The lesson in Come, Follow Me this week includes the appearance of Jesus Christ to the Nephites. This great experience came after lots of trauma. There arose a terrible storm that included thunder, lightning, winds, and earthquakes. Then darkness fell for three days that was so dense that no light could be seen anywhere, and no fire could be started.
The surviving Nephites made their way to the temple, and “they were marveling and wondering one with another” about all the changes around them (3 Nephi 11:1). They were discussing the prophecies that were given about signs of the death of Jesus Christ. While they were carrying on their conversations, “they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven,” and they looked around (3 Nephi 11:3).
Even though they could not understand the voice, the Nephites recognized that it was “a small voice” that “did pierce them that did hear to the center,” caused them to quake, pierced “them to the very soul,” and caused “their hearts to burn” (3 Nephi 11:3). They heard the voice a second time and still did not understand it.
Then the voice came a third time. The people “did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were toward the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came” (3 Nephi 11:5). This time they understood the voice.
Behold, my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name – hear ye him (3 Nephi 11:7).
Can you imagine the thoughts and feelings of the Savior when He heard His Father speak of Him with such love? The Son must have felt deeply loved. I would be in tears if I heard my earthly father speak such wonderful words about me!
The Nephites must have been in shock. They heard the voice of Heavenly Father who was introducing His Beloved Son, even Jesus Christ. There are few records of people hearing the voice of the Father, and most of them are an introduction of the Son by the Father. The first recorded experience of hearing the Father’s voice is found in Matthew 3:17 where John the Baptist hears the Father say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The second instance is found in Matthew 17:5 on the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter, James, and John heard the Father say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”
The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ contains several instances where the Nephites heard the voice of the Father. The first occasion is recorded in 2 Nephi 31:14-15 as Nephi is nearing the end of his life. He tells of hearing the voice of the Son and then the voice of the Father.
But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have bene better for you that ye had not known me.
And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.
The second instance in the Book of Mormon takes place in Helaman 5:29, 32, 47. In the first two verses, the Father calls the wicked Nephites to repentance and tells them to stop destroying the prophets. A pillar of fire encircles the repentant people. In verse 47, the Father says, “Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world.”
The last instance in the Book of Mormon of which I have record is when Jesus Christ appears to the Nephites, and the Father says, “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name – hear ye him” (3 Nephi 11:7).
It seems that whenever Jesus Christ appears in a new dispensation, the Father introduces Him. This is what happened on a clear spring day in 1820 – some people think that it was March 26, 1820 – when the young boy Joseph Smith went to the woods to offer his first prayer. He saw a pillar of light over his head and then saw two Personages in the light.
… When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to other – This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:17).
I believe that it is fair to say that Joseph Smith did not expect to see the Father and the Son when he went into the woods to pray that day. However, he learned that They had a work for him to do, and he spent the rest of his life completing that work. I know that Joseph Smith was and still is a prophet of God.
Today God speaks through another prophet, even Russell M. Nelson, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the April 2020 General Conference of the Church, President Nelson invited all his listeners to “Hear Him!”
As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. It takes conscious and consistent effort to fill our daily lives with His words, His teachings, His truths.
… where can we go to hear Him?
We can go to the scriptures. They teach us about Jesus Christ and His gospel, the magnitude of His Atonement, and our Father’s great plan of happiness and redemption. Daily immersion in the word of God is crucial for spiritual survival, especially in these days of increasing upheaval. As we feast on the words of Christ daily, the words of Christ will tell us how to respond to difficulties we never thought we would face.
We can also hear Him in the temple. The house of the Lord is a house of learning. There the Lord teaches in His own way. There each ordinance teaches about the Savior. There we learn how to part the veil and communicate more clearly with heaven. There we learn how to rebuke the adversary and draw upon the Lord’s priesthood power to strengthen us and those we love. How eager each of us should be to seek refuge there….
While worshipping in the temple is presently not possible, I invite you to increase your participation in family history, including family history research and indexing. I promise that as you increase your time in temple and family history work, you will increase and improve your ability to hear Him.
We also hear Him more clearly as we refine our ability to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now. In the Godhead, the Holy Ghost is the messenger. He will bring thoughts to your mind which the Father and Son want you to receive. He is the Comforter. He will bring a feeling of peace to your heart. He testifies of truth and will confirm what is true as you hear and read the word of the Lord.
I renew my plea for you to do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation.
Doing so will help you know how to move ahead with your life, what to do during times of crisis, and how to discern and avoid the temptations and the deceptions of the adversary.
And, finally, we hear Him as we heed the words of prophets, seers, and revelators. Ordained Apostles of Jesus Christ always testify of Him. They point the way as we make our way through the heart-wrenching maze of our mortal experiences.
What will happen as you more intentionally hear, hearken, and heed what the Savior has said and what He is saying now through His prophets? I promise that you will be blessed with additional power to deal with temptation, struggles, and weakness. I promise miracles in your marriage, family relationships, and daily work. And I promise that our capacity to feel joy will increase even if turbulence increases in your life (“Hear Him,” April 2020 General Conference).
We live in turbulent times. The year 2020 has been one of many trials and tribulations, and we have no promise that 2021 will be any better. We are in the Last Days, and Satan is doing all that he can do to hinder the work of the Lord. We know that the Lord will win in the end, so we should have no question about the outcome. Our only question should be, how can I hear the Savior when he speaks to me?
I know that President Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s prophet on earth today. I am grateful for all the ways that I can hear the counsel given by President Nelson and the fourteen prophets, seers, and revelators who associate with him. I look forward to hearing them speak in the October 2020 General Conference on October 3-4, 2020. I invite all my readers to join me in listening to their words and learning better to hear the voice of God.