Recorded by Mrs Watcher
Part two of this series, demonstrated and documented the fact that virtually all of the founding members of the New Organization which eventually became the RLDS church, testified that Joseph secretly taught and practiced polygamy.
This is significant because none of them followed Brigham Young and therefore none of them were under the spell of Brigham Young’s dominant and forceful personality and his intimidating leadership style.
Those who naively maintain that Joseph Smith was never involved in the spiritual polygamy usually claim or strongly imply that Brigham Young led a wide-ranging conspiracy to blame the spiritual wife practice on Joseph Smith. They believe that Brigham was able to intimidate the countless men and women in the Utah branch of the restoration to bare false witness about Joseph’s involvement in polygamy.
But that is simply not true. No amount of historical revisionism from any one faction can alter the truth.
People from all of the splinter groups knew that Joseph Smith was involved.
The men who laid the foundation for the New Organization that later became the RLDS Church were honest and honorable men who had too much integrity to perpetuate a lie about Joseph Smith.
Many of them served in the leading councils of the church and knew Joseph personally.
As fervent believers in the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the Gospel with desires of having the knowledge of the restored gospel going to all of the world, they would have wanted Joseph Smith to be well thought of by those investigating the latter day restoration and the life of Joseph Smith. It must have brought anguish to their souls to admit the truth.
If anything, they would have been tempted to unite with those perpetuating the grand lie about Joseph’s innocence, in an effort to protect Joseph’s reputation and further the work of the restored gospel.
They could have rationalized and compromised their personal integrity feeling that the end justifies the means. But they all had too much integrity to falsify the hard facts.
It left many of them in a quandary, wondering how the Lord could allow such a travesty.
But they were too noble to fabricate history, even for the sake of protecting the reputation of their beloved prophet.
In future episodes we are going to review the prophetic profile of Joseph Smith from ancient biblical texts however, we are going to make this transition using the inspired testimony of President William Marks because he identified an ancient prophecy in the Book of Mormon that provides a general prophetic template that all of the other ancient prophecies fit snuggly into. This prophecy reveals the grand secrets behind what really took place during the dark days of Nauvoo.
In my humble opinion, after studying LDS church history very intently for 31 years, I believe that men like William Marks, Sidney Rigdon, William Law, and Lyman Wight were among the most noble and valiant men of the restoration.
Each one of them testified that the church had gone into apostasy and that Joseph Smith had been involved in secret measures related to polygamy and a false mesonic temple endowment.
Brigham Young and other leaders of the restoration have done a remarkable job at destroying the reputations of these men simply because they rejected the leadership of Brigham Young.
The Character assassination that has taken place is remarkable.
William Marks is one of the few men that actually identified an ancient prophecy in the Book of Mormon that revealed that the restored latter day church of Christ had gone into a total and complete apostasy.
The warning given by the Lord in one of the first revelations that Joseph received was verily fulfilled.
“And now if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I WILL DELIVER THEM UP UNTO SATAN” (book of Commandments Chapter 5:19)
Most Latter day Saints refuse to believe that the restored church could sink into apostasy like the New Testament Church did.
Their religious world view prevents them from believing that God would turn His people over to Satan.
They find it even more astounding that God would actually use his Servant to turn them over to Satan.
Let us now parse through the two published testimonies of President William Marks in order to lay the foundation for the ancient prophecies in the Bible that we will itemize in a later episode.
Virtually everyone that knew this President William Marks loved and respected and trusted him as a man of integrity.
Apparently, the Lord thought highly of him as well, since Marks was called by revelation to be the Stake President in both Far West and Nauvoo.
William Mark’s first public testimony on the matter specifically stated that Joseph had confessed to him that he had been deceived about the doctrine of polygamy and wanted Marks to help stamp out the abomination:
“Joseph, however, became convinced before his death that he had done wrong; for about three weeks before his death, I met him one morning in the street, and he said to me, “Brother Marks, … we are a ruined people.” I asked, how so? He said: “This doctrine of polygamy, or Spiritual-wife system, that has been taught and practiced among us, will prove our destruction and overthrow.
I have been deceived,” said he, “in reference to its practice; it is wrong; it is a curse to mankind, and we shall have to leave the United States soon, unless it can be put down and its practice stopped in the church.”
That testimony is pretty revealing and shocking.
President Marks would not lie about such a thing.
However in this part of the series we will focus on the second published testimony of William Marks which leads us to an astounding prophecy contained in the allegory found in Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon. And it provides a profound prophetic context for Joseph’s involvement in the practice.
Few leaders of the church at the time of the Nauvoo controversy were as well versed in WORD OF GOD that the Lord had brought forth through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, as William Marks.
He was a scriptorium extraordinaire.
Years ago, a fundamentalist Mormon was able to sneak a controversial document out of the church historical library that the LDS Church had been concealing from public view.
The documents had previously “been unavailable “for public scrutiny” by order of those in high places at church headquarters.
It was the minutes of the trail of Sidney Rigdon which took place after the succession crisis in Nauvoo.
After President Rigdon and the Twelve apostles disagreed on the succession issue, the Twelve had charges of apostasy brought up against Rigdon and a church court was held to excommunicate him.
During the trail, Brigham Young and his associates of the Twelve that were present, testified against Rigdon along with others.
Although the Doctrine and Covenants requires half of the high council to defend the rights and dignity of the accused, nobody took up the defense of Rigdon except for President William Marks.
He valiantly stood up in behalf of Rigdon and began quoting passages from the Doctrine and Covenant demonstrating that when the fulness of the gospel is on the earth, the Twelve apostles are to be a traveling missionary quorum and did not have the authority to preside in a stake of Zion, nor did they have the right to assume the role of the First Presidency.
He further showed that Rigdon had been ordained to hold all of the keys that Joseph had held.
You can order a transcript of this trial online or read about it in the following series I did on the topic years ago.
This remarkable historical event which has been suppressed by the modern church demonstrates many truths about the succession controversy and it shows what a remarkable student of the scriptures Marks was.
Not only was Marks a scholar on the revelations Joseph Smith published in the Doctrine and Covenants, he also was a Book of Mormon scholar which brings us to this present topic.
You will recall from an earlier episode of this series that William Marks had been “troubled in mind about the condition of the church” after seeing the abominations taking place in Nauvoo and finding out that Joseph had been deceived about the spiritual wife abomination.
Here is his second published testimony:
About the first of June, 1844, (situated as I was at that time, being Presiding Elder of the Stake at Nauvoo, and by appointment the presiding officer of the High Council,) I had a very good opportunity to know the affairs of the church; and my convictions at that time were, that the church in a great measure had departed from the pure principles and doctrines of Jesus Christ.
I felt much troubled in mind about the condition of the church. I prayed earnestly to my heavenly Father to show me something in regard to it
when I was wrapped in vision, and it was shown me by the Spirit that the top or branches had overcome the root, in sin and wickedness, and the only way to cleanse and purify it was to disorganize it and in due time the Lord would reorganize it again.
This vision that President Marks had was received less than a month before the martyrdom of Joseph Smith.
In the vision Marks was shown that “the top or branches had overcome the root, in sin and wickedness”
The remarkable revelation the Lord gave to President Marks highlights the prophetic allegory in Jacob 5.
Although the general narrative of the allegory is obvious, there are cryptic parts of it that can be difficult to understand unless a person is steeped in scripture and has the spirit of prophecy as was the case with President Marks.
Very few people realize that the allegory prophetically details the apostasy of the latter day restored church.
Below are a few passages from the allegory.
Notice the similarities in wording demonstrating that the Lord was clearly referencing the allegory in the vision given to President Marks:
37 But behold, the wild branches have grown and have overrun the roots thereof; and because that the wild branches have overcome the roots thereof it hath brought forth much evil fruit; and because that it hath brought forth so much evil fruit thou beholdest that it beginneth to perish; and it will soon become ripened, that it may be cast into the fire, except we should do something for it to preserve it.
48 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good? And because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves. Behold, I say, is not this the cause that the trees of thy vineyard have become corrupted?
William Marks had declared-
“it was shown me by the Spirit that the top or branches had overcome the root, in sin and wickedness,
The allegory in Jacob 5 prophesies that both the leaders and the saints of the restored gospel would go into a complete apostasy!
This prophetic secret about the apostasy of the entire church is contained in the allegory and it is documented in a revelation that Joseph Smith received in December of 1834:
“Verily, condemnation resteth upon you, who are appointed to lead my Chu[r]ch, and to be saviors of men: and also upon the church: And there must needs be a repentance and a refor[m]ation among you, in all things..”
That revelation was given exactly 3 ½ years after the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood at the special conference at the Morley Farm.
When Christ visited the Nephites, he prophesied that the Latter day Saints would “sin against the fulness of the gospel“:
“Those who are not the First Elders”
The allegory reveals another grand secret about the latter day apostasy of the restored church as well.
It reveals that it was not the “roots” (Joseph and the “first elders” ) that overcame the “lofty branches” (those who were not the first elders)
Rather, it was (the lofty branches) that overcame the roots)
Modern revelation informs us that some of the leaders of the church were not classified among the “first elders” and “first laborers” of the church, such as the Twelve Apostles. These leaders are referred to as the “lofty branches” in the allegory.
Notice how section 88 instructs the “first laborers of the last kingdom” to tarry while “those who are not the first laborers” are to continue laboring in the mission field until they are called home.
70 Tarry ye, tarry ye in this place, and call a solemn assembly, even of those who are the first laborers in this last kingdom.
84 Therefore, tarry ye, and labor diligently, that you may be perfected in your ministry to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come;
85 That their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come. Verily, I say unto you, let those who are not the first elders continue in the vineyard until the mouth of the Lord shall call them, for their time is not yet come; their garments are not clean from the blood of this generation.
Clearly, section 88 was identifying people like Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery as the first laborers of the last kingdom. They represented the “roots” of the tree in the allegory.
The Lord was declaring that their garments had become clean from the blood of that generation.
Joseph and his brethren had become clean before the Lord in order to fulfill their mission as intercessory servants that would intervene between God and his apostate people.
Section 88 was promising Joseph and the other first laborers of the last kingdom that they would be called to go forth AGAIN at a later time, to bind up the law and prepare the saints for the hour of judgment.
The eventual return of God’s servants is also revealed in the allegory!
70 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few.
71 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.
Conversely, the Lord was referring to the Twelve Apostles as “those who were not the First Elders”
in section 88.
A primary distinction between those who were the first laborers and those who were not the first laborers is that those who were not the first laborers, were not clean for the blood of that generation.
They were to continue in the vineyard, in their unclean condition, until the mouth of the Lord should call them home.
Section 112 would declare that this quorum of apostles were not yet CONVERTED and yet their stewardship was to publish the gospel!
In that revelation the Lord informs Present Marsh that his brethren of the Twelve need to be admonished for their sins and that after their temptations and much tribulation they would eventually be CONVERTED if they do not harden their hearts.:
12 ..pray for thy brethren of the Twelve. Admonish them sharply for my name’s sake, and let them be admonished for all their sins, and be ye faithful before me unto my name.
13 And after their temptations, and much tribulation, behold, I, the Lord, will feel after them, and if they harden not their hearts, and stiffen not their necks against me, they shall be converted, and I will heal them.
In this revelation the Lord declares that the WHOLE EARTH IS COVERED IN DARKNESS and that ALL FLESH HAVE BECOME CORRUPT:
23 Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face.
24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.
25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.
Clearly the apostasy of the entire church is documented once again by the fact that the “all flesh” had become corrupt before the Lord’s face and that darkness covered the minds of all people. It is remarkable that shortly after God had declared the first laborers to be clean from the blood of that generation, now all flesh had become corrupt, and the Lord was allowing those that were not the first laborers to continue in take the message of the gospel to the world even in their darkened state.
It is remarkable that the Lord continued to labor with the condemned saints.
It is remarkable that he continued to labor with the quorum of the Twelve and allow them to continue laboring in the vineyard even though they were not yet converted or clean form the sins of that generation.
A second wave of missionary work would begin within a few years after that revelation was given.
The Lord would send this unclean and unconverted quorum of missionaries across the great waters to “promulgate” the fulness of the gospel contained in the word of God that had come forth through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith.
4..let them depart to go over the great waters, and there promulgate my gospel, the fulness thereof, and bear record of my name. (Section 118)
Finally, during the Nauvoo period, the condemned church would be rejected as a church with their dead.
The Lord had shown William Marks in vision that the restored church of Christ would go into a complete apostasy and that the lofty branches would overcome the roots.
Marks was not the only one to declare the church to be in complete state of apostasy.
Lyman Wight, the very first Elder to be called to the Melchizedek priesthood also declared that the latter day saints had been rejected as a church:
“… We were to have a sufficient time to build that house, during which time our baptisms for our dead should be acceptable in the river. If we did not build within this time we were to be rejected as a church, we and our dead together.
Both the temple and baptizing went very leisurely, till the temple was somewhere in building the second story, when Bro. Joseph from the stand announced the alarming declaration that baptism for our dead was no longer acceptable in the river. As much to say the time for building the temple had passed by, and both we and our dead were rejected together..
“The church now stands rejected together with their dead. The church being rejected now stands alienated from her God in every sense of the word.”
Lyman Wight was referring to the warning the Lord had given in section 124:
31 But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me.
32 But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.
Here is what Joseph Smith declared to the saints that was being referenced in the testimony of Lyman Wight:
“There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the font of the Lord’s House; and the church shall not hold another general conference, until they can meet in said house. For thus saith the Lord!”
The fact that the saints were not allowed to have a general conference as a church until they repent and complete the house of the Lord speaks volumes about the severity of the situation. That is just one more way of saying that the saints were in the process of being rejected as a church.
They were on probation.
But the House of the Lord being referenced in the revelation was never completed.
Lyman Wight’s synopsis of the Nauvoo apostasy agrees with the vision that the Lord gave to President Marks about the allegory in Jacob 5.
Much more is revealed in the allegory in Jacob.
The reason I find the testimony of President Marks and the prophetic implications in the allegory so remarkable is because Jacob 5 provides a wider view of the historical narrative than many of the other ancient prophecies that provide the prophetic profile of Joseph Smith and the latter-day apostasy.
Here are four main things revealed in the allegory
FIRST: The church was totally overcome. Both leaders and the members had all been overcome!
This is consistent with the revelation that Joseph had received exactly 3 ½ half years after the Melchizedek priesthood had been restored at the Morley Farm when the Lord pronounced both leaders and members to be under condemnation:
SECOND: It was actually those of the “lofty branches” that had overcome the foundational “root” or priesthood leaders, of the restored church, such as Joseph Smith.
This is consistent with Isaiah 27:4-5 as contained in the inspired version of the Bible and the Book of Mormon which reveals that the prophets and seers of the restoration had had their spiritual gifts “covered” because of the iniquity of the saints and those who were not the first laborers of the kingdom:
4 For behold, all ye that doeth iniquity, stay yourselves and wonder, for ye shall cry out, and cry; yea, ye shall be drunken but not with wine, ye shall stagger but not with strong drink.
5 For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.
The provocative and remarkable prophetic storyline of the latter day restoration not only reveals that the entire church backslid into apostasy, it also reveals that it was caused by the lofty branches rather than the roots.
This should cause great pause to all of those who are throwing stones at Joseph Smith.
Although he did participate in the abominable practice of spiritual polygamy, prophecy reveals that his involvement was caused by the iniquity of the “lofty branches” who were not the first laborers of the last kingdom.
His eyes and spiritual gifts had become covered as a result of the overall rejections of God’s laws by the lofty branches.
THIRD: Once the saints failed to live the law of the Gospel during the Kirtland Era and began to sink into the apostacy that culminated in the dark days of Nauvoo and the Martyrdom, the allegory informs us that an intercession was provided that prevented the Lord from casting the saints into the fire. The Lord and His servant visited the vineyard to intervene:
49 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Let us go to and hew down the trees of the vineyard and cast them into the fire, that they shall not cumber the ground of my vineyard, for I have done all. What could I have done more for my vineyard?
50 But, behold, the servant said unto the Lord of the vineyard: Spare it a little longer.
51 And the Lord said: Yea, I will spare it a little longer, for it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard
This remarkable intervention by God’s servant in behalf of apostate latter day Israel is documented in other ancient prophecies which will be covered later.
FOURTH: The prophetic allegory reveals that the Lord of the Vineyard and His Servant return into the vineyard three separate and distinct times prior to when the Lord sends His Servant with other servants at the “LAST TIME” to nourish the vineyard.. (this is consistent with JST Luke 12:41)
At that final time the lofty top branches would no longer overcome the root. Rather, the top and the root would be EQUAL. Zion will be established!
73 “..and they did keep the root and the top thereof equal, according to the strength thereof.”
Notice how the phrase “let us go down” shows up in three historical events before the Lord’s servants go forth for the final time to labor with all of their might
First Let Us Go Down
Second Let Us Go Down
Third Let Us Go Down
The Servant is Sent..
15 And it came to pass that a long time passed away, and the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Come, let us go down into the vineyard, that we may labor in the vineyard.
16 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard, and also the servant, went down into the vineyard to labor.
19 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Come, let us go to the nethermost part of the vineyard, and behold if the natural branches of the tree have not brought forth much fruit also, that I may lay up of the fruit thereof against the season, unto mine own self.
29 And it came to pass that a long time had passed away, and the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Come, let us go down into the vineyard, that we may labor again in the vineyard. For behold, the time draweth near, and the end soon cometh; wherefore, I must lay up fruit against the season, unto mine own self.
70 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few.
71 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand,
At the time that the servants go forth for the final time to nourish the vineyard, the bad is cast away out of the vineyard and the root and top branches are made equal.
Zion is established and the Lord of the vineyard preserved unto himself the natural fruit:
71 ..and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ..
72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.
73 And there began to be the natural fruit again in the vineyard; and the natural branches began to grow and thrive exceedingly; and the wild branches began to be plucked off and to be cast away; and they did keep the root and the top thereof equal, according to the strength thereof.
74 And thus they labored, with all diligence, according to the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard, even until the bad had been cast away out of the vineyard, and the Lord had preserved unto himself that the trees had become again the natural fruit; and they became like unto one body; and the fruits were equal;
The revelation that Marks received from the Lord about the branches overcoming the root is remarkable because it provides interpretive keys by which we can better understand the cryptic allegory in the book of Jacob. It tells us when the allegory addresses the restoration saints. It provides clarity as to how the apostasy and eventual redemption of God’s people takes place.
I mentioned in a previous episode that few if any of the folks who are now declaring Joseph Smith’s innocence regarding polygamy have actually done the deep research they draw from.
Most of the research these various authors draw upon is borrowed from the work done by Richard and Pamela Price, the authors of “Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy“.
Years ago when I was studying this topic and reading the work that Richard and Pamela did, I noticed something quite disturbing in their book so I contacted Pamela Price by email on September 7th 2012.
In the email I asked Pamela why she omitted the first published testimony of President Marks wherein he rehearsed Joseph Smith’s confession about being deceived.
I further asked why she only published part of his second testimony and opted to omit the part declaring what the Lord had shown him in vision about the branches over-coming the root.
By so doing, the reader is misled into thinking that President Marks was pointing to Joseph Smith’s innocence instead of his involvement in polygamy.
Sadly, Pamela did not respond to my question. To my knowledge she refused to correct the misdirection that she provides in the book.
The allegory in the Book of Mormon provides a general prophetic template dealing with the apostasy and redemption of latter day Israel. It verifies that Joseph Smith did commit iniquity and practice a form of spiritual wife polygamy. Yet it and corresponding prophecies assure us that Joseph and others of the first laborers of the last kingdom will return to complete their assignments. As we dig deeper into the biblical profile of Joseph Smith it becomes apparent that he was more of a victim than a perpetrator. In his role as an intercessor the sins of apostate Israel were place upon his head for him to act out. The real problem was that latter day Israel had rejected the laws of God that Joseph was instrumental in bringing forth.
In the next episode we will itemize and summarize the many ancient biblical prophecies about Joseph Smith’s intercession and transgression which corresponds with the prophetic declarations in the allegory in the Book of Mormon.
Some people have suggested that we just cannot know the truth about Joseph Smith and polygamy.
The Lord has revealed this mystery in prophecy.
Some people have suggested that it doesn’t really matter whether or not Joseph was involved in polygamy as long as we realize that polygamy is contrary to the law of God and is not a celestial practice.
There is much more at stake here than simply trying to protect a person’s reputation and engaging in prophet worship. We are talking about understanding end times prophecy and how God’s final work will unfold.
Those that don’t understand the true history of the church, and acknowledge the complete apostasy of the restored church, and understand the prophecies about the end times, risk being deceived when the true servants return.
We have been commanded to be found watching and waiting for the return of our Lord. How can we do that without being deceived if we don’t have the spirit of prophecy and cannot understand prophecy?
If you are part of a fringe group that has adopted the belief that Joseph Smith was innocent of practicing a form of spiritual wife polygamy, you are participating in a cult that is void of revelation.