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?

There is No Happiness in Iniquity (Helaman 13:38)

I Looooooooovvvveeee this scripture.

“But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.” – Helaman 13:38

Pure doctrine. Truth. Universal Law.

You cannot find happiness in iniquity.

It’s as simple as that. Sure, you can find pleasure and excitement in iniquity. But it is short lived, and it is not happiness. Not only that, but after the “high” of pleasure and excitement, we must come down to reality. And if this pleasure and excitement came from iniquity, then we will crash into the reality of our poor choices. Those are never fun.

It’s just the way that it is.

The laws governing happiness and joy are as universal as gravity. They are non-negotiable. We can live in denial. We can defy it. But, ultimately, these laws win. Because they are laws. They are facts. The sooner we simply accept that, the sooner we can find joy and happiness in our lives.

Otherwise, we’ll be like the Nephites that were warned by Samuel the Lamanite. We will pass the day of our probation, we’ll procrastinate salvation until it is too late. We will experience destruction, and then find ourselves lost – looking for something that is unobtainable: happiness in iniquity.

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.

The Sons of Mosiah – Before and After (Mosiah 27:10, 37)

The sons of Mosiah lived varied lives. Like Alma, the younger, they sought to destroy the church. They persecuted and they didn’t believe.

We read:

“And now it came to pass that while he was going about to destroy the church of God, for he did go about secretly with the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the church, and to lead astray the people of the Lord, contrary to the commandments of God, or even the king—” – Mosiah 27:10

So, the sons of Mosiah and Alma the younger went about to destroy the church. When such persecutions were effectively outlawed, they sought to destroy the church in secret.

What do you suppose is the level of joy in those who destroy or seek to destroy? It’s an interesting thought. Really, if you are bent on destruction, how happy are you?

I recognize that there may be some pleasure in the spoil of destruction. It’s a rush, I guess. But I seriously doubt that these sons of Mosiah and Alma had truly happy and healthy lives. They probably had a hard time transitioning out of such a destructive and painful mindset. My guess is that they assumed others were bent on destruction, deception, and misery. Usually, when we get stuck in this kind of mindset ourselves, it is difficult to imagine any other possibility.

And I have to admit, I think that this life would be miserable. In some ways it is tempting to be that type of person – the type that persecutes condescendingly. Maybe such behavior will make us “feel better” about ourselves. But I think that we’ve all done it before with negative outcomes. It’s a boring life – making fun of other people all of the time. Persecuting and destruction requires no creativity or intelligence. Blah.

***

Now, fast forward to the time after the Sons of Mosiah and Alma had converted and their hearts were changed.

“And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.” – Mosiah 27:37

This scripture describes the very same group of people. After repenting and covenanting with God, they declared glad tidings of joy to others. They published peace. They built up rather than tore down.

I know that preaching the gospel and publishing peace isn’t always the most exciting thing to do. They faced rejection and humiliation. But, we can’t discount the impact of the message that they shared. They published peace and the love of God. They were constantly thinking on these concepts and principles. Already, it sounds a lot happier than thinking so much about destruction.

Not only did their work cuase them to be blessed in the future, but I imagine it blessed them immediately. It isn’t difficult to imagine how publishing peace and joy increased their own peace and joy.

What was their Problem??? (Mosiah 7:27)

Just so you know, I mean the wicked priests of wicked King Noah. What on earth was their problem???

Abinadi delivers this amazing message of hope and peace – Christ. And they get angry.

“And because he said unto them that Christ was the God, the Father of all things, and said that he should take upon him the image of man, and it should be the image after which man was created in the beginning; or in other words, he said that man was created after the image of God, and that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood, and go forth upon the face of the earth—

And now, because he said this, they did put him to death; and many more things did they do which brought down the wrath of God upon them. Therefore, who wondereth that they are in bondage, and that they are smitten with sore afflictions?” – Mosiah 7:27-28

Okay. So Abinadi also testifies of their wickedness – which might not have been the most peaceful, fuzzy prophecy. But he teaches them why they need to put off wickedness and be righteous. He teaches them that Christ will come to earth. These are the “glad tidings of great joy.”

And how do they respond? They twist his words and burn him at the stake. I can’t help but wonder, what was their problem???

I suppose I can guess, though. These priests didn’t want the hope of Christ. They didn’t want to hear about redemption and salvation. They wanted to keep sinning. The message of the gospel only offers hope and peace to the repentant. To the unrepentant, the gospel of Christ threatens their rebellious lifestyle.

So, they don’t feel peace when they hear the gospel message because they can’t feel peace. They are angry. They are guilt-ridden and miserable.

To get out of the pain of their guilt, they choose not to repent, but to continue on living their lie by destroying anything that threatens to expose it. So, they kill Abinadi. Of course, this doesn’t change the facts. They are still sinning. They are still sewing the seeds of their own misery and destruction. Even with Abinadi gone, they are still miserable and angry.