On September 21, 1823, the Prophet Joseph Smith, then 17 years old, had a remarkable vision. As he prayed to know if God would forgive his sins, the ancient Book of Mormon prophet Moroni appeared in the room. The experience is recorded in the first volume of Saints, which provides a narrative history of events from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Moroni spoke of gold plates buried in a nearby hill. On the plates was etched the record of an ancient people who once lived in the Americas. The record told of their origins and gave an account of Jesus Christ visiting them and teaching the fullness of His gospel. Buried with the plates, Moroni said, were two seer stones, which Joseph later called the Urim and Thummim, or interpreters. The Lord had prepared these stones to help Joseph translate the record. The clear stones were fastened together and attached to a breastplate.
For the rest of the visit, Moroni quoted prophecies from the biblical books of Isaiah, Joel, Malachi, and Acts. The Lord was coming soon, he explained, and the human family would not fulfill the purpose of their creation unless God’s ancient covenant was renewed first. Moroni said that God had chosen Joseph to renew the covenant, and that if he chose to be faithful to God’s commands, he would be the one to reveal the record on the plates.
Before departing, the angel commanded Joseph to take care of the plates and show them to no one unless otherwise instructed, warning him that he would be destroyed if he disobeyed this counsel. Light then gathered around Moroni and he ascended to heaven.
As Joseph lay thinking about the vision, light flooded the room again and Moroni reappeared, giving the same message as before. He then departed, only to appear once more and deliver his message a third time.”
In celebration of the 200th anniversary of this heavenly vision, leaders of the Church shared their feelings and testimonies online.
President Russell M. Nelson wrote:
“I cherish the Book of Mormon and the opportunity to study its teachings. It is a thrill to invite visiting dignitaries to learn of its profound teachings of Jesus Christ.
The true value of the Book of Mormon can be summed up in the words of a man I taught many years ago in Accra, Ghana.
This man was a serious student of the Bible and one who loved the Lord. I explained to him that after the Savior’s Crucifixion and Resurrection He came to the people of ancient America to whom He taught His gospel.
Together, he and I read the Savior’s sermon to the people of the Americas. I then presented a copy of the Book of Mormon to him, to which he said:
“You could have given me diamonds or rubies, but nothing is more precious to me than this additional knowledge about the Lord Jesus Christ.”
On this 200-year anniversary, I ask each of us to consider: What is this book worth to you? If you were offered diamonds and rubies or the Book of Mormon, which would you choose?
I testify that the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God. It contains the answers to life’s most compelling questions. Its truths have the power to inspire, comfort, restore, strengthen, console, and cheer our souls.
It is my hope that each of us will see this book, today and always, as it really is: more precious than all the riches in the world.”
Elder Gary E. Stevenson added his testimony in a video message: