23 December 2005

The Book of Mormon and Real Life

I finished President Hinkley's challenge to read the Book of Mormon before December 31st tonight. Spencer and I did it together (we read 1 chapter on our own and one together) so it makes it that much sweeter to me. I love doing things with my husband because they strengthen the bond between us and reading the Book of Mormon together has cemented those bonds. I love the Book of Mormon. It brings such a spirit and power in your life. Reading it this time around I was struck how it truly is a parallel to our lives. Satan and his minions are prevalent then as they are today and have not changed their tactics. Their purpose it to turn us away from God and teach evil. Our purpose is to learn their tactics and overcome. The Book of Mormon teaches us how to do this.

The other night we were reading in 4th Nephi about the last 300 years of the Nephite civilization. I told Spencer that it was weird for me to read about the Nephites and so much wickedness. Up until that point I saw the world in a different way. To me the wickedness of the world has always been progressive. In other words, as time goes by the people of the world get more and more wicked. I realized this is not the case. It happens on a much smaller scale. Each civilization goes through this process.

Take for example the Jaredites. We know that they started out very righteous. When they landed on the promised land "they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them." (Ether 6:12) The brother of Jared had so much faith in Christ that he saw the Spirit of the Savior. The people were righteous for many years. Then Satan crept into the picture. People started to be wicked and fight. Satan stirred up the hearts of the people to want that which is wicked. Then prophets came on the scene and called the people to repentance. In Ether 7:26 we read that the people repented and the Lord spared them. So they began to prosper again. Of course this prosperity led to much strife and contention. This time people didn't listen to the prophets; instead they get progressively wicked. Eventually they get so wicked that they kill each other off. This fulfills the prophecy of destruction "except they should repent."

It baffles me that the Jaredites (and the Nephites for that matter) eventually were so wicked that they just killed everyone off. Everyone picked a side to be on and they fought to the death. How would you like to be one of those last 35 people who wake up one morning knowing that they will die that day because you are it? There just isn't anyone else to kill. Unfortunately this story of the Jaredites is not an isolated occurrence.

The Lord has told many groups of people that the same thing will happen. He tells us the same things. We know that eventually we will have a war like the Nephites and the Jaredites. Thankfully we know that this will be a fight of righteous against wicked and that there will be a winner this time. The righteous will prevail, but at a great sacrifice I'm sure. What is our goal if the war to end all wars is inevitable? Be on the right side. Learn from the stories in the Book of Mormon. It is no coincidence that the Lord has given us this book. It will help us, guide us, and give us a look into what the future will bring if we only pay attention to the signs given. It also teaches us to learn from past mistakes so they are not repeated again.

Last night I was especially moved by a verse I read. Moroni is writing some of the words of his father. He asks "Have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them?" Moroni 7:37-38 states:

37 Behold I say unto you,
Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it
is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things
have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is
vain.
38 For no man can be
saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name;
wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is
the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.
I hope I never get to that point in my life where my faith has ceased. I hope that I can keep my faith strong so that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was not in vain. I love the Gospel. I am eternally grateful for Joseph Smith who sacrificed so much--even his life--so we could have these sacred words to learn from. They teach us so much--ultimately how to be more like our Savior. Let us all take heed and learn from these words so that history will not repeat itself.

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