Samuel the Lamanite visited the Nephite people just a few years before the birth and death of the Savior. Because they rejected him, he stood with courage upon the wall of their capital city and declared things the Lord put into his heart and mind. I recently had the opportunity to teach the gospel doctrine class as we considered Samuel’s prophecies.
The signs of the Savior’s birth, which focused on light, saved a people who professed to believe in Jesus Christ. I have always wondered how a society could have deteriorated to the point where a government would allow people to be put to death for their beliefs. Will we see a day where our government sanctions murder for a belief in Jesus Christ?
Samuel’s prophecies of destruction at the death of the Savior halfway around the world were fulfilled as powerful cataclysmic forces ripped through the Western Hemisphere. A modern prophet has declared that conditions and events similar to Samuel’s time will be fulfilled again in our day. We would do well to be familiar with Samuel’s teachings.
Preparing for the Second Coming
Consider these words of President Ezra Taft Benson delivered in General Conference of October 1986 as he offered us his landmark address on the keystone of our religion. “In the Book of Mormon we find a pattern for preparing for the Second Coming. A major portion of the book centers on the few decades just prior to Christ’s coming to America.
“By careful study of that time period, we can determine why some were destroyed in the terrible judgments that preceded His coming and what brought others to stand at the temple in the land of Bountiful and thrust their hands into the wounds of His hands and feet.” By studying the Book of Mormon we learn how to be prepared to meet the Lord.
“Can anyone doubt that this book was meant for us and that in it we find great power, great comfort, and great protection?” And in April of 1987: “The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming” Let’s consider just a few of those parallels.
There were but few who were righteous, few who professed to believe in the Savior and few who endeavored to serve the master by declaring his teachings to the world. We find ourselves in a similar situation today. As the second advent of the Lord approaches, the number of those baptized into the Lord’s church is few compared to the world.
Critics have asked why the Mormon Church has just a few million members while there are so many billions of people in the world. They offer this as evidence that we cannot be the Lord’s servants, authorized to offer the ordinances of salvation to the world, as we claim. The scriptures offer evidence to the contrary. “Their dominions were small.”
We proclaim to the world that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church authorized to perform ordinances required by the Lord to enter his kingdom. It is in the Mormon Church that you will find the Priesthood of God, men sanctioned by the Lord to act in his behalf administering baptism and other necessary, sacred ordinances.
Just prior to the Lord’s birth, “angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy.” Angels have appeared unto man again in our day as announced by the prophet Joseph Smith and many others. Angels declare unto men “glad tidings of great joy.” We proclaim that angels continue to visit wise men today.
A modern prophet has declared that the prophecy in Joel has been fulfilled. The Lord is pouring out his spirit upon all flesh. Young men see visions. Old men dream dreams of the Lord. Sons and daughters of the saints prophesy. Wonders in the heavens and in the earth are being shown forth. The meanings are being revealed to those who ask of God.
Many signs and wonders shall yet come to pass. Not all of that verse in Joel has been fulfilled. Perhaps we have seen some “blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke.” But “before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven.” That has obviously yet to be fulfilled.
Who can doubt that ours is a day of wickedness or that we live in perilous times? These are indeed the last days. In Samuel’s day, the Nephites claimed to be a righteous people, favored of God and protected from evil. Like those self-deceived Nephites then, we live among a world that says black is white and white is black. They deny the power of God.
Wars and rumors of wars are non-stop. The whole earth is in commotion. Men’s hearts are failing them, meaning they are no longer standing for courageous ideals. Many say that Christ delays his coming. Perhaps he will wait until the end of the world. We live in a cold society, where iniquity abounds and the wicked are rewarded for their deceptions.
Even among the saints of the Lord, those who have been baptized into his church, we find many who find nothing wrong with the ways of the world. “Why do we judge and reject them? God would not do so,” they say. “Why do we condemn their teachings or practices as unnatural or ungodly?” Yet God continues to condemn wickedness today.
4. Rejection of the Lord’s Prophets and their Call to Repentance D&C 1:14–16
There is no truer sign of a prophet than a call to repentance. If any of us think we have no need to repent then we deceive ourselves. There is always something we can do to improve ourselves and always something we can do better to please the Lord. The need to repent and turn to the Lord has never been greater than it is in the world today.
Do we seek to establish the Lord and his righteousness or are we more interested in “doing our own thing” until the end of our life? How diligent are we in giving heed to the words of the servants of the Lord, His apostles and prophets? Have we received all the ordinances that the Lord requires of us, including those in the house of the Lord?
For the most part, the world has ignored the invitation of the Lord’s prophets today to come unto Christ through baptism by his authorized servants. The day is coming that the arm of the Lord shall be revealed. Those who have taken the voices of the world for their guide will be cut off from the people of the Lord who shall be saved at his coming.
One of the miraculous events that transpired before the Lord visited the people of the ancient American continent was the conversion of the Lamanites. These descendants of Father Lehi had lived as a dark and loathsome people for many generations. Once they accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ they became a fair and delightsome people.
In the last days, before the great day of the Lord shall come, the children of Father Lehi will blossom as the rose, be brought to the true knowledge of their Redeemer, and be numbered among his sheep. They shall flourish in the wilderness, meaning they shall be blessed in their many countries and build up families unto the Lord in righteousness.
In spite of great wickedness in many of their countries, including the United States, the children of Father Lehi have joined the church in great numbers throughout America. They have a great work to do in the very last days as they will assist in the building of the great temple complex in the center stake of Zion. It is their heritage and promise.
Until I prepared this lesson, I’m not sure I fully realized that the prophecy of a night with no darkness would be fulfilled once again at the second coming of the Savior. We all know the story of the night without darkness as told in the Book of Mormon. It came to pass on a most traumatic day in the lives of the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I know I had read the scripture in Zachariah before but I had not understood that it was referring to a time other than when the Savior was born. If you read it carefully, you will discover that it makes reference to the day when the Savior’s feet will stand upon the Mount of Olives. Of course we all know this refers to the second coming of the Lord.
The Gospel Doctrine lesson manual makes reference to page 287 in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. My library is currently in storage while we replace our flooring. In that quote, apparently Joseph teaches that the night without darkness will occur once again as one of the signs of the Savior’s return. Of course by then it will be too late.
Update: My library is out of storage. Page 287 of TPJS contains the quote about the “one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of Man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.” (DHC 5:336-337)
Besides the new star, the scriptures speak of many signs and wonders in the heavens and in the earth. We have already mentioned blood, fire, and pillars of smoke, the sun turned into darkness, the moon into blood and the stars falling from heaven. These are given for signs of the coming of the Son of Man and we should be carefully looking for them.
In modern terminology, perhaps we should be looking for such things as unpredicted meteorite showers, unusually large or numerous sunspots or flares on the sun, changes in the orbits of the planets, the appearance of numerous comets and asteroids, or even a repeat of the Peshtigo fires which some declared to be fire from the sky or burning sand.
Those who fear the Lord will be looking for the great and dreadful day to arrive. Fear means to respect or to give careful heed. He will not come unannounced. We should not be surprised when that day comes. The signs are known and foretold in advance. They are prophesied because he loves us and wants us to be prepared for that terrible day.
When these signs start to appear in the heavens, it is reasonable for men to look to the science of astronomy to understand and explain them. And there will, of course, be some very reasonable explanations that they are natural phenomenon even if they were not predicted. But should we not look to prophets for our explanations and reasons?
You can use your intellect exclusively to explain away these things when they begin or you can accept the words of the prophets that they are signs of the closeness of the return of the Savior. There will be scoffers in the last days who say that all things remain as they were from the beginning of creation; in other words, this is all normal.
Even when the whole earth is in commotion, with more and more powerful earthquakes, the sea heaving itself beyond its bounds, volcanos in unusual places, numerous and unusual comets, meteors and asteroids, men will say that there is some other reasonable explanation, but that it has absolutely nothing to do with the prophesy of Christ’s return.
By the time this sign rolls around, it will be too late. The day of the Lord will be upon us. But we will not be able to say that we weren’t warned. There will be many signs leading up to the great storms and natural destruction that will occur when the Savior comes. Read the Book of Revelation carefully to understand some of those signs.
There will be voices, loud sounds from within our planet as it communicates with the approaching heavens. The Lord has said that he comes with the City of Enoch. We are taught and believe that it will be a physical return of a large portion of our planet that was broken off. Can you imagine what that will be like when they come close together?
Thunders, lightnings, great earthquakes, mountains being cast down, valleys raised, a great hail from heaven and stars falling into the sea. This hail will not be water or ice. It will be large pieces of rock and earth. In other words, they are meteorites and asteroids. The earth will tremble to and fro at the approach of the Lord and the City of Enoch.
The Lord warns the righteous to be prepared for that great and dreadful day. He tells us to seek safety indoors, to hide ourselves for a little moment until the destruction passes. It will be a hot day. It will burn as an oven. All those who are out of doors will burn like stubble in the field. Only those who are besieging Israel will be out of doors that day.
The wicked will be destroyed by the brightness of his coming. The Lord has warned them and has told us to warn them, but they heed not the warnings and prophecies. We are to prepare for the day when the anger of the Lord is kindled, when the sword bathed in heaven shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth. It will be a great and terrible day.
Because of their disobedience and their determination to fight against Israel, the wrath of God will be poured out without measure. They have sealed up their destruction. They have willfully rebelled and chosen to seek the destruction of the people of the Lord. The presence of the Lord shall be as melting fire, but the righteous shall be caught up.
Summary and Conclusion
This is one of the longer essays I have written. I have worked on it for over a week as I have pondered the signs prophesied by Samuel that will be fulfilled again in the very last days. We are fast approaching those days which the righteous need not fear. We have been warned and we know what to expect. We will be prepared when it comes.
There are so many more signs of the second coming that we could add to this list but these are the ones specifically mentioned by Samuel we have been taught will come to pass again before the Lord returns. I have written much about the natural explanations of how some of these events will come about, but they are not acceptable to science.
I am grateful for the assignment to teach this lesson that helped me focus my mind on these conditions and events that are obviously coming to pass again just as they were in the days before the Lord visited the Nephites. The Book of Mormon is indeed a guide for our day to be prepared for these terrible events that must come when Christ returns.