Like the faithful Saints in the time of Moses, each generation humbly needs to look to and follow Jesus Christ
As human beings continue their exodus through the trials and tribulations of the 21st century, Come Follow Me resources offer ongoing opportunities for divine nourishment, rescue, and love. These weekly lessons can provide daily inspiration, healing, and encouragement if we will simply learn to look at, study, and learn from the ideas for personal and family scripture study.
Bi-monthly Sunday School classes also offer further opportunities for adults and youth to share insights and experiences, bear testimony, and ask questions. When discussing Numbers 21:9, one class member voiced this thought-provoking question: “Did Old Testament peoples understand the symbolic lessons taught through Moses?”
The Saintly Learned to Look to Christ
The Book of Mormon provides several examples of how Lehi’s descendants as well as the faithful children of Israel journeying with Moses were able to understand the spiritual significance of saving miracles. When God “sent fiery flying serpents among [the exiled Israelites]; … he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished” (1 Nephi 17:41). The key lesson for the faithful is that God can provide both temporal and spiritual healing for tribulations by looking to the Savior.
Alma the Younger goes on to explain: “Many did look and live. But few understood the meaning of those tidings, and this because of the hardness of their hearts” (Alma 33:19-20; emphasis added). While many did not understand the divine significance of Christ’s healing powers, those few in tune with the Spirit did. Those righteous children of Israel foreshadow that it still requires the same faith and diligence in seeking the saving powers of Jesus Christ as it did prior to His mortal ministry.
Shortly before the birth of Jesus, Nephi (the son of Helaman) emphatically reinforces the importance of exercising such faith. “As many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal” (Helaman 8:15). These Book of Mormon prophets clearly show that they understood the messianic prophecies about Christ’s Atonement and the Resurrection that Moses symbolized by raising a brazen serpent. As Abinadi clearly explained, “All these things were types of things to come” (Mosiah 13:31).
How Do We Gain a Heavenly Understanding of God’s Teachings?
The Book of Mormon provides additional insights about how to gain an understanding of symbolic revelations. After Lehi described his dream of the tree of life (1 Nephi 8), Nephi prayed and received a confirming vision and glorious revelations ( 1 Nephi 11-14). Afterwards, his three older brothers were arguing about the meaning of their father’s dream. When they asked Nephi, he responded, “Have ye inquired of the Lord?” (1 Nephi 15:8). Nephi went on to provide them with divinely inspired interpretations related to the symbols in the vision of the tree of life ( 1 Nephi 15). He concluded by counselling, “keep the commandments of the Lord … humble themselves before the Lord … and walk in the paths of righteousness” (1 Nephi 16:4-5).
Both Nephi’s counsel to pray and his teachings help us know how to find spiritual answers. First and foremost, we prayerfully should seek divine guidance. Next, we diligently need to search the scriptures and inspired writings from Church leaders. Like Moses, they are: “The chosen vessels of the Lord … [who] bear testimony of him. And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts” (Moroni 7:31-32).
Praying, Pressing Forward, and Accepting God’s Will
Did those living before the birth of Jesus understand the sacred significance of the signs, wonders, and types of miracles they experienced with Moses? Those few who prayed and sought prophetic guidance did. Like the faithful Saints in the time of Moses, each generation humbly needs to look to and follow Jesus Christ. As we move forward, we should “cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then … stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the … arm [of God] … revealed” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17).
These same principles apply to Latter-day Saints now. We need to continue prayerfully seeking Heavenly Father’s guidance and use all the past and present prophetic tools available to us. As Elder Dale G. Renlund recently taught: “We are each responsible to open and study Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families, along with the scriptures and other Come, Follow Me material. We need to discuss them with our family and friends and organize our Sabbath day to light a metaphorical fire” (“Abound with Blessings,” Ensign, May 2019, 73).