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The Book of Mormon was written for our day. Speaking of The Book of Mormon, President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that, “In its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper, and much more definitive,”
What is this quote telling us? The Book of Mormon details the problems that are occurring in our society in our day. I want to list off some of the general descriptions of things that were occurring in their society, and if President Hinckley is to be believed, things that are occurring in our society. Some are direct quotes; some are summaries I wrote to make things simpler.
Helaman 7:3 people rejected the words of the prophets
Helaman 7:4-5 “Gadianton robbers…usurped the power and authority of the land…condemning the righteous…letting the wicked go unpunished because of their money…that they might get gain and glory of the world…that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill…”
Helaman 7:15,18,21 (speaking to the people directly) “devil has got so great hold upon your hearts…hardened your hearts…and ye have set your hearts upon the riches and vain things of this world, for the which ye do murder, and plunder, and steal, and bear false witness agains your neighbor…”
Helaman 8:1-3 The Gadianton robbers try to stir up anger against Nephi because Nephi spoke against the “corruptness of their law…”
Helaman 8:7 “And it came to pass that thus they (Gadianton robbers) did stir up the people to anger against Nephi, and raised contentions among them…”
Helaman 9:39-41 Some people believed the prophet, and others became convinced he was a god. ← super interesting, do any of us set the prophet up as a god?
Helaman 10:1 “…there arose a division among the people…”
Helaman 10:15 reviled against Nephi
Helaman 10:17 The word of God is preached to all men.
Helaman 10:18 more contentions, “divided against themselves”
Helaman 11:1 contentions increased
Helaman 11:20-21 church progressed
Helaman 11:25, 28-29 Gadianton robbers grew daily, people could not beat them back
Helaman 11:32 “great fear to come unto the people upon all the face of the land”
Helaman 11:33 Gadianton robbers did great destruction and they carried away “more especially their women and their children”
Helaman 11:36-37 forget the Lord, wax strong in iniquity, did not mend their ways, stronger in pride and wickedness, ripening for destruction
Helaman 12 is mostly a commentary on the foolishness of men so if you want more of the same, go for it.
So The Book of Mormon is not only a message of our day, it describes the exact same problems for our day. As President Hinckley pointed out, it’s as current as the morning news. I don’t know about you, but a majority of that sounded pretty unpleasant. The timing might be a tad off, but we’re pulling into 3 Nephi where Christ visits, and I like to hope that Christ is coming again soon (but I suppose we’ll see).
So as I mentioned previously. A whole of unpleasantness. I feel like this year has been a wake-up call for me. In so many ways, I feel like I’ve lost the innocence of childhood and realized just how brutal our world is. High five to me for being naive.
I feel so powerless. There are evil things at work. The more I try to research, the more I realize that none of us totally understand what’s actually happening in the world even when we think we do. I believe there are very dark forces at work in our government and in our world, but how do we know who the dark forces are? Some of you may roll your eyes at that comment because you feel as though you know exactly who the evil people are, but the more I’ve learned about the world, the more I’ve started to believe that 90% of all of them are corrupted to varying degrees.
Luckily for us, The Book of Mormon was written for those who are trying to follow God and God did not abandon us to sad news. He gave us examples to follow; so how did Nephi handle the overwhelming wickedness?
He poured out his soul to God
Nephi told God exactly how he was feeling. In Helaman 7:7-9, Nephi talks about how he wishes he lived in the day of his predecessor Nephi. He wishes that he lived in a time where the people were righteous, BUT he was consigned to the fact that he lived in the time period he was sent to. It’s okay to tell Heavenly Father what we wish for, and it’s important to be okay with what He gives us. Christ told Heavenly Father that He didn’t want to perform the atonement, but He was willing to go through with the ordeal. Don’t feel like you can’t talk to your Heavenly Father about how you’re truly feeling. He might comfort you, or He might tell you to suck it up. Either way, I promise you’ll progress through the negative feelings if you’re willing to talk them over with Him.
Now, in Helaman 11, Nephi persuades the Lord to turn the war into a famine. I had a friend that I was sharing the gospel with. She wasn’t feeling it and so I remember praying one night that her heart would be softened. I remember receiving the distinct impression that the softening process would not be a comfortable process; I may have prayed for it anyway…I guess it worked out because she’s sealed to a family member of mine now…
Hard things are happening in our world right now. Hard things will continue to happen and get worse as we draw closer to the Second Coming. Pray that your families and friends will have their hearts softened and prepared as they experience trials in comparison to their hearts being hardened as difficult things reign down upon them. I have an immense testimony of the specific prayer for having a loved one’s heart be softened.
He called people to repentance and bore testimony
Don’t take this as a license to go and troll people on Facebook; if you are being mean or angry or self-righteous or condescending on Facebook, consider this your call to repentance.
So what does it look like for us to call people to repentance and to bear testimony?
Elder Uchtdorf shared one of his favorite sayings in a First Presidency message in 2013. He quoted, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.”
I had a ministering sister that I was immensely intimidated by. She did not attend church and did not consider herself a part of the church. I was lucky enough to live near her and so I was able to share very brief conversations with her. My first goal was to let her know that my friendship was sincere, regardless of what she wanted to do with the church. After that goal was semi-reached, I tried inviting her to a couple things. She would quickly reject them and go back into her house, and I would feel like I was starting over in winning her trust. So I stopped inviting her. Sometimes, I felt really guilty. I felt like I should be doing more, bearing my testimony and random intervals of time, dropping off brownies with invites to a ward activity, etc, but I didn’t because I felt like every time I took that route, she only retreated further. So I stopped doing anything that was outwardly “missionary-like.”
Over a year later, she volunteered her story as to why she stopped attending. A month later, she spoke of wanting to attend a church again for the sake of her children. Some time after that, I felt an overwhelming and terrifying prompting to come hear me speak at church. She accepted my invitation.
Not every story might turn out like that; some people may not be ready to receive the gospel while they are in your jurisdiction. Some might not even want to be your friend. Sometimes a call to repentance looks like Nephi’s righteous indignation when he calls out the Gadianton robbers. Sometimes a call to repentance looks like an invitation to lunch, an activity, or church. Sometimes a call to repentance looks like the sincere hand of friendship without anything overtly churchy. Sometimes a call to repentance will only be extended through your prayers on their behalf. Follow the Spirit. Don’t feel like you have to be constantly inviting your ministering brother or sister. I gave up inviting her until the Spirit told me differently. Follow the Spirit in each unique, individual circumstance.
Many revelations daily
In Helaman 11:23, it speaks of Nephi and Lehi receiving many revelations daily. Now when you lookup the footnote for “revelation,” a couple of verses pop up, but the one I want to focus on is in Doctrine and Covenants.
Doctrine and Covenants 107:19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.
So the privilege of receiving the mysteries of God. The privilege of spending time with others in the church (which at some points in time, was very limited for Nephi and his fellow believers).
To enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father and Jesus. I think walking with the Lord can be more literal than we currently experience. Sometimes the world can feel very scary. Sometimes we feel powerless. Imagine how different you would feel as angel on the other side of the veil watching the events occurring on earth. Would you be sad about some of it? Yes. Would it frighten you? Probably not in the same ways. Receiving many revelations daily can help us enjoy the presence of God here on earth. Things would probably feel far less frightening if we better understood and felt the presence of our Heavenly Father. Take the advice of the prophet. Learn how to “Hear Him!”