Prophecies of the Advent and Mission of Christ

“Prophecies of the Advent and Mission of Christ,” New Era, Dec. 1972, 24

Prophecies of the Advent and Mission of Christ

Scripture Search: The statements concerning the Christ in this article are based on scriptural references listed here. To get the full impact of his sacred calling, locate and read the scriptures indicated as you read the article. Cross-reference related scriptures for future use in the mission field, in talks, or in teaching friends and family.

The most important event in the history of mankind upon the earth was the atonement of Jesus Christ. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote that “the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 121.) The Savior’s advent and mission were spoken of as the meridian of time. a This mission was necessary to overcome the effects of the fall of Adam, which introduced temporal and spiritual death. Through the fulfillment of the work of the atonement by Jesus Christ, the certainty of being resurrected and the possibility of obtaining spiritual life was made available to all mankind. The message of the conditions of acceptance of this atonement were called by Nephi the doctrine of Christ; b it was spoken of by the resurrected Lord as the gospel. c This message is the most important message for all people in all time.

The gospel message of Christ’s mission was revealed to man from the time of the Fall. The ancient patriarchs and prophets testified of revelation, visions, and of their personal spiritual witness of the Savior. They prophesied concerning the events and circumstances of his birth, ministry, atoning sacrifice, death, and resurrection. They taught the gospel principles and authoritatively performed ordinances and administered covenants to bring to mankind the blessings of the Atonement and the plan of salvation or eternal life.

The Lord sent messengers d to teach Adam, the first man, e of the gospel. The ordinance of sacrifice was introduced as a representation and remembrance of Christ’s future atonement. f From the scriptural record that contained the teachings of Adam, the prophet Enoch taught his people of the Atonement. g Later, this great prophet was shown in vision the events of the history of the world. He saw the “day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh” (Moses 7:45–47), and the crucifixion. h Noah, a man “perfect in his generations” and a man who “walked with God” (Gen. 6:9), proclaimed the gospel message of the Atonement. He emphasized repentance and the covenant of baptism as the only means to avoid the judgement of the flood. i The great high priest, Melchizedek, was honored to have the high priesthood named after him j because of his great work in preaching the gospel plan. k Those who hold this order of priesthood represent the Son of God as legal administrators of the gospel and the ordinances, and thereby provide the means to bring the faithful into the rest of the Lord. l Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek m and qualified himself to stand as a witness of Christ’s mission. Through the Urim and Thummim he was shown the order of the heavens, the pre-mortal world and the events that transpired there. He saw Christ chosen to be the Redeemer and others (himself included) selected to be special witnesses of the ministry of the Lord unto the world. n Abraham received the promise of great blessings concerning his posterity. They were to be numerous and the bearers of the priesthood, and the Savior would be one of them. o The great test of Abraham was his being commanded to offer Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice that was a “similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.” p Through this experience this faithful man secured the promises made to him and rejoiced to see the Savior’s day. q Isaac was faithful in continuing the blessing of the gospel covenant in his day. r His son, Jacob, knew the Lord through a sacred dream. s Jacob, who was later known as Israel, reflected this experience in his blessing to his son Judah. The promise was that the seed of Judah would retain the right of the sceptre, or ruler, and the lawgiver until one called Shiloh should come. t Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, later confirmed in prophecy to the people of Israel that this Shiloh (Shilo) was to be the Messiah. u

After their removal to Egypt, the nation of Israel fell into bondage and apostasy. The Lord called Moses to be a restorer unto them. v This great prophet received many divine manifestations to strengthen and prepare him to teach and lead the people. w He attempted to administer unto them the fullness of the gospel message, and he did “prophesy unto them concerning … the Messiah, and that God should redeem his people” (Mosiah 13:33. x But Israel would not accept the gospel and its responsibilities, and in consequence, a lesser order of priesthood and ordinances were given them. y This lesser order of things was known as the Law of Moses. It was a schoolmaster (Gal. 3:23–24), revealed by divine messengers. z It consisted of outward performances and ordinances 2a that were intended to “keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him.” (Mosiah 13:30.) These symbolisms were designed to strengthen their faith in Christ as they looked forward to his coming. 2b It contained many signs, wonders, types, and shadows of the coming of the Redeemer. 2c Three examples 2d of ordinances or ceremonies under the Law of Moses that were designed for this purpose are as follows: First, the burnt offering or sacrifice representing the future sacrifice of Christ that had been given first to Adam and reestablished as a part of the law. 2e In this sacred rite, unblemished animals were used as similitudes pointing to the Lamb of God, 2f who was to be the “great and last sacrifice.” 2g Second, the day of atonement, known as Yom Kippur and still observed in part by Jewish people today, was established as an annual memorial and ritual that represented the vicarious suffering for the sins of all the people. 2h The third example is the Passover feast. This celebration was not only in remembrance of the Lord’s freeing of Israel from bondage in Egypt but also foreshadowed the future sacrifice of Christ. The feast centered around an unspotted lamb, killed without breaking its bones, which was a type or symbol of the sacrifice of Christ. 2i

During the years that followed, the Law of Moses continued to be practiced by the children of Israel. In time, however, apostasy threatened the Lord’s people, division came, and two separate kingdoms, Israel and Judah, were established. The Lord raised up many great prophets to combat these evils. These holy men taught of Christ as the solution to the problems of their day. They prophesied of many of the events of the Savior’s life. They foresaw that Bethlehem would be his birthplace, 2j a chosen virtuous woman would be his mother, 2k and he would have a legal right to rule as their king.21 They foretold that many young children in Israel would be put to death because of his coming, 2m and that he would return to his people after a time in Egypt. 2n John the Baptist was he whom they said should come as a forerunner of the Master, calling from the wilderness. 2o It had also been predicted that Jesus was to teach with parables, 2p that his miracles were not to be told to the world, 2q and that many would not believe the reports of his ministry. 2r

Christ used the scriptures during his ministry to teach the people and also as a witness of his work. He cited the prophets to support his casting out the money changers 2s and to confound the charges of the Pharisees. 2t When rejected by those who claimed to understand the true purposes of the Law of Moses, he reminded them that their actions had been predicted of old. 2u The Master called forth the testimonies of the prophets on the occasions of his betrayal, 2v of his being forsaken by his disciples when arrested, 2w and of his trial and punishment as a transgressor. 2x

The fulfillment of the mission of the Savior, however, was the burden of the testimonies of the prophets. They spoke of his royal entry into Jerusalem, 2y of his betrayal for thirty pieces of silver, 2z of crucifixion as the manner of his punishment, 3a and of being given gall and vinegar for drink. 3b Of special significance are the writings of Isaiah proclaiming the sacrifice and suffering of Christ for mankind. 3c He was quoted by Nephi “to more fully persuade” his wicked brothers “to believe in the Lord their Redeemer,” (1 Ne. 19:23) and was also quoted by Abinadi as part of his testimony unto King Noah and his wicked priests. 3d Finally it was written that even his garments would be gambled for, 3e that his body would be laid in a sepulchre, 3f and most important of all, that he would be resurrected. 3g

Even though the Book of Mormon prophets had brought with them to the promised land the scriptures, 3h they were also given additional revelations to instruct them of Christ and of his saving work. Nephi records that in his vision it was made known that the Savior’s mother would be from the city of Nazareth. 3i He saw the birth of Christ and that he was “the Son of God after the manner of the flesh.” (1 Ne. 11:18–21.) 3j Lehi, his father, testified of the ministry of a prophet who would baptize the Messiah. 3k King Benjamin learned from a heavenly messenger of the miracles and healings as well as the atonement to be made by Christ. 3l Even the popular name, Jesus Christ, 3m by which the Redeemer came to be known centuries later, as well as the name of his mother, Mary, 3n was revealed to the Nephites. As a result of this name being known among them, there were some within the chosen land, those who had accepted his gospel, who were called Christians. 3o It was also manifest among them that the birth of the Savior would come 600 years from the time of the departure of Lehi and his family from Jerusalem. 3p Later came the prophecy of great heavenly signs that would signify this glorious event. 3q Like ancient Israel, the Nephites also observed the Law of Moses to point them to the future sacrifice of Christ, 3r and the neglect of these important memorials brought apostasy to some. 3s The Liahona compass—the ball or director as it was also called—was another type that represented in “shadow” the principle of following the gospel of Christ. 3t

The earlier inhabitants of the land, the Jaredites, likewise had scriptures 3u and living prophets to proclaim to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Savior appeared to the brother of Jared as a personage of spirit and revealed unto him the events of the panorama of time to the ends of the earth. 3v Emer, a righteous king among them, “saw the Son of Righteousness, and did rejoice and glory in his day.” (Ether 9:22.) Ether, the last prophet among them, “saw the days of Christ” and labored to bring his people to an understanding of the gospel message. 3w These teachings and testimonies of the Book of Mormon stand as a powerful witness of the atonement of Jesus Christ. 3x

For the Latter-day Saints the voices of both the living and the dead testify that Jesus is the Christ—the Savior and Redeemer, the Son of God. In all ages there have been those who have “despised the works of plainness,” and some have even “killed the prophets.” They could not understand the testimonies because they looked “beyond the mark.” (Jacob 4:14.) There are some today who distort the scriptures, but they do so only to their own destruction. 3y The witness of the restored gospel to the Latter-day Saints and to the world are the words of the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his associate Sidney Rigdon:

“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father.” (D&C 76:22–23.)

Drawing of Christ by William Whitaker