Today I read Helaman 1, which I like to dub, the beginning of the end for the Nephites. In this chapter, Pahoran dies and 3 of his sons desire the judgment seat. It is sad to me that one of the brothers tries to commit treason and has to be put to death. I think that must have been hard on Pahoran the second to have to put his own brother to death. Perhaps not, we really don't know anything about his character, but I would think it would be difficult.
I am also intrigued by some of the details that are included in the Book of Mormon sometimes. I mean, it is an abridgment so I believe that ever detail was included with care by Mormon and sometimes the choices really intrigue me. For example, the latter half of this chapter includes the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites where the Lamanites come all the way into Nephite lands and attack Zarahemla. And Mormon includes the detail that not only does the Lamanite in charge of the armies kill the chief judge, he includes how he was killed, by smiting him against a wall. I've always found that very odd that Mormon would include it.
It honestly reminds me of a story my wife told me from when she was in the MTC. She said that one day Jeffrey R. Holland came to give a talk and he read a scripture where a certain phrase is repeated, I cannot remember which one, and he had a missionary come up to the podium and asked the missionary if he thought that was a typo. Elder Holland told that missionary that it was NOT a typo and these men who wrote this scripture did so on metal plates with a nail or some other form of writing device to scratch into these metal plates so it was repeated for a purpose.
That is how I feel when I come across something really odd in the Book of Mormon. I have to remind myself that it is there for a reason and I need to find out why that is with the help of the Spirit. Now, a detail like this, I remind myself that Mormon grew up in a time where there was fighting and death everywhere he looked and that may just be his personal character shining through. After all, the stories we tell are colored by our own particular experiences. I would tell the same story much differently than my wife would and vice versa. I still think it's a very odd detail and way to die.
Now, the reason I think of Helaman chapter 1 as the beginning of the end for the Nephites is because it marks the first appearance of the Gadianton robbers. Kishkumen is sent by a band of men to murder the chief judge and when he does it, his fellows enter into a promise to keep it a secret. This is the secret combinations of old that Satan revealed to Cain, that the Jaredites re-discovered and that are currently ravaging our lands also. Historically speaking, once such organizations have entered a society, that society is inevitably destroyed. Some last longer than others, after all, organized crime has been a part of our society for well over a hundred years now and it destroyed the Nephite society, the first time mind you, in a little over 80 years. We have no idea how long the Jaredites lasted after it was first introduced. We don't have time lines for them except for their beginning and their end.
But the fact of the matter is, the Gadianton Robbers spelled the ultimate end of the Nephites. And this is the first time they show up in Nephite history. This chapter always fills me with sadness, because I know what is coming and even though these events happened over 2000 years ago, I feel bad for the righteous of the Nephites, like the people of Ammon, that still tried to live a good life back then and had to live in a world of such evil.
Sadly, we currently live in a world of such evil. The good thing is, that it is not pervasive enough that we are constantly surrounded by it yet. There is much that is good and pure in this life and the evil is confined to certain places. The problem is, like any cancer, it is spreading. That is why we must be the light to shine forth in the darkness. So shine brightly, don't be afraid of your testimony and commitment to Christ. Be not afraid of who you are, and God will recognize you for your efforts at the last day. Until tomorrow.