Samuel, a Lamanite prophet, prophesies about the blessings his people will receive in the last days.
“…In the latter times the promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites; and notwithstanding the many afflictions which they shall have, and notwithstanding they shall be driven to and fro upon the face of the earth, and be hunted, and shall be smitten and scattered abroad, having no place for refuge, the Lord shall be merciful unto them. And this according to the prophecy, that they shall again be brought to the true knowledge, which is the knowledge of their Redeemer, and their great and true shepherd, and be numbered among his sheep.” (Helaman 15:12-13)
“Therefore, thus saith the Lord: I will not utterly destroy them, but I will cause that in the day of my wisdom they shall return again unto me, saith the Lord.” (Helman 15:16)
-Have the descendants of those who were called Lamanites in the Book of Mormon begun to return to the Lord? -Who are they? And, where can they be found on the globe?
The Lamanite prophet, Samuel, teaches the Nephites that seeking for happiness outside of the commandments of God is fruitless.
“…Ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.” (Helaman 13:38)
-Can temporary happiness be found separate from God’s will and influence?
-Will the happiness mentioned in the above question be inevitably interrupted?
-Will the happiness that comes from aligning oneself with God’s will and influence ever be interrupted?
The prophet Mormon defines the attitudes and actions that lead a people to destruction. The list below pulls directly from some of Mormon’s words and translates others, describing the kind of wickedness that leads to destruction, into more contemporary terms.
“…This great loss of the Nephites, and the great slaughter which was among them, would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness and their abomination which was among them; yea, and it was among those also who professed to belong to the church of God. And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression of the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions…And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten and driven before the Lamanites…” (Helaman 4:11-13)
-How many of the above items are engaged in, on a wide scale, in the United States (and in other countries)?
-How many who profess to belong to the church of God engage in these wicked actions and attitudes?
Helaman, a prophet and military leader, recounts a miracle that occurred in the field of battle. A group of new recruits (two-thousand and sixty young men from a region of the Nephite nation where the gospel was strong and their families had taught them to have firm faith in God) were strengthened and protected by God:
“…My little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately; yea, they were firm before the Lamanites, and did administer death unto all those who opposed them. And as the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted…And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had fled, I immediately gave orders that my men who had been wounded should be taken from among the dead, and caused that their wounds should be dressed. And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds. And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.” (Alma 57:19-20, 24-26)
-What is the significance of the Lord allowing these young men to be injured but not allowing them to be killed?
-Can a person expect to go unscathed through life even when living faithfully?
The Lord does not expect His followers to be pacifists. In cases where patience and repeatedly “turning the other cheek” are not sufficient to secure a people’s physical safety and freedom, defensive bloodshed is justified. The passage below describes why the Nephites went to war with the Lamanites (a group who was intent on destroying the Nephites)
“…The Nephites…were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church. And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies. And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.” (Alma 43:46-47)
-Is it easy to identify the situations where bloodshed is justified by God?
-Based on the passage above, is there any question that such action should be a last resort?
During a large war between the Nephites and Lamanites, many souls departed from mortal life. In the context of these events, Mormon (the prophet-historian who abridged the Nephite record that was translated as the Book of Mormon), teaches about the great spiritual variance that exists when souls pass through the veil into the eternities.
“…Many thousand are mourning for the loss of their kindred, because they have reason to fear, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are consigned to a state of endless wo. While many thousands of others truly mourn for the loss of their kindred, yet they rejoice and exult in the hope, and even know, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are raised to dwell at the right hand of God, in a state of never-ending happiness. And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men.” (Alma 28:11-13)
-How important is it to repent and reconcile oneself with God (through the Atonement of Jesus Christ) before passing into the eternities?
-How heavily will the unalterable justice, which God upholds, weigh on those in the afterlife who chose not to be reconciled with God through Christ’s merciful intervention during mortality?
-What is Paradise?
-What is Spirit Prison?
-Will those who never had God’s law in mortality be led to Paradise if they choose to follow Christ in the afterlife?
The prophet-historian Mormon, who abridged the Nephite records into what would be translated as the Book of Mormon, pauses during his historical narrative to teach an important truth about the fate of those who know the truth and then reject it.
He describes how former Nephites, who once had the gospel but then rejected it and joined the Lamanites (the Nephite’s enemies), were more murderous than the Lamanites who had never had the truth of the gospel. This was demonstrated when the Lamanite army came upon a group of unarmed, non-resisting people and the former Nephites among the Lamanite army killed many more non-combatants compared with those in the army who had always been Lamanites. (Alma 24:20-30)
“…After a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things.” (Alma 24:30)
-Why would those who once had the Spirit of God, and then reject that Spirit, fall into deeper levels of sin than they would have if they had never known the truth of God?
-Who in the world today has had an abundance of God’s Spirit? Do they have the potential to become more hardened against God than others who haven’t had that abundance (depending on their choices)?
Aaron, a Nephite serving a mission among the Lamanites, teaches the Lamanite king that…
“…As assuredly as thou livest, O King, there is a God.” (Alma 22:8)
-Do you believe there is a God?
-What if you were as sure of God’s existence as of your own existence?
After finding a new place to settle, a group of Nephites — who were keeping God’s commandments and living peaceably with one another – were taken captive by their enemies the Lamanites. The prophet Mormon (who abridged and made important observations within the text of the Book of Mormon) describes why the Lord allowed this to happen.
“…The Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day.” (Mosiah 23:21-22)
-Does anyone escape chastening by God? Or, is this life constructed by God to chasten?
-Are the people of God (those who have the true priesthood and are striving to love God and their neighbor as themselves) more likely to be chastened? Or, are they less likely to be chastened?
-Does trust in God, through trial, purify and sanctify the soul?
Nephi prophesies that—after his father’s descendants have been displaced by settlers (Gentiles) from the Old World—the voices of the Nephite and Lamanite prophets would whisper out of the ground to their descendants and to the entire world.
“…I prophesy unto you concerning the last days; concerning the days when the Lord God shall bring these things forth unto the children of men…The prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten. For those who have been destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit…and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.” (2 Nephi 26:14-16)
-Does the Book of Mormon have a familiar spirit to many of those with Native American heritage?
-Does it have a familiar spirit to many others around the world who also have ancestry linked to the house of Israel?
-On the broadest scale, does the Spirit whisper to the heart of every earnest truth seeker that the Book of Mormon is God’s word to the entire world?