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Please note, this post is the first in a series of posts which I began running in November 2008. Because we are presently (November 2009) rapidly approaching the Christmas Season once again, I feel it appropriate to view this series of blog posts again. I will be modifying them some.
One clarification: It was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the early 1830s that Christ was born on April 6, A.D. 1, instead of on December 25, A.D.1. Latter-day Saints throughout the world still celebrate Christmas on December 25th of each year along with others who believe in Christ.
Because of the above I have not attempted to synchronize this series of posts with the commonly accepted date for Christmas. However, I'm running this series of posts about Christmas events now to help prepare you for the Christmas season as it is known in our day.
(A child's pencil drawing of the new star that appeared at the birth of Jesus.)Many Nephites and Lamanite believers (as recorded in the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ) were looking forward to seeing the signs that Samuel, the Lamanite prophet had fortold that they would soon see.
The prophet Nephi's day-long fervent prayer in which he plead for his people to be saved from the planned massacre, was answered in these words by Christ's spirit, which was very soon to be clothed upon with a mortal body (as happens to each mortal at birth):
III Nephi 1:13 Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.
This happened in Central America among the Nephites:
The Birth of Jesus Christ in Bethelem -by Carl Heinrich Bloch
III Nephi 1:19 And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given.
20 And it had come to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets.
21 And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word.With the appearance of those signs, Nephi and his people were snatched from an imminent massacre at the hands of the unbelievers, many of whom appeared to have gone into a state of shock:
III Nephi 1:16 And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets who fell to the earth and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; for the sign which had been given was already at hand.With that rescue could we expect all to become easy for the believing descendants of Lehi, of the Nephite-Lamanite nation? We should expect that for them to be fully prepared for the visit of their Redeemer and Savior Jesus Christ in about 34 years, much more preparation was necessary.
How does the Lord prepare His people? Looking back on the history of the Nephite people it appears that challenges and tribulations are the way the Lord had prepared them in the past. Here is an example:
|Alma the Elder Baptizing in the Waters of Mormon -by Arnold Friberg|
Mosiah 18:30 And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever.
31 And these things were done in the borders of the land, that they might not come to the knowledge of the king.
32 But behold, it came to pass that the king, having discovered a movement among the people, sent his servants to watch them. Therefore on the day that they were assembling themselves together to hear the word of the Lord they were discovered unto the king.
33 And now the king said that Alma was stirring up the people to rebellion against him; therefore he sent his army to destroy them.
34 And it came to pass that Alma and the people of the Lord were apprised of the coming of the king's army; therefore they took their tents and their families and departed into the wilderness.
35 And they were in number about four hundred and fifty souls. (emphasis added)Alma and his people, as you readers of the Book of Mormon may remember, went through much tribulation for a number of years, but eventually, through the spiritual strength obtained by remaining very faithful through that tribulation, they became the foundation for Jesus Christ's Church in the large land of Zarahemla where the Prophet-King Mosiah reigned. That tribulation helped prepare them (or rather, their believing descendants) for the coming of Christ to America after his resurrection from the dead.
In the next several blogs of this series we will see how the Lord continued to prepare His people for His visit to them just after His resurrection.
You may want to ask yourselves: Have I been prepared for spiritual advancement by difficulties in my life? It could be! It happened to me.
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