“Mathoni, I fear you should not be seen with me anymore,” Zenos said, tracing a pattern in the dust with his staff. “Although we are best friends, your father is angry because my mother and I believe the words of Samuel the Lamanite. He thinks the prophet’s words are foolish.”
“My father has been led away by unbelievers,” Mathoni replied. “That is why he gets so upset when he knows you and I have been together.”
“When your father comes to know the truth, we can be companions again,” Zenos said thoughtfully.” Now we must go. It is time for Samuel to speak from the city wall.”
“Farewell, friend,” Mathoni called as the two boys shook hands and went their separate ways.
Zenos hurried to the city wall to listen to the man who so fearlessly taught from the high place. Already a crowd had gathered, some listening and some scoffing.
Samuel’s gentle voice reached Zenos’ ears. “Behold,” he was saying, “I give unto you a sign: for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on His name.”
As Zenos moved closer, he heard one man say, “What sort of fanatic is he? Who is this Son of God he says will come?”
“And behold,” Samuel continued, “this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of His coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before He cometh there shall be no darkness. …
“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; … and it shall be the night before He is born.
“And behold, there shall a new star arise, such as one as ye never have beheld.”
Suddenly Zenos saw a man nearby pick up a large stone. The prophet was a perfect target. Voices rose in anger as rocks and arrows hurled through the air. Astonished, Zenos watched as Samuel continued to prophesy. Nothing touched him.
“As surely as the Lord liveth shall these thing be, saith the Lord. Amen.” Samuel ended his speaking.
No sooner had Samuel finished than Mathoni’s father began to run up the steps to the top of the wall shouting, “Take him! Bind him! Away with him!” Others in the crowd joined him and rushed up the steps.
But Samuel climbed down the other side of the wall and got away.
Zenos ran home bewildered and afraid and told his mother about the prophecy Samuel made and the things that had happened. She encouraged Zenos to have faith and wait.
During the next five years Zenos did not talk with Mathoni. Occasionally he saw him from a distance. Zenos knew without words that life was difficult for his friend.
The murmuring among the unbelievers grew. They sneered and scoffed at the believers in the streets.
One day Zenos heard Mathoni’s father speaking to a group of men in the marketplace. “The time is past,” he said, “and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled. Such foolish believers do not deserve to live. If the signs foretold by Samuel have not come to pass in seven days, then let us destroy all of the believers.”
Terrified, Zenos ran home. “Mother! Mother!” he cried. “What’s to become of us? I heard Mathoni’s father—”
“We must stand firm in our faith,” his mother interrupted, “for Samuel prophesied in five years the sign would be given, and the five years are nearly over.”
As the days passed, Zenos was often worried, but his mother showed no outward signs of being afraid. She went quietly about her tasks.
Just before evening of the sixth day, Mathoni appeared at the door. His voice shook as he warned his friend, “Zenos, you and your mother must flee to the mountains to hide. Tomorrow is the fateful day, and my father will come here first because you have been my friends. Go quickly!”
“Let us pray,” Mother said simply to the two boys, and they all knelt down by the table.
“That’s strange,” Zenos said as they rose to their feet. “The sun has gone down, yet it is still day.”
“It’s the sign, Zenos! The sign!” Mathoni cried.
“Stay with us, Mathoni,” Mother said. “You will be safer here.”
Throughout the night the light was as midday, and yet the next morning the sun came up as usual.
“Samuel said there would be a day and a night and a day without darkness,” Zenos exclaimed. “This then is the day before the Son of God is to be born in Jerusalem.”
As darkness came that second strange day, a tall shadow appeared in the doorway of the house, and Mathoni’s father demanded, “What are doing here in the house of a believer?”
Before Mathoni could answer, he saw a special brilliance in the night sky. “The star!” Mathoni called. “Look, Father. The star.”
Mathoni’s father turned, and through the doorway he saw a new star of unbelievable brightness that lighted up the dark sky. “Never have I seen such a star,” Mathoni’s father said as he dropped to his knees and gazed in wonder at the night sky.
“It’s the sign! Now do you believe, Father?” Mathoni asked.
“Yes, I believe. How foolish I have been. The Son of God is surely born in Jerusalem,” Mathoni’s father said softly.
“The savior who is born this night in Jerusalem will take away the sins of the world, and you shall find peace and forgiveness,” Mother told Mathoni’s father.
The light of the star shone clearly on the four figures who knelt in the doorway, their faces turned upward toward it.
Mathoni’s father put one arm around his son and the other around Zenos and drew them close. Never again would he come between these two good friends!