Monday, June 1, 2015

Day 1 of Book of Mormon Challenge: 14 Lessons about the Last Days

If you'd like to join our 90 day Book of Mormon challenge that starts today on June first, here is a post about it, and here is a Facebook group to share insights and encouragement. 

Day one of the 90 day Book of Mormon challenge. My favorite place to study is outside. It makes me happy! 

Wow. When Elder Bednar told us there is power in studying a fresh copy of the Book of Mormon and marking one theme all the way through, he wasn't kidding. 

I hadn't planned on looking for a theme, until I turned to page two. Then...

The Holy Ghost: "You should look for a theme this time through."
Me: "Hm, okay. I wonder what theme I should look for." 
The Holy Ghost: "Look for parallels or preparedness about the last days before the Second Coming." 
Me: "Cool. This is gonna be good." It reminded me of President Benson saying we should study the Book of Mormon as a parallel to our day. 

So I did. I chose a purple colored pencil to shade in any phrases that may have hints about the last days. I was astounded how many I found. And the things the Spirit taught me about it as I studied that I had never seen before. Isn't the Holy Ghost awesome? 

Day one, check. I love this!  Look how many purple verses I marked. Red phrases are ways God speaks to His children. Orange is a favorite verse in a chapter. I'm also striving to write a phrase at the top of each page of the story line, and marking life lessons in the margins. That's how I'm marking mine so far. 
Here are 14 parallels I saw about preparing for the last days, along with ways I want to apply these lessons. 

1) 1 Nephi 1:4 
  • Many prophets warned people to repent or their city would be destroyed. 
  • The last paragraph of the Family Proclamation warns that if people don't repent and obey the principles in the Proclamation, the calamities foretold about the last days would happen. I think we're seeing some of that. 

2) 1 Nephi 1:6, 8, 16; 2:2; 3:2
  • Lehi received revelations through dreams and visions that warned him of coming destruction if the people didn't repent. 
  • President Hinckley said in General Conference, October 2001, that the prophesy from Joel about people having dreams and visions in the last days is now fulfilled. 

3) 1 Nephi 1:13-15; 2:7
  • Lehi could have freaked out or lived in fear after being told and shown the upcoming destruction, but instead he was immensely grateful for the Lord's warning so he could help God's children prepare ahead by repenting. 
  • I want to be like Lehi when I study about the signs before the Second Coming. Instead of freaking out or fearing, I want to choose gratitude for the Lord's warning so we have the chance to prepare. 

4) 1 Nephi 1:18-20
  • People didn't want to hear Lehi's preaching to repent. Instead they mocked him, got mad, and wanted to kill him. 
  • Many people today don't want to hear prophets' preaching to repent; instead they mock and get mad. But that's okay. We know who's side we're on, and who's side wins.

5) 1 Nephi 1:20
  • Nephi wanted to show us that God's tender mercies are over his faithful disciples in how God delivers them to safety. 
  • Likewise we have been promised that in the last days, God will deliver his faithful disciples to safety. (See quotes below.)

6) 2 Nephi 2:2
  • The Lord told Nephi to take his family away from Jerusalem to save their lives for two reasons: one, bad people wanted to kill Lehi; and two, Jerusalem was going to be destroyed. God wanted to protect this faithful man and his family by moving them away before destroying the city. 
  • I've noticed the Lord has used this pattern of removing his righteous children away from the unrighteous to protect them before he destroys the others. Think of the Savior's analogy of wheat and tares (Matthew 13:37–43 and Doctrine and Covenants 86:1–7). Here are several of the groups where the Lord has used this pattern: 
    • Lehi escaped destruction of Jerusalem 
    • Noah was saved by the ark
    • Abraham fled several times
    • Lot left Sodom and Gomorrah
    • Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt to avoid Jesus being killed by Herod 
    • Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt to the wilderness and land of promise
    • Nephi moved away so his brothers didn't destroy him
    • King Limhi's people moved to a different city to avoid destruction by the Lamanites
    • Alma's people fled several times for the same reason
    • The early Saints fled from Ohio, Missouri and Nauvoo to escape persecution 
I don't know for sure, but I've found enough quotes from scriptures and prophets to make me think this is a pattern that God may use again to protect his faithful people before the intense calamities of the last days. Here are three quotes about this: 
President Henry B. Eyring: "The giant earthquake, and the tsunami it sent crashing into the coasts around the Indian Ocean, is just the beginning and a part of what is to come, terrible as it was. Fear shall come upon all people. But you and I know that the Lord has prepared places of safety to which He is eager to guide us…. It will be our choice whether or not to move up or stay where we are. But the Lord will invite and guide us upward by the direction of the Holy Ghost…I did not plan to speak to you about the hard times that are ahead and they are real, and they are coming…" (Raise the Bar,” BYU-Idaho Devotional, January 25, 2005, emphasis added)
President Harold B. Lee: "Thus, clearly, the Lord has placed the responsibility for directing the work of gathering in the hands of the leaders of the Church to whom he will reveal his will where and when such gatherings would take place in the future. It would be well—before the frightening events concerning the fulfilment of all God's promises and predictions are upon us, that the Saints in every land prepare themselves and look forward to the instruction that shall come to them from the First Presidency of this Church as to where they shall be gathered and not be disturbed in their feelings until such instruction is given to them as it is revealed by the Lord to the proper authority." ("The Spirit of Gathering," Conference Report, April 1948, 52-58, emphasis added)
Joseph Smith: “Without Zion, and a place of deliverance, we must fall; because the time is near when the sun will be darkened, and the moon turn to blood, and the stars fall from heaven, and the earth reel to and fro. Then, if this is the case, and if we are not sanctified and gathered to the places God has appointed, with all our former professions and our great love for the Bible, we must fall; we cannot stand; we cannot be saved; for God will gather out His Saints from the Gentiles, and then comes desolation and destruction, and none can escape except the pure in heart who are gathered.” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, "Enrichment B, Establishing Zion," quoting History of the Church, 2:52, emphasis added) 

7) 1 Nephi 2:4, 15; 3:22-26
  • Lehi left nearly everything to obey the Lord and find safety. He left his home, land, gold and silver, and precious things. They only thing his family took to the wilderness and then to the promised land were provisions and tents. 
  • If the Lord through his prophet commanded my family to leave our homes and "gather to the places God has appointed [before the] ...desolation and destruction" (see vJoseph Smith quote above) I hope I would have the faith, obedience, courage, and sacrifice to obey immediately like Lehi's family did. Stuff is just stuff. The Savior is coming back! Stuff doesn't matter a hill of beans compared to that. Also, if the Lord asked me to share money, food storage, clothes, supplies, or whatever, I hope I will have the faith to immediately obey and sacrifice as Lehi did. 
8) 1 Nephi 2:11-13, 3:5-6
  • Laman and Lemuel murmured because they didn't want to leave the comforts of home and friends, they didn't understand God's dealings, and they didn't believe Jerusalem would be destroyed like the prophets had said. They thought it was their crazy, visionary dad who created that wild plan. They didn't understand it was the Lord who commanded it, and that it was for their own good - their safety and protection. Conversely, Nephi was favored of God because he didn't murmur. 
  • I've been on seven pioneer treks. I'm here to tell you that attitude makes an enormous difference in the spirit and success of a trek experience. If people are moaning, groaning and complaining it's easy for everyone to feel miserable. When times are challenging, which they will be in the days ahead, choosing to be cheerful will be a huge blessing for ourselves and for those around us. Also our attitude is deeply affected by our connection with Christ and understanding His will for us through having our own witness of the Holy Ghost. 
This was our multi-family pioneer trek last year. My husband and son are pulling the cart across the water, and my daughter is being carried on the left. When times are challenging, attitude makes all the difference. 

9) 1 Nephi 2:16
  • Unlike his oldest two brothers, Nephi took his questions to the Lord, who then softened Nephi's heart and witnessed that Lehi's words were all true, so Nephi obeyed rather than rebelling or complaining. From that conversion, Nephi bore his testimony to his brother Sam, and Sam believed him. Nephi also prayed for his unbelieving brothers and did his best to persuade them to follow God.  
  • I need the same deep conversion that Nephi had, born of the Spirit, so that I obey cheerfully and not resist or murmur when the Lord asks me to do challenging or inconvenient things. 

10) 1 Nephi 2:20-21
  • Those who keep commandments will prosper in the land and be led to a choice land, but those who don't will get cut off from God's presence. 
  • If the pattern of gathering to safety is what the Lord will use in the last days, then those who obey the prophet, including having food storage and gathering if the prophet says to, like President Lee said above, will be protected. 
  11) 1 Nephi 3:15-16, 19-20
  • After the brothers failed at their first attempt to get the brass plates from Laban, Nephi encouraged his brothers not to give up; rather to be faithful in keeping the Lord's commands to obtain the plates. It was God's wisdom to get the plates to preserve the records, their language, and words of the prophets. 
  • Similarly, it is God's wisdom that "every family in the Church to have a supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, other necessities of life" (President Thomas S. Monson,"Are We Prepared?" Ensign, Sept. 2014) to preserve us. I belong to a handful of LDS preparedness Facebook groups where I have seen people post miracles of praying for the funds to provide food storage and emergency gear, and the Lord provided. They realized the Lord's wisdom in preparedness and didn't give up when it didn't work the first time. 

12) 1 Nephi 3:21 
  • Nephi worked diligently to persuade his brothers to be faithful in keeping God's commands. 
  • Likewise "we can accelerate our own preparation and try to influence the [spiritual and temporal] preparation of those around us" (Elder Oaks, "Preparation for the Second Coming," Ensign, May 2004). 

13) 1 Nephi 3:11-27, 29 
  • Nephi was protected when Laban tried to kill him, and an angel protected Nephi and Sam from their abusive brothers. 
  • We can rely on the Lord to protect us in the last days according to our faith and obedience and God's will. 

14) 1 Nephi 3:31 
  • Laman and Lemuel took counsel from their fears. Nephi took counsel from his faith (see 1 Nephi 4:1-2). 
  • I hope to do my best to take counsel from my faith, no matter what is happening. 

What parallels have you noticed between the Book of Mormon and our day? Feel free to share in a comment below! 


Aly said...

I also started with a new copy and was inspired to search for answers to my questions about the education and nurture of my young children. I am using a wide margin copy of the book to read and write my notes, with my phone and the digital gospel library to look up footnotes with a click. I won't write all my MANY notes here but I saw in Lehi a concerned parent who had been warned about a danger facing his family, as I felt I had been recently. He took his family into the wilderness, away from the established comfort of the city (but also away from the danger) before he had been given a specific destination. Then he pauses and camps near a river (a life sustaining source) and checks in with the Lord again. There he expresses the deep desires of his heart on behalf of the spiritual/character welfare of his sons. He is guided to obtain a "curriculum" that is not just academic in its preservation of their written language, but which is a heritage of history, of their spiritual and genealogical origins, and of the words of the wisest men and prophesies of God. He is effective in teaching his sons, even the rebellious ones, through the Spirit. In the verses about dwelling in a tent and in trying to trade their wealth for the record I was inspired with thoughts of living simply and sacrificing the riches he'd formerly enjoyed in order to obtain these blessings of safety and a heritage education for his posterity.

Jo Romero said...

loved reading this. Thank you! It is truly amazing what the Book of Mormon can teach us with the help of the spirit. There is so much there! I appreciate the time you have taken to write it down and share.

Prepared Not Scared said...


Elodie Taylor said...

Thank you for sharing all these insights!

Megan said...

Thank you for sharing here... And for starting this challenge and inviting us to join you!

Becky Edwards said...

Thank you for your comments, everyone! Isn't it amazing the different things the Spirit can teach each of us all from the same chapters? Aly, I gained invaluable strength from the story of Nephi when I was prompted to homeschool 3 1/2 years ago. So many verses stood out to me, and I was deeply inspired by his faith to move forward following the Spirit to obey God's command, even though he had no idea how he was going to do it.

Unknown said...

Thank You Becky! Your insights have helped me!

Shannell said...

One other parallel I noticed today in 1 Nephi. If you follow the footnote in 1 Nephi 1:4 you go to 2 Kings17:13 (13-15) and there we are taught a little about what the people were doing that caused them to be called to repentance. One of those things was worshiping idols. I believe that in our day we worship a lot of false idols. Tie into Pres. Nelson's talk last nigh "Take a Break from the Fake."

Becky Edwards said...

Shannell, Yes, and it's not just the teens. I struggle to keep boundaries with technology too. I loved his recent talk and his challenge!