Saturday, November 29, 2008

31c - Preparations For The Resurrected Jesus Christ's Visit To The Descendants of Lehi

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John the Baptist -Painting: Del Parson

John the Baptist, son of Zacharias and Elisabeth, had a very key role in preparing the way for Jesus Christ's ministry. His mother, Elizabeth was a close relative to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Now Jesus Was Ready to Take His Next Big Step Forward Into His Calling.
Mark 1: 2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judæa, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

 9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
10 And straight- way coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
John Baptizing Jesus -by Harry Anderson

12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
Please read these verses for the account of Jesus' forty days of fasting in the wilderness. (Listening to this scripture would be a good option!)

Now please read and listen to this portion of King Benjamin's speech:

Mosiah 3:1-27

What you will read next is the very touching reaction of King Benjamin's people to that which he had just taught them which you have just read and listened to.

Before we return to the record given in III Nephi of the preparations of the Nephite-Lamanite Nation I am reviewing that which King Benjamin taught about the coming of Christ and his people's reaction to that. I do this because this is such a great example of how effectively the coming of Christ was taught by the inspired King Benjamin and how his message was received so wholeheartedly by his people.
Mosiah 4:1 AND now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them.
2 And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.
3 And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them. (emphasis added)
Now the record of this very touching historical experience of King Benjamin and his people in about 124 B.C. was surely passed, at least to some extent, on down through the generations of Nephites and I'm sure was still having some impact on their descendants who were living at the time when Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, would soon appear.

Now let's return to check up on those descendants of King Benjamin's people, the Nephite Nation. (The Lamanites had become a part of that nation and most likely  physically appeared to be Nephites.) Let's see what challenges they are involved in which will help prepare them for the visit of the Son of God that they, as a people had been looking forward to since Father Lehi left Jerusalem with his family and relatives to be led to their promised land which we know now as Central America.

Please read (and listen to if you so desire) to the words written by the Prophet Nephi.

III Nephi 4:1-33

I suggest you do the following. Compare the the last verse of what you just read (III Nephi 4:33, to Mosiah 4:3 which you read above in this post. Here they both are:

Here is what the Nephite-Lamanites felt after they had been saved from their enemies.

III Nephi 4:33 And their hearts were swollen with joy, unto the gushing out of many tears, because of the great goodness of God in delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; and they knew it was because of their repentance and their humility that they had been delivered from an everlasting destruction. (emphasis added)
And here described is what their ancestors felt after hearing King Benjamin's inspired words:

Mosiah 4:3 And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.(emphasis added)
 You must agree with me that the Nephites who were living just before the coming of the resurrected Lord, had been brought, by their very difficult challenges, to a deep humility very similar to that of their ancestors who were King Benjamin's people. Shouldn't that be evidence that they were successfully preparing for the Lord's visit? Let's wait and see if they remain at that level of humility!

Oh, one further matter concerning the scripture you just read and listened to: In III Nephi 4:28-29 This description of Zemnariah's hanging may sound to us like a strange way to hang someone. The following explains it was a Jewish custom.
28 And their leader, Zemnarihah, was taken and hanged upon a tree, yea, even upon the top thereof until he was dead. And when they had hanged him until he was dead they did fell the tree to the earth, and did cry with a loud voice, saying:
29 May the Lord preserve his people in righteousness and in holiness of heart, that they may cause to be felled to the earth all who shall seek to slay them because of power and secret combinations, even as this man hath been felled to the earth.
Personnel of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship of the Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah have found in an ancient Jewish document instructions for doing just what the Nephites did in this case. The Nephites were of Jewish descent as the Book of Mormon tells us, and it would be natural for them to follow the customs of the people from which they were descended. Please consider this another solid outer evidence of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

This shows that Nephites did things in a Jewish sort of way. They did come originally from Jerusalem as Lehi told us. Nobody, including Joseph Smith, could have guessed at such a correct ancient Jewish procedure, especially when this particular procedure was not known in Joseph Smith's day and only in a very recent year was it incidentally found while using modern research methods in studying ancient Jewish documents.

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