“Prophets Speak to Us,” New Era, Sept. 2020, 6–8.
“Utter destruction headed your way!”
Imagine that’s the text you just received on your phone. Pretend that this particular destruction comes in the form of a fiery meteor plummeting from the sky. It’s headed straight for your home and family and is going to bury everything you own under a pile of ash in a few minutes.
However, right as your panic starts kicking into high gear, you receive another text.
“Here’s how to avoid the disaster entirely: …”
Would you pay close attention to the next instructions? Of course you would!
While the specifics of the following scriptural account are different, that’s pretty much the warning Samuel the Lamanite gave to the Nephites: “There shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your utter destruction; and this shall surely come except ye repent, saith the Lord” (Helaman 13:10, emphasis added).
“Utter destruction”—a chilling scriptural phrase if ever there was one—was headed their way, and Samuel was telling them the only way to stay safe.
What was their response?
Well, they weren’t exactly grateful. The people threw rocks at Samuel and tried shooting him from the wall (see Helaman 16:2–8).
Counsel and warnings from prophets aren’t always received with gratitude.
As President Russell M. Nelson has taught: “It is precisely because we do care deeply about all of God’s children that we proclaim His truth. We may not always tell people what they want to hear. Prophets are rarely popular. But we will always teach the truth!”1
As we read the final great struggles in the Book of Mormon, with the Nephite civilization almost entirely destroyed, we see the prophetic truth of Samuel’s warning.
In these latter days, when people often live in fear as prophesied (see Doctrine and Covenants 45:26, and Luke 21:25–26), it can be easy to feel like disaster is closing in on every side. But that’s only what the adversary wants you to think! God has provided a path to spiritual safety.
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught, “A prophet is a watchman on the tower, protecting us from spiritual dangers we may not see.”2
To the wicked Nephites, Samuel was a watchman on the tower. He was trying to warn them what would happen if they didn’t repent. In our day, President Russell M. Nelson is a watchman on the tower. As God’s prophet on the earth, President Nelson can speak with clarity and can cut through the fear and confusion of the world.
“We live on a planet clamoring with a million voices,” Elder Andersen said. “The internet, our smartphones, our bloated boxes of entertainment all plead for our attention and thrust their influence upon us. … Anchoring our souls to the Lord Jesus Christ requires listening to those He sends. Following the prophet in a world of commotion is like being wrapped in a soothing, warm blanket on a freezing cold day.”3
Isn’t that a wonderful thought? Following the prophet can help us all to feel warm and secure.
Like any watchman, prophets see things we can’t—no matter our intellect, access to technology, or network of friends. No wonder we sing with enthusiasm, “We thank thee, O God for a prophet!”4
Prophets not only warn against the dangers of sin but also teach us the joy and happiness that come from living the commandments.
Here are just a few of the different teachings President Russell M. Nelson has shared about finding joy:
“As our Savior becomes more and more real to us and as we plead for His joy to be given to us, our joy will increase. Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power into our lives.”5
“When we choose to repent, we choose to change! We allow the Savior to transform us into the best version of ourselves. We choose to grow spiritually and receive joy—the joy of redemption in Him.”6
“Our greatest joy comes as we help our brothers and sisters, no matter where we live in this wonderful world.”7
This is the gospel of good news! The peace that the world seeks—but can’t find—is available to all who follow Jesus Christ. The prophets point to the Savior.
This month, as you’re studying Samuel’s teachings for Come, Follow Me, consider discussing some of the warnings and promised blessings we’ve received from modern prophets and apostles.
For example, you could talk about the dangers that prophets have warned us about in spending too much time on social media.
Also, you might discuss some of the amazing promises given by prophets and apostles about the power that comes into our lives when we study the Book of Mormon.
We are indeed blessed to have these watchmen on the tower.