The prophet Nephi describes some of the methods the devil will use in the last days to lull souls into a state of spiritually destructive complacency.
“…Others will he pacify and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment. Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion.” (2 Nephi 28:21-24)
-Why is spiritual complacency equivalent to spiritual death?
-What forces make it next to impossible to stand still in terms of spiritual growth versus spiritual atrophy?
The prophet Nephi foresees that all who set themselves against Zion in the last days will find emptiness rather than joy and satisfaction.
“…All the nations that fight against Zion, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision; yea, it shall be unto them, even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh but he awaketh and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.” (2 Nephi 27:3)
-Where is Zion located today?
-Does it have more than one location?
-Is it currently everywhere where the pure in heart can be found? What does it mean to be pure in heart? Can one be pure in heart without the purifying power of the Holy Ghost?
-Who is participating in the formation and growth of Zion?
-Who is fighting against Zion? What is the motivation driving those who fight against Zion? How long lasting will be the satisfaction they gain from distressing Zion?
-Will the results of God’s active interventions make it clear who He supports and who He doesn’t in the last days? Will any setback for Zion be lasting?
Nephi provides a key to distinguishing between those who are true servants in God’s kingdom and those who are not.
“He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish. But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.” (2 Nephi 26:29-31)
-How powerful is the allure of self-aggrandizement and material security?
-Does the pure love of God (which Nephi refers to as charity in the passage above) need to be nurtured and sought after if one is to serve in a way that is pleasing to God?
Jacob declares God’s will and voice concerning the promised land in the Americas. Along with being a land of inheritance for Lehi’s descendants, it will also be a land of freedom and liberty for all people—a place where Zion will be reestablished with the King of Heaven as its King.
“…This land, said God, shall be a land of thine inheritance, and the Gentiles shall be blessed upon the land. And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles. And I will fortify this land against all other nations. And he that fighteth against Zion shall perish, saith God. For he that raiseth up a king against me shall perish, for I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words.” (2 Nephi 10:10-14)
-Are all parts of the Americas a promised land? Or, is the promised land referred to in this passage more localized?
-Are there other promised lands outside the Western Hemisphere? (See link to a definition of promised land above)
-Why will God fortify the American promised land against all other nations? What or who will He be protecting?
-How will Zion be established within the American promised land? Has it already begun to be established?
-How will Lehi’s descendants be involved in the establishment of the American Zion?
-Will the establishment of Zion in the Americas be a source of marked conflict? Or, will it be a more peaceful, organic process?
-How important is it to hear God’s words? Do you believe the Book of Mormon is God’s word? How can you find out if it is or isn’t? (see Moroni 10:3-5)