Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why I Believe: Evidence Forty-one: The Withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord from the World

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith Was A Prophet

Evidence Forty-one: 
The Withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord from the World© 

Accurate and fulfilled prophecies are evidences for the presence of the gift of prophecy.  Many such evidences exist showing that Joseph Smith enjoyed this gift. Today’s blog selects one very interesting and important example.  Late in August of 1831 the Lord told Joseph, “I, the Lord, am angry with the wicked; I am holding my Spirit from the inhabitants of the earth.”(1) Eighteen months later, on 4 January 1833, the Prophet wrote a letter to a newspaper editor in which he referred to this revelation and briefly cited some evidence for its fulfillment. He wrote, 
The Lord declared to His servants, some eighteen months since, that he was then withdrawing His Spirit from the earth; and we can see that such is the fact, for not only the churches are dwindling away, but there are no conversions, or but very few: and this is not all, the governments of the earth are thrown into confusion and division; and Destruction, to the eye of the spiritual beholder, seems to be written by the finger of an invisible hand, in large capitals, upon almost every thing we behold.”(2)
Recently I encountered another powerful example of the spirit of prophecy which gives further insight into this phenomenon. This statement, by Elder Charles W. Penrose in 1859, explains one reason for the withdrawal of the Lord’s Spirit and gives an expanded list of effects. Read it and see if you don’t agree that it was almost as if he was describing what this world has been experiencing the past 30 to 50 years, much of it very recently.
On the other hand, through the rejection of this Gospel, which “shall be preached to all the world as a witness” of the coming of Christ, the world will increase in confusion, doubt, and horrible strife. As the upright in heart, the meek of the earth, withdraw from their midst, so will the Spirit of God also be withdrawn from them. The darkness upon their minds in relation to eternal things will become blacker, nations will engage in frightful and bloody warfare, the crimes which are now becoming so frequent will be of continual occurrence, the ties that bind together families and kindred will be disregarded and violated, the passions of human nature will be put to the vilest uses, the very elements around will seem to be affected by the national and social convulsions that will agitate the world, and storms, earthquakes, and appalling disasters by sea and land will cause terror and dismay among the people; new diseases will silently eat their ghastly way through the ranks of the wicked; the earth, soaked with gore and defiled with the filthiness of her inhabitants, will begin to withhold her fruits in their season; the waves of the sea will heave themselves beyond their bounds, and all things will be in commotion; and in the midst of all these calamities, the master-minds among nations will be taken away, and fear will take hold of the hearts of all men.(3) 
The obvious relevance which these statements have to events which most of us have witnessed, suggest to me that Joseph Smith and Charles Penrose were actuated by the same spirit of prophecy when they spoke of the withdrawal of the Lord’s Spirit from the earth. To be warned by prophecy is to be exhorted to repentance and preparation and to be edified and comforted.(4)

Thank God for the spirit of prophecy.  Thank God for the Prophet Joseph Smith!

Let’s think together again, soon.


1.  D&C 63:32 (32-33), emphasis added.  

2.  Joseph Smith, in Joseph Fielding Smith, comp., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 16, emphasis in the original.

3.  Charles W. Penrose, “The Second Advent,” Millennial Star 21, no. 37 (10 September 1859), p. 582, emphasis added. Compare 1 Ne. 7:14 where the withdrawal is associated with rejecting the prophets, and Hel. 13: 14, 24, 26, 33.  One important result of the withdrawal of the Spirit as noted by Elder Penrose is "frightful and bloody warfare."  This is born out in the chronicle of the demise of the Nephite civilization found in the early chapters of the book of Mormon, where near the end Mormon acknowledges that "the strength of the Lord was not with us; yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us...."  Mormon 2:26.  Thus it is that "by the wicked that the wicked are punished." Mormon 4:5.   He also reflected upon the state of the Lamanites and their descendants.  "For behold, the Spirit of the Lord hath already ceased to strive with their fathers; and they are without Christ and God in the world; and they are driven about as chaff before the wind."  Mormon 5:16.  Interestingly, Penrose's prediction preceded by several years the outbreak of modern conflict which we know as the Civil War, the bloodiest in America's history even to this day; two World Wars to follow that, and innumerable conflicts along the way.

4.   1 Cor. 14:3, 31.

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