Today is the anniversary of the Roman’s siege, and latter sacking, of the city Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
George A. Horton, Jr. in an Ensign article, ” ‘Be Ye Also Ready,’ ” cites the ancient scholar Josephus who said that the Romans massacred 1,100,000 Jews and captured 100,000 more. From this horrible event, we can learn 3 lessons to help keep us safe and close to God in a world of trouble and strife.
Keep the Commandments
The Jews were asked again and again to repent of wickedness. If they did not do so, then Jerusalem would fall. Yet the Jews did not repent and turn to righteousness. They were prideful, and felt that the great Jerusalem could not be destroyed. This became their undoing. Because they were not willing to change, Jerusalem was sieged, sacked, and the Jews were killed or captured.
Keeping the commandments is something we must strive to do every day. The commandments are not a means of restriction, but a means of protection from the temptations and evils of the world. King Benjamin taught that when we keep the commanments then we will be in a “blessed and happy state. . . [and] dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness” (Mosiah 2:41). Keeping the commandments will give us blessings in life and bring us closer to God.
Follow the Prophet
For hundreds of years, prophets had been foretelling the fall of Jerusalem. In the old testament, Ezekiel taught of it through symbolism (Ezekiel 4); in the Book of Mormon, Lehi warned people of Jerusalem’s fall and of the more imminent Babylonian captivity (1 Nephi 1:4, 13, 18); even Christ foretold Jerusalem’s destruction, saying that not one brick of the temple would be left standing (Mark 13:2). Yet despite the years and years of prophesy and warning to repent, most of the Jews did not listen.
The lyrics to “Follow the Prophet,” a primary hymn, says “follow the prophet; he knows the way.” Our prophets and apostles truly do know the way. The Lord spoke through the prophets of the Bible and Book of Mormon, and he still speaks through them today (Doctrine & Covenants 1:37-38). They are here to guide and direct the church, keeping us from harm. When we listen and follow the teachings of the prophet, then “the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (Doctrine & Covenants 21:4-6).
Signs of the Times
Though so many Jews were killed in the siege, George A. Horton’s article tells us about a group of Christians who escaped the destruction of Jerusalem to the town of Pella. These Christians listened to Christ’s warning and watched for the signs that the siege was imminent. The two major signs were the armies in Jerusalem and the abomination of desolation, but they were also warned to look for false prophets, hatred towards the disciples, betrayal, iniquity, and the love of men turned cold.
Sound familiar? Today we see signs of the Second Coming such as wars and rumors of wars, wickedness, and turmoil. Not only do we watch for the signs like the group of Christians did, but we prepare for them as well. We must stand in holy places, always be worthy, and hasten the work. One of the signs of the Second Coming listed in the Gospel Principles manual is that the gospel will be spread to the world. When we hasten the work, we bring to pass prophesy, teach others to prepare, and prepare ourselves. We need not fear the future when we always strive to keep God close to us.