“As A Thief In The Night”
by Dan Erickson

joseph smith1. Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s founding prophet.







first vision2. Stained-glass representation of Joseph Smith’s first vision experience which initiated Mormonism’s millennial world view. The resurrected Christ proclaimed to Smith, “[L]o I come quickly…in the glory of my Father.” (Joseph Smith’s First Vision, from the Adams Ward meeting house, Los Angeles, California; maker unknown, 1913; copyright The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; used by permission.)






angel moroni3. The angel Moroni delivering to Joseph Smith the plates from which the Book of Mormon was derived. Moroni warned Smith, “[B]ehold the day cometh that do wickedly shall burn as stubble.” (The Angel Moroni delivering the plates of the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith, Jr., by C. C. A. Christensen, 1886; copyright The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; used by permission.)





book of mormon4. The Book of Mormon, first published in 1830. To Joseph Smith and his followers, its purpose was “to be united with the Bible for the accomplishment of the purposes of God in the last days.”






book of commandments
5. The book of Commandments, the first published compilation of Joseph Smith’s revelations, included a number of pronouncements which centered on the Second Advent, the coming Millennium, and the building up of the New Jerusalem.






kirtland temple6. The Kirtland temple, ca. 1907. Early Mormons viewed the move to Kirtland, Ohio, as the beginning of the long-awaited gathering of Israel, signaling Christ’s return. The temple ceremony, initiated at Kirtland, linked the Saints to the spirit world and supported their continued belief in an imminent millennium.


nauvoo legion7. Lieutenant-General Joseph Smith addressing the Nauvoo Legion. At Nauvoo Smith combined in one man the roles of prophet, mayor, commander of the armed forces, and municipal judge, merging public, military, and priesthood leadership positions. (General Joseph Smith addressing the Nauvoo Legion, by Robert Campbell, 1845; copyright The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; used by permission.)


1844 flyer8. An 1844 flyer publicizing Joseph Smith’s candidacy for the presidency of the United States which he considered a last-ditch effort to save the Union. The “church must not triumph over [the] state,” he declared, “but actually swallow it up like Moses’ rod swallowed up the rods of the Egyptians.”







brigham young9. LDS church president Brigham Young. After the removal west, under Young’s leadership a preoccupation with the destruction of the world and the coming of Christ remained a major theme in Mormon thought.






first presidency10. The First Presidency and Council of Twelve Apostles, 1884-85. Rather than give up the institution of polygamy, many church leaders went into hiding. Church president John Taylor died while in exile on the “underground.” (Courtesy Utah State Historical Society; used by permission; all rights reserved.)








polygamists11. First Presidency counselor George Q. Cannon (center) and other polygamists, including Apostle Francis M. Lyman (second from right), incarcerated in 1889 for their plural unions. (Coutesy Utah Historical Society; used by permission; all rights reserved.)


first presidency12. The First Presidency of the LDS church, 1889-98: (left to right) George Q. Cannon, Wilford Woodruff, and Joseph F. Smith.







salt lake tabernacle13. The American flag drapes seats in the Salt Lake Tabernacle in 1896 in celebration of Utah’s statehood. The abandonment of polygamy, church control over political and economic institutions, and the immediacy of a millennial peace were all casualties of assimilation into the dominant American culture. As such, the Millennium became a fixture event rather than an imminent reality.


first presidency & council of the twelve14. The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve at the end of the nineteenth century (September 1898). Back row, left to right: Anthon H. Lund (1844-1921), John W. Taylor (1858-1916), John Henry Smith (1848-1911), Heber J. Grant (1856-1945), Marriner W. Merrill (1832-1906). Middle row: Brigham Young, Jr. (1836-1903), First Counselor George Q. Cannon (1827-1901), President Lorenzo Snow (1814-1901), Second Counselor Joseph F. Smith (1838-1918), Franklin D. Richards (1821-99). Front row: Matthias F. Cowley (1858-1940), Abraham Owen Woodruff (1872-1904). (Courtesy Utah Historical Society; used by permission; all rights reserved.)