Sunday, March 28, 2010

Baddies of the Book of Mormon

Most of us just wake up every day and go to work and come home and enjoy talking with our wives, playing with the kids, and watching a movie or game now and then. Most of us who some term "sheeple" just don't sit around planning world domination. One of the warnings and "wake up" calls in the Book of Mormon as well as the Bible is that unfortunately "bad actors" do exist. Consequently, us regular folk need to be more vigilant and remain repentant and sin free so that we can be warned of their plots, schemes, snares and pitfalls by the Holy Spirit so that we are always found standing in Holy Places.

The Book of Mormon is a Book of divine scripture similar to the Bible and is considered Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is a record of a fallen nation that suffered complete genocide by its neighbors because it rejected and broke its covenants with Jehovah. God prepared this book of scripture for our day and our benefit. Moroni a Nephite prophet writes:

Moro 1:4 Wherefore, I write a few more things, . . . that perhaps they may be of worth unto my brethren, the Lamanites, in some future day, according to the will of the Lord.

Morm 8:35 Behold,
I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

Morm 9:31
give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been

The fact that the Book of Mormon is a record of a fallen people is why Isaiah says that the Book of Mormon would speak as a voice from the dust like a voice of a familiar spirit. Familiar Spirits refer to the forbidden practice of attempting to speak or contact the dead. However, when Isaiah speaks of a "Marvelous Work and a Wonder" in the Last Days, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon from the Earth would be as a voice of a people who are speaking to us as if from the dead.

Isa 29:4 And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.

The End-Times warnings in the Book of Mormon to the Gentiles are summarized by Mormon Chapter 8 who says that when the Book of Mormon comes forth as a voice speaking from the dust it will be in a day when people will say that "miracles are done away." And Moroni warns that there will be many secret combinations or conspiracies in that day. Part of this End-Times conspiracy will be there will exist many false religions. Thus, the Last Days will be a day of sin when people are taught that God looks upon sin with a degree of allowance, where churches deny the priesthood authority of God, and where churches are built up for the purpose to get gain. In the Last Days the Gentiles will be very materialistic and prideful and seek the praise of the world over seeking to praise God. In the Last Days these conspiracies and secret combinations will prey upon the widow and the the fatherless and the people will pass by the the hungry, needy, naked, sick and afflicted and do nothing. In consequence of this apathy and pride, the Lord says that the Gentiles will be ripe with iniquity and the judgments of God will befall those who refuse to repent.

Now that we have identified where Mormon makes a summary of the perplexities that will befall the nations in the Last Days, we can then look to the rest of the Book of Mormon for more specifics on what to expect with regard to these secret combinations which Mormon and Moroni warn were the root cause of the destruction of their society and will be the cause of our destruction. Moroni is very clear that we have a duty to root out these secret combinations from among us.

Ether 8:22 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. Alma 37:31 Yea, and cursed be the land forever and ever unto those workers of darkness and secret combinations, even unto destruction, except they repent before they are fully ripe.

Hel 2:13 And behold, in the end of this book ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi. 14 Behold I do not mean the end of the book of Helaman, but I mean the end of the book of Nephi, from which I have taken all the account which I have written.

When Mormon details the specifics on what we need to watch out for in the Last Days with regard to these secret combinations, Mormon gives specific examples and types by telling us the story of evil and conspiring men in his day. So, for the remainder of this post, I will attempt to make a list of Mormon's Book of Mormon villains and talk about some of what we may learn from them. In a way, each of these antagonists become types of the Anti-Christ.

Laman and Lemuel: These 2 started it all. These were the rebellious sons of Lehi and brothers of righteous Nephi and Sam. Nephi described them as being "past feeling" that even though they had seen an angel, heard the voice of God, and felt the power of God shake them, they still continually murmured about having to leave their possessions in Jerusalem, they conspired with the sons of Ishmael to leave Nephi to die in the wilderness, to throw Nephi off a cliff into the ocean, and then finally to murder Nephi over the rights to govern the people. While discussing whether a revelation given to Lehi was to be taken figuratively or literally, Laman and Lemuel fruitlessly tried to arrive at the proper understanding by contention and debate alone. Nephi, who learned from God that all scripture is both spiritual as well as literal, asked them if they had inquired of the Lord? They sadly claimed, "The Lord maketh no such thing known unto us."

Laban: Laban is a an ultra-rich Jew who is a cousin to Lehi. Of the many villains in the Book of Mormon, other than Laman and Lemuel who represent the issues of dealing with wayward children, Laban is the only one in which we get an intimate look at how they live. While Laman and Lemuel were deprived power, Laban has it all. You get the immediate sense of his influence, power, and wealth. He lives in a palace, has a treasury, has many slaves and servants who will do his dirty work, and he has a powerful circle of friends who he meets with nightly behind closed doors to make religious, political and economic decisions for the people. It is very telling that Laban keeps his scriptures, the Brass Plates, locked away in his treasury where it is of no benefit to him.

Sherem: Sherem was an outsider who learned the language and culture of the Nephites and sought to exploit certain aspects of that culture for money and power. Sherem contented against the prophet Jacob about how they observed the Law of Moses yet looked forward to the coming of Christ. Sherem called Christianity a heresy, and claimed that it was neither possible nor reasonable that a person could know anything about the future. Jacob explained that the whole Law of Moses was a type and a shadow of Christ and that all prophets had prophesied of the coming of Christ. Yet Sherem, challenging the authority of Jacob, asked for a sign as proof of God and Jacob's authority. Sherem was struck down for several days and upon waking, confessed to the people on his death bed that he had lied to God and the people.

King Noah: Early on in Nephite history, Nephi, Sam, Zoram and their families were forced to leave their first land of inheritance called the City of Nephi because of the rising threats by the Lamanites who were composed of Laman, Lemuel and the Sons of Ishmael. Years later, a group of Nephites desired to move back to the city of Nephi and repossess it. This created two bodies of believers who lost contact with each other. Consequently, it wasn't long until the king and priests of this minority community became corrupt and used their positions to excuse their materialism, sexual sin, and drunkenness. When God raised up the prophet Abinadi to call them to repentance, they burned him at the stake for blasphemy, but said they would spare his life if he would take back what he had said against King Noah.

Amulon: was the chief priest of the court of King Noah over the group of Nephites who repossessed the City of Nephi. After the city of Nephi was conquered by the Lamanites and King Noah was burned at the stake like Abinadi for cowardliness, Amulon escaped with the other priests and joined the Lamanites. They then were placed as leaders and teachers over the Lamanites and exerted especially harsh persecution, taxes, and labor upon those remaining in the City of Nephi, and upon Alma and a small group of converts of Abinadi who fled from the City of Nephi after being threatened by extermination just prior to the Lamanites conquering the city. Again we will see a reoccurring theme that just like Sodom and Jerusalem were destroyed after the righteous few were expelled, cities such as Nephi and others cities and nations will suffer the same fate.

: was the name of the Nephite founder of an apostate sect in opposition to the Church of God headed by Alma the Younger. It used to be that you were either a believer or not. When it came to having religion, there was only one flavor. However, expanding on the evil of King Noah and Amulon, Nehor learned that if he let people go through the motions of religion without any expectation of repentance or righteousness, that many people would give him money. Nehor got in a debate with a Gideon who was a resident of the City of Nephi and witnessed the events between Amulon and Alma. Nehor became enraged and murdered Gideon. Nehor was charged with priestcraft and murder and forced to recant before he was executed. Nehor preached the following false doctrines:
1) Priests and teachers should be paid for their preaching and hold a privileged status (Alma 1:3).
2) There will be a universal salvation for all mankind. (Alma 1:4, Alma 11:37, Alma 14:5).
3) There is no need for repentance. (Alma 15:15)

Amlici: The divisions created by Nehor's sect deepened after his execution and lead to his followers violently persecuting the Church of God. These divisions were later used by Amlici to gain power and force a popular election to anoint himself king. After losing the election he rallied his followers called "Amlicites", allied with the Lamanites, and started a civil war. His campaign eventually fails but not before tens of thousands are killed on both sides. Nehor continues to attract adherents, some build the city Ammonihah in Nephite protected lands while others such as the Amalekites and Amulonites lived among the Lamanites and continually incited them to anger against the Nephites.

Zeezrom: Zeezrom was the most successful lawyer in Ammonihah. When Alma the Younger and Amulek preached repentance there, the people of Ammonihah claimed Alma and Amulek were guilty of speaking against their laws, lawyers, and judges. However, Alma retorted that he in actual fact, he spoke in favor of their laws unto their condemnation. Zeezrom took the opportunity to contend with Alma the Younger and persuade the people against Alma by first trying to cross them up in their words and then by bribing them. Instead, Zeezrom became convinced of his wickedness and began from that moment to defend Alma and Amulek. Alma and Amulek were then thrown in jail and subjected to watching their converts thrown into the fire. Alma and Amulek were rescued by miraculous means from the jail and met up with the remainder of their converts from Ammonihah. With all the righteous expelled from the city, the Lamanites unexpectedly came against Ammonihah and completely destroyed it. The ruins of Ammoniah was called "The Desolation of Nehors" from that time onward.

Amalekites: While Alma the Younger preached repentance among the the people of Ammonihah, the Sons of King Mosiah went among the Lamanites. After several suffered at the hands of the Amalekites, the Sons of Mosiah finally began to have success in converting many of the Lamanites to Christ. This success enraged the Amalekites who incited the greater portion of the Lamanites to go against the Christian converts and destroy them. Instead of fighting, these Lamanite converts prostrated themselves upon the ground before their brethren. Almost immediately, the majority of the Lamanites stopped shedding their blood and we are told the number that were converted that day exceeded the number that were slain. However, for some reason, the remaining Amalekites in their anger and frustration went over to the city of Ammonihah and were the onces responsible for destroying it. Zoram, a Nephite General, is successful in rescuing all of the survivors of the City of Ammonihah who were taken captive. Some believe that these captives would likely have been used in ritual human sacrifices. In any event, it is ironic that the followers of Nehor on the Lamanite side end up being responsible for the destruction of th followers of Nehor who remain with the Nephites after they expelled all of the righteous from among them.

Korihor: is a prominent critic of the Christian religion among the Nephites and is labeled an Anti-Christ because he declared that there would be no Christ. Korihor successfully preached social darwinism that, "every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime." Despite a freedom of religion, Korihor's views and teachings alarmed the clerical government, who felt that his views were dangerous to their society. Korihor is turned over to Alma the Younger who is chief judge and governor, and contends that a belief in God is the result of a frenzied and deranged mind and that religion only serves as an instrument to exercise control over others and to get rich. When Alma and Korihor discuss the existence of God, Korihor demands that Alma show him a sign. Korihor is then miraculously rendered deaf and mute, upon which Korihor confesses, in writing, ...I always knew that there was a God. Korihor becomes a beggar and is eventually killed by another dissenting Nephite group known as the Zoramites.

Zoramites: Nephites suffer additional dessenters who remain in Nephite-controlled lands but were feared to eventually join with the Lamanites. These Nephite dissenters also followed Nehor in building up their own style of religious anti-Christian observance. The Zoramites were descendants of Zoram who was the servant of Laban and was persuaded by Nephi to escape Jerusalem with his family and come to America. These Zoramites rationalized their dessention based upon a perseption of past wrongs. As part of their false religious belief was a false notion of election. They claimed that they alone were elected to salvation while all others were elected to damnation. This group of Zoramites were divided into a rich and poor class. The poor among them who constructed their place of assembly were forbidden from participating because of their poverty. Alma and Amulek focus their message on these marginalized Zoramites and successfully converted most of them back to the true faith. These poor Zoramites are expelled from Antionum but allowed to join with the converted Lamanites who were now living among and protected by the Nephites in Jershon.

Zerahemnah: The leader of the unrepentant Zoramites joins with the Lamanites, and particularly the Amalekites and Amulonites in coming against the Nephites to battle. Despite the enemies superior numbers, Captain Moroni's armies are better protected, better equipped such that they are able to easily out maneuver and surrounds the Lamanite armies. Captain Moroni gives Zerahemnah several opportunities to depart with a covenant of peace but only at the last possible moment does he accept the olive branch before his army was completely annihilated. Zerahemnah and the Amalekites didn't value the lives of the Lamanites who were fighting their fight and didn't have a problem sending innumerable hosts of Lamanites without armor against the well-protected Nephites.

Amalickiah: It didn't take long for dissension to again to rise up in the church. Despite Helaman's, the son of Alma, labors to regulate the doctrine of the church by appointing elders and teachers, Amalickiah and his followers coveted absolute power over the people. After witnessing the wickedness of King Noah, King Mosiah renounced the monarchy and instituted the rule of judges among the Nephites. Following this change to a republic, many dessenters beginning with Amlici favored going back to the old way. Amalickiah attracted many followers who were lower level judges promising them increased position and power in the new government. Amalickiah desired to destroy the church of God as well as the foundation of their liberty. Amalickiah with his supporters initially sought to go against Captian Moroni to battle, but seeing that Moroni was able to rally a much larger army than his own, he headed his followers to join up with the Lamanites. Instead, Moroni was able to head them off and while Amalickiah escaped, the majority of the dissenters entered into a covenant of freedom and were permitted to return among the Nephites.

Again, Amalickiah convinced the King of the Lamanites to go to battle against the Nephites. Except this time, a large number of Lamanites refused to go. Instead, they sought refuge on a mountain top. Amalickiah was given rule over the remainder of the Lamanite armies and was given charge to compell the other Lamanites to battle against the Nephites. Amalickiah heads to the mountain where the Lamanites are held up, he convinces Lahonti to come down and comes up with a plan that the armies of Lahonti should surround his armies by night and that in the morning he would order their surrender is Lahonti would make Amalickiah second in command. After the surrender, Amalickiah poisons Lahonti and becomes general over the unified Lamanite army. He then marches back to the king, murders him in his throne room and blames it on his servants who run for it. Amalickiah convinces the queen that it must have been the servants who murdered the king because of their escape. He then "by his fraud" Amalickiah ends up marrying the queen and becomes king over all the Lamanites.

Amalikiah finally brought the armies of the Lamanites to battle against the Lamanites. He set up Zoramites as captains over them, he armed them with thick armor like the Nephites. But to his disappointment, Captain Moroni had fortified the Nephite cities with earthen walls, and timbers which successfully repells the Lamanite Armies.

Morianton: The people of Morianton had a land dispute with the people of the city of Lehi. When the people of the city of Lehi went to Captain Moroni for help, the people of Morianton made a break for the land Northward. Not wanting dissenters on the north and south, the Nephites head them off and compel them to return to their lands after having made a covenant of peace.

King-Men: Again there rose a faction among the wealthier Nephites who desired to have a king. The issue was put it to a vote. Fortunately the freemen outnumbered the king-men and the voice of the people choose to retain their liberty. However, at this same time Amalickiah was planning to come again against the Nephites and knowing this, the king-men refused to take up arms in defense of their liberty. Moroni decided to go against these king-men to battle and execute them unless they yielded to "The Title of Liberty."

Ammoron: Amalickiah came again against the Nephites and was successful in taking a good number of them on the East before reaching the northern Nephite city of Bountiful. Amalickiah is finally headed off by Teacum who is successful in stealthing into his camp at night and assassinating him. Upon finding their king dead, the Lamanites initially retreat only to appoint Ammoron, the brother of Amalickiah, as their king and maintain those cities that they had already taken. At the same time Ammoron sends for another army to come from the South and attack Nephite cities on the west and causing the war to be fought on two fronts. Ammoron pathetically justifies the war in a letter to Moroni claiming the Lamanites were wronged long ago and should have the rights to govern the people.

Pachus: Just at the point when the Nephites were able to repel the Lamanites on both the West and the East, Moroni runs out of supplies and men and suffers a terrible loss of the city of Nephihah which already had received numerous refugees from other cities. At this critical moment in the war, another king-men faction had arisen in the capital city which caused the Chief Judge Pahoran to flee the city. Moroni took a small number of men with him, and recruited additional numbers on his way to meet up with the armies of Pahoran and marched against Pachus and his king-men and held military tribunals requiring that the king-men take up the sword in defense of their country or be executed.

Moroni and Pahoran than took their army to regain Nephihah and were by stratagem able to drive the Lamanites from city to city until the Lamanite armies were again consolidated into one body. Teancum again stealthed into the Lamanite camp and assassinated Ammaron but not escape as before and was killed. The next morning Moroni was able to lead his armies and drive the Lamanites out of their lands. Moroni fortified all the border cities against future Lamanite invasions, and retired. Helaman resumed establishing the church and Pahoran returned to his work as Chief Judge.

Kishkumen: After Pahoran's death, there was a dispute among the Nephites regarding which of his 3 sons should be the next Chief Judge. The people were divided up between Pahoran Jr., Paanchi, and Pacumeni. So, they decided to let the people decide and vote on the matter. Pahoran Jr. won the election. However, that result didn't sit well with Paanchi and his followers who rebelled. Paanchi's rebellion was unsuccessful and he was put to death for sedition. His followers didn't give up so easily and hired Kishkumen to disguise himself and murder Pahoran on the judgement seat. Kishkumen successfully assassinated Pahoran and escaped and was never discovered because of the oaths that were made to conceal his identity. Consequently, Pacumeni became the Chief Judge. Following Amalickiah's fraud among the Lamanites, this hit by Kishkumen was the first Secret Combination among the Nephites.

Tubaloth and Coriantumr: Tubaloth was the son of Ammoron and became the next king of the Lamanites. Again, it wasn't long until he incited the Lamanites to go against the Nephites to battle. This time Coriantumr, a descendant of Zerahemla headed the Lamanite Armies. And this time instead of going against the well-fortified border cities, or trying to pick off smaller cities on the shores of the East Sea or the West Sea, Coriantumr went straight for the capital of Zerahemla, killing Pacumeni in the process, and began marching towards Bountiful (spiritual center). However, this tactic proved to be suicide and Coriantumr was soon surrounded, he was killed, and his armies were defeated by Nephihah.

Nephites: At this time the Nephites themselves become the definition of evil. Their wickedness results in the loss of nearly all the Land of Zarahemla up nearly to the borders of the Land of Bountiful. The Book of Mormon says that the laws were corrupted and the people could not be government by neither law nor justice. The Nephites also began to disbelieve in the spirit of prophecy and revelation and consequently became weak like unto the Lamanites. Because of this wickedness, Lehi and Nephi the sons of Helaman II tirelessly called the Nephites to repentance until Nephihah was able to regain half of their lands but no more. Then Lehi and Nephi turned their attentions upon the Lamanites and began preaching repentance among them. Then end result was a miraculous conversion of the Lamanites such that the Lamanites voluntarily yield up the remainder of the lands of the Nephites.

Alma 31:5 And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.

Gadianton: Gadianton becomes the leader of the band of Kishkumen. After the death of Pacumeni, Helaman was elected to be Chief Judge by the voice of the people. Kishkumen is hired to make another assassination attempt upon Helaman but Kishkumen is discovered by one of Helaman's spies and himself is killed before he can make an attempt on Helaman's life. When Kishkumen doesn't return, Gadianton fled with his band of robbers into the mountains.

Within 25 years, Gadianton's band had grown into a large criminal organization known as Gadianton's robbers and murderers, with both Nephites and Lamanites among its members. In 26 BC the Gadianton robbers assassinated Chief Judge Cezoram and his son. The Lamanites made every effort to eradicate the Gadianton robbers among them. The Nephites, in contrast, allowed the robbers to overrun their country, until the majority of them were members. Members swore to protect one another and identified each other by means of secret signs and secret words. By 24 BC the entire Nephite government was under the control of the Gadiantons. The Book of Mormon says that the people began to incite the judgments of God against them because the secret band purposefully exploits the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God.

Around 20 BC, Chief Judge Seezoram was murdered by his brother Seantum, both of whom were members of the Gadianton band. The murder was announced and the culprit identified by Nephi the son of Helaman. Nephi's knowledge of the event was believed by many to be evidence of his prophetic powers. However, a civil war broke out not long after which was replaced by famine. The people finally repent, completely eradicate the Gadianton Robbers, and even bury their secret plans in the earth.

Giddianhi and Zemnariahah: in 12 BC, a group of disaffected Nephites dug up the secret plans and reestablished the band of Gadianton. This time the group did not infiltrate mainstream Nephite society, but rather established bases in the mountains and wilderness and made periodic raids on Nephite and Lamanite cities using guerrilla warfare. They continued to increase in power, and by AD 13 they had caused so much destruction that the Nephites and Lamanites united and declared war on the Gadiantons.

The Gadiantons initially had the upper hand in the war, and in AD 16, the Gadianton leader Giddianhi sent a letter to the Nephite governor Lachoneus demanding surrender. This letter is reproduced in the Book of Mormon and provides a rare look at the Gadianton robbers as seen by themselves. Giddianhi closes with these words: "I am the governor of this the secret society of Gadianton; which society and the works thereof I know to be good; and they are of ancient date and they have been handed down unto us". In AD 21, however, the Nephites defeated the Gadiantons, killing both Giddianhi and his successor Zemnarihah, and the society was destroyed for the second time.

Jacob: Finally a combination of factors combines like a perfect storm to overthrow the government. First there is great pride, inequality, and class distinctions based on riches and education. Second, there began to be great dissensions and contentions from within the church of God such that the church was broken up into many denominations and non-denominations. In response, God called many prophets to go forth and preach repentance to the people. Third, there was great corruption in the government such that the lawyers and the high priests of the church colluded with the judges to condemn the prophets to death secretly without approval by the governor according to the laws of the land. When these judges were brought to be judged for killing the prophets, the lawyers, high priests and families of these judges entered into a secret combination to deliver the judges from the requirements of justice. This group also conspired to remove the governor and establish a king over the land. The Chief Judge is murdered and instead of monarchy, there is anarchy. The entire government fell apart and the people were divided up into tribes. Jacob was declared king and promising many dissenters led his followers speedily into the land northward and established a kingdom beginning with a city called Jacobugath.

What happens next is the complete destruction and transformation of America. There is a 3-hour earthquake, likely volcanic eruptions, mudslides, fires, and tsunamis that destroy and or swallow whole cities. Following these cataclysmic disasters, this portion of America is enveloped in 3 days of darkness where only the laments and howling of the people can be heard through the inky blackness. After the redemptive and cleansing turbulence, tribulation, and wrath, the resurrected Christ appears to the more righteous survivors and restores His church and the fullness of the gospel again to the land.

1 comment:

Focus, Family, Faith...Kimberly Dawns chronicles said...

Thank you !! Great article.. i was looking for a Halloween edition for our Book of Mormon Reading Club!