On penalty of death, Nebuchadnezzar decreed that his magicians, astrologers, and wise men—including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego—explain and interpret a dream that the king could no longer remember. The four youthful captives of Judah earnestly desired “the mercies of the God of heaven …Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision” (Daniel 2:18-19; emphasis added).
Daniel was now empowered to recount both the dream and its interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar: a series of mortal kings would be replaced when God establishes “a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed … but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44). Nebuchadnezzar’s dream prophetically foreshadows the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ in the latter days that will be followed with the millennial reign and Final Judgment by the King of kings and Redeemer of the World.
A Grandmother’s Night Vision Provides Personal Guidance
Personal revelation is not restricted only to prophets like Daniel. As Jesus promised during the Sermon on the Mount, “For every one that asketh receiveth” (Matthew 7:8). The Lord has promised, “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:61).
One of the powerful guiding legacies of such personal revelation, which I have recorded in my life history, is a night vision received by my maternal grandmother—Hazel Sperry Luster.
“Three months after my seventh birthday, my Grandma Luster died. Her death was a traumatic loss for me since my father had died three years earlier, and Grandma Luster had been very involved in raising both my brother and me. When I turned 16, Grandma Luster’s only son (my Uncle Loren), shared her incredible night vision with me.
“Grandma Luster suffered what everyone in the family hoped was a temporary relapse about two months after major surgery removing a cancerous lung. My uncle and his wife decided to stay in her home to help care for her. In the middle of the night, she woke her husband and instructed him to bring her son and daughter-in-law into their bedroom. She immediately informed them she knew that she was going to die soon. She explained that she had seen the spirit world in a dream and had talked with her deceased parents and sisters. Next, she asked her family not to pray for her to live, but for her release from mortal life. She also asked her husband to promise to live more in accordance with God’s gospel principles and commandments, which he promised to do.
“My grandmother was somewhat like Israel blessing his twelve sons (Genesis 49) and Lehi blessing his sons, sons-in-law, Zoram, and grandchildren (2 Nephi 1-4). Inspired by the Spirit and with full control of her conscious mind, she counselled what should happen after her death to care temporally and spiritually for each of her children and grandchildren. For example, she told her husband to make sure that my brother and I could serve missions and be able to complete our university studies. Two weeks after this dream, my grandmother died. My grandfather, James Henry Luster, lived the last years of his life as a faithful Latter-day Saint; he died when I was 15.
“Following his wife’s final wishes, Grandpa Luster set up trust funds for my brother and me. As a result, I could pay for all my mission expenses and obediently go when the Lord’s prophet called me to serve as a fulltime missionary in what was then known as West Germany. After my mission, I was also able to return and graduate from university.
“Both during my mission and university studies, I often felt very close to my maternal grandparents. At times, it seemed as if they were watching and telling me, ‘You see! This is what the Lord and we wanted for you.’ Such experiences prompt me to believe that dreams can divinely inspire insightful matriarchal and patriarchal counsel and blessings” (Loren Charles Hart, “The Life History of Loren Charles Hart, October 5, 2005).
A Night Vision Prepared a Young Prophet to Translate the Book of Mormon
Emulating prophetic faith like Daniel, the 17-year-old Joseph Smith retired to his bed on the evening of September 21, 1823, praying sincerely for forgiveness and heavenly guidance. Throughout that night Joseph received three divine manifestations from the angel Moroni. He was preparing the Prophet of the Restoration to translate a book written on gold plates that would give “an account of the former inhabitants of this continent … [Moroni] also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants” (Joseph Smith—History 1:34).
Moroni’s detailed instructions were repeated twice the next day and yearly for the next four years. After many learning experiences and trials of faith, The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ was published in 1830.
Prophetic Night Visions Continue Today
The day after the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple, Sister Nelson shared the following observations about continuing prophetic revelation:
“My husband will say to me during the night, ‘O.K. dear, it’s happening.’ I just remain quiet and then soon he’s sitting up at the side of the bed writing, now with a lighted pen that someone gave him … Before the foundations of the world, he was foreordained to be the prophet of the Lord at this very time. To watch him roll into that is just a joy. It’s just wonderful. And that’s what’s happening. It’s pretty thrilling. I can take any witness stand in any nation on earth to tell you for sure that Russell Marion Nelson has been called by God to be the Lord’s prophet on the earth at this time (Wendy W. Nelson, “My Witness,” Church News, Mar. 11, 2019).
For a summary of revelatory promptings guiding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, see the recent article by Sydney Walker, “99 Announcements and Changes in the Church Since President Nelson Became Prophet 5 Years, Ago,” Church News,” Jan. 18, 2023. Such ongoing revelations, resources, and new developments clearly demonstrate that as Latter-day Saints, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Articles of Faith 1:9).
We are truly blessed for the exemplary guidance of prophets like Daniel and Joseph Smith. President Russell M. Nelson continues to receive revelation for the restored Church of Jesus Christ. Like other ancient and latter-day prophets, he is prepared and welcomes night visions with detailed instructions for him, and often for us, to follow.
In determining how we as individuals should follow the Lord’s covenant path, we are all entitled to receive revelation about our personal circumstances. Even everyday members like my grandparents “can receive the Holy Ghost, [who] will show unto [us] all things what [we] should do” (2 Nephi 32:5). As Elder Dale G. Renlund recently explained: “Personal revelation rightly belongs to individuals … Church leaders may teach doctrine and share inspired counsel, but the responsibility for these decisions rests with [us]. That is [our] revelation to receive” (Dale G. Renlund, “A Framework for Personal Revelation,” Liahona, November 2022, 17).