Saturday, December 20, 2008
Now how about what was happening in the ancient Americas around the time that Christ was born in Israel? I LOVE the story of Christmas from the perspective of this continent. It seems even more joyous and beautiful. And more full of hope and faith, because while the Savior came to earth, he was on the other side of the world.
If you've read some of the Book of Mormon, by now you may have noticed what we often call the Pride Cycle. The Nephites are doing well and prosper, they become prideful and forget the Lord, they begin do wicked, the Lord chastens them (with famine, wars, or something), the people are humbled, they repent, they begin to live righteously, the Lord blesses them, they begin to do well and prosper--and the cycle repeats itself. Over and over again. Main lesson: beware pride.
Well, around 6 B.C., many of the Nephites were in the forgetting the Lord and doing wicked part of the cycle. And a Lamanite prophet named Samuel came to call them to repentance. Samuel's story (Helaman chapters 13-16) is another awesome one. No one wants to be told they're doing wrong, and a lot of people did not want to hear Samuel. They wouldn't even let him in. So Samuel went up on the city wall to declare his message. And all the stones and arrows that people sent up "could not hit him" (Helamane 16:2). And part of Samuel's message not only was about the coming of the Savior, but also included the signs that the people in the Americas would see to know when Christ was born as well as when he would die. The signs of his birth are found in Helaman 14:2-13, specifically verses 2-6:
2 And behold, he said unto them: Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name.
3 And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day.
4 Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born.
5 And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.