Posted in Christmas story, Jesus Christ, Scriptural advent calendar

Scriptural advent calendar 2016 – December 12

2 Nephi 9:19-22

O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel! For he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.

20 O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.

 21 And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.

 22 And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day.


Our Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness required that his Only Begotten Son come into this world in human form to redeem us that we might be delivered from death and hell. Heavenly Father, who knoweth all things, knew that Jesus could and would do it – he would fulfil the task given him. The alternative was unthinkable – ‘death, and hell and that lake of fire and brimstone’ for all of the family of Adam.

But that was not all – He suffered also the ‘pains of all men’.

‘Thus we understand the Atonement has broader purpose than providing a means to overcome sin. This greatest of all earthly accomplishments gives the Savior the power to fulfill this promise: “If ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence … , if ye do this, he will … deliver you out of bondage” (Mosiah 7:33).’ (Donald L Hallstrom, April 2010)

Posted in Christmas story, New Testament, Scriptural advent calendar

Scriptural advent calendar 2016 – December 10

Luke 1:39-45

 39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.


“I have always been touched that in her moment of greatest need, her singular time of confusion and wonder and awe, Mary went to another woman. She knew she could go to Elisabeth. I have also been touched that age was no factor here; in God’s love there is no generation gap. Mary was very young-probably in her mid-teens at most-and Elisabeth was well beyond her childbearing years. The scripture says she was ‘well stricken’ in years. (Luke 1:7.) Yet these two women came together, greeting one another in a bond that only women can know. Indeed, it was their very womanhood that God used for his holiest of purposes. And in the special roles they were destined to play, these two beloved women-representing both personally and dispensationally the old and the new-sang to each other even as the babe in the womb of one leapt in recognition of the divinity of the other.

“Elisabeth was not petty or fearful or envious. Her son would not have the fame or role or divinity that had been bestowed on Mary’s child; but her only feelings were of love and devotion. To this young, bewildered kinswoman she said only, ‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come tome?’ (Luke 1:42-43.)

“…This exchange between these two different yet similar women seems to me the essence of love and peace and purity. Surely the challenge for our day is to be equally pure …….. When we pollute the powerful potential for love with our pettiness and our fears, then disease replaces emotional health, and despondency replaces peace.” (Jeffrey R. Holland and Patricia T. Holland, On Earth As It Is in Heaven [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 33.)

Posted in Christmas story, Jesus Christ, Scriptural advent calendar

Scriptural advent calendar 2016 – December 11

Luke 1:57-64

Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.

 58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.

 59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.

 60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.

 61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.

 62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.

 63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.

 64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.


We are told in Luke 1:6 that Zacharias and Elisabeth ‘were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.’ We see in this passage that they were faithful to the instruction given by the angel that their son was to be called John.

John was born six months before Jesus and was under the same threat of death from Herod as Jesus was. How did he escape this threat? Joseph Smith tells us:

 “We will commence with John the Baptist. When Herod’s edict went forth to destroy young children, John was about six months older than Jesus, and came under this hellish edict, and Zacharias caused his mother to take him into the mountains, where he was raised on locusts and wild honey. When his father refused to disclose his hiding place, and being the officiating high priest at the Temple that year, was slain by Herod’s order, between the porch and the altar, as Jesus said.”     (See Matthew 23:35)

These righteous parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth, faithfully protected their son and thus ensured that he was able to fufil his mission as prophesied by the angel.

Posted in Faith, Inspirational, Jesus Christ

Christ-like attributes – patience

The word patience or patient appears more than 80 times in the scriptures. It is a Christ-like virtue. If we want to become like Christ we need to develop patience.

What is patience? Preach My Gospel says it ‘is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated or anxious.’ When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully:

And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted. And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls. (Alma 17:10 –11)

Patience is being steadfast despite opposition difficulty or adversity: Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success. (Alma 26:27)

At a time when persecution intensified toward the newly organized Church, the Lord said to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, “Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.” (D&C 24:8.)

Patience in affliction and adversity means to persist firmly and never forsake what we know to be true, standing firm with the hope that in the Lord’s due time we will understand what we don’t understand now. In the words of Joseph Smith, “Stand fast, ye Saints of God, hold on a little while longer, and the storm of life will be past, and you will be rewarded by that God whose servants you are, and who will duly appreciate all your toils and afflictions for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 185.)

It is the ability to do God’s will and accept His timing. We need to trust that the Lord will fulfill his promises in his own due time. Elder Neal A Maxwell taught that patience is being “willing to watch the unfolding process of God with a sense of wonder and awe – rather than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstance.”


Patience is related to hope and faith – you must wait for the Lord’s blessings to be fulfilled. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than his. Either way we are questioning the reality of God’s omniscience” (Ensign, Oct. 1980, p. 28).

Why is patience important?

A certain amount of impatience may be useful to stimulate and motivate us to action. However, I believe that a lack of patience is a major cause of the difficulties and unhappiness in the world today. Too often, we are impatient with ourselves, with our family members and friends, and even with the Lord. We seem to demand what we want right now, regardless of whether we have earned it, whether it would be good for us, or whether it is right.” (Patience, a Key to Happiness by Joseph B. Wirthlin, April 1987)

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 47 – To Keep Them in the Right Way

1. Having survived the destruction of the Nephites, Moroni continues his writings.

Moroni 1:1-3 Moroni

‘The Lord “committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim” to Moroni (D&C 27:5). He thus became the principal figure in the transmission of the record to this dispensation as well as the protector of the record itself. Moroni was “the last Nephite prophet in the Book of Mormon (circaA.D. 421). Just before Mormon’s death, he delivered a historical record called the plates of Mormon to his son Moroni (W of M 1:1). Moroni finished compiling the plates of Mormon. He added chapters 8 and 9 to the book of Mormon (Morm. 8:1). He abridged and included the book of Ether (Ether 1:1–2) and added his own book called the book of Moroni (Moro. 1:1–4). Moroni sealed up the plates and hid them in the hill Cumorah (Morm. 8:14;Moro. 10:2). In 1823 Moroni was sent as a resurrected being to reveal the Book of Mormon toJoseph Smith (JS—H 1:30–42, 45; D&C 27:5). He instructed the young prophet each year from 1823 to 1827 (JS—H 1:54) and finally delivered the plates to him in 1827 (JS—H 1:59). After completing the translation Joseph Smith returned the plates to Moroni” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Moroni, Son of Mormon”).’ (Institute Book of Mormon Manual)


Moroni 1:1 After having made an end of abridging the record of the people of Jared

‘There is no more convincing evidence of the variety of material and structure in the Book of Mormon than the difference between the records of Ether and Moroni. Just turn the page, and the change hits the eye forcefully. And yet both came to us from the same writer, Moroni, son of Mormon. The book of Ether is narrative almost throughout. That is, it is narrative with rich commentary in pertinent places. The book of Moroni contains no narrative at all. The nearest thing to it is in chapter 9.’ [J.N. Washburn,The Contents, Structure and Authorship of the Book of Mormon, pp. 70-71]

Moroni 1:4 They may be of worth to my brethren the Lamanites

“These words not only reveal to us Moroni’s purpose in writing the book, but lay open to our minds the magnanimous character of the man. A person who can love his enemies so much that he contributes to the eternal welfare of their descendants has a great soul.” (FARMS: Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 4, no. 1, Spring-1995, p. 38)

2. Moroni teaches about essential gospel ordinances.

Moroni 2:2 The gift of the Holy Ghost

The Saviour taught his disciples to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands in the name of Jesus Christ.

Moroni 3

Describes how the Nephites ordained priests and teachers.

Moroni 4:3 That they are willing to take upon them the name of thy son

“Why are the three words ‘are willing to’ necessary here? Are they important? Would it make a difference if the prayer left these out and just read: ‘ . . . and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them’? Yes, it would make a difference. It would make a difference because I cannot do this latter thing. I can’t witness, affirm, or swear that I do always remember him and keep his commandments. I would be lying, and I know it-I want to do the right thing, but sometimes I don’t. This is precisely the problem that makes the atonement of Christ and the gospel covenant necessary for me in the first place-I can’t keep all the commandments all the time no matter how hard I try. It follows that I can’t honestly witness to God that I will keep all the commandments when I know that, in some degree at least, I probably won’t.

“However, I can with absolute honesty witness that I am willing to. I can swear that this is the desire of my heart. I can affirm that I hunger and thirst after these things, that I will do all I can to be obedient. Thus even by the technical terms of the covenant renewal prayer, God lets me know that the honest commitment of my heart and my best efforts are sufficient for the covenant to be renewed, and that the covenant of faith is sufficient, through the grace of Christ, to justify me before God.” (Stephen E. Robinson, Believing Christ, p. 53-4)

Image result for Sacrament LDS

Moroni 4:3, 5:2 Always remember him

“Those of you who have served missions may have … come upon your missionary journals put away in a closet in your home. You may have read and felt a shock as you remembered how hard you worked, how constantly you thought of the Savior and His sacrifice for you and for those you tried to meet and teach, and how fervently and often you prayed. The shock may have come from realizing how much the cares of life had taken you from where you once were, so close to always remembering and always praying.

“My message is a plea, a warning, and a promise: I plead with you to do with determination the simple things that will move you forward spiritually.

“Start with remembering Him. You will remember what you know and what you love. The Savior gave us the scriptures, paid for by prophets at a price we cannot measure, so that we could know Him. Lose yourself in them. Decide now to read more, and more effectively than you have ever done before” (Henry B Eyring, “Always,” Ensign, Oct. 1999, 9–10).

3. Moroni explains the requirements for Church membership and the need for record keeping and fellowshipping.

Moroni 6:1-3 They were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it.

“…no price is too great to pay for the privilege of receiving this holy ordinance. We must prepare ourselves for baptism; we must be worthy to make a covenant with the Holy One; we must have a fixed and unalterable determination to conform to his will. Otherwise baptism profiteth nothing. No ordinance is binding on earth and in heaven unless it is ratified and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, and this Spirit is given only to those who are just and true. Just as those who partake unworthily of the sacrament eat and drink damnation to their souls, so those who are baptized unworthily receive cursings instead of blessings.” (Bruce R McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 248)

Moroni 6:4 They were numbered among the people of the church of Christ

Jesus Christ is “the author and the finisher of [our] faith.” (Moroni 6:4) Uniting ourselves to the body of Christ—the Church—is an important part of taking His name upon us.[See  3 Nephi 27:5–7] We are told that the ancient Church “did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls” (Moroni 6:5) “and to hear the word of the Lord.” (4 Nephi 1:12) So it is in the Church today. Joined in faith, we teach and edify one another and strive to approach the full measure of discipleship, “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” We strive to help one another come to “the knowledge of the Son of God,” (Ephesians 4:13) until that day when “they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, … saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.”(Jeremiah 31:34 see also  Hebrews 8:11) (D Todd Christofferson, General Conference, October 2015)

Moroni 6:5-6 Church meetings

‘Unless the Saints attend their meetings it will be hard for them to keep alive in the Gospel.’ (Anthon H. Lund, Conference Report, Oct. 1907, p. 9)


Moroni 6:9 After the manner of the workings of the Spirit

“The singular tragedy of the Nephite decline as recorded by Mormon in the Book of Mormon was the loss of the Holy Ghost and the spiritual gifts. Wisdom and inspiration dictated that Moroni include in his closing record the instructions by his father, Mormon, on the ordinations, the sacrament, and practices of the Church. Noteworthy is this testimony about their meetings:

“‘Their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.’ (Moro. 6:9.)

“That is the spirit that can and should characterize our worship and our sacrament meetings.

“A sister remarked to me after one such spiritual meeting, ‘I don’t recall all that was said—but I remember how we felt as we sang the closing hymn and bowed our heads in prayer’” (David B Haight, “Remembering the Savior’s Atonement,” Ensign, Apr. 1988, 13).

Posted in Christmas story, Jesus Christ, New Testament, Scriptural advent calendar

Scriptural advent calendar 2016 – December 9

Luke 1:26-38:

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.


 Neal A. Maxwell

“The marvelous, spiritually submissive Mary likewise expressed it (true submissiveness) in few words. Though filled with wonderment about the miraculous impending birth of Jesus, she said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word’ (Luke 1:38).

“Her words can guide us when we too are puzzled by what is impending or unfolding in our lives.” (Sermons Not Spoken [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985], 8-9.)

Bruce R McConkie

“As there is only one Christ, so there is only one Mary. And as the Father chose the most noble and righteous of all his spirit sons to come into mortality as his Only Begotten in the flesh, so we may confidently conclude that he selected the most worthy and spiritually talented of all his spirit daughters to be the mortal mother of his Eternal Son.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary. 3 vols. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-73, 1:85.)

Posted in Christmas story, New Testament, Scriptural advent calendar

Scriptural advent calendar 2016 – December 8

Luke 1:5-22

¶There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judæa, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,

 According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

 11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.


 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

 18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

 19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

 20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

 21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.

  22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.

Zacharias and Elisabeth waited for many years before their prayers for a son were answered. Neal A. Maxwell wrote:

“Faith in God includes faith in His timing. Frankly, some of us have some difficulty with this significant dimension of faith. We clearly prefer our own time to His ‘own due time.’

“…Patience stretches our capacity to bide our time while both wondering and sustaining. This vital elasticity will be especially needed as part of maintaining faith in God’s timing in the last days, during which ‘all things must come to pass in their time’ (D&C 64:32).” (That Ye May Believe [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992], 51-53.)

Posted in Book of Mormon, Christmas story, Scriptural advent calendar

Scriptural advent calendar 2016 – December 7

3 Nephi 1:4-9:

 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.

 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.

 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.

 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.

 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.

 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.

Samuel the lamanite

There will always be those who will seek to persecute the followers of Christ. We may not be rounded up with intent to massacre but in other ways we will face those who will challenge our faith in the word of the Lord. This may be done in small quiet ways or through ‘uproar throughout the land’. We need to watch steadfastly and know that our faith has not been in vain. Truly the Book of Mormon was preserved and brought forth for us in our day.

Posted in Christmas story, Jesus Christ, Symbolism

The Star of Bethlehem


One of the stellar attractions (pun intended!) of the Birmingham Museum is Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ masterpiece Star of Bethlehem. It is HUGE – at a gob-smacking 101 inches by 152 inches it was the largest water colour of the 19th century (it was painted in 1891). It is a beautiful picture depicting in rich blues and greens and a wealth of detail the three kings presenting their gifts to the baby Jesus.

At the centre of the picture is an angel holding a shining light repesenting the star of Bethlehem, to the left are Joseph, Mary and Jesus, to the right are the three kings. The picture seems to have a Middle Ages setting and one of the kings is clad in armour. The submissiveness of these wealthy and powerful figures symbolises that all must ultimately acknowledge Christ.

The richness of the kings’ clothing contrasts sharply with the simplicity of the family who seem to have only a slight stick and straw structure for shelter. Joseph appears to have just come from collecting firewood. The baby Jesus appears frightened; his nakedness accentuates his vulnerability.

At the bottom of the picture, below the angel, is a clump of white flowers. These are Ornithogalum umbellatum, commonly known as ‘Star of Bethlehem’.

Posted in Book of Mormon, Christmas story, Scriptural advent calendar

Scriptural advent calendar 2016 – December 6

Helaman 14:2-6:

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.

6 And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven.


Elder Milton R Hunter said: ‘Five years before the birth of Christ, Samuel the Lamanite stood upon the walls of the city of Zarahemla and predicted the signs of the birth and of the death of Jesus. He asserted that, at his birth, there should be a day and a night and a day of continuous light as if it were one day, and a new star should appear. Since Jesus Christ is the light and the life of the world, no more appropriate sign or symbol of his birth into mortality could have been given. Neither could a more appropriate sign of his death have been given than three days of darkness, the light and the life going out of the world.’ (General Conference April 1961)

It’s not often that the Lord’s prophets specify so exactly the timescale for the fulfilment of their prophecies as Samuel the Lamanite did. However, whether the time is specified or not, the word of the Lord through his prophets will be fulfilled as surely as the signs that Samuel foretold.