early Member of the Church

    “[In] the forepart of September [1827,] I went to Rochester on business and returned by Palmyra to be there about the 22nd of September. . . . That night we all went to bed and in the morning I got up and my horse and carriage were gone. . . . After a while he [Joseph Smith] came home [with] the horse. All came into the house to breakfast. But no thing [was] said about where they had been. After breakfast Joseph called me into the other room. . . . He set his foot on the bed and leaned his head on his hand and said, . . . ‘It is ten times better than I expected.’ Then he went on to tell the length and width and thickness of the plates, and said he, ‘They appear to be gold’” (Reminiscenses of Joseph Knight, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; spelling, grammar, and capitalization standardized. This manuscript, written between 1833 and 1847, has been published in Dean C. Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” BYU Studies, vol. 17, no. 1 [Fall 1976], 30–39).

    John A. Widtsoe, Apostle, 1921–1952

    “The first visitation of Moroni came in answer to prayer. So came the First Vision. The Lord is ready to give, but he requires that his children ask. It would not be natural or wise to force blessings on anyone. The power of prayer is inestimable. One prays for little; usually much comes in answer. . . . The most marvelous part of the message to the young man, lying upon his wakeful pillow, was that he, Joseph Smith, was the chosen instrument in the hands of the Lord to inaugurate the great work planned for the last days of the world. It was astonishing! It was wonderful!” (Joseph Smith: Seeker after Truth, Prophet of God [1951], 32–33; paragraph divisions altered).

    Questions

    How many times did Moroni visit the Prophet Joseph?

    There is no record of the exact number of visits from Moroni, but 22 have been documented (see H. Donl Peterson, “Moroni—Joseph Smith’s Tutor,” Ensign, Jan. 1992, 22–29).

    What did Joseph Smith learn in his visits with Moroni?

    Moroni taught Joseph Smith from scripture, quoting Malachi, Isaiah, Joel, and Acts. John Taylor explained: “Joseph Smith in the first place was set apart by the Almighty according to the [councils] of the Gods in the eternal worlds, to introduce the principles of life among the people. . . . The principles which he had, placed him in communication with . . . Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Adam, Seth, Enoch, and Jesus and the Father and the apostles that lived on this continent as well as those who lived on the Asiatic continent. . . . Why? Because he had to introduce a dispensation which was called the dispensation of the fulness of times, and it was known as such by the ancient servants of God” (Deseret News, June 9, 1880, 280).

    What did Moroni teach Joseph Smith about the ancient Americans?

    Joseph also learned about the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, “who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people” (History of the Church, 4:537).

    Readings

    Online Resources at ChurchofJesusChrist.org

    A Period of Preparation, 1823–29”—Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 37–51

    Many Angels Visited Joseph Smith”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2004), 7

    Joseph Told His Father about Moroni’s Visit”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2004), 7

    Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon”—in “Establishing the Foundations of the Church,” Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1996), 5–11

    Online Resources at BYU

    Katharine Smith Salisbury’s Recollections of Joseph’s Meetings with Moroni”—Kyle R. Walker, BYU Studies, vol. 41, no. 3 (2002), 4–17

    Newspaper report of speech given by Joseph Smith’s younger sister.