“Heavenly Father had His eye on the Joseph Smith family from the beginning of time,” Elder M. Russell Ballard told students, teachers, and others in attendance at the Joseph Smith Memorial Fireside at the Logan Utah Institute of Religion on Sunday, February 13. The institute is located adjacent to Utah State University.
“When we hear the name ‘Joseph,’ we see God’s hand weaving together a tapestry of prophets and dispensations, preparing the world time after time for the restoration of the gospel after periods of apostasy,” Elder Ballard said. Bearing testimony of the Restoration of the gospel is one of the major responsibilities of today’s prophets and apostles.
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Elder Ballard said, “Our Father in Heaven not only foreordained Joseph Smith, but He also provided him schooling and tutoring to help him fulfill his earthly mission to restore the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth. Adam, Noah, Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni were among those sent to prepare and instruct Joseph in his responsibilities as a prophet of God.”
Prophecies about Joseph
Elder Ballard traced what he called a “tapestry of leadership and faith” that included Joseph of Egypt and Joseph the son of Lehi, a descendent of Joseph of Egypt, who received a blessing from his father prophesying of a latter-day Joseph. (See 2 Nephi 3:3–15.)
“From this prophecy of 570 years B.C.,” Elder Ballard said, “we learn that in the last days a seer named Joseph would be raised up like unto Joseph who was sold into Egypt. This seer's father would also be named Joseph. The Joseph Smith Sr. family was known to God in the premortal world.”
Additional Talks about Joseph and Hyrum
Elder Ballard, who is a descendent of Joseph Smith’s older brother, Hyrum, has often spoken about the Prophet Joseph Smith. “I, of course, am very humble to have such noble and faithful pioneer forefathers,” Elder Ballard said at the fireside. “When I contemplate the believing blood that flows through the veins of my family, I realize that we have a great responsibility to do all that we can to bring God’s children to a knowledge of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Here are two talks Elder Ballard has given about the Prophet Joseph and his older brother, Hyrum:
- “Brothers Bound by Faith and Love,” Ensign, September 1994
- “The Legacy of Hyrum,” Ensign, September 1994
Preparing the Way
After the death of Jesus Christ, the world was Influenced by Satan, lost the truth, and fell into years of darkness. Elder Ballard described how Christian martyrs prepared the way for the Restoration. He encouraged those listening to consider the price paid by others to establish the freedom of religion essential for Joseph Smith to come to earth to fulfill his mission. “Think of the hundreds, perhaps even thousands, who were protestors of Christendom during the dark ages of the Great Apostasy. Many gave their lives for the right of all people to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience,” he said, telling the stories of John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, Ann Askew, William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, and Bishop Ridley, martyrs who gave their lives in the struggle to bring the Bible to the people, and who worked to correct the religious errors of their day.
“These are but a few of the many accounts of people who gave their lives to bring to the world the scriptures and religious freedom,” Elder Ballard said. “What reverence we should have for these heroes who sacrificed their all in preparing the way for the Restoration of the gospel.”
Weaving Families Together
He then told of another reformer, John Lathrop, who taught that the Bible should be available to the common people. Released from prison, he came to America with many of his followers, including ancestors of Lucy Mack, who became the wife of Joseph Smith Sr. “With the marriage of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack, the Lord wove together the believing blood of the Smiths and the believing blood of the Macks,” Elder Ballard said. “Their firstborn son was Alvin. The second son was Hyrum. And their third son, born on December 23, 1805, was named Joseph, after his father, whose name was Joseph. Thus the Book of Mormon prophecy of 570 B.C. was fulfilled.”
Elder Ballard then told how the Smith family came to settle in upstate New York, how religious instruction in his family and religious fervor in the region led Joseph
Smith to pray, and how God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to the 14-year-old boy.
Grateful for Their Faith
“Our Eternal Father and His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ visited him and prepared him for his foreordained mission to be the prophet and seer of this last dispensation to restore the fulness of the doctrines and gospel of Christ,” Elder Ballard said. “One of the remarkable things that every Latter-day Saint needs to be grateful for is the believing blood that flowed in the veins of the Smith family. Without their believing blood just think what would have happened.“ He told how Joseph’s parents believed him and told him to do all that the Lord asked.
He then talked about the growth of the Church since the days of Joseph Smith, and how Joseph Smith foresaw that growth even when the Restoration was in its early days, and prophesied that it would someday fill the world.
“Can you see the hand of God working from the very beginning to prepare for the Restoration of the gospel through this tapestry of faith woven through the generations of time?” Elder Ballard asked.
“I hope that not one of you would ever question that the Prophet Joseph Smith was foreordained to the great work he was called to do,” Elder Ballard said. “Knowing what we know about the past history of faith and sacrifice through the generations of brave and courageous sons and daughters of God, we are duty bound to learn all we can about the doctrine and gospel of Christ. And we are bound by covenant to share what we know to be true at all times and in all places,” he said.
Measure Your Love for the Lord
In addition to his message about Joseph Smith, Elder Ballard gave students some suggestions about measuring their personal love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1. Are you actively seeking your eternal companion?
- 2. Are you saying your prayers every day?
- 3. Are you honest in all that you do and say?
- 4. Do you completely avoid pornography of any kind?
- 5. Are your thoughts, actions, and language clean?
- 6. Are you a full tithe payer?
- 7. Are you striving to live the Word of Wisdom?
- 8. Do you love your neighbor as yourself?
- 9. Are you studying the scriptures and doing all that you can to strengthen your knowledge of and faith in Christ?
- 10. Are you honoring your baptismal covenants?
- 11. Are you worthy of a temple recommend?
- 12. Is the Holy Ghost guiding your life?
- 13. Is there anything you need to repent of?
- 14. Are you returned missionaries maintaining the dignity of a faithful priesthood bearer?
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