It wasn’t exactly a last minute decision. Yet while many plan these events months or years in advance, we scheduled our Church history tour only weeks before it commenced. You can read about that delightful opportunity in another article.
The significance of this experience relative to this piece is that our guide at the time (Anthony Sweat) painted a picture of Joseph and Hyrum translating the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. He actually gave us a post card during our tour depicting this event. So as I was browsing through Facebook recently, I saw a video about the translation of the Book of Mormon. Others have described various opinions about this artistic interpretation. For me, he captured the significance of Joseph’s total reliance on God. I don’t know exactly how the Urim and Thummin were used, but I feel good about the fact that the translation was not accomplished due to Joseph’s literary mastery or keen ability to view and interpret the Egyptian characters. The hat to me is evidence of that fact. He relied totally on the gift and power of God to translate. Also notice this rendition depicts the plates covered in a cloth, such that Joseph wasn’t necessarily looking at the characters on the plates and couldn’t even see them. He was 100% reliant on God for the translation.
Evidence of the translation of the Book of Mormon notwithstanding, its truthfulness is secured not by data and facts. A testimony of the Book of Mormon is obtained by reading the book and asking God sincerely for confirmation that it is true.
We have all heard that upon returning from a break during translation, Joseph did not ask the scribe to read back the last sentence before continuing. He simply carried on where he left off. This is a 500+ page book with multiple characters, stories, history, facts, and testimonies of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, at the time, he was unable to remain in one location or focus exclusively on the translation. Lost manuscript, multiple scribes, family challenges, and general uproar in an already chaotic period of time were evident and real issues he had to deal with. Yet he completed the translation between April and June 1829. That’s right. Historians (both in and out of the Church) agree that it took approximately 65 days to translate the book once Joseph Smith and his scribe Oliver Cowdery began the narrated translation. There were no computers or accomplished editors or even a formal education or in-depth knowledge of scholarly texts.
How did he do it in just 65 days? He relied wholly on God. This divine intervention in human affairs is a miracle.
“No other person with such limited education and facility as Joseph has single-handedly translated in such a short period of time from ancient writings over five hundred pages of scriptural text. That translation now has seventy-three million books in distribution.
Joseph’s translation of this ancient, sacred scripture has withstood the scrutiny of many skeptics. The Book of Mormon stands as a miraculous work for the world to examine. This divine spark from heaven, over 165 years ago, has ignited a flame that is dawning a new day. No wonder ‘the Spirit of God like a fire is burning!'” (Robert K. Dellenbach, “The Translation Miracle of the Book of Mormon,” April 1995).
We too are 100% reliant on God, whether we are willing to admit it or not.
Like Joseph, we too have obstacles to overcome that stretch our abilities and tasks that seem overwhelming at the time. Yet our promise is that we are not alone, but have God’s help and direction in our lives.
We too can be 100% dependent on God… Can you last for 65 days? You can do it. I know you can.
Are you willing to try it with me?
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.