A few years before the Savior’s birth, the Lord sent a Lamanite prophet named Samuel to preach repentance to the Nephites in Zarahemla. He declared the glad tidings of redemption through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Samuel the Lamanite was a second witness of Jesus Christ, along with the prophet Nephi. He forewarned the Nephites of their destruction if they did not repent. Samuel confronted them about their tendency to reject the prophets and their disposition to seek happiness in doing iniquity. He warned them of the destruction that would come to them if they did not repent.
He announced the signs that would mark the birth and death of Jesus Christ. He explained that he prophesied of these signs to help the people believe in Jesus Christ and to persuade them to repent of their sins. He also taught that all mankind, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, will be brought back into God’s presence for judgment. Calling the people to repent, he promised that the repentant would be forgiven of their sins but that those who failed to repent would be cut off again from God’s presence.
As the prophet Samuel addressed the Nephites from on top of the wall at Zarahemla, he prophesied that unless they repented, God would “utterly destroy them” (Helaman 15:17). He declared that the Lamanites had become more righteous than the Nephites and that the Lord would prolong the days of the Lamanites.
Some Nephites believed Samuel’s teachings and were baptized by Nephi. Others, who did not believe Samuel, attempted to kill him. He was protected by the power of God, and he returned to his own land.
We can learn a LOT about ourselves from these chapters. By placing ourselves in different roles we can find relevant application for our lives. Consider how some of the following questions can help you relate to this story:
- What can I learn by assuming the role of Samuel? How can I journey to higher ground by climbing the many “walls” that life will place in front of me?
- What can I learn by likening myself to the small group of believing Nephites? Would I have sought out the prophet Nephi and repented?
- When have I ever been like the unbelieving Nephites that resisted the prophet’s invitation to “look up”? In what ways have I ever opposed the Lord’s prophet with stones and arrows of my thoughts or words or actions?
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin shared a story about a group of people who were “saved” from the devastating Tsunami of December 26, 2004 because they listened to the invitation to seek “higher ground”. Watch or read below…
On December 26, 2004, a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia, creating a deadly tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people. It was a terrible tragedy. In one day, millions of lives were forever changed.
But there was one group of people who, although their village was destroyed, did not suffer a single casualty.
They knew a tsunami was coming.
The Moken people live in villages on islands off the coast of Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). A society of fishermen, their lives depend on the sea. For hundreds and perhaps thousands of years, their ancestors have studied the ocean, and they have passed their knowledge down from father to son.
One thing in particular they were careful to teach was what to do when the ocean receded. According to their traditions, when that happened, the “Laboon”—a wave that eats people—would arrive soon after.
When the elders of the village saw the dreaded signs, they shouted to everyone to run to high ground.
Not everyone listened.
One elderly fisherman said, “None of the kids believed me.” In fact, his own daughter called him a liar. But the old fisherman would not relent until all had left the village and climbed to higher ground. 1
The Moken people were fortunate in that they had someone with conviction who warned them of what would follow. The villagers were fortunate because they listened. Had they not, they may have perished.
The prophet Nephi wrote about the great disaster of his day, the destruction of Jerusalem. “As one generation hath been destroyed among the Jews because of iniquity,” he said, “even so have they been destroyed from generation to generation according to their iniquities; and never hath any of them been destroyed save it were foretold them by the prophets of the Lord.” 2
Since the days of Adam, the Lord has spoken to His prophets, and while His message differs according to the specific needs of the time, there is one consistent, never-changing theme: Depart from iniquity and journey to higher ground. (Read the rest of this amazing talk at: Journey to Higher Ground, Ensign, Nov. 2005)
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President Henry B. Eyring also shared how people were saved by seeking “higher ground”. I LOVE the two stories that he shares. I hope you will take a moment to read them below…
The Lord told us in the time of the Prophet Joseph that war would be poured out upon all nations. We see tragic fulfillment of that prophecy, bringing with it increased suffering to the innocent.
The giant earthquake, and the tsunamis it sent crashing into the coasts around the Indian Ocean, is just the beginning and a part of what is to come, terrible as it was. You remember the words from the Doctrine and Covenants which now seems so accurate: And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people. For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand. And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds. And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people (Doctrine and Covenants 88: 88-91).
Fear shall come upon all people. But you and I know that the Lord has prepared places of safety to which He is eager to guide us. I think of that often. A few days ago, I heard two accounts of God leading His children to safety on the coast of Thailand when that monstrous tsunami wave struck.
One was of people who accepted His apparently routine invitation to a Church meeting on a Sunday. The meeting was called by ordinary men who hold the priesthood of God. The meeting place was on higher ground, away from the coast. The people who gathered with the Saints were spared from physical death, while the places on the coast where they would have been were destroyed. As they were spared physical death, they were being strengthened against spiritual temptation and the wave of eternal tragedy it will bring to those who are disobedient.
The other account I heard was related to me by a Latter-day Saint who was led to safety by the Holy Ghost. He checked into a hotel on the ocean front in Thailand the day before the wave struck. He walked out on the beach. He felt uneasy. He went back to his hotel determined to check out. The hotel staff, I think worried that he didn’t like the hotel, pressed him for a reason. They only reluctantly agreed to his leaving. He moved to another hotel, away from the beach. It was on higher ground. Because of that, he not only survived but stayed to serve the survivors.
The Lord is anxious to lead us to the safety of higher ground, away from the path of physical and spiritual danger. His upward path will require us to climb. My mother used to say to me when I complained that things were hard, “If you are on the right path, it will always be uphill.” And as the world becomes darker and more dangerous, we must keep climbing. It will be our choice whether or not to move up or to stay where we are. But the Lord will invite and guide us upward by the direction of the Holy Ghost, which He sends to His leaders and to His people who will receive it. (Continue reading the rest of this powerful message at: “Raise the Bar,” BYU-Idaho Devotional, January 25, 2005. You can also VIEW his talk by CLICKING HERE.)
We will always find safety as we “look up” and “journey to higher ground” by climbing the walls in our life. Professor Grant Underwood shared something in an article that he wrote that inspired me to look to the prophet with greater intent. He wrote:
In the early 1840s, Baptist William Miller stirred considerable national interest with his prediction that the Second Coming would occur in 1843. When one of Miller’s followers claimed to have seen the “sign of the Son of Man” as predicted in Matthew 24 [Matt. 24], Joseph replied: “He has not seen the sign of the Son of Man, as foretold by Jesus; neither has any man … for the Lord hath not shown me any such sign; and as the prophet saith, so it must be—‘Surely the Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.’ (See Amos 3:7.) Therefore hear this, O earth: The Lord will not come to reign over the righteous, in this world, in 1843, nor until everything for the Bridegroom is ready.” (History of the Church, 5:291). Of the Savior’s words that no man knows the day or the hour of the coming of the Son of Man (see Matt. 24:36), the Prophet asked: “Did Christ speak this as a general principle throughout all generations? Oh, no, He spoke in the present tense. No man that was then living upon the footstool of God knew the day or the hour. But He did not say that there was no man throughout all generations that should not know the day or the hour. No, for this would be in flat contradiction with other scripture. For the prophet says that God will do nothing but what He will reveal unto His servants the prophets. Consequently, if it is not made known to the prophets, it will not come to pass.” (The Words of Joseph Smith, ed. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook (1980), 180-181; spelling, punctuation, and capitalization standardized throughout.) (“The Prophet Joseph Smith’s Use of the Old Testament,” Ensign, Aug 2002, 30)
May we all be as faithful as Samuel and climb the walls that life places in front of us. And may be “look up” to the prophet and heed the counsel and warnings that he gives us to “journey to higher ground”. I know that the Book of Mormon will help us in our efforts to do so. Below you will find a video that illustrates how…
How the Book of Mormon Changed My Life
Members share how the Book of Mormon helped them solve pressing personal problems. (3:12)
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