Sometimes the cultural and political climate in which we live reminds me an awful lot of scriptural times—when many people wondered why God and His servants were trying to tell them what to do. Noah in the Bible faced these circumstances, as did prophets in the Book of Mormon (which is another testament of Jesus Christ, a companion scripture to the Bible and a record of God’s dealings with the inhabitants of the ancient Americas). It is a pattern of behavior exacerbated by the teachings of antichrists—who teach doctrine contrary to the laws of God. Sometimes the teaching is subtle, sometimes it’s blatant but always it leads people away from God and His laws. One writer, Melanie Phillips, perfectly describes these philosophies:

Truth was being sacrificed to personal expediency. Evidence would be denied if the consequences were inconvenient. Self-centred individualism and self-justification ruled, regardless of the damage done to others.

This is the creed by which much of the world today lives. But while all people are free to choose their actions, no one is free from the consequences of those actions—even if they don’t know how damaging the results can be. Let me illustrate this. I was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease where my immune system attacks my thyroid gland. It’s an answer that has been a long time coming—I knew there was something off in my body, I just didn’t know what. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know that the food I was eating was creating damaging assaults on my thyroid, it was happening anyway. The good news is that once we know, we can change. I can learn from doctors and research online. The truths of God are found in the scriptures and in the words of His modern prophets and Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The way we feel is directly connected to how strictly we adhere to the guidelines we’ve been given.

The Scriptures are Tools

There is much we can learn from the Bible and the Book of Mormon—especially from the parallels between our time and ancient days. The scriptures are tools written for our day so that we could learn from the peoples of the past. Elder D. Todd Christofferson said:

The scriptures … enlarge our memory by helping us not forget what we and earlier generations have learned. Those who either don’t have or ignore the recorded word of God eventually cease to believe in Him and forget the purpose of their existence.

Ignoring or not having the word of God leads to the chaos of today, where the popular beliefs are so far removed from the teachings of God that without a map and a compass, it can be difficult to tell which way is right. But just like in the days of old, our loving Heavenly Father has not left us without a compass and a map. The compass is the prophet and Apostles of Jesus Christ, and the map is the scriptures—together, they point the way back to our Father in Heaven. Ancient prophets saw our day—the trials, tribulations and the triumphs. The Apostle Paul prophesied:

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In the last days, perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof; … ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 7).

He also said, “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). Just like the times in which we live. Of Paul’s teachings, President Boyd K. Packer said:

These verses serve as a warning, showing which patterns to avoid. We must be ever watchful and diligent. We can review each of these prophecies and put a checkmark by them as being present and of concern in the world today:

Perilous times—present. We live in very precarious times.

Covetous, boasters, proud—all are present and among us.

Blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection—all of these are well accounted for.

Trucebreakers, false accusers, and so on—all can be checked off against the prevailing evidence that exists all around us. …

 

Paul and others warned about the trials of our time and the days yet to come. But peace can be settled in the heart of each who turns to the scriptures and unlocks the promises of protection and redemption that are taught therein.

When we study the words of the ancient prophets in the scriptures as well as the words of the modern prophets, we arm ourselves with a light and a power to fight the dark forces around us.

 

Noah Obeyed God’s Early Warning & Built the Ark

"When God speaks and we obey, we will always be right." - Thomas S. Monson; A painting of Noah standing at the entrance of the ark, with the animals boarding.

If, as the Apostle Paul prophesied, we live in perilous times, how are we to know what the dangers are and how to avoid them? The story of Noah and the Ark teaches us. Elder David A. Bednar taught:

Early warning signals are evident in many aspects of our lives. For example, a fever can be a first symptom of sickness or disease. … We also are blessed by spiritual early warning signals as a source of protection and direction in our lives. Recall how Noah was alerted by God of things not yet seen, and he “prepared [the] ark to the saving of his house” (Hebrews 11:7).

President Thomas S. Monson said:

Noah heeded God’s command to build an ark, that he and his family might be spared destruction. He followed God’s instructions to gather into the ark two of every living creature, that they also might be saved from the floodwaters.

Said President Spencer W. Kimball: “As yet there was no evidence of rain and flood. … [Noah’s] warnings were considered irrational. … How foolish to build an ark on dry ground with the sun shining and life moving forward as usual! But time ran out. … The floods came. The disobedient … were drowned. The miracle of the ark followed the faith manifested in its building.”

Spiritual warnings are all around us. Nearly 20 years ago, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued The Family: A Proclamation to the World, which outlined Heavenly Father’s plan for His children concerning marriage, family and children. It was a warning to the world that the family is sacred and that traditional marriage is ordained of God—and that all people must stand in defense of it. Elder Bednar said:

Spiritual warnings should lead to increasingly vigilant watching. You and I live in “a day of warning” (Doctrine & Covenants 63:58). And because we have been and will be warned, we need to be, as the Apostle Paul admonished, “watching … with all perseverance” (Ephesians 6:18).

Watching with all perseverance also requires action on our part. President Monson said:

Noah had the unwavering faith to follow God’s commandments. May we ever do likewise. May we remember that the wisdom of God ofttimes appears as foolishness to men; but the greatest lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and we obey, we will always be right. [5]

It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark. Even when it started raining, people were still mocking Noah. It wasn’t until it was too late that people woke up to their awful state. But the eight people who followed the prophet of God on the earth were saved from the destructive flood.

 

Antichrists in the Book of Mormon

There are several false preachers in the Book of Mormon that are called antichrists. An antichrist is “anyone or anything that counterfeits the true gospel plan of salvation and that openly or secretly opposes Christ.” Nehor and Korihor were two of these wicked men. Elder Christofferson said:

Nehor appeared on the scene about 90 years before the birth of Christ….About 15 years later, Korihor came among the Nephites preaching and amplifying the doctrine of Nehor….

As in the days of Nehor and Korihor, we live in a time not long before the advent of Jesus Christ—in our case, the time of preparation for His Second Coming. And similarly, the message of repentance is often not welcomed. Some profess that if there is a God, He makes no real demands upon us (see Alma 18:5). Others maintain that a loving God forgives all sin based on simple confession, or if there actually is a punishment for sin, “God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 28:8). Others, with Korihor, deny the very existence of Christ and any such thing as sin. Their doctrine is that values, standards, and even truth are all relative. Thus, whatever one feels is right for him or her cannot be judged by others to be wrong or sinful.

On the surface such philosophies seem appealing because they give us license to indulge any appetite or desire without concern for consequences. By using the teachings of Nehor and Korihor, we can rationalize and justify anything. When prophets come crying repentance, it “throws cold water on the party.”

One of the problems with the teachings of antichrists is that they are short-sighted and selfish. They have the attitude, “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us… [God] will justify in committing a little sin” (2 Nephi 28:7-8). Elder Robert D. Hales said:

…Not only did Korihor disbelieve in God, but he also ridiculed the Savior, the Atonement, and the spirit of prophecy, falsely teaching that there is no God and no Christ.

Korihor was not content merely to reject God and quietly go his own way. He mocked the believers and demanded that the prophet Alma convince him with a sign of God’s existence and power. Alma’s response is as meaningful today as it was then: “Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.”

Eventually Korihor was given a sign. He was struck dumb. “And Korihor put forth his hand and wrote, saying: … I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.”

 

Finding Safety in Perilous Times

Jesus Christ feed my sheep

Feed My Sheep, by Kamille Corry

Paul and other ancient prophets perfectly described our day. But they also taught us how to find safety for our souls—through the words of ancient and modern prophets. Ancient prophets help us see the patterns in the world, and modern prophets warn us of the dangers that lie ahead. Elder Christofferson said:

God uses scripture to unmask erroneous thinking, false traditions, and sin with its devastating effects. He is a tender parent who would spare us needless suffering and grief and at the same time help us realize our divine potential. The scriptures, for example, discredit an ancient philosophy that has come back into vogue in our day—the philosophy of Korihor that there are no absolute moral standards, that “every man prosper[s] according to his genius, and that every man conquer[s] according to his strength; and whatsoever a man [does is] no crime” and “that when a man [is] dead, that [is] the end thereof” (Alma 30:17–18). …

Scripture tutors us in principles and moral values essential to maintaining civil society, including integrity, responsibility, selflessness, fidelity, and charity. In scripture, we find vivid portrayals of the blessings that come from honoring true principles, as well as the tragedies that befall when individuals and civilizations discard them. Where scriptural truths are ignored or abandoned, the essential moral core of society disintegrates and decay is close behind. In time, nothing is left to sustain the institutions that sustain society.

The scriptures teach us that “God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). This is the reason that modern prophets and Apostles are so important—they have “a message from the Lord” for us in our day. President Henry B. Eyring taught:

There seems to be no end to the Savior’s desire to lead us to safety. … He calls by more than one means so that it will reach those willing to accept it. And those means always include sending the message by the mouths of His prophets whenever people have qualified to have the prophets of God among them. Those authorized servants are always charged with warning the people, telling them the way to safety.

Looking for the path to safety in the counsel of prophets makes sense to those with strong faith. When a prophet speaks, those with little faith may think that they hear only a wise man giving good advice. Then if his counsel seems comfortable and reasonable, squaring with what they want to do, they take it. If it does not, they consider it either faulty advice or they see their circumstances as justifying their being an exception to the counsel.

Those who don’t have faith in the prophets of God leave themselves open to the teachings of antichrists, such as Korihor of the Book of Mormon. Rather than finding safe harbors in the ways of the world, they find temporary pleasure that fades with the passage of time. President Eyring said:

Korihor [argued], as men and women have falsely argued from the beginning of time, that to take counsel from the servants of God is to surrender God-given rights of independence. But the argument is false because it misrepresents reality. When we reject the counsel which comes from God, we do not choose to be independent of outside influence. We choose another influence. We reject the protection of a perfectly loving, all-powerful, all-knowing Father in Heaven, whose whole purpose, as that of His Beloved Son, is to give us eternal life, to give us all that He has, and to bring us home again in families to the arms of His love. In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose.

Failing to take prophetic counsel because we don’t like what is said is spiritually destructive. We may be OK for a little while, but we are not on solid ground—even if the counsel we choose to not follow seems insignificant to us at the time. When I was a teenager, I had multiple piercings… and not just 2 in each ear. I wore multiple pairs of earrings into adulthood. And then one day the late President Gordon B. Hinckley, who was the prophet of God at that time, said that members of The Church of Jesus Christ should only wear one pair of earrings at a time. It seemed trivial to me, but I decided that if I was going to follow the prophet, I was going to follow him in all things. I didn’t want my children to think that it was OK to pick and choose which prophetic counsel to obey. So I took them out, and I’ve never looked back. Now, when my kids ask me why I have so many holes in my ears, I tell them that I’m following the prophet. Not because I have to, but because I want to do it. President Eyring illustrates how important this is:

Another fallacy is to believe that the choice to accept or not accept the counsel of prophets is no more than deciding whether to accept good advice and gain its benefits or to stay where we are. But the choice not to take prophetic counsel changes the very ground upon which we stand. It becomes more dangerous. The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future. The best time to have decided to help Noah build the ark was the first time he asked. Each time he asked after that, each failure to respond would have lessened sensitivity to the Spirit. And so each time his request would have seemed more foolish, until the rain came. And then it was too late.

If there is one thing that the scriptures teach us, it’s this: the only way to be safe in the chaos and tumult of this world is to follow the counsel of the ancient and modern prophets. It might not always be easy, but it’s always worth it.

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