Joseph Smith–Matthew Helps Us Learn of God’s Love
Caitlin is a BYU student and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes known as the “Mormon Church” by the media). She is currently taking a religion course at Brigham Young, where she is learning about the Joseph Smith-Matthew (JSM) which is the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 23:39–24:51. Below are her thoughts and feelings concerning this book and how it applies to our lives today:
Many people read the scriptures like they would a history book. They read and understand what happened but believe it was in the past, and that we are free from that kind of care today. Like a history book, we see what has happened in the past. In Joseph Smith Matthew (JSM), we see how awful life was in the Meridian of Time: how the Romans herded the Jews in and trapped them with a great wall; how they starved them; and how they finally slew all those who had somehow managed to live after being cut off from resources. The Abomination of Desolation was an awful time to be alive if you were a Jew. Having no hope, no food, and no family, and only seeing death and murder- it had to be awful.
In class we further discussed how terrible that time period was: how the Romans would kill you if you were caught with food, and how if you were in your house when they arrived, you would be killed. Although this does tell us the history of the Meridian of Time, we need to realize that the scriptures are not just a history book; they are a foreshadowing account as well. The JSM is a mirror image of the last days. That means the awful destruction, blood, gore and death, will come to the earth once more, and it will be in our time. There shall be “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places (JSM 1:29).”
The one aspect that we need to understand though is that God will never leave his children unprotected. The Jews in the Meridian of Time were warned of the coming destruction. Christ sent prophets before that awful time to tell the Jews what was to come, and to tell them what to do to be safe from destruction. “Then let them who are in Judea flee into the mountains…for in those days shall be great tribulation on the Jews and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (JSM 1:13, 18). God tried to warn His Children to leave as soon as possible. Only those who were following Christ and being obedient listened. Those that listened avoided all of this awful destruction. So what does that tell us to expect of the last days? If Joseph Smith Matthew is a mirror image of the last days- we should take hope and comfort. God warned His children before of what was to come and He will again warn us of the upcoming doom. If we are but faithful and obedient, we shall be saved from the carnage of the last days. “Blessed is the servant whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing, and verily I say unto you, he shall make him a ruler over all his goods” (JSM 1:50).
By understanding this, we then should read the account of Joseph Smith Matthew very differently. Rather than seeing it as a history book, we should see it almost as an “emergency evacuation plan.” Just like children are taught to do in emergencies, we too have been told what to do when the prophet comes to warn us of danger. “Flee into the mountains” (JSM 1:13). Our God will protect us from the upcoming danger, if only we read what we have been given. Ignoring His word is like being given the answers to a test and refusing to read them or study them. We have been given the answers. We can survive and be protected and pass this test if only we understand our Savior`s love and seek to follow Him.
Our Savior will never leave us hopeless. He will never leave us alone. He will love us, as He always has and will send prophets to preach His word to protect us, and to keep us safe. Zion is a people of one heart and one mind. It is the gathering up of His elect. His elect are the ones who look to the last days with gladness, understanding that our God will never leave us without a warning and without an escape plan.
God’s grace will lift and guide us.