The next couple chapters have the theme of light and darkness running through them. Watch for how this theme plays out…and ponder ways you can spread more light in this world.
I love the opening verses of this chapter. It talks about what year it is (33 AD) and says this is a true reckoning of time, because the historian who kept this record did miracles in the name of Jesus, “and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity.” (1)
That kind of cleansing only happens through repentance, which also brings light to our lives. This cleansing light can happen for each of us. Repentance and faith on Christ’s name brings power, even power to do miracles in His name. In my own experience, repentance also brings confidence, the kind that comes from being pure before God. When I give Him my sins and weaknesses, I doubt less, I hope more. I believe I can do any hard thing He asks me to do, instead of worrying that the task may be beyond me.
This year passes away and the righteous begin to watch for the sign of Christ’s death, the three days of darkness that the prophet Samuel prophesied. They know it will happen. But despite all the previous signs and wonders that have been revealed, the people at large have “great doubtings and disputations among” them. (4) Doubt and disputes never bring positive changes.
Now, comes judgement day.
And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been knoweth in all the land.”3 Nephi 8:5
There are horrible winds, thunder, earthquakes, and lightning. Fire destroys the city of Zarahemla. The city of Moroni sinks into the depths of the sea. A mountain buries the city of Moronihah.
…The whole face of the land was changed, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds, and the thunderings and the lightnings, and the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth.“3 Nephi 8:12
This storm continues and many more cities are wiped out.
And thus the face of the whole earth became deformed, because of the tempests, and the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the quaking of the earth.
Rocks were rent in twain; they were broken up upon the face of the whole earth, insomuch that they were found in broken fragments, and in seams and in cracks, upon all the face of the land.”3 Nephi 8:17-18
This storm offers proof that the earth can change quickly—in a few hours as well as over millennia of small unseen changes. The storm lasts for about three awful hours (the approximate time that Jesus suffered on the cross before giving up His mortal life for us).
Then the storm ends and darkness covers the land, not just a normal darkness, but a thick darkness that could be felt and which made it impossible to kindle any light whatsoever. I imagine tons of volcanoes had erupted during this storm, leaving ash in the air that choked out all light. This darkness lasts for three days (the time Jesus was in the tomb, before rising again).
There could not be any light at all” (21) because the Light of the World had been crucified.
The survivors of this great catastrophe in the Americas mourn in the darkness. They say, “O that we had repented before this great and terrible day.” (24) They realize that only Christ and repentance in His name can save them. The earth has just taught them spectacularly that they are totally dependent upon their God for salvation.
You never realize how much comfort light brings, until you don’t have it. With Christ’s death, the people are left in darkness and mourn and howl and weep. They cannot see even each other to comfort each other, because so “great were the groanings of the people, because of the darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them.” (23)
When He was on the earth, Christ told His disciples to be a light to the world, to reflect and share His light with all they came in contact with.
Am I sharing His light, or do I wallow in darkness?
One way lately that I’ve observed others sharing light is on social media. There is so much confusion, misinformation, hate, and division going on these days on social media sites. But when someone posts something about Christ, I notice. There is an instantaneous lightening of my spirit as I read and see that light coming from that person. It is glorious!
The darker the world becomes, the more we need to hold up the light of Christ, to bring hope, instead of howling.