The Little Lord Jesus, the Savior and Redeemer of the World, was born in humble circumstances in Bethlehem of Judea. His arrival triggered a complicated interrelated set of signs and wonders. These signs seem to me to have characteristics of the technical equipment and setup of a concert presentation of the Messiah oratorio or a play with many acts and scenes—on a hemisphere-wide or world-wide scale.
The “night without darkness” and the “new star” signs give a great example of the interrelationship of the signs and wonders. No doubt these are a key part of what I would call “The Birth of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God” live movie presentation.
Presentations Etched in the Heavens
Before we turn to Samuel the Lamanite and his very complex prophecy, let’s look at Section 88 and its description of the upcoming future movie presentations serially announced by the seven angels corresponding to the seven angels in the Book of Revelation.
“In the Ears of All Living”
Let’s start with the first angel who will “sound his trump in the ears of all living, and reveal the secret acts of men, and the mighty works of God in the first thousand years.” (D&C 88:108) The second through the seventh angels’ presentations follow.
Then, as all of the angels sound their trumpets together “immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together” (D&C 88:92-93)
It is like a historical documentary that then includes live “reality show”-like scenes in the same ultimate dramatic presentation. What a grand finale! You can just imagine the artillery booming in at the ending of the “1812 Overture.” But, the Lord will have much, much, … much better than just 1812 vintage artillery to use in the section 88 movies’ technical equipment, networking, programming and presentation content.
The Old World and New World Star of Bethlehem and the New World only “night without darkness” signs show how similar principles to the Section 88 signs are at the heart of the dramatic presentations for these two signs at the Birth of Jesus Christ.
Prophecy of an Ultimate Sign and Wonder–Only observed in the New World
In America, Samuel the Lamanite prophesied that five years after his testimony would come the long awaited Birth of Christ in the Old World.
As a witness of the truth of his prophecy, he also provided an amazing description of two dramatically coordinated signs that would occur in the heavens. These signs would occur on the day just before the Lord’s birth and the following day when He was born.
The opposition to this true prophet was so great that Samuel had to give his prophecy amid arrows trying to kill him on the walls of the city of Zerahemla.
Samuel proclaimed that there would be “great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day.” (Helaman 14:3) [emphasis added]
Samuel goes into more detail so that he cannot be misunderstood.
“Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born.
“And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.
“And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven.”
The Night without Darkness: Unprecedented Celestial Sign
This miraculous sign went up-up-up to full daylight brightness and then just as quickly down-down-down within a day back to the normal day-night-day cycle. If it was not so, then the sign of the new star could not have been seen. The new star was not just part of the huge day-night-day-no-darkness sign, but was the second coordinated sign.
If the new star was a supernova explosion, then it could appear very quickly and be a very bright star for a year or longer.
Another possibility is that the new star was always in the sky but visible only at certain places, seasons and positions such as the southern constellation Acrux. The “night without darkness” sign would still need to be turned off or the normal stars in the sky couldn’t be seen. Other proposals include a comet, which would fulfill the “new star … such an one as ye never have beheld” part of the prophecy.
The timing of these two miracles to have their light arrive at the earth at exactly the right day and time would be beyond amazing. And, if the Star of Bethlehem was indeed the result of a supernova explosion, it would be a very rare event. As an example, Kepler’s supernova in 1604 was the last supernova known to have occurred in our Milky Way galaxy.
“Great Lights in Heaven” and One Day “Very Bright then Gone” Cycle
In the Book of Mormon Central article the 1054 supernova is included as a possible physical mechanism for the “night without darkness.”
The 1054 supernova was reported to be very bright and is brighter than the Kepler supernova. This supernova created the crab nebula and it has been studied by astronomers more than any other supernova remnant. However, the peak apparent magnitude of the 1054 supernova is listed at -6, just a few times brighter than Venus and much dimmer than the full moon. None of the supernovas studied get anywhere close to the daylight level of brightness described or the rapid cycle of a single day for the “night without darkness” sign.
But, this sign of the “night without darkness” is so unique and so extravagant and changes to mid-day brightness and then back to normal so quickly. It can’t be just a supernova explosion.
The prophecy refers to “lights in heaven” not just a bright star. The combined effect of the “lights” became almost immediately (within hours not days) as bright as day. And, then the brightness receded just as rapidly so that the day-night-day cycle could be discerned that very next day and the new star, a separate sign, could be observed and recorded.
Here is Nephi’s description of the fulfillment of the sign:
“at the going down of the sun there was no darkness” and “it was as light as though it was mid-day” (3 Nephi1:15, 19 emphasis added)
No supernova light curve going to maximum and then decaying from maximum is even close to this sign’s one day light curve signature. I think that this sign is like the curtain opening, the stage lights turned up and the main presentation then begins on the dramatic stage. “Let’s begin the show.”
Even the actions of the Gadiantons preparing to try to slaughter the righteous if Samuel’s prophecy is not fulfilled to the letter, are another reason to take the prophecy literally. As the prophecy was fulfilled, the Gadiantons robbers and murders also joined in supporting the government and the prophets. (3 Nephi 1) The evidence was just so overwhelming. If Samuel and Nephi were indeed fudging or exaggerating on the “as if it was day” part of the prophesy, you can surely predict with certainly that the Gadiantons would have immediately used that as an argument against the prophecies.
But, Samuel and Nephi are not exaggerating and their descriptions are of a very unique sign and wonder and they are taking great effort to be precise. What a privilege it was for Samuel to be the prophet to bring this prophecy to the world.
Promoting Disbelief in Great Signs and Wonders
In our era of disbelief in any signs in the heavens being of Divine origins or being prophetic predictions of anything, I have been pondering the following question:
Could we be like the Nephites just a few years after the amazing over-the-top signs of the birth of Christ that were literally fulfilled?
Here is the quote from Third Nephi about what the people were saying then. It certainly sounds like our day.
“The people began to forget those signs and wonders … and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven … [and began to] believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and a vain thing.” (3 Nephi 2: 1-2)
Answers in the Scriptures
I think that the answer to the above question and situation of disbelief, together with the antidote to counteract that disbelief in our day, is found right there in the scriptures and especially the Book of Mormon.
It is right there, plainly articulated in the most perfect, most correct book on earth that our prophets persistently and frequently urge us to read, ponder and pray about. And, they challenge us to strive for a consistent, “steady as we go” dedicated study of the scriptures every day.
Word of the Lord Proclaiming “a God of Miracles”– A God Who is Able to do These Great Works:
“I will show unto you a God of miracles … and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.” (Mormon 9:11)
“The Lord is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words.” (Alma 37:16-17)
“And … he manifesteth
himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred,
tongue, and people, working mighty miracles,
signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.” (2 Nephi 26:13)
 Chieko N. Okazaki, “One Way to See the Star from Christ’s Birth That Will Transform How You See the Nativity,”excerpted from “Stars: Reflections on Christmas,” Dec. 16, 2019.
“I want to share some thoughts about stars, the stars without and the stars within—not just the star-stuff that is part of the genetic inheritance of our bodies, but also the star that comes from a spiritual knowing of who we are, of feeling that eternal light burning steadily as a thousand suns within us. It is the feeling Amos captures in this wonderful phrase, “the star of your god.” (Amos 5:26.)
“KnoWhy: How was there a Night without Darkness?” by BMC Team, Book of Mormon Central, September 15, 2016.
Picture by Dan Collier via Adobe Stock.
““For behold, at the going down of the sun there was no darkness; and the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came.” (3 Nephi 1:15)
“When a Lamanite came into Zarahemla prophesying that there would be “great lights in heaven,” leading to a night with “no darkness … as if it was day,” and “many signs and wonders in heaven” (Helaman 14:2–6) some Nephites were skeptical, and even hostile (Helaman 16:2). In the next five years, both the skepticism and the hostility grew, and a date was set by which “all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death” if the sign failed to appear (3 Nephi 1:7, 9). Yet, as prophesied, “at the going down of the sun there was no darkness” and “it was as light as though it was mid-day” (vv. 15, 19).
“Today, this prophetic sign remains difficult for some to believe. How could there be a night without darkness? Exactly how God produced such a sign is impossible to know for certain, but there are natural astronomical and atmospheric events which may shed some light on this matter.”
1.5 minujte presentation in youtube.com video, “Night without Darkness”
 “Angel Moroni,” wikipedia.org, retrieved 12/18/2019.
“Come Follow Me for Individuals and Families: New Testament,” 2019. Page 199
“Who is the angel that John sawpreaching the gospel?
One fulfillment of the prophecy in these verses occurred when Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith and
led him to the records that he translated and published as the Book of Mormon. This book contains the
“everlasting gospel” that we are charged with preaching unto “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6).”
 Michael Davern, “Cannons fire during performance of ‘1812 Overture’ in Naperville”
Updated 6/29/2018 6:08 PM.
 “Samuel the Lamanite tells about Jesus Christ,” churchofjesuschrist.org, retrieved 12/18/2019.
 “KnoWhy: How was there a Night without Darkness?” by BMC Team, Book of Mormon Central, September 15, 2016.
 “Kepler’s Supernova,” wikipedia.org, retrieved 12/18/2019.
The Star of Bethlehem might be similar to Kepler’s supernova in 1604 AD that became brighter than the planet Jupiter at magnitude -2.5 after 20 days. It is a type 1a supernova.
“Type Ia supernova,: wikipedia.org, retrieved 12/18/2019.
“Type Ia supernovae have a characteristic light curve, their graph of luminosity as a function of time after the explosion.”
Pilar Ruiz-Lapuente, “The Light Curve and Distance of the Kepler Supernova: News from Four Centuries Ago,” The Astrophysical Journal. 842:2.
“SN 1987a – light curve,” Persell.ssl.berkeley.edu, Retrieved 12/19/2019.
 Peter Christoforou, “Acrux: Star Facts,” astronomytrek.com, May 2, 2017.
“The nine points of Christ’s star,” bethlehemstar.com, retrieved 12/20/2019.
Note from S. Kent Brown: “The star was visible in the Old World apparently for a short time and only in the region where the wisemen resided. No other notations are recorded by astronomers in Asia or the Near East.”
 “SN 1604, Kepler’s Supernova,” “Type I supernova,” Retrieved 12/19/2019.
The supernova increased to magnitude -2.5 in about 20 days and then decreased further as shown in the light curve graph for Kepler’s supernova. With a distance estimate of 20,000 light years, the absolute magnitude at 10 parsecs ( 32 light years) would be about -16, or about as bright as the full moon. The full daylight sun is 400,000 times brighter than this -16. There is just no way in my opinion to see a way that any supernova could provide a real live working physical component to enable the “night without darkness” sign with its few hours long duration.
“bafact math: the sun is 400,000 times brighter than the full moon,” discovermagazine.com, retrieved 12/19/2019.
 “KnoWhy: How was there a Night without Darkness?” by BMC Team, Book of Mormon Central, September 15, 2016.
 “Crab Nebula,” HST, retrieved 12/19/2019.\.
“Recent analysis of historical records have found that the supernova that created the Crab Nebula probably appeared in April or early May, rising to its maximum brightness of between apparent magnitude −7 and −4.5 (brighter even than Venus’ −4.2 and everything in the night sky except the Moon) by July. The supernova was visible to the naked eye for about two years after its first observation. Thanks to the recorded observations of Far Eastern and Middle Eastern astronomers of 1054, the Crab Nebula became the first astronomical object recognized as being connected to a supernova explosion.”
“Crab Pulsar,” wikipedia.org, retrieved 12/20/2019.
“The Crab Pulsar (PSR B0531+21) is a relatively young neutron star. The star is the central star in the Crab Nebula, a remnant of the supernova SN 1054, which was widely observed on Earth in the year 1054. Discovered in 1968, the pulsar was the first to be connected with a supernova remnant.”
 Ronald P. Millett, “The First Vision and Great Comets,” Meridian Magazine, December 5, 2017.
Here is a comment from a reader on my article that is similar to how the Nephites reacted to the signs and wonders attending Christ’s birth.
“Comets are just hunks of ice and dust hurtling through space. They aren’t harbingers of anything.”