Take a moment and think about some of the amazing events of the Old Testament.
Of the events you came up with, which ones do you wish you could have witnessed?
(List on the board some of the common ones)
What about that event makes it stand out as one you would like to have witnessed?
Would witnessing it make you feel any differently about it? Why?
Let’s take a minute and focus on one major event from the Old Testament that is talked about often. It is discussed multiple times in the Old Testament and is also referred to in the Book of Mormon. What event do you think I’m referring to?
The Exodus from Egypt.
How would it have felt to be part of that great event?
The Exodus has been described as consisting of possibly 600,000 men plus women and children. It is still celebrated each year by the Jews. Never in history has their another event comparable to the exodus. But, in Jeremiah we are told of another event that would be comparable.
In Jeremiah 16:15 we read, “But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers”
What gathering is Jeremiah referring to?
Jeremiah continues to tell more about this event in Jeremiah 23:3. He says, “And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.”
What does he mean in this verse?
Let’s read a few more verses from chapter 23.
4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.
5 ¶Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
8 But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.
Who are the “shepherds”?
Who is the King spoken of?
Why are these events as great as the Exodus?
You have the opportunity to be part of these events. What are you doing?
Earlier I asked how you would feel differently about an event if you participated in it. You have the opportunity to participate in these events. If you do, how do these events mean more to you by participating?
Jeremiah gave a promise to us in the latter days.
31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
What was the promise?
What does it mean “I will put my law in their inward parts”?
What about “write it in their hearts?”
Who will know the Lord?
Let’s discuss a little bit more about having the Lord’s laws written in our hearts.
First, the Lord’s words are not automatically written in our hearts. Not everyone will accept the Lord’s laws and even those that do “accept” the gospel of Jesus Christ will not have the words written in their hearts.
Walter F. Gonzales of the Presidency of the Seventy said…
“Missionaries initiated the task of learning doctrine and gospel principles; however, maintaining the gospel in our hearts is an ongoing task which requires time. Knowledge alone is not enough. We must take time to apply the principles in our lives. For example, Nephi knew that the Lord answers our prayers. He applied his knowledge centuries ago and thus brought everlasting blessings upon us today. If we read carefully, we see that Nephi prayed with great faith unto God because he knew that God was going to hear his “cry” (see 2 Ne. 33:3). How grateful we are for Nephi’s taking time to apply his knowledge. How grateful we are that Nephi wrote this knowledge in his heart “not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.””
As he said knowledge of the gospel is not enough.
What are you doing to write the knowledge in your heart?
Second, after study comes conversion.
Elder Todd Christofferson shared with us how we can become converted.
“Do you want this for yourself? I can tell you how that can happen, but it must be something you want. The gospel cannot be written in your heart unless your heart is open. Without a heartfelt desire, you can participate in sacrament meetings, classes, and Church activities and do the things I will tell you, but it won’t make much difference. But if your heart is open and willing, like the heart of a child, let me tell you what you can do to be converted.
“As a first step, you must lay aside any feeling of pride that is so common in the world today. By this I mean the attitude that rejects the authority of God to rule in our lives. This attitude was described by the Lord to Joseph Smith when He said, “They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god.” You hear it expressed today in phrases such as “Do your own thing” or “Right and wrong depend on what I feel is right for me.” That attitude is a rebellion against God, just as Lucifer rebelled against God in the premortal world. He rejected God’s right to declare the truth and establish the law. Satan wanted, and still wants, the power to declare arbitrarily what is right and wrong. Our beloved Creator does not force us to accept His authority, but willingly submitting to that authority is the first step in conversion.
“Further, for the gospel to be written in your heart, you need to know what it is and grow to understand it more fully. That means you will study it. When I say “study,” I mean something more than reading. It is a good thing sometimes to read a book of scripture within a set period of time to get an overall sense of its message, but for conversion, you should care more about the amount of time you spend in the scriptures than about the amount you read in that time. I see you sometimes reading a few verses, stopping to ponder them, carefully reading the verses again, and as you think about what they mean, praying for understanding, asking questions in your mind, waiting for spiritual impressions, and writing down the impressions and insights that come so you can remember and learn more. Studying in this way, you may not read a lot of chapters or verses in a half hour, but you will be giving place in your heart for the word of God, and He will be speaking to you. Remember Alma’s description of what it feels like: “It beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.” You will know that the gospel is being written in your heart, that your conversion is happening, as the word of the Lord from His prophets, past and present, feels more and more delicious to your soul.”
Third, actions are required to keep those words written in our hearts.
What actions/activities can we do as a testament to the words written in our hearts?
Elder Faust shared a story from the Church News.
“A group of religion instructors [were] taking a summer course on the life of the Savior and focusing particularly on the parables.
“When the final exam time came, … the students arrived at the classroom to find a note that the exam would be given in another building across campus. Moreover, the note said, it must be finished within the two-hour time period that was starting almost at that moment.
“The students hurried across campus. On the way they passed a little girl crying over a flat tire on her new bike. An old man hobbled painfully toward the library with a cane in one hand, spilling books from a stack he was trying to manage with the other. On a bench by the union building sat a shabbily dressed, bearded man [in obvious distress].
“Rushing into the other classroom, the students were met by the professor, who announced they had all flunked the final exam.
“The only true test of whether they understood the Savior’s life and teaching, he said, was how they treated people in need.
“Their weeks of study at the feet of a capable professor had taught them a great deal of what Christ had said and done.”8 In their haste to finish the technicalities of the course, however, they failed to recognize the application represented by the three scenes that had been deliberately staged. They learned the letter but not the spirit. Their neglect of the little girl and the two men showed that the profound message of the course had not entered into their inward parts.”
When you have God’s law written in your heart, how is your behavior affected?
We live in a very special time. A time when ancient prophets rejoiced in anticipation of. A time when great things would come to past. A time when we get to witness the hand of God touching our lives and those around us. We didn’t get to participate in any of the wonderful events from the Old Testament, the New Testament nor the Book of Mormon. But we get to participate in the last days.
I am so grateful for the knowledge that Christ is our Savior and that we are God’s children.