Why I Believe in Angels

The angel Moroni delivers the golden plates to Joseph Smith

The angel Moroni delivers the golden plates to Joseph Smith

I believe in angels because I know that the Book of Mormon was translated into English by the gift and power of God. Visits from an angelic messenger are central to the story of its translation. An angel entrusted an ancient book to a young man named Joseph Smith. God gave Joseph Smith, an unschooled farm boy, the power to translate the ancient book. I believe this amazing story with all of my soul.

A Time Capsule of Sorts. The original text of Book of Mormon was written more than 16 centuries ago on thin plates of gold, which were bound together with three metal rings. A man named Moroni, who lived at that time, completed the book, most of which had been written by his father, a Christian prophet named Mormon. Moroni, who was also a Christian, placed the completed book into a stone box, a time capsule of sorts, to be opened centuries after his death.

Repeated Angelic Visitations. That stone box was opened almost two hundred years ago. On September 21, 1823, a heavenly messenger, an angel, told an eighteen-year-old young man named Joseph Smith about the ancient golden book. This messenger was the same Moroni who had, centuries earlier, during his mortal life, deposited the book in the stone box. Now, as a messenger sent from God, Moroni visited Joseph three different times during the night, and then once more in broad daylight the next morning. During these visits, Joseph was shown a vision in which he could clearly see where the stone box was located. The lid of the stone box now appeared to be a large, inconsequential stone half covered in earth near the crest of a hill that was not far from Joseph’s home.

After Joseph’s fourth encounter with Moroni, Joseph related to his father the unusual account of having been visited repeatedly by an angel. Joseph’s father believed Joseph and instructed him to do as the angel had requested. Accordingly, Joseph walked to the hill he had seen in vision and, because of the distinct nature of the vision, went directly to the place where the lid of the stone box was partially exposed above the ground. Joseph cleared the earth from the edges of this stone lid and then used a lever to pry it off the top of the stone box. Inside, just as the messenger had promised, lay the ancient golden plates.

A model of the golden plates, made by Steven Pratt. See Kirk B. Henrichsen, "What did the Golden Plates Look Like?" New Era, July 2007.

A model of the golden plates, made by Steven Pratt. See Kirk B. Henrichsen, “What did the Golden Plates Look Like?” New Era, July 2007.

The angel had told Joseph that this ancient book contained the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which had been delivered by Jesus Christ to the ancient inhabitants of the American continent. However, eighteen-year-old Joseph wasn’t yet allowed to receive the ancient record. There on the hill, the angel appeared a fifth time. He told Joseph that he would not receive this ancient record at that time and invited him to prepare to return to the hill one year later. Accordingly Joseph came to the hill the next September. There, the angel taught him, but again told him to wait another year. This happened three times with Joseph leaving the hill each time without the golden plates. Prior to the final visit, on January 18, 1827, Joseph had married Emma Hale. Just eight months after their wedding day, the angel finally entrusted the sacred ancient plates into the hands of Joseph Smith and charged him to translate them by the gift and power of God.

Translation of an Ancient Record. The young couple faced increasing persecution as the story of the angel and the gold plates spread around the vicinity. Consequently, the young couple soon sought refuge from the increasing abuse by moving to northern Pennsylvania, near Emma’s family. In Pennsylvania, with the assistance of several different scribes, Joseph Smith began to translate the ancient, sacred record by the gift and power of God. In Pennsylvania, persecution eventually increased again to an intolerable level, so the young couple moved once more during the translation effort, this time to live with friends in Fayette, New York. There, in a small log cabin owned by a farmer named Peter Whitmer, Joseph finished translating the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon

The Angel Appears Again. Soon after Joseph finished the work of translation, during the summer of 1829, Moroni appeared at least three more times. Joseph was present when Moroni showed the golden plates to two men, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, and then, later the same day, to a third man, Martin Harris. Soon after this experience, the angel came again to Joseph. This time, the heavenly messenger called for the plates, and Joseph returned them to him. Several months later, the translated work was published to the world as the Book of Mormon. Each copy of this book contains not only Joseph’s account of receiving the plates from the angel, but also the testimony of these other three men, which says, “we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bare record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things.”

I Believe in Angels. I have read the Book of Mormon and the Holy Spirit has witnessed to my spirit that it, like the Holy Bible, contains God’s word. Consequently, I know there are angels. The existence of angels is clear, of course, from the words in the Bible. Similarly, the words of the Book of Mormon make it clear that angels can and do appear to mankind. Angelic visitations, however, are not confined to ancient times. In 1823, an angel from heaven introduced Joseph Smith to an ancient record. Over the course of six years, this angel came to Joseph Smith at least a dozen times. I have read the book that was translated from the ancient record that Joseph Smith received from this angel. I have prayed about the book and God has told me it is true. I believe firmly in angels.

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