Apr 3, 2014
1 min read

Another of my favorite definitions from the Bible Dictionary.

Dreams: One of the means by which God communicates with men (link).

Peter quoted Joel in this respect:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: (Acts 2:17)

President Hinckley quoted Joel too:

The era in which we live is the fulness of times spoken of in the scriptures, when God has brought together all of the elements of previous dispensations. From the day that He and His Beloved Son manifested themselves to the boy Joseph, there has been a tremendous cascade of enlightenment poured out upon the world. The hearts of men have turned to their fathers in fulfillment of the words of Malachi. The vision of Joel has been fulfilled wherein he declared:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

“And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

“And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.

“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call” (Joel 2:28–32). (Living in the Fulness of Times, Oct 2001)


  1. I don’t believe the prophecy you cited, and quoted Pres. HInckley as saying, of Joel’s,l has come to pass.

    That verse about dreams and visions keeps being taken out of context
    of surrounding scriptures which show that those gifts are only evidenced
    after great tribulations and wars
    In my understanding, those gifts are going to be evidenced after the remnant
    have proven their faithfulness through tribulations.
    Joel says after he removes the Northern army who has devastated the earth,
    and has restored “the years that the locust has eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you,(Joel2: 25) then–after all that has happened, after the devastations,–he says, “And it shall come to pass AFTERWARD, that I will pour our my spirit upon all flesh…” One needs to ask “after what?” This pouring out of God’s spirit comes “afterward.” After the tribulations.
    I believe the statement of the moon turning to blood and so on are a recapping of some of the things that happen before this, and it will be, according the Book of Revelation speaking of the same thing, as a sign to those who have made it through the tribulations, that God will now save those who are still alive. The remnant–the purified saints who are left– will be the ones having the dreams and visions, not the people of today who are patting themselves on the back because of the great missionary movement and so on, who will experience the tribulation.

    • Peter attributed what happened on the day of Pentecost to Joel’s prophecy: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/acts/2.15,16,17,18,19,20,21?lang=eng#14

      I think Hinckley was speaking in a similar context. On one level, yes, I think Joel’s words were fulfilled back in Peter’s day and have been fulfilled in our day. In another context, relating to the tribulations you mentioned, I agree that there is more to be fulfilled.

      I agree that many who are smug and idolatrous today will unfortunately reap the consequences of un-oiled lamps.

      Perhaps the spiritual aspects of Joel’s prophecy have been fulfilled multiple times, but certain physical aspects of it are still yet to occur like the literal deliverance of Zion, Jerusalem and the remnants.

      For example, visions and dreams have indeed been poured out upon this people and others as well in these days. There have been wonders in the heavens and perhaps in some ways the sun has been darkened and the moon turned to blood. Spiritual salvation and deliverance are indeed possible right now, today.

      I do agree with you that the more physical post-tribulation aspects of Joel’s prophecy are still ahead of us.

      • Richard J. Nobbe III

        Regarding what we in the LDS Church speak of as the “First Vision” was in reality a visitation from Deity. There was indeed a theophany – a literal manifestation of God to man.

        Yes, Joseph Smith calls it a “vision” repeatedly in many sources, but I think it is interesting that if you look up the word, “vision” in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, it defines the word as “an appearance.”

        • Richard J. Nobbe III

          LOL, *1828 Dictionary. You probably won’t find anything in the Webster’s dictionary except a picture of me next to the word, “dunce.”

        • But Joseph was specific when stating he was visited by Moroni (not a vision of Moroni)

          • I think there are a few things that make this difficult. First is our usage and understanding of words and what people mean when they use them. Second is the difficulty in using those words to describe the things we are experiencing, especially when they are so foreign to this world.

            From my own experience, it is very difficult to put into words what is being perceived with temporal senses or with spiritual senses, but you don’t question it because you are captivated by an experience that is real and from an external influence. It’s only after the fact where you find it difficult to explain what it was, exactly.

            Many people think that a “vision” is just a picture in your mind, a daydream and not something real.

            We think that there is something magical about our five senses, and that what we perceive all there is in front of us. Yet we are blind to radio waves, x-rays, infrared, electromagnetic fields and more, though they form images and sounds of real things and influence real matter.

            Everything in this world that you see, feel, touch, smell and hear are only the electrical signals that your brain is able to interpret. We are blind to so much more of reality than we can possibly imagine.

            When God communicates to man, the barriers are removed and we have a lot of difficulty describing the transcendent within the bounds of mortal limitations.

            So vision or visitation, call them what you will. The point is whether or not communication between intelligent, sentient beings happened. Don’t get too caught up on semantics.

          • The communication Joseph received pairs into comparison of what he learned. What he learned about the Godhead I think is even more important. He saw that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ were two separate beings. He saw that they were in resurrected celestial bodies with flesh and bone. Didn’t a modern-day prophet say that Joseph Smith learned more about the nature of God in the Sacred Grove than anyone on the planet had learned since the death and resurrection Jesus Christ? It is important to me that the first vision (I hate even saying the word) really truly happened in a tangible sense rather than he had a daydream. I have to dissect everything. I cannot only rely on my feelings to confirm that my feelings are true. The first vision is critical in the restoration of the Gospel. But if I find things that just don’t make sense to me it’s hard to grab onto the whole picture. At this point in time the church is very specific on exactly what they say. If they are calling the first vision “vision “and that’s what I have to look at it as. Is a vision. They’re not going back to saying well in 1820 a vision was really a visit. They’re calling it a vision. When I look at it from my point of view sure I believe the first vision happen. You can’t say that A guy didn’t have a dream. But it’s what he learned in the dream that changes a vision into a visitation… I’m talking about the physical nature of God.

            Being raised in the church I’ve been going along with what everybody I said since I was a child. Now I feel the need to go back in time and look at every point of the church to see if it even makes sense. And I’m just hitting the big items here. But the restoration of the Gospel. Priesthood. The temple etc. etc. i’m not interested in talking about the weight of the golden plates and how they were too heavy to carry through the woods fighting off villains. I’m not interested in that theatrical drama

          • Richard J. Nobbe III

            We have so very little information on the “First Vision.” We maybe know .00001 of what happened there that day. We just don’t know. Who did Joseph Smith see? We know that he saw God the Father and “(His) Beloved Son,” as well as other angelic beings. Looking at all four written accounts of the “First Vision” that are published, there is an infinite amount of information that perhaps is withheld from the natural man.

            We are all probably most familiar with the account given in the Pearl of Great Price. Notice Joseph says, “and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.” How do you quantify “many?”

          • I think you’re getting too hung up on the word “vision”. Like I said before, your body and your spirit can both perceive truth. Whether he saw them with they eyes of his physical body or the eyes of his spirit body doesn’t matter. What matters if God and Jesus Christ as sentient beings intentionally communicated with Joseph that day and he witnessed them.

            Look at any other prophetic experience in scripture. Take a look at Isaiah or Nephi, when Nephi says he was caught away to a mountain and was observing things, did he physically leave his tent and campsite or was his spirit taken? Or was the experience projected into his mind somehow? Was that real or was Nephi just imagining things.

            In the Book of Acts, when Stephen said that he saw Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God, and nobody else did, was that a “vision” or a “visitation”? How was he seeing those things?

            How can anyone understand that kind of experience unless they’ve gone through something similar.

            Feelings are not the Holy Ghost, they are not God. Feelings are created by chemical reactions in the brain. Because our spirits are housed in physical bodies and those physical bodies react to stimulus from the mortal world as well as beyond the veil, we use the only words we can to describe the experience. We say things like “feel” or “perceive”, we say “warmth” and “light”.

            Our descriptions of sacred things in our mortal language is about as accurate as a cave man’s stick figure representations of the world around him.

            Some forms of communication are insufficient. You can learn more about the world by going out and experiencing it as opposed to living in a cave and trying to see the world through crude petroglyphic representations of things.

            Joseph Smith got tired of relying on others for his knowledge of God, so he searched the scriptures and approached God himself and God approached him. This settled the matter forever for him and he said:

            “The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity — thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart!” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 267-68)

            There’s no other way. You’ll be in darkness forever until you take all this confusion, cast aside all your preconceptions and approach God empty-handed. It’s a gut-wrenching experience, it takes an extreme amount of humility and desire but God will respond in kind.

            You’ve lived thus far on borrowed light and the oil has run out. You need to get your own from the source, forget about everything else and find Christ first. That is always the first step, everything else is pointless until you enter the gate and TRULY receive the Savior.

            Want to kill 2 birds with one stone? Study the conversion stories in the Book of Mormon, the principles are there. Read the great sermons on repentance and coming to Christ. When you find him though the Book of Mormon, you will come to know the truth of 2 things at once.

            That Book was specifically compiled for the purpose of helping souls find peace in Christ and salvation. Read the sermon in Alma 32-33, and you will see that the place to begin, the first “word” or seed to plant in your heart is your own personal salvation in Christ.

            Once you have had a taste of divine knowledge, you will realize how futile it is to move from subject to subject trying to find truth in the opinions of men (including mine) that fall forever short of expressing true reality.

            Jesus Christ is my Savior and I personally know the power of his love. When you know how intensely you are personally loved, you will in an instant understand that you are redeemed of God, that knowledge produces a mighty change of heart and you cannot see any living soul the same way every again. Follow him and he will meet you on your journey. This knowledge does not come cheaply.

  2. Joseph Smith, The First Vision – that’s all it was.. a vision. Not visitation. But Mormons speak of it as a physical event when it really was only a vision. Mormon faith that Heavenly Father and Jesus are 2 separate beings is based on a dream? But I guess it all depends on what version of the vision you’re reading.

    • The first vision is not the only criteria for defining the Godhead. The New Testament itself illustrates it accurately enough: http://oneclimbs.com/2010/08/12/a-look-at-the-doctrine-of-the-trinity-from-scripture/. So no, the doctrine is not based on a single “dream”. The Bible, further revelations and witnesses from others attest to this doctrine.

      But I don’t like referring to them as “separate” either. They are never referred to as “separate” but as one, especially in the Book of Mormon, which is kind of ironic. I don’t believe they are a Trinitarian “one” though, I think they are one in the same way that man and woman were intended to become “one flesh” and the saints were intended to be of “one heart” and “one mind”. When you bring the doctrine down the understanding of men, you get a corrupted idea; man’s understanding needs to be raised to a higher level.

      Visions can be tricky things to really define. Paul said that whether he was in the body or out of the body he couldn’t tell, but that didn’t matter because an event occurred and communication was delivered.

      Whether the first vision was physical or spiritual, a vision or a visitation, doesn’t matter. What matters is IF the communication happened or not; did God the Father and Jesus Christ on that day communicate with Joseph Smith in a manner that he witnessed and understood communication.

      The various accounts of the first vision I don’t find problematic. I have had my own experiences with divine things and it is very hard to explain them. Depending on who I was speaking to and whether it was a large public crowd or intimate family conversation, I told the events with lesser or greater detail.

      Even my personal journals at the time did not go into detail, but the events were burned into my mind; some things you just don’t forget. About 10 years after the fact when I was reading my own journals I noted that they didn’t really capture what happened. So I decided to write out a detailed description of the entire event with as much detail as I could remember.

      Someone who reads both accounts years from now will probably assume that the latter account was an embellishment of the first, but they would be wrong. For that reason, I’m not so quick to cast aside the first vision account for the reasons that some do.

      I can’t state that I know exactly what that experience for Joseph was like, but I have had it revealed to me that the event did occur. I did not ask for this confirmation and it came on more that a handful of occasions and that is all I can say about it, I’m not going to claim to know any more than that because I don’t.

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