CLICK HERE to read Helaman 14.
It is now less than 6 years before the birth of Christ.
The Nephites and Lamanites know this – they KNOW it – because the prophets have told them.
In this chapter, Samuel the Lamanite prophet not only tells them it will happen in five more years (verse 2), but also starts telling specific signs that will happen when the Savior is born (verse 1).
Here are the signs Samuel gives, saying these things will happen when the Savior is born:
- Great lights in heaven, such that it will seem like day and be no darkness (verse 3);
- One day, night, and day will seem as if one day with no night (verse 4);
- A new star will shine, one that has never been seen before (verse 5);
- Other wonders in heaven (verse 6); and
- Some will be so amazed that they “fall to the earth” (verse 7).
Samuel goes on to say that “whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life” (verse 8). This is his message that he is commanded to deliver, to urge the people to repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord (verse 9).
Samuel knows the people are angry with him for saying these things (verse 10). He knows the people think it is too “out there”, and that the call to repentance is too hard. But he also knows this is what he is commanded to say to the people, and so he does. He does not want to condemn the people, but to help them find their way to safety by repentance (verse 11). He wants them to “know of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning”, and to recognize the signs of His coming (verse 12).
All of this is important if the people are going to find their way to believe in Christ, repenting of their sins, and finding the mercy He offers by the atonement He has made (will make) (verse 13).
Samuel goes on to prophecy not only of the Savior’s birth, but also of his death (verse 14).
For behold, he surely must die that salvation may come; yea, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord (verse 15).
Samuel teaches the people that the death of the Savior is necessary in order to bring about the resurrection, so that we may all be given the gift of immortality (verse 16). All of us, whether we believe in Christ or not, will be physically brought back into the presence of God to receive our judgments – the consequences we have chosen by our choices during this lifetime (verse 17).
This is why repentance is so important, because the good choices we make are evidence of our faith in Him. He offers the gift of the atonement freely, loving us unconditionally, but actually receiving the gift is conditional: it depends on our accepting it, and the evidence that we accept it is that we are changed by it – as shown in our behaviors, choices, and interactions with others. This is our freedom from spiritual death, that by repentance we may return to our Father’s presence – not only for judgment, but to return to our homes with Him.
When we do not repent, and so do not accept that gift, then we keep ourselves removed from His presence “for they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness” (verse 18). So we must repent, “lest by knowing these things and not doing them, ye shall suffer yourselves to come under condemnation” (verse 19).
Then Samuel gives specific signs that will happen at the time of the Savior’s death:
- The sun will be darkened and refuse its light, for three days (verse 20);
- There will be thunder, lightning, and earthquakes (verses 21-22);
- There will be storms (tornado-ish), mountains will fall, and valleys will rise (verse 23);
- Highways will be broken up, and cities destroyed (verse 24);
- Graves will open, with many resurrecting after Christ does (verse 25);
- The thunder and lightning will last several hours after Christ dies (verse 26); and
- The darkness will last for three days until Christ rises again (verse 27).
Samuel says that all of this is the earth testifying after the prophets have testified, so that the people will know it is true, and that “there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men” (verse 28). This way, any who might believe if they understood will be able to believe, and those who would not believe no matter what will receive the judgment they have chosen (and so thereby also agree with that judgment, for they will know they had every opportunity and declined the invitation) (verse 29).
Remember… whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given you a knowledge and he hath made you free (verse 30).
Everyone will know the truth, and so also be free to choose it – or not.
But what we are choosing is our consequences.
He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you (verse 31).