I promise I do not have a preconceived idea of what I am trying to do here. This is not solely meant as a series of political treatises. Perhaps these topics are on my mind and that is why the are jumping out at me. Who knows. Tonight’s will be one somewhat in the same vein.
Yesterday I dealt with a land that was to be one of promise. If the people who possess the land are not righteous and keep the commandments, then the land would be given to another nation. While that has some scary implications, I find this scripture to be a bit more troubling.
We find the Nephites have now left the Lamanites. Of course, they are not called by those names yet, but they will be. There is something fascinating here. They were those who followed the Lord, kept the commandments, and had to leave their brethren due to the stress they brought upon them. As they broke away, they did not take on the name of Jesus, or even that of Christ because these people did not know that yet. They took on the name of Nephi, prophet. They did not take on the name of the Almighty, Yahweh, Lord, or even Lord God. They took Nephi. Due to the tradition this would start, we know this would cause the disputations that would arise in 3 Nephi. We take it for granted that the name of the church would be after Jesus Christ, but I can sense what their frustration might have been when they were trying to figure out what to call the church after Christ’s coming. I can see some of the difficulty even in our day. Anyhow, I am on a tangent.
Nephi takes his people and teaches them to be industrious. They build buildings, even a temple, and a host of other occupations. There are the smiths, the carvers, the carpenters, the miners, and the farmers. Then they give the contrast of those who are not righteous, those who keep not the covenants/commandments.
“…they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.” (2 Nephi 5:24). There are other scriptures that give us more explanation of those who keep not the covenants. “…after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations” (1 Nephi 12:23). “…their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us” (Enos 1:20). “…after their dissensions they became more hardened and impenitent, and more wild, wicked and ferocious…giving way to indolence, and all manner of lasciviousness; yea, entirely forgetting the Lord their God” (Alma 47:36). “….who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands. Thus they were a very indolent people, many of whom did worship idols, and the curse of God had fallen upon them…” (Alma 17:24-25).
While I don’t want to give an expose on the characteristics of the ungodly, we do see some of these which are in society and which Latter-day Saints are expressly told to avoid. The Word of Wisdom is most pronounced.
The contract of the wicked are given to us. But then comes the clencher.
“And the Lord God said unto me: They (the Lamanites) shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction” (2 Nephi 2:25).
That gives a scary scenario! These less than obedient individuals are allowed to remain. Moreover, they will be the one’s who will afflict the righteous when they become not so righteous. Even more, they will scourge them unto destruction. That sounds like a pretty good incentive not to lose your blessed and promised state. Remember, the Lord promised them this land in safety forever if they would remain faithful. If not, then the promise is they will be scourged, even to destruction. We see this take place with the Jaredites, we see it with the Nephites later. The scenario plays out throughout the Old Testament too.
Like most scriptures in the Book of Mormon, this is not the only instance where this counsel is given. Here are a few more. “And if it so be that they rebel against me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance” (1 Nephi 2:24). “…the Lord will deliver them up, that thereby they become weak like unto their brethren; and he will no more preserve them by his matchless and marvelous power, as he has hitherto preserved our fathers” (Mosiah 1:13). “…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” (Helaman 4:11). “…because of iniquity amongst themselves, yea, because of dissensions and intrigue among themselves they were placed in the most dangerous circumstances” (Alma 53:9). “…for it has been their quarrelings and their contentions, yea, their murderings, and their plunderings, their idolatry, their whoredoms, and their abominations, which were among themselves, which brought upon them their wars and their destructions” (Alma 50:21). “…Surely God shall not suffer that we , who are despised because we take upon us the name of Christ, shall be trodden down and destroyed, until we bring it upon us by our own transgressions” (Alma 46:18). “But behold, I say unto you that if ye persist in your wickedness that your days shall not be prolonged in the land, for the Lamanites shall be sent upon you; and if ye repent not they shall come in a time when you know not, and ye shall be visited with utter destruction ;and it shall be according to the fierce anger of the Lord” (Alma 9:18). “…I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall treat them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people…” (3 Nephi 16:15).
If we should think this is something only Mormon, it is also Biblical.
“Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you” (Joshua 23:13). “…he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed” (Judges 2:14-15). “If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge” (Job 36:11-12). “Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations. Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hands of their enemies, who vexed them…they did evil again before thee: therefore lettest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them…yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give year: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands” (Nehemiah 9:26-30). “Wherefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them. Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far…” (Jeremiah 5:14-15).
You get the picture. Also take a look at Chapter 28 of Deuteronomy and Chapter 26 of Leviticus. The Lord even tells of the time he used Israel for the destruction of another nation because of their wickedness in Deuteronomy 9:4-5, “Speak not thou in thine heart, after the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
We see how yesterday we described how the Lord would supplant a nation with another nation. A scourge could certainly be so great so as to replace a nation by violence. It doesn’t seem that would be the plan for this nation, just that other nations are being allowed to scourge us. It is an entirely different treatise to show that the Lord will protect and fight the battles for the righteous, perhaps I can cover some of those later (See D&C 98 for a good start). But here we are showing that other nations can scourge us due to not being valiantly obedient.
These promises are also against those who are being allowed to scourge us. This scripture shows that God is no respecter of persons. Those doing the scourging can be scourged if they later reject great obedience to eternal law.
“And they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land. Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fulness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father” (3 Nephi 20:28).
So we are to be faithful or else have the chances of scourging. Just how disobedient a people have to be for scourging I am not sure. After all, one of the scriptures I referenced earlier (Helaman 4:11) stated that just having blatant disobedience AMONG them could bring upon these problems. A bit of a Lot scenario. Just because there are a few righteous won’t save the rest of them.
The righteous will have some scourging on no account of their own. What are we to do then? “…if men will smite you, or your families, once, and ye bear it patiently and revile not against them, neither seek ye revenge, ye shall be rewarded. But if ye bear it not patiently, it shall be accounted unto you as being meted out as a just measure unto you” (D&C 98:23-24). You go on being obedient and faithful.
I should be wrapping this up. I cannot help but see what applications this could have to us as a people, a church, and as a nation. As we are faithful, the Lord will fight our battles for us and keep us from harm. I do believe this could be by giving us warning and by thwarting the adversary himself or through us. When we find we are more and more vulnerable, perhaps we should not be so quick to point fingers, find vengeance, but to look inward. Find out what we are doing that appears to be lessening our promises from heaven. Does it appear we are being scourged? 9/11 looks like a scourge of some type. The scriptures don’t say the people who scourge us are always wicked, half the time they are only ignorant of God’s laws.
Remember, if we bear it not patiently, it is meted out as just measure unto us. Like President Kimball told of the story of the last summer. When they found out one was going to betray them/Christ they looked inward and asked, “Is it I?” Perhaps we should do the same. When we are afflicted and scourged by other nations, however small, we should ask, “Is it I?” Rather than looking at them who did the scourging with a condescension and looking for revenge, we should look inward and repent.
I know of only one politician currently running for President who subscribes to this idea. Perhaps we should seek them out and learn more of their ideas. After all, they appear to be the most Christian.
“But behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed” (Mormon 4:5).