Chapter 3: The Lords Book of Mormon Commandments to the Gentiles
The Gentiles must Do as the Lord Has Commanded or Be Scourged
In a revelation given through the prophet Joseph Smith in the year 1832, the Lord placed the whole Church under condemnation and said that it would remain thereunder until the members did certain things He had commanded them to do in the Book of Mormon. He stated that a consequence of a failure to do as He had directed, would be that a scourge and a judgment would be poured out upon the children of Zion. (D&C 84:54-59)
In His condemnation the Lord accused Church members of these sins: (1) you have treated lightly the things you have received; (2) vanity and unbelief; (3) failing to remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written; (4) the pollution of His holy land by the children of the kingdom.
President Ezra Taft Benson in a keynote address delivered in the General Conference of April, 1986, referred to the aforementioned revelation and indicated that the Church was still under condemnation. He urged Church members to cleanse the inner vessel by repenting of immorality and pride. He placed great emphasis upon the need to study the Book of Mormon. In utterances since that date, he has not ceased to urge Church members to study that book. [p. 14]
Does the Book of Mormon Contain Commandments Not Found Elsewhere?
After considering the revelation referred to above, one is led to wonder why the Lord singled out the Book of Mormon for special attention. What commandments has He given therein which are not found in other scriptures? The revelation mentions vanity and unbelief and says Church members have treated lightly that which they have received. These sins, together with the sin of immorality, were also mentioned by President Benson in his keynote address. But admonitions on these topics are not peculiar to the Book of Mormon. Let us consider what else the Lord might have had in mind.
The decree that the children of the kingdom shall not pollute my holy land, may help us identify the special message the Book of Mormon has for us. We know that it contains an account of two other nations which polluted this holy land and were exterminated because they polluted it. Is the Lord instructing us to study the specific cause of their destruction and take heed that we do not commit the same errors? The following scripture seems to justify this conclusion:
And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity. (Ether 2:9)
The above statement was repeated four different times in essentially these same words in this same chapter. One of these verses is directed specifically to the Gentiles. (The Gentiles here referred to are the non- Lamanite, non-Jewish readers of the Book of Mormon.) It says this:
And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of Godthat ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done. (Ether 2:11)
Since these admonitions are found only in the Book of Mormon they, together with similar scriptures, may be the commandments the Lord was referring to in D&C 84. [p. 15]
Let us observe that the foregoing scripture is not only a decree, but also a prophecy. The prophecy is that the Gentiles will become so wicked that unless we repent and discontinue our iniquities, we will bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon us as did the Jaredites and the Nephites. This appears to be the scourge and judgment spoken of in D&C 84.
What must the Gentiles Do to a Void the Fulness of the Lords Wrath?
What specific iniquities must the Gentiles repent of to avoid the fate of the Jaredites and the Nephites? Perhaps we can answer this question by noting the specific cause of their destruction. The Book of Mormon states it in these words:
And they (secret combinations) have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, (the Jaredites) and also the destruction of the people of Nephi. (Ether 8:21)
Following the above statement, the Lord issued this commandment to the Gentiles through Moroni:
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 gainand 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.
Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, 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; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up. (Ether 8:23, 24)
This is another commandment to the Gentiles found only in the Book of Mormon. More accurately speaking, it is the same commandment as that contained in Ether 2, but it more explicitly states the nature of the wickedness of which the Gentiles must repent. From it we know the following: (1) Secret combinations will be among the Gentiles; (2) [p. 16] When such occurs, the Gentiles must repent or be destroyed; (3) The Lord has commanded that when these secret combinations come among us, we shall awake to a sense of our awful situation.
Are Secret Combinations among the Gentiles Today?
In his book, The Millennial Messiah, the late Bruce R. McConkie says this with reference to secret combinations:
Next Moroni turns the key so that all who have ears to hear can understand what the secret combination is and can identify those who build it up. For it cometh to pass, he says, that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries. This is a worldwide conspiracy. It is now entrenched in many nations, and it seeks dominion over all nations. It is Godless, atheistic, and operates by compulsion. It is communism. (McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, p. 66)
The Book of Mormon confirms the fact that the secret combinations among the Nephites had the same philosophy and engaged in the same practices as the communists of today. They denied the existence of God, advocated state ownership of all property, and sought control over free governments by murder, intrigue and aggressive warfare. (3 Ne. 3:1-10; Ether 8:25-26; Hel. 2:8; 6:21-24)
With the foregoing in mind, let us note just two of the many statements which have been made by modem prophets during recent years regarding Communism. In the year 1936, The First Presidency of the Church consisting of Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay, issued a statement on this subject which reads in part as follows:
With great regret we learn from credible sources, governmental and others, that a few Church members are joining, directly or indirectly the Communists and are taking part in their activities . . .
Communism is not a political party nor a political plan under the Constitution; it is a system of government that is the opposite of our Constitutional government . . .
Communism being thus hostile to loyal American citizenship and incompatible with true Church membership, of necessity no loyal American citizen and no faithful Church member can be a Communist.
We call upon all Church members completely to eschew Commumsm . . . (Improvement Era, July 1936) [p. 17]
Contained in A Statement by President David O. McKay Concerning the Position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Communism, given to the Priesthood of the Church in the General Conference of April, 1966, is the following:
The position of this Church on the subject of Communism has never changed. We consider it the greatest satanical threat to peace, prosperity, and the spread of Gods work among men that exists on the face of the earth.
In this connection, we are continually being asked to give our opinion concerning various patriotic groups or individuals who are fighting Communism and speaking up for freedom. Our immediate concern, however, is not with parties, groups, or persons, but with principles.
We therefore commend and encourage every person and every group who is sincerely seeking to study Constitutional principles and awaken a sleeping and apathetic people to the alarming conditions that are rapidly advancing about us..
The entire concept and philosophy of Communism is diametrically opposed to everything for which the Church stands . . .
Communism destroys mans God-given free agency. No member of this Church can be true to his faith, nor can any American be loyal to his trust, while lending aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of these false philosophies; for if he does, they will prove snares to his feet. (The full text of this statement appears as Appendix I herein.)
Those who believe in the foregoing pronouncements know that the Lords prophecy in the Book of Mormon that secret combinations would come among the Gentiles during these latter days was fulfilled at least fifty years ago. Their presence here in the United States at that time was publicly announced by the prophets. We also know that the time for the Gentiles to heed the Lords commandment to awake to a sense of your awful situation came at least twenty years ago when President McKay told the Priesthood of the Church to awaken a sleeping and apathetic people to the alarming conditions which are rapidly advancing about us.
A third fact disclosed by the prophets words quoted above is that any Church member who lends aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of the false philosophies of communism is a traitor to both Church and country. According to scriptures which will be discussed in subsequent chapters, almost all men may be guilty of such disloyalty. A person may tentatively judge the extent to which he accepts Communist philosophy by comparing his political beliefs with the Ten Points of the Communist Manifesto found in Appendix III. The penalty which the Lord imposes [p. 18] upon those .who help build up the secret combinations by giving aid, encouragement or sympathy to their false philosophies, will be discussed hereafter.
Words of President Benson
The second great reason why we must make the Book of Mormon a center focus of study is that it was written for our day. The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times. It was meant for us. Mormon wrote near the end of the Nephite civilization. Under the inspiration of God, who sees all things from the beginning, he abridged centuries of records, choosing the stories, speeches, and events that would be most helpful to us.
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. (Mormon 8:34-35)
If they saw our day, and chose those things which would be of greatest worth to us, is not that how we should study the Book of Mormon? We should constantly ask ourselves, Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?
And there is example after example of how that question will be answered. For example, in the Book of Mormon we find a pattern for preparing for the Second Coming. A major portion of the book centers on the few decades just prior to Christs coming to America. By careful study of that time period, we can determine why some were destroyed in the terrible judgments that preceded His coming and what brought others to stand at the temple in the land of Bountiful and thrust their hands into the wounds of His hands and feet.
From the Book of Mormon we learn how disciples of Christ live in times of war. From the Book of Mormon we see the evils of secret combinations portrayed in graphic and chilling reality. In the Book of Mormon we find lessons for dealing with persecution and apostasy. We learn much about how to do missionary work. And more than anywhere else, we see in the Book of Mormon the dangers of materialism and setting our hearts on the things of the world. Can anyone doubt that this book was meant for us and that in it we find great power, great comfort, and great protection? (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1986, p. 6-7) [p. 19]