I love America. I always have. When I say America, I mean the land of America – not the United States. What we currently call America has been God’s chosen land throughout history. It is the land where Adam dwelt after leaving the Garden of Eden. It is the land spoken of in the Book of Mormon which was promised to three great civilizations: the Jaredites, the Nephites, and the Gentiles. The first two civilizations destroyed themselves because of wickedness and secret combinations. The third is currently following the same path.
In the Book of Ether, Moroni abridges the history of the mighty nation of the Jaredites. Jared and his brother were spared from the chaos that ensued following the destruction of the Tower of Babel and were led away to be preserved by the Lord. The Lord told the brother of Jared:
…I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth.Ether 1:42-43, emphasis added.
And there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed, and of the seed of thy brother, and they who shall go with thee, a great nation. And there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth.
If we were to put ourselves in the shoes of Jared and his kin, this would surely seem like a crazy prophecy to at least some of them. They were few in number and had just left the mightiest nation on the face of the earth. But the Lord told them that they would become the greatest nation in the world. However, this promise from the Lord did not come without conditions. Moroni explains:
And he (the Lord) had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.
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 2:7-8, emphasis added.
For some reason, possession of the land of promise is conditioned upon serving God. If those who possess it do not serve God, they will be swept away, and the land will be given to others.
The Jaredites acknowledged and kept this command for much of their history. But ultimately, they failed and embraced gross wickedness and abominations (secret combinations) in the sight of the Lord and were subsequently thoroughly and completely swept off the earth.
God always keeps His promises, and His word will be fulfilled.
Presumably while the Jaredites were engaged in the work of self-destruction, the Lord was preparing a new people to inhabit the land. In 1 Nephi 2, the Lord tells Nephi:
…inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.1 Nephi 2:20, emphasis added.
Over and over, the Lord repeated this counsel to the Nephites. Keep the commandments and prosper, otherwise, be cut off. Throughout the Book of Mormon, the people kept the commandments of the Lord and were exceedingly prosperous. However, as human nature goes, the people forgot their God in their prosperity and eventually embraced great sin and wickedness through secret combinations.
This is an important point to understand – it was not just the very wicked that partook in these associations and their perceived benefits. It was the righteous who had been deceived and persuaded to embrace and adopt their ways.
In Helaman, we learn that
…the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites.
And it came to pass on the other hand, that the Nephites did build them up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and to join with them in their secret murders and combinations.Helaman 6:37-38, emphasis added.
To be clear, it was a MAJORITY of people who had embraced the ways of the Gadianton robbers. How could this have been so? Subtly, slowly, and imperceptibly, most likely. As a result, we read that these wicked people obtained “the sole management of the government” (Helaman 6:39). And it was because of these secret combinations that the “regulations of the government were destroyed” (3 Nephi 7:6).
For nearly 250 years after the coming of Jesus Christ to the ancient inhabitants of this land, the people kept the commandments of God and prospered. Then, slowly, they began to separate themselves into Nephites and Lamanites – believers and non-believers. Ultimately, both groups embraced wickedness and began building up secret combinations to murder and get gain.
Just as the Jaredites before them were destroyed for their combinations “most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God,” (Ether 8:18) the Lord allowed the Nephites, His covenant people, to speed ahead to their own self-destruction. Indeed, the Book of Mormon provides a sad tale of two chosen and righteous peoples who were led captive by the devil to destruction.
The Book of Mormon not only chronicles the rise and fall of two great civilizations but also prophesies of a third group of people to whom the land is given.
In the first book of Nephi, Nephi is shown the land of promise and all of his posterity who will inhabit it until their utter destruction, a remnant joining with the seed of his brothers who will dwindle in unbelief. He is then shown a Gentile explorer who crosses the great water and is followed by many more Gentiles.
God Sets Up a Mighty Nation
As these newcomer Gentiles begin to possess the land, Nephi tells us – no less than six times in eight verses – that the Spirit of Lord and the power of God was with them in establishing them in the land. Indeed, the Gentiles who came to this land seeking freedom from their “mother Gentile” nations were delivered and established by the power of God. My ancestors who came on the Mayflower and who fought in the Revolution were righteous, pious men and women. And it was because of those qualities that God established them in the land. Nephi tells us it is so:
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.1 Nephi 13:16, emphasis added.
Additionally, the Savior Himself confirmed that it was the power of the Father who preserved and established the Gentiles:
For it is wisdom in the Father that they (the Gentiles) should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father…3 Nephi 21:4, emphasis added.
The Lord also states that he would make the Gentiles “mighty above all” (3 Nephi 20:27).
Not only do we have these accounts in the Book of Mormon, but the Lord, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, confirmed:
…I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.Doctrine and Covenants 101:80
The Constitution was a gift from God but could only function as intended for a righteous people. The Founding Fathers such as Washington, Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson all recognized this truth. In a way, God had inspired them with the same truth revealed by Moroni:
Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land…Ether 2:12, emphasis added.
It was to these Gentiles who had come to this land that the “plain and precious” things of the gospel should come (1 Nephi 13:34-39). In other words, the Lord decreed that the gospel should be restored and given to the Gentiles who would then bring it to the remnant of Nephi and his brothers’ seed. Nephi tells us how blessed of a nation the Gentiles would be. If they repent and do not harden their hearts, they “…shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity…” (1 Nephi 14:1-2).
Having a knowledge of the scriptures, one cannot deny that this land is a sacred and important to the Lord. Those that dwell here are to be free. However, freedom is not a guarantee. The conditions for freedom, as we have seen, depend upon righteousness.
Today, freedom is dying in this land. But this is not a new phenomenon. Freedom has been dying for a long time, and it is because of the wickedness we have let infect our society. I fear that we are nearly to the point where the more righteous part will become seduced by the wickedness, wittingly or unwittingly.
A Warning to the Gentiles
It was always in the plan that those who possess this land should be free upon conditions of righteousness. It was also in the plan that God would inspire the Gentiles to come to this land to be set up as a free people. However, just as the Jaredites and Nephites before them, this promise did not come without conditions.
The Savior told the Nephites of this warning when He said that if the Gentiles did not repent after receiving such great blessings, then “saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them…” (3 Nephi 20:20).
But repent of what? Yes, all men must repent or perish. But why would the sword of the justice of the Father hang over the Gentiles? Moroni knew well the history of the Jaredites and the Nephites. He knew what led to their demise. Therefore, he wrote this plea:
For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.
And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that 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 2:10-11, emphasis added.
Moroni warns us that unless we repent, we will be swept off the land. We are exceptional only insofar as we keep the commandments of the Lord. The good news for us, however, is that we will not be swept off until we are in a fullness of iniquity. Moroni even says that the same thing that happened to the Nephites and Jaredites does not have to happen to the Gentiles.
When the Wrath Comes
Unfortunately, I fear we are rapidly approaching the fullness of iniquity spoken of by Moroni. But just what is the fullness of iniquity that incurs the wrath of the Almighty? Simply stated, it is when a nation upholds secret combinations, which are built up to murder, plunder, and obtain power, until they infect the entire nation (Ether 8:22).
For this reason, a significant portion of the Book of Mormon is devoted to discussing secret combinations. Moroni again pleads:
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 8:23, emphasis added.
If we allow the murderous combinations to fester and infect the land, it is then that we will be overthrown and destroyed.
What to do About Secret Combinations
Lest you think I am talking about current events, let me make it clear that I am not. The murderous combinations embedded within our society are not exposed by anonymous online figures claiming to have information that others do not. But it is important to recognize the secret combinations.
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…Ether 8:24, emphasis added.
The Lord commands that we should wake up to what is going on around us. But the question then becomes, how can we know what is true and what is false?
How to Wake Up
If you really want to wake up as the Lord directs, you must show Him that you’re serious. He will not impart knowledge to those who will simply “consume it on their lusts,” (desire it but not do anything with it). Over the past couple years, there are a number of things I have observed to develop eyes to see and ears to hear what is truly going on in the world.
1. Run From Babylon
If you want to know what is going on in the world, you have to get out of Babylon. You must leave Babylon and her ways. Don’t walk. Run. In order to have a fullness of the Spirit, we cannot participate in the vanities and wickedness of Babylon. This means reexamining what kind of media we consume (movies, TV shows, etc.), where we spend our time on the internet, traditions not in harmony with the gospel.
Are we living for the kingdom of God or are we comfortable with the worldly prosperity of Babylon?
We know how this ends. We should not spend another moment in Babylon.
And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.2 Nephi 23:19
Some may say, “Well slow down. You can’t be too religious.”
Where in all scripture is that warning given? It is a doctrine of man. Don’t believe it. The scriptures tell us to live by every word that proceeds from God’s mouth. The Lord commands us to flee Babylon, not to keep a summer home there. Lot thought he could do it and was nearly destroyed. Babylon will fall, and the fall will be great. I do not want to have any part of it.
It is interesting to see that once you reject the ways of the world and fully embrace God’s ways, you will begin to see just how corrupt and evil the world is – how the secret combinations have infected almost every aspect of our society. It’s nearly impossible to fully see it when you’re wrapped up in it.
2. Search the Scriptures
It is not enough to leave Babylon. We must replace the bad with the good – with God’s word – else, we run the risk of again being deceived by the ways of Babylon and her agents. The Lord has promised that “whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived…” (Joseph Smith Matthew 1:37).
Likewise, knowing the word of God will “lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked…” (Helaman 3:29).
How can we ever hope to have a strong foundation to know what is true and what is false if we don’t know God’s word. A casual relationship with the scriptures is not enough. We must actually feast upon the words of Christ.
We have heard this over and over since primary, yet people are still not doing it, else we would have already built Zion (more on that in a minute.) This is the exact reason why the Lord condemned the Church in the Prophet Joseph’s day and the reason why the Church is still under condemnation.
And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received–
Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and 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…Doctrine and Covenants 84:54-57, emphasis added.
3. Live the Word of Wisdom
If our bodies were made to house our spirits, then it naturally follows that the physical condition of our bodies affects our spirits. Knowing this, the Lord revealed the Word of Wisdom – a set of principles to govern the maintenance and care of our mortal bodies.
The Lord also declared that this revelation was given “in consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days…”
A body is something Lucifer will never receive in this world. It’s not that hard to believe that he would inspire his minions on this Earth to create products and substances to injury and destroy ours. And I’m not just talking about those the 5 things we’re not supposed to use.
Did you know that more verses in Section 89 discuss what we should put in our bodies rather than what we shouldn’t? Did you also know that the Lord has declared that animal flesh should not be consumed except in certain times? The scriptures are clear, but we have largely forgotten these plain teachings over the years.
If we want the Lord to open our eyes to what is going on in the world, we must abide by these principles in full. This is the promise:
And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-19, emphasis added.
These are not all the ways that will help you awake to our awful situation, but these are the ways that helped me personally.
Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise
Before concluding, there is one other important prophecy in the Book of Mormon concerning this land we should discuss, which is largely disregarded. It comes from the Savior Himself concerning the building up of the New Jerusalem.
When the Savior visited the Nephites, he set up His church, called disciples, and prophesied concerning the restoration of the gospel through the Gentiles and of its going forth to a remnant of the house of Israel.
The Lord also gives a warning to the Gentiles that they must repent or be cut off.
Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;
And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds;
And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers;
Thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands;
And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities.3 Nephi 21:14-18, emphasis added.
Unless the Gentiles repent, great destruction await. This destruction would necessarily come because of the pervasiveness of secret combinations.
But this doesn’t have to be the fate for the Gentiles of this land.
But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;
And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.3 Nephi 21:22-23, emphasis added.
If the Gentiles repent, they will be able to assist in building up the New Jerusalem in the land of Zion, which the Lord declared is in Missouri (D&C 57:1-2). But it gets better. The Savior also promised that “the power of heaven [will] come down among them; and I also will be in the midst” (3 Nephi 21:25).
Make Haste to Zion
The city of Zion, the New Jerusalem, is to be built upon this very land. Do we not realize what that means? This is a time spoken of throughout all scripture. Joseph Smith declared that “we ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 160).
There has been much obsession lately with the second coming of Christ, but before He can come to this earth in full view of the world, there must be a place for Him to come. We must build Zion before that day comes.
Yet, how many of us have made the building up of Zion as our greatest object? Do we know the scriptures and prophecies concerning Zion or the redemption of Zion? (see D&C 101:43-62) Are we purifying ourselves to be worthy of such a task? Or are we complacent with the way things are? We are either moving with Babylon and her secret combinations toward destruction or we are fleeing Babylon toward the Zion and her redemption. There is no middle ground.
The Word of the Lord Fulfilled
Zion will be redeemed, the wicked and rebellious will be destroyed, and the Lord’s words will all be fulfilled. Concerning Zion, it will only be built by a people worthy to do so. The Saints of Joseph’s day were not up for the task, so how do we expect that anyone of our day or some future day will be able to do so?
My personal feeling (and fear) is that the Lord will need to humble and refine people through the furnace of affliction until enough people say, “I can’t take this anymore! I do not want anything to do with the ways of the world anymore; I will do whatever God asks of me,” and show in deed that they mean it.
It was prosperity and pride that gave rise to secret combinations among the Nephites and the Jaredites, ultimately culminating in their entire destruction. The same fate is pronounced upon the Gentiles of this land unless they repent. I have a hunch that the Gentiles won’t repent, and Zion will be built in the wake the pronounced destruction (see 3 Nephi 21). But who knows? Only God knows how and when these things will play out.
However, one thing is abundantly clear: God loves this land. It is His chosen land. It is the land where Father Adam dwelt. It is the land promised to Jared and his posterity, to Nephi and his posterity, and to the Gentiles who serve Him. It is the land where Christ will personally dwell among His people. Those who pollute it by promoting and upholding secret combinations and all manner of wickedness will be destroyed. Those who repent and serve Him will be saved.
We have a choice to make. The destiny of what happens in this land depends on it.