Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Book of Mormon Lesson 46: “By Faith All Things Are Fulfilled” Ether 7–15

Book of Mormon Lesson 46: “By Faith All Things Are Fulfilled”
Ether 7–15

The righteous and wicked reigns of Jaredite kings
Ether 7-11

Orihah becomes the first Jaredite king.  He rules in righteousness among the people, but only 2 generations later, we begin to see intrigue, secret combinations, and the intense search for getting gain.

Corihor rebelled against his father Kib, son of Orihah.  This is just the first of many overthrows in their system, which will eventually lead to their destruction.

    Jaredite/Nephite names

One thing to note here are some of the names which expand across the Jaredite destruction to the Nephites.  In the previous discussion on the Book of Omni, when King Mosiah I discovered the Mulekites and Zarahemla, I noted that this was the beginning of the use of Jaredite naming conventions among the Nephites.  There I suggested that the Mulekites dwelt among the Jaredites for several centuries until the Jaredite destruction.  Now, we’ll look at another possible theory that may also tie in here.

We note that among those who rebel and seek to overthrow the Jaredite kings are people who are also recognized as chief among the Nephite bad guys:

Corihor who moves to the land of Nehor to prepare for his overthrow. Compare him with Korihor, who was steeped in the teachings of the apostate Nehor.

Noah fights his righteous uncle, King Shule, and obtains the land of first inheritance. Later, Noah captures Shule and reigns over all the kingdom. He is later killed by the sons of Shule.  In Nephite times, King Noah obtains the land of Nephi, the first inheritance in the Promised Land.  Noah is later slain by the righteous and the kingdom is restored to the righteous.

Morianton (Ether 10) would also begin a war to overthrow the king, who was of a different lineage.  In the Book of Mormon, the man Morianton and his city, fought against the city of Lehi over border disputes.  Eventually, Captain Moroni would have to step in and settle the affair.

It seems that Mormon and Moroni may have used Jaredite names to describe wicked people of Nephite time, or used the names of wicked Nephites to name wicked Jaredites.

Can you regulate morality?

Recently, a friend of mine noted that “you cannot regulate morality” to explain some of his political positions.  As I pondered that position, I read the story of Shule in Ether 7.  Here was a righteous king, who sought to help his people be righteous.  The people had grown immensely. It is likely the Jaredites had absorbed many native groups already in the Americas when they arrived. 

And also in the reign of Shule there came prophets among the people, who were sent from the Lord, prophesying that the wickedness and idolatry of the people was bringing a curse upon the land, and they should be destroyed if they did not repent.  And it came to pass that the people did revile against the prophets, and did mock them. And it came to pass that king Shule did execute judgment against all those who did revile against the prophets.  And he did execute a law throughout all the land, which gave power unto the prophets that they should go whithersoever they would; and by this cause the people were brought unto repentance” (Ether 7:23-25).

Only because the king regulated and judged those who fought against the prophets, it compelled the people to be humble and repent.  This is the same concept that we read of in Alma 32.  People are blessed when they are compelled to be humble, but more blessed when they repent without being compelled.  Those who are compelled to be humble tend to remain so, only as long as they are regulated.  So, my friend did have a point on this regard.   On the other hand, to lift all regulation that dictates morality also means it opens the door for ever increasing sin and wickedness.  The people can be blessed by a strict set of moral rules, or they can be compelled through the threat of destruction by God.  When a society becomes wicked, then it does not give little children the chance to grow up in peace and goodness.  They learn early on about sin, as many children are swept up in the moral decay of the nation.

In a perfect world, the people humble themselves and happily serve God and fellow man.  However, we do not live in that Utopia.  We live in a world rife with violence and sex.  With freedom must come responsibility, but wicked people only wish to have freedom to live their sins.  Eventually that house of cards collapses, as it did with the Nephites and Jaredites.  As a historian, I am interested in seeing why societies collapse.  Lifestyles of the powerful that strip the land of its true strength, and the poor willing to follow their wicked leaders down any path that promises them free stuff, leads a nation to stagnation, debt, crime, and instability, so that like the Soviet Union, it eventually crashes down.  What is left is a bunch of fragments of its former self, none of which can ever hope to become as great as they once were. Why not? Because they still have not learned to live upon the principles of righteousness and secret combinations continue.

Akish and the secret combination

Jared sought the kingdom of his father.  He temporarily obtained it, but lost it.  His daughter reminded him of the secret combination that was found in the records their ancestors brought with them.  We sometimes think that secret combinations disappear completely and are then miraculously brought back from out of the air.  More often, they are written down and later discovered by those seeking gain and power.

Jared asks Akish to set up a secret combination, in order to slay his father and give Jared the throne.  Akish succeeds, but then seeks the throne for himself with his new-found power.  In studying this combination, we read:

And it came to pass that they all sware unto him, by the God of heaven, and also by the heavens, and also by the earth, and by their heads, that whoso should vary from the assistance which Akish desired should lose his head; and whoso should divulge whatsoever thing Akish made known unto them, the same should lose his life.  And it came to pass that thus they did agree with Akish. And Akish did administer unto them the oaths which were given by them of old who also sought power, which had been handed down even from Cain, who was a murderer from the beginning. And they were kept up by the power of the devil to administer these oaths unto the people, to keep them in darkness, to help such as sought power to gain power, and to murder, and to plunder, and to lie, and to commit all manner of wickedness and whoredoms.  And it was the daughter of Jared who put it into his heart to search up these things of old; and Jared put it into the heart of Akish; wherefore, Akish administered it unto his kindred and friends, leading them away by fair promises to do whatsoever thing he desired. And it came to pass that they formed a secret combination, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God;  For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man…..And now I, Moroni, do not write the manner of their oaths and combinations, for it hath been made known unto me that they are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites…. And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed….” (Ether 8:14-22).

This is one of the great patterns we find in the Book of Mormon.  There is a repentance/sin cycle, wherein people are blessed by God, they become prideful, they are punished and humbled, they repent and the cycle starts over.  There are only two ways out of the cycle.  One way is to become a Zion people, who are united in all things.  The other way is for the people to no more exist as a people, because God has destroyed them.
Note that these secret combinations are had among many people.  They searched for them, often in the records that were already available.  The Lamanites and wicked Nephites could easily have obtained through records left by Gadianton (another Jaredite suffix:: anton).

Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up. For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning” (Ether 8:24-25).

Secret Combinations now spread quickly through the Internet.  There are gangs with signs and secrets, who seek to get gain.  Drug cartels seek power through secret combinations.  Radical jihadists seek gain using violent means through such secrets, believing God is on their side.  While righteous King Shule sought overall freedom for his people by regulating morality and compelling the people to listen to the prophets and repent, wicked people seek to overthrow true freedom (speech, religion, etc), and replace it with licentiousness.  We can see that secret combinations caused the Great Recession of our day, allowing a few to become extremely wealthy and more powerful, while stealing the wealth and freedoms of hard working Americans.  Sadly, many Americans now freely give up their freedoms in exchange for stuff the government promises to give them in return.  A mess of pottage in exchange for a heavenly birth right.

The Jaredite “Millennium” followed by the slow path to destruction
Ether 9-15

Prior to the Nephite Millennium, there was a giant destruction of the wicked.  It seems the Lord separated the people out, when the nation collapsed into tribes.  Some areas were more wicked than others, and therefore received a greater destruction.

For the Jaredites, Omer was a righteous king.  The Lord warned Omer, who fled with his good people to an uninhabited area.  Akish overthrew his father-in-law.

“For so great had been the spreading of this wicked and secret society that it had corrupted the hearts of all the people” (Ether 9:6).

Because of such wickedness, there was war for many years, until the vast majority of the people were slain.  The only survivors were those who repented and fled to Omer for safety.  Omer left the kingdom to his son Emer. Emer saw Christ, the “Son of Righteousness”, suggesting the beginning of their “Millennial” period.  Under his righteous and long reign, the people prospered.  From Emer to his son Coriantum to Com, there was righteousness and prosperity.

Sadly, pride, greed and envy end the long reigns of peace and joy we read of in the Book of Mormon.  It often is described as a period when the people experience over-crowding and have populated the whole area.  It suggests that a period of famine or hunger may have occurred, as the people may begin struggling over diminished resources. 

In Ether 10, we find that a sign of a failing nation is the “building of many prisons, and whoso would not be subject unto taxes he (the king) would cast into prison” (vs 6).  Some of the kings fought against the reappearance of secret combinations (Ether 10:33-34),

Coriantumr and Shiz

Can we imagine the final days of the Jaredites?  Millions have died, and yet the fighting continues.  Unlike in the days of Omer, there is no place for people to flee for sanctuary.  The Mulekites would have to slip across enemy lines and through the narrow pass of land to find an uninhabited place they named Zarahemla.

There was no place to hide one’s treasures, for all places were slippery, due to the thievery and magic in the land.  The people became homeless, as armies displaced them.  Women and children would be major victims, as they were with the Nephite and Lamanite armies.  When a people become so wicked that they cannot even live a telestial law, they have become Desolation itself.  There is no place left for them, but Perdition.  They fully reject God and his prophets, refusing to repent even when things are at their worst.  Instead, they curse God and wish to die.  Of such is Outer Darkness, if they will not repent and allow Christ to save them from themselves.

Ether and Moroni: symbols of faith and hope

Ether’s final words: “Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God. Amen” (Ether 15:34).

Moroni will give us a few more words over the final lessons. However, he begins a key teaching in Ether 12: faith, hope and charity.  Think of this, Moroni has witnessed the utter destruction of his own people, and now is abridging the tale of the Jaredite destruction.  Decades have passed since Moroni last saw his family and friends alive.  He sees Lamanites warring all around him.  He is in danger for his life, for he will not deny the Christ.  Yet, he writes of faith, hope and charity!

He notes that “by faith all things are fulfilled” (Ether 12:3) and that hope derives from faith:

“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4).

All it takes is faith in God to have “hope for a better world.”  Hope comes from faith, and becomes the anchor for us during extreme times.  Hope built from faith makes men “sure and steadfast” and even ready to glorify God in the midst of vast destruction and wickedness.

Our world will someday come to an end.  It will end in flames, as the wicked are destroyed.  Before that time, we will see more and more wickedness and sin.  We will see depravity on levels we never before could have imagined.  We will see wars and rumors of wars that will bring fear and doubt to many hearts.  In those tragic times, will we fall to despair?  Or will we allow our faith to be anchored by hope in God and his Christ?  Will we cower from the enemies of God, or will we be found “always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God”?

Faith and hope work side by side.  They feed upon one another.  Faith is the light, and hope is the fuel to keep that light burning.  These lead us to good work and glorifying God, which are the basics of charity.

We will have trials of our faith.  For Moroni, it was first to dwell in a wicked society.  Then it was to see world war close up.  It meant watching his father and people be destroyed.  Finally, it meant decades of solitary witness.  Yet, he believed, as did Ether, that they would someday resurrect and dwell in the presence of God and family.  Today, many are beginning to doubt their faith.  I encourage them to not give up, but to ponder on the hope of a better world, living with God and Christ.  Let such a hope permeate your every thought and fiber of being.  Let it fuel the flame of faith, so that you can withstand the barrage of sin and evil in the world, and look forward with an eye of faith and with hope to being in God’s presence.

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