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.

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Paths, Obstacles, and Joy

The families of Lehi and Ishmael left Jerusalem around 600 BC. They were heading to an unknown promised land, but had to venture through the wilderness before arriving. The trip took about eight years.

This voyage through the wilderness was fraught with toil and affliction, and after some time into the journey, Ishmael passed away.

The death of Ishmael brings sorrow. In the Book of Mormon, we read:

“And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom.” – 1 Nephi 16:34

It is worth noting that “Nahom” means consolation – to be sorry, or to console one’s self.

The death of Ishmael is difficult for morale. He was the patriarch of his family. The daughters mourn pretty vocally. And I can see why it would be so hard. Ishmael and his family had left Jerusalem – to escape destruction and death. They were going to a promised land.

It is so easy to start the path to the promised lands of our lives, but the thing is, the greater the reward, the more difficult the path. Regardless of where we are headed, we are all headed for trials and adversity. It’s a part of life.

So – we know that death = misery and life = joy. People tend to make choices that reflect this sensibility. We put on seat belts, we wear helmets, we cut sugar. We don’t want to die. We do what we can to avoid dangerous situations while still striving to live an abundant life.

Yet there are times when during our lives – even when we’re on the right path – we’re exposed to difficulties that nearly feel like death and danger. For Lehi and Ishmael’s family – they left the general safety of their lives in Jerusalem and went into the wilderness. The wilderness, compared to their homes, might have felt like a death trap! They couldn’t imagine the impending destruction of Jerusalem (and the danger that would accompany this hostile takeover), but they were directly experiencing physical challenges in the desert. Food was scarce. Temperatures probably reached extreme highs and lows. Danger lurked everywhere in the desert. It would be natural to want to flee this circumstance. It doesn’t seem joyful or life-sustaining.

And that’s the thing we learn from Lehi and Ishmael’s experiences. This was the path to happiness. This obstacle – of the wilderness – was the way to the promised land. It doesn’t seem intuitive – that such suffering will result in joy. Still, sometimes we have to go through these hellish, sorrowful experiences in order to make it to our joy.

I believe that there is always joy in the journey. But it is also crucial to identify the fact that there are times when it is hard. We have our own “Nahom” points – when the only option left is for us to console ourselves. But we can take courage. The Lord will not fail us. Though we mourn, we will be comforted. And eventually, we will experience joy that will equal, if not surpass, the pain we experienced along the way.