For two more years there are wars among the Nephites, because of the Gadianton robbers they’ve allowed to take over their government.
What kind of Gadiantons have we allowed into our government today?
I have always wondered how the Nephites could let this wicked group infiltrate them. But I see this happening clear up to the head of our government today. Gadiantons use devilish tactics of fear and division to manipulate those beneath them.
Fear is always a negative tactic. Beware when people use it. The Spirit cannot be present when our fears consume us. Fear confuses people, but eventually converts them to the fear-mongerer’s worldview (which is usually false). Hitler did this masterfully in Germany. Fear limits logic. Fear leads to hating other people or separating ourselves from them, because we believe (without any proof) that they are guilty of crimes the fear-mongerer tells us they are (instead of believing people are innocent until proven guilty). Fear is a dangerous weapon that is used constantly to sway people.
Do not allow ANYONE to manipulate you with fear tactics. Shun fear, so that our logical and spiritual minds can be free to think and not be chained to ignorance and deception.
A Prophet intervenes
Nephi, the prophet, is grieved by how the people are killing each other as these Gadiantons stir them up to hatred against the other half of their nation. He prays to God to send a famine to the land to humble them so they stop slaying each other by the sword.
Since he received the sealing power from God in the last chapter, it is done.
The famine lasts for two years and thousands die from hunger. The people plead with their chief judge to plead with Nephi to take the famine away. They are humbled. They are repentant. They have also swept out the corruption and evil Gadiantons that had taken over their government, to show their sincerity to God.
Are we willing to seek to hear God in our lives—every aspect of it?
Are we willing to sincerely pray about elected leaders (instead of assuming we already know who God would have us vote for). God can help us see through the lies and fear and other tactics men use to deceive and manipulate us.
Have we asked God if we are unintentionally upholding corrupt and evil men or women in power, because we are unaware of the secret things they do behind closed doors? He can help us see or feel the truth about someone to elect.
If our nation has any hope of not being destroyed, we must (as a united whole) repent and be willing to vote corruptness out of government. Character over policy. Character over party. Character and commitment to God and our fellowmen.
I imagine that the Gadiantons in Book of Mormon times were charming and brilliant liars. I imagine them capable of cloaking lies as truths and evil intentions as good, otherwise they would not have been supported by the bulk of the Nephite nation.
I imagine them using so-called good policies to get their foot in the door of government, and then once they were inside, seizing power and trampling over the people’s freedom.
I imagine the Gadiantons spoke to the people’s pride and patriotism, making them believe they were choosing good and right. And then I imagine them stirring up their followers to see those that opposed them as evil monsters out to destroy their nation and take away the good that they had done.
This is how I imagine the people turning so easily against each other, weakening their nation, instead of strengthening it. Internal division gives the evil leaders that stir up contention more power!
Nephi prays for the famine to cease because of their humility and softened hearts.
And now, O Lord, wilt thou turn away thine anger, and try again if they will serve thee? And if so, O Lord, thou canst bless them according to they words which thou hast said.”Helaman 11:16
God sends rain to try His people again, to see if they will serve Him, now that He has delivered them. And for a little bit, they do.
…the people did rejoice and glorify God, and the whole face of the land was filled with rejoicing; and they did no more seek to destroy Nephi, but they did esteem him as a great prophet, and a man of God, having great power and authority given unto him from God.”Helaman 11:18
They begin to prosper again and the year ends in peace. The next year ends in peace as well and the church grows and the people prosper.
Each person counts
Nephi has been in the limelight—both hated and now loved. However, Mormon’s insertion about his brother, who we don’t hear much about, is inspiring to those of us who might feel overlooked.
And behold, Lehi, his brother, was not a whit behind him as to things pertaining to righteousness.”Helaman 11:19
Most of us won’t receive the national spotlight for the good we do. Most of us might not even receive the spotlight in our own group of friends and family. But that doesn’t make the good we do any less significant. Even just a simple smile to a stranger in the grocery store is important and seen by God.
He wants all of us busy building His kingdom, brick by brick. Some of us, like Nephi or Captain Moroni, might be grand architects or brilliant artisans whose works get noticed and applauded. But every brick, no matter how small or rough, is important to God. One weak brick in His kingdom weakens the whole structure. Each of us matter to God, and like Lehi, even if our works or names aren’t known far and wide, we are not “a whit behind” the prophet or all the other scriptural heroes in the eyes of God for the efforts we put into His kingdom.
The Nephites experience a few years of peace, until in one year, there “were a few contentions concerning the points of doctrine which had been laid down by the prophets.” (22)
This seems to be a historical pattern. The people prosper, but then contentions arise among church members. This spiritual contention begins their whole nation’s fall.
As God’s people, we are held to a higher standard. When we fight among ourselves, we bring horrible consequences of pride and contention to whole communities or nations.
That is why Jesus Christ preaches unity. He preaches love for our enemies. He preaches that we must lift up the poor, the needy, the oppressed.
When we, as people who have the light of truth and goodness, are divided, hateful, or turn our backs on our neighbors and strangers in need, we bring about God’s calamities.
We do! Not the evil Gadiantons. When Christ’s followers are united and faithful, the Gadiantons are kept in check.
It seems a lesson to be learned is that we, as God’s people who have been taught what is right and have made holy, sacred covenants with Him, must set a better example than we are doing.
Do we fight among ourselves online about social or political issues? Why? Wouldn’t we do more good if we worked to unite and love those who are different than us, instead of arguing and hating them?
Do we take our rights to vote in this free country for granted or fight against more people voting? Why? Shouldn’t we lift others up, love our enemies, and want everyone to participate in the vote? Or is the final result of the election worth using underhanded tactics to thwart voting for the “weak and the poor and the downtrodden” because they might not vote for our candidate? How can we, as patriotic, God-fearing people, justify that some people don’t deserve to vote. How can we believe anyone who makes up stories about how the other side will rig an election or that ballot drop boxes might not be safe to use–they’re not sanitized from COVID? Shouldn’t we want to educate and lift ALL up, so everyone participates in this democratic republic? Not scare them away! Those kind of tactics trouble me. They are the tactics of a power-hungry politician.
These are things I think about. I see so much contention among Church members right now, and that is scarier to me than who holds office, honestly. Because it leads to national trouble, if the Book of Mormon pattern holds true. And I think it does.
How can we turn the tide and love one another more, seek for common ground, so we can unite more people together? That is what will build the kingdom of God, not this tribalism many political leaders are promoting.
Am I humble and meek? Am I repentant? Do I look first at the beam in my own eye, before trying to cast the motes out of others’ eyes?
Let’s be honest. It is extremely easy to get offended by someone who posts a different political view than your own. I’ve felt that. It’s natural to think we’re right and everyone else that doesn’t agree with us is wrong. I’ve felt that too.
But those kind of feelings stem from pride. I find that I must battle pride every single day in this turbulent world.
If I do not focus on Christ first—over everything else (family, community issues, social injustices, politics, friends, celebrities or popular personalities)—He cannot speak to me. It’s that simple.
If I do not focus on repenting first, seeking God’s help to see MY weaknesses, MY faults, MY sins, I tend to judge others and become deaf to God’s revelation.
The closer I come to Christ, the more humble I become. He takes away my anger, my offense, my judgmental attitude. And I don’t want to argue with anyone online or in person. I listen more and judge less.
We, as God’s people, must hold to the higher ground, never falling into the political or worldly rhetoric used to control, manipulate, deceive, and divide. Our nation depends upon our righteousness and united strength. We won’t be able to help if we, ourselves, our divided and contending with one another.
The secret combinations that has been swept out of their government start making trouble from their “secret” places. They cause small skirmishes and then retreat into the mountains to hide and not be caught. They seek out the dark oaths and become the Gadianton robbers once again.
We have secret combinations today. The QAnon movement I’ve seen popping up lately in media troubles me. They have a secret leader–only known by Q–who puts out conspiracies that are based solely on one’s most dystopian fears, without any proof to back them up, of course. This group has become his “worshippers” and they spread misinformation all over the internet. They’ve been labeled by the FBI as a domestic threat, yet many in government cast off these warnings. It troubles me that our own president has given legitimacy to this group of fear-mongers and liars, because they “like him,” so therefore, they must be good people. What kind of logic is that?
The Gadiantons, who once had been in government and now are in hiding, grow strong and cause more havoc on the Nephite nation.
And they did commit murders and plunder; and then they would retreat back into the mountains and into the wilderness and secret places, hiding themselves that they could not be discovered, receiving daily an addition to their numbers, inasmuch as there were dissenters that went forth unto them.”Helaman 11:25
It is very easy in our day for evil “Gadiantons” to hide in anonymity on the internet, to put out misinformation and then retreat back to their “secret places.” Beware of this group. Six QAnon sympathizers or outright supporters have won congress seats this year or could in the November election. They are planting themselves even in the midst of the government.
The Nephites try to destroy these robbers, but are unsuccessful because of the skillful way these robbers hide themselves. Only a year or so pass and this group of robbers gains even more power, insomuch that they defy the whole Nephite and Lamanite nations, because “they did cause great fear to come unto the people upon all the face of the land.” (32)
Remember, fear is the opposite of faith. Don’t let it control you. Fear erodes faith in Jesus Christ. If we have faith in Jesus Christ, we will not fear the future. We will not grab onto a baseless conspiracy theory because of the fear it ignites in us. We might have concerns, worries, or be troubled by behavior we see in the world, but we will know in whom we trust, and that even if the worst of scenarios happens, Christ will deliver us (even if it’s individually from our fears).
Another thing I believe we should be careful of is rhetoric. The devil knows what is important to good people today. He knows abortion issues are huge to us. He knows religious freedom is huge to us. And I believe he is smart and tricky. Don’t believe in someone who only spouts these topics (or usually has someone else talk about them who is passionate about them) but then tramples on the very God we love by his/her actions or words. We must carefully study out both sides of issues, and not hear key words and phrases and immediately make up our minds to vote for that person or party. Watch what they actually do. And most importantly, pray for God’s help in knowing who to vote for. Do all that you can to Hear Him, as our prophet has asked us to do.
I believe the devil could come down among us and say the right words—I stand for religious freedom, I’m against abortion, I love my country—and he would gather a huge following of very good people and carefully lead us down to hell. The only way not to be deceived is to drop to our knees in humility to ask God to help us not be deceived. We also must help and love our fellowmen, or our prayers will be vain.
Now this great evil which came unto the people because of their iniquity, did stir them up again to remembrance of the Lord their God.”Helaman 11:34
But not for long. They begin to forget God the very next year and begin to grow in iniquity, thus keeping Him from helping them.
One way our prophet and other Church leaders have encouraged us to grow our faith is by keeping the Sabbath day holy and worshiping God, our Heavenly Father on that day.
Are we doing that? Are we turning humbly to Him in prayer? Are we praying daily for repentance and forgiveness, and for a forgiving heart to forgive others who may offend or hurt us? Are we praying for help to see through the lies and deceptions of the devil, so he won’t lead us carefully away?
If we aren’t pleading for such help each day, I believe we can easily find ourselves in dangerous circumstances, as the Nephites in their day did.
So turn to God daily.
Resources: Come Follow Me manual – Book of Mormon 2020