As early as March 1829, there were intimations that Joseph Smith would give his life for his testimony. He was admonished by revelation to “be firm in keeping the commandments…and if ye do this, behold I grant unto you eternal life, even if you should be slain.” (DC 5:22) Joseph Smith’s life seemed lived in the shadow of martyrdom.
In Nauvoo in the Spring of 1844, Joseph spoke more frequently of his impending death. Wilford Woodruff recorded him saying this, “I understand my mission and business. God Almighty is my shield. And what can man do if God is my friend. I shall not be sacrificed until my time comes. Then I shall be offered freely.