Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would one day erect a standard which would attract people from all nations:
Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.Isaiah 49:22, 1 Nephi 21:22, 2 Nephi 6:6
Nephi quoted this prophecy to his brothers soon after they arrived on the American continent, and he subsequently assigned his brother Jacob to preach a sermon based the same passage.
The Lord promised Nephi that his words and the words of his descendants—the Book of Mormon—would function as a standard to His people at a future time (2 Nephi 29:2).
The Hebrew word translated “standard” in the first passage and “ensign” in the second is nes (נֵס), which means something high or conspicuous. When Moses placed a brass serpent on a pole to heal the children of Israel who had been bitten by venomous snakes, the Hebrew word for “pole” was nes. (See parallel Hebrew, Numbers 21:8 on biblehub.com.) After the children of Israel won a battle while Moses stood on a hill raising his hands toward heaven, he named the hill “Jehovah-nissi,” which means literally “the Lord is my standard.” (See parallel Hebrew, Exodus 17:15 on biblehub.com.)
The English word “standard” probably comes from the Frankish word standhard, meaning “to stand fast or firm.” It refers to a flag which serves as a rallying point for an army because it is in a fixed location.
Captain Moroni’s banner served this function for the Nephites:
And he did raise the standard of liberty in whatsoever place he did enter….
And it came to pass that thousands did flock unto his standard, and did take up their swords in the defence of their freedom, that they might not come into bondage.Alma 62:4-5
In 1831, the Lord explained that He had “sent [His] everlasting covenant” into the world to do three things:
- “To be a light to the world”
- “To be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it”
- “To be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me”
And He added, “Wherefore, come ye unto it” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:9-10).
As we gather around the Lord’s standard, we make it more visible to others. By living in accordance with the gospel, we become part of the Lord’s standard to the world:
Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;
And 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.Doctrine and Covenants 115:5-6
Today I will be grateful for the truths and the covenants that the Lord has made available in our day. I will strive to stay close to His standard and to help others gather to it.