On his website, Roger K. Young, author of As A Thief in the Night, recently posted an interesting collection of quotes, and later an article by David W. Schultz. I draw extensively from those two sources in the following article.
The Perils of Disobedience
Throughout the history of the world, those who disregarded the counsel of the prophets have suffered greatly, and many died. For instance, those who disregarded Noah’s warning, those in Jerusalem who disregarded Lehi’s warning, and those in Haun’s Mill who disregarded Joseph’s Smith’s counsel to come into the main settlement and Far West.
Have any of us considered the possibility that disobedience to the counsel of the prophets to store at least one year’s supply of necessities could result in just as dire consequences?
President Benson said, “Should the Lord decide at this time to cleanse the Church–and the need for that cleansing seems to be increasing–a famine in this land of one year’s duration could wipe out a large percentage of slothful members, including some ward and stake officers. Yet we cannot say we have not been warned. (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.265, 266)
Tribulation Is Certain
From David Schultz’s article,”Plea for Preparedness,” we find 1) evidence that the tribulation we will face will demand all of our efforts and strength to be ready for and endure—physically, spiritually, and mentally—as they will be of a magnitude, intensity and scale that has not existed before in the history of the world, 2) evidence that we are in the opening days of that period, and 3) motivation to action—now. The time left to prepare is quickly diminishing and our efforts must be increased substantially.
Brother Schultz says, “When I contemplate what is about to befall this nation and the world, I am saddened beyond words to know that there are many who, with a knowledge of these things, will yet refuse to prepare. Consequently, they will witness the untold suffering of those who are dependent upon them for their welfare. Can you imagine yourself watching your little children starve to death? Can you comprehend the anguish of soul in that situation, knowing that you could have prevented it? With that knowledge, the guilt and grief will be excruciating. Are you willing to face such? I am not! Why should we expect the Lord to save us from our folly when He has warned us repeatedly to prepare and promised His aid in our efforts? Our expectation of such would be contrary to the laws of Heaven.”
In the October 1980 General Conference, Ezra Taft Benson (at that time an apostle, so I’ll refer to him as Elder Benson) addressed the issue of preparedness. His words were powerful, direct, and explicit. He warned: “For over forty years, in a spirit of love, members of the Church have been counseled to be thrifty and self-reliant; to avoid debt; pay tithes and a generous fast offering; be industrious; and have sufficient food, clothing, and fuel on hand to last at least [AT LEAST!] one year.”
On the Provident Living link listed on the official website, www.lds.org the Church now gives specific recommendations for a minimum supply of the essentials that would keep you alive These quantities are minimums for survival—not comfort. If our situation allows storing more, we should.
Elder Benson continues, “Have you ever paused to realize what would happen to your community or nation if transportation were paralyzed or if we had a war or depression? How would you and your neighbors obtain food? How long would the corner grocery store—or supermarket— sustain the needs of the community?” [Self-sufficiency does not mean having a car filled with gas so you can drive to the store, and money to buy when you get there. It means not needing the store! If there were no stores open anywhere, the only source for food would be your stores. ]
President Brigham Young said, ‘If you are without bread, how much wisdom can you boast, and of what real utility are your talents, if you cannot procure for yourselves and save against a day of scarcity those substances designed to sustain your natural lives?’ (Journal of Discourses, 8:68.)
Elder Benson makes a strong conclusion, “From the standpoint of food production, storage, handling, and the Lord’s counsel, wheat should have high priority. ‘There is more salvation and security in wheat,’ said Orson Hyde years ago, ‘than in all the political schemes of the world’ (Journal of Discourses, 2:207). Water, of course, is essential. Other basics could include honey or sugar, legumes, milk products or substitutes, and salt or its equivalent. The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah.
“I speak with a feeling of great urgency. I have seen what the days of tribulation can do to people. I have seen hunger stalk the streets of Europe. I have witnessed the appalling, emaciated shadows of human figures. I have seen women and children scavenge army garbage dumps for scraps of food. Those scenes and nameless faces cannot be erased from my memory . . .
“Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not acquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them. Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they somehow will be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion. (Ezra Taft Benson, “Prepare for the Days of Tribulation,” Ensign, November, 1980)
The Rain Hasn’t Fallen on Me Yet, So Why Worry?
So many of us become complacent when year after year, the counsel to prepare is given, but no big crisis forces us to test the level of our preparation.
In the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.2, under the heading EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS we read, “For more than a hundred years, Church leaders have taught the members to store grain and other essentials that would sustain life in times of drought or famine (Essentials of Home Production and Storage, p. 17). The current guidelines for home storage are intended to apply internationally. They include having a supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, the fuel necessary to sustain life for one year (Benson, p. 33).”
Elder Benson spoke “with a feeling of great urgency” 25 years ago and he told us he was repeating counsel given by the prophets for over 40 years. David Schultz said, “Some would dismiss this counsel since, obviously, no major catastrophe has befallen us. Yet it was given to us by the Lord’s chosen prophets, speaking in their capacity as such. How long will we ignore such wisdom? So, nothing major has happened. I ask: what does that have to do with anything? The Lord gives His warning well in advance, and whether the need is realized in 1 year or 100 is irrelevant. It is incumbent upon us all to give immediate heed to it. . . When disaster strikes, it is too late. The day will come—is upon us now, I believe—when the Lord’s servants will cease their warning, and the Lord Himself will preach the sermon.
Can This Wicked Nation Long Endure?
Brother Schultz continues, “A careful study of history and the scriptures will reveal that no nation can long endure when wickedness becomes the accepted norm. This land of America is a choice land, and has upon it both a blessing and a cursing.
“Prophets have warned us that if this people do not worship the God of this land, who is Jesus Christ, we will be swept off. At least two great civilizations before us failed to do so and suffered that very fate. The evidence of that condition—of this nation’s refusal to worship Jesus Christ—is now everywhere present. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in the old world have long been the standard in determining how wicked a people must be before they are ‘swept off.’ Are we as wicked as they?
“President Thomas S. Monson, in a recent devotional address given to the students at BYU, witnessed: “Today we have a rebirth of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah.” (“I Will Serve the Lord,” BYU Devotional Address, January 20, 2004) In October 2001 General Conference, President Hinckley, referring to our present conditions, said: “All of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah haunt our society” (“Living in the Fullness of Times,” Ensign, November, 2001);and later, “I do not know that things were worse in the times of Sodom and Gomorrah (Address given at the General Priesthood Leadership Training Meeting, February, 2004). President Boyd K. Packer was more explicit. In an address to a group of LDS lawyers, he declared: “Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds the wickedness and depravity which surrounds us now.” (Boyd K. Packer, J. Reuben Clark Law Society Devotional, February 28, 2004). Again, the Lord’s prophets have spoken. Their words ring with unmistakable clarity. Has our society, like Sodom and Gomorrah, become “ripened in iniquity?” Has our nation become as wicked as theirs was? The evidence is all around us. The answer to that seems to be a resounding “Yes!” Are we even now living on borrowed time?
What Are the Brethren Saying Right Now?
In April 2004 General Conference Elder Dallin H. Oaks delivered the following clear message to the members of the Church: “We are living in the prophesied time ‘when peace shall be taken from the earth,’ (D&C 1:35) when ‘all things shall be in commotion,’ and ‘men’s hearts shall fail them.’ (D&C 88:91) These signs of the Second coming are all around us and seem to be increasing in frequency and intensity.”
President Packer declared: “The calamities the Lord foresaw [referring to D&C 1:17] now come upon an unrepentant world.” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Least of These,” Ensign, May, 2004. In the scriptural context, does the word “calamity” (or “calamities”) have general application to any and all disasters? No. Brother Schultz said it “has specific meaning and reference to those events of the Last Days just prior to the Savior’s return. In this setting, President Packer’s words carry tremendous weight: he is explicitly proclaiming that the destructions of the Last Days—the period of ‘tribulation’ prophesied by the Lord’s Holy Prophets—have begun.
Elder Eyring said “You remember the words from the Doctrine and Covenants which now seems so accurate: ‘And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people. For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand. And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds. And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people.’ In addition to natural disasters of every kind, wars, pestilence, famine, and plagues are promised. These things are now upon us and will continue to increase in their frequency, intensity, magnitude, and scope until the Lord returns in His glory” (Henry B. Eyring, “Raise the Bar,” BYU Devotional Address, January 25, 2005)
Illusion: “The Church Will Take Care of Me”
Some members labor under the illusion that the Church is storing sufficient food that all their needs would be taken care of even if they don’t have much food storage.
President Benson put to rest that idea when he said, “Our bishops storehouses are not intended to stock enough commodities to care for all the members of the Church. Storehouses are only established to care for the poor and the needy. For this reason, members of the Church have been instructed to personally store a year’s supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, fuel.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.267)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie in General Conference, April, 1979: “We do not say that all of the Saints will be spared and saved from the coming day of desolation. But we do say there is no promise of safety and no promise of security except for those who love the Lord and who are seeking to do all that he commands. . . And so we raise the warning voice and say: Take heed; prepare; watch and be ready. There is no security in any course except the course of obedience and conformity and righteousness.” (“Stand Independent Above All Other Creatures,” Ensign, May, 1979)
Are We Listening?
The Lord keeps us informed, if we will listen. In 1948 President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., gave a classic message even more needed now; “What we need today is not more prophets. We have the prophets. But what we need is more people with listening ears. That is the great need of our generation” (Conference Report, October 1948, p. 82).
In April 2005 General Conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson quoted from Henry Van Dyke’s poem “The Sun-Dial at Wells College” (from The Poems of Henry Van Dyke, 1911) to illustrate his theme: “Now is the time to prepare”:
The shadow by my finger cast
Divides the future from the past:
Before it, sleeps the unborn hour,
In darkness, and beyond thy power:
Behind its unreturning line,
The vanished hour, no longer thine:
One hour alone is in thy hands–
The NOW on which the shadow stands.
We need to prepare NOW. The focus of Elder Nelson’s talk was spiritual preparedness. I would like to pose this question. Are we spiritually prepared if we have disregarded the repeated counsel to prepare for emergency situations as best we can with a basic storage of food, water, etc.? Obedience is the first law of heaven. Can our spiritual lamps be full of oil if we are disobeying the repeated counsel of the Brethren about preparedness? If we have taken the Holy Spirit as our guide, will that Spirit not prompt us to be obedient? Are we an obedient people? Our very lives may depend on it!