List of prophecies of Joseph Smith
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Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, is viewed as a prophet in the tradition of the ancient prophets recorded in the Bible by members of the Latter Day Saint movement. During his life, he made several prophecies, many documented in the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of scripture in several denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement.
There is much dispute surrounding the known and alleged prophecies of Joseph Smith, Jr. Some critics contend that Joseph Smith could not be a genuine prophet, because they claim that some of his prophecies did not come true. However, Mormons point out that many of the prophecies that critics claim have failed have actually been fulfilled after all. Mormons also have discussed in published writings how many alleged "prophecies" were not actual prophecies and many other so-called "prophecies" have yet to be authenticated or verified to any conclusive degree by both LDS and non-LDS historians. Mormons also claim that other "prophesies" should be interpreted metaphorically, not literally. It is also claimed that still other "prophesies" were conditional and did not come to pass based on the fact that the conditions to those prophesies were not met. Church members also accept that some of the prophecies will be fulfilled in the future.
Table of prophecies organized by date
Prophecies from 1823 to 1830
|Jesus comes to the temple - "I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God; wherefore, gird up your loins and I will suddenly come to my temple. Even so. Amen."||D&C 36:8||December 1830||Mormons contend this prophecy was fulfilled. It is well recorded that Jesus Christ allegedly appeared to both Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on 3 April 1836D&C 110.|
|Copyright sale - Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery were to find a copyright buyer for the Book of Mormon in Canada.||B. H. Roberts, Compr. History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 165, 1930||1829/1830
|Mormons claim this prophecy was fulfilled. Hiram Page himself felt that the prophecy was fulfilled, as stated in an 1848 letter.|
|Gather in one place - The Mormons shall be gathered in one place "against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked"||D&C 29:8||1830,
|Mormons claim this prophecy was fulfilled. Latter-day Saints recognize several meanings for gathering, stemming from the their concepts of Zion. Indeed, LDS authorities have stated that the LDS concept of Zion refers to the "stakes of Zion wherever they are located," and not to a single geographic and physical location.|
|Hour is nigh - The "hour is nigh and day soon at hand" when Jesus will return.||D&C 29:9-11||1830
|Mormons claim this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. Mormons believe that Jesus has not yet returned, and Mormons advocate that the words "hour" and "day" are metaphorical and represent centuries or millennia, i.e., in a similar manner as is generally used in the same context in numerous instances in the Bible.|
Prophecies from 1831 to 1832
|Land purchase - The Mormons were to gather riches and purchase a place of refuge and safety, where the wicked would not come, and the wicked would refuse to battle the Mormons.||D&C 45:64-74||1831
|Mormons claim this prophecy was fulfilled. Critic Richard Abanes claims this was not fulfilled. However, Mormons have, indeed, gathered the riches in one location and purchased a place of refuge and safety. There is a long history showing how many, including the U.S. government, refused to battle with the Mormons shortly after they had relocated chiefly to Utah.|
|Zion in Missouri - Missouri is named as the place for the "City of Zion"; land will be purchased for "an everlasting inheritance".||D&C 57:1-5||1831
|In The Doctrine and Covenants, Covenant 124:49-51 the project was postponed. Hence, subsequent prophecy replaced a prior statement. In any case, many Latter-day Saint adherents generally believe that the temple will eventually be constructed on the site prepared, based on additional statements by Smith. Two branches of the LDS movement have churches in that location:Church of Christ (Temple Lot) and Community of Christ. The LDS Church still owns land in that location as well.|
|Zion in this generation - Zion and its temple will be built at Independence, Missouri "in this generation".||D&C 84:2||1832
|The "City of Zion"  The site dedicated by Smith for the construction of the Temple at Independence is currently vacant. See Temple lot. However, members of the LDS Church believe that a temple will be built at this location in the future and that "this generation" is used figuatively, as it is used in a similar fashion in many instances in the Bible.|
|New York destroyed - New York and Boston will be destroyed if they reject the gospel. The "hour of their judgement is nigh".||D&C 84:114||1832
|Mormons contend that the gospel was accepted, not rejected, in both New York and Boston. Smith went to New York and Boston, and preached the gospel. Several wards and even several stakes of the LDS faith exist in both cities as a result of this and other later missionary efforts. Though critics contend that this prophecy was not fulfilled because both cities still exist, Mormons contend that both cities still exist since the gospel was not rejected, but was accepted (and to this day remains accepted) by many thousands of New Yorkers and Bostonians.|
|Civil War - This prophecy predicted war between the northern states and the southern states beginning in South Carolina some 30 years before the actual first shot of the Civil War was fired, and that (quotes from original published versions contained in missionary pamphlets in the 1830s) war will be "poured out on all nations", and that nations will be fighting against other nations, and that "slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war"||D&C 87||1832
|This prophecy was fulfilled in part, especially as it applies to a broader span of time to mean that the rebellion of South Carolina and the American Civil War "marked the beginning of the era of war that will last until the Savior returns. . . ", which would include earthquakes, multi-nation warfare, and plagues. The prophecy also states that the Southern States would call upon Great Britain, which did indeed happen. However, the prediction that this war would "be poured out upon all nations" is disputed, as it is ambiguous whether or not the events of the American Civil War caused a ripple effect that affected wars with other nations, such as the multinational Franco-Mexican War.|
Prophecies from 1833 to 1834
|Current generation - "Not many years shall pass away" before the wicked "of this generation" will be swept off the face of the earth; and "there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled"||History of the Church, v1 p315||1833
|Critic Richard Abanes claims this was not fulfilled.|
|Zion built here - Promise that if the saints are obedient in building a temple, then the City of Zion (in Missouri) will prosper and become glorious, and that Zion cannot "be moved" out of its place.||D&C 97:15-20||1833
|The saints did not build a temple as commanded, and were subsequently driven out of Missouri by Missouri Executive Order 44. D&C 101:1-3|
|Stars fall from heaven - According to Philo Dibble, while preaching in Kirtland, Ohio, on October 5, 1833, Joseph Smith said, "Forty days shall not pass and the stars shall fall from heaven."||1833
|On November 13, 1833, the Leonids meteor shower occurred, and it was such a brilliant and heavy meteor shower that some people thought that the world was ending. Some critics of the Philo Dibble narrative say that he simply made up the story after the fact. Others assume that Smith must have studied celestial events and deduced that the Leonids shower would occur again soon, as records exist of its occurrence in 902, 1630, and 1799.|
|Enemies not destroyed - If the Saints were not successful in legal action against their enemies (in Missouri) God would avenge them and all their adversaries would be destroyed.||History of Church, v1, p 455||1833
|Critic Richard Abanes claims this was not fulfilled.|
|United Order - The United Order would be "everlasting", and "immutable and unchangeable" to benefit the church until Jesus comes.||D&C 104:1||1834
|Critics claim this prophecy was not fulfilled. An Ensign article provides the LDS explanation of the revelation.|
|Missouri victory - The Lord says regarding Missouri: "I will fight your battles ... the destroyer I have sent forth to destroy and lay waste mine enemies; and not many years hence they shall not be left to pollute mine heritage, and to blaspheme my name upon the lands which I have consecrated for the gathering together of my saints".||D&C 105:13||1834
|Critics claim this prophecy was not fulfilled.|
|Zion in Missouri - The Mormons should be ready to move into Jackson County, Missouri, on Sept 11, 1836, "the appointed time for the redemption of Zion"||History of Church, v2, p 145||1834
|The Mormons fled Missouri in 1839.|
Prophecies from 1835 to 1839
|Wind up in 56 Years "[T]he coming of the Lord, which is nigh - even fifty-six years should wind up the scene."||History of Church, v2, p 182||1835
|There exists a debate between Mormons and critics of Mormon Christianity over this prophecy. Critics claim this prophecy was not fulfilled. Mormons claim that since Smith did not preface this statement with the typical prophetical "Thus sayeth the Lord", it is not a proper prophecy. In the full text, Joseph Smith himself explained how he understood the revelation as follows:
I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face (DC :130).
The actual content of Joseph's prophecy is in the next verse:
I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time.(DC 130:17.)
Mormons contend that Joseph's belief proved correct. Jesus did not return to the earth for His Second Coming before that time -- (and, has yet to return). Smith recorded that he believed that this may also have referred to him seeing the Lord's face at the time of his death in 1844.
|Wealth from Salem - Smith was to go to Salem, Massachusetts, where he would receive "its wealth pertaining to gold and silver". (Verified that this was not a prophecy.)||D&C 111:4||1836
|Mormon historian B. H. Roberts wrote that the trip to Salem was apparently "a venture of their own design, not one of divine direction."|
|Marsh exalted - Apostle Thomas B. Marsh would be "exalted" and would preach "unto the ends of the earth ... among .. many nations". Through Smith, God tells Marsh: "I know thy heart".||D&C 112:3-11||1837
|Though Marsh was excommunicated, in 1857, he was rebaptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Marsh wrote an autobiography in 1864, documenting his significant Church missionary service. Mormons believe that this prophecy was fulfilled.|
|Enemies punished - While in prison, Smith prophesied that "cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed...." and that his enemies would be taken "in their own craftiness" and that "not many years hence ... [they] and their posterity shall be swept from under heaven, saith God, that not one of them is left to stand by the wall".||D&C 121:11||1839
|The meaning of this prophecy, its referenced target, and the extent of its fulfillment has long been controversial. Many of the known persecutors of Joseph Smith met gruesome and ugly deaths, while others did not, dying of old age instead. Critics claim this prophecy was not fulfilled.
Mormons disagree and point to many of the unfortunate events which befell many of the persecutors of Smith as being evidence of the prophecy's fulfillment The other argument set forth by Mormons is that the prophecy applied more to a spiritual punishment in the afterlife, rather than a temporal punishment.
Prophecies from 1840s
|Relief Society - "I now prophecy that before ten years shall roll around, the queens of the earth shall come and pay their respects to this society" [spoken at a Relief Society meeting].||The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, D. Michael Quinn, p. 634||1842
|It is disputed by Critics and apologists whether this prophecy was fulfilled. Critics claim this prophecy was not fulfilled.|
|LDS settle in Rocky Mountains - "I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains."||(Documentary History of the Church 5:85)||Aug 1842||Mormons contend that this prophecy was fulfilled. Not long after Smith's death, the Mormons relocated to Utah territory and established Salt Lake City. Church critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner claim that this alleged prophesy was inserted into Smith's "Manuscript History" after his death (in a different handwriting).|
|85 years old - "I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, .. the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old.... [T]he 14th chapter of Revelation... The hour of his judgement is come .... After ... 2,520 years; which brings it to 1890."||History of the Church, v5, p 336; D&C 130:14-17||1843
|Whether this prophecy was fulfilled is disputed by critics and apologists. Joseph Smith himself stated his belief that this revelation he himself received did NOT refer to the beginning of the millennium or the second coming of Jesus; rather, it is documented that it was Smith's belief that this vision would likely mean that he would die and see "the Savior's face" prior 1890. Since he was killed at Carthage Jail long before that time, Mormons argue that this prophecy was fulfilled.|
|Rising Generation - "There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes."||History of the Church, v5, p 336||1843
|Mormons and critics disagree as to whether this prophecy was (or is to be) fulfilled. Critics claim this prophecy was not fulfilled. Mormons claim that the term "rising generation" is vague and could mean future generations and not just apply to those generations that existed in Smith's time.|
|White Horse Prophecy – A lengthy discourse in which Smith reportedly said that "You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed. it will hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber.... and it will be preserved and saved by the efforts of the White Horse"; and, additionally, that the temple in Jackson County, Missouri "will be built in this generation."||Journal of John J. Roberts, March 2, 1902||1843
|An official statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds that the Church does not accept the White Horse Prophecy as being "doctrine." The authenticity of the alleged prophesy has never been verified. Although other statements by Joseph Smith appear to echo the claim that the United States Constitution would be threatened and that faithful Mormons would save it, the authenticity of the White Horse Prophecy as a whole is debated and has never been resolved among historians. The prophecy has been disclaimed officially by the LDS Church leadership and many individual LDS authorities.|
|Government Overthrown - "I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left for their wickedness."||History of the Church, v5, p 394||1843
|Whether this prophesy was fulfilled is debated among critics and apologists. Critics claim this prophecy was not fulfilled. Some Mormons contend that Joseph Smith could not have been referring to the overthrow of the United States Constitutional government, because he had earlier prophesied that the Constitution would be preserved. Some Mormons argue that critics would do well to observe the conditions contained in these prophecies. Formal apologies have indeed been delivered to the Mormons on various occasions (both in public and in private) by both (a) former U.S. Presidents and (b) officially by the state of Missouri in 1976. Moreover, allowing the Mormons to obtain statehood in the early 1900s could have been seen as another possible "redress" of the wrongs committed. In essence, some Mormon apologists claim that this prophesy likely did not come to pass since clear redresses were given in the decades following the persecution of the Mormons.|
|Government broken up - "While discussing the petition to Congress, I prophesied, by virtue of the holy Priesthood vested in me, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that, if Congress will not hear our petition and grant us protection, they shall be broken up as a government, and god shall damn them. And there shall nothing be left of them - not even a grease spot."||Millennial Star, v.29, p. 455
History of the Church, v.6 p. 116
|It is disputed by Critics and apologists whether this prophecy was fulfilled. Critics claim this prophecy was not fulfilled. Congress, some years later, did grant protection to members of the LDS Church in several forms, not the least of which being actually granting the Utah territory and the Mormons official statehood. In the years that followed, certain legal protections for the freedom of religion were further established. That said, Mormon apologists have also contended that, since the conditions for the protection of the Saints were (at least eventually) met, this prophecy never came to fruition.|
|Orrin Porter Rockwell protected from enemies - "I prophesy, in the name of the Lord, that you -- Orrin Porter Rockwell -- so long as ye shall remain loyal and true to thy faith, need fear no enemy. Cut not thy hair and no bullet or blade can harm thee."||-||December 25, 1843||Mormons contend this prophecy was fulfilled.|
|Son David - Smith prophesies that his unborn child will be called David, and will be "church president and king over Israel".||The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, D. Michael Quinn, p. 644||1844
|There is dispute between critics and apologists over the authenticity and the reliability of the evidences claiming that Smith made such a prophecy. David Hyrum Smith was not raised a member of the LDS Church, nor did he became a member of it during his lifetime; however, he was a leader in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, including being a member of its First Presidency. Critics claim this prophecy was not fulfilled. In contrast, Mormon apologists dispute the authenticity and the problems with the reliability as to whether Smith actually uttered this prophecy.|
Prophecies of uncertain date
|Oliver Granger - "And again, I say unto you, I remember my servant Oliver Granger; behold, verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord."||D&C 117:12-15||-||The LDS assert that this prophecy was fulfilled. Stephen Gibson states: "The surest evidence that Oliver Granger is held in sacred remembrance is that his name is included in one of our four (4) most sacred books constituting the Standard Works, the Doctrine and Covenants. This, in itself, fulfills the prophecy." The LDS revere the Doctrine and Covenants as "scripture" in addition to the Bible and the Book of Mormon.|
|During this captivity [in Liberty Jail], not one of our lives shall be taken - That Smith and his companions would not be killed in Liberty Jail, despite evidence that his captors intended to kill him. Smith said on the morning after their capture after the 1838 Mormon War that "the word of the Lord came to me last night that ... whatever we may suffer during this captivity, not one of our lives shall be taken"||(Dona Hill, Joseph Smith: The First Mormon, Doubleday and Company, Garden City, New York, 1977, p. 244).||-||Mormons assert that this prophecy was fulfilled as Smith was killed in Carthage Jail, not Liberty Jail.|
|Smith will not return to Missouri - That although he was captured by Missouri agents in Illinois, he would not set foot in Missouri dead or alive.||(Smith 1902 5:216)||-||Mormons hold the position that this prophecy was fulfilled. Smith did not return to Missouri even though he was captured by Missouri agents in Illinois.|
|Smith spoken of for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues - "He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people"||Joseph Smith — History 1:33||-||The LDS contend this prophecy has been fulfilled, citing discussions of Smith by American, German and Finnish scholars as well as the church's missionary program.|
|Stephen A. Douglas to run for president - That Stephen A. Douglas, a prominent politician at the time, would run for the presidency. He also predicted that if Stephen Douglas slandered the Church then he would feel the weight of the hand of the Almighty upon him.||Smith 1902 5:394||-||The LDS believe this prophecy was fulfilled. Douglas did indeed run for president in 1860. After making a slanderous comment towards the Church and its members, he (indeed) did not win the election. Critics will argue this is all circumstantial and has no relevancy.|
|Stakes established in Boston and New York - "In the great cities, as Boston, New York, etc., there shall be stakes"||Smith 1902 6:319||-||Mormons believe this prophecy has been fulfilled. Several Stakes have established in those cities. There are now thousands (and in some cases tens of thousands) of members of the LDS Church in every arguably "great city" in America.|
|Joseph and Hyrum Smith to die if re-captured - That he and his brother Hyrum Smith would die if they were re-captured. On June 22, 1844, five days before his death, he wrote: "I told Stephen Markham that if I and Hyrum were ever taken again we should be massacred, or I was not a prophet of God"||Smith 1902 6:546||-||Mormons believe this prophecy was fulfilled. Both Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed by a mob after they returned to custody.|
|Dr. Richards will not have hole in garment - Dr. Richards would not be injured during an altercation.||Smith 1902 6:619||-||Mormons believe this prophecy was fulfilled as Willis Richards was not shot during the mob shooting at Carthage Jail which took the life of Smith and his brother, Hyrum.|
|Dan Jones to visit Wales - "Soon after Dr. Richards retired to the bed ... and when all were apparently fast asleep, Joseph whispered to Dan Jones, "are you afraid to die?" Dan said, "Has that time come, think you? Engaged in such a cause I do not think that death would have many terrors." Joseph replied, "You will yet see Wales, and fulfill the mission appointed you before you die"||Smith 1902 6:601||-||Mormons believe this prophecy was fulfilled. It is well documented by multiple sources that Dan Jones was on his deathbed and was widely believed to be dying of a severe illness at the time this prophecy was recorded. Jones recovered and did indeed visit Wales.|
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