Wicked judges revile against Nephi because he has testified of their corruption in high places. But “they durst not lay their own hands upon him, for they feared the people lest they should cry out against them.” (4)
This shows the power of the people, for good or evil. In this instance, they believe in the prophet enough to stand up for him and the wicked judges dare not lay their hands on him at this time. A good thing.
Manipulative tactics of the devil
The judges realize they can’t take Nephi by force, so they try to convince everyone that Nephi’s crazy. They boast in their own strength and in their cities and they try to stir up the people to anger.
This is important to note…
When political leaders stir up their base to fear, contention, and anger, they are using Satanic tactics to gain control or power over them.
When people are fearful or angry, they can’t think rationally. They think reactively and emotionally, which puts them on dangerous ground, where they can be easily manipulated to believe something or do something they probably wouldn’t believe or do if they had all the facts and were thinking and acting rationally.
Don’t allow anyone—family, friends, leaders—to manipulate you through devilish tactics, even for good purposes! Our prophet today has said:
Never has one wrong been corrected by a second wrong. Evil has never been resolved by more evil.”President Russell M. Nelson, June 2020 statement
Pray to God when you feel fear. Ask Him to comfort you, so you can have the Spirit of peace and love and see clearly.
Pray to God when you feel anger or confusion. He will give the humble seeker light and peace.
Pray to God when you start to feel you are better than someone else—more righteous or more educated or more anything. When we justify those feelings, Satan has power over us. Pray for humility and for light.
Use Christlike tactics to connect with others. Shun the use of devilish tactics that divide and put others down.
When Jesus met a woman and asked her to draw water, she seemed to react as a political and religious “other”—highlighting the differences between Him as a Jew and her as a Samaritan. (John 4) Jesus, in response, treated this woman as a daughter of God. His reaction of talking with her lovingly and truthfully is a great example for each of us. A common strategy of the adversary is trying to separate us into differing camps, pitched against each other in battle. “But the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
It’s easy to apply the lesson in this story to our society today. As we go throughout our daily lives, including Church meetings and activities, we meet people from many different backgrounds. Some might even be labeled by the world as political or cultural enemies. Rather than focusing on what might separate us, we can choose to focus on what we have in common as children of heavenly parents and learn to talk with others lovingly, as the Savior did.”Becky and Bennett Borden
While on earth, Jesus sat with publicans (the most hated of Jews). He sat with harlots (hated for their sins). He sought out the outcasts and lifted them up. Even among His own apostles, He called men from different backgrounds, careers, and worldviews. He didn’t just associate with those who were like-minded. He didn’t love only those who agreed with Him.
He loved everyone, even His enemies.
I think if He were here today, in 2020, He would sit with people who call themselves Democrats and Republicans and other parties. I think He would sit with people who stand behind slogans of Black Lives Matter and those that stand behind Blue Lives Matter and all other causes. He would ask each person about their story (even though He already knows them all). But I think He would ask, so that all of us sitting around the table with Him could hear other stories besides our own.
And when we actually LISTENED to each other, we might get a glimpse into what Christ sees in each of us. So much good. So much potential. And I think we’d shrug off our pride, shake off our judgments, and bury our hate deep down where we could never touch it again. I think we’d drop to the ground and beg forgiveness for being so blind and so proud.
Then, we’d pour our energy into loving people, like He does, and learning more stories, so we could build bridges, not walls. We’d seek to connect and unite, not divide, separate, or conquer.
You may have heard the saying “Love the sinner; hate the sin.” Do we spend enough time on the first half of that invitation?Becky and Bennett Borden, Moving Closer: Loving as the Savior Did
Boasting & Pride
The judges mock Nephi for saying their mighty city could ever be destroyed. They boast in their own strength, because pride stirs up people to be in their power as well as anger and fear. Leaders do this constantly today, and I’m not saying it’s always a sign that they are evil. But be aware of these tactics. Don’t let a leader’s boasting that the economy is good because of their own might and power or bad because of the other side’s mismanagement, sway you to give up your free agency to them.
I have heard comments in previous years from people who said they felt the president was an immoral and unethical man, yet the economy was good, so they’d vote for him. If you feel this way, fine. But I think we miss out on eternal help in voting when we ignore God’s input in the process.
Take concerns (personal and national) to Him, and be willing to listen and act on what He tells you. I know from personal experience that it’s not always the way I thought He would tell me to vote.
Having humility is key when asking God for revelation. We might find out we’ve been wrong, and that is painful. But if we think we already know His answers, we won’t sincerely seek for truth.
God cannot change our minds if we think we’re already right.
It’s so easy to get stirred up in the nasty political climate of today. I study many news sources from both sides every morning and have strong leanings about who I think should lead our country.
Yet…I fear being lifted up in pride, where I judge others for disagreeing with me (as so many do to me—unknowingly, believing I think the same as them, when I don’t). I believe contending and arguing on social media does more harm than good. So many good people, with beautiful intentions, ruin relationships and trust through ugly words and name-calling. Ugh.
Boasting in even good things usually turns us and others away from Christ.
Whose kingdom are we trying to build today?
This is Disney’s castle and I’m not talking about building that, but for a kingdom, it’s a pretty good visual.
Are we trying to build up a certain party’s kingdom? A certain cause’s?
Are we willing to shove others metaphorically to the ground to get our voices heard?
I don’t believe Christ would do that. Ugliness, hate, pride and contention will not help build His kingdom. I would dare say that right now, it’s hurting the spiritual construction of His kingdom, bringing it to a screeching halt.
Christ would get to know His enemies. He wouldn’t label them and put them in a box. He would love them and look for common ground.
Power of a Prophet
Now, back to Nephi and the wicked judges. For the time being, there are enough supporters of the prophet to keep the wicked from taking Nephi away by force. So, Nephi takes advantage of the moment to preach more, hoping they will listen and repent.
This is what prophets are always called to do! Call a people to repentance and bring them to Christ.
Are we listening and heeding our prophet’s call today?
He reminds them of the power God gave Moses to part the Red Sea, so why not give him power to know of their perversions? He reminds them of Moses’ words about their Redeemer.
Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come.
And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.”Helaman 8:14-15
From the beginning of time, redemption through Jesus Christ has been taught by all the prophets. Nephi yearns for his people to accept this truth.
He points to Abraham, Zenos (who was slain for his testimony), Zenock, Ezias, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, who testified that Jerusalem would be destroyed (and it was). They know for a fact that their homeland was destroyed because of the Mulekites, who are descendants of Zedekiah, who was king there. They were driven out of the land and came to the new world. Lehi also was driven out of the land because he testified of the Redeemer.
Nephi also testified of these things, and also almost all our fathers, even down to this time; yea, they have testified of the coming of Christ, and have looked forward, and have rejoiced in his day which is to come.”Helaman 8:22
Nephi tells them they have all things as a witness to the truth, both in heaven and on earth.
But behold, ye have rejected the truth, and rebelled against your holy God…heaping up for yourselves wrath against the day of judgment.”Helaman 8:25
Repentance is once again held out to them—a way not to be destroyed. Nephi ends by prophesying that their chief judge has been murdered by his brother, and they are both Gadiantons.
Do we listen to our prophet, seer, and revelator today?
He testifies of Christ. He testifies that we should be more Christlike. He testifies that this is a dangerous day and we will not make it through the confusion and wickedness unscathed if we are not asking for and receiving personal revelation from God each day.
What am I doing to Hear Christ each day in my life?
Resources: Come Follow Me manual – Book of Mormon 2020