At the age of 17, in the year of 1823, Joseph Smith began praying in his bedroom asking to know of his “state and standing before him [God].” While praying his room began to light up in much the same way as the light that shown in his First Vision in the grove. Again, inside the light stood a personage standing in the air. The divine person introduced himself as Moroni, a messenger of God, come to deliver a message to the young Joseph.
Moroni told Joseph that the name “Joseph Smith” would one day be known among the entire world, all nations and languages recognizing it, for both good and bad. Many people would praise the name while many other would curse it.
In addition, the angelic messenger quoted many passages of scripture to Joseph, among which were Malachi chapters 4-5, Isaiah chapter 11, Acts 2:22-23, and Joel 2:28-32 [Note 1]. He told young Joseph that the prophecies in these passages of scripture were about to be fulfilled and the fulness of the Gentiles was commencing.
The divine personage described to Joseph the location of gold plates. Joseph later explains that “owing to the distinctness of the vision which I had had concerning it, I knew the place the instant that I arrived there.” Not only did the angel show the boy the location of the hidden plates, but he said him what the plates contained, explaining that it was a record of a civilization that lived on the American continent over one-thousand years ago. Towards the beginning this people split into two groups – Nephites and Lamanites – the first being a righteous people the second a wicked people. When it became apparent to the prophet at the time that this great civilization was about to be removed from the earth, he buried the records of the people so that the Lord could one day bring it back to the world. It was Moroni that did this act of burying the plates, the same Moroni teaching of this people to Joseph Smith.
One more thing Moroni told Joseph in this vision, which was a knowledge of what else is buried with the golden plates. Along with the plates was a breastplate, and attached to the breastplate were two interpreters – called the Urim and Thummim.
After Moroni finished telling Joseph of these things he departed from the bedroom and the dark of the night returned. However, just after the light diminished it came back again. And with the light was the angelic Moroni again. This divine messenger then repeated everything he had said in the vision before in exactness, adding a warning of great judgments, famine, pestilence and death by the sword during Joseph’s generation. The messenger then departed again.
A third time the light returned with the holy angel Moroni. This time repeating everything said before and adding another warning to Joseph Smith. This warning was of the temptations that Lucifer would use to tempt Joseph with concerning the plate he would receive. Because of the poor standings of Joseph’s family, the gold plates would become a great temptation for money for the family. The angel warned that if Joseph were to give in to this temptation he would be destroyed. The messenger of God then removed himself from the room for a third time that night. After this vision of Moroni, Joseph says that the rooster crowed, saying the morning had come and it was time to go out and work on the farm.
Not having slept in any degree the night before, Joseph was not working as well as he has and his father noticed this, telling him to go home and rest. Returning home, Joseph fell to the ground trying to climb over a fence and again the angel Moroni appeared, telling Joseph the same things as before and adding that Joseph should go tell his father of the visions.
Joseph Smith Sr. informed his son that he should listen to the directions of the angel and go to the place seen in the vision where the plates were said to be located. At this place that Moroni said to go, Joseph found the rock seen in the vision that was said to be hiding the plates and translators. When the plates were uncovered Moroni appeared again and taught Joseph that the time to take the plates would not be for another four years, but that he should meet at this spot in exactly one year every year until that time. And so, each year for four years Joseph came to the Hill Cumorah, the place with the plates, and received instruction from God’s messenger concerning the church and plates that Joseph would bring forth to the world. On September 22, 1827 Joseph was given the plates, translator and breast plate by Moroni.
Joseph said that Moroni, when quoting Malachi, said the words slightly different than recorded in the Old Testament. He said this scripture as follows:
For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.