Church history events are prophecy fulfilled

Following are highlights of significant events and dates pertaining to the first four lessons in this year's Sunday School Gospel Doctrine course of study:

Spring 1820: In a grove of trees near his home at Manchester, N.Y., where he had gone to pray, Joseph Smith was visited by God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. (JS-H 1:16-17.)Sept. 21-22, 1823: During the night and until nearly dawn, Moroni, a heavenly messenger, appeared to Joseph three times, telling of a "book deposited, written upon gold plates, . . ." (See JS-H:1-34.)

Sept. 22, 1823: Joseph's "strength [was] so exhausted" after the interviews with Moroni that Joseph, while returning home from the field where he had been working with his father, "fell helpless on the ground, and for a time was quite unconscious of anything." (JS-H 1:48.) Moroni appeared to him again, and repeated all he had related the previous night, and commanded Joseph to tell his father of the vision and commandments he had received. Joseph left the field, and went to the hill as Moroni had directed him. There, he viewed the gold plates, the Urim and Thummim and the breastplate to be used in translating the plates. Moroni told him to meet him at the hill in one year, and to continue the yearly meetings until the time came to receive the plates. (See JS-H 1:27-54.)

Sept. 22, 1826: Joseph returned to the hill where Moroni gave him the gold plates and told him to begin the work of translation.

Jan. 18, 1827: Joseph married Emma Hale. For a brief time she was his scribe as he translated the Book of Mormon.

Fall 1827: Martin Harris gave Joseph $50, which enabled him and Emma to go to her parents' home in Harmony, Pa., where he found rest from the uproar created by evil-disposed men who tried to steal the plates.

December 1827: Joseph began to make a copy of the characters on the plates.

February 1828: Martin Harris went to Harmony "and obtained a transcription and translation of characters from the plates. He took the two documents to `learned men' in Utica, Albany and New York City, where Samuel Latham Mitchill and Charles Anthon examined the texts." (Encyclopedia of Mormonisn 2:575.)

Anthon initially gave Martin Harris a certificate that the work was of Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac and Arabic writings, and "they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct." However, when Martin told him an angel had delivered the plates to Joseph Smith, Anthon took back the certificate and "tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels." The scholar told Martin that if he would "bring the plates to him he would translate them." When Martin informed him that part of the plates were sealed, Anthon replied, "I cannot read a sealed book," an utterance that fulfilled a prophecy in Isaiah 28:11-14. (JS-H 1:64-65.)

April 12-June 14, 1828: Martin Harris served as Joseph Smith's scribe, producing 116 pages of manuscript pages. Martin repeatedly asked to take the translated material home to show his family. Finally, permission was granted. Martin broke his covenant that he would show the manuscript to only certain people; the pages were stolen. "This loss caused Joseph inconsolable grief, for he thought that all his efforts to serve the Lord had been lost. He cried, `What shall I do?' I have sinned - it is I who tempted the wrath of God. I should have been satisfied with the first answer which I received from the Lord.' " (Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith

1958T, p. 128, as quoted in Our Heritage - A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1996, p. 8.)

"Joseph sincerely repented, and after a brief period when the plates and the Urim and Thummim were taken away, the Lord forgave him and he began translating once again. The Lord instructed him not to retranslate the lost material, which contained a secular history. . . . The Lord had forseen the loss of the 116 pages and inspired Nephi to prepare this second history." (Our Heritage, p. 8.)

April 7, 1829: Oliver Cowdery, a young schoolteacher, began serving as Joseph's scribe in the translation of the Book of Mormon. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism 2:335.)

June 1829: Because of increasing persecution, Joseph and Oliver left Harmony and completed the work of translation at the Peter Whitmer farm in Fayette, N.Y., during June 1829.

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