Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen – Chapter 10
SPECIFIC LESSONS FROM THE NEPHITE RECORD
Perhaps the Nephite scriptures can aid us in seeing more clearly where the path of political duty lies. One outstanding example of a righteous man acting with the approval of the Lord in a political and military capacity to preserve the liberty of the people is that of the general, Moroni.
In the 19th year of the reign of the judges, Amalickiah, an extremely wicked Nephite, sought to destroy the freedom of the nation by corrupting the lower judges and making himself king. He undoubtedly would have succeeded had not Moroni raised his title of liberty and gone throughout the land rallying the people to the support of free government. Moroni overcame the opposition of Amalickiah and put to death those of his followers who denied the covenant of freedom.
A few years later a political group called kingmen were defeated at the polls. They too, attempted to change the government to a monarchy by majority vote. Angered at their failure, they refused to join in the defense of the nation against an enemy invasion. Moroni led his armies against these rebels, and executed some 4,000 of them. He compelled those who were not put to death or imprisoned, to hoist the title of liberty on their towers.
Moroni literally gave his life for the cause of freedom. He became supreme commander of the Nephite armies at the age of 25; served in that capacity through a terrible period of warfare for 14 years, and died 5 years after he had retired, at the age of 43. This strong and mighty man must have exerted himself to the uttermost limit in the defense of his country. His magnificent service brought the following words of praise from Mormon, the historian:
“And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery; Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood. Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” (Alma 48:11, 13, 17)
Few men, if any, have ever been lauded by a prophet of God in such extravagant terms. And who can doubt but that he was most deserving? Insofar as the record tells us, he never held a position of any prominence in the Church, but his “political” and “military” services were as vital to the work of the Lord as were the efforts of the prophets. (Alma 48:18–19)
Suppose that he had stayed comfortably and safely at home performing his “regular church duties” rather than going throughout the land on his political campaign. Or suppose that the prophet Helaman had confined himself strictly to preaching the word rather than leading his 2,000 stripling soldiers to war, thus preventing the collapse of the western battle front. In either case the Nephites would have lost their freedom, and the Church of Christ would have been destroyed.
The Nephite prophets took an extremely active part in the political activities of their nation during the reign of the judges. The people had the privilege of selecting by majority vote their officers of government and, more often than not, the person chosen by the people to serve as governor over all the land was also head of the church.
Not only did these prophets serve in political positions but as military leaders as well. The record tells us:
“Now it was the custom among all the Nephites to appoint for their chief captains, (save it were in their times of wickedness) some one that had the spirit of revelation and also prophesy.” (3 Nephi 3:19)
When the Nephites corrupted the laws which the Lord had given them, these religious leaders spoke out boldly against such corruption. They did so with the Lord’s approval:
“For behold, Nephi had spoken unto them concerning theDcorruptness of their law; yea, many things did Nephi speak which cannot be written; and nothing did he speak which was contrary to the commandments of God.” (Helaman 8:3)
When there was iniquity among those in political office the prophets did not hesitate to point this out and warn the people that such unrighteousness by their rulers would cause their destruction. Amulek spoke to the people of Ammonihah thus:
“And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges.” (Alma 10:27)
The record is clear that these prophets risked their lives when they uttered such criticisms, but this did not deter them.
It is of course recognized that some men are better equipped to preach than to fight or occupy positions of power and influence in government. The Nephite record also teaches us that when the people become exceedingly corrupt, a righteous man better serves God by preaching than governing. Note for example the resignations of both Alma and Nephi from the top position in government so that they could spend their full time calling the people to repentance. (Alma 4:18; Helaman 5:4)
The Nephite experience with a government by the voice of the people makes it clear that in addition to the usual duty of Church members to protect their God-given freedoms, in times of great peril extreme measures may be necessary. In a period of crisis, total sacrifice may be required.
President McKay has told us we are now in one of those periods of crisis. He has identified the nature of that crisis beyond any doubt. The frightening fact is that the satanic movement of which he warns is the same which caused the destruction of the other civilizations which occupied this land.
Those Nephite prophets who tried vainly to prevent the destruction of their nation were also commanded by the Lord to warn us. They prophesied that we would face the same threat. They supplied us with a rather detailed history of how this criminal conspiracy operates to destroy a nation whose government is subject to the voice of the people.
It is a point of some interest that while the Jaredite nation existed on this chosen land approximately twice as long as the Nephites and was the greater nation, still the Book of Mormon is about 94% Nephite history with only 32 pages devoted to that nation about which the Lord told the brother of Jared:
“There shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth.” (Ether 1:43)
It is probable that the reason the Jaredite history is slighted in favor of that of the Nephites is that the latter lived a part of their time under a government similar to the one the Lord gave us. This probability is strengthened by the fact that while the Nephite history covers about 1,000 years, almost one-half of that portion of their record placed in our hands concerns that brief 125 year period during which the people tried to govern themselves by majority vote.
Of extreme importance to us, it would seem, are those particulars concerning how, during this period of self-government, the Nephites subjected themselves to the criminal conspiracy. It destroyed their government. Our prophet tells us it threatens ours. Let us examine some of the details of that occurrence and compare them with what is happening in our own nation.
Of particular significance is the fact that they had altered and corrupted the laws God had given them. This was done with the consent of the majority of the people:
“And that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord commanded him to give unto the people…For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction for the laws had become corrupted.” (Hel. 4:22; 5:2)
How have we treated that Constitution which the Lord caused to be established among us? The extent to which we have altered it and substituted therefor the proposals of the Communist Manifesto has been discussed herein. Our modern prophets continue to warn us that we are corrupting our laws. President McKay said back in 1952:
“During the first half of the twentieth century we have traveled far into the soul-destroying land of socialism…” (Gospel Ideals, p. 273)
Those interested in reading some of the numerous statements made by President McKay and other Church leaders on the subject of Communism and the threat it poses to our government would do well to study the booklet, Statements on Communism and the Constitution of the United States, Deseret Book Co., 1966, and the book, Prophets, Principles and National Survival, by Jerreld L. Newquist, Publishers Press, 1964.
Another factor in the takeover of the Nephite government which should have great meaning to us is that the people were seduced or deceived into believing in the philosophy of government espoused by the Gadianton Band:
“…the Nephites did build them (the Gadianton Band) up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils,…” (Hel. 6:38)
Back in 1940, the First Presidency of the Church issued a statement on Communism in which they said:
“We again warn our people in America of the constantly increasing threat against our inspired Constitution…These revolutionists are using a technique that is as old as the human race—a fervid but false solicitude for the unfortunate over whom they thus gain mastery, and then enslave them…Latter-day Saints cannot be true to their faith and lend aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of these false philosophies. They will prove snares to their feet.” (David O. McKay, Statements on Communism and the Constitution of the United States, pp. 7-8)
It is obvious that these secret combinations (robbers by government) have not changed their tactics since the days of the Nephites. When the power of government is placed in the hands of the people, the conspirators appeal to our selfishness. They seduce us to partake of their spoils of government until they enslave us.
It was by such deceit and bribery that the Gadianton Band did obtain the sole management of the government. The Nephites, by majority vote, had elected to office men who believed in robbery by government. The prophet Nephi, returning from the land northward found:
“…the people in a state of such awful wickedness, and those Gadianton robbers filling the judgment-seats—having usurped the power and authority of the land…” (Hel. 7:4)
The statement of David Lawrence which appears elsewhere in this work wherein he refers to, the provisions of the Constitution that have been torn to shreds by the autocratic action of a judicial oligarchy, takes on added significance when considered in the light of a similar usurpation of power and authority by the Nephite judges.
Having been commanded by the Lord to do so, Nephi boldly told the people that they had united themselves to this band of robbers:
“Yea, wo be unto you because of that great abomination which has come among you; and ye have united yourselves unto it, yea to that secret band which was established by Gadianton!” (Hel. 7:25)
One can imagine that those righteous Nephites who had been seduced into upholding, supporting, and partaking of the spoils of the Robbers were profoundly shocked when charged with having united with a criminal conspiracy. People in our nation today are ofttimes startled and angered when told that the welfare state practices they favor are the identical political programs proposed by the Communists to bring about socialism.
There were, in Nephi’s audience, some men who actually belonged to the conspiracy:
“…there were men who were judges, who also belonged to the secret band of Gadianton, and they were angry…” (Hel. 8:1)
And why were they angry? Nephi had exposed them. He pointed out the corruption of the laws had resulted in the takeover of the Nephite government by this Band:
“For behold, Nephi had spoken unto them concerning the corruptness of their law…And those judges were angry with him because he spake plainly unto them concerning their secret works of darkness.” (Hel. 8:3–4)
The record is clear that the reason the conspiracy had succeeded in capturing control of the government was that the Nephites had built it up and supported it and had been seduced into partaking of its spoils. (Hel. 6:38–39)
The great majority of the people today continue to ignore the prophets’ warnings that the advance of Communism within our own nation is leading us to destruction. Likewise, the Nephites ignored their prophet:
“And it came to pass that they would not hearken unto his words; and there began to be contentions, insomuch that they were divided against themselves and began to slay one another with the sword.” (Hel. 10:18)
“And it was this secret band of robbers who did carry on this work of destruction and wickedness…” (Hel. 11:2)
The unmistakable parallel between the Communist inspired rioting, looting, burning, and bloodshed in our own cities which increase each year, and the bloody turmoil among the Nephites should cause us great anxiety. It is noted that the Nephites divided against themselves and began to kill one another. Who will deny that there is a rift in our own nation which becomes more pronounced as the Communist programs to centralize the powers of government and destroy the right of private property continue to be adopted and expanded?
The Lord brought an end to the bloodshed among the Nephites and released their nation from the clutches of this conspiracy by means of a great drought and famine. Will He prevent this nation from destroying itself in a civil war by the same means? If so, He probably would not need to send a drought to do it. With continued internal strife, we could bring about our own famine, and do it very suddenly.
With less than ten percent of our population engaged in farming, and with this small group almost completely dependent upon a continuing supply of fuel, machinery, and a smoothly functioning transportation network, famine could and would stalk the land within a matter of weeks if violence interrupted the operation of this highly interdependent system of food production and distribution.
Perhaps no people in history have been as vulnerable to starvation as is this nation today. Highly specialized in our labor, and relying almost completely upon electric power and laborsaving machinery, we have largely forgotten the meaning of physical labor and the art of feeding and clothing ourselves. If our power supply, our production machinery, or our transportation facilities were to break down, food markets would empty within hours and people would be left to their own devices to provide themselves with sustenance. The massiveness of the tragedy which could result is horrible to contemplate. While the Nephites perished by the thousands, we would likely starve by the millions.
We have facing us a danger even more fearful, if possible, than those which faced the Nephites. This is the threat of a nuclear war. A few days after he was made President of the Church, David O. McKay said:
“A third World War is inevitable unless Communism is soon subdued. Communism yields to nothing but force.” (Statements on Communism and the Constitution of the United States, p. 13)
It seems to be a foregone conclusion that such a war will develop into a nuclear holocaust. The Lord has permitted the world to have a foretaste of the horrors of such an eventuality, but since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the destructiveness of nuclear weapons has multiplied many times.
The exact nature, however, of the calamities which may befall us, whether they be civil war, famine, international nuclear war, or otherwise, is relatively unimportant. The important fact is the inevitability of the destruction of this nation from some source unless we heed the words of the prophets.
It must be most disheartening to a prophet to know with certainty that the nation and people he loves are marching steadily toward their doom and be unable to dissuade them. When Nephi failed to get his nation to listen, he was so deeply distressed that he lamented the fact that he could not have lived his days in a period of time when the people would hearken. (Hel. 7:7) He was so cast down at his failure that the Lord saw fit to personally comfort him. (Hel. 10:3–11)
One wonders at the feelings of our own Prophet as we continue to ignore his oft-repeated warnings against Communism and the moral breakdown which has caused us to adopt its philosophy. He continues to labor with us and his words are widely disseminated throughout the land just as were Nephi’s warnings to his people.
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Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen Chapters: