Many of the Messages from the Apostles over the recent years have referenced the importance of serving the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth, committing our lives and will to Him, and living more righteously as we engage and prepare for the latter-day work of the restored gospel. The Messages have emphasized the necessity to read the word of God (Bible and Book of Mormon), to fast and pray that we might purify and sanctify ourselves as we seek to raise the standard of Christ and seek more earnestly the gifts of God, that He and His church might be edified. We encourage these vital components be part of our lives because, “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12), and as a Quorum of Twelve, we discern the signs of the times that prompt our desire to arouse your faculties to be prepared for great things that yet await The Church of Jesus Christ.
Today more than ever, we find the societal pressure enticing us to align with ‘one side or another’ and to accept standards that are inconsistent with the fundamental teachings of Jesus. We even find that through the tireless efforts of the enemy, there have been attempts to divide and discourage The Church – The bride of Christ; yet there is hope and a solution!
The Ark of the Covenant was one of the most instrumental symbols of faith and God’s presence. The contents included the tablets of the Mosaic Law (the Ten Commandments), a pot of manna, and the rod of Aaron. The Ark’s origin stemmed from when Moses was commanded by God to “make an ark of acacia wood” (Exodus 25:10). For the Israelites, the Ark of the Covenant simply meant, God’s presence. Throughout the Old Testament, we read of accounts of how God provided safety and success using the Ark as a symbolic representation of God’s presence and power:
- In the Book of Joshua, chapter 3, we learn of the safety and power the Ark provided the Israelites as they passed over the river Jordan into the Promised Land as “Joshua said to the priests, Take up the ark of the covenant and pass before the people” (Joshua 3:6). As the priests came to the Jordan carrying the Ark, just as
- their feet touched the water, the waters were completely cut off and the Israelites passed over (the river) on dry ground!
- In the sixth chapter of Joshua, the Ark was instrumental in the Battle of Jericho. The Ark was taken around the city six times in six days and was preceded by seven priests who sounded seven trumpets made of rams’ horns. On the seventh day, the Ark with the armed men and priests took their seventh march around the city, and the people shouted a great shout, and the walls fell!
- Countless battles were won throughout the scriptures despite being outnumbered, less experienced and far less capable; yet God’s divine protection and power gave His people the victory.
These accounts are often rehearsed or ‘acted out’ by our children in Sunday School or during a Vacation Bible School; however, the depth of the meaning is not lost on children alone – as the Ark, for 40 years, was carried through the desert as a symbol of God’s presence with the following contents:
- the tables (tablets) with the Ten Commandments, written by the finger of the Lord (Exodus 31:18) representing the need to obey His Word and His Spirit,
- a pot of manna representing how the Lord took care of His people even under the harshest or unlikely conditions, and
- the rod of Aaron representing the priesthood authority and power of God, who was able to cause his rod overnight, to bud and produce almonds!
The Ark and the items contained in the Ark were a reminder to exercise faith, in righteousness, and in so doing, as Moses wrote in the 91st Psalm, we find refuge, protection, safety, love, deliverance and salvation.
Similarly, Noah’s Ark, provided a physical place of refuge, protection and safety. We are all familiar with the account (Genesis chapters 6-8) of how Noah was directed to build an ark because of the sinful conditions, taking every living creature into the Ark. While it took him 120 years to build the Ark, we read that Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), pleading for all to repent of their sin and join his family on the Ark.
Beyond the children’s story of Noah and the Ark, we recognize that the Ark is a ’type’ of Christ. The Bible tells us that the world had become so corrupt, filled with wickedness, evil and violence that God decided to cleanse it.
The image of Christ portrayed in the Ark offers many parallels.
- Noah was instructed to make a single door in the side of the Ark; it was the only entrance into the Ark, and access was controlled by God. Likewise, Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…” (John 10:9).
- Noah was also instructed to cover the Ark with a covering of pitch within and without. The pitch sealed the Ark and made it watertight so that all inside would be saved. The words of King Benjamin reaffirm the salvation that comes through Christ, stating, “remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ…” (Helaman 5:9).
- Finally, the Ark carried all of its passengers safely to the destination that God had prepared for them (also see Ether chapter 6).
While we don’t have possession of the Ark of the Covenant, nor a physical Ark like Noah’s, we have been given an ‘Ark’. We have been given a great ‘Ark of Safety’ – Christ and His Church!
October 11, 2008, a dream was received, later supported by the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and accepted as a revelation by the Priesthood of the Church:
I dreamt that I was in a large auditorium (like, but not the General Church Conference Center). I recognized many of the Saints were there also. Some were moving about, some were seated. It was as if they were about to start a conference meeting. I looked to my left and I saw a large wall of windows and a set of glass doors. Through the windows I saw a blue sky, a few clouds and a large angelic figure.
I immediately shouted to all the people, “Look I see an angel of the Lord!” and I then heard the words, “I WANT TO SHOW THEM MY STRENGTH AND POWER!” At that very instant the angel began to move about and instantly the sky changed into strange colors, the wind began to blow with hurricane force. The people inside began to show fear but not panic. I shouted, “Don’t be afraid; it’s the Lord!” Then a fierce rain began to hit the glass windows and doors. I saw the water outside quickly rise to knee level, followed by a large wave which hit the windows and doors. The windows and doors didn’t break, but the impact of the wave forced open the doors and water shot into the auditorium. Quickly the water was swirling around everyone’s ankles.
Instantly, just as fast as it had started, the storm stopped! All the dark clouds were gone, and sunlight appeared. I then heard the voice say, “I WILL PROTECT MY PEOPLE.”
The following day at the General Church Conference, Sunday, October 12, 2008 this scripture was read twice by Brother Paul Palmieri (although completely unaware of the dream), “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (I Nephi 14:14).
He further stated by way of encouragement, “that this scripture refers to the Church of Jesus Christ, our church. He continued by saying: That’s the promise of God; if we are united and live righteously, the great power of God will descend upon us. God’s protection will be with us. …God will take care of us; regardless of the situation, the Lord knows exactly what He’s doing. It isn’t just all of a sudden, things are gone awry. I want you to feel comfortable in knowing that God is aware of exactly what is going on and He is making sure that our people are going to become stronger and depend upon Him more, so that He can invest us with great power. I want you to feel comfort in the fact that you are not out there by yourself and if you are wondering what are we going to do? What we’re going do is trust in God! We are going to put all of our trust in God; and He will see us through. He will make sure that The Church of Jesus Christ is blest with Great Power.” …He said, “that as long as we serve the God of the land, we will have His favor. If not, he will wipe away the unrighteous people off the face of the earth – because we must serve the God of the Land — Jesus Christ. And that is what this church is dedicated to do. United as a people we will serve Jesus Christ. Our families, our loved ones; in righteousness not just in works, but with our bodies, our lives, everything about us, that we will project to the people around us, to ourselves and, above all, to the Lord Jesus Christ, that we will serve Him in righteousness and truth. Because we have taken upon us the name of the Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ. And so, my brothers and sisters, I want you to rejoice today, not in what’s going on in the world, but I want you to rejoice that you belong to the Lord. You belong to the Lord Jesus Christ and he is the one, when all else fails, that He is the one that is going to save you.”
This dream demonstrates God’s power to judge but also to protect and preserve those who serve Him. While we’re affected by conditions of the world and the judgment upon it, the Lord will deliver His people. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever! We have a great ‘Ark of Safety’ – being held in the arms of Christ and being members of His Church. This dream is a reaffirmation of God’s word. Let us take courage in knowing, that the Lord will provide in time of need. He is our Saviour and asks that we put our trust in Him alone!
In the love of God,
The Quorum of Twelve Apostles
James Crudup, Joel Gehly, John Griffith, Paul Liberto, Thomas M. Liberto, Leonard A. Lovalvo, Frank Natoli, Paul A. Palmieri, Peter Scolaro, Jerry Valenti