“And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles…that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.” -Ether 2:11
Failing to Learn from History
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana as quoted in America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations, William J. Federer, ed., (Coppell, TX: FAME Publishing, Inc.,1994), p. 547) While many have heard of this famous quote, few know the name of the historian who said it, and even fewer seem to grasp the timelessness of those words. By any scriptural standard, the world has failed miserably to learn from history. According to the scriptures, three ancient American civilizations refused to repent and learn from the lessons of history, and for that, they were destroyed. Many other civilizations, according to secular sources, also met similar fates.
A Major History Lesson from the Scriptures
There are numerous lessons that this modern generation can learn from the Book of Mormon. But given the amount of attention and the importance the prophets attached to the overlapping subjects of secret combinations and the church of the devil, and how those two things led the people to ripen in iniquity (which brought about their utter annihilation), it is not a stretch to state that this multifaceted lesson is one of the major messages of the Book of Mormon. Its importance is underscored by the Lord Himself, who prophesied through His prophet Alma
I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will
bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land (Alma 37:25).
The Book of Mormon was brought forth, and as was promised, it has brought “to light” in great detail all of those “secret works” and “abominations.” Correspondingly, if the Nephites and Jaredites were destroyed “from off the face of the earth,” for allowing such evil to flourish among them, then “every nation” that would thereafter “possess the land” must be subject to the same divine decree. Such would be the purpose for the Lord in having brought these things “to light” in the first place.
Hence, in relation to that ancient prophecy of Alma is a modern commandment, issued from the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith. In similar wording, he admonished that “we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them” (D&C 123:13). Illustrating the importance of this seemingly insignificant commandment, with its attending related duties, the Prophet further stated, “Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things” (D&C 123:15).
There was much that relied upon the Jaredites and the Nephites to not let those murderous combinations to get above them, too. Yet, the people as a whole failed to heed the warnings that were sounded among them. In time, the secret combinations among them rose to power. Once the secret combinations among those people had spread over their nation, or civilization, the Lord had no choice but to sweep them off the face of the earth (see Ether 2:8–10), Antediluvians, Jaredites, Nephites, and all.
In light of what is happening in the world today, it seems that those who live in this smug, sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and high-tech generation naively believe that the laws of God, and of history, have somehow been suspended, or even revoked, in their behalf. Those who believe so are in for a rude awakening. These priceless lessons of history, preserved in the scriptures, were recorded to warn people in the latter days of what will happen to them, if they fail to remember the past, and act accordingly.
Since the past is often prologue, the scriptures offer concrete examples of what will happen to modern civilizations if they refuse to learn from history. As such, unless the inhabitants of the earth speedily repent of their iniquities, they will soon “bring down” upon themselves “the fulness of the wrath of God…as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done” (Ether 2:11).
Like the Nephites of old, who reviled against Nephi when he warned them that they stood on the brink of destruction, there are some today that exhibit similar behavior. Those Nephites mocked the idea that their nation could be destroyed, and their “great cities…taken from” them (Helaman 8:5). With blinding pride, they boasted, “And now we know that this is impossible, for behold, we are powerful, and our cities great, therefore our
enemies can have no power over us” (Helaman 8:6). Many Americans, and Latter-day Saints included, also skirt such prophetic warnings, claiming that “these things can’t happen here.” Blinded by their pride and foolish adherence to the “precepts of men,” they are either unaware of, or do not believe, what the words of the scriptures and the modern day prophets have said, and how they warn about these things.
Because all revealed truths from God to the people on the earth, as a whole, are given from the “mouth of two or three witnesses” (D&C 6:28), it is through that method that “every
word” “shall” “be established” (D&C 6:28; see also Deuteronomy 4:26, Matthew 18:16, John 5:31–47, 2 Corinthians 13:1, Ether 5:4, D&C 128:3). The divine warning to latter-day
Gentiles (D&C 109:60) against secret combinations has been sounded by at least three witnesses: do not follow in the footsteps of those who were destroyed that preceded you. Latter-day Saints should consider the fact that non-members do not read the Book of Mormon, nor do they attend General Conference. As such, these prophetic warnings are directed at those who are expected to receive them, namely members of the Church. Therefore, who has the most responsibility regarding this topic, LDS or non-LDS?
While abridging the Book of Ether, the prophet Moroni, on several occasions, felt impressed to specifically direct his remarks to the Gentiles concerning this subject. Pointing out one
of the main purposes of the Book of Mormon, Moroni wrote,
And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done (Ether 2:11)
So that no misunderstanding arise in any way, as to why the “inhabitants of the land” brought down God’s wrath upon themselves, Moroni spelled it out in very plain terms a few chapters later. He wrote that secret combinations had “caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking [the Jaredites], and also the destruction of the people of Nephi” (Ether 8:21). And lest his modern reading audience fail to grasp the universal historical application and warning of his writings, Moroni stated emphatically, “and whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed” (Ether 8:22). Then specifically directing his warning towards those living in the latter days, he said,
Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be (Ether 8:23)
In light of the historical object lesson those ancient destroyed civilizations provide, Moroni’s warning to the Gentiles is unmistakeable.
There are some that scoff at the idea that the same kinds of secret combinations, which existed during the Antediluvians, the Jaredites, and the Nephites, would exist in modern times. The scriptures leave no room for doubt that they will be among the Gentiles in the latter days. Prophesying concerning the Gentiles, Nephi wrote, “and there are also secret combinations [in the latter days], even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness” (2 Nephi 26:22). Adding to Nephi’s witness, Moroni warned, “wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you” (Ether 8:24)
Faithful Latter-day Saints should consider what the consequences will be to their civilization if those warnings from prophets of old are ignored. Those who take Moroni’s warning seriously concerning this modern day secret combination, and follow the Lord’s “[commandment]” to “awake to a sense” of their “awful situation” (Ether 8:24) will do all they can to stop this nation from losing its freedom. They will work to keep it “from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven” (Ether 2:11). But if “these things” are allowed “to be” (Ether 8:24), then this secret combination will “overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations and countries” and bring to pass “the destruction of all people” (Ether 8:25)
Those who think that the United States of America is immune from that evil force that threatens global destruction are living in a bubble of “carnal security” (2 Nephi 28:21). It is
hoped that their bubble is not so catastrophically burst in the same way that it was for the Antediluvians, the Jaredites, and the Nephites. But these things need not bring down this nation. The Lord in His mercy has already provided a way out of this temporal deathtrap if His people will do what He requires of them, which will be discussed in the conclusion of this treatise.
Besides the fact that Book of Mormon prophets issued direct warnings to the Gentiles regarding “these things” (Ether 8:23), there is ample evidence that the book’s literary organization is itself a warning. As early in the text as the Words of Mormon, the prophet-historian Mormon began to lay the organizational foundation for that structure. Most assuredly, the Book of Mormon’s primary purpose is to bring men and women to Christ. But as will be shown, there is ample evidence that indicates how the book’s literary structure builds towards a message of warning.
After the narrative taken from the small plates of Nephi ends, around the time of King Benjamin, Mormon, the book’s primary author, interrupts the chronological flow of the text. He did so in order to make some editorial explanations regarding which plates he used, and from which ones he drew upon to compile his sacred history of his people (Words of Mormon 1:3–6). He also stated that he was about to “deliver up the record [he had] been making into the hands of [his] son Moroni” (Words of Mormon 1:1)
But before doing that, he explained to the reader that he was going “to finish out [his] record, which [he took] from the plates of Nephi; and [that he made] it according to the knowledge and the understanding which God [had] given [him]” (Words of Mormon 1:9). Sadly, because he was slain (Mormon 8:5), Mormon did not “finish” his book, though he did complete most of it. Mormon had recounted the history of the Nephites, from the days of Nephi, all the way to the day in which he had “witnessed almost all the destruction of [his] people” (Words of Mormon 1:1) at the hill Cumorah. His supposition that he would die before his son, and that Moroni would “witness the entire destruction of [their] people” (Words of Mormon 1:2), was correct.
Mormon’s last words he wrote in his book were an invitation to the Lamanites to believe in Christ, and to accept His gospel (Mormon 7:1–10). After engraving those final words, the next thing the text records is his son’s statement, “Behold I, Moroni, do finish the record of my father, Mormon” (Mormon 8:1). Moroni, of course, was not going to write on the plates with some filler material, until there was no more room left. He was under a commandment as to what he would write. “Behold,” he stated, “I have but few things to write, which things I have been commanded by my father” (Mormon 8:1). Apparently, there was something very important that was left out. After discussing how the Nephites “were all destroyed” (Mormon 8:2), he repeated again that he was going to “fulfil the commandment of my father” (Mormon 8:3). Stating his intentions to “hide up the records in the earth” after he fulfilled that commandment, he remarked that his father had “written the intent thereof” (Mormon 8:5)
There are two good questions that arise from these verses to consider. First, what was the “commandment” he received from his father concerning the record? And second, what was his father’s “intent thereof” (Mormon 8:5)? In tracing the pieces of evidence that follow, cited from the scriptures, what the “intent” was, as well as that “commandment,” will become clear. Moreover, the evidence will also show that the answers to those two questions are in fact evidence that the Book of Mormon’s literary structure itself is a warning to the latter-day Gentiles (D&C 109:60) against secret combinations, the great enemies of Christ.
The first piece of evidence regarding his “intent” was when Mormon recounted how Ammon discovered the people of King Limhi, who were in bondage to the Lamanites, and how Ammon had learned of a record of a destroyed people. Limhi recounted to him the story of how an expedition was chosen out from his people and sent forth to find Zarahemla, so that they might be delivered from their slavery to the Lamanites (Mosiah 8:7). During their journey, they became lost and actually stumbled upon another civilization in ruins (Mosiah 8:8–12; 28:12, 17-19).
Because the expedition became “lost in the wilderness for the space of many days” (Mosiah 8:8), they never made their original destination. Instead, they discovered a land “which was covered with the bones of men, and of beasts, and was also
covered with ruins of buildings of every kind” (Mosiah 8:8). Limhi was quoted as saying that “for a testimony” to prove that what the members of the expedition said was true, they “brought twenty-four plates…filled with engravings,” being made “of
pure gold” (Mosiah 8:9). As Ammon listened to Limhi tell his people’s story, Limhi asked him if he knew of anybody who could translate the plates, because he thought that “they [would] give [him] a knowledge of [the]…people who [had] been destroyed,” meaning the Jaredites. Limhi, perhaps unaware of the tremendous significance of his own words, said that he was “desirous to know the cause of their destruction” (Mosiah 8:12). Ammon assured him that the prophet and seer Mosiah could translate the mysterious record.
After Limhi’s people escaped from the Lamanites and were united with the people of King Mosiah, his curiosity was satisfied. Mosiah translated the record as Limhi requested.
Mormon noted that the people’s curiosity at that time was very piqued. He wrote that Mosiah translated the Jaredite plates “because of the great anxiety of [the] people; for they were desirous beyond measure to know concerning those people who had been destroyed” (Mosiah 28:12). Commenting upon that segment of Nephite history, Mormon made a significant statement regarding the Jaredite record and the people of Limhi’s desire “beyond measure” to know what happened to those who had “been destroyed.” He wrote, “and this account shall be written hereafter; for behold, it is expedient that all people
should know the things which are written in this account” (Mosiah 28:19—emphasisadded). Mormon’s statement that “this accout shall be written hereafter” will be addressed in more detail momentarily.
The next major piece of evidence came when Mormon included in his abridgment an interview between Alma the prophet, and his prophet-son Helaman. In that interview, Alma explained to his son in no uncertain terms why the Jaredites were destroyed, and how they had become “fully ripe” in iniquity (Alma 37:28), because of secret combinations (Alma 37:21–32). Then, after that comment, Alma prophesied to his son Helaman that the Nephites would be destroyed “four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them” (Alma 45:10), because they would become “fully ripe” in iniquity like the Jaredites who preceded them. Thus did Alma verify that secret combinations not only destroyed the Jaredites, but that they would also be the cause for the downfall of his own people, the Nephites. That Mormon felt impressed to include Alma’s prophetic statement is more structural evidence of his “intent.”
Because Mormon was not able to abridge the record of the Jaredites, as he said he would in Mosiah 28:19, he was forced to leave his unfinished abridgment of the Nephites’ history over to his son Moroni, who was then tasked with the responsibility of completing it. As Moroni abridged the Jaredite record, and as he wrote concerning the rise of secret combinations among them, he paused in his narrative to comment that “they [secret
combinations] have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi” (Ether 8:21). Thus in one verse, Moroni answered Limhi’s centuries-old question concerning how the Jaredites were destroyed (Mosiah 8:12), as well as verifying his father’s comment that Gadianton’s band was the cause of the Nephite’s destruction (Helaman 2:12–14)
Mormon set a pattern by demonstrating in the Book of Mormon that secret
combinations were the cause for the downfall of the Nephites. He also started to lay the groundwork to show that the same thing happened to the Jaredites, but was unable to build upon that. Moroni followed that pattern of evidence by showing what happened to the Jaredites, and how they were similarly destroyed, like the Nephites, by the same causes.
It is significant to note that while the Jaredites had a history that was twice as long as the Nephites, Moroni narrowly focused almost half of his abridgment on how the Jaredites were destroyed by secret combinations. Both civilizations, the Nephites and the Jaredites, allowed secret combinations to corrupt their governments, take them over, lead the people to ripen in iniquity, and then use that power to murder the righteous. Moroni stated plainly that those forces were the cause of the destruction of both civilizations (Ether 8:21).
Third, while it might be a surprise to members of the Church, that Moroni never intended to write past the Book of Ether, he himself verified that such was the case (Moroni 1:1, 4).
In light of that, members should ponder how their view of the Book of Mormon would differ if the book had actually ended with the Book of Ether. If he had not written any further, would not the overwhelming message of the text be that two civilizations were destroyed in the exact same fashion, with a warning to the Gentiles (Ether 2:8–10, 8:22-25) to not repeat the same disaster? Is that not the “intent thereof?” Based on the
evidence at hand, one would be hard pressed to find another one.
When certain members of the Church are uncomfortable with, or disagree with, some of the teachings of past prophets, a frequent tactic employed against those who cite them is to
bludgeon them into silence by accusing them of quoting from a “dead prophet.” Yet, almost every time those same members read from their scriptures, or listen to someone else discuss them in Sunday school class, they are reading or listening to the words of “dead prophets.” This tactical double standard of selectively accepting divine teachings conveniently allows those who use it to pick and choose which truths from the scriptures and the prophets they wish to obey. And when the teachings are perceived to be “controversial,” then the “dead prophet” tactic is used with a fanatical zeal that rivals the Pharisees of old. But, the Lord does not give His prophets suggestions to recommend to
Speaking to His “church,” concerning the teachings of His prophets, He stated, “thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me” (D&C 21:4). “For,” He added, “his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:5). Especially applicable to the subject matter addressed in this book is the succeeding verse of
that section. “For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6).
As one of the Lord’s prophets of the last dispensation, President Ezra Taft Benson spoke frequently to the Saints and other Church leaders regarding the importance of the Book of
Mormon, and how it has been neglected for too long. In a talk delivered over 26 times to various segments of the Church, he said, “now, we have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should.” (President Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness And A Warning, (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 1988), p. 6.) He then offered some ways as to how the Book of Mormon might be properly utilized the way God intended it to be.
There are some who take these warnings very seriously, even to the point of having awakened to a “sense of [their] awful situation” (Ether 8:24). But, they feel that there is no way to stop the momentum of this latter-day secret combination that seeks to overthrow the “freedom of all lands, nations, and countries” (Ether 8:25) and have given up hope. Yet, as dire as the warning is, those same Book of Mormon prophets still hold out hope to the Gentiles. Moroni prophesied that “the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be” (Ether 8:23)
Moroni never foretold the outcome. He only placed the Gentiles’ fate in the balance, with the outcome being contingent upon what they choose to do.For those who think it is too late to stop what is happening just might watch their beliefs become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and will one day wish that it had not come to pass.
Book of Mormon prophets, namely Mormon and Moroni, testified that secret combinations brought down at least two ancient American civilizations. In particular, Moroni wrote, “And they [meaning secret combinations]…caused the destruction of [the Jaredites], and also the destruction of the people of Nephi” (Ether 8:21). Moroni poignantly added to such an observation, that “whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold they shall be destroyed” (Ether 8:22).
After making those instructive statements, he then remarked that “it is wisdom in God” that the Gentiles (D&C 109:60) be shown “these things,” so that they might “repent” and not let “these murderous combinations” get above them (Ether 8:23). He testified that the Lord commands the Gentiles to “awake to a sense of [their] awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among [them]” (Ether 8:24). For “whosoever buildeth…up [this evil group] seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries” and to bring “to pass the destruction of all people” (Ether 8:25). Failure to heed this warning will cause that “the sword of the justice of the Eternal God” to “fall upon” this nation, if the Gentiles “shall suffer these things to be” (Ether 8:23).
The Book of Mormon was “so molded” by God that the structural organization of the text is a warning, in and of itself, about the total destruction caused by secret combinations to past American civilizations. Concerning those secret combinations, the Lord prophesied, as was recorded by Alma, that He would “bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations…unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land” (Alma 37:25). The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a fulfillment of that promise. The Book of Mormon stands as a solemn warning, “unto every nation that shall hereafter possess” this land, as to what will happen to modern civilizations that allow their nations to be taken over by they who follow those “secret works” of Satan, Cain, and all of their followers throughout the generations.
While numerous prophets have spoken out against freedom destroying evils in the world, President Benson directed his warnings against the great latter-day secret combination that is the force working behind the scenes, which seeks to enslave all of humanity. Accordingly, in modern times, the Lord has commanded His people to “waste and wear out [their] lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness” (D&C
123:13). “For,” said the Prophet Joseph Smith, “there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things” (D&C 123:15). The importance of following such a commandment, in light of what is at stake, is plainly manifest.
Three ancient American civilizations were destroyed by the same cause, and for failing to adhere to the warnings sounded by prophets in their day and age. Yet, the United States of America is not predestined to meet the same fate, and for that matter, nor is any particular one of the many other nations. The scriptures leave everything open-ended, but with the stipulation that time is running out for the Gentiles in America to put their country back
on its Constitutional tracks.
Mormon included in his writings, as found in 3 Nephi 6-8
(which is a parallel and pattern for the last days), a priceless
historical object lesson of what might happen to members of the
Church if they allow “these things to be.” They who survived the
calamities of those times paid attention when the prophetic
warning was sounded. If modern day Gentiles (D&C 109:60)
wish to save their civilization, and their freedom, they would do
well to listen to those warnings.
This was taken in part from “The Hidden Things of Darkness: Exposing the Enemies of Christ” by Christopher S. Bentley. The Mormon Chronicle strongly encourages you to purchase your copy (by clicking on the title) this important book that lays out the principles of identifying the “enemies of Christ” so as not to be deceived.