While the Plates were in the possession of Joseph Smith there were many evil people doing all in their power to get the plates from the young Prophet. The Lord and His angels were working overtime to keep the plates safe. When Joseph was moving to Fayette the fears of the Plates being stolen were escalating and Joseph sought direction from God, and protection was given to Joseph Smith to keep the Golden Plates safe from the evil doers.
Joseph Smith knew he could not stay in Palmyra New York with the persecution he was facing for having the Gold Plates, and made arrangements to move the translation to Fayette, New York to the Peter Whitmer Farm. Jospeh traveled with David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery. On the journey Joseph “enquired of the Lord [to know] in what manner the plates should be conveyed to their point of destination. His answer was that he should give himself no trouble about [the manner] but hasten to [Fayette] and after he arrived [at] Mr. Whitmore’s house if he would repair immediately to the garden he would receive the plates from the hand of an angel to whose charge they must be committed for their safety."
David Whitmer later recalled this experience:
”When I was returning to Fayette, with Joseph and Oliver. . . Traveling along in a clear open place, a very pleasant, nice looking old man suddenly appeared by the side of our wagon and saluted us with, 'good morning, its very warm' at the same time wiping his face or forehead with his hand. We returned the salutation, and, by a sign from Joseph, I invited him to ride if he was going our way. But he said very pleasantly “No, I am going to Cumorah.”
This was the first time David had heard of Cumorah. The old man instantly disappeared and the group did not see him again.
The three men knew something was different with the man they met on the road. Both David and Oliver petitioned Joseph to ask the Lord who was the kind man. "Soon Daid said they turned around and Joseph looked pale, almost transparent, and said that was one of the Nephites and he had the plates of the Book of Mormon in the knapsack."
When the young prophet along with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer made it safely to Fayette around the first of June 1828, Joseph was able to continue the translation of the sacred record. David Whitmer recorded the availability of the plates to Joseph saying "The plates were taken care of by a messenger of God, and when Joseph wanted to see the plates, this messenger was always at hand."
The combination of efforts of Joseph Smith, his friends, his family and God and His angels, the plates were protected and preserved until the translation process was completed.
Where are the Golden Plates Now?
Joseph Smith had the pivotal assignment to translate the Golden Plates, and while the Plates were in his possession Joseph was charged with keeping the plates safe.
From the historical records left by Joseph and those around him, Joseph had the plates for about 22 months, and the translation period was from 60 to 90 days. When Oliver Cowdery took over as scribe the translating process sped up, recording the bulk of the 275,000-word text from Joseph’s dictation, concluding near the end of June 1829.
When the translation was completed Joseph Smith recorded that an angel of the Lord came and took the plates back. Joseph recorded: "according to arrangements, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him; and he has them in his charge until this day."
It was a whirlwind of time for the young prophet at his family and friends. Translating of The Book of Mormon was a time of growth and learning for Joseph and the others around him. They were all young and inexperienced, and the Lord taught them all, precept upon precept.
“Joseph, Exploring the life and ministry of the prophet”p.74