Monday, December 24, 2007

Ancient American Christmas Story

It's Christmas Eve today! Merry Christmas!

Did you know that the ancient Americans experienced the first Christmas in as miraculous a way as those who lived in the ancient Middle East? If you turn to Helaman, Chapter 14 (pp. 400-403), you can read about Samuel the Lamanite, who prophesied that Christ would be born on the earth and that there would be "great lights in heaven" at that time. He said that there would be a day and a night and a day when the sun would go down, but the sky would remain as bright as when the sun was still up. He also prophesied that there would be a new star in the heavens (see also Matthew 2:1-2; 3 Nephi 1:20-21).

In addition, Samuel taught:
  • who Christ would be and what He would do while on the earth (Helaman 14:12-13)
  • that the Resurrection would be a literal, not figurative, occurrence (Helaman 14:15)
  • that at His death, there would be tempests and earthquakes and that the graves would be opened with many people being resurrected (Helaman 14:20-29; see also Matthew 27:52-53; 3 Nephi 23:7-13)
  • that whoever would be saved is free to choose salvation and that those who choose to perish are likewise free to choose destruction...God will never force anyone to heaven (Helaman 14:30-31)
When Christ was born in Bethlehem, the signs occurred in America just as Samuel prophesied. Although, there were wicked people who threatened to kill those who believed that the signs would happen. When those signs came to pass, those who were wicked found other excuses not to believe them (see 3 Nephi 1:4-22)

Think about how often miraculous things in our day go unnoticed, are "explained away" as coincidence or imagination, or are even denied altogether. The Book of Mormon shows us that history does repeat itself and, if we're not careful, that will be a bad thing for us (see 3 Nephi 2:1-3, 10-11, 19).

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