LDS Prophecies and Revelations, Part I
No one on earth has more authority in Mormonism than the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a prophet, seer, revelator, translator, and Trustee-in-Trust of the LDS Church. LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said, “He is the one man on earth at a time who can both hold and exercise the keys of the kingdom in their fullness” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 592, see D. & C. 132:7). LDS believe the President of their Church is a prophet to whom God reveals His will for mankind as well as future events, therefore, they have information that no one else on earth has. LDS gatherings often sing, “We thank thee O God for a prophet to guide us in these latter days.” LDS use Amos 3:7 to support their claim that their Prophet knows the future. It says, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants, the prophets.” But the context of that verse shows that God told Israel that He would not punish them without warning them first. God never promised to reveal everything He was going to do to prophets, and history shows God did not reveal to prophets all future events for Israel and He has not done it for LDS either.
LDS history reveals that their Prophets either didn’t know what God was going to do, or if they did know they didn’t tell anyone, so the result was just the same. For example, Mormons celebrated the 150th anniversary of the 1856 LDS handcart trek from Iowa City, Iowa to Salt Lake City. But was it the great success their celebration seemed to indicate? In 1856 the last two handcart companies to leave Iowa City were led by James G. Willie and Edward Martin respectively. Willie’s group left on July 15 and Martin’s on July 28 because their handcarts and tents weren’t ready until then. Mormon Prophet Brigham Young said, “The (hand) carts can be made without a particle of iron” (Handcarts to Zion, pp. 29-30). Mormon Apostle Franklin D. Richards who oversaw the handcart project said, “The (handcart) plan is the device of inspiration, and the Lord will own and bless it” (ibid. p.32). But the handcarts were poorly built and without iron in the axels the wood wore out so fast the pioneers had to stop often to repair them. Such delays caused “the greatest single tragedy in the history of the nation’s move west in the nineteenth century” (Forgotten Kingdom, by David L. Bigler, p. 118). Willies and Martin’s companies arrived in the high altitude of Wyoming so late in the year that they were caught in terrible snowstorms and freezing weather. Many of the pioneers froze or starved to death while others died of exhaustion. B. H. Roberts, a respected Mormon historian said, “One of the chief contributing causes to the handcart disaster was the frailness of these carts, and the unfitness of the material put into them. They were hurriedly made of unseasoned timber, and so much was sacrificed to lightness that the necessary strength and durability was impossible…the wheels were devoid of iron except in some of them there was a very light iron tire. The whole weight of a cart was about sixty pounds (A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pp. 95-96). Roberts said, “The exact number of those who perished in this (Martin’s) company is not of record in our official annals…the estimate of Chislett and Jacques—putting their estimate at 145--is perhaps not far from the facts. And these added to Willie’s seventy-seven deaths, brings the total of deaths to 222. The number who were frost-bitten was also large, and some were crippled for life” (pp. 101-102).
The same day that the Mormon Church was organized their scripture commanded them to keep records (D. & C. 21:1). Mormons probably have more records than almost any other organization. So, why doesn’t the LDS Church have records of those who died or even how many died in the Willie and Martin handcart companies of 1856? Some think that LDS leaders kept that information from being made public because they didn’t want potential converts to know how bad the tragedy was, or they might conclude that Mormonism was not led by a true Prophet of God. Why were the handcarts built so quickly out of poor material that they often broke down? What was the urgency in 1856 to get those handcart companies to Salt Lake that year? It was not persecution as the June 2006 issue of the LDS Ensign magazine says on p. 78: “This influx of Mormon settlers (to Iowa City), who had faced persecution elsewhere, found a safe harbor in Iowa City where, Mr. Horton says, members of other denominations often helped the Saints build handcarts and prepare for their journey.” If persecution wasn’t what caused the handcart companies to risk traveling so late in the year, what was it? It was the prophetic warning by LDS leaders that the Lord was coming soon to judge the nations and the only safe haven was in Zion (Utah). That message combined with the Prophet Joseph Smith’s “revelation” concerning gathering the LDS to one place (see D. & C. 29) was what motivated Mormons to try to get to Utah as fast as possible. One thing is obvious; having a Prophet as the head of the Mormon Church in 1856 didn’t help those LDS handcart pioneers who lost their lives trying to obey him. In this example of the 1856 LDS handcart trip from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, the LDS travelers were led by instructions from LDS prophet Brigham Young, LDS Apostle Franklin D. Richards, and other LDS leaders as well as the Prophet Joseph Smith’s teachings on gathering to one place for safety. Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said, “Members of the First Presidency (LDS President & his 2 Counselors) and Council of the Twelve (Apostles), are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators to the (LDS) Church (Mormon Doctrine, p. 606). That is why those LDS pioneers trusted what their leaders told them.
How can a person tell whether someone claiming to be a prophet really is a prophet? Obviously, if he predicts things that don’t happen, he is not a true prophet. In the Bible God told Israel, “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not harken unto the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams …And that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death (Deut. 13:1-3, 5). That was the penalty under the Old Testament. LDS founder and first prophet, Joseph Smith said, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens…We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil so that you may see” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.345).So, Joseph Smith taught a different god than the God that Israel and Christians believe in, which makes him a false prophet. Deut. 18:22 also says, “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken. ”That means that anyone who makes a false prediction is a false prophet. Many men in recent years have claimed to be prophets, but LDS only accept their Presidents as prophets. We will discuss more LDS prophecies and revelations next month.