He will Gather in from the Four Quarters of the Earth All the Remnant of the Seed of Jacob

Mormon, a Nephite prophet and historian, prophesies about the literal physical gathering of Jacob’s descendants in the last days.

“As surely as the Lord liveth, will he gather in from the four quarters of the earth all the remnant of the seed of Jacob, who are scattered abroad upon all the face of the earth. And as he hath covenanted with all the house of Jacob, even so shall the covenant wherewith he hath covenanted with the house of Jacob be fulfilled in his own due time, unto the restoring all the house of Jacob unto the knowledge of the covenant that he hath covenanted with them. And then shall they know their Redeemer, who is Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and then shall they be gathered in from the four quarters of the earth unto their own lands, from whence they have been dispersed; yea, as the Lord liveth so shall it be. Amen.” (3 Nephi 5:24-26)

Questions:

-Clearly the Jews have gathered (and continue to gather) to the nation of Israel. Have other descendants of Jacob begun to be gathered to their homelands?

They That Have Done Good Shall Have Everlasting Life and They That Have Done Evil Shall Have Everlasting Damnation

Mormon reinforces that there are real and eternal consequences when it comes to one’s thoughts, intents and actions.

“…In the great and last day there are some who shall be cast out, yea, who shall be cast off from the presence of the Lord; Yea, who shall be consigned to a state of endless misery, fulfilling the words which say: They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and they that have done evil shall have everlasting damnation. And thus it is. Amen.” (Helaman 12:25-26)

Questions:

-If the Lord has revealed that there are three degrees of glory (and outer darkness) and that all souls will inhabit one of these degrees for all eternity after the Judgment: Why does Mormon use such stark contrast in describing only those who choose evil and those who choose good?

-Is he intentionally drawing attention to the worst and the best case in terms of the different degrees (i.e. focusing on outer darkness and the Celestial Kingdom)?  

At the Power of God’s Voice Do the Foundations Rock Even to the Very Center

Mormon teaches how nature gives way in obedience to God’s voice and that His voice will irrevocably remove the wicked from His presence.

“…At [God’s] voice do the hills and the mountains tremble and quake. And by the power of his voice they are broken up, and become smooth, yea, even like unto a valley. Yea, by the power of his voice doth the whole earth shake; Yea, by the power of his voice do the foundations rock, even to the very center. Yea, and if he say unto the earth—Move—it is moved. Yea, if he say unto the earth—Thou shalt go back, that it lengthen out the day for many hours—it is done; And thus, according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun. And behold, also, if he say unto the waters of the great deep—be thou dried up—it is done. Behold, if he say unto this mountain—Be thou raised up, and come over and fall upon that city, that it be buried up—behold it is done. And behold, if a man hide up a treasure in the earth, and the Lord shall say—Let it be accursed, because of the iniquity of him who hath hid it up—behold, it shall be accursed. And if the Lord shall say—Be thou accursed, that no man shall find thee from this time henceforth and forever—behold, no man getteth it henceforth and forever. (Helaman 12:9-19)

And behold, if the Lord shall say unto a man—Because of thine iniquities, thou shalt be accursed forever—it shall be done. And if the Lord shall say—Because of thine iniquities thou shalt be cut off from my presence—he will cause that it shall be so. And wo unto him to whom he shall say this, for it shall be unto him that will do iniquity, and he cannot be saved; therefore, for this cause, that men might be saved, hath repentance been declared. Therefore, blessed are they who will repent and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved. (Helaman 12:20-23)

Questions:

-How did God’s voice impact the formation of the DNA that exists in, and guides the form of, all living things?

-Did the foundations of biology rock to the very center at the sound of God’s voice?

They Will Not That the Lord Should Be Their Guide

While abridging Nephite history, and giving yet another account of the Nephites falling into a state of wickedness, Mormon pauses to lament the general spiritual fecklessness of the Nephites (and humanity more broadly).   

“O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world! Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!” (Helaman 12:4-5)

“Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide. O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.” (Helaman 12:6-8)

Questions:

-Do you ever feel spiritually unstable? Are you ever taken aback by dark corners in your soul that have somehow formed and festered?

-Why is it often difficult to let God guide (rather than letting evil influences creep in and take control)?

-Are repentance, obedience to God’s commandments, and gratitude powerful spiritual stabilizers?

At the Very Time When God Doth Prosper His People They Do Harden Their Hearts and Do Forget Him

While recording the history of the Nephite people on the Gold Plates, Mormon pauses to describe the tragic tendency for people to take God for granted, forget Him, and discount His power at the very time of their greatest prosperity under his care.

“…We can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him. Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity. And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.” (Helaman 12:1-3)

Questions:

-Why does prosperity tempt people to turn away from God?

-Is it possible to avoid this temptation? How does one do so?

-How important is it to remember God?

Because of the Pride of Their Hearts They Were Left in Their Own Strength and Were Afflicted and Smitten

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)

Questions:

-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?

Sanctification Comes from Yielding One’s Heart to God

The prophet historian, Mormon, tells of a time in Nephite history where true followers of Christ drew closer to Him despite being mistreated by their fellow church members.

“…In the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God—And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction. Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling of their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” (Helaman 3:33-36)

Questions:

-How can one be filled with joy even while passing through great difficulties in life?

-Would this group of people have obtained deep purification and sanctification of their hearts without the persecution they experienced?

-Are there worldly powers (including political forces) today that are tempting some in the Church to become prideful and despise others in the Church? -How vital is humility in ensuring one does not end up on the wrong side (i.e. prideful side) of inter-Church divisions?

The Lord is Merciful unto All Who Will, in the Sincerity of Their Hearts, Call upon His Holy Name

The historian-prophet, Mormon, teaches of the Lord’s readiness to eternally bless all who will believe in Him and lay hold of His word.

“…The Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name. Yea, thus we may see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and snares and wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.” (Helaman 3:28-30)

Questions:

– How valuable is the strait and narrow course mapped out in God’s scriptures?

-Have the majority of Americans rebelled against this narrow course? Or, do most still have a strong connection with it?

-Is it possible to sincerely call upon the name of Lord without also laying hold upon His word?

The Devil Will Not Support His Children

Mormon, the prophet who compiled and abridged the record of the Nephites (which was translated as the Book of Mormon), pauses to teach an important truth about Satan.

“…The devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.” (Alma 30:60)

Questions:

-Is it possible to gain power and gratify the lusts of the flesh in this life by being a child of the devil (e.g. rejecting God’s commandments and applying selfish, calloused, and ungodly means to obtain one’s desires)?

*Does Satan goad souls to take this route because he enjoys seeing the selfish pleasure they obtain for a season?

*Or, does he do so because he relishes the awful depths of eternal remorse and pain that they will sink into when, after being brought into God’s presence for judgment, they come to a full and agonizing realization of the consequences of what they have done.

Their State Becomes Worse Than if They Had Never Known the Spirit of God and Righteousness

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)

Questions:

-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)?