Often when I read scriptural accounts of past ages, I tend to imagine the events as I would the events of a fictional novel. Conceptually I know it’s true, but in some ways scripture seems more like a fairy tale. Prophetic leaders with divine authority parting oceans, calling down fire, or raising the dead is all well and good in the ancient past, but that time seems so distant from today.
As a life-long member of the Church, I sometimes forget just how remarkable our message really is. We proclaim that God speaks now, both to prophets and to his people. We proclaim that prophets long dead returned in angelic form to give authority and direction to Joseph Smith. We proclaim that the Father and the Son literally appeared to a boy, instigating the literal Restoration of an ancient Gospel. We proclaim healing blessings through priesthood power, and sealing power in holy temples. We preach repentance to a wicked people who know not God.
It’s like we’ve been thrust right into the middle of a scripture story.
And really, I think that’s the point. God’s interaction with humanity is no different today than it was anciently. The same priesthood power, the same blessings, and the same covenants are again available on the Earth. This feels like a scripture story because it is a scripture story—it’s the continued story of the Father teaching and preparing and tutoring his children.
So yes! Come! Listen to a prophet’s voice! Leave behind the erring schemes of days now past, and follow in the straight and narrow way. If the very God of the all creation is truly directing prophets in our day, how grand a message we carry!
Of course, prophets aren’t always popular in their own time… even among those who profess the same religion as the prophet. The Israelites murmured against Moses. The Nephites sought after riches instead of righteousness. The Jews crucified Christ himself. What heed do we give to God’s prophets today?
Just a few weeks ago, we had a spectacular General Conference, in which prophets, seers, and revelators addressed the entire world in a way inconceivable to ancient prophets. Modern technology brings them closer than ever to Alma’s wish to “cry repentance unto every people.”
Do we listen? Or does the message come in one ear and out the other?
We are told to search the scriptures, to read them repeatedly and ponder their message. I would suggest that the same direction applies to the messages of modern prophets. We have more access than ever before to the words of God’s chosen messengers. Should we not treasure up those words just as we do other scripture?
But perhaps you do. Perhaps you do take the time to read and re-read the messages of General Conference, along with your other scriptures. Lest we get complacent, let’s read the fourth verse of this hymn:
Then heed the words of truth and light
That flow from fountains pure.
Yea, keep His law with all thy might
Till thine election’s sure,
Till thou shalt hear the holy voice
Assure eternal reign,
While joy and cheer attend thy choice,
As one who shall obtain.
Our goal is not merely to do “well enough” or to be “pretty righteous.” God’s invitation to us is to keep His law with all our might, to seek the assurance of having our calling and election made sure. (It may not surprise you to learn that the fourth verse was written by Bruce R. McConkie, who was known for addressing this topic often.) Joseph Smith taught this:
“I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it.”
This may seem a lofty goal to some—and assuredly, it is. But God has grand plans for his children, and he lets us participate in them just as fast as we are able. He does not seek to withhold blessings from us; rather, he seeks to draw us ever closer to him, seeking to pour out blessings beyond what we can even receive. There is no room for complacency in God’s plan of salvation; no matter how much we learn and how much we emulate his Son, we still have so much more to learn.
The Gospel has been restored, and we are in the middle of a “marvelous work and a wonder.” Let’s participate fully in that work, not skimming lightly on the surface, touching only where it suits us. Prophets have been sent. Christ’s gospel is spreading throughout the world, as is the authority to administer its attendant covenants. The world is being prepared for Christ’s second coming. This is a momentous time.
So, please. Come, listen to a prophet’s voice. Listen, and heed.