This post is designed to increase your understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ and the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. This material was shared as the worship service for Zion’s Outpost on December 24, 2017.
The coming of Jesus Christ should not have been a surprise to any person who had access to the scriptures. It was often spoken of and announced by the holy prophets and the holy angels from the beginning of creation.
The Biblical record and prophecies are well known to many people, Christian or otherwise, today. As wonderful as those prophecies are, they are in many ways obscure and cryptic because the people to whom the prophecies were delivered, were hard-hearted and rebellious. Paul said it well when he described the Jews having a veil over their eyes when they read the scriptures of the Old Testament.
This post directs your attention toward the testimony of the Book of Mormon regarding the coming of Christ. The children of Lehi were blessed to have many prophecies of Christ and his coming. These prophecies spoke with marvelous clarity and power of his birth, ministry, death and resurrection as the Messiah. The Nephites and Lamanites knew periods of righteousness and periods of rebellion like their brethren in Israel. However, the Nephites and Lamanites had the extreme advantage of a vibrant testimony of Jesus Christ through the ministry of the high priesthood which the Jews lacked. The testimonies you will read today reflect that power and authority.
The witnesses that follow are speaking their eye-witness testimony as those who knew the prophets and heard them speak. The testimonies are based on the Book of Mormon accounts. May the grace of God the Father and Messiah, the Son of God be with you through the power of the Holy Spirit, as you hear these testimonies of Jesus.
The Voice of Sariah
I am Sariah, the wife of Lehi. My husband and I lived in Jerusalem or nearby it, all of our lives until the Lord called us to leave for a new land he had prepared for us. In the years before we left Jerusalem, it was difficult in many ways. We watched the gradual decline of righteousness and the rising threat of foreign invasion. Some of our boys were affected by the wickedness around us, despite our efforts to teach them to trust in God and his word.
When Jeremiah, and the other prophets, began preaching warnings of destruction, we agreed. My husband was praying about all of this one day when the Lord blessed him with a remarkable vision. In the vision, Lehi saw things that confirmed all Jeremiah had said and more. This was followed by another vision at home in which he was given a book to read, and in the words of that book he learned about a Messiah to come and the redemption of the world. Many hundreds of years before Jesus Christ was born, we heard of his coming, and my husband prophesied that the Messiah would come.
“… overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God. And it came to pass that he saw one descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day; And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament; and they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth” (1 Nephi 1:7-9)
“And he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world” (1 Nephi 1:20).
The Voice of Sam
I am Sam, the third son of Lehi and Sariah. I was born in Jerusalem and saw the wickedness of the people there. I heard my father testify of seeing the Messiah and heard him preach to the people there. When God led our family out of Jerusalem, I was a little confused. I did not completely understand everything, but God blessed by younger brother, Nephi, because of his great faith, and he helped me to understand and believe.
My brother had many experiences and visions. He learned many things about the Messiah and his birth. One of my favorites was part of the vision about the Tree of Life which I will now read to you.
“And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth: and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white. And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me, Nephi, what beholdest thou? And I said unto him, A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins. And he said unto me, Knowest thou the condescension of God? And I said unto him, I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless I do not know the meaning of all things. And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh. And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; And after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time, the angel spake unto me, saying, Look! And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me, Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father” (1 Nephi 1:52-62)!
Nephi saw many things about the Messiah in this vision. We knew a Savior was coming from heaven to the earth and he was to be called the Son of God. Because of this knowledge of the Messiah, we took our journey into the wilderness with joy, knowing in some way we were part of the great plan of salvation and the restoration of the House of Israel which had been and was then in the process of being scattered. Let me share more of Nephi’s testimony about the Messiah.
“Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews, even a Messiah; or, in other words, a Savior of the world. And he also spake concerning the prophets, how great a number had testified of these things, concerning this Messiah, of whom he had spoken, or this Redeemer of the world. Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be, save they should rely on this Redeemer” (1 Nephi 3:4-6).
“For there is save one Messiah spoken of by the prophets, and that Messiah is he who should be rejected of the Jews. For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; And according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (2 Nephi 11:34-36).
My brother spoke for all of us who looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ when he wrote,
“Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ: For, for this end hath the law of Moses been given: And all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him. And also, my soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord which he hath made to our fathers; Yea, my soul delighteth in his grace, and his justice, and power, and mercy, in the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death. And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people, that save Christ should come, all men must perish” (2 Nephi 8:7-12).
The Voice of Enos
I am Enos, the grandson of Lehi and the son of Jacob, who was called Lehi’s firstborn son in the wilderness. My father, like Lehi and my uncle Nephi, was a man of great faith. Nephi loved to hear my father preach and tell testimonies. My father loved to speak about Jesus Christ.
My father often talked about the coming of Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I remember him telling us about the angel who visited him and told him the name of the Messiah was to be Christ and that he was coming into the world as a man. Nephi recorded some of things my father spoke on the plates he kept. For example:
“Oh how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it. And he cometh into the world that he may save all men, if they will hearken unto his voice” (2 Nephi 6:44-45).
“Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ (for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name) should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world” (2 Nephi 7:5).
Oh, how my father, Jacob, loved to speak about Jesus. The Savior appeared to him, and we heard that testimony many times. After Nephi died, my father continued to preach and teach about Jesus. He wrote,
“For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory, many hundred years before his coming, and not only we, ourselves, had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us. Behold, they believed in Christ, and worshiped the Father in his name; and also, we worship the Father in his name” (Jacob 3:4-5).
The coming of Christ is how we referred to the birth of Jesus Christ. The prophecies of our first fathers in this new land and of the prophets of old continued to be told and spoken of. Nevertheless, God wanted the testimony of the gospel to be fresh and alive in every generation. So it was that the Lord bore witness of Christ in my life and in many others also.
The Voice of Abish
My name is Abish and I am a Lamanite woman. I was born many years before the birth of Jesus. At the time of my birth, my people, the Lamanites, cared nothing for the scriptures and disregarded all of the teaching and preaching of the Nephites. I would have been just like them except for inexpiable intervention of God in my life.
While I was still a young girl, my father had a remarkable vision. God gave him a knowledge of the plan of salvation and the coming of the Messiah. When my father told me what God had shown him, I also believed. For many years I kept this knowledge and my faith hidden. I was lonely and prayed when I might be able to speak freely of my faith in Christ among my people. I often wondered why the Lord had chosen me to carry this hope. One day I discovered the reason.
After I grew up and my father died, I went to work in the palace for the queen. Her husband was King Lamoni. One day a great wave of excitement swept through the palace. A Nephite man entered the land and offered to be a servant to our King. Immediately after entering the service of the king, the Nephite, whose name was Ammon, impressed us all by his power and humility when he defended the king’s flocks from robbers and refused to take any of the honor for himself.
As a result of his exploits, Ammon was able to bear his testimony of the true God and the plan of salvation. I was stunned to witness first, King Lamoni’s conversion to the Lord, then the conversion of the queen and many others. How exciting it was to hear, with my own ears, King Lamoni join with the many other prophets and speak of the coming Messiah.
“And it came to pass that he arose, according to the words of Ammon; and as he arose, he stretched forth his hand unto the woman [his queen], and said, Blessed be the name of God, and blessed art thou; For as sure as thou livest, behold, I have seen my Redeemer; and he shall come forth and be born of a woman, and he shall redeem all mankind who believe on his name” (Alma 12:142-143).
Ammon taught me that the Brother of Jared, who lived hundreds of years before us on this same land, knew the name of Jesus Christ long before Lehi left Jerusalem. The scripture says:
“Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters” (Ether 1:77-78).
I was thrilled to know the name of Jesus was known in this land for many years. But when I heard King Lamoni prophesy that the Messiah was coming as a little child into the world to live as one of us, I was stunned. How marvelous that the Lord would choose a virgin to be his earthly mother. I asked Ammon if he knew who the mother was going to be. He said the prophets have spoken of her name also. King Benjamin, a Nephite king received knowledge of these things by an angel and from the record of his last testimony are these words,
“For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven, among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, And shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases; And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men. And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; For behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people. And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things, from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary” (Mosiah 1:97-102).
King Benjamin was not the only one to speak of this. Ammon’s good friend, Alma, prophesied:
“And behold, he shall be born of Mary at Jerusalem, which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed, and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God” (Alma 5:19).
The Voice of Alma
I am Alma. I was in the service of King Noah, the Nephite king of a band of people living deep in Lamanite territory. My king was a wicked man and I was happy to have the privileged position of a priest in his court. At least I thought I was happy until a man appeared among us by the name of Abinadi. This valiant and highly favored servant of the Lord stood without fear and rebuked Noah, his princes and all of the priests for our wickedness. He spoke the truth with great power and opened the scriptures to us. For me, it was the first time I understood the words of God. In our history it is written:
“And a prophet of the Lord have they slain; yea, a chosen man of God, who told them of their wickedness and abominations, and prophesied of many things which are to come, yea, even the coming of Christ. And because he said unto them, that Christ was the God, the Father of all things, and said that he should take upon him the image of man, and it should be the image after which man was created in the beginning; Or in other words, he said that man was created after the image of God, and that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood, and go forth upon the face of the earth; And now because he said this, they did put him to death” (Mosiah 5:43-46a).
Abinadi was slain for his testimony because he was willing to speak about the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh, but I found life in his words.
The Voice of Amulek
My name is Amulek. I am here to bear witness about the testimony of my dear friend, Alma, the son of Alma, regarding the birth of Jesus Christ. I met Alma shortly after he ministered to the church in Gideon. At that place, Alma was moved to prophesy,
“For behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth. And behold, he shall be born of Mary at Jerusalem, which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed, and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God” (Alma 5:18-19).
An angel of the Lord arranged my meeting with Alma when he was sent back to Ammonihah, my home town. When the Lord sent us out to minister, Alma spoke these words:
“And not many days hence, the Son of God shall come in his glory; and his glory shall be the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, equity and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long suffering, quick to hear the cries of his people, and to answer their prayers. And behold, he cometh to redeem those who will be baptized unto repentance, through faith on his name” (Alma 7:40-41).
Later, Alma spoke about the preparatory work of angels anticipating the birth of Jesus Christ, saying:
“For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word, at the time of his coming in his glory. And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice” (Alma 10:23-25).
Alma and I labored in the name of Jesus many times. I testify that the words of Alma are true.
The Voice of Lehi, the son of Helaman
I am Lehi, the son of Helaman. My brother Nephi and I were taught from an early age to have faith in Jesus Christ. This was so even though we were born prior to the birth of Jesus the Messiah. Our father taught us many things, but especially to put our faith in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. He said:
“O remember, remember, my sons, the words which King Benjamin spake unto his people; yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world” (Helaman 2:71).
In our ministry, my brother and I labored with great diligence and through many hardships to preach the truths of scripture and to be faithful to the call of God. We had the opportunity to preach to many Lamanites and Nephite dissenters who had joined the Lamanites. God blessed our preaching with power and brought peace in our land.
The wisdom of God’s work among the Lamanites was confirmed to us when, after a few years, the Nephites drifted into wickedness once again. By way of the Lamanites, the Lord sent a powerful minister of the truth. The Lamanite prophet was named Samuel. He plainly taught our people about the coming of Jesus Christ and the gospel. About the birth of Christ, he was very clear and gave signs we could look for. The words of his prophesy include the following:
“… Behold, I give unto you a sign: for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name. And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh, there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day; Therefore there shall be one day and a night, and a day, as if it were one day, and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun, and also of its setting; Therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born. And behold there shall be a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you. And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven. And it shall come to pass that ye shall all be amazed, and wonder, insomuch that ye shall fall to the earth. And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life. 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. And now because I am a Lamanite, and have spoken unto you the words which the Lord hath commanded me, and because it was hard against you, ye are angry with me, and do seek to destroy me, and have cast me out from among you. And ye shall hear my words, for, for this intent I have come up upon the walls of this city, that ye might hear and know of the judgments of God which do await you because of your iniquities, and also that ye might know the conditions of repentance; And also that ye might know of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven, and of earth, the Creator of all things, from the beginning; and that ye might know of the signs of his coming, to the intent that ye might believe on his name. And if ye believe on his name, ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits” (Helaman 5:55-67).
The Voice of Nephi, the son of Nephi
My name is Nephi, the son of Nephi. I am here to bear witness of the faithfulness of our God. After many years of faithful ministry, my father and my uncle Lehi, completed their labors among our people. The responsibility of the ministry was laid upon me not long before the time of the birth of Jesus Christ was to occur. Samuel had said that five years would pass before Jesus Christ would be born in the land of our forefathers. He spoke of signs in the heavens that would identify the time of the Savior’s birth.
Many people had calculated that the five year mark had come and gone; judging the prophecy to be false. Others were unsure and even some of the believers were not certain. The unbelievers were very confident that our faith was vain and they wearied of our testimony and our admonitions to believe. The enemies of the church, proclaimed a certain day to be the last day for the sign to be given. If God did not meet their time frame, they threatened to kill those of us who believed in the coming of Jesus.
This turmoil caused me to go to God in fervent prayer for a full day. It was then I heard the voice of the Lord say,
“Lift up your head and be of good cheer, for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, And on the morrow come I into the world, to shew unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets. Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfill all things which I have made known unto the children of men, from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father, and of the Son of the Father, because of me, and of the Son, because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given” (3 Nephi 1:12-15).
The word of the Lord was fulfilled, for that night the sign was given exactly as Samuel the Lamanite had prophesied. The sun went down, but there was no darkness. A new star appeared. God vindicated his prophet and silenced the adversary. For a time, there was peace in the land as we rejoiced in the knowledge that Jesus Christ was born. The rest of Samuel’s prophecy was fulfilled at the death of Jesus Christ. We were blessed by the visitation of the Lord in our midst and we know that Jesus is the Risen Savior, born of Mary in the land of Jerusalem.
Jesus Christ is going to come back again. Now it is your turn to be faithful and true to the words of the prophets. Do not let the threats of the enemies of faith move you away from the truth of his return or of the coming kingdom of God. As he was faithful to keep his word in my day, so he will also be faithful to keep his word to you. Prepare yourselves and keep the faith. Come, let us worship the King!