What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: Thiru Murugan
When studying the scriptures, it is interesting to note certain themes and experiences repeating themselves. As Elder Bednar has said, one of the ways we should study our scriptures is by “searching the scriptures for connections, patterns, and themes”.
One pattern I have noticed in recent months is the calling out of the righteous from among the wicked, prior to the destruction of a city or people. While certain circumstances may differ between these stories, the basic principles and reasons are the same—before His wrath descends upon the people, the Lord calls out the righteous to a place of safety to assure their protection and spare their lives.
While I do not intend to document all such references in the scriptures (there are many), the following list should paint the picture:
- Noah and his family were spared while all others drowned.
- The Jaredites were led out from their native lands to a land of promise.
- Abraham fled several times (from Ur to Haran, from Haran to a land of promise, and then into Egypt).
- Lot fled into the wilderness and mountains to avoid the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
- Moses guided the children of Israel out of Egypt into the wilderness and land of promise.
- Lehi and company fled Jerusalem to a land of promise.
- Nephi fled from destruction at the hands of his wicked brothers into the wilderness.
- Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt at the Lord’s admonishing.
- Alma fled into the wilderness several times to avoid destruction and slavery.
- King Limhi and his people fled to a different city to avoid war with the Lamanites.
Examples such as these show a pattern in the scriptures: God leads his people to places of safety to avoid destruction when it becomes necessary to do so. We also read in the scriptures that there are many other such accounts of which we are not aware:
For behold, the Lord God has led away from time to time from the house of Israel, according to his will and pleasure. And now behold, the Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off, wherefore he remembereth us also. (2 Nephi 10:22)
Modern examples abound as well, with the early Saints fleeing from one place to another under God’s command. From Palmyra to Fayette, then to Kirtland, and Independence, to Kirtland, to Far West, to Illinois, and finally to the Rockies; the Saints have a history of being guided under the Lord’s direction.
With such a pattern established, one wonders what modern application these experiences might have. Applying these patterns to our day, and with supporting quotes and prophecies by Church leaders, we see evidence of a future callout of the Saints, with the Lord commanding those who follow Him to flee for protection.
Thus, clearly, the Lord has placed the responsibility for directing the work of gathering in the hands of the leaders of the Church to whom he will reveal his will where and when such gatherings would take place in the future. It would be well—before the frightening events concerning the fulfillment of all God’s promises and predictions are upon us, that the Saints in every land prepare themselves and look forward to the instruction that shall come to them from the First Presidency of this Church as to where they shall be gathered and not be disturbed in their feelings until such instruction is given to them as it is revealed by the Lord to the proper authority. (Harold B. Lee, via Quoty)
Heber C. Kimball supported such an idea when he said:
When the time comes that the Lord says, “Arise, and to your tents, O Israel;” then men must be pure inside and out; they must be for God, or they will have no part in the blessings conferred upon the righteous. We sometimes talk about cutting men off from the Church. Now, I want to know what is the use of retaining dead limbs upon a tree. If such limbs are allowed to continue, they impart death to the branches. (Heber C. Kimball, via Quoty)
President Benson also spoke of the righteous members of the Church being separated from the others, when he commented:
Sometimes we hear someone refer to a division in the Church. In reality, the Church is not divided. It simply means that there are some who, for the time being at least, are members of the Church but not in harmony with it. These people have a temporary membership and influence in the Church; but unless they repent, they will be missing when the final membership records are recorded.
It is well that our people understand this principle, so they will not be misled by those apostates within the Church who have not yet repented or been cut off. But there is a cleansing coming. The Lord says that his vengeance shall be poured out “upon the inhabitants of the earth…. And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me….” (D&C 112:24-26.) I look forward to that cleansing; its need within the Church is becoming increasingly apparent. (Ezra Taft Benson, via Quoty)
The verses that Pres. Benson cites can be quite alarming when pondered and analyzed further. Suffice it to say that the Saints will be tried immensely before or during the separating of the wheat from among the tares.
A few other select quotes illustrate the future and necessary callout of the righteous Saints from among the wicked:
We must both learn what these signs are and then identify them correctly when they occur. They can and will strengthen our faith in Christ and His prophets, if we know the scriptures. Just as in the days of Noah, a way is already prepared for the escape of the Lord’s elect Latter-day Saints, if they are in tune with His prophets. (H. Aldridge Gillespie, via Quoty)
The giant earthquake, and the tsunami it sent crashing into the coasts around the Indian Ocean, is just the beginning and a part of what is to come, terrible as it was.
Fear shall come upon all people. But you and I know that the Lord has prepared places of safety to which He is eager to guide us…. It will be our choice whether or not to move up or stay where we are. But the Lord will invite and guide us upward by the direction of the Holy Ghost…
I did not plan to speak to you about the hard times that are ahead and they are real, and they are coming… (Henry B. Eyring, via Quoty)
…for without Zion, and a place of deliverance, we must fall; because the time is near when the sun will be darkened, and the moon turn to blood, and the stars fall from the heaven, and the earth reel to and fro.
Then, if this is the case, and if we are not sanctified and gathered to the places God has appointed, with all our former professions and our great love for the Bible, we must fall; we cannot stand; we cannot be saved; for God will gather out his Saints from the Gentiles, and then comes desolation and destruction, and none can escape except the pure in heart who are gathered. (Joseph Smith, via Quoty)
As is evidenced by these scriptures and quotes, there is a strong case to be made for a future calling out of the righteous from among the wicked. When it is to happen is anyone’s best guess. But given that the bridegroom comes at midnight, we should all be as prepared as possible for when the call comes, so that regardless of how difficult it may be, we will be willing to follow the Prophet and be led to places of safety.