President Monson’s Calling as a Prophet

New First Presidency

New First Presidency

I want all people to know that I know that President Thomas S. Monson is God’s prophet, seer, and revelator on the earth today. He has been called just as all prophets have been called since the beginning of time, and that is by God. God calls prophets, such as Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and others. It is God who has chosen President Monson to be His representative on the earth at this time. Is he still a man? Yes. But the Lord has anointed him with the position and authority to lead and direct His kingdom on the earth. We will listen to his counsel as it is the word of the Lord (D&C 1:38).

I noticed, as have others, that President Monson did not look like himself yesterday morning at the news conference when his new calling was announced and the new First Presidency organization. He looked tired, worn out, and distracted. He was not his usual jovial self. With all of the events of the weekend, the passing of his dearest friend, the funeral, the burial, his calling as God’s spokesman on earth, and his new responsibility as prophet for over 13 million members of the Church, I think any 80-year-old would probably be a little frail. That, in addition to his diabetes condition, which he downplayed, might have had something to do with it.

But I was listening to Bob Lonsberry this morning, and he had a slightly different and unique take on what might have been occurring. He said that often when mortals have communication with the divine it literally saps them of their physical strength. It disorients them for a time. He related the times when Joseph Smith saw God and angels in vision. After the first vision, Joseph recounts:

When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, “Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.” (JS-H 1:20)

Again, after communicating with the angel Moroni, Joseph tells us:

I shortly after arose from my bed, and, as usual, went to the necessary labors of the day; but, in attempting to work as at other times, I found my strength so exhausted as to render me entirely unable. My father, who was laboring along with me, discovered something to be wrong with me, and told me to go home. I started with the intention of going to the house; but, in attempting to cross the fence out of the field where we were, my strength entirely failed me, and I fell helpless on the ground, and for a time was quite unconscious of anything.

Similar experience are found in the Book of Mormon when people have had intense spiritual experiences. King Lamoni collapsed under such spiritual manifestations (Alma 18:42). He “was under the power of God” to such an extent that Ammon “knew that this had overcome his natural frame” (Alma 19:6). At the beginning of the Book of Mormon we are told that after Lehi had seen a vision that he “he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen” (1 Nephi 1:7). In the Bible, when Daniel saw the Lord in vision, the scriptures tell us:

Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. (Daniel 10:8–9)

Nephi witnesses after he had seen great visions, “Behold, I am full of the Spirit of God, insomuch that my frame has no strength” (1 Nephi 17:47).

Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon witnessed in vision the revelation of the three degrees of glory which later became D&C 76. There were other men in the room who watched this unfold. Philo Dibble recounts:

Joseph sat firmly and calmly all the time in the midst of a magnificent glory, but Sidney sat limp and pale, apparently as limber as a rag, observing which, Joseph remarked, smilingly, “Sidney is not as used to it as I am.” (Juvenile Instructor, May 1892, pp. 303-4)

Did President Monson have such spiritual witnesses of his divine calling as God’s prophet over the weekend? It is entirely possible. Was he visited by President Hinckley who passed on the responsibilities of the calling? Possibly. Did Joseph Smith come to him? Maybe. Did the Lord Himself, Jesus Christ, visit him and give him the charge over His church? It’s probable. We know that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve were in the temple on Sunday where they likely held a prayer circle and made the formal blessings, ordinations and setting apart of the men to the various offices and callings (see these words by N. Eldon Tanner on the calling of President Kimball). Elder Boyd K. Packer has said that it is the opportunity of the prophet of God to speak directly with God:

Hidden away in the central part of the temple is the Holy of Holies, where the President of the Church may retire when burdened down with heavy decisions to seek an interview with Him whose Church it is. The prophet holds the keys, the spiritual keys and the very literal key to this one door in that sacred edifice. (Holy Temple, 4)

As Bob Lonsberry put it, President Monson might have had such Divine communion over the weekend, which drained his energy for the Monday morning meeting. In any case, God has chosen and called a new prophet, and the work will roll on.

5 Comments

  1. RWW
    Posted February 5, 2008 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Has anyone with credibility actually claimed that any modern prophets and apostles have seen the Lord? I’m not aware of any such claim, and I find it an interesting contrast to the very open and direct reports of Joseph Smith’s experiences, as well as those recorded in the ancient scriptures.

  2. Posted February 5, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Often these type of spiritual experiences (the Second Comforter kind) are not shared openly and widely because of the sacredness of them, but I am sure that it does happen more often than we may realize. When the prophets and apostles say that they are “special witnesses” of the Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that they mean it in the most literal sense. When they bear solemn testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is because they are testifying of Him in the most real sense. The direct reports from Joseph Smith of the visions he had were necessary for the restoration of the gospel and the church, and to restore the doctrines and principles. There have been other such visions published, even D&C 138, which was given by President Joseph F. Smith on the vision he had of the redemption of the dead.

    There have been accounts of other modern prophets and apostles seeing the Lord. One that comes to mind is an account of President Lorenzo Snow upon the death of President Wilford Woodruff. It’s interesting that it occurred upon the death and succession of a prophet. This is from the Improvement Era, September 1933, under the title “An Experience of My Father’s” By LeRoi C. Snow:

    President Snow put on his holy temple robes, repaired again to the same sacred altar, offered up the signs of the Priesthood and poured out his heart to the Lord. He reminded the Lord how he plead for President Woodruff’s life to be spared, that President Woodruff’s days would be lengthened beyond his own; that he might never be called upon to bear the heavy burdens and responsibilities of the Church. “Nevertheless,” he said, “Thy will be done. I have not sought this responsibility but if it be Thy will, I now present myself before Thee for Thy guidance and instruction. I ask that Thou show me what Thou wouldst have me do.”

    After finishing his prayer he expected a reply, some special manifestation from the Lord. So he waited,—and waited—and waited. There was no reply, no voice, no visitation, no manifestation. He left the altar and the room in great disappointment. Passing through the Celestial room and out into the large corridor a glorious manifestation was given President Snow which I relate in the words of his grand-daughter, Allie Young Pond, now the wife of Elder Noah S. Pond, recently president of the Northern States Mission:

    “One evening while I was visiting grandpa Snow in his room in the Salt Lake Temple, I remained until the door keepers had gone and the night-watchmen had not yet come in, so grand-pa said he would take me to the main front entrance and let me out that way. He got his bunch of keys from his dresser. After we left his room and while we were still in the large corridor leading into the celestial room, I was walking several steps ahead of grand-pa when he stopped me and said: ‘Wait a moment, Allie, I want to tell you something. It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff.’

    “Then grand-pa came a step nearer and held out his left hand and said: ‘He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though He stood on a plate of solid gold.’

    “Grand-pa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described His hands, feet, countenance and beautiful white robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gaze upon Him.

    “Then he came another step nearer and put his right hand on my head and said: ‘Now, grand-daughter, I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grand-father, that he told you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior, here in the Temple, and talked with Him face to face.’”

    LeRoi Snow tells that President Heber J. Grant confirmed the testimony given and that President Snow had accounted the same vision to him and the Twelve:

    When we had finished, then and not till then, did Brother Snow tell us that he was instructed of the Lord in the temple the night after President Woodruff died, to organize the Presidency of the Church at once.

    President Anthon H. Lund also witnessed the same testimony given by President Snow:

    He also said that he heard father tell a number of times of the Savior’s appearance to him after he had dressed in his temple robes, presented himself before the Lord and offered up the signs of the Priesthood.

    The spirit often constrains men to reveal more than is appropriate about their spiritual experiences because of their sacredness. But every so often they are permitted to recount their experiences, as was President Snow.

  3. John Lambert
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    There is very high credibility to statements that Lorenzo Snow saw the Lord in the Salt Lake Temple in 1898. The credibility of statements that David O. McKay saw Jesus Christ in the Los Angeles temple may not be quite as high, but I have heard it from people who heard him state such.

  4. Posted June 8, 2009 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    Wow..how did I miss that when I read Elder Packer’s “The Holy Temple”?
    Anyways, great post…and while you’re at it, you might look up the account of Zebedee Coltrin in the School of the Prophets minutes, where there is a said appeareance of not only the Lord, but Heavenly Father. What happens to one of the disciples concerning appearance and strength is pretty interesting.
    Indeed, I also believe, if I remember the account correctly, that they had lifted their arms up in prayer…

  5. Posted June 8, 2009 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    Here is the account…
    http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/ZebC.html

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