35: “Glad Tidings of Great Joy” (August 31–September 6)
Do any of the signs of Christ's Second Coming scare you? All the thunder and lightning, earthquakes and tempests, war and famine—it’s enough to make anyone nervous. But that’s just the thing: We don’t have to be afraid! In this week’s study group, we’ll dig into Helaman 13–16 to study how the signs of Christ’s birth and death are mirrored in the Second Coming and why these signs are “glad tidings” and not sad warnings.
Books Referenced in this Episode:
Hebrew translations of Samuel:
1. Shema EL: Heard of God
2. Sham EL: Name of God
What did Samuel the Lamanite prophet do?
"2 And it came to pass that in this year there was one aSamuel, a bLamanite, came into the land of Zarahemla, and began to preach unto the people. And it came to pass that he did preach, many days, repentance unto the people, and they did ccast him out, and he was about to dreturn to his own land.
"4 And it came to pass that they would not suffer that he should enter into the city; therefore he went and got upon the awall thereof, and stretched forth his hand and cried with a loud voice, and bprophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart" (Helaman 13:2–4).
What did he preach?
"8 Therefore, thus saith the Lord: Because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of the Nephites, except they repent I will take away my word from them, and I will awithdraw my Spirit from them, and I will suffer them no longer, and I will turn the hearts of their brethren against them.
"10 Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger, and there shall be those of the afourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your utter destruction; and this shall surely come except ye repent, saith the Lord; and those of the fourth generation shall visit your destruction" (Helaman 13:8–10).
What does Samuel tell the Nephites to do?
"11 But if ye will repent and areturn unto the Lord your God I will turn away mine anger, saith the Lord; yea, thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not" (Helaman 13:11).
Who does Samuel say is leading the Nephites?
"27 But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: aWalk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a bprophet.
"28 Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh aflattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.
"29 O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye astiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by bfoolish and cblind guides? Yea, how long will ye dchoose darkness rather than elight?" (Helaman 13:27–29).
"Blind guides" of the Book of Mormon as social media users:
- Sherem, who flattered the people with eloquent language, would be popular on Twitter, Elder Johnson suggested: “He would have many catchy, clever tweets that would be retweeted because he knew just how to turn a phrase or place a barb.”
- Nehor’s fashionable clothing and physical attractiveness might result in many Instagram followers, allowing him to model “the ‘good life’ without the constraints of commandments and use his pattern of bearing down on the Church and its teachings.”
- Meanwhile, Korihor would mock believers on his YouTube channel and “gather more subscribers as his message got out that ‘whatsoever a man did was no crime,’” (Alma 30:17). (Elder Paul Johnson, "To Guide Us in These Latter Days," February 2020 BYU-Hawaii Devotional).
Quote: “Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.”(Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship," April 2014 general conference).
Christ is the light of the world:
Quote: "The first teaching about light begins in the Bible, in the book of Genesis, where the creation of earth is recorded. God divided light from darkness. Also, the separation of light and darkness symbolizes the difference between the Light of Christ and the darkness that surrounds Satan and his followers. Satan is known as the prince of darkness” (Elder Robert D. Hales, “That Ye May Be the Children of Light," November 1996 BYU Devotional).
Signs Samuel gave of Christ's birth:
- Christ will be born in five years Helaman 14:2 3 Nephi 1:13
- No darkness for two days, one night Helaman 14:3–4 3 Nephi 1:15
- A new star will arise Helaman 14:5 3 Nephi 1:21
- There will be signs and wonders Helaman 14:6 3 Nephi 2:1
- People will fall to the earth Helaman 14:7 3 Nephi 1:16–17
Signs Samuel gave of Christ's death:
- No light for three days Helaman 14:20, 27 3 Nephi 8:19–23
- Thunderings and lightnings Helaman 14:21 3 Nephi 8:6–7
- Earth will shake, tremble, and be broken up Helaman 14:21–22 3 Nephi 8:12,17–18
- Mountains will be laid low and valleys raised Helaman 14:23 3 Nephi 8:10,13; 3 Nephi 9:8
- Resurrected people will appear to many Helaman 14:25 3 Nephi 23:9–14
Why did Samuel give signs of the coming of Christ?
"28 And the angel said unto me that many shall see greater things than these, to the intent that they might believe that athese signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men" (Helaman 14:28).
We are free to choose light over dark:
"30 And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto ahimself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are bfree; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a cknowledge and he hath made you free.
"31 He hath given unto you that ye might aknow good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might bchoose life or death; and ye can do good and be crestored 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" (Helaman 14:30–31).
Should we be afraid for the Second Coming?
"30 I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, atreasure up bwisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30).
Quote: “His coming will be both glorious and terrible, depending on the spiritual condition of those who remain” (Benson, “Prepare Yourself for the Great Day of the Lord,” New Era, May 1982).
Do we know when the Second Coming will be?
"15 Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore alet this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter" (Doctrine and Covenants 130:14–15).
Quote: “I am called as one of the Apostles to be a special witness of Christ in these exciting, trying times, and I do not know when He is going to come again. As far as I know, none of my brethren in the Council of the Twelve or even in the First Presidency knows. And I would humbly suggest to you, my young brothers and sisters, that if we do not know, then nobody knows, no matter how compelling their arguments or how reasonable their calculations. . . . I believe when the Lord says ‘no man’ knows, it really means that no man knows. You should be extremely wary of anyone who claims to be an exception to divine decree” (President M. Russell Ballard, “When Shall These Things Be?” Brigham Young University Devotional, March 12, 1996).
Signs of Second Coming:
- The Lamanites “blossomed as a rose” (3 Nephi 2:14–16; Helaman 6:1; D&C 49:24).
- The righteous were gathered together (3 Nephi 3:22; D&C 115:6).
- Many signs and wonders were shown (Helaman 14:6; D&C 45:40).
- Earthquakes and tempests caused the earth to shake and tremble (Helaman 14:20–24; 3 Nephi 8:6–18; D&C 45:48).
- The sun, moon, and stars were darkened (3 Ne. 8:22; D&C 34:9).
- The righteous were spared and the wicked were destroyed (3 Nephi 9:1–13; 10:12; D&C 29:11).
- Those who were prepared were those who sustained and followed the prophets (3 Nephi 10:12; D&C 45:32; 124:45–46).
- When Christ spoke, His voice pierced the darkness and was heard everywhere at once, "I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. . . . The scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled” (3 Nephi 9:1, 15–16; D&C 45:49).
- Christ came down from heaven and met his people at the temple (3 Nephi 11:1–11; Malachi. 3:1–5).
- He displayed the wounds in his hands and feet (3 Nephi 11:14; D&C 45:51–52).
- His appearance began a resurrection of the righteous (3 Nephi 23:9–14; Helaman 14:25; D&C 88:95–102).
- With great compassion and love, Jesus healed all who were lame, blind, maimed, or afflicted in any manner. He dried every tear and touched every heart (3 Nephi 17; Revelation 21:4).
Quote: "True, in the early days of the Church, conversion often meant emigration as well. But now the gathering takes place in each nation. The Lord has decreed the establishment of Zion (see Doctrine and Covenants 6:6; 11:6) in each realm where He has given His Saints their birth and nationality. The place of gathering for Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; the place of gathering for Nigerian Saints is in Nigeria; the place of gathering for Korean Saints is in Korea. Zion is “the pure in heart” (Doctrine and Covenants 97:21). It is wherever righteous Saints are" (President Russell M. Nelson "The Future of the Church: Preparing the World for the Savior’s Second Coming," Ensign, April 2020),
What was Samuel commanded to do?
"9 And behold, thus hath the Lord commanded me, by his angel, that I should come and tell this thing unto you; yea, he hath commanded that I should prophesy these things unto you; yea, he hath said unto me: Cry unto this people, repent and prepare the way of the Lord" (Helaman 14:9).
Symbolism of Isaiah 40:3:
Him: Jesus Christ
Prepare the Way of the Lord: Prepare for the Second Coming
Desert: World of Sin
Highway of our God: Holiness
Quote: "In Isaiah it says make straight in the desert a highway for our God. This phrase means 'prepare the way of the Lord,' or prepare for the Second Coming by making the Saints' path back to God's presence level or smooth (that is, remove all obstacles out of the way so that others can be obedient to the laws and ordinances of the gospel). The modern equivalent to Isaiah's phrase make straight in the desert a highway for our God is 'make his paths straight' (D&C 33:10; 65:1; 45:2). The desert symbolizes the world of sin. The highway here is 'the way of holiness' (19:19-25; 35:8) (Tina M. Peterson, Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry, Understanding Isaiah, Deseret Book, 1998, 341)."
How are the Saints gathering today?
Quote: "The Book of Mormon chronicles the classic rise and fall of two major civilizations. Their history demonstrates how easy it is for a majority of the people to forget God, reject warnings of the Lord’s prophets, and seek power, popularity, and pleasures of the flesh.4 Repeatedly, past prophets have declared “great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe.”5
"It is no different in our day. Through the years, great and marvelous things have been heard from dedicated pulpits across the earth. Yet most people do not embrace these truths—either because they do not know where to look for them6 or because they are listening to those who do not have the whole truth or because they have rejected truth in favor of worldly pursuits" (President Russell M. Nelson, "Hear Him," April 2020 general conference).
To whom did angels appear?
Wise: Having the power of discerning and judging correctly, or of discriminating between what is true and what is false; between what is fit and proper, and what is improper (webstersdictionary1828.com).
What are the three qualifications for being wise?
"For they that are wise and have received the atruth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their bguide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the cfire, but shall abide the day" (D&C 45:56-57).
1. Received truth
2. Taken the Holy Spirit for their guide
3. Have not been deceived
Quote: "Some personal manifestations have been so quiet that those who received them were unaware of the angelic presence. The ministry of these unseen angels is among the most sublime forms of interaction between heaven and earth, powerfully expressing God’s concern for us and bestowing tangible assurance and spiritual sustenance upon those in great need" (Bruce C. Hafen, "When Do the Angels Come?" ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Well, today's lesson is hands down one of my absolute favorite things to teach and talk about — the signs leading up to the coming of Jesus Christ. However, it hasn't always been that way. In fact, I can totally remember as a teenager being in a Sunday school class, and having my teacher teach us about all the signs — earthquakes, the moon's going to turn to blood, there's going to be plagues, and I can remember sitting there in that class thinking, "I don't want to die, I don't wanna die." And then as I got older and started teaching it, the more I've learned, now I'm thinking, "I don't want to live. Let me die and hang out up in the heavens until it's all over and then I'll come back." I'm assuming that I'm going to be among the righteous... I probably will. Anyway, I think it's just so much fun to talk about, because today's lesson is from Helaman chapters 13 through 16, and it is going to be awesome, and hopefully, when we're done studying these scriptures, we will see them as Samuel the Lamanite did, and we're going to view them as he called them "glad tidings" and not sad mournings.
Welcome to the Sunday on Monday study group, a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original brought to you by LDS Living where we take the Come, Follow Me lesson and we really dig into the scriptures together. I'm your host, Tammy Uzelac Hall. Now if you're new to our study group, I want to make sure you know how you can use this podcast. It is about an hour long, and you can listen to it all at once in one hour, get your scripture study done for the week, or you can listen to this in segments, which I think is pretty cool. There's six segments and each one is about 10 to 12 minutes long, so you can study your scriptures for 10 minutes a day. And at the end of the segment, you will hear a little bit of music play, and so listen for that music and you'll know you're done. Now, I will have to tell you though, my favorite part of the study group is each week we're joined by two of my friends so it's always different. And this week, I'm so excited because we have Sharmaine Howell back. Yay an original!
Hey! What's up?
Hi! But then we have my really good friend Mary Jane Ungrangsee from Thailand. Hi!
Mary Jane 1:54
Hey, how are you? It's great to see you. It's really nice to be here.
Say that in Thai. Come on. You speak fluent Thai.
Mary Jane 2:01
"สวัสดีค่ะทุกคนจากกรุงเทพมหานคร ดีใจมากที่ได้มาคุยด้วยวันนี้" There you go.
Wow, that was awesome.
Yeah, you totally could have made that up. We don't know.
Yeah, she probably could have swore at me like, "Why did you ask me to be on the podcast you big fat jerk." That's what she really said. But I met you in the Singles ward so that's how we knew each other.
Mary Jane 2:26
That's right! Way back in the day.
Before we both got married, now here we are, kids.
Mary Jane 2:31
And here we are. Kids everywhere.
We're so excited to have you join us. This is gonna be really fun today. And Sharmaine, I mean, we all know her and love her because I just found out, and I'm going to cry my eyeballs out, you are selling your house and you're moving!
I know. So we're gonna have to be neighbors from farther away, right? Best friends from far away. We can do it.
Yes. We totally can. We can have a long distance relationship. It'll work. Well, you can find more information and pictures about my cute friends by going to where our show notes are, at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. So go check that out so you can see them. Alright, so everyone, if you're not driving, grab your scriptures and let's dig in. Okay, one of the things that I love about Mary Jane is she's very gifted and talented with singing and music and everything, and so are her daughters. So I asked her, because I looked up in "Follow the Prophet" and I thought, "Oh, it'd be fun if we started by singing the verse about Samuel the Lamanite." And there isn't one, so I asked Mary Jane if she and her daughters would write a verse of Samuel the Lamanite to "Follow the Prophet," and she did. She recorded her daughters singing it, so I'm gonna play it for you. This is so great. We might have to see if we can get it put in the new children's hymn book.
Here it goes. Listen to this. These cute lyrics they wrote.
Mary Jane 3:50
"Samuel was a prophet, preached upon a wall, but the wicked Nephites tred to make him fall. Samuel kept his balance. He knew what was right cause he kept his faith in Heavenly Father's light. Follow the Prophet, follow the Prophet, follow the Prophet. Don't go astray. Follow the Prophet, follow the Prophet, follow the prophet. He knows the way."
That is so perfect. Oh my gosh.
Mary Jane 4:27
That was my youngest daughter.
How did you come up with that?
Mary Jane 4:29
You know, it was surprisingly easy. Well, Samuel is just so... he's such an interesting character there's so much about him that's fascinating because we really don't know that much about him but what a strong personality he must have had. And he's so brave, I mean, you think about it in today's context even. This Lamanite who's going to preach to the Nephites who have historically been, you know, God's people and for this Lamanite to go to them and tell them of their wickedness. It's pretty spectacular how much faith he had and how grounded and centered he was in his faith. It's really remarkable.
Well, Mary Jane, I love that you started out by saying that, because a couple of things that I wanted to point out were about Samuel the Lamanite. And as I was studying for this, I read that an author somewhere said, "The Lamanite prophet Samuel," and I thought, "Oh, that's a great way to refer to him instead of Samuel the Lamanite. Let's first say he was the Lamanite prophet, because that tells you so much right there." And then his name is Samuel. And then of course, I had to look up this name in Hebrew. So in Hebrew, "Samuel" has two different meanings that it could be. It could mean "Shema EL," which means "Heard of God." Or if the Samuel is Sham EL, Samuel would mean "Name of God." So he's either heard of God or he has the name of God in his name. Either way, he's doing God's work. And just like you said, Mary Jane, he's coming to tell these people in Zarahemla, he's preaching repentance.
Let's go to Helaman chapter 13, and we're going to look at a couple of verses about him. In Helaman chapter 13, verses one through four, he goes in and he starts to preach to the people and immediately he is run out. Shar, will you please read at the very end of verse two where it says, "...and they did."
"...and they did cast him out, and he was about to return to his own land."
Like he's just gonna go home. He's like, "Eh, forget it. These people won't hear."
It makes me think of Alma when he's leaving the City of Ammonihah, and an angel stops him and says, "No, you've got to go back." And so Samuel is like, "Alright, these people aren't listening. I'm leaving." An angel stops him and he goes back. I just love that, when you feel like, "I've done my job. I've done my duty. So now I can check it off, right?" I just love how an angel is like, "Nope, we're going back."
"We're going back." It's so true. So he does, he goes back and this is interesting because he begins his sermon on the wall, which I love that you wrote in that song. And I want us to read a couple of these verses from his sermon. So let's go to Helaman chapter 13, and we're going to read verse five. And then we're going to skip and read verses eight through 10. And for those of you listening, as we read these verses, I want you to mark some of his prophecies, some of the things that he's telling these people that they are not going to like to hear. So Shar, will you continue reading for us?
"And he said unto them: Behold, I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart; and behold he hath put it into my heart to say unto this people that the sword of justice hangeth over this people; and four hundred years pass not away save the sword of justice falleth upon this people."
And then go to verse eight through ten.
"Therefore, thus saith the Lord: Because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of the Nephites, except they repent I will take away my word from them, and I will withdraw my Spirit from them, and I will suffer them no longer, and I will turn the hearts of their brethren against them."
"And four hundred years shall not pass away before I will cause that they shall be smitten; yea, I will visit them with the sword and with famine and with pestilence."
"Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger, and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your utter destruction; and this shall surely come except ye repent, saith the Lord; and those of the fourth generation shall visit your destruction."
Thank you. What did you mark? What are some of the prophecies that he teaches them?
Mary Jane 8:32
Oh he certainly says the "400 years" over and over.
And that "he will take his word away and the spirit will be withdrawn from them." I think those are interesting.
Yeah. And it's interesting because this is similar to the prophecy that Alma gives in Alma chapter 45, where he says to his son, "Hey, listen, let me tell you, it's a side note. Here's what's going to happen. These people... and don't tell anybody," remember that? Where he's like, "All these people are going to be destroyed." And here's Samuel the Lamanite saying the same thing to them. Like, "Oh FYI, remember that." And what's interesting now as we've studied these, look up at verse seven, and just tell me because twice this is repeated, what is he calling this stuff that he's telling him?
Mary Jane 9:11
"The glad tidings to my soul."
Yeah, right because it's so interesting to me as he's saying this, it didn't seem that glad. So the Lamanite prophet, Samuel, he is calling these "glad tidings" to the people, but not everyone's glad about what he has to say. So in the next segment, we're going to read about Samuel's main message and warning that he has for the people.
Segment 2 9:37
Have either one of you ever been on a trip that required a guide, or maybe a trip that you wish you had a guide? I'm not a guide person on trips, I just like to go by the seat of my pants, "Let's see what happens," and then I'm also the person that gets lost on a bus in Scotland at the very end of the station where they had to kick me off and I had to find a bus home.
Mary Jane 10:07
So many stories, so many stories. We are not guide people.
I was gonna say, I think Mary lives in a place that she needs a guide all the time. That's what I would imagine.
Mary Jane 10:20
We try to be very self sufficient, but you learn pretty quickly that there are times when you really need help, and you really need to pay attention to what's going on around you or you're going to get in some serious trouble.
Perfect. Okay, let's jump into Helaman chapter 13 and find out what this talk about guides has to do with Samuel's message to the people. So his main overall message of chapter 13 is "repent." So somewhere on the top of your page of Helaman chapter 13, I just wrote in big letters the word "repent" because that's what he has to say. But let's go to verse 11. Mary Jane, will you read verse 11 please?
Mary Jane 10:56
"But if ye will repent and return unto the Lord your God I will turn away mine anger, saith the Lord; yea, thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not."
What word did he connect with repenting?
Mary Jane 11:13
Return. I love this word. And actually in Thai, the word that they use for "repent" in the scriptures is the word กลับใจ, which literally means "return your heart."
That just gave me chills. I'm going to put that in my scriptures. "Return your heart." I like that. Thank you for sharing that with us. So after he warns them about repenting, he then warns them in verses 21 and 22 about a curse that's going to be on the land because they're going to value their riches more than anything. And so Samuel is going to prophecy, "You know what, you can't take them with you. It doesn't even matter. Like your riches because they're going to be stolen. They're not going to last." So he gives that prophecy, but then he hits them with this verse. So let's go to Helaman chapter 13. We're going to read verses 27, 28, and 29, but I want us to pay special attention to verse 29. So, Mary Jane, will you keep reading for us and read 27 through 29?
Mary Jane 12:04
"But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet."
"Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him."
"O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?"
Thank you. Let's mark that at the end of that verse. I like how you read it. "To be led by foolish and blind guides." Boy, tell me about that. If you had one of those, why is that a bad thing?
Mary Jane 13:06
I am generally the foolish and blind guide in our family when we travel. We do a lot of international traveling with our kids. And one time we were in Naples, in Italy, and I'm driving this huge van because there's six of us plus all of our luggage, and we're trying to get to this one particular place to do some shopping, and I'm totally confused by what's going on. It's absolute chaos in the streets. And somehow I managed to get us wedged into this parking lot, narrow alleyway and where we wanted to go was on the other side, and I thought, Oh well if I can just get through here, then we'll make this turn and we'll be right there." And not only did I get us wedged into this alley, and where we were supposed to go was... it was not only a one way street that we weren't going to be able to turn on to, but it was actually a pedestrian walking street and there wasn't supposed to be any cars on the road at all. I had to back up out of this... I mean, literally we had like, you know, centimeters on each side of the van I had to back out of this alleyway. It was absolute chaos. People yelling at me as I'm trying to back out. We did get out but it was a difficult time and I was definitely the foolish and blind guide.
Thank you for sharing that story. Let's apply a Mary Jane Jones in our life. Like when we look at the world around us, it's interesting because who are the foolish and blind guides to us? Remember, Samuel the Lamanite is warning these people about the foolish and blind guides in their lives, and so what are some examples? Can you think of anything that would be a foolish or blind guide to us?
Well, I like that Mary Jane just called herself out. Sometimes I think that we are that in our lives, right?
We don't know what's best sometimes. We need to get on our knees and ask Heavenly Father sometimes we can be that.
Mary Jane 14:53
Not to use it as the universal scapegoat, but man, social media is a powerful influence. Right? And if we're not so careful about you know, being discriminating about what it is that we take into our lives via social media, it can definitely lead us down some dangerous paths.
Oh for sure. Elder Paul Johnson gave a BYU-Hawaii talk to the students. He was so clever with how he called out some blind guides, I just had to share this with you because I thought it was so clever. He said, "Sherem, who flattered the people with eloquent language, would be popular on Twitter, Elder Johnson suggested: 'He would have many catchy, clever tweets that would be retweeted because he knew just how to turn a phrase or place a barb.'"
He said, "Nehor’s fashionable clothing and physical attractiveness might result in many Instagram followers, allowing him to model 'the ‘good life’ without the constraints of commandments and use his pattern of bearing down on the Church and its teachings.'" I thought that was so good.
"And then he said, 'Meanwhile, Korihor would mock believers on his YouTube channel and “gather more subscribers as his message got out that ‘whatsoever a man did was no crime,’” (Alma 30:17). (Elder Paul Johnson, "To Guide Us in These Latter Days," February 2020 BYU-Hawaii Devotional).
That's so clever. Then, like at the end of his talk, he kind of said this, which goes right in line with what we're talking about, and it goes in line with verses 27 and 28. He quoted Jeffrey R. Holland from another talk. And Shar, will you read this quote for us?
“Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.”(Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship," April 2014 general conference).
Wow, I love that. That's so true. We just want the easy life. And I think even to me, it feels like we don't want to change because change is uncomfortable. We want it to feel comfortable all the time. Right? And I think sometimes God demands that we, you know, step into change sometimes.
I like when you said, "We want the easy life." It made me think, "Yeah, and oftentimes we want someone else's life." So we just scroll until we find something better, and then we kind of fall into that trap of, "Their life seems so much better. Why can't I have that life?" And that becomes a blind guide because that's not really real life. We know that. We can say that, but then in practice, I find myself... you just get sucked in so easily.
Mary Jane 17:23
Mary Jane, what are you thinking? You keep shaking your head, I love it.
Mary Jane 17:26
Oh, it's just, it's absolutely true. We want people to tell us the latest hack. We want to know what the latest hack is, "How can I make my life easier? How can I do the least amount of work and get the most result?" Which is not necessarily in itself a bad thing, except when it leads you to cut corners on the things that are really important in your life. And if it's promising you things that aren't real and you've just got to stay grounded on what's really important in your life and not allow the promise of ease and prosperity to lead you away from what really has value, and you've got to decide for yourself, "What has value in my life? What do I really, really want?"
I like in the end of 29, it's a choice, you have to make a choice. He says, "How long will you choose darkness rather than light?" And sometimes I think we don't think we're making choices when we're just taking the easy way. We're not choosing the darkness, but you actually are, you're not choosing the light, right?
You know, Shar. I love that you just said that because like when you were saying it, I'm like, "That is perfect," because it is about choosing darkness rather than light. And when he says that, it is a metaphor. That's what's so cool about those last words, is he is setting the people up for signs of coming of Jesus Christ by saying, "How long will you choose darkness rather than light?" Because the word "light," you can cross reference John chapter three, verse 19, the light is Christ, and the darkness is Satan. Which is really kind of neat because we believe, and this has been taught by Elder Hales, that the first teaching about light and darkness being divided is in the creation. And Elder Hales says he divided Christ from Satan, the good from the evil, he cast them out. Like we say the division was the sun and the light and dark there. But he's saying, "No, it's really a metaphor for good versus evil." And so how long will you choose darkness rather than light? Satan rather than Jesus Christ. And so in the next segment, we're going to see all of the things that connect these two words to the signs of the Second Coming.
Segment 3 19:30
So Mary Jane, I asked you this question before we met, and I'm just curious to know, are there any odd signs in Thailand that were new to you when you moved there? Like, "What does that mean?" Was there anything that you had to learn that that's what it meant?
Mary Jane 19:53
Well, they're always the funny ones, you know, like the elephant crossing and things like that.
That's a real sign. A street sign.
Mary Jane 20:00
Well, in certain areas, there'll be, you know, big signs for elephants because there are spots where wild elephants will occasionally cross.
Mary Jane 20:09
Yeah, but actually, the very first sign that I make sure I understand whenever I'm in a new country is a "no parking" sign because they're not always the same. So I make sure I know what that "no parking" sign looks like and that I obey it religiously.
Okay, I love that. I think that is a great example of a sign to pay attention to. I'm curious to know as you guys were reading Helaman chapter 14, verses two through seven, what were some of the signs that stood out to you that Samuel the Lamanite gives to the people?
I liked in verse three, the great lights in heaven. You know, I wish I would have seen that, whatever that looked like.
Let's cross reference that because there are some scholars who believe that the great lights in heaven were the angelic visits, and you can cross reference it with Luke chapter two, verse nine, and then verses 13 through 14. So I'm glad you brought that up. That's a great one. Great lights in heaven. Luke chapter two verse nine and then 13 through 14.
Yeah, I liked that.
I also like the one day and one night as a day. I mean, that's kind of the classic one that you think of Samuel the Lamanite, right? And then I love the new star in verse five.
And you can cross reference that to Matthew. Matthew chapter two. How about you, Mary Jane?
Mary Jane 21:25
Yeah, the two days and the night, where he says, "You will know that the sun has risen and that the sun has set, but there won't be any darkness." And that is something I would love to see. There was one summer we were in Sweden and we were really, really far north, and at midnight, the sky was still kind of light, like it was sort of dusty even at midnight, and it never really got completely dark and it was just so sort of unnerving to look at the sky at midnight and know that it's the middle of the night and yet it's really not very dark outside. So that would have been something that would have been really fascinating to see.
Yeah, definitely. I like in verse seven, he said how they would react to all of it. He says, "You'll stand in amazement and wonder, and in so much ye shall fall to the earth." Like I love that he predicts how they'll react to these signs, the fallings of Earth.
Yeah. And in six how he says, "This is not all. There shall be many signs and wonders in heaven."
You know? And I'm always like, "Well, keep telling them. We want to know what else they were, don't stop there. Come on. What the heck."
That would be you. I could see you with your hand up, "Could you give us just a few more?"
Yeah, "Just a couple more, come on."
"Can you meet me later and we'll just go over that." I think that's great Shar.
"We're just gonna make them fall down. Let's hear what they were."
Well, here's the thought because I want us to think about this. Why do you think these particular signs that we just talked about might have been appropriate for indicating the birth of Jesus Christ? Think about all the things...
It just clicked from the last segment. I'm getting it now, Tammy, you totally got me. You strung me along.
It's the darkness and the light in my mind. It's a new star. It's the whole day and night and day as light, it's all light. It's lights in the heaven. It's just everything turns to Christ, right? And they're all symbols of light that are showing up on the earth.
That's exactly it. So conversely then, what is it about the signs of his death that are fitting? Go to Helaman chapter 14, verse 20. So kind of look over those. What are some things about those signs?
Mary Jane 23:36
The sun will be darkened and refuse to give light, also the moon and the stars, and there shall be no light on the face of this land, even from the time he shall suffer death for three days. And once he's risen again, and the light returns, it's absolutely literal that he is the light of the world.
You know, this question I'm thinking in my head because here's what I really want to know about this going back to, "How much longer will ye choose darkness over than light?" And I'm wondering, has there been a time in either one of your lives where you remember choosing light? Is there a time that was dark and you did choose light and it made a difference?
I'm not sure if I've shared this before, but I definitely had a time of darkness. I've had postpartum depression many times. And I just remember that there was a day that I just had a Sunday School lesson about Peter, and how he was walking on the water and he reached out and he wanted to walk on the water, right? And I just knew that if I wanted to get off of these troubled waters that I was on, that I had to reach out and I had to choose and do something. And the thought came to my head, "You just need the desire to read the scriptures. Just open them up." So I chose that day, I just said, "Heavenly Father, help me. I don't even really want to do this, but I'm going to choose it." And it was that active choosing that made me feel that light, along with a lot of other things that I was doing as well, to just find that light in my life.
Gosh, thank you, Shar. I appreciate you sharing that personal experience, and it is a beautiful example of choosing light over darkness, or at least getting on the path to light, and I can remember you during that time, that was tough. Those were really hard times and watching you go through it and getting the help that you needed was a beautiful example to many of us. So thank you for sharing that. Mary Jane, I'm wondering, do you have an experience you'd like to share?
Mary Jane 25:37
Well, I can tell you one thing that absolutely changed the course of my life. As I was finishing up college, my life was going amazingly. I was finishing college, I was singing full time, I had a great boyfriend. You know, life was just humming along. And I remember one day I was coming back from a tour with my singing group, I was on a plane, and all of a sudden this feeling of absolute just, I can't explain it any other way than to say darkness came over me. And I struggled with it for a full 12 to 24 hours of me just feeling, "Why, what is going on?" I'd never experienced anything like it.
And I started praying and as I'm sort of in this mode of prayer and meditation thinking about my life, I realized, you know, "All the things I'm doing are really good, but they're not the best." And that was the first time I started considering going on a mission. And it still took me another six months of spiritual wrestling to actually submit my papers and put them in, but when I did, I got called to Thailand. And that call to Thailand absolutely changed the course of my life. And it was that sense of hopelessness that overcame me... really, it changed my life because it's it started me thinking about bigger things. "What is the best thing I need to be doing right now? All these things are good, but what is the better thing that I should be pursuing?"
Well, I really like especially, I mean, we have to mark these verses of scripture. Go to Helaman chapter 14, verses 30 and 31. These are the quintessential Book of Mormon scriptures on choosing and on agency. Mary Jane, will you read those for us in Helaman chapter 14, verses 30 and 31?
Mary Jane 27:21
Absolutely. Love these.
"And now remember, remember, my brethren, that 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 unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free."
"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."
So powerful and so relevant because our lives are about all of these choices that we have to make every day, and we are free to choose. There's no one forcing us ever to make decisions.
Perfect. So let's jump back into the signs then that we just talked about. The metaphor for his birth and his death with light and darkness, and I want to know, why do you think God gives us signs then? What's the whole purpose of all of this? And why is Samuel giving these signs to the people?
Well, just going right after that in 28, it says, "The angel said unto me that many shall see greater things than these," like I can't even imagine what's greater, but, "...to the intent that they might believe that these signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men." Right? So that they can believe in Christ. All things point to Christ.
Shar, thank you for sharing that because the purpose of the signs are just what you said, that there will be a cause for unbelief among the children man. The whole point of science is for us to believe, which I think is so incredibly awesome because we've been given signs that are very similar to the signs that the Lamanite prophet Samuel gave to the people. So here's what I want us to think about. Do the signs of the Second Coming bring you closer to Christ and move you to repent? Do they help you seek light? Or are they darkness? Like, I want to kind of think about that as we move into the next segment where we get to do what I'm so excited about, and talk about some of the signs of the Second Coming.
Segment 4 29:19
All right, here we go. We're gonna talk about the signs of the Second Coming. So let me just ask you this, what are your guys's thoughts and feelings? Were you scared as me as a kid?
Oh, yeah. Yeah, it was freaky. It was gloom and doom kind of stuff, right?
Mary Jane 29:42
I always felt like it would be kind of exciting to experience and to see. I don't know, maybe I just don't have enough fear in me, maybe that's the problem. But I always thought it would be kind of exciting to see it and experience it and like to be here when he comes again.
Right. You can kind of imagine your house sliding down like a landslide, jumping cracks and stuff. Like that's what I imagined, like jumping big crevices in the earth. You know, I'm going to be doing that and it'll be cool.
Okay. Has there ever been a time where you thought maybe Jesus was coming though? Have you ever been scared? Like, there was one time in my bed that a clap of thunder was so loud, I was single in my apartment, and it woke me up, my heart was racing, and I really thought, "Is Christ coming right now?" Like the only time in my life I really thought that, and then I was like, "I'm not ready for this to happen. This cannot happen right now." Like, I was afraid.
Mary Jane 30:36
Fear based, I wasn't ready. Well, because when you talk about how in the Scriptures, it's called this "great and dreadful day," which we say that it's great for some and dreadful for others, but I like how President Benson put this, he said, “His coming will be both glorious and terrible, depending on the spiritual condition of those who remain” (Benson, “Prepare Yourself for the Great Day of the Lord,” New Era, May 1982).
That's kind of like, "Ah." If that doesn't stop you in your tracks, I don't know what will. So God said that all of his faithful followers of Christ will know what the signs are and will be watching for them. He said that in Doctrine and Covenants section 45, verse 39. He also said in Section 38, verse 30, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." So we need to be prepared and we need to know what the signs are. In Helaman chapter 16, verse five, there's a little phrase right here, he says, "Telling them of the things which must shortly come." I want us to focus for just a second on this because I have a disclaimer about for this "shortly come." Now, as we talk In this next segment, I am not about to predict the date or the place or anything about the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Oh come on, Tam, just tell us.
All right, all right. Hold on to your hats, kids.
We have to be so cautious about this because it teaches, and I'm going to put these in our show notes, but it teaches in the New Testament that the Master said that he will come as a thief in the night, and even Joseph Smith did not know when Christ was coming. And you guys, how great is this? In Doctrine and Covenants section 130, verses 14 and 15, Joseph wants to know when the Second Coming is and he's like, "Tell me, Lord, tell me," and I love that Heavenly Father says, "You know what, listen, here's the deal, Joseph Smith. If you live to be 85 years old, then you'll see me come." And he doesn't even live to be 85 and people are like, "Why would that be in there?" And I love it because that's the Heavenly Father I believe in, where he's like, "You know what, settle down. Okay, I'll throw this to you. If you live to be 85, then you're gonna see me," and Joseph is like, "Good enough." And then he let it alone. He never asked the question again. And I just think God's like, "Listen, I'm not telling anybody. And I'm not telling you. And I'm not telling you, and I'm certainly not telling you." So if he's not going to tell Joseph Smith, or any of the prophets, we need to be careful of people who are predicting when it's going to happen. We just have the signs, and so I want to read this quote by Elder M. Russell Ballard, and he was speaking to BYU students, and this is what he said, quote:
“I am called as one of the Apostles to be a special witness of Christ in these exciting, trying times, and I do not know when He is going to come again. As far as I know, none of my brethren in the Council of the Twelve or even in the First Presidency knows. And I would humbly suggest to you, my young brothers and sisters, that if we do not know, then nobody knows, no matter how compelling their arguments or how reasonable their calculations. . . . I believe when the Lord says ‘no man’ knows, it really means that no man knows. You should be extremely wary of anyone who claims to be an exception to divine decree” (President M. Russell Ballard, “When Shall These Things Be?” Brigham Young University Devotional, March 12, 1996).
That's sort of my disclaimer before we get into this, but now let's get into it and have some fun. Okay, so, here are some really cool signs of the Second Coming. And what I want you to know, is that all of the signs that we've just read by the Lamanite Prophet Samuel, is a direct parallel to the signs that we're waiting for. These are going to be in the show notes, but I just kind of wanted to go over some of them, and as I do, Mary Jane and Shar, if there are any signs you're wondering about or things you've heard, please bring those up because this is going to be so fun. So the first thing that we read about is... this is found in Third Nephi and in Helaman chapter six verse one, and then in the Doctrine and Covenants, that the "Lamanites will blossom as a rose." We've heard that before, and people are like, "What does that exactly mean?" Let's turn to Helaman chapter six, verse one. And Shar, will you read Helaman chapter six verse one?
"And it came to pass that when the sixty and second year of the reign of the judges had ended, all these things had happened and the Lamanites had become, the more part of them, a righteous people, insomuch that their righteousness did exceed that of the Nephites, because of their firmness and their steadiness in the faith."
Thank you. So the Lamanites became a very righteous people. That's what that means when you read about "Lamanites blossoming as a rose" in section 49, verse 24. Okay, we have that the righteous will be gathered together. Oh, that's a great one. And we're seeing that even now, but it doesn't mean in Missouri. I don't really know. We just know right now we're gathering, anywhere we're gathered, we're gathered. Like the righteous are gathered in Thailand. Right, Mary Jane?
Mary Jane 34:56
Absolutely. And it's truly worldwide. It's really fun. My mutant ability is I can always spot Mormons on their way to Church on Sunday.
It's your superpower.
Mary Jane 35:09
That we're going to church on Sunday. That's my superpower. I can look at people and go, "I guarantee we will see those people at church," and 9 times out of 10, I'm right. There's just something about them. You can see them as they're walking in, or as they're on the public transportation. The Saints are gathering all over the world and it's really exciting and fun.
And just in President Nelson's article in the Ensign in April, he said the same thing, he talked about gathering. The article called the future of the Church, "The Second Coming of the Lord."
Oh it's such a good article.
It's so good. It can't be any more clear cut, right? But he says the same thing. It doesn't mean gathering to one Zion. Zion is all around the world, wherever you live. If you're a saint in Brazil, you're gathering in Brazil, and he talks about that a lot.
Perfect. Thank you. Excellent. A couple other things. It says, "Many signs and wonders were shown." That's in Helaman chapter 14, werse six. In third Nephi, and in the Doctrine and Covenants, one of the signs is that the righteous were spared and the wicked were destroyed at his coming. I really like this one, "Those who were the most prepared were those who sustained and followed the prophets." I have such a testimony of that. I try to teach that any chance I get. You keep your eye on the Prophet, no matter what. You read his words, you follow his words. He is the one and he will not lead us astray as the song teaches us. So there's some great scripture references for that in our show notes.
When Christ spoke, his voice pierced the darkness and was heard everywhere at once. We read about that in Third Nephi, but in Section 45, verse 49 of the Doctrine and Covenants, it says that we will hear his voice in the same way when he came in Third Nephi. So that's pretty cool. "He came down from heaven and he met his people at the temple. He displayed the wounds in his hands and his feet. His appearance began as a resurrection of the righteous," that's a fun one. We learned about that, the first resurrection. And then with great compassion and love, Jesus healed all who were lame, blind, maimed, or afflicted in any manner. And he dried every tear and touched every heart. And that happened in Third Nephi, 17, but you read about it happening again in Revelation, chapter 21, verse four. And these are just some of the signs that happened in the Book of Mormon, that will happen again in our day. Now are there any signs that you guys have heard of, or think about, when you hear "Signs of the Times?"
Mary Jane 37:24
The thing that always comes to mind for me is the physical disturbances. Right, the earthquakes and the storms and the tempest and all of that, and it would be absolutely terrifying, but also so exciting to have gone through all of those physical disturbances, but then to hear Christ's voice the way that the Nephites did at the temple, to hear that voice that pierces them right to their core, I mean, I get goosebumps just thinking about it. It sounds so cool.
Well, as you were saying that Mary Jane, what I think is so neat is we're living in the signs. Like I can remember thinking and being taught, "This is what will happen." And we're actually living in it. And I think if we react in a way of, "Oh my gosh, wait, this was prophesied. Christ is coming!" And just have this excitement and enthusiasm about it, that makes it so... just like you said, "So exciting," as opposed to, "Oh, oh oh..." you know, "I can't believe it's happening..."
Mary Jane 38:19
There is no reason for us really to be afraid, right? I mean, I have to keep coming back to this, there is nothing to be afraid of because if we're trying, I mean, none of us are perfect, none of us are doing everything right. We all make mistakes, we're all sinners, we all need to repent, but we're trying. We love Christ. We keep his image in our hearts, then there's nothing to be afraid of. Everything's gonna be fine. It's going to be amazing and great, right?
Yeah, it is going to be a great day.
I feel like sometimes fear is like one of my greatest personality traits, like I'm afraid of everything.
It's your superpower too.
But I love that. I love the verse you already referenced, Tammy, if you're prepared, ye shall not fear. And one thing I do think is a few years ago, I was in a Sunday School class and the signs of the Second Coming were being taught, someone next to me leaned over and said, "Why are we even studying these? It's not like it's going to happen in our time." And I looked and I thought, "Well, I always have believed it is, is it not? Like, what the heck?" It caught me off guard because I keep thinking that it is happening now, and we have to have, you know, the faith and not the fear. We're in it and it's gonna be awesome, right?
Yeah, it is gonna be awesome, and I'm so excited because this just barely touched on the signs. I mean, we don't even get to study the Doctrine and Covenants, that's why I can't wait for next year because then we're going to study section 27, section 45, section 116, section 88, and 84, and, oh, it's gonna be so fun to study those signs. And then kind of ask ourselves, how we feel, and I like how both of you brought up, it's going to be exciting and then this idea of being fearful because when you learn about the signs, does it lead you towards Christ? And that should be our reaction.
It should be such an exciting thing to think that we are living in the signs that the Lamanite Prophet Samuel, the equivalent of that is President Nelson. And he's on that wall, telling us to repent, telling us to not worry, but be happy and make good choices. So anyway, think about that question. What will this day be like for you? And maybe if you can think about writing in your journal having a change of heart, maybe being excited for these signs. So now the real question is, what are you going to do with the signs that we just learned about? We will answer that question in the next segment.
Segment 5 40:49
Have you ever had to plan a big event? Either one of you...
Mary Jane 40:53
So many. So many, yes.
I knew you would.
Just one or two. So let's pass this over to Mary Jane.
Mary Jane, will you just give the audience a little bit of information about why you would plan so many events. Tell us a little bit about your life in Thailand and your husband and that.
Mary Jane 41:09
Oh, well, my husband Bundit is a speaker and an author. He is a symphony conductor by profession, and then sort of launched into a second career as a speaker and an author, and so he'll speak to hundreds and thousands of people. And we've planned a lot of, you know, big events and parties and speaking events and all kinds of stuff like that. So we're pretty well versed in hosting lots of people.
I bet. What goes into planning an event? If you break it down real quick.
Mary Jane 41:41
Oh my goodness, so many, so many things. I mean, depending on how many people are going to be there, you've got to get your venue in order and you've got to get your stage and your lighting, and you've got to plan all the content of what you're going to do. And then on the technical side of things, if you're going to need sound reinforcement for lighting or all the stage hands that might be involved, if you're going to be moving set pieces around. There's just so much that goes into it, and then you know, of course, guests... taking care of people as they're arriving, or do you have enough refreshments? Do you have enough bathrooms? I mean, there's just so much.
So something you could plan in a day maybe...
Mary Jane 42:20
How much time ideally?
Mary Jane 42:24
I'll tell you, I planned my nine year olds birthday party in 36 hours, but any event requiring more than that, we're talking weeks if not months of lead time.
Okay so months would be ideal if you could spend that much time.
Mary Jane 42:39
Excellent. Okay, so I want to jump right back into Helaman and find out what planning... what it has to do with again, the Lamanite Prophet Samuel's words to the people. I want to go back into Helaman chapter 14 where the signs are given because there is one verse with one specific sentence that just stands out to me when it comes to the signs. Let's go to Helaman chapter 14, verse nine. Mary Jane, will you please read verse nine for us?
Mary Jane 43:06
"And behold, thus hath the Lord commanded me, by his angel, that I should come and tell this thing unto you; yea, he hath commanded that I should prophesy these things unto you; yea, he hath said unto me: Cry unto this people, repent and prepare the way of the Lord."
This phrase, "prepare the way of the Lord" is used throughout Scripture, and I really like it in Isaiah. So we're going to look at Isaiah chapter 40, verse three. Turn there, grab your scripture marker and a pen because we're going to mark this verse up. And here's what the verse says, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God."
In verse three, where it says, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness," him is Jesus Christ, and here's what he's crying to us. "Prepare ye." Mark the word "ye" that means "us, you." He's asking us to "prepare ye" the way of the Lord. Now highlight "the way of the Lord." This is really cool because the "way of the Lord" in this verse specifically means to prepare for the Second Coming. And I really like the way it's been defined by Donald Parry, Jay Parry and Tina Peterson, that preparing for the second coming by "making the Saints' path back to God's presence level or smooth (that is, remove all obstacles out of the way so that others can be obedient to the laws and ordinances of the gospel)" (Tina M. Peterson, Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry, Understanding Isaiah, Deseret Book, 1998, 341).
I think that's so beautiful. And then in the rest of that verse in verse three, it says, "Make straight in the desert," highlight the word "desert," that means "a way of sin" for anyone who is sining or on their way to sin. A highway of our God and highlight "highway of our God," and that is the way of holiness. So there's so much beauty in this verse when we talk about how we are being asked to prepare for the second coming by helping others get there. So when you kind of think about us preparing the way of the Lord, we're getting ready for the Second Coming, we're here to help level that road for people, what are some of the obstacles that we have to get out of the way for people? How can we make this road smooth for others?
Mary Jane 45:11
I think one of the most important things that we can do as members of the Church is to be compassionate. It's really easy for people outside of the church to look at our Church culture and see it as a long list of do's and don'ts, to see it as very, you know, check off you've got to behave this way and this way, and this way, and this way, and that can be very off putting for people who might be otherwise interested in learning more about Christ. And so I think one of the most important things that we can do to prepare the way of the Lord and to help other people come unto Christ and to join us in this path of discipleship is to be so, so compassionate. We are in no place to judge anyone. It's not our job. It's not our calling and so the more open and compassionate and loving as a people that we can be, I think that's one of the greatest things that we can do.
Oh, amen. That's a great way to remove an obstacle, to be compassionate. Thank you.
Yeah, this is a little different, but the thing that keeps popping into my head is how President Nelson, it seems like his motto for this year is "hear him." And President Nelson is being so clear about that. He's saying, "You need to learn how you hear him. I'm not going to tell you how to come unto Christ. I'm not going to tell you how it's going to feel for you. I want you to figure out how it feels for you." And I love that way he's just bringing everyone in.
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Shar. That's a great way of thinking about that. As both of you were talking too, in my mind, I'm a visual person, so in my mind, I'm picturing this bumpy path, and I'm picturing me on it, trying to smooth it out and the amount of work at takes to shove a stone to the side, to go and get dirt and put it in a hole and pat it down. And I'm picturing me on that path with friends, and we're on it together and we come to something and I'm like, "Okay, stop for just a second. Let's work on this." And I try to make that obstacle out of the way. And I think about how that fulfills our baptismal covenants, that every time I mourn with someone who's mourning and I comfort someone, or I bear someone's burden, that it might be light. I feel like maybe that's another way that we're paving this path for people to get back to God is by keeping their baptismal covenants. I just had that "aha" right then.
I love that.
But I'm just visual, so I'm thinking of that because I'm like, "Shoving things out of the way?" And I realize we all do that for each other. I love it when my friends shove my obstacles out of my way and they come and join me on my path. And so, think about like, how are you personally preparing for the way of the Lord? And for those of you listening, I just want you to write in your journal that answer, what are you doing to prepare? And I just, Mary Jane, you couldn't have said it better when you described how hard it i to prepare things — how to prepare for a big event, and there couldn't be a bigger event than the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and all the work that needs to be done before he comes, and it won't be done overnight... in a couple of years. I don't know.
Did I leak something just then?
Oh you do know.... we all know.
But am I preparing enough? Am I... I don't even like that word "enough," but I just I hope that I am in the... maybe I hope that I'm just preparing when he comes, that I'm busy when it comes, like that bumper sticker says, "Christ is coming, we're busy." But I really hope I am, you know? Shar, what were you gonna say?
No, I just love... sorry, the last thing I thought of was in President Nelson's "Hear Him" talk. He's made the, I can't say it exactly, but he said how past prophets have repeatedly, you know, shared marvelous signs and wonders, and people don't believe them. And he said, "It's no different in our day." And I just love how he's like, you know, "The prophet's here. We're telling you what to do. We're helping you prepare. So it's up to you to believe it or not." Right? "And to do something about it."
Yes. So believe, believe and prepare because he's coming. And I didn't really used to believe that until I was working with a seminary principal at Skyline in Utah. And he was bearing his testimony, and I've never forgotten this moment, he stood and bore his testimony to these students, and he said, "Jesus is coming." And for the first time, like that hit my heart like a ton of bricks because I thought, "Whoa, wait, yeah, he really is. Christ is coming." And for anyone who does not believe that, believe the words of prophets and apostles, he is coming. And so as we're preparing his way, just like the people in the Book of Helaman, those who were preparing the way of the Lord, they all had a unique characteristic. And they were given some pretty incredible experiences. So we're going to find out what those were and what this characteristic was in the next segment, and how it applies to us today.
Segment 6 50:11
So the question is, did the Lamanite Prophet Samuel have success? Tell us the story. Let's go to Helaman chapter 16. And I asked Shar and Mary Jane to kind of tell us the story in here, verses one through eight, what happened?
Okay, I'll go. So he, you know, speaking on the walls, a lot of people started to believe him, so they would leave and go find Nephi the Prophet and get baptized, right?
And a lot of other people thought he was a kook and he was a fraud, and they were mad about what he was saying. So they came up with this great plan to shoot him down. And it didn't work.
It could not make him fall as the song sang to us at the beginning.
Mary Jane 51:01
He kept his balance.
He kept his balance on the wall.
And Nephi probably was just like, "Yes, Samuel keep it coming." He's over in the other part of the city just baptizing like crazy, I can imagine. Right?
Mary Jane 51:14
That's my favorite part of this story actually, is that these men were working together. Samuel's up on the wall being very visible and preaching and then Nephi's off in his corner of Zarahemla doing his thing, and the fact that they're working together in one purpose is really awesome.
And then it said after that, that when people started seeing, "Oh, the arrows can't hit him." Then another group was like, "Wait a minute, now I believe. Okay, I'm going to go and I'm going to find Nephi." So after that kind of a sign or a miracle in their life, now they believe again, or now they're going to believe. So then they try to catch him and grab him and he jumped down from the wall and then went back to his own people and they never heard of him again.
Yeah. Let's go into Helaman chapter 16, and we're going to read verses 13 and 14 because it does say in verse six that the more part of them did not believe in the words of Samuel, but there were some who did believe. And as they're waiting for the signs to happen, I really like these two verses. So Helaman chapter 16, verses 13 and 14. And Shar, will you read those for us.
"But it came to pass in the ninetieth year of the reign of the judges, there were great signs given unto the people, and wonders; and the words of the prophets began to be fulfilled."
"And angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy; thus in this year the scriptures began to be fulfilled."
I love those verses.
Why do you love them?
I just love it. It's just showing God's hand and how it's his work, right? And angels are coming to them, they're preparing the way, they're teaching these men, and women I'm sure, who believe and who have faith.
Yeah, for sure. In fact, in that verse, let's circle, because I like verse 14, where it says, "Angels did appear unto men, wise men," I want us to circle "wise men," and let's make sure we put "women" next to that. And we're going to define the word "wise" right there because if you're reading that thinking, "Well, yeah, I mean, they're probably perfect." Like, what does this mean? Who is able to see these angels? So in the 1828 dictionary, which I love to look up, the word "wise" means "having the power of discerning and judging correctly, or discriminating between what is true and what is false." And it kind of just makes me think of the verses of scripture that we talked about back in Helaman chapter 14, verses 30 through 31. To choose good or evil, having the wisdom to know. In fact, in my scriptures, I wrote the word "wise" in between those two verses because I think that that is what it's talking about here is choosing good from evil, having the ability to discern between right and wrong and choosing, making that choice.
But something else that is really cool, there's a couple of other verses of scripture that talk about wisdom, and my favorite one of all time is in Doctrine and Covenants section 45 verses 56 and 57. We have to read these verses, and who has that that will read it?
Mary Jane 54:16
I've got it.
Alright, Mary Jane. I'm going to stop you at a different point in these verses so we can mark things so go ahead.
Mary Jane 54:21
"And at that day, when I shall come..."
So mark "at that day," that means Second Coming, when he comes again. Okay, carry on.
Mary Jane 54:31
"...when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins."
"For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day."
Thank you. This is so neat. In verse 57, there are three qualifications for being wise because he's talking about the wise virgins that were preparing for his coming, that had their lamps lit, they had chosen light, right? It says, "They that are wise and..." here it is, "received the truth." Number two, "Have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide." And number three, "Have not been deceived." That's what makes you wise. To receive truth, you have the Holy Ghost as your guide, there is not a blind guide or a foolish guide. Right? And that you have not been deceived.
When you consider these right here, you have, I mean, it just kind of makes me go back to the song, Mary Jane, your daughter's saying, "Kept his faith in heavenly Father's light." I mean, is there anything more wise than that?
Mary Jane 55:44
And it's not as hard as it sounds.
Tell me how.
Mary Jane 55:48
Mary Jane 55:49
I read that scripture about being wise and I'm like, "Well, I can do that."
Mary Jane 55:55
I'm like, I don't have to know everything, and all I have to do is be willing to receive the truth. And all I have to do is be willing to listen to the Holy Spirit. And it's not as daunting as it may appear to be a wise man, right? To be a wise woman.
You feel like you have to be all knowledgeable and make perfect decisions, right? That's not what it's saying.
Mary Jane 56:20
Exactly. Because in Helaman chapter 16, verse 14, wise men and wise women, who appeared to them? What did they get to see? They saw angels. Like we can have that. This is the coolest part, and we studied this when we had Barbara Morgan Gardener on our show a couple of weeks ago. And she talked to us how in Doctrine and Covenants section 13, that through the priesthood is the ability to have the ministering of angels. And, you know, Bruce C. Hafen, said some great things. He wrote about angels and I'm going to put all of these in our show notes. But it's kind of cool when we talk about these examples of unseen angels because I want to read this quote by Bruce C. Hafen.
Quote: "But angels have also come at times that were significant. Mostly because of their personal spiritual meaning in the lives of ordinary but faithful men and women. Some of these personal visits were dramatic and powerful. Think of the angels who ministered to the Nephite children on the account of Third Nephi chapter 17, or the angel who chastised Alma and Mosiah's sons in answer to his father's prayer. Other personal manifestations have been so quiet that those who received them were unaware of the angelic presence. The Ministry of these unseen angels is among the most sublime forms of interaction between heaven and earth, powerfully expressing God's concern for us and bestowing tangible assurance and spiritual sustenance upon those in great need" (Bruce C. Hafen, "When Do the Angels Come?" ChurchofJesusChrist.org). End quote.
I just had to say, though, what I love about Bruce C. Hafen's quote is when he says in there, "In the lives of ordinary, but faithful men and women," and I can personally attest to a very real true example of having an angelic experience when I was in the MTC and one that I needed, and I didn't even see an angel, but I felt a presence next to me. It was actually my grandmother. I prayed, I actually prayed to Heavenly Father and I said, "Could you just let her know that I'm at the MTC and that I'm serving a mission, and tell her hi for me and that I love her." And I've never really shared this moment, but I can remember sitting in the Missionary Training Center so depressed, thinking I'd made the wrong decision, that I should probably go home, which I've joked about before that if a homeless man had proposed to me outside of the MTC, I would have left in a heartbeat just to marry him to get out of there.
It was tough. It was hard. The MTC was hard. And that was my prayer, "Just let her know that I'm here," because she died when I was 15. And I can just remember sitting in that room, and I just felt this warm feeling and sort of like a hug. And I felt my Grandma Uzelac, it was the coolest moment. These moments are real. They really are real and I don't like to speak lightly of them, but they are absolutely real. And they're real to all of us that are wise.
And I think just like your experience, Tammy, I think it's really cool because I think Heavenly Father sends us angels in the form of our ancestors all the time. And I think that's a really cool thing to think like, they're the people who love us the most. Right? Why wouldn't they want to come and share glad tidings with us?
Well, and we're focused on what you said, Shar, on hearing him and how being wise is so easy to do. Be wise, get ready, follow the signs, and it will be a wonderful day, a great day and not terrible for any of us. So that's the end of our story. That's the end of the Lamanite Prophet Samuel's words to the people and Nephi being the prophet, and we'll find out what happens to him next week when we talk about Third Nephi which is such a great chapter. So thank you. I loved having you guys here.
Oh that was so fun.
Mary Jane 59:58
That was so fun. So much fun. Thank you for inviting us.
I kind of felt like Alma in Alma chapter 17 when I saw you, Mary Jane, because I haven't talked to you in such a long time, but when you see an old friend that's still active, and we're both still, you know, it's just like, "Ah," just this feeling because we met each other because of Jesus Christ. Like there's no other way I would have ever met you if it weren't for that singles ward.
Mary Jane 1:00:21
That's right. That's right. That's right. It's pretty fantastic.
It is. Okay, so here's what I want to ask you then, what was your takeaway from today?
Mary Jane 1:00:31
For me, definitely choosing light, making that choice, and that for me is just so powerful because that's a message that's reiterated over and over in the Book of Mormon. We are free and with that freedom comes the ability to choose what we are going to do, and to choose what it is that we want.
I think my takeaway was that all these signs, the darkness and the light were given, in Helaman 14:28 you said, that they were given for the intent that we might believe, and that they give us faith and not fear. And so I just love that thinking that the signs that we're living in, that we're seeing, and that are coming, are so that we can have more faith and not be unbelieving, but believe in him.
Perfect. Great takeaways. Mine was, Mary Jane, when you told us what the word "repent" in Thai means — "return your heart." I thought that was so powerful because I just love words and I love to know what things mean. So that was great. I will remember that every time I think of the word "repent," return your heart. So good.
Mary Jane 1:01:41
I love it.
Well, thank you for joining me. I love you both so much. This has been so much fun.
For those of you who are listening, I would love to hear what your takeaway was from this episode. Now if you haven't already joined our discussion group on Facebook and if you're not following us on Instagram, you totally should because it is such a great place to study and learn from each other, and I like it when people ask questions. That's been really fun too to go and answer some of those questions. And then at the end of the week, it's usually on a Sunday, we do a post asking for what your big takeaway was, which is the best. I look forward to it every Sunday because I just sit and scroll and read everyone's awesome takeaways, and it helps me, and I gain a stronger testimony every time I read what you're learning. So comment on the posts that relates to this lesson and let me know what you've learned.
You can get to both our Facebook and Instagram by going to the show notes for this episode on LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday, and it's not a bad idea to go there anyway because that's where we have the links to all the references that we referenced in this episode today, as well as a complete transcript of this whole discussion. So that's really fun. So check it out. The Sunday on Monday study group is a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original brought to you by LDS Living. It's written and hosted by me, Tammy Uzelac Hall, and today our excellent study participants were Mary Jane Ungrangsee and Sharmaine Howell, and you can find more information about these ladies at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. Our podcast is produced by Katie Lambert and Erika Free. It is recorded and mixed by Mix at Six Studios and our Executive Producer is Erin Hallstrom. Thanks for being here. We'll see you next week, and please remember, you are God's favorite.
I was in a singing group in 1980 called "Small World Entertainers," and we were invited to go to Asia to sing and perform and we sang for the Princess of Singapore in Laos.
Mary Jane 1:03:26
I still remember it.
(Tammy sings in Laotian)
Did that even make any sense?
Actually, that sounded like Laotian. Laotian and Thai are very similar and there is a Laotian princess. I bet it was the Princess of Laos.
I sang for her in 1980 something. There you go. I can't believe I still remember that.
Mary Jane 1:03:58
I'm very impressed.
Tammy, that song is older than I am.