By command of the Holy Spirit, Samuel returned and preached again, climbing high upon a wall, prophesying of the birth that was to come just five years later. Again he was reviled, maybe partly because of his Lamanite heritage, but more likely because of his prophetic message and calls to repentance for the people of Nephi. The Nephites attempted to slay him by throwing rocks and shooting arrows, but nothing could hit the mark. The wicked attempted to lay their hands on him, but were unable. To many watching, this was a miracle that inspired them to look more closely at Samuel’s message of repentance and the upcoming birth of Jesus Christ. Many were converted, or maybe reactivated, as they looked eagerly to the birth of the Son of God.
Samuel fled and was never seen again among the Nephites, but the message he was sent to share lived on within the church of God. The people of God’s church, led by Nephi, waited in anticipation of the great event. They looked forward to the time when the signs, of light in the sky after the sunset and the new star, would be revealed, indicating the birth of Christ. But as they waited, the wicked designed to destroy the people of the church of God because of their faith. After five years passed, the wicked claimed the time Samuel had prophesied of had come and gone with no miraculous signs and they appointed a day wherein the believers would be put to death if they refused to denounce their belief, or the sign did not appear.
3 Nephi 1:9 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.
There must have been great fear and trepidation as the appointed day for their execution drew closer, but the people of God’s church continued to wait for the signs of the Savior’s birth. In the first chapter of 3 Nephi, we learn that Nephi’s heart was “exceedingly sorrowful” and he cried unto the Lord “mightily” all that day, and the voice of the Lord came to him…
3 Nephi 1:13 Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.
3 Nephi 1:14 Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfill all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son—of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given.
As promised the signs of Jesus Christ’s birth were given and the people of God rejoiced, not only for the sustaining of their own lives, but more importantly because, as prophesied, the Son of God, who would redeem them from eternal destruction, was born. The wicked sorrowed because their destructive plan was frustrated. The greatness and glory of Jesus Christ, even in birth, overpowered their wicked designs and foreshadowed the ultimate victory of Christ over all forces of evil.
Jesus Christ came into the world to save all mankind, and in this instance, on the American continent, even the signs of his birth saved the righteous people of Nephi. Christ saved them, just as he will save us from the eternal destruction that threatens us. Just as the people of Nephi, we must have faith in Jesus Christ, endure to the end, and follow His words and the words of His servants, and we too will taste of the same joy and salvation.