Ether 8 – Beware power-seekers

This chapter continues the political intrigue of the Jaredite kingdom. Shule begets Omer, who reigns in his stead. Omer begat Jared, who rebels against his father. He goes to dwell in the land of Heth.

And it came to pass that he did flatter many people, because of his cunning words, until he had gained the half of the kingdom.” (2)

Dangerous leaders

It sticks out to me how the wicked always flatter so many people away. How do they do this? In our day, I notice that leaders and icons who get huge followings usually tell people what they want to hear, instead of the truth.

Jared goes to battle against his father, Omer, and carries him away captive and makes him serve out his days in captivity the half of his days. Omer has two more sons in his older age—Esrom and Coriantumr. They fight against Jared and are about to kill him. He begs for mercy and they allow him to live, but he must give up the throne to their father, Omer.

And now Jared became exceedingly sorrowful because of the loss of the kingdom, for he had set his heart upon the kingdom and upon the glory of the world.”

Ether 8:7

It is dangerous when leaders set their hearts upon power and the glory of the world, instead of the people they are supposed to serve in their high position. A power-hungry leader is willing to do anything—even illegal and deadly things—to keep their power and control over others.

From studying authoritarians in our day around the world, I have noticed that they are much like this Jared in this time period. They flatter loyal followers at first, and can often get “good” things done in the first few years of leadership. Often, they use a scapegoat to rile up their base (immigrants, refugees, different races or ethnic groups). If you look carefully under the surface, the good things they get done to stir up their faithful base is because they surround themselves with loyalists (or yes-men) who help them get rid of checks and balances in a democracy, thus helping them gain more power and limit the freedom of opposition.

After the first few years of “good” things being done, these authoritarians begin to use the lack of checks and balances to disrupt or cast doubt on free elections, they start using military power more often against their opposition, they demonize a large group of the country (the ones who aren’t loyal to them). They divide, rather than unite. They suppress truth and supplant it with their own propaganda. Freedom is eroded away step by step, usually by a cheering base of fanatic followers who refuse to see the truth (or are complicit in the power grab).

Beware of ANY leader or person in a position of power who hungers after more power and glory. They are dangerous, even if they wear sheep’s clothing at first to deceive us and say flattering words that may align with our worldview.

I believe Satan knows the words and principles that are near and dear to our heart and will use them in wicked ways, twisted ways, to lead good people to follow a wicked leader. Religious freedom. No abortion. Wicked men can say they stand for these things (Which are good), but actions speak louder than words.

Observe carefully what any leader actually DOES, rather than what they say. Keep careful track of what they say as well, because if they lie a lot, that is a warning signal that they are not good men/women. Actions count…and HOW they do things.

What tactics are leaders using to get things done, even good things? You can’t steal money from a bank to do charitable work and think that’s cool.

Satan’s plan in the premortal world actually had a good goal—to get us all back to Heavenly Father’s presence without losing anyone. It was the same goal as our Father’s. Heavenly Father surely wanted us all back with Him as well.

But it was the tactics each used to achieve their goal that mattered most.

God, our Father, wanted to use free agency and let us learn through our mortal experience about faith and temptation. He wanted us to choose whether we used the Savior He provided for us to return to Him on our own free will, or whether we would choose to reject Him.

Satan wanted to use force. I would say he, like many authoritarians today, touted that his plan was the law and order plan. He would force us all to obey the law and return to Father, without any loss. There would be supreme order. And he would be the supreme law. For achieving this goal, Satan wanted all the glory for himself as well. And so do all authoritarian-minded leaders today. They want the glory for themselves, but they will throw any blame on scapegoats. They want to force their followers to go along with what THEY think is right and best for them, freedom be damned.

Jared used this same step-by-step plan to imprison his own father and cause havoc in the Jaredite nation, before he was ousted. After he lost power, he sorrowed because of his vanity (not wanting to be seen as a loser), instead of repenting and changing his horrid attitude.

Secret Combinations

Jared’s daughter, a beautiful, brilliant woman (at least in the ways of the dark arts) reminds her father of the record brought with them across the deep and asks:

Behold, is there not an account concerning them of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory?”

Ether 8:9

Oh no! What a wench.

She tells him to send for Akish, the son of Kimnor, “and behold, I am fair (she was proud of her beauty—vanity) and I will dance before him, and I will please him, that he will desire me to wife; wherefore if he shall desire of thee that ye shall give unto him me to wife, then shall ye say: I will give her if ye will bring unto me the head of my father, the king.” (10)

Evil! Boo! Hiss! Run, Jared, run!

But he doesn’t run. He’s in love with wealth and power…not God. Omer, Jared’s father and the king, is a friend to Akish. That’s why Jared’s daughter picked him specifically. Akish is smitten with Jared’s daughter and desires her above all things, even to where he will betray and murder a friend to get her.

Akish gathers all his household and swears them to secrecy about what he will do. They make an evil oath under heaven and by their heads that they will help him and never reveal their secret combination. They will lose their heads and lives if they break this evil vow. They take oaths handed down by Cain, “who was a murderer from the beginning.” (15)

These evil oaths “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.” (16)

So, because of one horribly wicked and seductive woman, a “secret combination” is formed “which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God.” (18)

A warning for our day

Moroni inserts himself in here to point out that these secret combinations proved the entire destruction of the Jaredite nation, and also his own nation. They are bad news.

And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.

Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.”

Ether 8:22-23

This is why we must be watchful and humble, so the Spirit can be with us, to help us discern between truth and error, see between fact from fiction, and sense good from evil.

Moroni tells us in the next verse that “when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you.” (24)

Any leader(s) who build this wickedness up “seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries.” (25)

Moroni writes this warning to us “that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved.” (26)

Do good continually.

I think that’s how we fight evil and save our families, our communities, our nations, and our world.

Do good continually.

 ~~~

Resources:

Come Follow Me manual – Book of Mormon 2020

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