The Inter-relatedness of History and Prophecy
One of the profound things I have discovered over the last few decades is that LDS church history cannot fully be understood and appreciated without an understanding of ancient prophecy.
Conversely, many of the dark, cryptic prophecies in ancient scripture cannot fully be understood or appreciated without the context of the historical events in which the prophecy was fulfilled many years later.
Joseph Smith’s ministry represented a convergence of the fulfillment of ancient prophecy which took place during these historic events.
Prophecy and history provide an amazing intersection that is not easy to see at first but once your eyes begin to open, prophetic fulfillment begins to pop out with increasing rapidity.
Prophetic Patriarchal Blessings
In this post I want to suggest that contemporary prophecies that were given during Joseph Smith’s ministry also play an important role in understanding the true context of the history being recorded.
These contemporary prophecies of the time are not limited to the canonized revelations that Joseph Smith received.
There are some notable prophecies in some of the patriarchal blessings that were given during Joseph’s ministry.
We normally think of prophecy within patriarchal blessings being limited to the final events of the end times, such as the sealing of the 144,000 and the events associated with the coming of Christ in glory. However, there are instances where prophetic utterances were made regarding things that would happen in that very generation.
Who is Worthy to Receive Revelation?
One commenter astutely pointed out that Joseph Smith Sr. had a lifelong struggle with alcohol which the sanitized orthodox history greatly downplays.
It appears that he was somewhat of a winebibber like Noah.
I responded that I find the drinking problem of Father Smith to be faith-promoting because it encourages me to be more understanding and compassionate with my own shortcomings and with those of other people.
We all struggle in the flesh.
Some of us are better at hiding our shortcomings than others but all of us are a piece of work that is in progress as we anxiously await the true and full baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.
Our sanitized version of the gospel teaches the spirit cannot work through anyone that is sinning in any way and therefore does not have a clean vessel that the Holy Ghost can work through.
The truth is that we are all sinners and that God can and does work through anyone he wants to.
A Prophecy Given to Robert D. Foster
In the last post I noted the remarkable prophecy in the patriarchal blessing of Robert Foster wherein he was told that he had a calling to expose the error of certain people which would result in rage and persecution:
“..thy enemies will rage, and persecute thee, and foam out their own Shame, and Shall See the error of their ways, and be constrained, to acknowledge their error, and thy truth, the Lord has a great work for thee,
I further noted that just four years after that remarkable prophecy in the blessing, Robert D. Foster and several of his close associates published and expose on the secret affairs of Joseph Smith with regard to the so-called “spiritual wife doctrine“. Other complaints were issued as well, including the false doctrine that God the Father had once been a man, etc.
In my opinion this demonstrates just how full of the Holy Ghost Father Smith was when giving patriarchal blessings.
Following that post, I thought I would peruse the Josephsmithprojects project to find additional historical context for this astonishing fulfillment of prophecy that took place.
I wanted to see if there was any interesting documentation that would allow us to gaze into the heart of Brother Foster and see if he was grounded in the true gospel of Christ and fully committed to the restoration of biblical Christianity prior to his falling out with Joseph Smith.
I was able to find some really good information.
I found a letter from Robert D. Foster dated December 24 1839 which does indeed reveal much about this man and his dedication to the New Testament gospel of Christ and his passion as a missionary for the restored gospel. I encourage you to read it at the link. Above.
I was also curious to find additional information about his initial relationship with Joseph Smith prior to the publishing of the Expositor and the falling out that took place just prior to it.
One of the interesting documents I found is a letter from Joseph Smith to Robert Foster dated March 11 1840 showing an affectionate and friendly relationship between the two.
Finally, as I searched for any written documents showing that Foster had indeed suffered any rage and persecution as a result of his joint expose of Joseph Smith and his secret inner circle, with his fellow whistle blowers.
I found the following letter from Robert D. Foster to Joseph Smith dated June 7 1844. That is the very date that the Nauvoo Expositor was published.
The letter constitutes a response from Foster to Smith regarding the failed negotiations to try and intimidate Foster into leaving Nauvoo.
The letter validates the testimony contained in the expose, stating that Foster and his brethren had labored with Joseph Smith in trying to get him to renounce what he had been doing so that a public expose could be avoided.
According to some sources Joseph felt that a public confession of wrongdoing would result in reversable damage to the work and therefore refused to do it.
Joseph had sent Dimick Huntington to negotiate Foster’s expulsion from the city and Joseph was trying to get the founders of the Expositor to meet with him and his brethren in a last ditch effort to resolve things without publicly exposing what Joseph and his inner group had been doing and teaching.
The letter reveals that persecution towards Robert Foster and his brethren did in fact begin to take place even before the publication was set out.
June 7th 1844
To Genl J Smith
Sir I have consulted my friend<s> in relation to your proposals of settlement, and they as well as myself are of the opinion that your Conduct and that of your unworthy, unprincipled, Clan is so base that it would be morally wrong & detract from the dignity of gentlemen to hold any Conference with you, the repeated insults, and abuses, I as well as my friends have suffered from your unlawful cou[r]se toward us demands honorable resentment we are resolved to make this our motto nothing on our part has been done to provoke your anger but have done all things as become men.
You have trampled upon every thing we hold dear and sacred, you have set all [law] at defiance and profaned the name of [the] most high to carry out your Damnable purposes— and I have nothing more to fear from you than you have already threatened and I as well as my friends will stay here and maintain and magnify the law as long as we stay— and we are resolved never to leave until we sell or exchange our property that we have here, the proposals made by your agent Dimic[k B.] Huntington as well as the threats you sent to intimidate me I disdain and despise as I do their unhallowed Author the right of my family & my friends demands at my hand a refusal of all your offers, we are united in virtue and truth and we set hell at defiance and all her agents
Editorial Note: For those who may have happened upon this blog for the first time, this post is not a good place to begin your journey.
please do not assume that Joseph Smith was a false prophet or even a fallen prophet in the traditional sense of the terms.
Joseph was a victim of his own prophetic calling. He was an intercessory prophet who was suffering from the sins of the very people he had been sent to warn. Latter day Israel had rejected the fulness and Joseph Smith largely became a scapegoat. Everything he did had been prophesied about in the Old Testament. Please read this article for greater prophetic and historical context to the above topic.