I've decided to paraphrase a favorite Christmas Story. Those who are familiar with the Book of Mormon will also be familiar with this story. Those who aren't, and would like to read the story as it is contained in scripture (rather than as it is interpreted by me), please feel more than free to go here, here, here, and here.
And now, for our story:
Once upon a time, thousands of years ago, before your grandfather's grandfather's grandfather was even born or thought of, there lived two groups of people in the land. There were the Nephites, a tribe of people who had chosen to live lives of wickedness, sin, and evil, and the Lamanites, a tribe of people who had chosen to follow all the commandments of God as best they could.
One day, one of the Lamanites left his tribe and traveled over to where the Nephites were. His name was Samuel, and he wanted to teach the Nephites more about Heavenly Father and His commandments. Unfortunately, the Nephites didn't like what Samuel was teaching them, and so they kicked him out of their city.
Samuel was discouraged and sad about this, so he turned around and started the journey back to his own land. But, just as he started traveling, he heard the voice of the Lord speaking to him!
The Lord told Samuel that he needed to go back to the Nephites, and teach them some more. The Lord said that He would tell Samuel what he needed to say, and that Samuel should listen to his heart and he would know what to do and what to teach.
So, Samuel turned around and went back to the Nephite land.
The only problem was, this time the Nephites saw Samuel coming. The didn't want to listen to Samuel any more, and so they locked up the gates of the city, and they wouldn't let Samuel in.
Now, a lot of people would have given up at this point, but NOT our Samuel!!
Samuel found a way to climb up on the wall that surrounded the city, and he started to preach and teach all the things that the Lord put into his heart.
- He told them that they needed to change their ways or they would be destroyed.
- He told them that anyone who would repent and come back to the Lord would be forgiven and blessed.
- He told them that they were too selfish, and that they needed to share their treasures instead of hiding them and trying to keep them for themselves.
- He told them that they needed to listen to the prophets instead of hurting them and kicking them out of their cities.
- He told them that it wasn't too late to change, but that they'd better do it quick, because if they didn't, they would lose everything.
He told them that in five years the Son of God would come to earth to save them if they would believe in Him. But, there was a catch. See, the Son of God (who would also be called Jesus) was going to be born far far away, all the way across the sea, in Bethlehem.
Now, this was before there were airplanes or big fancy ships or telephones or television, or any of those things. So, if Jesus was going to be born on the other side of the world, how were the Nephites going to know it?
Samuel told them about a sign that Heavenly Father would give them. He said that there would come a time when there were two days, and a night in between them, but for all that time it would still be light, as light as it is in the daytime, so it would be like there was no night at all. AND, there would also be a new star, one that no one would have ever seen before.
Samuel told them all about this, and about other miracles that would happen too, and he said that when those things happened that the people would know that Jesus Christ was being born far away.
Samuel talked about many more things to the people, and as he talked, some of the people believed him. They felt in their hearts that what Samuel taught was true and they wanted to change.
So, because they couldn't get to Samuel (because he was standing on that wall, remember?), they went to another good good man, a man who was actually a prophet, a man named Nephi.
When they got to Nephi, they told him that they wanted to change and not be wicked anymore. Nephi taught them the right way, and they were baptized, and started living the commandments and making good righteous choices.
But, there were many of the people who heard Samuel and did NOT believe what he was saying. They got really angry at Samuel. They got so angry at Samuel that they went and got their arrows and stones and they tried with all their might to hit Samuel and even kill him while he was standing on that wall.
Now these Nephites were pretty good and hunting and killing, and so it must have been pretty scary for Samuel to be on that wall, while all the arrows and stones were coming up at him.
But, that's when a miracle occurred. Heavenly Father's Spirit protected Samuel, so that none of the arrows or the stones hit him, and he was kept safe on the wall, still teaching and preaching to them.
Now, when some of the Nephites (who were the best at shooting in all the land) saw that even their best shots didn't hit Samuel, they decided that maybe Samuel was telling the truth. So they listened to him more, and they started to believe the things he said.
The more they believed, the more they wanted to change. Finally, these people went to see Nephi too, and they were baptized and started living righteous lives.
But . . . ,
Most of the Nephites still didn't believe Samuel, and when they figured out that they weren't going to be able to hit him with their arrows and stones, they decided to go up on the wall and get him. Then they were going to tie him up, and hurt him, maybe even kill him.
It didn't work though. See, the Lord was still protecting Samuel, and so as the evil men came up to get him, Samuel was able to jump off the wall without hurting himself, and he went back to his own land, and started teaching his own people.
Samuel was never heard of or seen again in all the land of the Nephites.
To Be Continued . . . (check back tomorrow)