LDS Question 4: What is this about the "golden plates" used by Joseph Smith to restore the Gospel?
If you are sincerely interested in the truth, then have a prayer before you read any of my writings in answers to these questions . . . ask your Heavenly Father to let you know if what you are reading is true; because only God knows all truth. And, should you feel that it is . . . then, welcome aboard.
It is also important to read the answer to the first question about Mormon to more understand the origin of the plates of question. For that reason, if you are curious to read the whole story in Joseph's own words I include a link below to where you can go and read and even "listen" to his own story written by himself.
But for this week as mentioned in last weeks answer regarding Joseph Smith . . . the 14 year old boy from a large family of 11 children who, himself, decided to go into a grove of trees near his home to pray silently about which church he should join because of the many religious revivals in his area were beckoning him to join their various churches he knelt in prayer and, much to his surprise and amazement, a light descended above him in the air and, in that light, two male personages with bodies of flesh and bones, as tangible as man's, descended in the light and stood above him in the air. One of them [the Father of Heaven], pointing to the other said, "This is my beloved son [Jesus Christ], in whom I am well pleased, hear he him."
Once the young Joseph regained his composure enough to ask his question, he asked which of all the churches he should join? And, was told to join none of them. For, though many words were said to Joseph, that I will not include here but you may read in the link I share below Joseph was told that the truth was taken from the earth [with the death of the 12 Apostles of ancient times], and that he would be instrumental in bringing to pass the restored truth upon the earth again in this last dispensation, with again a prophet and 12 Apostles.
After Joseph's vision, and his sharing of his experience, he was persecuted and hated, and told it was of the devil. For approximately 3 1/2 years Joseph underwent revilings and many offenses from those around him. Joseph was overwhelmed and frustrated at his circumstances; to the point that on the 21st of September, 1823, in the evening in his bedroom, he prayed mightily to repent of his weaknesses and to know of his standing before God. His room started to brighten from a light as like before . . . when a personage stood before him, though his feet did not touch the floor, he introduced himself as Moroni, and that God had a work for him to do. Joseph was shown in his mind of a place on a mountain near his home not far from where he was were a stone lay on that mountain; the stone was rounded at the top, but flat on the bottom, and under that stone was a concrete box in which was burried a record of the ancient inhabitants of these Americas; a record on very thin, tin like golden plates [that could be en graven with a metal tool to keep a record that would not fade in time] upon which was a record of the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as preached and taught to the people of ancient America.
After the initial vision that night . . . again, two more times, the same messenger returned and rehearsed the same message, so as to take up the whole evening. The next day, while working in the field with his father, Joseph so tired felt faint, and his father told him to go back home; in the process, after crossing a fence, Joseph fainted to the ground. Waking to the sound of the voice of the messenger from the night before; who, again, a fourth time rehearsed the same things he had the night before, but then told Joseph to go and tell his father what he had seen and been told. His father told him to go and do as the messenger had asked.
Joseph after the vision and after a short time went by himself, alone, to the place shown to him in his mind's vision, and there found the stone as indicated. He dug out from around the stone's edges and discovered it's flat surface beneath. So, he grabbed a board and created a lever with which to lift the stone and managed to move it and slide it away from the box's opening beneath (upon which it had rested for approximately 1400 years [421 A.D. to 1820]). Joseph, as one would expect, reached down into the box to grab plates, but was forbidden, as appeared before him Moroni, the same messenger as before, the very same personage and prophet who in life buried the plates where they lay. Joseph was told by Moroni that he was not yet to take the plates, but that, for the next four years, he was to return to the same place at the same time to receive instruction and information as to what he must do with the plates when they were given to him.
So Joseph, in obedience, for the next four years returned each year to that chosen place at the same time and was met each time by Moroni who prepared Joseph for his receiving the plates. The time came, and Joseph was given the plates which he translated by a tool also found in the concrete box called the Urim and Thummim. He translated 1/3rd of the record in three months through the gift and power of God [through much persecution and attempts to get the plates]. It is an ancient record of the inhabitants of these the Americas and is called, today, the Book of Mormon.