Who was Joseph Smith?
Being the man chosen by God to restore His true church on the Earth, Joseph Smith played a very significant role in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He’s considered an important figure by all members of the Church, who are sometimes referred to as Mormons. It all started when, as a young teenager, Joseph was interested to know about the different churches that existed that time and he wanted to choose which one to join. He had many questions in mind and needed guidance in making a decision. In the early years of the 18th century, a rebirth of religion was highly celebrated in his hometown of rural New York. The many religious messages confused Joseph so he turned to the Bible for help.
As he was studying and assessing one evening, Joseph came across a verse in the New Testament that 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” (James 1:5).
Joseph knew then that God’s guidance is all that he needed. He accepted the invitation to “ask of God” and planned to go to a grove of trees near his home to pray and request for divine intervention.
What is the First Vision?
The First Vision refers to the title of the prayer that Joseph offered to God, and as well the scene and experience that took place in response to the said prayer.
Joseph then entered the woods, went to an isolated grove of trees, knelt and prayed out loudly. It was the first time he did this, and experienced something extraordinary. As soon as he started praying, Joseph mumbled and was unable to speak, and soon felt a “thick darkness” surrounding him.
Joseph prayed more fervently as the overwhelming darkness seems to cover him. Then the experience came when God the Father and Jesus Christ literally appeared before him, an event considered as one of the greatest miracles of the modern times.
The scene started when Joseph saw bright light coming down from the sky. As this light reaches him, he saw two people standing above him in the air. He described the people as having a “brightness and glory [that] defy all description”. One of the people called him by his name, spoke, and pointed to the other saying “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith History 1:16-17)
Both God the Father and Jesus Christ spoke to Joseph, answering the questions he had on his prayers. They instructed Joseph not to join any of the churches, and that he is chosen as the prophet of God who will restore the true Church of Jesus Christ to the world. Joseph received additional instructions, worked hard and exerted all efforts to follow God’s orders. And on April 6, 1830, years after the First Vision, he organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Why is it important?
The First Vision of Joseph Smith became the all-important first step in the restoration of the true Church of Jesus Christ. Members of the Church have learned two basic truths that became a foundation of their beliefs and a central idea to their doctrine. First, that God and Jesus Christ are two separate beings, each having His own perfect, glorified body. Second, that God continues to communicate and reveal His will to humankind today.
After the First Vision, Joseph dedicated his life to God and Jesus Christ. He put in all the hard work in fulfilling the duties given to him. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, a volume of ancient scripture that teaches of Jesus Christ; restored the priesthood, the power and authority of God on the Earth; and continued to receive many more revelations from God. He is recognized and acknowledged by members of the Church as the first in line among God’s prophets of the modern times. Since Joseph Smith’s death, living prophets have continued to be representatives and channels in conveying God’s word for the Church on the Earth. ◼︎
Click here to watch a video about the First Vision.
Click here to learn more about Joseph Smith and his life.