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1260 days of trial and the LDS church
- how Biblical can you get?


Even by the most cautious approach, the LDS church is deeply Biblical.


(To get the most from this page, you will need to be familiar with basic facts about the history of the LDS church.)


If you think the idea that "1260 days means 1260 years" is too much to take, let us start at a base line where even the most cautious Bible scholars agree: the general meaning of the "three and a half year" period. If we take this as meaning a literal period of trial, and not just a once-only 1260 year period, it is again fulfilled by the LDS church.

This is not the only example of a "days and weeks" prophecy being literally fulfilled by LDS history.

The Bible and 1260 days of trial

In the Bible, 1260 days (three and a half Jewish years) represents a period of trial. Elijah sealed the heavens in the days of Ahab for three and a half years. Jesus' ministry put Israel on trial for three and a half years. Daniel speaks of the "little horn" having power to speak blasphemies for three and a half years. Revelation speaks of the church being in the wilderness for three and a half years. Elsewhere in this web site I will look at the evidence for prophetic days representing years, but for now let's just look at them as plain old days of 24 hours each.

The first great trial of the LDS church

Note: this page deals with just the three worst historical periods of trial. Another way of looking at the trials is by themes that lasted the whole nineteenth century. That approach is taken elsewhere.

Joseph Smith had his first vision in 1820, but God chose not to reveal anything else to him until 1823. During this period, Joseph did not know where he stood with God. He was left to his own devices. He sometimes slipped up and did things he needed to repent of (though not any "great or malignant sins"). He must have been desperately concerned to know where he stood with God - after that incredible experience, and then silence. It seems that his faith was being tried. It was his "wilderness" experience.

A date for the First Vision

All we know about the date of Joseph Smith's First Vision is that it took place in the "early spring" of 1820. It was Joseph's first vocal prayer. He probably chose a Sunday to pray, because:

So Joseph's first vision probably took place on either March 18, 25, April 2 or April 9, 1820.

Which Sunday was it? Ten years later, Joseph officially organized the church on April 6th, and every conference thereafter has been held on that date (some LDS members believe it is the day of Jesus' actual birthday). So April 6th is especially significant in LDS history. It seems a reasonable guess that the 1820 vision took place on the closest Sunday - April 9th.

The date of Joseph's next vision (which opened the floodgates to many other visions and heavenly visits until his death) is known as September 21st 1823. Only in the 20th century has the significance of this second date been realized - It was the Jewish new year (and "feast of trumpets") and the autumnal equinox, of great significance in antiquity. Both events were ripe with symbolism for what was to follow. And as far as I know, nobody has ever realized that the time between the two events was probably precisely 1260 days, or "a time, times, and half a time" of trial.

Chart of Joseph Smith's life

The second great trial of the LDS church

The church (literally) in the wilderness:

When Joseph was killed by a mob on June 27th 1844, near the (then) church headquarters in Illinois, it was the climax of years of persecution. Many people thought that the church would not survive now that its charismatic prophet had died. Many tiny splinter groups broke off. To escape the rising problems (including an "extermination order" placed on all church members in one state), the church fled to the west. Wagons and handcarts were pulled and pushed across the plains, prairies and mountains, to the desert around the Great Salt Lake.

It was a terribly hard time for the church, but God raised up an apostle, Brigham Young, the "modern day Moses", who kept the church together. Finally, the church was settled in the newly founded "Salt Lake City", and Brigham was chosen as Joseph's successor on December 5th 1847. Four days later on December 9th, Thomas Kane, a government officer with sympathies to the church, promised to ask the United States president and vice president for help. The worst trial was over. It has lasted - though nobody noticed at the time - precisely 1260 days.

The third great trial of the LDS church


In Old Testament times, God allowed many of his prophets to practice polygamy. (We don't know if he commanded them too, but he certainly gave David his wives - see 2 Samuel 12:8) This did not mean infidelity, but supporting and caring for more than one wife and children. The Bible prophesied a restitution of all things, spoken of by all the prophets since the world began. Part of that restitution was polygamy, though on a very limited level (the great majority of the church remained monogamous). It operated under strict controls - for example, the man had to have a record of high moral standards, be able to financially support his new wife, and most important, his first wife had to be in favour of it!

Polygamy was the focus for anti-LDS feeling. The government passed anti-polygamy laws. Note that they did not dare pass a law against infidelity as it would have caught out too many senators. So the law allowed infidelity, or even serial monogamy, but it forbade people making long term commitments to care for and support two people at once. This is not meant as a detailed defense of polygamy, I remember reading of a non-Christian scholar who thought that opposition to polygamy was designed to attack the rights of women. The scholar noted that in a polygamous society, a woman could choose whichever man she wished, even if he was already married, and thus benefit from the most responsible or economically able men. But when polygamy was banned, women had fewer choices.


The opposition to polygamy was a major cause of the "Utah war" of 1857, in which a government army was sent to squash an imagined rebellion in Utah. The church was ready to move on yet again, and had even ploughed up the field in which the temple was being built. The government literally trod the church underfoot ( link ). Persecution climaxed with the passing of the Edmunds-Tucker bill. This took away the church's legal existence, its property, the right of its members to vote, it put church leaders in jail, and so on. The legal opposition ended with the official announcement that, consistent with the church's teachings that all men should obey the law, No more polygamous marriages would take place.

Since the polygamy difficulties built up over a period of time, and subsided over a period of time, it is difficult to place exact dates to it. But the greatest trials were under the Edmunds-Tucker laws, which were passed February 17th 1887, and began to be enforced in the months that followed. They were no longer enforced after the official declaration ending plural marriage, on September 24th 1890, and voted on by the church on October 6th 1890. My history books do not say exactly when the Edmunds-Tucker laws were enforced to their greatest extent, but it looks like a trial lasting three and a half years once again.

For a footnote on the year 1890, see the pages on the year 1905, and the brief reference regarding the Baha'i faith.


Some churches try very hard to fulfil prophecy. They study the Bible and try to copy what they see. What a contrast with Joseph Smith, who never set out to deliberately fulfil any prophecies, but ended up fulfilling them all! And the best part of it is, you can be part of it. That is right, there is a church that lives by prophecy, both ancient and modern, where the Bible is still being written. and it invites you to join in. What an offer!


Another prophecy fulfilled by church history

Another student has pointed out that Daniel's 70 week prophecy is fulfilled - with literal weeks - in LDS church history. See http://www.best25sites.com/lds/ for details. This does not mean that the prophecy cannot also be fulfilled by the first coming of Christ, but it serves to underline how the LDS church fulfils prophecy at every turn, without realizing that it is doing it.

Put simply, one of the most important events in the restoration was the dedication of the first temple in modern times, at Kirtland, Ohio, in 1836. This was the scene of great miracles and visitations, including the visit of Elijah with the keys of work for the dead, as foretold at the very end of the Old Testament. Kirtland is in the county of Jerusalem, and has been referred to as the old Jerusalem temple in contrast with the new Jerusalem temple to be built in Jackson County, Missouri. Some of the prophecies that people assume apply to the Jackson County temple were actually fulfilled by the Jerusalem County temple.

In Daniel 9:24-25, Daniel saw that there would be seventy weeks plus seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks, from the command to rebuild Jerusalem until it was built. If we take these as consecutive, it adds up to 139 weeks. This is the exact period from:

Note that all of king Zedekiah's sons (heirs) except Mulek were killed at around 600 BC, so it could be argued that the rightful location of Jerusalem moved away when Mulek escaped to America. I am not sure I would go that far, but if the same prophecy is unintentionally yet literally fulfilled in two different ways, it does strengthen the position of the LDS church as the most Biblical church on earth. I disagree over this author's interpretation of the 1260 days (for several different reasons), but see what you think: http://www.best25sites.com/lds/


the bottom line

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints cannot stop itself fulfilling Bible prophecy. Because it wrote the Bible!


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