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Leading the Spiritually Dead
Chief Captain Mormon
Mormon lived during the Fourth Century AD--presumably on the North American continent--was a prophet of God, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, a historian and a general. His most influential role to his people the Nephites was the role of general.
As a prophet, his message was meant for a latter-day time and his historical records were limited causing much debate for its translator Joseph Smith.
Mormon's purpose is clear in the record as he compiled and abridged the countless numbers of writings to include in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ "...to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations...."
Society at The Time of Mormon
For generations. the people of Lehi (The founding Father of Civilization in Ancient America) experienced a time of peace and prosperity after Jesus Christ manifested himself to this group of people that lasted 194 years before factions again began to spread in the land.
A group of people parted from the Church of Jesus Christ and took upon themselves the name of Lamanites.
During the time of the reign of Christ in the land, the people removed the appellations that separated them from each other and all took on the name of Christ or Christian.
Toward the end of the second generations of Christians in America--using 100 years as one generation--this break-away group decided that the Church did not represent what it believed anymore.
Mormon's society fulfilled Lehi's dream as fewer and fewer partook of he tree of life and went to the spacious building with no foundation.
A generation as used in the context of the Book of Mormon generally means 100 years. Read about Lehi's dream in the Book of Mormon.
This break-away of distraught Christians during the rise of the third generation after Christ's visit to ancient America was the catalyst for division in the society of the children of Lehi again. According to Mormon, those people left the church to become a separate people all together and paved the way for classism that changed society. About ten years following the schism the communal law of Christ that was prevalent among them was also destroyed .
There is a four-fold purpose of the modern Church of Christ. Of the four, one being to care for the poor and the needy. Under the banner of this modern focus, the ancient church in America followed a similar policy. Caring for the poor by having all things in common helped Christians in ancient times fulfill their commitment to Christ and His teachings.
When Mormon's society started to have differing views and groups form, the ability of the church to function was greatly diminished and the services among the poor were frustrated in the church--changed because society started to become more secular.
The Great and Spacious Building with No Foundation
In addition, Mormon reveals that The Church of Jesus Christ began to have members file off from the church with the idea that specific teachings constituted the forming of new churches. These people following their apostasy would then began to persecute the original church.
Just as in modern society, Mormon’s culture was a diversity of religions and political views. The more time passed from the visit of Christ that Mormon’s society experienced, the more divided, or diverse and brash society became. The church began to fail in its mission, and the members became wicked.
The people who left the church also began to form an even more significant division by separating into nations of opposition--Lamanites, Nephites, and other segments. The church members and like-minded people were called Nephites again, even though it, the church, began to suffer from apostasy. Though the physical descent was different for this new group of Lamanites and Nephites, being that the people by nationality were not necessarily descendants of Laman and Lemuel or Nephi and Sam, they took the names upon them in full knowledge of the history of those names.
The Lamanites chose to avoid teaching the faith of their youth from the true church to their children. This created a new group of people separated according to religion and tradition purposely instigated by unbelieving parents.
Whatever factors caused the society of former Christians to abandon their faith on such a grand magnitude was so poignant that they formed another or opposing culture. Possibly, they made contact with another group of people not mentioned in the record and drank in that culture.
Nothing in the current translation of The Book of Mormon suggests any particular reasons, which reason could be in the sealed portion of the record, other records kept by the people or none at all.
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This spurred the same mixture of social poison that troubled the children of Lehi from the very beginning and set the scene for the decline of the church and society of the people of Nephi.
Mormon reveals in 4th Nephi that
“…it came to pass that when three hundred and twenty years had passed away, Ammaron, being constrained by the Holy Ghost, did hide up the records which were sacred—yea, even all the sacred records which had been handed down from generation to generation, which were sacred—even until the three hundred and twentieth year from the coming of Christ.”
Though Mormon was not ready to obtain the records of Ammaron, he at the age of 15 was prepared to take a leadership role among his people in the military.
What do You Think?
If your nation rejected everything you believed, would you remain loyal and support it thy way Mormon did?
Power To Remain
Debauchery surrounded Mormon on every side it appears as he mentions in his record.
He states that the spirit of the Lord did cease to strive with his compatriots and that miracles did cease among them because they were too wicked to merit them.
In this failing moral environment, Mormon receives an exception from God. Mormon describes how he received visitations of the spirit and acknowledgment of heaven to soothe him while surrounded by a jaded culture.
"I was visited of the Lord," he wrote, “and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus.” Mormon 1:15
Despite the terrible environment, Mormon received instruction in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There may have been some small pockets of true Christians to bolster up his spirits though not recorded in current editions of the record. Mormon senior receives no mention in these records other than being Mormon's father. Additionally, Mormon does not mention his family—siblings or spouse throughout the entire history save for a son, Moroni.
And I did endeavor to preach unto this people, but my mouth was shut, and I was forbidden that I should preach unto them; for behold they had willfully rebelled against their God; and the beloved disciples were taken away out of the land, because of their iniquity. Mormon 1:11
Mormon Teaching the Wicked Nephites
Mormon instructed by the Lord to withhold teaching the gospel to the people. Confronted with those, who rebuffed him for saying anything about faith just as in modern society, Mormon mentioned later in the record that when he would attempt to speak to his brethren about the gospel that they would tremble and become angry. The people whom he loved turned away from God in full knowledge and would not receive instruction. Mormon did the best he could under the circumstances. He lamented:
I did remain among them, but I was forbidden to preach unto them, because of the hardness of their hearts; and because of the hardness of their hearts the land was cursed for their sake. Mormon 1:15-17
Mormon would be isolated from his compatriots as far as his faith in Christ stood. He would stand alone as a prophet in a dying nation, the Nephites, against an enemy who purposely taught their children not to believe in Christ, the Lamanites. No matter where he would go, his lot would be to exist apart from society spiritually.
In the Military
Mormon admitted that he was a large and powerful teenage man at 15 years of age.
His government sought after him to lead them to war against the Lamanites.
Though Mormon did not mention much about himself and his credentials, it is evident from the level of trust given him at such a tender age that he was a remarkable young man--to garner the faith of men much older than he to lead them into battles.
It is safe to assume that Mormon proved his worth in battle opportunities prior to being asked to lead all the armies as a general at 15 years of age.
A scripture in Isaiah speaks about a prophecy where the people would rise up and ask a person to lead them because that person has clothing--desperate for any leader.
Where it differs is that Mormon was able to lead the armies. Mormon's ability to rally men of differing faiths and spiritual levels to fight for the good of their dwindling nation gave him great perspective in compiling the record, which became The Book of Mormon.
Wars and The Sorrowing of the Damned
Mormon had witnessed the Lamanites go to battle against the Nephites prior to leading the armies of Nephi to battle.
His nation had beaten the Lamanites away previously to the point that their enemies did not meet them for battle for four years.
Earlier in the record, Mormon abridged history that spoke of Captain Moroni who successfully fought off Lamanite aggression in his day by teaching the word of God to his soldiers and keeping a strict command of his armies in addition to training. He also consulted prophets before engaging the enemy.
Mormon wanted to do this same thing, but the difference was the hearts of the people. They had known prosperity for so long that there was no connection to the suffering of their ancestors.
They could not remember the things the Lord had done for them because of apathy. Mormon later had a son whom he named Moroni--probably as a symbol for what he hoped could occur with his people--a repeat of Captain Moroni's chapter in history. It was not to be so.
In 326 A.D., Mormon led an army of Nephites to war against a more substantial Lamanite army. So vast was this army it frightened the soldiers of Mormon. Mormon's armies retreated often. The nation was teetering on destruction, and general disorder and mayhem filled the land. Criminal activity went unchecked, and the people lamented.
This lamentation actually brought hope to Mormon to see the people grieving their plight. King Aaron of the Lamanites had struck fear in the hearts of the Nephites with his numerous armies bent on destroying Nephite society.
...when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people. Mormon 2:12
To his utter heartbreak and dismay, he found that the people only lamented because they could not live their lives in sin and still receive the protection of heaven. Mormon said, "It was rather the sorrowing of the damned because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin." Mormon 2:13
Diffusion of the Seed of Lehi
In 345 A.D., the Nephites were repulsed by the Lamanites to the city of Jashon, which was near the place where Ammaron deposited the records of the Nephites. Mormon, being the correct age, retrieved the plates to record the dealings of the Nephites as Ammaron instructed.
In his dual role as a historian and general, he had a unique opportunity to view his people from a military standpoint. As a prophet, he also was able to see why the things that occurred did occur within a society.
...I did speak unto my people, and did urge them with great energy, that they would stand boldly before the Lamanites and fight for their wives, and their children, and their houses, and their homes. And my words did arouse them somewhat to vigor, insomuch that they did not flee from before the Lamanites, but did stand with boldness against them. Mormon 2
With the urging of Mormon, the Nephite nation fought for truth and freedom. They fought for the liberty of their families against the Lamanites and an entire culture of robbers who had taken up the old oaths of Gadianton--similar to the organized crime in present-day America and other modern nations.
After successive battles, the Nephites won ground. Mormon reveals that his people entered into a treaty with the Lamanites and the Gadianton robbers in 349 A. D. where they obtained the lands of their inheritance to the north of the famed narrow neck of land.
Within that treaty, the lands to the south belonged to the Lamanites and robbers. Mormon does not explicitly mention that the Gadianton robbers claimed any land. The bandits may have made some sort of deal with the Lamanites.
The Gadianton robbers appeared to have hated the Lamanites and Nephites equally but sided with the Lamanites because of social differences with the Nephites. The fact that the Lamanites and robbers both spawned from the society that they then referred to as Nephites may have something to do with the temporary truce between them.
Changing of the Guard
Mormon's son, Moroni eventually takes the records to record the remainder of the events of the Nephites. He reveals that after the destruction of the Nephites as a nation that the Lamanites began a great war among themselves. There is no trace of the Nephite or Lamanite societies following the record of the Book of Mormon.
A popular assumption is that after generations of war the people from these two civilizations submerged into other groups that migrated to the Americas and ceased to be a separate people.
Some experts and faithful suggest that the Maya, Aztecs, Inca, and Hopewell people are related if not directly associated with the Nephite and Lamanite societies. Evidence supports that possibility because Mormon recorded the Lamanites purposely taught their children a different Heritage than that of the Nephites.
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© 2012 Rodric Johnson