Water, Joy, and Symbolism (Ether 15:8-9 and Moroni 7:11-14)

img_9126Time for a picture. 🙂

And now a scripture:

“And it came to pass that he came to the waters of Ripliancum, which, by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all; wherefore, when they came to these waters they pitched their tents; and Shiz also pitched his tents near unto them; and therefore on the morrow they did come to battle.

And it came to pass that they fought an exceedingly sore battle, in which Coriantumr was wounded again, and he fainted with the loss of blood.” – Ether 15:8-9

Look at that picture again. What do you feel when you see it? I lived here. This is on the most northern part of windward Oahu. It is up near Turtle Bay resort – Looking out to Kahuku Point.

When I see this picture, I’m transported back to this place and time. And I feel peace. I think about being at the ocean. The salty-sea air. The trade-winds. The crash of ocean waves. It quiets your soul and puts you in the present moment like nothing else.

In the scripture quoted above, the Jaredites are now at a large body of water. In fact, their word “Ripliancum,” means “to exceed all.” In my mind, this is an ocean. These people have pitched their tents on the beach and are preparing for battle.

The next day, they fight an “exceedingly sore” battle.

It’s not the first nor last battle on a beach. But I find this idea interesting: that the people could be so bloodthirsty and bent on war, they ignore an ocean. They ignore the peace of the rolling waves. They ignore the reverence of stars at night. And they just have their minds set on death and destruction.

It’s sooooo sad!

And it is a result of wickedness.

Later on, we learn:

“For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.

Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.” – Moroni 7:11-14

Those who are wicked and bitter, bring forth wicked and bitter water. In other words – their deeds reflect their character.

Those who are good and righteous will bring forth good water. Again – their deeds reflect their true character.

Who are we? Do we do good deeds? Do we recognize beauty around us? Do we seek for peace? Or do we ignore the beauty and peace around us and pursue selfish desires.

I’m not saying that all beach-front wars are bad. I know that the U.S. needed to storm Omaha beach in Normandy for a greater cause. And I know that this beauty was not lost on those who fought there. Their blood turned the tide red. They gave their lives for the lives of others – despite the beauty of the world that they fought in.

Sometimes this happens. But we can still recognize beauty. We can still choose to be humbled. We can do what is right and bring forth good works. And then, as a result we won’t waste our time fighting on beaches, but instead will be blessed with the peace and joy offered to us through these amazing creations.

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The Terror of the Wicked (Mormon 6:7-8)

There is less and less joy to be found in the people of the Ancient Americas (as recorded in the Book of Mormon. This is because of their wicked decisions and rebellion against God.

We read:

“And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them.

And it came to pass that they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers.” – Mormon 6:7-8

These people are standing and awaiting their death. They are filled with terror. It sounds like absolutely horrible conditions.

Compare this with those Lamanites who had been converted several hundred years before:

” And they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence; and they never could be prevailed upon to take up arms against their brethren; and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it.

Therefore, they would suffer death in the most aggravating and distressing manner which could be inflicted by their brethren, before they would take the sword or cimeter to smite them.” – Alma 27:28-29

The rebellious Nephites were terror-filled and blood-thirsty. The faithful and converted Lamanites (from years before), revered the sanctity of life and had no fear of death whatsoever.

I don’t know that I need to say much more other than – it’s obvious that I’d rather be like the Lamanites. Who wants to be filled with terror? Who wants to be bloodthirsty? Why not be righteous and then be filled with the confidence and peace of God?

Peace on Earth (3 Nephi 1:23)

“And it came to pass that Nephi went forth among the people, and also many others, baptizing unto repentance, in the which there was a great remission of sins. And thus the people began again to have peace in the land.” – 3 Nephi 1:23

Peace?! Do we want peace? Do we want peace in our communities, states, countries? In the world? Well, then the solution is really simple.

Be Righteous!

We cannot legislate ourselves into peace. Man’s laws cannot ensure or create peace. I’m not saying that they’re worthless. But that’s not the key. It’s not the secret. We can have laws passed, summits, treaties. But those are meaningless if the parties involved don’t honor and value the laws that were created.

Besides the fact that man’s law is pretty much meaningless anyway.

What I mean is, Man’s law is not what governs peace. Think of it scientifically. If we want to be able to fly, then we can’t just dream about flying. We can’t think of it in our own terms. We must understand the laws governing us (ie – gravity), and then figure out a way to apply gravity in such a way to get our desired result. We use gravity when we fly! We apply a force greater than gravity to gravity. We use speed and thrust to cause lift. And then we can fly.

Wishful thinking isn’t what gets us across an ocean in 6 hours.

Now, the same approach can be taken with peace. If we want peace in our homes, towns, communities, states, countries, hemispheres, and world; then we need to understand the laws that govern peace.

Peace is a result of righteous living. When we accept this fact and then live it, we will have peace. We will have joy. Pretty cool, huh?!

Inequality of Humankind: A Result of Sin and Wickedness (Alma 28:12-14)

Every once in a while in the Book of Mormon, Mormon (the prophet who abridged this record) gives us an insight. One of these commentaries is included in the book of Alma.

We read:

“While many thousands of others truly mourn for the loss of their kindred, yet they rejoice and exult in the hope, and even know, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are raised to dwell at the right hand of God, in a state of never-ending happiness.

And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men.

And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord; and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life.” – Alma 28:12-14

Mormon sums up a few things in this part of the abridgment and helps us to draw a few conclusions.

We can compare and contrast the lives of these people: The Lamanites (who would not convert to the gospel) and the People of Ammon (who were originally Lamanites and then were converted and covenanted with God).

Compare – How are they the same?
They are all Lamanites. They have lived together for hundreds of years. They have shared a common tradition and belief – even hatred of the Nephites for about 500 years. They all live in the same general area. They are related to one another.

Contrast – How are they different?
The Lamanites have clung to the incorrect and wicked traditions of their fathers. They have continued on in sin. They don’t really respect one another. They plunder and steal, they murder, rob, and live lascivious lives. They don’t believe in God.

The People of Ammon – used to have this tradition in their lives, also. They grew up hating the Nephites, feeling wronged. They started their lives without believing in God, and also committed all manner of sins.

However, when they heard the gospel message, they accepted it. They covenanted with God. They kept the commandments and were living vastly different lives.

The Inequality of Man

Mormon concludes (and helps us to conclude) that the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression. Why is this so? Well, read if you past posts and the Book of Mormon, then this fact becomes fairly obvious. But to sum it up – When we sin and transgress the laws of God, we hand ourselves over to the devil. He wants to destroy us. He wants us to be miserable.

Having lost our right mind, we then may start to things that will drive us apart. Divisions, inequalities, a lack of charity and love for one another accompanies the wicked mindset. Inequality then becomes the norm. And it is all just sad.

Sorrow and Rejoicing

Mormon also helps us to see the reasons of sorrow and rejoicing.

Sorrow comes of death and destruction. It comes because people have turned their hearts and lives over to wickedness and selfishness. Not only does sorrow come to the damned, but the followers of Christ feel sorrow over their brothers and sisters who have chosen this life.

Rejoicing – This comes, as Mormon teaches, because of the light of Christ unto life. Life. Joy. Fewer problems. More solutions. Love. Equality. Peace.

Joy.

We have so much sorrow in this world. While we can’t escape all of our pain during this life, there is a “fix” that is everlasting – the Gospel. The Savior came to this world to redeem us from death and hell. He offers us light, life, peace, and rest. We can have joy, if we will simply give up our wicked desires, put our wills on the altar of the Lord, and serve Him.

Wickedness Never Was Happiness Demonstrated (Alma 14:21)

In Alma 9-14, we read of the people of Ammonihah. They were wicked. So – what’s the problem with that? Why does it matter? Why can’t we just live and let live.

Well, those are nice questions, I guess. But it’s kind of like asking, “why do we have to be susceptible to gravity?”

The people of Ammonihah were breaking a law that is just as sure as the law of gravity, but without immediately obvious consequences.

The Universal Law

Wickedness never was happiness.

Even though the people of Ammonihah weren’t immediately destroyed, a quick analysis of these people will show that everything the wicked people of Ammonihah did demonstrated this principle.

A happy and joyful people won’t burn a group of faithful women and children to death – merely because of their beliefs. These people hadn’t committed any kind of slight against the society. The wicked people of Ammonihah simply didn’t like them.

I can’t imagine that it would be a very happy environment – knowing that one wrong word could get you killed.

A happy, joyful people is patient and open minded. The people of Ammonihah imprisoned innocent people, abused them, mocked them, spit on them, and gnashed their teeth. They don’t sound particularly happy.

Again, the people of Ammonihah don’t sound that happy! Though they were in power and felt that their worldly ideal was popular and therefore right – it wasn’t! We can tell by the results of their beliefs – sadness, misery, death, and destruction. They might say that they aren’t wicked, but a proclamation of righteousness doesn’t mean righteousness. And wickedness never was happiness.

The people of Ammonihah were filled with fear. This is another terrible and painful emotion that accompanies the wicked and faithless. They receive no peace or comfort.

We have seen wicked nations and governments. When I think of a nation that will burn people simply because of their beliefs, I can’t help but think of the Nazis. Though the Nazis bullied their way into power – didn’t make their behaviors or mindset right or true. They might have claimed to be righteous, but – as I mentioned earlier – a claim doesn’t make it so!!!

If we want to live in peace – in our personal lives, in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our cities, in our states, in our countries, in our world – then we need to adopt lifestyles of righteousness. Only then will we be peaceful and happy.

Corrupt Politics: The Foundation of Destruction (Alma 10:27)

Alma and Amulek, two missionaries in the Book of Mormon were called to preach to a very wicked people. You can read about their experiences in Alma 9-14.

For now, I just want to explore one point that I found particularly interesting – and applicable.

“And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges.” – Alma 10:27

The people of Ammonihah were in danger of complete destruction. And, as Amulek teaches, the foundation of this destruction was being laid by their unrighteous lawyers and judges. This wasn’t a conjecture on Amulek’s part. He was from Ammonihah. He spoke the hard truth to this people.

The result of a foundation of destruction is not only the obvious: destruction. But it is also pain, sadness, and misery. Not joy. I mean, think about it. If a city is going to be destroyed, what are the emotions and experiences that accompany such an event. None of them are ones any of us want to experience.

Yet, I think that we might be in a similar situation now. We have lawyers and judges who are changing the laws. We know that we have lawyers and judges that are corrupt. Not all of them, but there is corruption amongst our politicians.

The lawyers in Ammonihah received gain according to their employ. It is the same now. In the time of Alma and Amulek, this method of pay incentivized the lawyers and judges to stir people up. Nowadays, it is similar. Many of our judges and lawyers are incentivized (by lobbies, special interest groups, etc.) to change or recreate our laws and to stir us up.

We live in this! If we are discerning, then we can see how provocative our media, etc is. The result of such provocation and then shifting laws has only been more anger, sadness, and confusion. We absolutely have more anger, sadness, and confusion than we need.

It’s our choice.

If we want joy in our society, then we need to protect righteousness and protect righteous laws. We need to be choosy and informed on those we elect. We need to be sure that we don’t elect those who will seek to lay a foundation of destruction to our society. We can’t let an evil minority sway us all.

The Attributes of a Saint (Alma 7:23-24)

Yesterday, I wrote about how the people of Zarahemla were corrupting the religion. I wrote a pretty exhaustive list of the bad things they were doing.

Today, we get a list of what faithful saints should, instead, be doing.

“And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.

And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.” – Alma 7:23-24

These attributes of a saint are actually the keys to a joyful life

  • Be humble
  • Be submissive
  • Be gentle
  • Be easy to be entreated
  • Be full of patience and all long-suffering
  • Be temperate
  • Be diligent in keeping God’s commandments
  • Ask for what we need – both spiritual and temporal
  • Be grateful
  • Be faithful
  • Be hopeful
  • Be charitable

When we work to cultivate these attributes, then good works will abound.

when good works abound, then blessings and peace abounds.

It’s such a good deal. Yes, this list might be hard at times. I think that the hardest part is that it requires us to give up our pride and trust in something else. But the result is peace! Our pride is such a little cost for such a great reward.