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Gordon B. Hinckley taught that The Book of Mormon is as current as the daily newspaper. This has felt especially poignant to me as I read Ether 6-11. These chapters are all about secret combinations grabbing hold of every nation and how they destroy nations. It was a hard read as I’m watching the election unfold.
Before you think I’m declaring some kind of political ideology, the results have not been called yet and I think there is deep evil and deep good on both sides. It’s just a little sickening because we know that secret combinations will hold the day towards the Second Coming. It’s been prophesied, and I feel like Mormon who watched evil taking hold and destruction falling upon his people.
There are three specific points I want to pull out regarding secret combinations.
One Pretty Girl
It could be argued that the actions of one pretty girl, whose name we don’t even know, resulted in countless deaths, agonizing pain, horrifying evil, and eventually, the destruction of an entire civilization. One of the men described in these chapters was named Jared. He rebelled, won the kingdom, lost the kingdom, and got depressed. His daughter suggested bringing in a man named Akish and all of the old secret combinations in hopes that her father could be restored as king. It worked and secret combinations became part of the history of the Jaredites from that time forward.
Big doors have small hinges. The entire civilization of the Jaredites, and their entire influence on the rest of the world came about from a prayer offered by the brother of Jared about whether they should flee the tower of Babel. The destruction of the Jaredites originally came about by a daughter who recommended digging up old plans and ancient secret combinations.
What will be our influence? Nations are born and destroyed in small and simple things. What small and simple steps are you taking and where will they lead your posterity?
The Influence of Secret Combinations on Regular Citizens
Ether 9:6 For so great had been the spreading of this wicked and secret society that it had corrupted the hearts of all the people; therefore Jared was murdered upon his throne, and Akish reigned in his stead.
Ether 11:13, 22
13 And it came to pass that the people hardened their hearts, and would not hearken unto their words; and the prophets mourned and withdrew from among the people.
22 And they did reject all the words of the prophets, because of their secret society and wicked abominations.
So two things happened when secret combinations were introduced to society. And these two things are reeeeeally important so pay attention because it’s going to help you know how you need to change in your own life.
1) The hearts of the people were corrupted.
2) They didn’t listen to the prophets.
Fighting the Effects of the Gadianton Robbers in Our Day
Problem one: The hearts of the people were corrupted.
It’s been prophesied that in the last days, men’s hearts shall fail them. Now, I can see this happening in two ways. The first way specifically speaks to the Jaredites when it says their hearts were “corrupted.” The definition of corrupt is that you’re willing to act dishonestly in order to get gain. This is obviously something that is occurring in the last days.
And yet, I still want to strongly believe that most of us are trying to be good people. And so, I want to emphasize the second way that men’s hearts shall fail them. As evil grows around us, Satan will try to defeat the righteous through despair and fear. Despair and fear can corrupt hearts as much as selfishness and greed. It paralyzes us from action. It makes us forget the promises the Lord has made. It keeps us wary of other people, and it keeps us from acting in our own best interest and the best interest of others.
I’ve given into fear a couple of times this week though I also partially blame pregnancy for this. I get anxious about the most bizarre things when I’m pregnant. Almost every night, I lay down and picture an earthquake happening and I worry that I won’t be able to pull on pants fast enough to get both of my kids. This was definitely a message for me. Just like we have to choose to overcome temptations, we have to choose to overcome fear. Fear has no actual power in and of itself.
Problem two: They stopped listening to the prophets.
As I mentioned previously, it was especially poignant reading these chapters the day after America started counting votes. And I know a grand majority of America doesn’t belong to the church, and I know that this election doesn’t affect everyone in the world. However, the lessons from these chapters were more defined through the lens of the America election. In fact, I felt like these lessons were screaming at me.
It’s funny. The more I’ve sought to understand people with opposing viewpoints from me, the more I’ve discovered that they feel they are following the principles of Christ in the same way that I feel. And yet, so much hate abounds between people with opposing viewpoints. We feel frustration and anger, sometimes even hate and we all do it the name of following the Savior. People, in and out of the church, post spiteful and ugly and unChristlike memes about opposing political parties because they assume the worst of their brothers and sisters.
What are the messages we received in conference???
Michelle D. Craig “…having eyes to see ourselves and others as He does”
Elder Cook “Hearts Knit Together in Unity and Righteousness”
Elder Oaks “Love Your Enemies”
Steven Lund “The surest way to find joy…is to help others.”
Elder Gong “ALL Nations, Kindreds, and Tongues”
Elder William Jackson “The Culture of Christ”
Sharon Eubank “By Union of Feeling…”
There were many talks on many topics, but I found messages of unity with our brothers and sisters every time I turned around. Perhaps you are following the doctrines of Christ as you fight for your political platforms, but remember that one of the foremost messages of conference was to love our brothers and sisters as ourselves.
One of the biggest problems in the latter-days is secret combinations. One of the biggest problems with secret combinations is that they cause us to reject the prophets. Are you listening to our conference messages? Are you letting the Gadianton Robbers of our day turn you against your brothers and sisters? Are you trying to live in unity?
In order to live in unity, we have to abandon our moral superiority. Practically speaking, moral superiority will not win anyone to your cause. Spiritually speaking, you will miss out on glorious opportunities to know and love incredible people who are different than you. Spiritually speaking, you won’t be following the prophet if you’re turning against your neighbors.
Shule was an incredible character that we find in these chapters. Shule’s brother, Corihor, rebelled against their father, Kib. When Shule was old enough, he battled against Corihor and gave the kingdom back to his father, Kib. Kib bestowed the kingdom upon Shule. Now here’s the part of the story that really blows my mind. Corihor repented after putting his father in captivity for years, and Shule forgave him and gave him power in the kingdom. The scriptures describe Shile as being “mighty in judgement.”
There are a couple of things that I believe contribute to Shule’s mightiness of judgement. He held to principles of justice in which he fought for what was right despite its high costs of fighting against his brother. He was humble and restored the kingdom to his father instead of taking it for his own. He used the spirit of discernment to see that his brother had truly repented, and he was generous with his mercy. Not only did he forgive his brother, he gave him power in the kingdom.
You can hold to your ideals while conceding that your brothers and sisters are also hoping and praying and fighting for a better nation, even if they’re doing it differently than you. You can be just and fight for what’s right. You can be humble. You can use the spirit of discernment to see the real truth. You can be generous in your mercy; you can be generous in your assumption of the best of people.