Monday, October 20, 2014

"Stand by my Servant Joseph"

Imagine for a minute: you live in a fairly religious community, there seems to be more denominations than there are people. Your family was kind of going to one of the churches, but when your grandfather heard that your father was going to a church, he came over three hundred miles just to throw "The Age of Reason" at your father's face, so your father decided to stop going to church.

You, yourself, are not too sure if the church you are going to is the right one. The preachers all around are preaching sermons like"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", which states things like "The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours." Obviously, your standing with God would be on your mind, you would want to know if you were doing alright. Such was the case that Joseph Smith was going through as he was seeking for greater light on the subject of religion.

It was in this period of anxiety and uneasiness that the young man went to "their several meetings as often as occasion would permit...[He] became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect" (Joseph Smith - History 1:8). However, before up and joining them, he felt that he should search from the Bible so he could find which church was the one that God wanted him to go to. Through his studies, he was led to ask of God his standing with God and which church he should join, so he went out to a grove of trees, having faith that God would answer his prayer.

A simple boy asked a simple question, and the God of heaven used that question to usher in the labors of the last days. "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me...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!" (Joseph Smith - History 1:15-16). Because a question was asked, Joseph listened to the Savior of the World. Because a question was asked, angels came to visit the earth. Because a question was asked, the priesthood was restored. Because a question was asked, nearly 900 pages of scripture were revealed. Because a question was asked, the ordinances of life and salvation were restored in their fullness to the earth. Because a question was asked, the doctrine of repentance was restored, and through that doctrine Joseph and millions of others have tasted of the sweetness of divine forgiveness.

However, even with such miracles and so much good wrought by the Almighty God by the Mighty Prophet of the Restoration, it was revealed, from a very early time, that Joseph's "name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues" (Joseph Smith - History 1:33). The attacks began from the moment he spoke of his experience in the grove, and have not ceased since. Some attacks are true, most are false. He was a man with faults, just as you and I, but he was and is a Prophet of the Most High, and the Lord commands us: "Stand by my Servant Joseph" (Doctrine & Covenants 6:18).

In the coming days and years, the attacks against Joseph will not diminish, but shall increase in frequency and intensity. Regardless of that, our testimonies need not be shaken. Regardless the number of demons who revile against the "choice seer", he remains just that: the "choice seer" (2 Nephi 3:6). Though earth and hell revile against him, he stands as the head of the last dispensation, declaring his witness of the Savior of the World even unto the end of his life. Truly, Joseph Smith "was called of God, and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ" (Doctrine & Covenants 20:2).

"Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood;" (Doctrine & Covenants 135:3). Any person who seeks to discredit the Prophet must crawl around all the mighty miracles performed by his hands. They were far beyond the capabilities of the most educated preachers of his day, let alone an obscure farm boy who walked with a limp in western New York. All but few of the preachers of his day have faded out of memory, yet Joseph Smith's name sounds in every land and every tongue across this world.

Truly, the days are here that we must "Stand by...Joseph" (Doctrine & Covenants 6:18). Let your testimony sound loud and clear to all who will hear the message of the restoration. Though men revile him, I sing with every fiber of my being:

Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!
Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.
Blessed to open the last dispensation,
Kings shall extol him, and nations revere.

Praise to his mem'ry, he died as a martyr;
Honored and blest be his ever great name!
Long shall his blood, which was shed by assassins,
Plead unto heav'n while the earth lauds his fame.

Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.
Ever and ever the keys he will hold.
Faithful and true, he will enter his kingdom,
Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.

Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;
Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.
Millions shall know "Brother Joseph" again.

Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again.