Secret Combinations

Ether 8 (Éter 8); See also Moses 5:18-52

In the course of his Jaredite narrative, Moroni uses this chapter to expound upon the diabolical tactic of secret combinations. I have found in the footnotes in verse 9, multiple references to secret combinations throughout the scriptures, and how their author is the devil and the origin of such date back to the time of Cain, when he slew Abel.

Perhaps the saddest line in the account of Cain found in the book of Moses is the realization of Cain: “…for these things are not hid from the Lord.” (Moses 5:39)

Another truly sad point is the aftermath of the family dynamics of Akish, whom the daughter of Jared lured into this trap. I feel saddest for the daughter of Jared who believed the lie that she was getting gain or doing some great thing in helping her father to regain his throne.

I have a lot going through my mind this morning. First there is this prompt to make notes about organized wickedness. That is what the Lord, through Moroni is warning us about. What started in the heart of one women, was spread to her father, her soon-to-be husband, and then all his friends and family (see vs. 17). Organized wickedness involves others.

This chapter deals with secret combinations as they pertain to murder (the ending of life), but organized wickedness in sexuality (the creation of life) is not much further behind, and is also an organization that seeks to hide itself for the sake of power and gain.

And they were kept up by the power of the devil to administer these oaths unto the people, to keep them in darkness, to help such as sought power to gain power, and to murder, and to plunder, and to lie, and to commit all manner of wickedness and whoredoms.

Verse 16 (emphasis added)

People are kept in darkness under secret combinations, subjected to falsehoods and lies to the assistance of those who seek power. (I’m having a hard time not drawing strong parallels to our current political climate.)

An interesting side tangent to this is then the false notion that all organization is corrupt, including organized religion.

Secret combinations are a hot ticket to the immediate and swift end of civilized society. When an entire nation embraces them, then is that nation destroyed. There is no preserving force working in their behalf. The vengeance of God, in avenging the blood of the saints who have fallen prey to such as uphold these works, is upon them.

Verse 21 gives even heavier importance to the destructive nature of secret combinations, or organized wickedness: “And they have caused the destruction of [the] people.” It is not just wickedness, it’s the concerted effort of wickedness, organized so as to create a web of allegiances and networks. This is what destroys civilization: being sworn by covenants to associations with those that would promote the works of darkness and in demanding allegiance by penalty of death.

One of the most insidious consequences of secret combination, and the motivation behind those that support and endorse it, is to “overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries;” Why would the devil be so bent on destroying freedom? The obvious answer is that it limits an individual’s ability to choose. (Salvation can only be secured by choice.) In the context of secret combinations, as soon as someone is invited to enter into this pact, their freedom is taken from them. They have only the ability to accept it or suffer the consequence of death (which frankly seems the better option, because one exits mortality without the consequences of sin).

Coming to the end of this chapter, I am asking myself what is my obligation in recognizing and avoiding secret combinations? Two things come to mind: 1) be aware of the realities in the world that we live in. 2) Focus on the future and the day when satan will no longer have control over the hearts of the children of men. (see verse 26)

The Spirit of the Lord bids me to revisit this chapter once more before moving on. In verse 7, we read that Jared experienced great sorrow because of what he had allowed himself to do with his heart: “for he had set his heart upon the kingdom and upon the glory of the world.”

This conditioning of the heart, this is something that is completely controlled by the individual.

Extending forgiveness can take tremendous courage and humility. It can also take time. It requires us to put our faith and trust in the Lord as we assume accountability for the condition of our hearts. Here lies the significance and power of our agency.

“Christ Heals That Which Is Broken,” Amy A. Wright, April 2022 General Conference (emphasis added)

Heart – Guide to the Scriptures

1 Samuel 13:14

2 Nephi 25:16

Proverbs 23:7 (all of the chapter is informative)

Matthew 5:8

I feel that all of this is God instructing me in what I must do to get to Him.

Another day spent focused on the key word “heart,” looking for ways in which it was addressed in the last General Conference has rendered a fruitful and meaningful search that I could spend more time than I have available for this morning.

President Nelson’s latest prophetic counsel “to end conflicts that are raging in your heart, your home, and your life” shows me that he understands enough to direct the issue squarely at the condition of our hearts. He continues, ” Bury any and all inclinations to hurt others—whether those inclinations be a temper, a sharp tongue, or a resentment for someone who has hurt you.”

Elder Dieter F. Utchdorf’s latest council also bids me to pay keen attention to the condition of my heart: “Our Heartfelt All.” (This is also a discussion on consecration.)

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