The Simple Miracle That Helped the Whitmers Further the Book of Mormon – (Knowhy #488) – powered by Happy Scribe
In 1829, when Joseph Smith was translating The Book of Mormon, some people in Harmony, Pennsylvania, were becoming increasingly aggressive towards him. Threats were becoming more and more common during this difficult time. Oliver Cordery wrote a letter to his friend David Wittmer, asking for help in moving them to the safety of the Wittmer home in Fayette, New York. David discussed this possibility with his parents and siblings. They decided that despite the sacrifice, letting the Smiths and Oliver stay with them was the right thing to do.
However, David couldn’t leave right away. He still needed to plough and fertilize his fields to grow the wheat that they depended on for survival.
But then something miraculous happened. David later recalled on going to the field, I found between five and seven acres of my ground had been plowed during the night. I don’t know who did it, but it was done just as I would have done it myself. And the plow was left standing in the furrow, although it’s impossible to know who plowed David’s fields. Lucy McSmith later recalled that three unknown men worked the fields. They never explained who they were and why they were there, and they left without asking for payment.
David was able to leave for Harmonie far earlier than he had expected once the Smiths were finally out of harm’s way. The Book of Mormon translation was able to continue at a rapid pace until its completion. This unexplained plowing of a field allowed Oliver and the Smiths to move out of danger sooner than expected, and it allowed the work of the Lord to move forward confidently. And now you know why.
In June of 1829, David Wittmer stepped into the woods with Oliver Coutry, Martin Harris and Joseph Smith. Their purpose was to witness the golden plates, which contained The Book of Mormon. They testified that after they prayed, an angel of God came down from heaven and he brought and laid before our eyes the plates and the engravings they’re on. Just a month prior, David had met Joseph for the first time in Harmony, Pennsylvania, after satisfying himself that Joseph was inspired by God.
David helped Joseph and Oliver travel to Fayette, New York, which allowed the translation of the Book of Mormon to move forward without harassment from locals. David’s personal interest in the Book of Mormon grew as he witnessed Joseph dictate its pages day after day until its completion. As a consequence of his faith and service, he was chosen as one of the three witnesses. David remained true to his testimony throughout his life. Sadly, David had a falling out with Joseph Smith and was excommunicated in 1838.
He lived out a long, reputable life in Richmond, Missouri, and was even elected as mayor. He was known as an honest, upright, hardworking and capable individual. Nearly two weeks before his passing, David declared that if God ever uttered a truth, the testimony in Albury is true. I did see the angel of God and I beheld the glory of the Lord. And he declared the record true for a number of reasons. David’s lifelong testimony is uniquely valuable.
First of all, he was the most interviewed of the three witnesses and often went out of his way to testify of The Book of Mormon. Second, David was known to correct those who questioned or misrepresented his views. A man once suggested that his vision was not real. David stood up straight and responded, No, sir, I was not under any hallucination, nor was I deceived. I saw with these eyes and heard with these ears. I know whereof I speak.
And third, it is remarkable that David remained so absolutely committed to his original statements, while at the same time being so completely separated from the church. One historian concluded impeccable and reputation consistent and scores of recorded interviews, obviously sincere and personally capable of detecting delusion. No witness is more compelling than David Wittmer. And now you know why.