On the night before Christ’s birth, believers faced death in the Americas because a sign foretold by Samuel had not happened. A prophet named Nephi prayed that night for deliverance on behalf of others. “And behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 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, to shew unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets. Behold, I come unto my own to fulfill all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will both of the Father and of the Son — of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand and this night shall the sign be given.” 3 Ne. 1:3.

We celebrate Christ’s birth tomorrow, although there is little reason to think His birth happened near the winter solstice. He came as the Lamb of God, to be slain. Few people recognized the season, and fewer recognized the signs when He came. Prophetic words were ignored or misunderstood, and religious leaders thought it was impossible for Him to be the fulfillment.

God calls His plan a “strange act.” It is “strange” because of the difficulty mankind has in recognizing God’s accomplishments. Christ seemed too ordinary, too obscure, living at the wrong place, with the wrong qualifications for contemporaries to recognize.

“The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished, and imprisoned the true prophets, and they had to hide themselves in deserts, and dens, and caves of the earth, and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, while they cherished, honored, and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men.” T&C 146:6.

Perhaps the only way heaven can get things done is through God’s “strange act”–unrecognized, unaccepted, and with stealth. God came before much like a “thief in the night.” He will come again. “And again, verily I say unto you, the coming of the Lord draws nigh and it overtakes the world as a thief in the night. Therefore, gird up your loins that you may be the children of the light, and that day shall not overtake you as a thief.” T&C 108:2.