(I don’t like this chapter.)
I am sitting with the descriptions found in this chapter, and I am asking myself: why? Why is it here in the Book of Mormon? Of what I’ve allowed myself to experience, and even of recent news reports that I’ve read of horrific military actions in foreign countries, this is the worst of human depravity that I have ever read about. (Back in Mormon 4:12, Mormon even states that according to the word of the Lord, there had never existed this level of wickedness amongst all the House of Israel.) And what’s more, the more horrendous of the acts was found among the wicked Nephites; once exposed to light, now completely devoid of it.
Why am I being brought to consider such ugliness in a book that testifies of Christ? The reality is that probably not even the thousandth part of their heinous acts are recorded herein, but enough is given to illustrate under what conditions Moroni and Mormon had to operate.
Part of me wonders if satan wasn’t just interested in taking down an entire nation, which he succeeded in doing, but if he was also trying to divert the completion of the Book of Mormon record, which he failed at doing. I don’t know that I should give the adversary that much foresight and credit. Yet if he (satan) understood the impact of this record in Joseph Smith’s time, and tried to prevent it at all costs, could he not have been trying to do the same thing during the time of the Nephites? Destroy an entire civilization to attempt to thwart the completion of the Book of Mormon?
I’m sitting with my destructive responses to anger in the past.
Why did the adversary have his focus fixed on the destruction of the Nephite nation? Because they once were a delightsome people (see vs. 12) and they had Jesus as their guide (reference?), therefore they had a target on their heads. For some reason, exposure to the light, and then rejection thereof, brings greater wickedness than having never been blessed with the light.
Mormon is also mourning their rejection of basic concepts of principle, civility, order, and mercy. Their ability to function as a society of self-governed people was no more. (Oh how we take these things for granted!)
The character of Mormon in this chapter is amazingly and unflinchingly righteous.
- “My beloved son, I write unto you again that ye may know that I am yet alive;” (vs. 1)
- “Behold, I am laboring with them continually… wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them.” (vs. 4)
- “And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.” (vs. 6)
- “Behold, my heart cries: Wo unto this people. Come out in judgment, O God, and hide their sins, and wickedness, and abominations from before thy face!” (vs. 15) (an interesting verse that perhaps deserves more attention)
- “But behold, my son, I recommend thee unto God, and I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved; and I pray unto God that he will spare thy life,” (vs. 22)
- “but I trust that I may see thee soon; for I have sacred records that I would deliver up unto thee.” (vs. 24)
As I have gone through this chapter, it strikes me that Mormon understands a key purpose of this mortal existences is for us to “labor [to] conquer the enemy of all righteousness” and prepare for the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. Despite the horrific circumstances in front of them, Mormon knew that this was not the end.
And hence, we have this powerful declaration of Mormon’s at the end of the chapter:
My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.
And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever. Amen.(verses 25-26)