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Death of a Nation
Golden Statue of Moroni
Featured modernly as the image of an angel atop many LDS Christian temples, Moroni is one of the most notable people from The Book of Mormon. His fame does not come from his stories in the book alone, but his post-resurrection activities. Following is a brief treatment of the life of Moroni, the son of Mormon.
Light in the Dark
Two great men in the Nephite record have the name of Moroni. One is Captain Moroni, a noteworthy general before the coming of Christ. The other one and subject of this article is Moroni, the son of Mormon.
Moroni grew to maturity in a dark time in Nephite history. When his father Mormon was a youth, civil war began to tear the Nephite nation to shreds. The fighting began as religious and social disagreement progressing yearly into national chaos. By the time Moroni was born, his nation was in shambles and on the brink of destruction.
Moroni took charge of the abridgment which bears the name of his father Mormon after the destruction of his nation in the Land of Cumorah. Mormon had buried the records in a prominent hill in Cumorah, also called Cumorah, to save the abridgment from destruction, which he delivered to Moroni.
There is no record of how the exchange occurred between father and son. Mormon was in his early to mid-seventies at the time. It is likely that Moroni was between 30 to 50 years of age. The record does not indicate the birth of Moroni in its current form since only one-third was translated and the other two-thirds are sealed.
In Moroni's writings he details the precarious nature of his existence as he records:
...after the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold, the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed. And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfill the commandment of my father. And whether they will slay me, I know not."
Society of Moroni
Moroni was in a different position than was his father Mormon. Moroni lived with the constant threat of being discovered by Lamanites or robbers and killed for his association with the defeated Nephite government or his religious beliefs. The Lamanite organizations and the like would kill any person who they suspected had a belief in Christ or who remained loyal to the dead Nephite cause.
The bitterness in spirit between the Nephite and Lamanite people are akin to those between the Palestinian and Israeli. There was no resolution to the conflict between the Lamanites and Nephites at this juncture since the allegiances of these two parties no longer followed the lines of heritage/religion exclusively, but included political intrigue.
Moroni's writings bemoan the pressures he faced to exist. Each time he reached a stopping point in his engraving he bade farewell as if it would be the final time he recorded anything. He wrote,
For behold, their [the Lamanites] wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ. And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life." Moroni 1:2-3
Other than these brief references that Moroni gave of his society, there is no record. Mormon did not wish to harrow up, to torture the souls of the readers of his writings regarding the debauchery of his days. And apparently, he is of the same mind by not mentioning the terrible scenes from his days of hiding.
Moroni lived in an anti-Christ society of the making of descendants of ex-members of The Church of Jesus Christ. In 231 A.D. a group of people split with the Nephites and took upon themselves the name of Lamanites after more than a hundred years of no such distinction in their part of the world--since the advent of Christ who taught them unity.
They also did not teach their children the gospel of Jesus Christ becoming a budding minority group. By the time of Mormon and Moroni, this tradition of anti-Christ was over one hundred years entrenched into the hearts of those people at all levels of society, no longer in the minority.
It was not uncommon for there to be people of differing belief systems among the children of Lehi at any stage of their existence; however, during Moroni's time, it was not beneficial to be a believing child of Lehi as the entire face of the land was at war with itself--at least that is how it appeared to Moroni. All was lost to him, so he turned to the records given to him by his father Mormon for comfort and purpose.
Moroni decided not to write any other things regarding the people of his time because of his charge to finish the record and deposit it given of the prophet Mormon. Mormon called his son to the ministry.
Moroni received heavenly manifestations, visitations, and confirmation through the Spirit of the Lord just as his father, Mormon. The prophecies and revelations of hundreds of years had come to the brink of fulfillment in the days of Moroni. Did Moroni have the same hopes and desires as his father Mormon for the people of God? Mormon prayed without faith for his people to repent, knowing that the people had become gross in wickedness during his time because of their response to the mere mention of the word of God. It must have been a difficult time to be a Christian let alone a fully ordained apostle during this time of apostasy.
As a minister, Moroni had no audience to which to minister--none that he mentions. Some good people may have helped him hide and given him shelter from time to time as God granted him longevity during this fierce ethnic cleansing event. Moroni witnessed the people forming rivalries among themselves after their common enemy the Nephites ceased as a recognizable people.
Moroni took on his ministry as the first official Apostle to bear testimony and preach Christ to the latter-days.
He ministers to those of the last days before the coming of the Savior for His millennial reign in glory. The Book of Moroni is divided into two parts. According to L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
He writes first to the members of the Church and then to those who have not embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ. Moroni’s last words to the members of the Church are written as a voice of warning. He writes as one who sees the history of his people repeating itself in the future. “Behold, the Lord Hath Shown unto Me Great and Marvelous Things” - L. Tom Perry
In his writings, Moroni articulated the mode and manner of the sacrament, the qualifications for membership in the church, recorded the doctrine regarding infant baptism and provided counsel and direction regarding following Christ. Why did he do this?
...the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
How very telling. How very convicting to later generations and the modern day for someone to sit and observe the culture, tradition and times--then provide commentary based on that information.
Moroni included words on charity. In seeing today, he saw that there exist many creeds and churches in the art of money accrual instead of soul-saving. He saw that people would not be as giving or helpful. He saw that society accepts all manner of wicked traditions--teaching for doctrine the precepts of men.
Truth is Considered Fiction
Moroni saw that the gospel surrounds a great many of the people in modern society in the form of books, media, and good Christian Churches!
Comparing his day to modern times he could not imagine why righteousness does not abound more other than false teaching and pride. So, he included in his writings teachings to combat those deniers of Christ. Most of his book, The Book of Moroni, gives instruction on basic functions within the true Church of Jesus Christ from his day. Little wonder that the modern Church of Christ uses some of those same practices.
Unfortunately, Moroni's words are curtailed by detractors that claim him to be fictional--part of the imagination of a con man. Sinister are the works of men in these last days.
It seems strange that a book, a testimony of Christ, that proves beyond reason that Jesus is real would not be more accepted. All of the prophets Mormon included in his record seems to have stressed some concern about people accepting their record as valid. Each received the same promise from God to give them comfort.
Nephi, the father of record keeping among the Nephites, recorded upon completing his writings-- speaking to each modern person,
...you and I shall stand face to face before his [Jesus Christ's] bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness. 2 Nephi 33:11
The promise is that all people who have access to the record that Moroni deposited and sealed in the side of a hill will one day know that he and all the other prophets therein mentioned were commanded by Jesus Christ to write the history and testimonies. The book purports to be the word of God. It is.
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