President Joseph F. Smith received a profound revelation about the redemption of the dead during the last month of his life. Learn more about the context behind this revelation and what it can teach us about seeking the Lord.
The vision was received on October 3, 1918. He shared what had seen with his son, Joseph Fielding Smith, who wrote it down. The text was then presented to the leaders of the Church on October 31. President Smith died a short time later on November 19 and the vision was published publicly on November 30 in the Deseret Evening News. The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead, as it was called, was added to the scriptural canon in 1976 and then became a part of the Doctrine and Covenants in 1979.
The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead occurred at a time of worldly turmoil. The Great War had been raging since 1914. The losses would soon be compounded by the influenza pandemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 17-50 million people worldwide. Death and the question of what happens after we die was a constant for many, including President Smith and the leaders of the Church.
Nine months before the revelation, President Smith’s eldest son, Hyrum Mack Smith, died at the age of 45 in January 1918 of complications from a ruptured appendix. The heartbreaking event caused President Smith to write in his journal, “My soul is rent asunder. My heart is broken, and flutters for life!”
This was not President Smith’s first brush with tragedy. His father was Hyrum Smith, martyred at Carthage Jail, and his mother died when he was thirteen. He lost his wife and daughter in 1915 and 1916. In total, thirteen of the 44 children he had from five wives died.
These facts help us understand the context behind this important revelation. The time at which the vision was given was one of great trial and personal reflection for President Smith. Today, we can continue to seek the blessings of heaven despite our personal circumstances.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.