This is a continuation of what I started last week. I had intended to post it all, but it was WAY too long!
The second thing I’d been thinking about, and continue to ponder, is that in my yearly journal through The Book of Mormon, I’ve finished the actual book in it which bears the title of Mormon. The majority of it was written by Mormon, and the last chapter was completed by his son Moroni.
I’ve spoken a little about Mormon in the past, and that’s James Fullmer’s portrait of him above. The entire book, containing the writings of Nephi and Alma and many other ancient prophets, bears his name because he was the prophet who took all the records of the Nephites and made a condensed version, as directed by the Lord, that would come forth in our times.
As I read his words, I was again and again impressed with his faith in difficult times, and great trials, even seeing the complete destruction of his entire people, the Nephites. Definitely, he’s someone I would like to get to know after this life, a hero to me.
Mormon 2:8 shares his observations of the people: But behold, the land was filled with robbers and with Lamanites; and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites; and it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land.
Two Gadianton robber leaders who came to a bad end, 1st century AD.
I pondered that scripture for a couple of days, because I believe we, in our country and the world as a whole, are again approaching a point somewhat like what he describes. We are not all the way there, yet, and I hope that all the world is filled with a spirit of repentance before we reach that point. Nevertheless, it resonated with me.
Mormon saw the wickedness of his people. When they won a battle, they celebrated, but they didn’t have gratitude for the Lord. In fact they thought they did it on their own, and celebrated their own greatness instead. At one point, he actually quit leading the army because he couldn’t bear their blindness. He wanted to preach repentance, but the Lord told him he couldn’t!
Mormon 1:16-17: 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.
But 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.
I don’t think we are quite there yet, but there are some pretty ugly things going on in the world, even in our own country, and I fear we may get there at some point.
This part, though, this really broke my heart to read his last recorded words about his people in Mormon 6, beginning with verse 11. I am skipping a few verses, but you can find them here, if you choose.
11 And when they [the Lamanite armies] had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps, from the top of the hill Cumorah, the ten thousand of my people who were hewn down, being led in the front by me.
What that means is that only 24 of the hundreds of thousands of Nephites who left and moved northward, trying to escape from their enemies, remained alive. Each commander led 10,000 Nephites. So he is saying from the top of Cumorah (upstate New York), they looked down on the final day and saw the 10,000 who had been led by Mormon, all dead.
He goes on to list 12 more commanders by name, including Moroni, whose ten thousands all lay daad. He also says there are another 10 commanders, each with 10,000 people. So 23 commanders x 10,000 = 230,000 people, men and women, old and young, killed in the last mighty battle, leaving only 24.
Here’s the heart breaking part, for me, verses 16-22: And my soul was rent with anguish, because of the slain of my people, and I cried: O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!
Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss. O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen! But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.
And the day soon cometh that your mortal must put on immortality, and these bodies which are now moldering in corruption must soon become incorruptible bodies; and then ye must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to be judged according to your works; and if it so be that ye are righteous, then are ye blessed with your fathers who have gone before you.
O that ye had repented before this great destruction had come upon you. But behold, ye are gone, and the Father, yea, the Eternal Father of heaven, knoweth your state; and he doeth with you according to his justice and mercy.
Moroni and Mormon at the end, when Mormon was wounded:
I can only imagine his sorrow. No, I can’t. I can’t even begin imagine it! That would be like standing on top of the Sun Sphere in downtown Knoxville and looking out to see all the city’s people dead in the streets. The city itself doesn’t have many more than 230,000. And that was only ONE battle, the last full day of the last battle. All the way across this country, the Nephites had fled and been hunted and died in battles. There had been millions of them, and then … only 24.
In last week’s Sunday School lesson, there was this quote from Samuel the Lamanite Prophet in Helaman 13:11: But if ye will repent and return unto the Lord your God I will turn away mine anger, saith the Lord; yea, thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not.
Yes, I don’t want that woe. I want the repentance that changes my heart so that I have no more disposition to do wrong, and I walk in the footsteps of my Savior.