4 And it came to pass that in the commencement of the ninety and second year, behold, the prophecies of the prophets began to be fulfilled more fully; for there began to be greater signs and greater miracles wrought among the people.
5 But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite.
6 And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.
7 And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.
8 But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain.
9 Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet.
(3 Nephi 1: 4-9)
The scriptures are full of experiences where the believers were willing to sacrifice everything, including their lives if need be, in order to worship as they saw fit.
The passage of scripture above is just one instance of this, but it happens to be one of my favorites. From what I glean from the scriptures, Samuel the Lamanite, made a one-time visit to preach repentance to the Nephites. As he called the people to repentance, he discussed the sign that would be given of the Savior’s impending birth:
1 And now it came to pass that Samuel, the Lamanite, did prophesy a great many more things which cannot be written.
2 And behold, he said unto them: Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name.
3 And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day.
4 Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born.
5 And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.
Five years later, the non-believers began to rejoice because they believed the time had come and gone, and there wasn’t any sign. They put a date on their calendar to kill the believers if the sign didn’t arrive. We know that the Mayans had a calendar that far outlasted their civilization. In fact, it’s still good for about another two years. I’ve frequently suspected that the day they were going to kill the believers was exactly five years to the date from when Samuel gave his prophecy.
What extraordinary faith the believers must’ve had. How easy it would’ve been for them to say, “You know, we really didn’t know this Samuel guy so well. Perhaps we can say we’re still believers but save our lives by denying his prophecy.”
Clearly, their faith wasn’t built on Samuel though. It was built on the Savior. They had been taught that salvation came through Him and no one else. It was that firm belief/knowledge that helped them face this ultimate test of their faith.
I’m looking forward to this weekend’s conference and the chance it will give me to listen to the words of prophets, general authorities, and other inspired church leaders. I too hope to have the faith necessary to see me through life’s challenges.