Watchmen on the Tower | David H. Moore


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>>THIS BYU DEVOTIONAL ADDRESS
WITH DAVID MOORE WAS
GIVEN ON AUGUST 2, 2016.
>>GOOD MORNING
BROTHERS AND SISTERS, AND WELCOME TO THIS
MORNING’S DEVOTIONAL. WE ARE PLEASED TO
HAVE DAVID H. MOORE, ASSOCIATE DEAN OF THE
J. REUBEN CLARK LAW SCHOOL, AS OUR SPEAKER TODAY. WE EXTEND A SPECIAL WELCOME
TO HIS WIFE, NATALIE, AND THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS
AND FRIENDS WHO ARE HERE. PROFESSOR MOORE RECEIVED HIS
BACHELOR OF ARTS DEGREE FROM BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY IN
1992 AND GRADUATED FROM THE J. REUBEN CLARK LAW
SCHOOL IN 1996. HE PRACTICED AS A TRIAL
ATTORNEY WITH THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
AND CLERKED FOR JUSTICE SAMUEL A. ALITO, JR. OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT. HE CURRENTLY SERVES AS THE
ASSOCIATE DEAN OF ACADEMIC AFFAIRS AND RESEARCH
IN THE LAW SCHOOL. IN ADDITION,
BROTHER MOORE HAS BEEN A VISITING PROFESSOR AT THE
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL,
AN ASSISTANT AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY
OF KENTUCKY COLLEGE OF LAW, AND AN OLIN FELLOW AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO LAW SCHOOL. HIS SCHOLARLY WORK FOCUSES ON
U.S. FOREIGN RELATIONS LAW, INTERNATIONAL LAW,
INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, AND HUMAN RIGHTS. BROTHER MOORE AND HIS WIFE,
NATALIE, ARE THE PARENTS OF SEVEN CHILDREN. AND NOW WE’LL HAVE THE
PRIVILEGE OF HEARING FROM BROTHER DAVID MOORE.>>THANK YOU PRESIDENT WORTHEN. WE ARE BLESSED BY YOUR SERVICE. I’M GRATEFUL FOR ALL
OF YOU FOR COMING. I HAVE HAD SO MANY FAMILY
MEMBERS AND FRIENDS REACH OUT TO ME AS I HAVE PREPARED
FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY WITH EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE AND SUPPORT. I WANT TO EXPRESS MY
LOVE TO THEM AS WELL, THOSE WHO ARE HERE,
AND THOSE WATCHING ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND BEYOND. I WANT TO EXPRESS MY LOVE
TO YOU ALL AS WELL. WE ARE BROTHERS AND SISTERS,
AND I PRAY THAT THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD WILL BE WITH US TODAY. WHEN I WAS AN UNDERGRADUATE,
I HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF STUDYING AT BYU’S JERUSALEM
CENTER FOR NEAR EASTERN STUDIES. ON ONE FIELDTRIP,
WE VISITED AN AREA WHERE A LARGE STONE TOWER STOOD. FROM THE TOWER A WATCHMAN
COULD DETECT THREATS BEFORE THEY WERE VISIBLE FROM THE
GROUND, PROTECTING THE OLIVE, FIG, AND GRAPE VINEYARD
FROM PLUNDER. YEARS LATER,
I REENACTED THIS SCENE WITH MY FAMILY IN
FAMILY HOME EVENING. WE LIVE IN A TWO-STORY HOME. OUR BACKYARD IS RELATIVELY
FLAT CLOSE TO THE HOME, BUT DESCENDS RAPIDLY
INTO A WOODED AREA. FOR OUR FAMILY
HOME EVENING LESSON, ALL BUT ONE MEMBER OF THE
FAMILY STAYED ON THE MAIN FLOOR, LOOKING OUT THE WINDOWS
TOWARD THE BACKYARD. ONE FAMILY MEMBER CLIMBED
THE STAIRS TO A SECOND-STORY BEDROOM WITH A WINDOW
THAT ALSO LOOKED TOWARD THE BACKYARD. I HID IN THE BACKYARD AND,
UNBEKNOWNST TO MY CHILDREN, WAS ARMED WITH A
BOW AND ARROW. NOW, WITH MY SKILLS
AS AN ARCHER, I MIGHT ONLY HAVE BEEN ABLE
TO HARM SOMEONE BY ACCIDENT, BUT I LOOKED MENACING AND THAT
WAS ENOUGH FOR OUR LESSON. AS I CLIMBED THE WOODED
ASCENT TOWARD OUR HOME, THE MEMBERS OF MY FAMILY ON THE
MAIN FLOOR COULD NOT SEE ME. THEY SAW ONLY THE GRASS
AND TREES IN OUR BACKYARD. I WAS DETECTED, HOWEVER,
BY THE CHILD AT THE UPSTAIRS WINDOW. BEFORE I COULD LUNGE FROM
THE WOODS IN SURPRISE, I WAS SPOTTED AND A WARNING
CRY WENT OUT TO THOSE BELOW. THE LORD DESCRIBES THE LEADERS
OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
AS WATCHMEN ON THE TOWER. MEMBERS OF THE FIRST
PRESIDENCY AND QUORUM OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES ARE PROPHETS,
SEERS, AND REVELATORS. IN EACH OF THESE
RELATED ROLES, THEY, LIKE WATCHMEN ON A TOWER,
EXPAND OUR VISON OF THINGS OF ETERNAL SIGNIFICANCE. PROPHETS PARTICULARLY ENLARGE
OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. THE SCRIPTURES TEACH THAT
THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY. CONSISTENT WITH THIS TRUTH,
THE PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY OF A PROPHET IS TO BEAR
WITNESS OF CHRIST. FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD,
PROPHETS HAVE DECLARED THE SAVIOR AND HIS ATONEMENT. PROPHETS BEAR WITNESS FROM
A UNIQUE VANTAGE POINT AS SPECIAL WITNESSES OF THE NAME
OF CHRIST IN ALL THE WORLD. IN THIS WAY,
THEY STRENGTHEN OUR TESTIMONIES OF CHRIST,
TESTIMONIES THAT ARE CRITICAL TO OUR PEACE IN THIS LIFE
AND ETERNAL LIFE IN THE WORLD TO COME. THE PROPHETS ALSO BEAR
TESTIMONY OF CHRIST THROUGH THEIR ACTIONS. IN A RECENT FACE-TO-FACE
CONVERSATION WITH THE YOUTH, ELDER DAVID A. BEDNAR
EXPLAINED THAT MEMBERS OF THE QUORUM OF THE TWELVE
APOSTLES CERTAINLY PARTICIPATE IN LARGE,
PUBLIC EVENTS LIKE GENERAL CONFERENCE AND
TEMPLE DEDICATIONS, BUT PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANTLY,
HE SAID IT’S ABOUT ONES. THE LORD ROUTINELY SENDS
HIS APOSTLES AROUND THE WORLD TO MINISTER TO THE ONE. I HAVE CAUGHT A GLIMPSE OF
THIS PRIVATE, INDIVIDUAL MINISTRY IN MY LIFE. MY WIFE’S GRANDFATHER,
TO WHOM SHE WAS VERY CLOSE, PASSED AWAY WHEN SHE
WAS A YOUNG WOMAN. ELDER RICHARD G. SCOTT TOOK MY
WIFE UNDER WING AND INFLUENCED HER LIFE IN PROFOUND WAYS. ON ONE OCCASION,
I HAD THE UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE OF BEING AT THE HOME OF AN
APOSTLE ON CHRISTMAS DAY. HE HAD CARVED A BREAD
BOARD THAT HE WAS GOING TO DELIVER WITH A LOAF OF BREAD
TO A WIDOW WHO LIVED NEARBY. THE PROPHETS HAVE A
WORLDWIDE STEWARDSHIP, BUT THEY BEAR TESTIMONY OF
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST BY SERVING AS HIS MINISTERS
TO BLESS INDIVIDUALS. THEIR WITNESS AND EXAMPLE
HAVE STRENGTHENED MY TESTIMONY OF THE SAVIOR,
JESUS CHRIST. THE LORD’S WATCHMEN ON THE
TOWER ALSO SERVE AS REVELATORS. AS AMOS AFFIRMED,“SURELY THE
“LORD GOD WILL DO NOTHING,
“BUT HE REVEALETH HIS
“SECRET UNTO HIS SERVANTS
“THE PROPHETS.”THE LORD REVEALS HIS WILL
TO US THROUGH THE PROPHETS; THE SCRIPTURES ARE
EVIDENCE OF THIS PATTERN. THEY CONTAIN SELECT
ACCOUNTS OF THE REVELATIONS THE LORD GAVE TO THE PROPHETS. OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE
STATE OF THE SOUL BETWEEN DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION,
FOR EXAMPLE, IS INFORMED BY THE REVELATION
ALMA RECEIVED AND SHARED WITH HIS SON, CORIANTON. WE KNOW THAT BAPTISM SHOULD
OCCUR AT ACCOUNTABILITY RATHER THAN IN INFANCY BECAUSE OF THE
REVELATION RECEIVED BY MORMON. WE HAVE THE
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS, WITH ITS MANY PRECIOUS TRUTHS,
BECAUSE OF REVELATIONS TO THE PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH
AND HIS SUCCESSORS. AND WE RECEIVE REVELATION
THROUGH THE LIVING PROPHETS IN GENERAL CONFERENCE
AND THROUGH OTHER AVENUES. THESE REVELATIONS HAVE
HELPED ME TO UNDERSTAND THE LORD’S WORD AND WILL,
AND I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE PROPHETS’ ROLE AS REVELATORS. THE PROPHETS ARE ALSO SEERS. A SEER CAN KNOW OF THINGS
WHICH ARE PAST, AND ALSO OF THINGS WHICH ARE TO COME,
“AND BY THEM SHALL SECRET
“THINGS BE MADE MANIFEST,
“AND HIDDEN THINGS
“SHALL COME TO LIFE.”THE PROPHETIC GIFT OF SEERSHIP
IS EVIDENT IN THE WORD OF WISDOM AND THE FAMILY PROCLAMATION. LONG BEFORE SCIENTISTS AND
LAYMEN KNEW THE FAR-REACHING HARM OF TOBACCO AND BEFORE
THE CONCEPT OF GENDER CAME UNDER SERIOUS ATTACK,
THE LORD’S SEERS FORESAW THE NEED TO COUNSEL AGAINST THE
USE OF TOBACCO AND TO AFFIRM THE ETERNAL NATURE OF GENDER. AS PROPHETS, SEERS,
AND REVELATORS, MEMBERS OF THE FIRST
PRESIDENCY AND QUORUM OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES HELP US TO
SEE AND UNDERSTAND IN WAYS WE COULD NOT ON OUR OWN. THEY ARE WATCHMEN
ON A TOWER. IT SHOULD BE APPARENT FROM
THE ROLES OF PROPHETS, SEERS, AND REVELATORS,
THAT THESE WATCHMEN ARE A GREAT BLESSING TO US. YET, THE SCRIPTURES
INDEPENDENTLY AFFIRM THE BLESSINGS OF FOLLOWING
THE PROPHETS. WHEN THE SAVIOR APPEARED
IN THE AMERICAS AFTER HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION,
HE TAUGHT THE BEATITUDES AS HE HAD IN THE OLD WORLD:
“BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT,
“BLESSED ARE THE MEEK,
“BLESSED ARE ALL THE
“PURE IN HEART.”INTERESTINGLY,
WHEN THE SAVIOR TAUGHT THE BEATITUDES IN THE AMERICAS,
HE ADDED THIS DECLARATION:“BLESSED ARE YE IF YE SHALL
“GIVE HEED UNTO THE WORDS OF
“THESE TWELVE WHOM I HAVE
“CHOSEN FROM AMONG YOU TO
“MINISTER UNTO YOU,
“AND TO BE YOUR SERVANTS.”
AS WITH THE OTHER BEATITUDES,
WE ARE BLESSED TO COME CLOSER TO CHRIST WHEN WE DEVELOP
THE GIFT OF BELIEVING IN AND FOLLOWING THE LIVING PROPHETS. THIS PRINCIPLE IS REITERATED
IN A FAMOUS SCRIPTURE CONCERNING THE ORGANIZATION
OF THE CHURCH.“AND HE GAVE SOME PROPHETS,”
EPHESIANS SAYS. WHY?“FOR THE PERFECTING
“OF THE SAINTS,
“FOR THE EDIFYING OF
“THE BODY OF CHRIST:
“TILL WE ALL COME IN
“THE UNITY OF THE FAITH,
“AND OF THE KNOWLEDGE
“OF THE SON OF GOD.”
EPHESIANS IDENTIFIES ANOTHER
BLESSING PROPHETS PROVIDE. THEY ASSIST US THAT WE
“HENCEFORTH BE NO MORE
“CHILDREN, TOSSED TO AND FRO,
“AND CARRIED ABOUT WITH
“EVERY WIND OF DOCTRINE,
“BY THE SLEIGHT OF MEN,
“AND CUNNING CRAFTINESS,
“WHEREBY THEY LIE IN
WAIT TO DECEIVE.”FOR SCOUT CAMP THIS SUMMER,
WE TOOK OUR SCOUTS TO FLAMING GORGE. ONE DAY,
WE RAFTED THE GREEN RIVER BELOW FLAMING GORGE DAM. THEY WERE LETTING EXTRA
WATER OUT OF THE DAM, SO THE CURRENTS IN THE
RIVER WERE IMPRESSIVE. EACH RAFT HAD A GUIDE WHO TOLD
US HOW AND WHEN TO STROKE: “FORWARD THREE,
“LEFT FOUR, “BACK TWO.” WE RESPONDED QUICKLY
WITH THE REQUIRED STROKES. IN THIS WAY,
THE GUIDE DIRECTED US TO THE CURRENTS IN THE RIVER
WHERE WE COULD ENJOY THE RAPIDS AS WELL AS SAFETY. THERE ARE STRONG CURRENTS
IN THE WORLD TODAY AS THE DEVIL RAGES IN THE HEARTS
OF THE CHILDREN OF MEN. AS ELDER NEIL L. ANDERSEN SAID,
“THE WORLD WILL NOT GLIDE
“CALMLY TO THE SECOND
“COMING OF THE SAVIOR.
“ALL THINGS SHALL
BE IN COMMOTION.”
IN THIS ENVIRONMENT,
IF WE ARE RESPONSIVE TO THE PROPHETS,
AS WELL AS PERSONAL WARNINGS FROM THE HOLY GHOST,
OUR STROKES CAN BE GUIDED TO CURRENTS OF PEACE
AND ETERNAL LIFE. PRESIDENT HAROLD B. LEE
SUMMARIZED THE PROTECTION THAT COMES FROM FOLLOWING
THE PROPHETS WHEN HE SAID,“THE ONLY SAFETY WE HAVE AS
“MEMBERS OF THIS CHURCH IS
“TO LEARN TO GIVE HEED TO
“THE WORDS AND COMMANDMENTS
“THAT THE LORD SHALL GIVE
“THROUGH HIS PROPHETS.
“THERE WILL BE SOME THINGS
“THAT TAKE PATIENCE AND FAITH.
“YOU MAY NOT LIKE WHAT COMES.“IT MAY CONTRADICT
“YOUR POLITICAL VIEWS,
“YOUR SOCIAL VIEWS, INTERFERE
“WITH YOUR SOCIAL LIFE.
“BUT IF YOU LISTEN
“TO THESE THINGS,
“AS IF FROM THE MOUTH
“OF THE LORD HIMSELF,
“THE GATES OF HELL SHALL
“NOT PREVAIL AGAINST YOU
“AND THE LORD WILL
“DISPERSE THE POWERS OF
DARKNESS FROM BEFORE YOU.”FOLLOWING THE PROPHETS
WILL NOT ONLY GUIDE US, IT WILL CHANGE US. EXERCISING FAITH IN THE WORDS
OF THE PROPHETS CAN WORK A MIGHTY CHANGE IN OUR HEARTS. KING BENJAMIN’S PEOPLE
REPORTED A MIGHTY CHANGE IN THEIR HEARTS THAT LED
THEM TO “HAVE NO MORE “DISPOSITION TO DO EVIL,
“BUT TO DO GOOD CONTINUALLY.” ALMA THE ELDER LIKEWISE
EXPERIENCED A MIGHTY CHANGE IN HIS HEART,
AS DID THE PEOPLE HE TAUGHT AT THE WATERS OF MORMON. WHAT OCCASIONED THESE
SPIRITUAL CHANGES? THE PEOPLE OF KING
BENJAMIN EXPLAINED THAT IT WAS THE FAITH THEY HAD IN
THE WORDS OF KING BENJAMIN, THEIR PROPHET. ALMA SIMILARLY EXERCISED
FAITH IN THE WORDS WHICH WERE DELIVERED BY
THE MOUTH OF ABINADI. AND WAS HE NOT A HOLY PROPHET? ALMA THEN PREACHED THE
WORD UNTO THOSE AT THE WATERS OF MORMON WHO
BELIEVED HIS WORDS, AND A MIGHTY CHANGE WAS
ALSO WROUGHT IN THEIR HEARTS. IN EACH CIRCUMSTANCE,
FAITH IN THE WORDS OF A PROPHET LED TO A MIGHTY CHANGE OF HEART. HAVE YOU HAD THAT EXPERIENCE? I HAVE FELT SOMETHING OF
WHAT ALMA, HIS PEOPLE, AND THE PEOPLE OF KING
BENJAMIN EXPERIENCED. AFTER PARTICIPATING
IN GENERAL CONFERENCE, I HAVE FELT A CHANGE OF HEART,
A FEELING OF BEING SANCTIFIED, A DESIRE TO DO BETTER
THAN I HAVE DONE. THIS SWEET FEELING,
THE FEELING OF CONVERSION, ACCOMPANIES THE EXERCISE
OF FAITH IN THE WORDS OF THE LORD’S SERVANTS. INDEED, NOT ONLY DOES HEEDING
THE WORDS OF THE PROPHETS CONTRIBUTE TO CONVERSION,
BUT WE CANNOT BE TRULY CONVERTED UNTIL WE HAVE
GAINED A TESTIMONY OF THE DIVINE CALLING AND
ROLE OF THE PROPHETS. AS PRESIDENT
HAROLD B. LEE TAUGHT,“UNTIL THE MEMBERS OF THIS
“CHURCH HAVE THAT CONVICTION
“THAT THEY ARE BEING
“LED IN THE RIGHT WAY,
“AND THEY HAVE A CONVICTION
“THAT THESE MEN OF GOD ARE MEN
“WHO ARE INSPIRED AND HAVE
“BEEN PROPERLY APPOINTED
“BY THE HAND OF GOD,
“THEY ARE NOT TRULY CONVERTED.
GIVEN THE APPARENT AND
EXPRESS BLESSINGS THAT COME FROM PROPHETS, SEERS,
AND REVELATORS, ONE MIGHT EXPECT HISTORY
TO REFLECT REPEATED RESPONSIVENESS TO THESE
WATCHMEN ON THE TOWER. THAT HAS NOT BEEN THE CASE,
TO THE DETRIMENT OF MANY. WE OFTEN HEAR THE MAXIM THAT
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF OR THAT THOSE WHO FAIL TO LEARN
THE LESSONS OF HISTORY ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT. I EXPERIENCED THIS
FIRSTHAND RECENTLY. AS I MENTIONED,
AS AN UNDERGRADUATE I STUDIED ABROAD IN ISRAEL. LAST MONTH I HAD THE
OPPORTUNITY TO RETURN TO ISRAEL WITH A GROUP OF LEGAL
SCHOLARS TO STUDY THE ISRAELI LEGAL SYSTEM AND LEGAL
CHALLENGES FACING ISRAEL. I DIDN’T HAVE MUCH IN THE
WAY OF BUSINESS CASUAL CLOTHING TO WEAR IN THE HOT CLIMATE,
SO ONE EVENING BEFORE DEPARTING,
I HURRIED TO PURCHASE SOME SHORT SLEEVE SHIRTS. THEY WERE PLAID AND
FAIRLY BRIGHTLY COLORED. WHEN I SHOWED THEM
TO MY WIFE, SHE WAS, SHALL WE SAY, SKEPTICAL. AS A GOOD LAWYER,
I TRIED TO PERSUADE, ULTIMATELY LANDING ON THE
OBSERVATION THAT THIS WAS THE SORT OF SHIRT I WORE WHEN I WENT
TO ISRAEL THE FIRST TIME… TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO… IN THE EARLY 90S. SHE BURST OUT LAUGHING. THOSE WHO REFUSE TO LEARN
THE LESSONS OF HISTORY ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT. THIS PRINCIPLE HAS SERIOUS
APPLICATION WHEN IT COMES TO OUR RELATIONSHIP
WITH THE PROPHETS. ONE OF THE LESSONS OF
SACRED HISTORY IS THE DIFFICULTY THAT COMES ON
REJECTING THE PROPHETS. THE LORD SAID AT THE
OUTSET OF THIS DISPENSATION:“THE DAY COMETH THAT THEY
“WHO WILL NOT HEAR THE
“VOICE OF THE LORD,
“NEITHER THE VOICE
“OF HIS SERVANTS,
“NEITHER GIVE HEED
“TO THE WORDS OF THE
“PROPHETS AND APOSTLES,
“SHALL BE CUT OFF FROM
AMONG THE PEOPLE.”
SO IT HAS BEEN IN THE PAST. IN THE BOOK OF MORMON ALONE,
LEHI DEPARTS JERUSALEM, KNOWING THAT JERUSALEM MUST
BE DESTROYED BECAUSE OF THE WICKEDNESS OF THE PEOPLE. FOR BEHOLD, THEY HAD REJECTED
THE WORDS OF THE PROPHETS. SOON AFTER LEHI’S DEPARTURE,
ANOTHER SEPARATION OCCURS. NEPHI AND ALL THOSE WHO
WOULD GO WITH HIM ARE DIRECTED TO DEPART FROM
THEIR BRETHREN AND FLEE INTO THE WILDERNESS. THOSE WHO ACCOMPANY NEPHI
ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THE WARNINGS AND THE
REVELATIONS OF GOD AND WHO HEARKEN UNTO NEPHI’S WORDS. WARNED BY THE LORD,
MOSIAH SIMILARLY LEAVES THE LAND OF NEPHI WITH AS MANY
AS WOULD HEARKEN UNTO THE VOICE OF THE LORD. WHILE THOSE WHO FOLLOW
THE PROPHETS ARE GUIDED, THOSE WHO REJECT THE PROPHETS
HAVE NO SUCH PROTECTION. THE PEOPLE OF KING NOAH REJECT
THE TEACHINGS OF ABINADI AND ARE BROUGHT INTO BONDAGE. KING NOAH’S WICKED PRIESTS
AND THEIR POSTERITY ARE LATER KILLED AND HUNTED,
AS ABINADI PROPHESIED. THE LEADERS OF AMMONIHAH WHO
REJECTED ALMA AND AMULEK ARE SLAIN WHEN THE PRISON WALLS
IN WHICH THEY DETAINED ALMA AND AMULEK FALL. LATER, THE PEOPLE OF AMMONIHAH
ARE DESTROYED IN ONE DAY BY INVADING LAMANITES. IN THE BOOK OF HELAMAN,
THE NEPHITES SUFFER GREAT DESTRUCTION AND LOSS OF MUCH
OF THEIR LAND AS A RESULT OF THEIR WICKEDNESS AND THEIR
DENIAL OF THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY AND OF REVELATION. NOT LONG THEREAFTER,
THE NEPHITES SUFFER FROM CIVIL WAR AND LATER FAMINE
AS THEY REJECT THE WORDS OF NEPHI, THE PROPHET. AT THE SAVIOR’S CRUCIFIXION
THE PATTERN REPEATS, AS HAD BEEN PROPHESIED. LONG BEFORE CHRIST
HAD EVEN BEEN BORN, NEPHI PROPHESIED THAT
“GREAT AND TERRIBLE SHALL “THE DAY OF CHRIST’S DEATH
“BE UNTO THE WICKED,
“FOR THEY SHALL PERISH;
“AND THEY PERISH BECAUSE
“THEY CAST OUT THE PROPHETS,
“AND THE SAINTS,
“AND STONE THEM,
AND SLAY THEM.”
THE RIGHTEOUS, BY CONTRAST,
WOULD BE SPARED. IN THE WAKE OF
CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION, THERE WAS A GREAT TEMPEST,
WHIRLWINDS, THUNDER, LIGHTNING; CITIES WERE BURNED, SUNK,
COVERED BY MOUNTAINS. THOSE WHO REMAINED WERE
THE MORE RIGHTEOUS PART OF THE PEOPLE WHO RECEIVED THE
PROPHETS AND STONED THEM NOT. THESE SURVIVORS LAMENTED
THAT THE PEOPLE HAD KILLED AND STONED THE PROPHETS,
AND CAST THEM OUT. THUS WERE THE SCRIPTURES
FULFILLED WHICH HAD BEEN SPOKEN BY THE PROPHETS. SEVERAL GENERATIONS AFTER THE
SAVIOR’S VISIT TO THE AMERICAS, THE PEOPLE AGAIN REJECT
THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS. LED BY FALSE PROPHETS,
THEY PURSUE INIQUITY UNTIL THE DISCIPLES ARE TAKEN AWAY
AND MORMON IS FORBIDDEN TO PREACH UNTO THEM. THE NEPHITES LOSE THE
SPIRIT AND ULTIMATELY THEIR CIVILIZATION. THE LAMANITES PLUNGE INTO
DARKNESS AND WAR FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS. THE EXPERIENCE OF THE
NEPHITES AND LAMANITES IS THAT OF THE JAREDITES AS WELL. WHEN THE JAREDITES DISBELIEVE
AND PERSECUTE THE PROPHETS, THEY FACE FAMINES
AND PESTILENCES, THEY ARE UNABLE TO
RETAIN THEIR PROPERTY, AND THEY EXPERIENCE WARS AND
CONTENTIONS THAT BECOME SO SEVERE THAT THE STENCH OF
ROTTING FLESH TROUBLES THEM BY DAY AND BY NIGHT. ULTIMATELY,
AS THE PROPHETS WARNED, THE JAREDITE CIVILIZATION
IS DESTROYED AND THE LORD BRINGS FORTH ANOTHER
PEOPLE TO POSSESS THE LAND. WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS HISTORY,
AND ITS PARALLELS IN OTHER SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNTS,
OF THE PERSONAL AND COMMUNAL DESTRUCTION THAT COMES FROM
REJECTING THE PROPHETS. IN LIGHT OF THIS HISTORY,
IT IS NO WONDER THAT THE BEATITUDES DO NOT SAY,
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO PERSECUTE THE PROPHETS, BUT
“BLESSED ARE YE WHEN
“YE ARE PERSECUTED AS
“WERE THE PROPHETS.”
GIVEN THE DAMAGE THAT COMES
FROM REJECTING THE PROPHETS, WHAT STANDS IN THE WAY
OF ACCEPTING THEM? LET ME DISCUSS THREE MATTERS. ONE DIFFICULTY IS THAT
THEIR WORDS ARE HARD ON THE NATURAL MAN. A PROPHET IS A PREACHER
OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. AS JAROM RECOUNTED,
THE PROPHETS PRICK OUR HEARTS WITH THE WORD,
“CONTINUALLY STIRRING US
UP UNTO REPENTANCE.”IN THIS, THEY STAND IN STARK
CONTRAST TO FALSE TEACHERS- LIKE THE BOOK OF
MORMON’S SHEREM- WHO EMPLOY FLATTERY. THE FLATTERER SPEAKS
SMOOTH THINGS: DO THIS,
AND THERE IS NO INIQUITY; DO THAT AND YE
SHALL NOT SUFFER. WALK AFTER THE PRIDE OF YOUR
OWN HEARTS AND DO WHATSOEVER YOUR HEART DESIRETH. IF WE CAN HUMBLE OURSELVES
AND SET OUR SIGHTS ON ETERNAL LIFE,
WE CAN WELCOME THE PRICK TO PERFECTION RATHER THAN THE
SMOOTH SOLICITATION TO SIN. IN SPEAKING OF OVERCOMING
THE NATURAL MAN TO FOLLOW THE PROPHETS,
I AM REMINDED OF AN EXPERIENCE NATALIE AND
I HAD WHEN OUR SON, MATTHEW, WAS THREE. I HAD AN OFFER TO TEACH AT
WASHINGTON AND LEE LAW SCHOOL AND WE WERE VISITING THE AREA
IN THE PROCESS OF DECIDING WHETHER TO ACCEPT. AS WE VISITED A
HOME WITH A REALTOR, MATTHEW WAS RUNNING
AROUND ENERGETICALLY. NATALIE PULLED HIM ASIDE
AND ASKED IF HE WOULD BEHAVE. HE RESPONDED,
“I DON’T WANT TO BEHAVE. I WANT TO BE MATTHEW.” IT MUST BE A
THREE-YEAR-OLD THING. THIS PAST SUNDAY,
WHEN I SPOKE TO OUR YOUNGEST SON JAMES,
WHO IS CURRENTLY THREE, ABOUT BEHAVING IN SACRAMENT
MEETING, HE REPLIED, “I AM HAVE.” FORTUNATELY FOR US,
THE CHOICE IS NOT BETWEEN BEHAVING AND BEING OURSELVES. WE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD. FOLLOWING THE PROPHETS
IS CONSISTENT WITH OUR DIVINE NATURE. REMEMBERING THAT THE WORDS OF
THE PROPHETS ARE THE WORDS OF A LOVING SAVIOR WILL ALSO
HELP US OVERCOME THE NATURAL MAN TO FOLLOW THE PROPHETS. THE SAVIOR IS EMPHATIC THAT THE
PROPHETS’ WORDS ARE HIS OWN.“WHETHER BY MINE
“OWN VOICE OR BY THE
“VOICE OF MY SERVANTS,”
HE DECLARES,“IT IS THE SAME.”HIS WORDS WILL BE FULFILLED;
HE HIMSELF ACTS TO FULFILL THEM. THUS, FOR EXAMPLE,
THE NIGHT BEFORE HIS BIRTH, THE LORD SAID TO NEPHI,
“ON THE MORROW COME I INTO
“THE WORLD TO FULFILL ALL
“THAT WHICH I HAVE CAUSED
“TO BE SPOKEN BY THE MOUTH
“OF THE HOLY PROPHETS.”
FOLLOWING THE PROPHETS
MAY ALSO BE DIFFICULT BECAUSE PROPHETS ARE MORTAL. SOMETIMES IT IS HARD
TO RECOGNIZE THE DIVINE IN THE MORTAL. IN THE SAVIOR HIMSELF,
SOME COULD ONLY SEE THE CARPENTER’S SON. THE FACT THAT THE SAVIOR
IS ABLE TO WORK THROUGH MORTAL MEN, HOWEVER,
CAN BE HEARTENING. AS ELDER BEDNAR SAID,
“SOME PEOPLE FIND THE
“HUMAN SHORTCOMINGS OF THE
“BRETHREN TROUBLING AND
“FAITH DIMINISHING.“FOR ME THOSE IMPERFECTIONS
“ARE ENCOURAGING AND
“FAITH PROMOTING.”IT MAY ALSO BE HELPFUL TO
REMEMBER THAT A PROPHET ‘S CALL DOES NOT COME
BY ASPIRATION. AS IS SAID GENERALLY OF THOSE
WHO RECEIVE THE PRIESTHOOD,“NO MAN TAKETH THIS
“HONOR UNTO HIMSELF,
“BUT HE THAT IS CALLED OF GOD,
“AS WAS AARON.”
THE PROPHETS ARE CALLED,
NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE PERFECT BUT BY ONE WHO IS PERFECT. THEY OFTEN SHARE A PROFOUND
SENSE OF THEIR OWN MORTALITY ON RECEIVING THEIR CALL. YET THEY ARE CALLED. AND THEY ARE QUALIFIED BY
THE SAVIOR WHO CALLS THEM, AS IS EVIDENT FROM
STUDYING SOMEONE LIKE THE APOSTLE PETER. ONE FINAL STUMBLING BLOCK IN
FOLLOWING THE PROPHETS IS THE TENDENCY TO SET OURSELVES UP
AGAINST THE LORD AND HIS PROPHETS WHEN WE OBTAIN
DISTINCTION IN LEARNING. THAT DISTINCTION MAY COME
FROM ADVANCED DEGREES, ATTENDANCE AT
PREMIER INSTITUTIONS, OR ACCOLADES FOR
ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE. AS JACOB TAUGHT,
“WHEN MEN ARE LEARNED
“THEY THINK THEY ARE WISE.“THEY SUPPOSE THEY KNOW
“OF THEMSELVES AND THEY
“HEARKEN NOT UNTO
“THE COUNSEL OF GOD.”
THIS IS FOOLISHNESS. WHATEVER LEARNING ONE
OBTAINS THROUGH YEARS OF ACADEMIC STUDY,
ATTENDANCE AT EXCELLENT SCHOOLS, AND THE HARD WORK NECESSARY
TO EARN HIGH MARKS IS ULTIMATELY MEAGER. I AM ABOUT TO START MY
SIXTEENTH YEAR OF LAW SCHOOL. EVEN WITHIN LAW I HAVE
MASTERED RELATIVELY LITTLE. WHEN I LOOK OUTSIDE THE LAW,
I REALIZE I HAVE MASTERED EVEN LESS. THAT IS TYPICAL. THE TOP LEGAL MIND LIKELY KNOWS
LITTLE ABOUT ARCHAEOLOGY. THE TOP ARCHAEOLOGIST
LIKELY KNOWS LITTLE ABOUT ACCOUNTANCY. THE TOP ACCOUNTANT IS LIKELY
UNABLE TO CONTRIBUTE MUCH IN THE FIELD OF ASTRONOMY. BY CONTRAST, OUR HEAVENLY
FATHER IS OMNISCIENT. IF WE INVOLVE HIM,
OUR LEARNING CAN ULTIMATELY BE LIMITLESS. AS A RESULT, IN MY VIEW,
TRUE INTELLECTUALS FOLLOW THE ADMONITION TO SEEK
LEARNING BY STUDY AND ALSO BY FAITH. I WISH TO EXPLORE THIS
ADMONITION GENERALLY AND THEN LINK IT SPECIFICALLY
TO THE PROPHETS. STUDY AND FAITH TOGETHER
MAGNIFY LEARNING. PRESIDENT JOSEPH
FIELDING SMITH TAUGHT,“MEN MAY SEARCH, THEY MAY STUDY,
“THEY MAY LEARN, OF COURSE,
“A GREAT MANY THINGS;
“THEY MAY LAY UP A GREAT
“FUND OF INFORMATION,
“BUT THEY WILL NEVER BE ABLE
“TO COME TO THE FULNESS OF
“TRUTH UNLESS THEY ARE
“GUIDED BY THE SPIRIT OF
“TRUTH, THE HOLY GHOST,
“AND KEEP THE
“COMMANDMENTS OF GOD.”
OBEDIENCE AND THE HOLY GHOST
ARE CRITICAL TO LEARNING TRUTH;“THAT IS,
“TO OBTAINING KNOWLEDGE OF
“THINGS AS THEY WERE,
“AND AS THEY ARE,
“AND AS THEY ARE TO COME.”“THE HOLY GHOST
“KNOWETH ALL THINGS.”
“THE HOLY GHOST SPEAKETH
“THE TRUTH AND LIETH NOT.”
AS WE LIVE IN OBEDIENCE
TO THE COMMANDMENTS THAT WE RECEIVE FROM THE LORD
THROUGH HIS PROPHETS, WE QUALIFY FOR INSTRUCTION
FROM THE HOLY GHOST. AS WE RECEIVE LIGHT
FROM THE HOLY GHOST AND CONTINUE IN OBEDIENCE,
WE RECEIVE MORE LIGHT. THIS VIRTUOUS CYCLE CONTINUES
“THAT LIGHT GROWETH
“BRIGHTER AND BRIGHTER
“UNTIL THE PERFECT DAY.”
“THOSE WHO ARE FILLED WITH
“LIGHT COMPREHEND ALL THINGS.”
BY CONTRAST,
WE LOSE LIGHT AND TRUTH THROUGH DISOBEDIENCE. AS ALMA TAUGHT,
“HE THAT WILL
“HARDEN HIS HEART,
“THE SAME RECEIVETH THE LESSER
“PORTION OF THE WORD UNTIL
“HE KNOWS NOTHING CONCERNING
“THE MYSTERIES OF GOD.”I OBSERVED THIS PHENOMENON
WHILE SERVING AS A BISHOP. A MEMBER OF MY WARD BEGAN
TO DRIFT FROM THE PATH OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. ALTHOUGH HE PREVIOUSLY
HAD A TESTIMONY, HE REACHED A PLACE WHERE
HE COULD NOT DISCERN THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL. THE TRUTH HAD NOT CHANGED,
BUT HIS DISOBEDIENCE HAD CLOUDED HIS ABILITY TO DISCERN IT. OBEDIENCE AND THE HOLY GHOST
ARE CRITICAL TO OUR PURSUIT OF TRUTH. WE ARE BLESSED TO BE AT
BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY, WHERE WE HAVE THE
OVERT OPPORTUNITY TO COMBINE FAITH AND STUDY. THE HONOR CODE SEEKS TO
ENSURE THAT WE MAINTAIN THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT WILL
QUALIFY US TO BE TAUGHT BY THE SPIRIT. DO WE LINK THESE TWO THINGS,
“LIVING THE HONOR CODE” AND BECOMING EDUCATED? THE HONOR CODE,
WHICH IS A REFLECTION OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST,
IS NOT SIMPLY A CONDITION FOR COMING TO BYU TO
OBTAIN AN EDUCATION. IT IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF
HOW WE OBTAIN THAT EDUCATION. I HAVE BEEN BLESSED BY
TRYING TO COMBINE STUDY AND FAITH IN MY OWN LEARNING. AFTER MY SECOND YEAR
OF TEACHING LAW, I FELT PRESSURE TO MAKE
SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS IN MY SCHOLARSHIP. MY LIFE CONDITIONS AT THE
TIME WERE NOT IDEAL FOR CONTEMPLATIVE THINKING. OUR SECOND CHILD HAD BEEN
BORN IN MAY AND SLEEP WAS AT A PREMIUM. I REMEMBER ONE DAY I WAS
DRIVING IN KENTUCKY, WHERE WE LIVED,
AND SPEAKING TO MY MOM ON THE PHONE ABOUT THE
RESEARCH TOPIC I WAS PURSUING. JUST LIKE A MOM,
INTERESTED IN THE RESEARCH I WAS DOING. I EXPRESSED TO HER THAT I
FELT THAT THE IDEA FOR THE PROJECT HAD COME BY INSPIRATION. JOSEPH SMITH TAUGHT,
“A PERSON MAY PROFIT BY
“NOTICING THE FIRST INTIMATION
“OF THE SPIRIT OF REVELATION;
“FOR INSTANCE,
“WHEN YOU FEEL PURE
“INTELLIGENCE FLOWING INTO YOU,
“IT MAY GIVE YOU SUDDEN
“STROKES OF IDEAS AND THUS BY
“LEARNING THE SPIRIT OF GOD
“AND UNDERSTANDING IT,
“YOU MAY GROW INTO THE
“PRINCIPLE OF REVELATION,
“UNTIL YOU BECOME PERFECT
“IN CHRIST JESUS.”CONSISTENT WITH THIS
DESCRIPTION OF REVELATION, I HAD FELT THAT THE IDEA FOR
MY PROJECT HAD COME TO ME, NOT BEEN GENERATED BY ME. AS I WORKED TO WRITE,
I DISCOVERED THERE WAS MORE TO THE IDEA THAN I HAD
ORIGINALLY THOUGHT. AS I RAN INTO ROADBLOCKS
IN MY THINKING, I PRAYED AND FELT
DIRECTION IN HOW I COULD DEVELOP MY ANALYSIS. I AM NOT HERE TO CLAIM
THAT THE ULTIMATE ARTICLE WAS TRUE,
BUT THE ARTICLE WAS SIGNIFICANT,
INFLUENCED MY THINKING, AND LED TO ADDITIONAL SCHOLARLY
OPPORTUNITIES FOR ME. I HAVE HAD SIMILAR
EXPERIENCES AS I HAVE LOOKED TO COMBINE STUDY AND FAITH
THROUGH SEEKING THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY GHOST. PROPHETS PLAY A UNIQUE ROLE
IN THE EFFORT TO SEEK LEARNING BY STUDY AND FAITH. AS I MENTIONED EARLIER,
THOSE WE SUSTAIN AS PROPHETS POSSESS THE GIFT OF SEERSHIP. THIS IS A UNIQUE GIFT. AMMON TAUGHT THAT MAN CAN
RECEIVE NO GREATER GIFT THAN THE GIFT OF SEERSHIP. BY SEERS SHALL BE MADE
KNOWN THINGS WHICH OTHERWISE COULD NOT BE KNOWN. AS A RESULT,
THOSE WHO POSSESS THE GIFT OF SEERSHIP BECOME A GREAT
BENEFIT TO THEIR FELLOW BEINGS. BY LOOKING TO THE PROPHETS
WE TAP INTO THIS GREAT GIFT, A GIFT THROUGH WHICH WE CAN
LEARN TRUTHS WE OTHERWISE COULD NOT LEARN. LET’S NOT LET OUR
LEARNEDNESS GET IN THE WAY OF THIS LEARNING. RETURNING TO THE FAMILY HOME
EVENING I DESCRIBED EARLIER, AFTER I WAS DISCOVERED
APPROACHING THE HOME WITH BOW AND ARROW,
WE REPEATED THE EXPERIENCE WITH SOME MODIFICATION. A DIFFERENT CHILD TOOK THE POST
AT THE SECOND-STORY WINDOW. THIS TIME,
I PLACED OUR FAMILY HOME EVENING TREAT IN THE GARDEN,
A SUNKEN AREA JUST BEYOND THE GRASS OF OUR YARD. AS BEFORE,
MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY ON THE MAIN FLOOR COULD
NOT SEE THE TREAT. AGAIN, HOWEVER,
THE WATCHMAN AT THE SECOND-STORY WINDOW COULD SPOT THE
TREAT THAT AWAITED US. THE PROPHETS NOT ONLY WARN
OF HARM BUT FORETELL OF BLESSINGS THAT LIE AHEAD. ALMA PROCLAIMED IN HIS DAY,
“THERE BE MANY
“THINGS TO COME;
“AND BEHOLD,
“THERE IS ONE THING WHICH IS OF
“MORE IMPORTANCE THAN THEY ALL,
“FOR BEHOLD,
“THE TIME IS NOT FAR DISTANT
“THAT THE REDEEMER COMETH
“AMONG HIS PEOPLE.”
THAT BLESSING ALSO
AWAITS US TODAY. CHRIST HAS COME AND,
AS THE PROPHETS TESTIFY, HE WILL COME AGAIN.“NO ONE KNOWETH,
“SAVE THE FATHER ONLY,
“THE DAY OR HOUR OF
“THE SAVIOR’S RETURN.”
INSTEAD, IT WILL BE AS
IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH. FOR UNTIL THE DAY THAT
NOAH ENTERED INTO THE ARK“THEY WERE EATING AND DRINKING,
“MARRYING AND GIVING
“IN MARRIAGE;
“AND KNEW NOT UNTIL
“THE FLOOD CAME,
“AND TOOK THEM ALL AWAY;”
SO SHALL ALSO THE COMING
OF THE SON OF MAN BE. I HAVE SPOKEN OF THE
IMPORTANCE OF HEEDING THE WATCHMEN ON THE TOWER. I WISH TO CLOSE BY
SPEAKING MORE DIRECTLY OF OUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY TO WATCH.“WATCH, THEREFORE,”
THE SAVIOR COMMANDED,“FOR YOU KNOW NOT AT WHAT
“HOUR YOUR LORD DOTH COME.”
OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO
WATCH INVOLVES MORE THAN NOTING THE SIGNS THAT PRECEDE
THE SAVIOR’S COMING. IT INCLUDES PREPARING
OURSELVES FOR THAT COMING. AS THE FIVE FOOLISH
VIRGINS LEARNED, THE PREPARATION REQUIRED CANNOT
BE OBTAINED LAST MINUTE, OR BORROWED FROM OTHERS. PRESIDENT
SPENCER W. KIMBALL TAUGHT, AND I LOVE THIS TEACHING,
“THE KIND OF OIL THAT IS
“NEEDED TO ILLUMINATE THE
“WAY AND LIGHT UP THE
“DARKNESS IS NOT SHAREABLE.“HOW CAN ONE SHARE OBEDIENCE
“TO THE PRINCIPLE OF TITHING;
“A MIND AT PEACE FROM
“RIGHTEOUS LIVING;
“AN ACCUMULATION OF KNOWLEDGE?“HOW CAN ONE SHARE
“FAITH OR TESTIMONY?
“IN OUR LIVES THE OIL OF
“PREPAREDNESS IS ACCUMULATED
“DROP BY DROP IN
“RIGHTEOUS LIVING.
“ATTENDANCE AT SACRAMENT
“MEETINGS ADDS OIL
“TO OUR LAMPS,
“DROP BY DROP OVER THE YEARS.
“FASTING, FAMILY PRAYER,
“HOME TEACHING,
“CONTROL OF BODILY APPETITES,
“PREACHING THE GOSPEL,
“STUDYING THE SCRIPTURES-
“EACH ACT OF DEDICATION
“AND OBEDIENCE IS A
“DROP ADDED TO OUR STORE.
“DEEDS OF KINDNESS,
“PAYMENT OF OFFERINGS
“AND TITHES,
“CHASTE THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS,
“MARRIAGE IN THE COVENANT
“FOR ALL ETERNITY-
“THESE CONTRIBUTE IMPORTANTLY
“TO THE OIL WITH WHICH WE
“CAN AT MIDNIGHT REFUEL
“OUR EXHAUSTED LAMPS.”
WE LIVE IN THE DIFFICULT
TIMES PRECEDING THE SAVIOR’S SECOND COMING. THE WORLD IS MAINSTREAMING THE
“STRANGE ROADS” OF LEHI’S DREAM AND STRAINING
TO EMBRACE THE BREADTH OF THE WAY THAT LEADS TO DESTRUCTION. THE RAINS WILL DESCEND,
THE FLOODS SWELL, AND THE WINDS BLOW. THE ONLY ROCK UPON WHICH WE
CAN BUILD TO HAVE SURE FOUNDATION IS THE
SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. WE WILL NOT FIND THAT
FOUNDATION IF WE ARE NOT WATCHFUL;
NOR CAN WE BUILD UPON THE FOUNDATION OF THE SAVIOR IF
WE REJECT OR NEGLECT HIS SERVANTS THE PROPHETS. AS PREPARE FOR
THE SECOND COMING, I CAST MY LOT WITH THE
WATCHMEN ON THE TOWER. I PRAY THAT WE EACH OF
US WILL DO THE SAME. IN THE SACRED NAME OF
JESUS CHRIST, AMEN. ♪♪
>>THIS BYU DEVOTIONAL ADDRESS
WITH DAVID MOORE WAS GIVEN
ON AUGUST 2, 2016.
♪♪ ♪♪

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