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?
Jesus Christ is our wholly benevolent and righteous King who has power even over death!
“…O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people; for were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished. But behold, the bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead.” (Mosiah 15:18-20)
-What does it mean to align one’s life to be in harmony with the Founder of Peace?
-Would many that chafe at the thought of having an earthly king be willing to receive their Heavenly King?
-Will anyone not receive their Heavenly King when a full consciousness of what He has done, and the love He extends, is obtained?
O How Beautiful upon the Mountains are Their Feet!
The prophet Abinadi teaches of the vital roll prophets play in helping connect God’s children on earth to Christ and the power of His Atonement. Living before Christ, in the 100s B.C., Abinadi teaches how the prophets helped others look to Christ’s future Atonement.
“Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed? Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God. For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?” (Mosiah 15:10-12)
“Yea, and are not the prophets, every one that has opened his mouth to prophesy, that has not fallen into transgression, I mean all the holy prophets ever since the world began? I say unto you that they are his seed. And these are they who have published peace, who have brought good tidings of good, who have published salvation; and said unto Zion: Thy God reigneth! And O how beautiful upon the mountains were their feet! And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that are still publishing peace! And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time henceforth and forever!” (Mosiah 15:13-17)
-How important is it to hear the words of the prophets (past and present)?
-In our time do true prophets still help us look to, and receive, the Atonement that Christ has worked out in our behalf?
-Is it possible to publish the peace and meaning that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings without being a prophet?
After his people had gone through a long period of suffering, King Limhi reflects on the effects of straying from God’s counsel.
“O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them! Yea, they are as a wild flock which fleeth from the shepherd, and scattereth, and are driven, and are devoured by the beasts of the forest.” (Mosiah 8:20-21)
-How much suffering could be avoided if the people of the earth earnestly sought, and lived by, the counsel of the living God of peace?
-Where can God’s counsel be found? Do you believe that the Book of Mormon is part of God’s counsel to mankind?
King Benjamin teaches how those who have the love of God in their hearts will treat one another.
“And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due. And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.” (Mosiah 4:13-16)
-Is it possible to truly love God without the help of the Holy Spirit? Is it possible to comprehend who God is without the witness of the Holy Spirit?
King Benjamin seeks to wake those who take God’s blessings for granted. The prophet-king testifies that everything good we have comes from God.
“…O how you ought to thank your heavenly King! I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you; and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.” (Mosiah 2:19-21)
-Do you consider yourself a creation of God? Or, do you believe you are a creation of chance?
-Does the Spirit testify to your heart that God is sustaining you from moment to moment?
Jacob teaches that those who have treated others poorly—due to a misguided mindset where wealth and achievement are evidence of being superior to others—are acting sinfully in God’s sight. He then provides the reason why this is so.
“…The one being is as precious in his sight as the other. And all flesh is of the dust; and for the selfsame end hath he created them, that they should keep his commandments and glorify him forever.” (Jacob 2:21)
-How many treat others in a way that is consistent with the truth that every person is equally precious in God’s sight?
-What kind of spiritual power comes into a person’s life when they consistently repent to the standard of thought and conduct provided by this verse?
-Do you believe that the highest path in life (and the greatest source of joy and peace) is to glorify God?
After quoting a passage from Isaiah’s writings (comparable to those found in the King James Version of Isaiah 11:5-9) describing the peace that will reign during the Millennium, Nephi expands on the meaning of Isaiah’s words found in verse 9 of chapter 11:
“…The things of all nations shall be made known; yea all things shall be made known unto the children of men. There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed. Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more for a long time…” (2 Nephi 30:16-18)
-Why will all of history be accurately revealed during Christ’s Millennial reign?
-Why will everything that has ever been revealed to mankind be brought together and revealed anew during the Millennium?
-What is the relationship between the people having this knowledge/revelation and Satan being bound?
Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:
“We talk about Satan being bound. Satan will be bound by the power of God; but he will be bound also by the determination of the people of God not to listen to him, not to be governed by him” (George Q. Cannon, in Conference Report, Oct. 1897, 65).
Nephi sees (through a prophetic vision given to him from the Lord) that, after falling into deep wickedness, many of his people in the Americas would be destroyed at the time of Christ’s death and resurrection (around A.D. 33-34). After being visited by Christ in person, three generations would pass away in peace and righteousness before wickedness and destruction would again afflict his people. Nephi identifies the loss of the Spirit as the reason for his people’s fall.
“…The Son of Righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him, until three generations shall have passed away, and many of the fourth generation shall have passed away in righteousness. And when these things have passed away a speedy destruction cometh unto my people; for, notwithstanding the pains of my soul, I have seen it; wherefore, I know that it shall come to pass; and they sell themselves for naught; for, for the reward of their pride and their foolishness they shall reap destruction; for because they yield unto the devil and choose works of darkness rather than light, therefore they must go down to hell. For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction…” (2 Nephi 26:9-11)
-Why do individuals choose darkness rather than light? Why do whole societies, such as the Nephites did, fall into a general pattern of prideful behavior and sin?
-How and when do things get to the point where the Spirit completely withdraws from a distinct group of people?
-Is it possible for a group or society that hasn’t received the fullness of God’s law to reach such a state where they reap destruction based on their rejection of God’s Spirit?
-Is it ever too late to turn back to God as an individual (even within a society that is headed the opposite direction)?
Nephi continues to be taught about the events of the last days.
“…The angel spake unto me, Nephi, saying: Thou hast beheld that if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them…and thou also hast heard that whoso repenteth not must perish. Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God. For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one had or the other—either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually according to the captivity of the devil.” (1 Nephi 14:5-7)
-What does it mean to repent? And, according to the passage above, how important is repentance for the temporal and spiritual welfare of the Gentiles?
-Does this message only apply to the Gentiles? Or, is it applicable to everyone?
-Are there signs of God’s great and marvelous work occurring now?
-Is your heart open to the Lamb of God and the work He is performing to bring peace and life eternal to all who will receive Him?
Prophets, Seers, and Revelators
“As this work [of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] progresses in its onward course, and becomes more and more an object of political and religious interest and excitement, no king, ruler, or subject, no community or individual, will stand neutral. All will at length be influenced by one spirit or the other; and will take sides either for or against the kingdom of God” (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 1:257)