Category: destruction

Nephi’s Brother Jacob, Part 6

Jacob makes a startling promise for those who live when the destruction begins preliminary to the cleansing of the world before the Lord returns. He says “none will he destroy that believe in him. And they that believe not in him shall be destroyed, both by fire, quakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine.” (2 Ne. 6: 14-15.)

This amazing promise is predicated on “believing in Him.” This requires us to understand what the word “believe” means in the parlance of the Book of Mormon. Those who believe in Him know and accept correct doctrine, or the truth about Him. Those who do not know and will not accept correct doctrine or the truth have dwindled in unbelief. They do not believe in Him. They may have religion, may belong to churches, may be active in all their observances, but they are not in possession of belief in Him. Instead they accept for doctrines the commandments of men, and their hearts are far from Him. They teach false and vain things. As a result they neither enter into the kingdom nor suffer those who are entering to go in. This includes those who, though they are humble followers of Christ, are nevertheless led that in many instances they do err in doctrine. (2 Ne. 28: 14.)

There will be many who are destroyed who will be quite surprised by it. They will complain that they have prophesied in Christ’s name, and in His name cast out devils, and done many wonderful works, but they do not know Christ, and therefore never did believe in Him. (See Matt. 7: 22-24.)

If you are one of those who believe in Him, and who will not dwindle in unbelief, will not accept the commandments of men as doctrine, but will take the Spirit for your guide, then Jacob promises that Christ will not destroy you. The rest He will destroy.

Fire will upset the order of things and make societal collapse inevitable. Men’s self-inflicted woes will not be the only sign of Divine disapproval. The earth will quake to signal God’s disapproval. Interruptions of social order and control will be followed by self-inflicted violence. Bloodshed will be widespread among the survivors. Disease and pestilence will be one of the results of the lack of social order. Air and water will be contaminated. Neglected hygiene will lead to the promised pestilence. As the downward spiral continues, food production and distribution will be inadequate to prevent widespread, global famine. It is as if Jacob could see the sequence of events and gave us the list of how it would unfold, step by step, as the unbelieving are wiped from the earth.

Survival during this bleak time depends on the qualification of “believing in Him.” Suddenly, if you think Jacob knew what he was talking about then our doctrines take on terrible significance. What we believe matters. Not just in the distant after-life, but for the preservation of our present lives. Jacob does make a powerful case for studying the Gospel a good deal more carefully than we can accomplish in a 40 minute class-discussion, with an approved “discussion leader,” using Correlated materials, rather than a teacher declaring and testifying of true doctrine.

I’m pretty sure Jacob would be a very marginalized Mormon, if he were among us today.

Nephi’s Brother Jacob, Part 4

Jacob’s first recorded sermon identifies what concerns him. It is the “welfare of souls” (2 Ne. 6: 3) and “things which are, and which are to come” (2 Ne. 6: 4.) The definition of truth is knowledge of things which are, which were, and which are to come. (D&C 93: 24.) Jacob is interested in teaching truth. But the truth he wants to focus on is the present and future of his people.

He identifies Isaiah as speaking “concerning all the house of Israel” (2 Ne. 6: 5) and therefore they can be likened to the Nephites. Then he turns to the Gentiles and places them in the future role of “bringing thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.” (2 Ne. 6: 6.) In the dismal future of Nephite destruction by the Gentiles, there is still a more distant day when Gentile efforts will become helpful, not destructive. When that happens, the Gentile fortunes are reversed, and they will “bow down to [the Nephite remnant] with their faces towards the earth, and lick up the dust of [Nephite] feet.” (2 Ne. 6: 7.) So the cataclysm which befalls the Nephites will also befall their Gentile vanquishers. They will be brought down to the dust as well.

Jacob also reports to his audience “the Lord has shown unto me that those who were at Jerusalem, from whence we came, have been slain and carried  away captive.” (2 Ne. 6: 8.) Jacob must have asked to be shown. He asked and was shown, and therefore he knew his family had left Jerusalem in time to avert death or captivity. Jacob was born after they left Jerusalem; but he knew about it, inquired to know, and was shown their destruction.

This reaffirms how the departure by Lehi and the destruction of Jerusalem was inter-related. The Lord uses ‘just-in-time’ scheduling of events more often than not. There is no need to flee until the moment when the destruction is about to begin. Nor is there a need to begin the rainfall before the ark is completed. Nor is there a need to send down fire to consume the offering until the altar is built, the sacrifice offered, the water poured on the offering, and the prayer completed. (1 Kings 18: 31-38.) Timing is always the Lord’s.

Jacob also leaves nothing to the imagination of his audience. He tells them the Messiah will come to Jerusalem, will be scourged there, and will be crucified by them. Jacob knows this “according to the words of the angel who spake it unto me.” (2 Ne. 6: 9.) From this we see Jacob’s pre-sermon preparation does not consist of gathering together thoughts and quotes from poets or philosophers. He consults with angels and dispenses information from heaven. Here is a source which is to be trusted. When speaking of Jerusalem’s destruction, it comes from the Lord’s showing him, and of the Messiah’s mission. It comes from the angel’s speaking to him.

We think it an odd thing to have a man speak with the Lord and be ministered to by angels. Yet in the example of Jacob, it is almost matter-of-fact. As if he wouldn’t dream of speaking about such things without consulting with heaven.

Nephi’s brother Jacob is among the great figures in all of sacred scripture. The critical differences between him and his teaching, and other men giving what they regard as inspirational thought, should not pass by unnoticed. I’m growing to respect this man Jacob.

Wickedness and Destruction

The cycle of wickedness and destruction often includes a complete inability of the wicked to detect their grave errors. They have their religion, and are comfortable with it. They think their pretenses are enough.

Ezekiel saw a vision of the destruction of the “chosen people” beginning at their Temple. The destroyers were told to wait before the slaughter began. First an angel would mark the foreheads of those who “sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” (Eze. 9: 4.) Meaning there were a few among the chosen, who knew their religious practices were used to justify abominable behavior. These few did not just condemn the wicked, they “sighed” and “cried” for their fellow saints. They prayed, made intercession, hoped for more time, and urged repentance.

The larger group, however, were content with their abominations and thought themselves righteous. They were not marked, nor spared. The command was given to slay them all, utterly, and spare none “both maids and little children, and women.” (Eze. 9: 6.)

In the vision Ezekiel saw the destruction begin at the Temple. (Eze. 9: 6.)  It began there because it was the Temple which these corrupt people believed to be proof of their great righteousness and also their favor with God. Therefore the destruction needed to begin there.

The angel faithfully marked only those who were aware of the abominations and who would not join in with it. (Eze. 9: 11.) When the destruction began, the Lord was committed to His judgment, and declared “mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head.” (Eze. 9: 10.)

This is a useful chapter to consider. (Ezekiel Chapter 9.) It reinforces the importance of repentance, when it is offered. When the offering ends, it is followed by judgment and destruction.

How odd it is that the self-proclaimed “righteous” are almost without exception those who are most wicked, fallen, abominable and proud. You rarely encounter a corrupt group in the Book of Mormon who are not also quite involved in a false religion. The false religions in the Book of Mormon frequently teach that the followers are righteous and highly favored of God. (See, e.g., Alma 31: 14-18.)

Wouldn’t it be amazing if this kind of mistake could be made again by people who think themselves holy, better than others who do not enjoy the fullness of God’s favor/Gospel, and destined for salvation while all others were doomed to an inferior kingdom? It’s almost too ridiculous to even consider. Those things are behind us now, aren’t they? Because we are promised salvation, and for us to fail would be for God to fail, and we know He’s not going to do that.

2 Nephi 28: 16-17

 
“Wo unto them that turn aside the just for a thing of naught and revile against that which is good, and say that it is of no worth! For the day shall come that the Lord God will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth; and in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish. But behold, if the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness and abominations they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
 
Nephi warns against “turning aside the just for a thing of naught.” A “thing of naught” means something without value.  To “turn aside” is to leave or move away from. So he is telling you to be careful to not walk away from the truth being taught by a “just” or true source, and instead follow after something of no value.
 
This rejection of a true messenger and following after a false one inevitably results in “reviling that which is good.” When you reject the truth you normally have to deal with a troubled conscious. The way to calm it is to “revile against” the thing you have rejected. Not only do people “revile against” the message, but they go on to “say that it is of no worth!”
 
Think about the general reception given to the Lord’s messengers throughout scripture. They are always the object of criticism and reviling. Nephi is describing a syndrome here which always attaches to the true message and true messenger. They aren’t valued, but thought “a thing of naught.” The argument is always: “If what they had to say were important, it would come from someone more important.”  Content is ignored in favor of status.
 
Now the Lord allows this to go on and always has. But, as Nephi reminds us, there does come a time when the limit has been reached. When the limit has been reached, the end “will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth.” That is, when the time has come, the turn will be so swift that they cannot repent any longer. Judgment will overtake them too quickly.

The moment when they have reached the limit is described by Nephi as “fully ripe in iniquity.” That means they will no longer even listen to the truth. They have completely closed minds. It would do no good to extend them further opportunity, because they will not take any advantage of it.
 
So they are scheduled for destruction.
 
BUT, Nephi reminds us, they can repent. If they will change their minds and come to Christ, He will forgive them and heal them. If they repent, they will be preserved from the destruction. However, as has already become clear, their destruction is due to the fact they are “fully ripe.” So although repentance remains theoretically possible, and the Lord will accept even late return to Him, the offenders are committed to their offense. They are not likely to take advantage of the opportunity.

How humble it is for the Lord to be willing to accept the reluctant, tardy and slow to repent. Nevertheless, He is willing to accept even them. He suffered for all, and will redeem as many as will come to Him. Initially, He won’t destroy them with the wicked. Ultimately the outcome will depend upon how committed they are to the process of repentance. For to repent is to come to Him. They decide if His open arms will be where they finally embrace Him; of if they will stand afar off and think it too hard to surrender their sins and go further.

3 Nephi 16: 15

 
“But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread 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, O house of Israel.”
 
The Gentiles, to whom the restoration of the Gospel came, will fail to repent and return to the Lord, and will doom themselves to destruction.
 
The land reverts back to those to whom it was originally promised.  They, the rightful heirs, will “go through among them, and shall tread them down.” What does it mean to be “tread down?”

When salt has lost its savor, it becomes useless. The preservative has become a contaminant. The corruption, the abominable religion, is worse than what they were before inheriting the fullness of the Gospel. They have sinned against a greater light. And in the process they have rejected the Greatest Light of all.
 
What did the Gentiles do to become salt without savor?  Why are they good for nothing but to be cast out? Why is it appropriate that the Gentiles who previously cast out and trod down previous inheritors should now be trodden down?  What did the earlier heirs do to merit destruction at the hands of the Gentiles? How does the cycle seem to repeat itself in the actions of both of these peoples?
 
Why do the trodden down peoples, who were the first heirs, remain the “Lord’s people” even when they have been dispossessed of the land and destroyed by the Gentiles? Why are the first to become the last, and the last to become the first? Why do such cycles of history repeat themselves? Why is the Book of Mormon unable to help the Gentiles avoid this cycle of destruction? Was the Book of Mormon intended to help the Gentiles avoid their fate? What did the Gentiles do with the Book of Mormon instead of using it as a guide to avoid destruction?
 
These prophecies are spoken by Christ, but ordained by the Father.  What does it tell us about the Father’s involvement with this unfolding history? How does the “foot of my people” reflect symbolically upon the process of destruction? If the Gentiles have rejected the fullness of the Lord’s Gospel, but the feet of those who cry peace are beautiful upon the mountains, why do the one people get trodden and the others tread upon them?  Why are clean feet preserved and the filthy cast out and trodden down?
 
How serious a matter is this Gospel? How should we conduct ourselves toward the Gospel? What is the Gospel’s fullness?
 
This becomes more than interesting; it is gripping.