Angels are declaring it unto many…

I love the lessons learned from prophets of God who have preached repentance throughout time. I have no doubt that we as individuals and as a society would be blessed greatly if we would hear this call now.

Repentance has been defined as “…a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God, about ourselves, and about the world. It includes turning away from sin and turning to God for forgiveness.” (ref.)

Old Testament Prophets Preached Repentance

The prophet Jonah was called by God to preach repentance to the people of Ninevah. Jonah first tried to run away and avoid this heavenly commission, he consequently ended up in the belly of a “fish” (or a whale). He prayed to the Lord mightily for mercy and the Lord delivered him. Jonah then went to Ninevah and did as he was commanded “…and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” The king of Ninevah sensed the truth of his preaching and his heart was softened. He joined Jonah’s cause and spread the call of repentance throughout the land, telling his people to “cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands”, also proclaiming, “Who can tell if God will …turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” (Jonah 1-3)

Through Jonah’s preaching the great work was brought about of convincing the people of Ninevah to turn their hearts to God. They repented and were spared destruction.

We learn from the Book of Mormon that Melchizedek, king of ancient Jerusalem in Old Testament times, was called to preach repentance:

“Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness; But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days;” (Alma 13:17-18)

The Savior’s Commission to Preach Repentance

John the Baptist went before the Lord to prepare the way for Him. The Book of Mark states that “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Mark 1:4)

After His resurrection, Jesus Christ briefly returned to Jerusalem and taught “…that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:45-47)

After the Savior’s ascension into heaven, in the book of Acts there is the account of Peter preaching the Lord’s gospel of repentance and baptism boldly to the people of Israel:

Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

…Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:22-38)

Repentance preached in our day

With the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith, God has again sent prophets to preach repentance to all nations as Jesus has commissioned, and they will continue to do so until peace, righteousness and “…love of God and neighbor rules the world” (Elder Jefferey Holland, Oct 2012).

The prophets are not alone in their call to repentance:

For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory. And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon…

And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance; (Alma 13:24-25,27)

Alma also taught earlier in Alma chapter 5:

Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.

…I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life.

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6 thoughts on “Angels are declaring it unto many…

  1. The topic on which you have written is very good. I feel there is a lot of effort put to write such an article. While reading this article some doubts came to my mind. And I am putting it down – hoping that you could help me in clarifying those thoughts from my mind.
    The concept of preaching about repentance is very prevalent from Old Testament time onwards. But the understanding of it has changed over the centuries. For example, in the case of Jonah preaching of repentance is done at the backdrop of imminent punishment. So is most of the preachings done till Jesus came to the scene. Because their preaching of repentance is linked with fear and punishment of God. But Jesus’ preaching of repentance comes with the patient love of God.

    • Thank you for your very thoughtful comment and question. I think there are a lot of possible answers to that, I don’t claim to have the best answer but here some of my thoughts:

      First, certainly the story of Jonah and Nineveh was an extreme case among many throughout history. Also, how much of the story of Jonah and Nineveh are we given from the book of Jonah? Only a small portion, we don’t really know all that they did or what happened in Nineveh during the years before or what other things God had done on an individual or national level to persuade them to repent before He resorted to Jonah’s prophesying of destruction if they didn’t repent. There’s no doubt in my mind that God had been extremely patient and merciful, that’s His nature. His nature is also to be just, and it is because of the eternal law of justice that we need a mediator/Savior to intervene for sinful people (all of us), the atonement brings to us the mercy of God on conditions of repentance– thus the great importance of repenting and preaching repentance.

      I think if we had been blessed to know more details of all that God had done for the people of Nineveh (and other similar instances in the OT), we’d find a God that is more merciful, more loving, and more patient than most of the world is even ready to understand or accept. But we’re only given a small vignette of what occurred, and the somewhat limited view of God’s love that is found in the OT speaks to the LDS belief that precious truths have been lost from the Bible over the centuries. What piece of knowledge would be more valuable to have than to know the true loving nature of God?

      Does God have a loving and patient nature? From my own experience I can say without a doubt yes He does, and He has always been that way. He is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Heb 13:8) Christ is Jehovah, He is the God of the Old Testament. He cared for His children then as He does now. He’s the one who told an Old Testament world “I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick…” I think definitely this is a loving God that cared deeply for His children to whom he spoke those words. If God wasn’t patient and merciful, why would he send prophets to warn people and give them second (third, fourth, fifth, etc) chances to repent? Here’s some other scriptures to consider (Micah 7:18, Deut 7:9, Alma 5:32-33).

      Again this is just my thoughts but I’m interested to hear yours as well.

  2. Just a thought…
    Maybe the fear and destruction we read of in the Old Testament is due to the interpretations of men? Maybe they left out the precious parts, showing the love and mercy of God, the First Father?
    When the Bible was “interpreted” through the minds of the men who translated it maybe they saw that fear and judgement was the way God was at that time. Then when Christ’s words were “interpreted” it was hard to translate away the love woven through every word. If they wanted to hear fear and judgement, they got fear and judgement. Love for love.
    I think our God, our First Father, has gotten a bad rap through the thoughts of mankind. I believe He is as Brent says of a loving and patient nature, but He must be just. Without His justice, there would be no order. We cannot blame Him for that. We need to accept our consequences with grace and dignity. Christ is also just. He is not all love and mercy all the time. There is no balance in that.
    Christ and He are one in mind, intent, and purpose. Why would He, our First Father, be anything different than Christ, Himself? For didn’t Christ teach the words of the Father? If Christ preaches love, repentance, mercy, meekness, kindness, peacemaking, etc., why would the thoughts of the Father be anything different?
    Through their balance, they balance the universe.

    • Thanks yogalife, those are excellent points. Given that the Bible was translated and retranslated and copied by hand many times the possibility of misinterpretation or mistranslation seems likely. The justice of God and the mercy of God are both important and eternal attributes of His character and should be understood together. I think Alma chapter 42 explains this idea well, how God’s mercy cannot rob justice and the eternal laws He has established, and that it is through Christ’s atonement and repentance that we gain access to the mercy of God. I believe God is there calling us to Him even in our times of disobedience, yet the scriptures teach repeatedly that our salvation requires repentance, without repentance we must face consequences of God’s laws.

      “…if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin. And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature? But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed …let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility”. (Alma 42:20-22,30)

  3. I think it is all well and good to use the words of the Bible as a guide, but wonder if taking them too literally may lend oneself to mis-interpretation. I say this for the exact reason that you state, it was written, translated and re-translated many times by men of years gone by. I would like to think that we as a civilization have grown since those times. And perhaps, reflecting during our personal times with God during prayer or meditation, we can find the correct interpretation for ourselves. For don’t we all have a personal relationship with our Maker who speaks to us daily, if only we give the time and have the faith to trust the messages that we receive?

    • I agree that the correct interpretation of the Bible can be discerned through prayer and meditation. My goal when reading the scriptures is always to obtain personal revelation from God. When seeking to learn from the Bible (or any scripture) my aim is to know the will of God for me and to learn what he wants me to learn through his Spirit. Ultimately the “Holy Ghost teacheth” the things of God– he will “[reveal] them unto us by his Spirit”.

      Some people view the Bible as the ultimate authority on truth. My view is different, I see God as the ultimate authority and I know he speaks to us individually. There are also those who say that the Bible has no moral authority, I disagree. I believe the Bible is the word of God where it is translated correctly. The fact that it has lost truth through mistranslation over the years is for me a reminder that things don’t always improve with time. I believe that some aspects, some small pockets of our civilization are learning and growing from the past and aren’t repeating the sins of past generations, among these groups there is a great spiritual awakening taking place. But as a whole I think our modern society is no more spiritually in tune than Biblical civilizations were. Its not hard to find evidence that the majority of the world is turning away from God.

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