The Lord blessed Joseph Smith with a rich outpouring of the gifts of translation and revelation while he lived in Harmony Township, Pennsylvania, from 1827 to 1830. An exhibit in the visitors’ center at the Priesthood Restoration Site highlights 15 revelations received in Harmony that are now published in the Doctrine and Covenants.
Much of the revelation Joseph received was related to his calling as a seer and translator. Joseph’s brief stay at Harmony resulted in more scripture than any subsequent period of his life. But Joseph had to learn how to bring to light ancient scripture, and some of that learning came from making mistakes.
Martin Harris served as a scribe for Joseph Smith. In June 1828, he took translated pages home to Palmyra, New York, where they were lost.
In Joseph’s first recorded revelation, the Lord rebuked him for his mistake and took away his gift of translation.
The Lord later restored Joseph Smith’s gift of translation. The Lord also promised Martin Harris that he would see the ancient record and bear testimony of the Book of Mormon. His testimony was challenged throughout his life, and he even left the Church for a time, but Martin Harris never denied seeing the golden plates.
When Oliver Cowdery came to Harmony in the spring of 1829, he and Joseph Smith learned more about the process of revelation. They also experienced visions of angels who restored priesthood authority to the earth.
When Oliver Cowdery first learned of Joseph Smith, he prayed for understanding and then traveled to Harmony to meet the Prophet in person. Joseph later received a revelation for Oliver that said in part, “Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:23). His prayer from days earlier had been answered through the Holy Spirit.
When Oliver asked to translate the golden plates, the Lord taught him about revelation by counseling him to “ask in faith, with an honest heart” to receive the spiritual gifts he sought (D&C 8:1).
As they learned about baptism in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery prayed to know how they might receive baptism under proper authority. God sent John the Baptist, now a glorified and resurrected being, to restore the Aaronic Priesthood. John explained that he acted under the direction of Peter, James, and John. Sometime later, these Apostles restored keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
As events of the Restoration unfolded, members of Joseph Smith’s family came to him at his home and asked what the Lord had in store for them. The Lord’s answers revealed that those who desire to serve Him are called to the work.
In the winter of 1829, Joseph Smith’s father visited Harmony and asked his son how he could serve. The Lord’s answer compared the “marvelous work” ahead to harvesting grain using a sickle (D&C 4:3–4).
In 1829, women, the elderly, and even children used sickles to harvest a few stalks of grain at a time from places that were smaller or harder to reach. The Lord’s choice of a sickle emphasizes a personal, individual approach to a work that all people can perform.
The Lord counseled Joseph Smith’s brother Hyrum on the importance of preparing for future service. Hyrum heeded this counsel. He later became a witness of the golden plates and served in Colesville, New York, as the Church’s first branch president.
Soon after her baptism in 1830, the Lord directed Emma to study and teach from the scriptures, compile a collection of hymns, remain faithful to her covenants, and build a faith-centered life. Years later, as president of the Relief Society, Emma followed this counsel by teaching women the gospel and helping them care for those in need.
While living in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Joseph Smith received revelations for supporters and early converts in nearby Colesville, New York.
At Joseph Knight’s request, the Prophet inquired of the Lord, who counseled Joseph Knight to help “establish the cause of Zion” (D&C 12:6). He heeded this counsel and helped many of his family members join the Church.
Traveling between Church congregations in different places left Joseph little time to farm his land. Revelations clarified Joseph’s Church responsibilities, allowing him to share the burden of Church administration. The Lord also counseled Joseph to devote time to “performing [his] labors on the land” (D&C 26:1–2; see also D&C 24:3).
In early August 1830, Joseph Smith confirmed Emma Smith and Sally Knight at his home after administering the sacrament.
Newel and Sally Knight were among the first to learn of the revelation from the Lord reminding the Saints to put on the whole armor of God by living up to the covenants they had made (D&C 27:15–18). This counsel strengthened them and other Colesville Saints as they later moved from New York to Ohio and Missouri.
As the Lord encouraged His saints to establish Zion, He also repeated, “What I say unto one I say unto all” (D&C 25:16).