Signs in America of Jesus Christ’s Birth
- Items needed: scriptures for every child, tape or magnets, chalk and eraser, and pens.
- Print the scripture story pictures. Trim the first four pages. Cut each of the remaining pages in half so there is one picture on each half. Number the back of these pictures in the order they were printed.
- Print and cut out the activity visual aids.
- Print or copy one page of “I will prepare for the Second Coming” for each child.
Show the picture of the fall leaves, the lightening, and the spring buds. Point out that when we see these signs in nature they tell us certain events will soon occur. Ask the children what event each item is a sign of (fall leaves – winter is approaching, lightning – a storm is approaching, spring buds – summer is approaching).
Ask the children what we do to prepare when we see these signs indicating environment changes are coming. (Example: We get the cold weather clothes out. We seek shelter from storms. We prepare our gardens to be planted.)
Show the picture of the star. Remind the children that Samuel the Lamanite prophesied many signs would occur before and at the time of two very important events.
• According to the prophet Samuel what event was the new star a sign of? (Jesus Christ’s birth)
Ask the children if they can remember what the other prophesied signs were of Jesus’ birth. (If needed, show them the drawings from last week’s lesson to help remind them.)
• Why did the Lord reveal these signs to the Nephites? (Helaman 14:12–13, 28) So they might know of His coming, so they might believe in Christ and repent, and so they would have no excuse for not believing.
For the faithful, the appearance of these signs confirmed and strengthened their faith. For those who were not as valiant in their faith as they should have been, or for the wicked, these signs gave them warning and an opportunity to change their ways. They were left without excuse for their nonbelief and would be held accountable for their subsequent actions.
Tell the following story using the scripture story pictures as visual aids.
1) Many great miracles and signs occurred before the birth of Jesus, but many people still refused to believe. When it came time for the main signs of His birth to occur (a night to be as day and a new star to appear) some said the time had passed for the words of Samuel to be fulfilled. The unbelievers began to make an uproar throughout the land, rejoicing over their brethren who believed saying their joy and faith had been in vain. The unbelievers set apart a day where all those who believed would be put to death except the sign should come to pass.
• Why would the unbelievers wish to persecute and kill the believers? The wicked hearken to Satan’s influence. Satan promotes hate, intolerance, and anger, and he uses those who are under his influence to try and destroy righteousness and belief.
• In spite of the challenges to their faith, what did the believers do? (See 3 Nephi 1:8) They did watch steadfastly for the sign of Christ’s birth that they might know their faith had not been in vain.
2) Nephi was sorrowful for the wickedness of the people. He bowed himself down and cried mightily to God all day in behalf of his people. (3 Nephi 1:12.) (Note: The Nephi in this account is the son of the Nephi who has been discussed in the past few lessons. Nephi had given his son charge of all the records and had then departed out of the land (and was probably translated).
3) The voice of the Lord came unto Nephi as he prayed saying: “Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world.” (3 Nephi 1:13–14.)
4) The words spoken to Nephi were fulfilled. The sun went down that evening, but it was still light as mi-day. There was no darkness in all the night. The sun did rise again in the morning according to its proper order. (3 Nephi 1:15, 19, 21) The sign of a new star did also appear.
• How would you feel if the sun went down but it was still light outside? How do you think the righteous felt when the night did not get dark? (Great joy) The birth of Jesus was something the people had looked forward to for many years. The occurrence of the prophesied signs of Jesus’ birth also confirmed their faith.
• How do you think the unbelievers felt when the sign occurred? (Fear)
5) There were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, that fell to the earth in astonishment and became as if they were dead. They knew it was the day the Lord should be born. They began to fear because of their iniquity and their unbelief. (3 Nephi 1:18)
• Did Satan give up his efforts to destroy people’s beliefs in Christ once the signs had been given? No. Satan continued in his efforts by sending forth lies among the people to harden their hearts so they might not believe in the signs and wonders they had seen. (3 Nephi 1:22.)
• How did the people respond to Satan’s initial efforts to destroy their belief? For the most part the people did believe in the Lord and there was peace in the land. But after a few years Satan did gain possession of the hearts of the people again.
• What does it mean to “gain possession of the hearts of the people”? Hearts of the people refers to their desires. The people once again desired wickedness
6) The people forgot the signs and wonders and were less astonished when a sign or wonder occurred. They imagined up vain things in their hearts that the signs were wrought by men or by the power of the devil to deceive them. They began to harden their hearts and blind their minds and disbelieve all they had seen and heard. (3 Nephi 2:1–2)
• Why did they wish to rationalize away the signs they had seen? Because their hearts desired wickedness.
• What can we learn about the strength of testimonies that are based solely on signs? As time passes, the importance and value of the signs diminishes in people’s thoughts and priorities, and they are easily influenced by Satan to return to their original sinful ways.
• How does someone develop a strong testimony? By living the teachings of the gospel, and by experiencing the powerful witness of the Holy Ghost testifying to their heart of the truth of those teachings.
• Is building a strong testimony something that happens quickly and effortlessly? A testimony grows gradually through a person’s efforts to learn and know the truth. No one receives a complete testimony all at once.
7) After several years the Nephite people began to again wax strong in wickedness and abominations, and they chose to believe there would be no more signs or wonders given. (3 Nephi 2:3)
• What other signs and wonders were still to come? (The signs of Jesus’ death.) Ask the children if they remember what the signs of Jesus’ death were. (Show them the drawings from last week’s lesson to help remind them.)
• What did Samuel say would happen to the people if they did not change their ways and repent? Great destructions would come upon them. (Helaman13:6)
Explain to the children that another great event concerning the Savior is prophesied to occur in the latter days. It is also to be preceded by great signs and wonders. Ask the children if they know what this great event is. Give clues if needed. After the children have guessed correctly, put the sign “Jesus Second Coming” on the right side of the board.
Explain that many of the prophesied signs of Jesus’ Second Coming are similar to the signs and happenings that occurred at Jesus’ birth and death. (Put the sign on the left side of the board that says “Jesus Christ’s birth and death.”)
Put the scripture references in random order on the board under the sign that says “Jesus’ Second Coming.” Explain that these scriptures are all prophesied things that will occur before Jesus Christ’s second coming. Put the list of items on the board that occurred before or during the time of Jesus’ birth under the sign that says “Jesus Christ’s birth and death.” (Explain that many of these things also occured before Jesus’ death.) Have the children look up the first scripture. Have one of the children read it out loud and then draw a chalk line from the scripture to a similar event that occurred before or during Jesus’ birth.
Wickedness among the people increased. (D&C 45:27)
There were many nonbelievers. (2 Peter 3:3-4)
Many of the Lamanites became righteous (D&C 49:24)
There were signs and wonders in the heavens. (D&C 45:40)
The faithful looked forward to the coming of the Lord. (D&C 45:39)
• Why do the faithful look forward to the coming of the Lord? The faithful Nephites looked forward to the coming of the Lord because they knew that through Him and His atonement they could receive forgiveness of their sins. When the Savior comes again upon the earth, he will bring peace for the nations. He will bring safety and joy for all the righteous. The earth will live in peace. Many look forward to that time. They also look forward to the joy of seeing their Savior Jesus Christ.
After all the answers have been made, put the drawings of the signs of Jesus’ death on the board and explain that similar destructions and happenings to the signs depicted in the pictures are also prophesied to occur before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. But we are told that if we are prepared, the righteous need not fear the second coming or the signs that precede it.
Once again show the children the pictures of the fall leaves, the lightening, and the spring buds, and ask the children why it is important to prepare for changes in the weather when we see these signs in nature. Our health, safety, and protection may depend on the preparations we make.
Explain that just as we would need to be prepared for upcoming changes in the weather, we also need to be prepared for the Second Coming of the Lord. Only those with strong testimonies will remain steadfast and faithful in the challenging environment of the latter days, and only the righteous will abide the day of the coming of the Lord and be able to live lives of peace and love during the Lord’s millennial reign. (Read D&C 45:57)
Give each child one of the papers labeled “I will prepare for the Second Coming.” Have them write in each point on the star something they can do to prepare for the second coming. Explain that the signs of light that occurred at Jesus’ birth reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world. He is our shining example. Remind the children of the teachings of Jesus and the examples he set as they think of things they need to do to prepare for his Second Coming. Ideas might include the following: keep the Sabbath day holy, pray, read the scriptures, serve others, forgive others, be humble and meek, share the gospel with others, love one another, etc.
• What is the danger of putting off the day of our preparation? Remind the children that building a strong testimony does not happen instantly overnight; it takes time and effort. If we put off the day of our preparation, the coming of the Lord may come upon us and our time for preparing will be past. (Read Helaman 13:38)
Explain that just as righteous Nephites watched and were prepared for the Savior’s birth, we need to watch and prepare for Jesus’ Second Coming.
Weekly Reading Assignments
Remind the children to do their scripture reading assignment for this week: 3 Nephi 1:1-23 & 3 Nephi 2:1-3