Friday, October 31, 2014

Glad Tidings from Cumorah! (Doctrine & Covenants 128:20)

I often wonder, when the battle had ended, and Moroni was sitting in solitude overlooking the destruction which had beheld his people, what was going through his mind? While the people were wicked, I'm sure he had some friends among them, who he wished would simply come unto Christ. I'm sure more than a few tears were shed that day.

Was he sitting on the bluffs, with the plates in his hands thinking, what can I put into this record to help others avoid this? Could the words of Isaiah have been going through his mind: "And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust...And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed" (Isaiah 29:4,11)? Would he have known that the book he was writing is the same one? Might he have been praying with all of his might to see how the book would affect tens of millions of people? In the battle at Cumorah, would he ever have dreamed that Cumorah would be a place causing glad rejoicing among both the living and the dead?

Fast forward about 1400 years. A young man was lost and confused as to what direction he should go in regards to the welfare of his soul. He became convicted of his sins, and went to ask a question of the Lord, following the instruction of James, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God" (James 1:5). A simple boy went out into a grove of trees, to a place he had chosen ahead of time, after much contemplation of what he should do. He knelt down to ask the question, and it was answered in the most miraculous of ways. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy, and he instantly became a special witness of the Lord, was anointed to be a seer, and told that the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ would be restored through him among many other things. And then, it was done. The heavens had opened once more!

Put yourself in Joseph's shoes for a moment here. You saw and felt and were enveloped in the presence of deity for a short time, and instantly, you knew more than the whole of the Christian world combined did about the nature of God and of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as a 14 year old boy. Honestly, how would you feel? How would it instantly change you?

For three long years, it seemed that the heavens were closed up once more. Joseph was unsure of exactly how to proceed. I'm sure there were times when he wondered if it might have been a dream. I'm sure many people kept pestering him to forget it all, but his family, particularly his mother, probably put arms around him, and told him not to doubt what he had received. During this time, I am sure also that he began noticing his sins more. I'm sure the adversary was trying to make every effort to stop him from praying again. Finally, one night, he overcame those doubts and fears, and knelt down to ask for forgiveness, knowing that he could receive a manifestation that he would understand was a sign of forgiveness.

As he prayed, the room grew brighter and brighter, without waking up any of his siblings. In the midst of that light, a man suddenly appears, who reveals himself as Moroni, and told him that the time had come for the Gospel to be restored. From Joseph's eyes, he finally felt right again with the Lord amid all the weaknesses he saw in himself. From Moroni's eyes, the record he had spent 1800 years protecting in both mortality and as an angel was finally going to come forth: the Lamanites would hear the covenants of the Lord again, and the gathering of Israel would commence once more! Maybe the battle at Cumorah was not the end! Maybe glad tidings could pour from Cumorah!

Over the next several years, the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God. That was followed by many great and marvelous wonders to equal the miracles of the days of old. "Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book! The voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light! The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times! And again, the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer, in Fayette, Seneca county, and at sundry times, and in divers places through all the travels and tribulations of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! And the voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon line, precept;upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope!" (Doctrine & Covenants 128:20-21).

Because the Book of Mormon came forth, "the ten thousands of Ephraim, and...the thousands of Manasseh" have come to push together the outcasts of Israel unto Zion (Deuteronomy 33:17). Because the Book of Mormon came forth, the priesthood was restored to the earth. Because the Book of Mormon came forth, the sealing power was restored.  Because the Book of Mormon came forth, thousands left their homes and settled in a barren wasteland, and made it a place of temples being raised to the Most High! Who would have thought that a book printed in an obscure New York frontier township would have made such a big ripple in the world?

Often in our lives, we will feel like we have our hardest struggles. We may even see everything we have become lost in our Cumorahs. However, glad tidings can come of it! The restoration came not only to fulfill the words of the holy prophets, but to give  you a cause to go forth in, and "shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing" (Doctrine & Covenants 128:22).

Who would have thought that a simple book could change millions of lives? God did. And those millions can now testify that it did. Let it change your life!