Chapter 6: Protection for the Righteous

I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth.1

During the difficult times of the last days, the Lord has promised to bless, protect and comfort the righteous. He will be the source of our strength. By the power of His almighty hand, we will be aided and consoled in the trials we face. Many tumultuous events must occur in order to cleanse the earth of wickedness prior to the Second Coming. Through our faith in Jesus Christ, we will be watched over during these trying times.

The Power of Righteousness

Righteousness brings great spiritual power into our lives. It can even bless us with power in the temporal world. When the prophet Nephi was shown a vision of the latter days, he noted that the Saints were given great power and protection because of their righteousness:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the Saints of the Church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.”2

It is significant that Nephi stated the Saints were “armed” with righteousness, which tells us that our righteousness will be a means of defense during the trials and persecution of the last days. But how should we prepare ourselves with righteousness so that we are ready for the events of the latter days? The Lord has told us:

“Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.

“Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you; taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also.”3

As we fill our lives with faith, truth, righteousness, the Holy Spirit, the words of eternal life, the gospel of peace and salvation, and harmony and unity, we will be prepared to emerge victorious from the trials of the latter days. The peace and power of virtue and integrity will flow through our souls. We will be “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.”4

Promises of Protection from the Prophets of the Lord

Modern prophets and apostles have spoken extensively about the protection of the Saints in the latter days, if they will remain true and faithful. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that we are not only under the protective eye of God during the troubling times prior to the Second Coming, but we are also being watched over by past prophets and departed ancestors, all of whom are anxious to help us:

“Adam blessed his posterity. . . . Moses sought to bring the children of Israel into the presence of God. . . . These men are in heaven, but their children are on earth. Their bowels yearn over us. . . . All these authoritative characters will come down and join hand in hand in bringing about this work.”5

In addition to this help from our family and friends in the spirit world, the Lord can control the enemies of the Saints in this world quite easily. If He wishes to, He can destroy them immediately. Or He can simply cause them to turn away from their program of persecution as they chase another temporary problem that suddenly arises as the “crisis of the day.” As Heber C. Kimball testified:

“How will it be with our enemies? The Lord deals with them and leads them, just as much as He does you and me. Can He hold them as with a bit, the same as you can a horse? Yes.”6

“Can the Lord do it? Yes. All the people are in His hands, and He can turn the nations as I can an obedient horse. They are governed and controlled by the Almighty as much as we are. What can they do against us? Why nothing whatsoever, but if we do not do right, they will be a scourge in the hands of God to scourge us.”7

The trials of the Saints by the wicked can be ended quickly by the Lord, or, if necessary, these trials can even be extended. Sometimes the length and degree of our trials can depend upon us and the things that we need to learn from these experiences.8 Heber C. Kimball said:

“I tell you that God will hold our enemies, and they cannot have any power until He has a mind to permit them; and then He will only permit them for a time, in order to manifest His almighty power and to qualify and prepare them for a time to come. I mean just what I say.”9

Lessons Learned in Missouri

The Lord uses the enemies of the Church to strengthen the Saints, especially when the members of the Church need to be chastised so that they will repent. This was vividly demonstrated in Church history when the Saints were driven by ruthless mobs from their homes and lands in Jackson County, Missouri in November 1833. In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord told the Saints that they had not received His protection at this time because of their unrighteousness. He said:

“I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions. . . . Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son. For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified. . . .

“They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble. In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.”10

Even though the Saints had rejected the Lord’s counsel, He still desired to help them. He promised them:

“Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding their sins, my bowels are filled with compassion toward them. I will not utterly cast them off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy.”11

The “day of wrath” for the mobs of Missouri arrived three decades later when the fury of the Civil War poured down upon the United States. The state of Missouri was decimated during the Civil War, especially in the Jackson County area.12 Fortunately, through the mercy of the Lord, the Saints were living in the safety of the Rocky Mountains at this time, far from the atrocities of the Civil War.

In December 1833, after the Prophet Joseph learned that the Saints had been barbarically ejected from Jackson County, Missouri, he wrote them the following counsel:

“In these times of sore trial let the Saints be patient and see the salvation of God. Those who cannot endure persecution and stand in the day of affliction, cannot stand in the day when the Son of God shall burst the veil, and appear in all the glory of His Father, with all the holy angels.”13

Those who are patient and faithful in their trials will be blessed. The Lord has promised that they shall “overcome by faith . . . and they shall overcome all things” and “dwell in the presence of God and His Christ forever and ever. These are they whom He shall bring with Him, when He shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over His people.”14

The Lord Will Protect His Servants

The lives of the ancient and modern prophets are filled with many examples of how they were protected by the hosts of heaven when they were faithful and obedient.

In the days of the prophet Elisha, the king of Syria had attempted to capture the king of Israel by secretly ambushing him at a place he often visited. However, the king of Israel was warned in advance of the plot when the prophet Elisha received a revelation, and he told the king to avoid the place of ambush.15

When the king of Syria learned that Elisha had spoiled his plans, he was filled with wrath, and sent an army into the lands of Israel to surround the small city of Dothan where the prophet Elisha was living. Elisha”s life was in mortal danger, but he was not concerned, for it had been revealed to him that the Lord would protect him. However, when the servant of Elisha saw the armies, his heart was overcome with fear:

“And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, ‘Alas, my master! how shall we do?’

“And he answered, ‘Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.’

“And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.’

“And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”16

Surrounded by these chariots of heavenly hosts, Elisha quickly went forward with faith. Using the power of the priesthood, he smote the Syrian army with mental confusion. In their bewildered state, he led them to the center of the land where the armies of Israel could have easily destroyed them. When the king of Israel saw this helpless host of the enemy, he asked Elisha if he could slay them, but Elisha commanded him to give the Syrian army a feast and send them home. Peace was then restored in the land.17

The Prophet Joseph Smith Was Protected Numerous Times

The Lord has also protected his prophets in modern times. The life of the Prophet Joseph Smith was often filled with danger and threats from evil-minded men, and there were many times when the Lord watched over and protected him.

In June 1830 Joseph went through two trials before a drunken jury in Colesville, New York under the charge of “setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon.”18 When the second trial finally concluded at 2 a.m. and Joseph was found to be innocent, his life was in extreme jeopardy. The mob wanted to take him and murder him on the spot. Fortunately, he was preserved by the power of God. His lawyer, John S. Reid, later said:

“We got him away that night from the midst of three hundred people without his receiving any injury; but I am well aware that we were assisted by some higher power than man; for to look back on the scene, I cannot tell how we succeeded in getting him away. I take no glory to myself: it was the Lord’s work, and marvelous in our eyes.”19

Later in the early months of 1838, when Joseph had to flee Kirtland and the apostates there who wished to kill him, angels were sent to blind the eyes of these wicked men so that Joseph and his family could be preserved. Joseph described his mid-winter flight from Kirtland, Ohio to Far West, Missouri in his history:

“The weather was extremely cold; we were obliged to secrete ourselves in our wagons, sometimes, to elude the grasp of our pursuers, who continued their pursuit of us more than two hundred miles from Kirtland, armed with pistols and guns, seeking our lives. They frequently crossed our track.

“Twice they were in the houses where we stopped. Once we tarried all night in the same house with them, with only a partition between us and them, and heard their oaths and imprecations, and threats concerning us, if they could catch us. Late in the evening they came into our room and examined us, but decided we were not the men. At other times we passed them in the streets, and gazed upon them, and they on us, but they knew us not.”20

A few months later in the spring of 1838, while living in Far West, Joseph’s life was preserved once again when several loaded guns misfired and wicked men were unable to kill him. He reported:

“While watering my horse in Shoal Creek, I distinctly heard three or four guns snap, which were undoubtedly intended for my destruction; however, I was mercifully preserved from those who sought to destroy me, by their lurking in the woods and hiding places for this purpose.”21

The Lord will protect the righteous in a similar manner in the latter days, just as Joseph and other prophets of God were protected until their mortal missions were finished.

The Saints Will Be Blessed in Holy Places of Security

The Lord has told us that the time will come in which “it shall come to pass among the wicked that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.”22 In speaking of this scripture, President Young counseled the Saints to prepare themselves for this day so that the spirit of Zion, love and unity could be found in their midst, and then the Lord will be able to protect His people:

“The time is nigh when every man that will not take up his sword against his neighbor must needs flee to Zion. Where is Zion? Where the organization of the Church of God is. And may it dwell spiritually in every heart; and may we so live as to always enjoy the spirit of Zion!”23

In the latter days, as the Saints live close to the Holy Spirit and follow the counsel of their priesthood leaders, they will find protection and peace. They will stand in holy places, as we noted earlier, “My disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.”24 In addition to temples and church buildings, our homes can also be holy places, if we will live close to the Holy Spirit and fill our lives with righteousness. These places of sanctuary will be sanctified by the righteousness of the Saints.

The Israelites learned of the importance of making their homes into holy places on the fearful night when the angel of death slew all of the firstborn throughout the land of Egypt. The righteous were spared who had obeyed the word of the Lord through the prophet Moses and marked their door posts with the blood of a lamb.25 The wicked and the disobedient who had not sanctified their homes were soon among those raising “a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.”26

The Lord Will Watch Over the Saints

While the Lord’s wrath is being poured out upon the wicked in the last days, His hand will cover and secure the Saints, blessing them with the only peace and security that can be found upon the surface of the earth.27 He has promised us “that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.”28

Even from the beginning of mankind, the Lord has prepared His plans to protect and preserve the Saints in the latter days. He told the ancient prophet Enoch that “great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve.”29 He also promised the prophet Isaiah:

“And all the nations that fight against Zion, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision; yea, it shall be unto them, even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh but he awaketh and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.”30

Even though the wicked will gather their armies against the righteous and attempt to attack them, they will not prevail. The Lord told the righteous:

“Behold, they shall surely gather together against thee, not by me; whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake. . . . No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall revile against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”31

We must remember that the protection of the righteous and the final destruction of the wicked will happen according to God’s timetable, and not ours. As the Apostle John counseled us, “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the Saints.”32

Those who will follow the promptings of the Spirit and patiently obey any counsel from God will be blessed by the Lord, and their souls will be preserved.

Chapter Footnotes

1 . Isaiah 51:16.
2 . 1 Nephi 14:14; emphasis added.
3 . D&C 27:15-18; emphasis added.
4 . 1 Nephi 14:14.
5 . History of the Church 3:388-389.
6 . Heber C. Kimball, June 7, 1857, Journal of Discourses 4:335.
7 . Heber C. Kimball, August 13, 1853, Journal of Discourses 2:108; emphasis added.
8 . Ether 12:6-7, 12, 18; D&C 105:18-19, 121:1-8; History of the Church 3:294-295, 4:563.
9 . Heber C. Kimball, April 6, 1857, Journal of Discourses 5:21; emphasis added.
10 . D&C 101:2-8.
11 . D&C 101:9.
12 . Brother Joseph, pp. 478-479, 490.
13 . History of the Church 1:468.
14 . D&C 76:53-63.
15 . 2 Kings 6:8-10.
16 . 2 Kings 6:15-17.
17 . 2 Kings 6:18-23.
18 . History of the Church 1:88.
19 . History of the Church 6:396; emphasis added.
20 . History of the Church 3:2-3.
21 . Dean C. Jessee, ed., Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002), p. 471.
22 . D&C 45:68.
23 . Brigham Young, October 8, 1860, Journal of Discourses 8:205; emphasis added.
24 . D&C 45:32.
25 . Exodus 12:7, 12-13, 29.
26 . Exodus 12:30.
27 . 1 Nephi 21:25-26, 22:17; D&C 45:31-32, 101:10-15.
28 . D&C 115:6.
29 . Moses 7:61.
30 . 2 Nephi 27:3; see also Isaiah 29:7-8.
31 . 3 Nephi 22:15-17; Isaiah 54:15-17.
32 . Revelation 13:10; emphasis added.