RS/MP Joseph Smith Lesson 45: “Joseph Smith’s Feelings about His Prophetic Mission” (Joseph Smith Manual)

This lesson is a wonderful collection of some of Joseph’s most revealing “autobiographical” statements. I’ll simply take up each section in turn, offering reflections.

From the Life of Joseph Smith

I think the introductory part of the lesson, this time around, is quite helpful. It nicely sets up the situation in which Joseph began to talk so much about his prophetic calling. Opening with Joseph’s 1842 statement that had “now accomplished those things [the things he was assigned to accomplish," making him "as liable to die as other men," the introduction then goes on to spell out the increasing danger in Nauvoo at the time, culminating with Joseph's Rocky Mountain prophecy (a prophecy historians---perhaps needlessly---have doubted should be attributed to Joseph Smith).

This increasingly tense situation in Nauvoo, the lesson points out correctly, gave Joseph's sermons "a sense of urgency" in especially the second half of the Nauvoo experience. And almost all of what follows in the actual lesson material must be read in this light.

The introductory part ends with a nice rounding out that shows that Joseph hadn't, because of his urgency and concern, ceased to be Joseph: his kindness and humanity continued.

Prophets teach what God reveals to them; we strive to understand and give heed to their words.

To speak a bit frankly, the title of this section is terrible. The teachings in this section amount more to something like: "Because we don't strive to understand and give heed to the words of the prophets, they eventually stop teaching what God reveals to them, finding that we aren't at all prepared for such knowledge." Indeed, this section contains some of Joseph's harshest sayings. And for that reason, I find this section glorious!

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