In my scripture reading this morning I noticed how the time of the prophet Abinadi in the Book of Mormon parallels our time today. Abinadi called upon the people, King Noah and his subjects to repent. He warned them that if they didn’t repent they would come under further bondage.
Just as Abinadi was a prophet for his day, just as we had prophets in the Bible, I testify that President Russell M. Nelson is the prophet of God for this day. We as a people, both in and out of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have strayed from what we know to be true. We see this everywhere with rotten fruits all around us: broken families, broken governmental forms, a culture of death, governments and societies that kill unborn babies, crime, unrest, addiction, bondage, and illness. I can’t help but think that this pandemic is a consequence of us all straying from whatever truth we have known, collectively as families and nations, for generations.
By asking us to “Hear him,” he is asking us to repent. Repenting means turning to God. So when President Nelson asks to “hear Him,” he is asking us to turn to God or repent. Just as Abinadi did with King Noah and his people. He is asking us to pray to Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. Then Jesus Christ will speak to us, most likely through the Holy Ghost. As we listen to the Holy Ghost after earnestly seeking Heavenly Father through prayer, we will “Hear Him.” We will hear Jesus tell us what we need to do personally to change and be like Him and feel His peace.
It is no accident that President Nelson is the prophet today. He has led the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to prepare for the worldwide crisis of the pandemic with prophetic leadership. I testify he is a prophet of God, just like the prophets in the Bible. He is God’s anointed servant to speak and lead for Him right now. President Nelson, (and the prophets before him) prepared the saints for this pandemic in a number of ways. You can see those ways here. The major ones are:
- Preparing the Saints to have church at home, during the pandemic, and beyond. He did this by reducing our church meeting time from three hours to two hours back in 2019, and introducing the Come, Follow Me Study Guides, to be used chiefly at home, and in a supplemental way at church meetings.
- Preparing youth and children to be “stuck at home” during the pandemic by introducing the Children and Youth Initiative so they are not dependent on Church leaders for guidance in achieving and learning on the covenant path. Instead, they are dependent on themselves, to seek God in prayer to know what He would have them do to achieve and become like Him, with the parents’ vision, guidance and support, and less support from Church leaders outside the home.
I know this pandemic has been horrible. People have died. People have lost jobs. Businesses have been ruined. My friend’s brother-in-law committed suicide because of COVID-19. This has all been so tragic. Yet we are told to be grateful in all things. “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.” (D&C 59:7) All things?! Even death and suffering?!
How can we be grateful in all things, even during a pandemic? Despite this horrible time, I am grateful for it. It has been a “dress rehearsal” to help us practice and get ready for further tribulation ahead. It has been a time to assess where we are in terms of family closeness, neighbor closeness, emergency preparedness, self-reliance, and knowledge of the proper role of government.
As we each individually seek God in prayer, ask to know what He would have us do each day, and then #hearHim and act on it, we will do things to help lift this bondage of the pandemic. As we continue to do this each day, may we be released from further bondage. I hope this means we will repair broken relationships, broken families, broken neighborhoods, broken businesses, broken economies, broken laws, the broken U.S. Constitution, and other broken governmental forms, to prepare for the return of our Savior Jesus Christ. As we do so may we face a much brighter future than King Noah and his people did. He was burned by his priests who turned against him. The people that King Noah left, King Limhi, King Noah’s son, and King Limhi’s followers, were brought under bondage and had to pay 50% tax. They also had to labor support the kingdom of the Lamanites for years (See Mosiah 19-21)
We can choose a better future than King Noah and his people did. We can choose freedom over bondage. We can listen to our prophet of this day and #Hearhim. We can each reach out to God and see His hand in all of this. The prophet is asking us to see what God would have us do individually to repent, to return to the truths in all areas of life (personal, family, business, education, and government, etc.) as we hear Him, and rebuild all these broken forms with our hands that become His hands, to have freedom instead of bondage, and prepare for His return and reign.
I really love this recent devotional by Sister and Brother Gay below that develops these truths further. It’s time for us to end our self-justifications.