The third lesson of Liberty Jail, he said, is that in times of difficult feelings, "the Lord reminds us from the Liberty Jail prison-temple that 'the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only (or "except") upon the principles of righteousness' (Doctrine and Covenants 121:36)." In the meantime, know that God hears your cries and knows your distress. “Lessons from Liberty Jail” June 4, 2020 Every one of us, in one way or another, great or small, dramatic or incidental, is going to spend a little time in Liberty Jail—spiritually speaking. Now, don’t misunderstand. Inasmuch as some of the men, including the Prophet Joseph, were over six feet tall, this meant that when standing they were constantly in a stooped position. So what we instantly learn is that God was not only teaching Joseph Smith in that prison circumstance but He was teaching all of us, for generations yet to come. 22:7–10). . We are not alone in our little prisons here. (Doctrine and Covenants 121:36.) . Some are … For full text, see speeches.byu.edu. 190–91. Jeffrey R Holland “Lessons from Liberty Jail” BYU Devotional September 7, 2008 be full of charity towards all men . [except] by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; . In fact, it ought to be a matter of great doctrinal consolation to us that Jesus, in the course of the Atonement, experienced all of the heartache and sorrow, all of the disappointments and injustices that the entire family of man had experienced and would experience from Adam and Eve to the end of the world in order that we would not have to face them so severely or so deeply. It’s always a thrill to be in the Marriott Center. 1, p. 521; see also p. 526. In fact, the restricting brutality and injustice of this experience at Liberty would make it seem the very antithesis of the liberating, merciful spirit of our temples and the ordinances performed in them. Church Leaders in Liberty Jail Author Leonard J. Arrington When war between the Latter-day Saints and "the Missouri mob" seemed inevitable in October 1838, five Church officials approached the camp of General Samuel D. Lucas, commander of the Missouri Militia, … What a tremendously optimistic and faithful concluding declaration to be issued from a prison-temple! He is ninety-one years old. The point is this: if you are having a bad day, you’ve got a lot of company—very, very good company. In our moments of pain and trial, I guess we would shudder to think it could be worse, but the answer to that is clearly that it could be worse and it would be worse. That is a hard thing to do when we’ve been offended or are tired or stressed out or suffering innocently. 9. . As did the Prophet Joseph, you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences—even in the most miserable times of your life. 26 Lessons from Liberty Jail ELDER JEFFREY R. HOLLAND God can turn the debilitating prisons of our lives into circumstances that can bring comfort and revelation, divine companionship and peace. People. To use more share options on your device, please scan the same QR code and open the link in the latest version of Chrome or Safari. No, Joseph was not greater than the Savior, and neither are we. Every one of us, in one way or another, great or small, dramatic or incidental, is going to spend a little time in Liberty Jail—spiritually speaking. Yes, before our lives are over we may all be given a little taste of what the prophets faced often in their lives. How empty our lives as Latter-day Saints would be if we did not have sections 121, 122, and 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants! When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God than we’ve ever been in our entire lives. "In this final canonized statement of the Liberty Jail experience, the Lord says to us through His prophet, Joseph Smith: 'Therefore, dearly beloved brethren [and sisters, when we are in even the most troubling of times], let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed. Smith at Liberty Jail Rites,” Church News, Sept. 21, 1963, p. 14; emphasis added. That is a hard thing to ask when we’re hurting or have been offended, are tired or stressed out or suffering innocently. 4, 1839, in Personal Writings, 463, 464; spelling and capitalization standardized. Liberty Jail, one of the more forbidding structures in that region, was considered escape proof, and it probably was. '. When that happens we can sometimes fear God has abandoned us, and we might be left, at least for a time, to wonder when our troubles will ever end. The first lesson from Liberty Jail is inherent in what I’ve already mentioned—that everyone, including, and perhaps especially, the righteous, will be called upon to face trying times. He does hear us. Keep pleading. When what has to be has been and when what lessons to be learned have been learned, it will be for us as it was for the Prophet Joseph. Thirdly, and lastly, may I remind us all that in the midst of these difficult feelings, when one could justifiably be angry or reactionary or vengeful, wanting to return an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the Lord reminds us from the Liberty Jail prison-temple that “the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only [or “except”] upon the principles of righteousness” (D&C 121:36). They helped to make [them] strong.”10. I testify that the Father and the Son live and that They are close, perhaps even closest via the Holy Spirit, when we are experiencing difficult times. Surely, to say it again, it was the bleakest and darkest of times. We may face persecution; we may endure heartache and separation from loved ones; we may be hungry and cold and forlorn. A Seattle public school taught students as young as 11 to refer to riots as "uprising" and rioters as "freedom fighters." The year 1838 was a challenging year in the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Third, remember that in the midst of these difficult feelings when one could justifiably be angry or reactionary or vengeful, wanting to demand an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the Lord reminds us from the Liberty Jail prison-temple that “the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only [or ‘except’] upon the principles of righteousness” (D&C 121:36). Surrounded by stone walls four feet thick, the floor-to-ceiling height in the dungeon was barely six feet. Yea, O Lord, how long shall [thy people] suffer … before … thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?” (D&C 121:1–3). . What a magnificent attitude to maintain in good times or bad, in sorrow or in joy! He does love us. They remembered their covenants, they disciplined themselves, and they knew that we must live the gospel at all times, not just when it is convenient and not just when things are going well. He does see us. This item: Breaking the Chains of Worry and Anxiety: Lessons from Liberty Jail and Mindfulness Therapies by Mr. Steven Jay Davis Paperback $8.99 Available to ship in 1-2 days. Report. After being driven from several counties in the state and under the presumption they had been invited to discuss ways of defusing the volatile situation, five leaders of the Church, including the Prophet Joseph, marching under a flag of truce, approached the camp of the Missouri militia near the small settlement of Far West, located in Caldwell County. 71. By Jeffrey R. Holland (BS ’65) in the Winter 2009 Issue. Therefore, even when we face such distressing circumstances in our life and there is something in us that wants to strike out at God or man or friend or foe, we must remember that “no power or influence can or oughtto be maintained . Introduction. In giving us this sober reminder of what the Savior went through, the revelation from Liberty Jail records: “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Until his martyrdom five and a half years later, there was no more burdensome time in Joseph’s life than this cruel, illegal, and unjustified incarceration. You will recall that from the depths of Liberty Jail when Joseph was reminded that he had indeed been “cast … into trouble,” had passed through tribulation and been falsely accused, had been torn away from his family and cast into a pit and into the hands of murderers, nevertheless, he was to remember that the same thing had happened to the Savior of the world, and because He was triumphant, so shall we be (see D&C 122:4–7). Most of us, most of the time, speak of the facility at Liberty as a “jail” or a “prison”—and certainly it was that. . See Comprehensive History, 1:521 chapter heading; see also 526. “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” Hymns, no. 285. But when it is obvious that a little time in Liberty Jail waits before you (spiritually speaking), remember that God has not forgotten you and that the Savior has been where you have been, allowing Him to provide for your deliverance and your comfort. They remembered their covenants, they disciplined themselves, and they knew that we must live the gospel at all times, not just when it is convenient and not just when things are going well. Of course, sinfulness does bring suffering, and the only answer to that behavior is repentance. The truths Joseph received while in Liberty Jail reveal that God was not only teaching Joseph Smith in that prison circumstance, but He was also teaching all of us, for generations yet to come. On the other hand, the Spirit finds instant access to a heart striving to be charitable and forgiving, long-suffering, and kind—principles of true discipleship. He is your Father, and you are His child. You can read the transcript from this PDF link. When what has to be has been and when what lessons to be learned have been learned, it will be for us as it was for the Prophet Joseph. Surely, to say it again, it was the bleakest and darkest of times. In the Prophet Joseph’s letters, he spoke of the jail being a “hell, surrounded with demons … where we are compelled to hear nothing but blasphemous oaths, and witness a scene of blasphemy, and drunkenness and hypocrisy, and debaucheries of every description.”2 “We have … not blankets sufficient to keep us warm; and when we have a fire, we are obliged to have almost a constant smoke,” he said.3 “Our souls have been bowed down”4 and “my nerve trembles from long confinement,” Joseph wrote.5 “Pen, or tongue, or angels,” could not adequately describe “the malice of hell” that he suffered there.6 All of this occurred during what, by some accounts, was considered the coldest winter on record in the state of Missouri. . Injustice swiftly moved forward toward potential tragedy when a military “court” convened by officers of that militia ordered that Joseph Smith and the six other prisoners all be taken to the public square at Far West and summarily shot. Last weeks FHE was the CES Fireside talk by Jeffrey R. Holland that he gave in September 2008. Even though seemingly unjust circumstances may be heaped upon us, and even though unkind and unmerited things may be done to us—perhaps by those we consider enemies but also, in some cases, by those whom we thought were friends—nevertheless, through it all, God is with us. Letter to Emma Smith, March 21, 1839, in Personal Writings, p. 449. And they remind us that God often “moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”8 He certainly turned adversity into blessing in giving us those sacred writings and reflections—so pure, noble, and Christian in both tone and content, yet produced in such an impure, ignoble, and unchristian setting. These difficult lessons teach us that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity, and if we will be humble and faithful, if we will be believing and not curse God for our problems, He can turn the unfair and inhumane and debilitating prisons of our lives into temples—or at least into a circumstance that can bring comfort and revelation, divine companionship and peace. Now then, three lessons from Liberty Jail: May I suggest that the first of these is inherent in what I’ve already said—that everyone, including (and perhaps especially) the righteous, will be called upon to face trying times. First, God has not forgotten you, and second, the Savior has been where you have been, allowing Him to provide for your deliverance and your comfort. For further understanding of this revelation, read Within the Walls of Liberty Jail. into trouble,” had passed through tribulation and been falsely accused, had been torn away from his family and cast into a pit, into the hands of murderers, nevertheless, he was to remember that the same thing had happened to the Savior of the world, and because He was triumphant, so shall we be (see D&C 122:4–7). 1. History of the Church, vol. . We don’t have to look for sorrow. In selecting these lessons I note yet another kind of blessing that came out of this adversity. The morning after this arrest, two more Latter-day Saint leaders, including the Prophet’s brother Hyrum, were taken prisoner, making a total of seven in captivity. Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 121, Criticism, interpretation, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Presidents, History, Liberty Jail… He is there. Name an Old Testament or Book of Mormon prophet, name a New Testament Apostle, name virtually any of the leaders in any dispensation, including our own, and you name someone who has had trouble. Regarding our earthly journey, the Lord has promised, “I will go before your face. Lessons from Liberty Jail: A Prison and a Temple - BYU Speeches. God was not only teaching Joseph Smith in that prison circumstance but He was teaching all of us. 2008: Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin passes away in Salt Lake City. However heavy our load might be, it would be a lot heavier if the Savior had not gone that way before us and carried that burden with us and for us. without hypocrisy, and without guile” (D&C 121:41–42; emphasis added). But they could, and they did. Remain Calm, Patient, Charitable, and Forgiving. . Liberty Jail Historic Site: History Lesson - See 104 traveler reviews, 39 candid photos, and great deals for Liberty, MO, at Tripadvisor. One of the most trying times in the history of the Church, both in terms of its impact on the Church generally and in the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith personally, occurred during the winter of 1838–39. The height of the dungeon in Liberty Jail was barely six feet. The speech and behavior of the guards and criminals who came there was anything but templelike. Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002), p. 456. Certainly this prison-temple lacked the purity, beauty, comfort, and cleanliness of our modern temples. 3, pp. That was the Savior’s message in the parable of the importuning widow (see Luke 18:1–8; see also Luke 11:5–10). The richest man in America calls Seattle home. Inset left: Liberty Jail by C. C. A. Christensen. . In the most painful hours of the Crucifixion the Savior could say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We don’t have to seek to be martyrs. How can our trials be both a prison and a temple? See, for example, “A Choice Seer,” Ensign, August 1986, p. 12. And if you execute these men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God.”1. And when we promise to follow the Savior, to walk in His footsteps and be His disciples, we are promising to go where that divine path leads us. We will face things we do not want to face for reasons that may not have been our fault. Make a donation online or call 1-800-525-8074. Second, we need to realize that just because difficult things happen, it does not mean that we are unrighteous or that we are unworthy of blessings or that God is disappointed in us. There are also episodes about Liberty Jail at Mormon Channel. So in what sense could Liberty Jail be called a “temple”—or at least a kind of temple—in the development of Joseph Smith personally and in his role as a prophet? As individuals, as families, as communities, and as nations, probably everyone has had or will have an occasion to feel as Joseph Smith felt when he cried from the depth and discouragement of his confinement: “O God, where art thou? There was every indication that his enemies were still planning to take his life. From your study of Church history, you will all know something of the experience the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brethren had while imprisoned in the ironically named Liberty Jail during the winter of 1838–39. Brother Steve Davis Summer Devotional Speaker. But the lessons of the winter of 1838–39 teach us that every experience can become a redemptive experience if we remain bonded to our Father in Heaven through it. We love and cherish our dedicated temples and the essential, exalting ordinances that are performed there. He does hear us. The first lesson from Liberty Jail is inherent in what I’ve already mentioned—that everyone, including, and perhaps especially, the righteous, will be called upon to face trying times. As Joseph was taught in this prison-temple, even in distress and sorrow we must “let [our] bowels . In this final canonized statement of the Liberty Jail experience, the Lord says to us through His prophet, Joseph Smith: “Therefore, dearly beloved brethren [and sisters, when we are in even the most troubling of times], let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17; emphasis added). I’ve just said that hard times can happen to us. We thank heaven and the presiding Brethren that more and more of them are being built, giving more and more of us greater access to them. President Joseph Fielding Smith, grandnephew of the Prophet Joseph and grandson of the incarcerated Hyrum, said something even stronger than that when he dedicated the Liberty Jail Visitors’ Center in 1963. But when it is obvious that a little time in Liberty Jail waits before you (spiritually speaking), remember these first two truths taught to Joseph in that prison-temple. I testify that President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, our prophet for this hour and this day. 1838: Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and others are incarcerated in Liberty Jail. THE LETTER LATER BECAME SECTION 121 OF THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS COURTESY CHURCH HISTORY LIBRARY. These two walls were separated by a 12-inch space filled with loose rock. A brief audio presentation tells the story of the jail. Art thou greater than he?” (D&C 122:8). The top or main floor was accessible to the outside world only by a single small, heavy door. Courtesy Church History Library. BYU Magazine is published four times a year by Brigham Young University for graduates and friends. The Saints, too, were without homes and without their prophet. In one way or another, great or small, dramatic or incidental, every one of us is going to spend a little time in Liberty Jail—spiritually speaking. After speaking of sufferings so exquisite to feel and so hard to bear, Jesus said: “I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they [and that means you and I and everyone] might not suffer if they would repent” (D&C 19:16). We may face persecution, we may endure heartache and separation from loved ones, we may be hungry and cold and forlorn. What lessons does Joseph Smith's experience in Liberty Jail teach us about God's love? When we are in dire circumstances and want to cry “Where art Thou?” it is imperative that we remember He is right there with us—where He has always been! Indeed, you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced. Similar lessons are coming. In fact, the restricting brutality and injustice of this experience at Liberty would make it seem the very antithesis of the liberating, merciful spirit of our temples and the ordinances that are performed in them. Let me push this just a little further. That is an everlasting declaration of God’s love and care for us, including—and perhaps especially—in times of trouble. As a valedictory to the lessons from Liberty Jail, I refer to the last verse of section 123: “Therefore … let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17; emphasis added). PROVO, Utah — Joseph Smith's experience as a prisoner in Liberty Jail teaches some valuable lessons, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve told young adults during a Church Educational System fireside Sunday evening.Elder Holland reviewed the experiences of the Prophet and some of his brethren in the dark, depressing, bitterly cold Missouri jail. 1838: Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and others are incarcerated in Liberty Jail. Very early in the Prophet Joseph’s ministry, the Savior taught him this doctrine. When we are in dire circumstances and want to cry, “Where art Thou?” it is imperative that we remember He is right there with us—where He has always been! Keywords. When lonely, cold, hard times come, we have to endure, we have to continue, we have to persist. 5. The Spirit has a near-impossible task to get through to a heart that is filled with hate or anger or vengeance or self-pity. Use our Feedback Form to let us know what you think. When he wrote those lines, Joseph did not know when he would be released or if he would ever be released. Joseph suffered helplessly, knowing that the Latter-day Saints were being driven from Missouri under an "extermination order" from the governor. Art thou greater than he?” (D&C 122:8). We came to this earth not to live perfect lives, but to learn and grow; that is what trials and difficulties do for us. Letter to Emma Smith, April 4, 1839, in Personal Writings, pp. You will recall that from the depths of Liberty Jail when Joseph was reminded that he had indeed been “cast . But that is when Christian behavior may matter the most. He is there. They were leaving Missouri, heading for Illinois, but who knew what tragedies were awaiting them there? Letter written by Joseph Smith while in Liberty Jail. We are not alone in our little prisons here. We don’t have to seek to be martyrs. Editorial inquiries and submissions: magazine@byu.edu. Elder Jeffrey R. 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