Today I read 3 Nephi 3. This chapter has always fascinated me. For starters, the leader of the Gadianton Robbers. If has always amused me that he would take the time to write a letter to the chief judge of the land and ask for the people's surrender. I always wonder if he was worried he wouldn't be able to take over the lands himself or what his reasoning was for doing this.
Maybe it was divine intervention? The reason I say this is because in the end of chapter 2 it states that the Nephites were slowly being taken over by the Gadianton robbers in warfare and maybe the Lord softened the leader's heart to give the Nephites time to save themselves? The other reason I can think of is laziness. I mean if you really think about it, despite what they tell themselves, the true underlying reason behind people joining the Gadianton robbers or a life of crime in this day and age, is laziness. They don't want to work for what they need or want, so they become criminals and take it by force and whatever other means necessary. So maybe this is just another way of laziness for the Robbers, they didn't want to spend the energy necessary to take over the lands they wanted to rule.
Whatever the reason, they did not come on "the morrow month" as the Robbers threatened, but rather if I am reading the dates right, the Nephites spent 2 years preparing themselves. We don't know the month Lachoneus received the letter from the Robbers in the 16th year, but we do know that his own proclamation was not until the latter end of the 17th year, so it was at least 1 year, and the first verse of the next chapter tells us that the Robbers did not actually come until the 18th year. So the Robbers did not even hold true to their threat. However, I DO believe in that case it was divine providence that held them back.
The Nephites in the latter end of the book of Helaman had spread from sea to sea, north to south and east to west. That is a LOT of people. And I cannot imagine it was a quick walk, especially with cattle, from all their settlements to the land of Zarahemla. This is another example of the Lord taking care of his people. I also love that the leaders of the Nephites were not coerced into going after the Robbers in their own lands. They knew that to receive the protection of the Lord they needed to defend their families, not go on the offensive.
It must have been an interesting experience having all the Nephites in one location. I often wonder just how many square miles they covered being all together like that? I wonder if there were more than a million of them and things like that. But that is just my idle wonderings and have no real bearing on anything. This chapter also makes me think of the gathering of Israel and the trek westward in our own day and age when the Saints fled Illinois heading to Utah.
The important parts of this chapter to me though are the leaders of the Nephites and how successful they were in helping their people overcome the challenges of their day and in getting them to repent. It always makes me re-evaluate how much I pay attention to our own leaders, especially President Monson, our Prophet. I always feel a redoubled desire to follow his counsel when I read this chapter, and I hope you do too. Until tomorrow.