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Ancient Testaments: We may see what the prophets saw

Sometimes we have an experience and then say to our friends, "You should see what we saw!"

In my boyhood, I once saw that expression displayed at a lumber mill. Suddenly, the words "You should see what we saw" brought a smile to my face, for they now meant something else entirely.

But in yet another context, they are neither humorous nor commonplace. Suppose all the prophets could say to us, in one voice, "You should see what we saw."

Or they might say, "You should believe in what we have seen." And they could even add, "If you believe and live according to what we have seen, you, too, will see what we saw."

Consider, for example, a seer named Moses, who "beheld the world and the ends thereof."

What are those "ends"? God's purposes, perhaps. Or the outcomes of the earth. Or even the eventual state of the earth when, in the end, it becomes a celestial home. Or all of these. Moses saw them in revelation.

He also saw "all the children of men which are, and which were created." That would be millions. No, it would be billions upon billions of lives. These he saw with a heavenly power bestowed upon him because of his office as a seer.

More important than the number of people shown to him was the private depth and worth of each person. "Of the same" — that is, of the lives he beheld — "he greatly marveled and wondered."

In a subsequent revelation, Moses was re-shown the earth, and "there was not a particle of it which he beheld not." We can only guess at what is meant by a "particle." Something the size of a teaspoon? Or smaller — a grain of sand? This author is inclined to think that the detail was much finer — too small to be seen with mortal eye.

But more than mere particles, he was again shown every person. "There was not a soul which he beheld not." We suppose that he saw more than a mere sea of faces. It is likely that he beheld them one-by-one, with penetrating and appreciating insight, for "he discerned them by the Spirit of God."

This would be, in a degree, how God sees each of his offspring, though "their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore."

The prophet Lehi also saw. Evidently, the population he beheld was narrower, but he was granted similar seeing powers. He did not and could not share with us all that he discovered. But we do know that he exclaimed:

"Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth."

So infinite and thorough is the generosity of that God whose works he beheld firsthand, that Lehi's "soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen."

It may be fashionable in some quarters to take lightly what Moses saw pertaining to this earth, or to disregard Lehi and the record of his people. Yet, these prophets could say to us, "You should believe what we saw. And if you will believe it and trust in it, the day will come when you will see it for yourselves."

God himself has said, "I delight to honor those who serve me. … Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know. … And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven."

(References: Moses 1:8,24-28; Nephi 1:13-15; Doctrine and Covenants 76:5-10)

Wayne E. Brickey, who lives in Gallatin, Mo., is a retired Church Educational System teacher and curriculum writer and has been a tour guide to Holy Land and Mormon history sites.