During the second day of His ministry among the righteous inhabitants of America, Jesus Christ again administered the sacrament to the people; and this time in a miraculous manner. The Resurrected Lord also testified that in the latter days the Father would fulfill His covenant to gather Israel and bless all the nations of the earth. Israel would be gathered, and all the nations of the earth would be blessed. As Jesus Christ continued to teach the people who had gathered, He also explained that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in the last days would be a sign that the Father had begun to fulfill this covenant.
In the short video clip below Elder Russell M. Nelson talks about how the Book of Mormon gathers scattered Israel (see 3 Nephi 21:1–7).
The Book of Mormon Gathers Scattered Israel
“The Book of Mormon is central to this work. It declares the doctrine of the gathering. It causes people to learn about Jesus Christ, to believe His gospel, and to join His Church. In fact, if there were no Book of Mormon, the promised gathering of Israel would not occur” (Elder Russell M. Nelson, “The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 80).
Think of someone with whom you can share your testimony of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, the Restoration of the gospel, and the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith to help this person receive the blessings of the restored gospel.
Ponder how you can encourage others to come to the Lord, including those who were previously faithful in the gospel but no longer are.
The video below is a powerful illustration of what can happen as people “discover” the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
A Book of Mormon Story
A young bishop in England describes how the Book of Mormon came to life for him and changed his perspective forever. (5:15)
For many of you who are reading along with the Book of Mormon Translation (#BOMTC) Challenge, I’m sure you’ve had your eyes opened and your hearts touched by certain verses of scripture that you perhaps hadn’t appreciated before. Wouldn’t it be great if we could help gather scattered Israel by simply showing the world what’s in this book?
People from around the world record a short video reading their favorite verse and sharing how it’s impacted them. There are over 100 videos up already, and they hope to add thousands more, but could use your help! By doing this, people can hear the words of the Book of Mormon and feel the power it contains.
President Ezra Taft Benson said:
“The time is long overdue for a massive flooding of the earth with the Book of Mormon for the many reasons which the Lord has given. In this age of the electronic media and the mass distribution of the printed word, God will hold us accountable if we do not now move the Book of Mormon in a monumental way.” (“Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon“, CR, Oct. 1988)
Will you help gather scattered Israel by flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon, one verse at a time? Please check out the intro video to find out how to get involved. Let’s help gather the scattered!
“I Love The Book of Mormon Challenge”
Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:
I am always profoundly touched by this part of the Book of Mormon. It is at this point that the Resurrected Lord announces to the people of the land that it is time for Him to leave and show Himself unto the lost tribes of Israel. As He does so, the people “look steadfastly upon Him as if they woud ask Him to tarry a little longer with them.” What happens next would surprise us, except for the fact that it is exactly what we probably would expect the Savior to do. He stays! And He stays a lot longer than one might expect. Granted, in the account of the event it is only two chapters, but because of the sheer number of people (2,500) involved in what happens in those next two chapters, we can suspect that His stay was more lengthy.
What I love most about what is about to happen is not only what will happen, but HOW it will happen. As He heals the people, He heals them “every one“–one at a time. When He commands that the little children be brought to Him, “He took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.” He institutes the Sacrament and instructs them. And before departing, He takes His disciples and, “touched with His hand the disciples whom He had chosen, one by one, even until He had touched them all, and spake unto them as He touched them.”
As you read these chapters, it is worth the effort to identify the word “one” and “all“. He made time for the individual, not just the multitude. What message do I learn from that?
HE HAS TIME FOR YOU AND ME; ALL THE TIME IN ETERNITY!
We just need to learn to ask Him to “tarry a little longer” with us.
Below are a few of my favorite paintings that depict the Savior as He, “took their little children, one by one”. As you examine them, I hope you will be reminded of how much He wants to have “one by one” experiences with YOU each day.
HAVE WE MADE TIME FOR HIM AS THESE PEOPLE DID?
I know that the Savior loves “ALL” of us, and wants to have experiences with each “ONE” of us on a daily basis.
Artist: Selected members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
One by One
The following talk by Elder Ronald A. Rasband illustrates well the Savior’s desire to minister to each of us “one by one”, and shows us how we can apply the “one by one” principle to our own life and ministry.
Throughout my life, I have come to know through my own experiences that Heavenly Father hears and answers our personal prayers. I know that Jesus is the living Christ and that He knows each of us individually, or as the scriptures express it, “one by one.”
This sacred assurance is taught compassionately by the Savior Himself in His appearance to the people of Nephi. We read of this in 3 Nephi, chapter 11, verse 15:
“And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth” (3 Ne. 11:15; emphasis added).
To further illustrate the “one by one” nature of our Savior’s ministry, we read in 3 Nephi, chapter 17, verse 9:
“And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him” (3 Ne. 17:9; emphasis added).
We then read of the special blessing given to the precious children in verse 21: “And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them” (3 Ne. 17:21; emphasis added).
This was not a small gathering. In verse 25 [3 Ne. 17:25] we read: “And they were in number about two thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of men, women, and children.”
Certainly, there is a very profound and tender personal message here. Jesus Christ ministers to, and loves us all, one by one.
As we reflect on our Savior’s way of loving, we sustain you dedicated stake and ward leaders, men and women of great faith. We gratefully recognize the many efforts of those of you working with the youth. And we express great appreciation to our caring Primary leaders and teachers for your Christlike service. We consider each of your one-by-one ministries and say thank you and please, please continue. Perhaps never in the history of mankind do we need to be serving on a one-by-one basis more than we do now.
During the final months of our mission last year, we experienced an event that taught once again this profound principle that each of us is known and loved by God.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell was coming to New York City for some Church business, and we were informed that he would also like to have a mission conference. We were so pleased to have this opportunity to hear from one of the Lord’s chosen servants. I was asked to select one of our missionaries to provide the opening prayer for the meeting. I might have randomly picked one of the missionaries to pray, but felt to ponder and prayerfully select one whom the Lord would have me ask. In going through the missionary roster, a name boldly stood out to me: Elder Joseph Appiah of Accra, Ghana. He was the one I felt the Lord wanted to pray at the meeting.
Prior to the mission conference, I was having a regularly scheduled interview with Elder Appiah and told him of the prompting that I had received for him to pray. With amazement and humility in his eyes, he began to weep deeply. Somewhat surprised by his reaction, I started to tell him that it was all right and he wouldn’t have to pray, when he informed me he would love to offer the prayer, that his emotion was caused by the love he has for Elder Maxwell. He told me that this Apostle is very special to the Saints in Ghana and to his own family. Elder Maxwell had called his father to be the district president in Accra and had sealed his mother and father in the Salt Lake Temple.
Now, I didn’t know any of what I just related about this missionary or his family, but the Lord did and inspired a mission president on behalf of onemissionary to provide a lifelong memory and testimony-building experience.
At the meeting, Elder Appiah offered a wonderful prayer and made a humble contribution to a meeting where Elder Maxwell taught the missionaries of the attributes of Jesus Christ. All who were there will never forget the feelings of love they experienced for their Savior.
I have a testimony in my heart, brothers and sisters, that God, our Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ know and love us individually. I’m not sure I fully understand how, I just know and have experienced that They do. I urge all of us in our own ministries, to our families and to our fellowman, to embrace the Savior’s warm invitation to come unto Him, one by one, and be perfected in Him.
I share this witness and hope, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:
How does one create a blog post for a set of chapters like this? There is just no way I can come close to doing justice to these chapters.
Jesus Christ in America Timeline: 3 Nephi is sometimes called the “Fifth Gospel” because it records the teachings of the Risen Lord in the Americas. It is the Book of Mormon’s Easter Story. This timeline outlines the key events in 3 Nephi leading up to the Savior’s miraculous appearance to the people at the temple in Bountiful. (Credit: Book of Mormon Central)
With that said, there are several other people who have put significant work into bringing these chapters to life and helping us feel the great blessing that was realized in 3 Nephi 11-13. So for this post I will be sharing a few videos and quotes that have helped me to appreciate this culminating event of the Book of Mormon. I hope you will enjoy them as well. I believe that they are worth every second that you will spend to read the quotes or watch the amazing videos with beautiful accompaniment.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote that:
[the appearance of the resurrected Lord to the Nephites and His declaration of His Messiahship] “constituted the focal point, the supreme moment, in the entire history of the Book of Mormon. It was the manifestation and the decree that had informed and inspired every Nephite prophet for the previous six hundred years, to say nothing of their Israelite and Jaredite forefathers for thousands of years before that. Everyone had talked of him, sung of him, dreamed of him, and prayed for his appearance—but here he actually was. The day of days! The God who turns every dark night into morning light had arrived” (Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon , 250–51).
Another Testament of Christ
Sometime following the great destruction and three days of darkness, about 2,500 men, women, and children gathered around the temple in the land of Bountiful (see 3 Nephi 17:25). They heard a voice, which they at first did not understand. As they tried to listen, they understood that it was the voice of Heavenly Father introducing His Son, Jesus Christ. The Savior of the world appeared. Jesus Christ invited the people to one by one personally witness that He had been slain for the sins of the world by feeling the wound in his side and the prints of the nails in His hands and feet.
Come See the Light
President Ezra Taft Benson taught:
“What a blessing it would be if every family would read together 3 Nephi, discuss its sacred contents, and then determine how they can liken it unto themselves and apply its teachings in their lives. Third Nephi is a book that should be read and read again. Its testimony of the resurrected Christ in America is given in purity and beauty” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 5–6; or Ensign, May 1987, 6).
Reflections of Christ
President N. Eldon Tanner, who was a member of the First Presidency, said:
“I suppose that nowhere in the scriptures do we have a more beautiful or detailed record of God’s dealings with man than in the account of this visit as recorded in Third Nephi. . . . [The] warnings and beautiful teachings . . . , if accepted and lived, will do more than anything else to bring peace and happiness to the world and to the individual seeking such a way of life. Here we can find explanations for many unanswered questions in the Bible. Third Nephi gives us additional information in more detail than the four Gospels in the New Testament, and preserves the doctrines, teachings, and compassion of the Lord. For this reason there are many who refer to Third Nephi as the ‘fifth Gospel.’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 52; or Ensign, May 1975, 34).
Soon after the people saw the signs of Jesus Christ’s birth, they began to forget the witnesses they had received, and they hardened their hearts. Many of the Nephites and Lamanites rejected further signs and wonders and increased in wickedness. As a result, the Gadianton robbers grew so strong that Nephites and Lamanites were compelled to take up arms against them. The converted Lamanites joined with the Nephites and became known as Nephites.
Lachoneus, the chief judge of the Nephites, called on the people to repent and prepared them for battle. Because of their repentance, unity, faith in the Lord, and diligent preparations, the Nephites triumphed over the Gadianton robbers. Following their deliverance, the righteous Nephites and Lamanites acknowledged the power of God in their preservation.
Joplin Saints Talk About Preparation
Members of the Joplin Stake share how being prepared blessed their lives and the lives of others in the wake of a devastating tornado. (3:40)
By this point in our study of the Book of Mormon you are probably seeing many similarities between our day and what was happening back then. We can definitely “LIKEN” these accounts to our life as we prepare for the Second Coming of the Lord. As the righteous Nephites and Lamanites prepared themselves physically and spiritually they received the “strength of the Lord” (3 Nephi 3:21; 4:10) to help them overcome their enemies and the wickedness that surrounded them. The video above demonstrates the importance of our physical preparation in the latter days preceding the Second Coming. The video below helps us to understand the importance of our spiritual preparation–which is even more important. It is one of my favorite talks about preparing for the Second Coming, and if you like to listen to Elder Dallin H. Oaks, then you will definitely want to review his message that was giving in 2004. Elder Oaks is indeed a Latter-day Lachoneus that is trying to help us be prepared for that which is to come.
In modern revelation we have the promise that if we are prepared we need not fear (see D&C 38:30). I was introduced to that principle 60 years ago this summer when I became a Boy Scout and learned the Scout motto: “Be prepared.” Today I have felt prompted to speak of the importance of preparation for a future event of supreme importance to each of us—the Second Coming of the Lord.
The scriptures are rich in references to the Second Coming, an event eagerly awaited by the righteous and dreaded or denied by the wicked. The faithful of all ages have pondered the sequence and meaning of the many events prophesied to precede and follow this hinge point of history.
Four matters are indisputable to Latter-day Saints: (1) The Savior will return to the earth in power and great glory to reign personally during a millennium of righteousness and peace. (2) At the time of His coming there will be a destruction of the wicked and a resurrection of the righteous. (3) No one knows the time of His coming, but (4) the faithful are taught to study the signs of it and to be prepared for it. I wish to speak about the fourth of these great realities: the signs of the Second Coming and what we should do to prepare for it.
The Lord has declared, “He that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man,” signs that will be shown “in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath” (D&C 45:39–40).
The Savior taught this in the parable of the fig tree whose tender new branches give a sign of the coming of summer. “So likewise,” when the elect shall see the signs of His coming “they shall know that he is near, even at the doors” (JS—M 1:38–39; see also Matt. 24:32–33; D&C 45:37–38).
Biblical and modern prophecies give many signs of the Second Coming. These include:
1. The fulness of the gospel restored and preached in all the world for a witness to all nations.
2. False Christs and false prophets, deceiving many.
3. Wars and rumors of wars, with nation rising against nation.
4. Earthquakes in divers places.
5. Famine and pestilence.
6. An overflowing scourge, a desolating sickness covering the land.
7. Iniquity abounding.
8. The whole earth in commotion.
9. Men’s hearts failing them.
(See Matt. 24:5–15; JS—M 1:22, 28–32; D&C 45:26–33.)
In another revelation the Lord declares that some of these signs are His voice calling His people to repentance:
“Hearken, O ye nations of the earth, and hear the words of that God who made you. …
“How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, … and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!” (D&C 43:23, 25).
These signs of the Second Coming are all around us and seem to be increasing in frequency and intensity. For example, the list of major earthquakes in The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004 shows twice as many earthquakes in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s as in the two preceding decades (pp. 189–90). It also shows further sharp increases in the first several years of this century. The list of notable floods and tidal waves and the list of hurricanes, typhoons, and blizzards worldwide show similar increases in recent years (pp. 188–89). Increases by comparison with 50 years ago can be dismissed as changes in reporting criteria, but the accelerating pattern of natural disasters in the last few decades is ominous.
Another sign of the times is the gathering of the faithful (see D&C 133:4). In the early years of this last dispensation, a gathering to Zion involved various locations in the United States: to Kirtland, to Missouri, to Nauvoo, and to the tops of the mountains. Always these were gatherings to prospective temples. With the creation of stakes and the construction of temples in most nations with sizeable populations of the faithful, the current commandment is not to gather to one place but to gather in stakes in our own homelands. There the faithful can enjoy the full blessings of eternity in a house of the Lord. There, in their own homelands, they can obey the Lord’s command to enlarge the borders of His people and strengthen her stakes (see D&C 101:21; D&C 133:9, 14). In this way, the stakes of Zion are “for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth” (D&C 115:6).
While we are powerless to alter the fact of the Second Coming and unable to know its exact time, we can accelerate our own preparation and try to influence the preparation of those around us.
A parable that contains an important and challenging teaching on this subject is the parable of the ten virgins. Of this parable, the Lord said, “And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins” (D&C 45:56).
Given in the 25th chapter of Matthew, this parable contrasts the circumstances of the five foolish and the five wise virgins. All ten were invited to the wedding feast, but only half of them were prepared with oil in their lamps when the bridegroom came. The five who were prepared went into the marriage feast, and the door was shut. The five who had delayed their preparations came late. The door had been closed, and the Lord denied them entrance, saying, “I know you not” (Matt. 25:12). “Watch therefore,” the Savior concluded, “for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 25:13).
The arithmetic of this parable is chilling. The ten virgins obviously represent members of Christ’s Church, for all were invited to the wedding feast and all knew what was required to be admitted when the bridegroom came. But only half were ready when he came.
Modern revelation contains this teaching, spoken by the Lord to the early leaders of the Church:
“And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
“For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes. …
“And … 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.
“And angels shall fly through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God, saying: Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the judgment of our God is come. Behold, and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” (D&C 88:88–92).
Brothers and sisters, as the Book of Mormon teaches, “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; … the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (Alma 34:32). Are we preparing?
In His preface to our compilation of modern revelation the Lord declares, “Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh” (D&C 1:12).
The Lord also warned: “Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord” (D&C 133:10; see also D&C 34:6).
Always we are cautioned that we cannot know the day or the hour of His coming. In the 24th chapter of Matthew Jesus taught:
“Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
“But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up” (Matt. 24:42–43). “But would have been ready” (JS—M 1:47).
“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:44; see also D&C 51:20).
What if the day of His coming were tomorrow? If we knew that we would meet the Lord tomorrow—through our premature death or through His unexpected coming—what would we do today? What confessions would we make? What practices would we discontinue? What accounts would we settle? What forgivenesses would we extend? What testimonies would we bear?
If we would do those things then, why not now? Why not seek peace while peace can be obtained? If our lamps of preparation are drawn down, let us start immediately to replenish them.
We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult—the spiritual. A 72-hour kit of temporal supplies may prove valuable for earthly challenges, but, as the foolish virgins learned to their sorrow, a 24-hour kit of spiritual preparation is of greater and more enduring value.
We are living in the prophesied time “when peace shall be taken from the earth” (D&C 1:35), when “all things shall be in commotion” and “men’s hearts shall fail them” (D&C 88:91). There are many temporal causes of commotion, including wars and natural disasters, but an even greater cause of current “commotion” is spiritual.
Viewing our surroundings through the lens of faith and with an eternal perspective, we see all around us a fulfillment of the prophecy that “the devil shall have power over his own dominion” (D&C 1:35). Our hymn describes “the foe in countless numbers, / Marshaled in the ranks of sin” (“Hope of Israel,” Hymns, no. 259), and so it is.
Evil that used to be localized and covered like a boil is now legalized and paraded like a banner. The most fundamental roots and bulwarks of civilization are questioned or attacked. Nations disavow their religious heritage. Marriage and family responsibilities are discarded as impediments to personal indulgence. The movies and magazines and television that shape our attitudes are filled with stories or images that portray the children of God as predatory beasts or, at best, as trivial creations pursuing little more than personal pleasure. And too many of us accept this as entertainment.
The men and women who made epic sacrifices to combat evil regimes in the past were shaped by values that are disappearing from our public teaching. The good, the true, and the beautiful are being replaced by the no-good, the “whatever,” and the valueless fodder of personal whim. Not surprisingly, many of our youth and adults are caught up in pornography, pagan piercing of body parts, self-serving pleasure pursuits, dishonest behavior, revealing attire, foul language, and degrading sexual indulgence.
An increasing number of opinion leaders and followers deny the existence of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and revere only the gods of secularism. Many in positions of power and influence deny the right and wrong defined by divine decree. Even among those who profess to believe in right and wrong, there are “them that call evil good, and good evil” (Isa. 5:20; 2 Ne. 15:20). Many also deny individual responsibility and practice dependence on others, seeking, like the foolish virgins, to live on borrowed substance and borrowed light.
All of this is grievous in the sight of our Heavenly Father, who loves all of His children and forbids every practice that keeps any from returning to His presence.
What is the state of our personal preparation for eternal life? The people of God have always been people of covenant. What is the measure of our compliance with covenants, including the sacred promises we made in the waters of baptism, in receiving the holy priesthood, and in the temples of God? Are we promisers who do not fulfill and believers who do not perform?
Are we following the Lord’s command, “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly”? (D&C 87:8). What are those “holy places”? Surely they include the temple and its covenants faithfully kept. Surely they include a home where children are treasured and parents are respected. Surely the holy places include our posts of duty assigned by priesthood authority, including missions and callings faithfully fulfilled in branches, wards, and stakes.
As the Savior taught in His prophecy of the Second Coming, blessed is the “faithful and wise servant” who is attending to his duty when the Lord comes (see Matt. 24:45–46). As the prophet Nephi taught of that day, “The righteous need not fear” (1 Ne. 22:17; see also 1 Ne. 14:14; D&C 133:44). And modern revelation promises that “the Lord shall have power over his saints” (D&C 1:36).
We are surrounded by challenges on all sides (see 2 Cor. 4:8–9). But with faith in God, we trust the blessings He has promised those who keep His commandments. We have faith in the future, and we are preparing for that future. To borrow a metaphor from the familiar world of athletic competitions, we do not know when this game will end, and we do not know the final score, but we do know that when the game finally ends, our team wins. We will continue to go forward “till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).
“Wherefore,” the Savior tells us, “be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom—For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that I come quickly” (D&C 33:17–18).
I testify of Jesus Christ. I testify that He shall come, as He has promised. And I pray that we will be prepared to meet Him, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
3 Nephi 5:13
Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:
Before departing out of the land, the prophet Nephi (the son of Helaman) passed the records to his oldest son, Nephi. When the time drew near for the fulfillment of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy about the Savior’s birth, believers watched for the signs Samuel had said would come. The unbelievers plotted to put the faithful to death if the prophecies concerning the birth of Jesus Christ were not fulfilled by a certain day. Nephi pleaded with the Lord on behalf of the believers. In answer to Nephi’s prayer, the voice of the Lord came to him, declaring that the sign would be given that night. In fulfillment of the prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite, when the sun set there was no darkness and a new star appeared. Despite Satan’s continued attempts to destroy the faith of the people, “the more part of the people did believe, and were converted unto the Lord” (3 Nephi 1:22). But two years later, the Gadianton robbers began to lead many Nephites and Lamanites into wickedness.
I am always amazed at the unwavering faith that was demonstrated by the “believers” in 3 Nephi 1. I think that every single time I read it I pause to consider if I would have been found among the “believers” that were willing to “watch steadfastly” in the face of death.
Sometimes it may seem that the sun is setting before the promises of God have been fulfilled in our lives. But this account shows me that we need to endure to the end and wait for the sun to set with full confidence that the Lord will fulfill all His words.
One of my favorite talks that helps me to “watch steadfastly” as the sun sets spiritually sometimes in my life comes from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. His talk was titled, “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” and was given at a BYU Devotional. I will include a link to the video and a copy of the transcript for those of you who may need a boost for your faith as you watch the sun set in your life.
There is a lesson in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision which virtually every Latter-day Saint has had occasion to experience, or one day soon will. It is the plain and very sobering truth that before great moments, certainly before great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, and occasionally they come just as we are approaching an important decision or a significant step in our lives.
In that marvelous account which we read too seldom, Joseph said he had scarcely begun his prayer when he felt a power of astonishing influence come over him. “Thick darkness,” as he described it, gathered around him and seemed bent on his utter destruction. But he exerted all his powers to call upon God to deliver him out of the power of this enemy, and as he did so a pillar of light brighter than the noonday sun descended gradually until it rested upon him. At the very moment of the light’s appearance, he found himself delivered from the destructive power which had held him bound. What then followed is the greatest epiphany since the events surrounding the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ in the meridian of time. The Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith, and the dispensation of the fulness of times had begun.1
Most of us do not need any more reminders than we have already had that there is one who personifies “opposition in all things,” that “an angel of God” fell “from heaven” and in so doing became “miserable forever.” What a chilling destiny! Because this is Lucifer’s fate, “he sought also the misery of all mankind,” Lehi teaches us.2
The Fight Goes On
An entire article could be devoted to this subject of the adversary’s strong, preliminary, anticipatory opposition to many of the good things God has in store for us. But I want to move past that observation to another truth we may not recognize so readily. This is a lesson in the parlance of the athletic contest that reminds us “it isn’t over until it’s over.” It is the reminder that the fight goes on. Unfortunately we must not think Satan is defeated with that first strong breakthrough which so dramatically brought the light and moved us forward.
To make my point a little more vividly, may I go to another passage of scripture, indeed, to another vision. You will recall that the book of Mosesbegins with him being taken up to “an exceedingly high mountain” where, the scripture says, “he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses.” What then followed was what happens to prophets who are taken to high mountains. The Lord said to Moses:
“Look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands. … Moses looked, and … beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God. And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not.”3
This experience is remarkable by every standard. It is one of the great revelations given in human history. It stands with the greatest accounts we have of any prophet’s experience with Divinity.
But Moses’ message to you today is: Don’t let your guard down. Don’t assume that a great revelation, some marvelous, illuminating moment, the opening of an inspired path, is the end of it. Remember, it isn’t over until it’s over.
What happens to Moses next, after his revelatory moment, would be ludicrous if it were not so dangerous and so true to form. Lucifer—in an effort to continue his opposition, in his unfailing effort to get his licks in later if not sooner—appears and shouts in equal portions of anger and petulance after God has revealed Himself to the prophet: “Moses, worship me.” But Moses is not having it. He has just seen the real thing, and by comparison this sort of performance is pretty dismal.
“Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? … Where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?
“For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me. … But I can look upon thee in the natural man. …
“Where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God. …
“Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not.”
The record then depicts a reaction that is both pathetic and frightening:
“And now, when Moses had said these words, Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me.
“And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God [the very phrase used by Joseph Smith], he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory.
“And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook. …
“And it came to pass that Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence,”4always to come again, we can be sure, but always to be defeated by the God of glory—always.
Do Not Draw Back
I wish to encourage every one of us regarding the opposition that so often comes after enlightened decisions have been made, after moments of revelation and conviction have given us a peace and an assurance we thought we would never lose. In his letter to the Hebrews, the Apostle Paul was trying to encourage new members who had just joined the Church, who undoubtedly had had spiritual experiences and received the pure light of testimony, only to discover that their troubles had not ended but that some of them had just begun.
Paul pleaded with those new members in much the same way President Gordon B. Hinckley is pleading with new members today. The reminder is that we cannot sign on for a battle of such eternal significance and everlasting consequence without knowing it will be a fight—a good fight and a winning fight, but a fight nevertheless. Paul says to those who thought a new testimony, a personal conversion, a spiritual baptismal experience would put them beyond trouble—to these he says, “Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” Then this tremendous counsel, which is at the heart of my counsel to you: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. …
“… If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
“… We are not of them who draw back unto perdition.”5
In Latter-day Saint talk that is to say, Sure it is tough—before you join the Church, while you are trying to join, and after you have joined. That is the way it has always been, Paul says, but don’t draw back. Don’t panic and retreat. Don’t lose your confidence. Don’t forget how you once felt. Don’t distrust the experience you had. That tenacity is what saved Moses and Joseph Smith when the adversary confronted them, and it is what will save you.
I suppose every returned missionary and probably every convert reading these words knows exactly what I am talking about. Appointments for discussions canceled, the Book of Mormon in a plastic bag hanging from a front doorknob, baptismal dates not met. And so it goes through the teaching period, through the commitments and the baptism, through the first weeks and months in the Church, and more or less forever—at least, the adversary would pursue it forever if he thought he could see any weakening of your resolve, any chink in your armor.
This opposition turns up almost any place something good has happened. It can happen when you are trying to get an education. It can hit you after your first month in your new mission field. It certainly happens in matters of love and marriage. It can occur in situations related to your family, Church callings, or career.
With any major decision there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.
The Spirit of Revelation
To help us make our way through these experiences, these important junctures in our lives, let me draw from another scriptural reference to Moses. It was given in the early days of this dispensation when revelation was needed, when a true course was being set and had to be continued.
Most Latter-day Saints know the formula for revelation given in section 9 of the Doctrine and Covenants—the verses about studying it out in your mind and the Lord promising to confirm or deny. What most of us don’t read in conjunction with this is the section which precedes it: section 8.
In that revelation the Lord has said, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.” I love the combination there of both mind and heart. God will teach us in a reasonable way and in a revelatory way—mind and heart combined—by the Holy Ghost. “Now, behold,” He continues, “this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.”6
Why would the Lord use the example of crossing the Red Sea as the classic example of “the spirit of revelation”? Why didn’t He use the First Vision? Or the example from the book of Moses we just used? Or the vision of the brother of Jared? Well, He could have used any of these, but He didn’t. Here He had another purpose in mind.
Usually we think of revelation as a downpour of information. But this is too narrow a concept of revelation. May I suggest how section 8 broadens our understanding, particularly in light of these “fights of affliction” we have been discussing.
Questions Often Precede Revelation
First of all, revelation almost always comes in response to a question, usually an urgent question—not always, but usually. In that sense it does provide information, but it is urgently needed information, special information. Moses’ challenge was how to get himself and the children of Israel out of this horrible predicament they were in. There were chariots behind them, sand dunes on every side, and a lot of water immediately ahead. He needed information to know what to do, but it wasn’t a casual thing he was asking. In this case it was literally a matter of life and death.
You will need information too, but in matters of great consequence it is not likely to come unless you want it urgently, faithfully, humbly. Moroni calls it seeking “with real intent.”7If you can seek that way and stay in that mode, not much that the adversary can counter with will dissuade you from a righteous path. You can hang on, whatever the assault and affliction, because you have paid the price for real conviction.
Like Moses in that vision, there may come after the fact some competing doubts and confusion, but it will pale when you measure it against the real thing. Remember the real thing. Remember how urgently you have needed help in earlier times and you got it. The Red Sea will open to the honest seeker of revelation. The adversary has power to hedge up the way, to marshal Pharaoh’s forces and dog our escape right to the water’s edge, but he can’t produce the real thing. He cannot conquer if we will it otherwise. Exerting all our powers, the light will again come, the darkness will again retreat, the safety will be sure. That is lesson number one about crossing the Red Sea by the spirit of revelation.
Do Not Fear
Lesson number two is closely related. It is that in the process of revelation and making important decisions, fear plays a destructive, sometimes paralyzing role. To Oliver Cowdery, who missed the opportunity of a lifetime because he didn’t seize it in the lifetime of the opportunity, the Lord said, “You did not continue as you commenced.” Does that sound familiar to those who have been illuminated and then knuckled under to second thoughts and returning doubts? “It is not expedient that you should translate now,” the Lord said in language that must have been very hard for Oliver to hear. “Behold, it was expedient when you commenced;but you feared, and the time is past, and it is not expedient now.”8
Everyone runs the risk of fear. For a moment in Moses’ confrontation with the adversary, “Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell.”9That’s when you see it—when you are afraid.
That is exactly the problem that beset the children of Israel at the edge of the Red Sea, and it has everything to do with holding fast to your earlier illumination. The record says, “And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid.” Some (just like those Paul described earlier) said words to this effect: “Let’s go back. This isn’t worth it. We must have been wrong. That probably wasn’t the right spirit telling us to leave Egypt.” What they actually said to Moses was: “Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? … It had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”10And I have to say, “What about that which has already happened? What about the miracles that got you here? What about the frogs and the lice? What about the rod and the serpent, the river and the blood? What about the hail, the locusts, the fire, the firstborn sons?”
How soon we forget. It would not have been better to stay and serve the Egyptians, and it is not better to remain outside the Church, nor to put off marriage, nor to reject a mission call or other Church service, and so on and so on forever. Of course our faith will be tested as we fight through these self-doubts and second thoughts. Some days we will be miraculously led out of Egypt—seemingly free, seemingly on our way—only to come to yet another confrontation, like all that water lying before us. At those times we must resist the temptation to panic and give up. At those times fear will be the strongest of the adversary’s weapons against us.
“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. … The Lord shall fight for you.” In confirmation the great Jehovah said to Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.”11
That is the second lesson of the spirit of revelation. After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel His love and hear the word of the Lord, go forward. Don’t fear, don’t vacillate, don’t quibble, don’t whine. You may, like Alma going to Ammonihah, have to find a route that leads an unusual way, but that is exactly what the Lord is doing here for the children of Israel. Nobody had ever crossed the Red Sea this way, but so what? There’s always a first time. With the spirit of revelation, dismiss your fears and wade in with both feet. In the words of Joseph Smith, “Brethren [and sisters], shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!”12
God Will Help Us
The third lesson from the Lord’s spirit of revelation in the miracle of crossing the Red Sea is that along with the illuminating revelation that points us toward a righteous purpose or duty, God will also provide the means and power to achieve that purpose. Trust in that eternal truth. If God has told you something is right, if something is indeed true for you, He will provide the way for you to accomplish it. That is true of joining the Church or raising a family, of going on a mission, or any one of a hundred other worthy tasks in life. Remember what the Savior said to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. What was the problem in 1820? Why was Joseph not to join another church? It was at least in part because “they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”13God’s grace is sufficient! The Lord would tell Joseph again and again that just as in days of old the children of Israel would be “led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm. … Therefore, let not your hearts faint. … Mine angels shall go up before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land.”14
What goodly land? Well, your goodly land. Your promised land. Your new Jerusalem. Your own little acre flowing with milk and honey. Your future. Your dreams. Your destiny. I believe that in our own individual ways, God takes us to the grove or the mountain or the temple and there shows us the wonder of what His plan is for us. We may not see it as fully as Moses or Nephi or the brother of Jared did, but we see as much as we need to see in order to know the Lord’s will for us and to know that He loves us beyond mortal comprehension. I also believe that the adversary and his pinched, calculating little minions try to oppose such experiences and then try to darken them after they happen. But that is not the way of the gospel. That is not the way of a Latter-day Saint who claims as the fundamental fact of the Restoration the spirit of revelation. Fighting through darkness and despair and pleading for the light is what opened this dispensation. It is what keeps it going, and it is what will keep you going. With Paul, I say to all of you:
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”15
I acknowledge the reality of opposition and adversity, but I bear witness of the God of glory, of the redeeming Son of God, of light and hope and a bright future. I promise you that God lives and loves you, each one of you, and that He has set bounds and limits to the opposing powers of darkness. I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the victor over death and hell and the fallen one who schemes there. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and it has been restored.
“Fear ye not.” And when the second and third and fourth blows come, “fear ye not. … The Lord shall fight for you.”16Cast not away therefore your confidence.
Remember that this year the #BOMTC will begin on April 7 with Mosiah 1-2. Here is the Google Calendar that you can subscribe to for daily reminders on your electronic device. Just click on the +Google Calendarbutton at the bottom-right corner of the Google Calendars below.
Those who have finished The Book of Mormon Translation Challenge have most likely developed what I like to call a “HOLY HABIT” of daily scripture study. You have not just been “tasting” the Good Word of God every now and then, but rather “feasting” upon it on a regular basis. What will you do to make sure that you don’t lose this “holy habit” in your life?
Some of you are ready for a slower, closer study of the scriptures now that you have taken a quicker, broader view. Do it! And start TODAY!
Others have taken President Eyring’s advice to, “go back to the Book of Mormon and drink deeply and often.” You are excited to take a closer look at some of those new verses that you have discovered during the #BOMTC. Drink up! Do it TODAY!
Some of you have expressed a desire to have a “new challenge”–something that can help you keep your “holy habit” of daily scripture study alive and active. You have seen themes and messages that you have never found before, and you are eager to continue to study the scriptures in a similar fashion. Well, I have a surprise for you!
After reading many comments requesting some type of “new challenge”, I have decided to share with you something that I have done in the past. However, this challenge will be much more “challenging” for a couple of reasons. One reason is that it is about one page more of scripture than you have been studying with the #BOMTC. Another reason is that I will not be reminding you with daily posts and reminders. But, I will be providing you with some materials to help you get started.
My new challenge for those of you who are looking for something similar in pace to the #BOMTC is to study the entire Standard Works in just 365 days!
I have created a VERY BASIC outline for you to follow. It is not pretty, but it is organized. And it will help you to track your progress as you STUDY THE ENTIRE STANDARD WORKS IN 365 DAYS 🙂
Click on the graphic to download the Microsoft Word version of Bro Simon Says’ Standard Works in 365 Days
The current versions that I am providing you begins with the Doctrine and Covenants, then moves to the Pearl of Great Price, followed by the Old and New Testaments, and finishes with the Book of Mormon. However you choose to organize your study, I invite you to place the Book of Mormon at the end of your 365 days so that you will be part of the #BOMTC next year! You will begin the Book of Mormon a little bit after the traditional #BOMTC, but you will still finish by June 30.
One of our fellow readers was kind enough to create a Google Calendar for this 365 day challenge and share the link with us (CLICK HERE). If you click on the “+GoogleCalendar” button on the bottom-right corner of the calendar, then you can add it to your digital calendars and it will show you what you need to read each day. I have used it and it has been very helpful.
CLICK ON THE “+GoogleCalendar” button in the lower-right corner of the calendar above to add it to your digital calendar.
If you are wondering why I will not be posting reminders and commentary on my blog, it is simply an issue of time–not desire. My family pays a heavy price so that I can help others study the Book of Mormon. But because they understand the importance of the Book of Mormon, they are willing to make the needed sacrifice. However, at the end of the #BOMTC they are ready to have their dad back for a couple more hours each day, and I am ready to give it to them. So I will be taking an online sabbatical, and pass the torch on to other capable and willing scripture study hosts out there. But I want to thank you again for allowing me to become a part of your most recent study of the Book of Mormon. I LOVE THE BOOK OF MORMON!!!
DECLARE YOUR 365-DAY CHALLENGE! Are you are going to study the Standard Works FOR 365 days, or study the Standard Works IN 365 days? It’s a matter of personal preference. One is not better than the other. My only concern is that you continue your “holy habit” of daily scripture study 365 days this year (or however many days it is if it is a leap year…). THAT IS THE REAL CHALLENGE that I present for you today: STUDY THE STANDARD WORKS EACH OF THE 365 DAYS THIS YEAR!
So, on with the challenge! What will your 365 days look like? A slow, careful study of the scriptures for 365 days? More drinking deeply from the Book of Mormon for 365 days? The Standard Works in 365 days? Whatever your preference is, DON’T STOP the “holy habit” that has blessed your life for the last 85 days. Find YOUR reason to study each day! Keep the Word of the Lord alive in your daily life! You know how much it has blessed you and helped you. Take time to thank your Heavenly Father for the precious gift of the scriptures, and then ask Him to help you to determine the best way for you to continue your “holy habit”. He will motivate you much more than I ever can!
July 1, 1828, Manchester, New York. Joseph Smith arrived at his father’s farm and learned from Martin Harris that the 116 manuscript pages of the book of Lehi had been lost.
July 1, 1829, Fayette, New York. On or before this date, Joseph Smith completed the translation of the Book of Mormon.
July 1, 1832, Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith completed his work on the inspired translation of the New Testament.
July 1, 1835, Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith Joseph Smith “was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients.”