Posts Tagged 'Government'

Deuteronomy Chapter 19

In chapter 17 of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the Israelites of the importance of having righteous leaders. Specifically, he taught them the importance of judges who would do their duty without prejudice and according to the laws of God. It was important that they remembered to carry out judgements of God’s established laws, in a manner that was pleasing to God. Only then, would they continue to be led by the spirit of the Lord. Moses continues the teachings of the Lord, with regard to how they were to handle some of those individuals judged as guilty by the law.

1 When the Lord thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the Lord thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;
2 Thou shalt separate three cities for thee in the midst of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.
3 Thou shalt prepare thee a way, and divide the coasts of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither.

After becoming established in a land free of other nations, they were to create three cities of refuge within the land. These three cities were to be established with roads and borders. They were for those who had committed manslaughter.

4 And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past;
5 As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live:
6 Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.
7 Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee.
8 And if the Lord thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers;
9 If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:
10 That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.

Those who had a place in the cities of refuge, were they who had ignorantly or accidentally killed another, without any premeditation or the intention to murder another. An example of manslaughter is given, where two men are chopping down a tree, and the axe slips from one man’s hand and kills the other accidentally. Those convicted of manslaughter could go to a city of refuge and live without fear of the death being avenged by an angry family member or friend. This because manslaughter was not a crime worthy of death according to God. If the Lord blessed them with more land, they were to add more cities of refuge. God did not want innocent blood shed in the land of promise, which would make them unworthy of the land.

11 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities:
12 Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.
13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

If a person murdered in cold-blood and then escaped to the city of refuge, the leaders were to take him out of that city. All murderers were to be put to death and not shown pity when they were found guilty. If they did not follow through with this, the people would be held accountable for their choice.

14 Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.

The people were not to remove the landmarks left in the land from old times. I believe that the word landmarks is the marks of boundary on the land. The Israelites were not to decide for themselves how they should change the boundaries of their inheritances, but were to leave them as they were first divided in the land.

15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

If only one witness spoke against another person, they could not be judged for that thing. All cases were to be judged bases on the words of two or three witnesses. The Lord has been consistent in the law of witnesses throughout time. In the time of the restoration of the church, the Lord said, “and in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established”. (Doctrine and Covenants 6:28) Witnesses are so important to our being able to know truth from those things that are false. Most important, is the witness we can receive from the spirit of the Lord, which is undeniable by our own spirit, and if we listen, He will teach us what is true.

16 If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;
17 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;
18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;
19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.
21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

False witnesses were to be judged along with those they testified against. The judges and elders of Israel, were to look hard at the details of the case and decide if the witness was being truthful. If the witness was found to be lying, then he would be judged guilty in the matter and receive the punishment that he had hoped for the one was innocent. As a result, those who were seeking that another be falsely accused and receive punishment, would receive that punishment equally. In doing so, the leaders of Israel would show to the rest of the people, that anyone who bore false witness against another would be held accountable.

The act of intentionally murdering another person, is never right. God established the law against murder, long before the Isrealites existed. Cain was cursed and cast away from the presence of the Lord, when he committed the first murder (Genesis 4:8, 11, 14; see also Moses 5:32, 36, 39). The law is specifically stated in Genesis 9:6, when we read the law as given to Noah’s generation, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Then it was established with the Israelites, when Moses first brought them the ten commandments. In Exodus 20:13 we read, “Thou shalt not kill.” Any man who was guilty of murder was rightfully to be put to death, by the standards of the Lord. The Lord has re-established His law in our day as well. In Doctrine and Covenants 42, we read the following:

18 And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.
19 And again, I say, thou shalt not kill; but he that killeth shall die.

Any person who murders another of God’s children, will be held accountable by God for their sin. Whether or not they are not punished in this life for their crime, they will be judged appropriately at the judgement seat of the Lord and all will be made right by God.

Just as all kings and their rulings, and judges and their judgments, were to be just and righteous, all the punishments for those guilty, were to be just and righteous. When men are punished for accidents, or innocent men are convicted of crimes, there is little hope in the law for those who are trying to live good lives. This kind of government leads to chaos, rebellion, and falling away from those things that are good and true. It was so important for the Israelites to remember these things, so that they could remain faithful to the Lord. It is important for these things today as well. When good laws are established to maintain freedoms and allow people the ability to righteously follow their beliefs, it gives men the ability to openly follow after the Lord. When governments choose to altar these good things, for their own purposes, one things leads to another and apostasy is sure to follow. Those who are striving to live a life of righteousness, need to do all that they are able to ensure that those who are leading them are protecting the freedoms and the good laws of the land.

The Twelfth Article of Faith

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

We believe that government is something that was established by God before the world began. God is our ultimate King and Ruler, with His Son, Jesus Christ and Lord over all mankind. Government, when led by good people trying to do what is best for its subjects, is designed for the benefit of everyone. This belief is expressed in Doctrine and Covenants 134:1. “We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.”

We are subjects and citizens in kingdoms, nations, countries and so on. In these societies, we are to be held accountable for our own actions. The only way for us to be held accountable is if we have individuals or groups which oversee the creation and enforcement of the laws of the land. In Doctrine and Covenants 134:3 we read, “We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same . . .”. Without leaders of the land, I think that we would have chaos and a lot more evil in the world. Those who rule may be kings, presidents, rulers, or magistrates depending on the type of government. In Titus 3:1 we read of what the saints should be willing to do. “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work”.

We do not believe that any should be allowed to rule in a way where they seek to get gain at the expense of those they lead. Men should be free to think for themselves and have protection for themselves and their loved ones. We also believe that it is a god-given right for us to have our own property and belongings, and that no government should force a person to give these things up, and when absolutely necessary they should be properly compensated. In Doctrine and Covenants 134:2 we read, “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”

We believe that it is our duty as subjects, to obey, honor and sustain the laws of the land. This does not mean that we need to be subject to them in religious matters, because they do not govern our souls. In Matthew 22:21 we read, “. . . Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Again in Doctrine and Covenants 134:7 we read, “We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.” If we are committed to following God’s laws, then we will be willing to follow all laws of the land, as long as they do not go against the things of God. In Doctrine and Covenants 58:21 we read, “Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.”

As saints, we should be willing to respect those who lead our country, even when we may disagree with how they rule. In 1 Peter 2:17 we read the words of Peter. “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” We believe that we, as citizens, should stand up for what we know is right, while remembering that we are all children of God and we each deserve respect in our duties. In Doctrine and Covenants 134:6 we read, “We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men owe respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.”

I believe that we can learn a great deal from being obedient to the laws of the land. When we are disobedient to these laws, we tend to have physical and tangible consequence that we are made to experience. With spiritual laws, often times the consequence is not one we may immediately recognize or understand, which may make them harder to follow. If we can restrain our passions and desires in a way that keeps us obedient to the laws of the land, we can be better prepared to be obedient to those laws of God. I am grateful for the laws of the land, because they give me a sense of security and safety physically in this life, that I know I would not have otherwise. I am grateful for those leaders who have the difficult work of making decisions for multitudes of people with diverse backgrounds, cultures, desires, and so on. I have a hard enough time leading in my home, and could not imagine trying to take on that responsibility. I believe that it is our duty to pray for these leaders, that they might be inspired in righteous ways and truly do what is best for all of their citizens and subjects. I know that it is also our duty to speak up when decisions are being made, so that we may be an influence for good. We have a responsibility to be aware of what our governments are doing and ways that we can help our societies.

D&C Section 134

In August of 1985, the saints held a general assembly of the church to discuss the Doctrine and Covenants and its contents. This section is described as a “declaration of belief regarding governments and laws” and it was accepted by a unanimous vote of the saints. It was given a preamble as well which said, “That our belief with regard to earthly governments and laws in general may not be misinterpreted nor misunderstood, we have thought proper to present, at the close of this volume, our opinion concerning the same” (History of the Church, 2:247). It is not direct revelation from the Lord, but as I understand it, there is nothing in this declaration that is against the gospel principles and it is fully in line with what we should believe as saints of God. As active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), saints have a duty to be aware and active in their communities as is possible. I have been fortunate to live in the United States, where we have many freedoms and liberties because of our government. I am very grateful for this.

The saints had been wrongly accused of many things in these first years of the restoration of the gospel. Among these false accusations, was one that said they were unsupportive of law and order. This declaration showed the world what the saints believed and how they expected government to work. This section begins:

1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
2 We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.
3 We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.
4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

I whole-heartedly believe that government is part of the plan of God. I believe that when Christ comes again, our government will be His government, which is perfectly righteous. I don’t think that any government that is instituted today, is the perfect government, because they are all man-made, but I know that some are better than others because of influences of the spirit on good people. Government helps us to establish and maintain the laws, so that we all can live in safety and peace, therefore it is necessary that we have some type of government. These verses declare that no peaceful government can exist unless the people are free to choose for themselves, have a right to property, and are able to protect life. When these things are taken away, the people become placed in some kind of bondage to another, which is never according to the plan of God.

In my study I found a quote by David O. McKay when he who eventually became President of the church. He said, “That government is best which has as its aim the administration of justice, social well-being and the promotion of prosperity among its members” (in Conference Report, April. 1930, p. 80). I like this quote because it is not social well-being or the promotion of prosperity, but it is “and” or both. The best government will seek to help its people in need and encourage prosperity. A nation can have both of these things, if done correctly, and we see evidence of this time and time again in the Book of Mormon. One example is of the Nephites, not long after Christ had visited them. In 4 Nephi 1 we read,

2 And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.
. . . 7 And the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land; yea, insomuch that they did build cities again where there had been cities burned.
. . . 18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.
. . . 23 And now I, Mormon, would that ye should know that the people had multiplied, insomuch that they were spread upon all the face of the land, and that they had become exceedingly rich, because of their prosperity in Christ.

I believe that we can have people who are prosperous and who are common (not rich and poor), without taking away any freedoms. I believe that we can persuade men to choose to give of their abundance to the poor, without forcing anyone and taking that choice away. When people choose to give to the poor, everyone prospers, but when people are forced by things being taken from them, no one does.

The saints declared that governments need workers who will handle the laws with equity and justice, and that these same people should be chosen by the will of the people. It is the duty of every righteous man or woman, to seek out good and just leaders and help them to lead their country in the right ways. As far as America goes, I don’t think that enough people realize that if the voice of the people who are trying to live righteous lives, would be heard louder, our leaders would also be influenced to lead righteously. We have the ability to persuade those who are in government positions, if we stand up for what we believe.

In verse 4, the point is that religion is not a man-made institution, but an eternal institution from our eternal creator. As latter-day saints, we believe in the free exercise of religion, not just of our own, but of all religions that do not stop others from their rightful freedoms. We believe that nothing of man should be allowed to interfere with the institution of religion, or stop men from being able to worship freely as they choose. I love the last line of this verse, “the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.” There are things that government is responsible for and should be, but forcing people to believe something or stopping them from freedom of thought and desires of the soul is completely wrong. I believe that all men should be allowed to worship freely, as long as how or what they worship does not stop anyone else from that same freedom.

5 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.
6 We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men owe respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.
7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.
8 We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public peace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment.

We have a duty to follow the laws of the land in which we live, but we must have the right to choose and think for ourselves. It is the responsibility of a government to have laws and to have consequences for those who choose not to follow the laws. As it says in the twelfth article of faith, latter-day saints believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”. There have been times when the laws of certain lands have taken away the freedom to follow the laws of God, and in these times, I believe it becomes a matter of sincere prayer to God for his help to be able to live His law. Sometimes it takes making a stand for a belief, such as Daniel who continued to pray even though he was commanded by his ruler that he must not pray to God. He was still allowed to choose and suffered the consequences of the law, but God protected him for following His law. I hope that I do not have to experience that kind of contradiction between the laws of this land and the laws of God, but I know that it is a possibility as we draw closer to the second coming. God will bless us if we do our best to obey his laws and live righteously.

It can sometimes feel difficult to respect our leaders who make choices we do not like, but as saints we need to be better than this. We should respect the office which these individuals hold, even when we disagree with their individual policies or decisions. For example, our president should be respected as the leader of our country. He should not be attacked as a person, because this is not a Christ-like thing to do. We do not have to agree with his decisions to respect him as our leader. Likewise, we do not have to agree with the decision of every law that is made, but we should respect and sustain it as a law. If we disagree with a leader or a law, it is our duty to do what we can to change what we do not agree with, not to disrespect or disobey.

Everyone one of us has responsibilities over something in our lifetime. For some it is nations and for others it is a home. We are all held accountable for how we lead and how we act in that responsibility. I have hope in the belief that those leaders who are unjust and unkind, will be held accountable for that in the eternities, because I believe in the justice of God. But as much as I hope for that, I must remember that I need to be the best leader in my home, so that I do not hold the same fate for making bad choices as well.

There is nothing wrong with punishment that is deserving for the crimes committed. Suffering for crimes is like the suffering for our sins that is an eternal principle. As a mother, it can be difficult at times to figure out what punishment is appropriate for the wrongs that are done in my home, but I know that there would be absolute craziness and a lack of respect for any rules if there were not any consequences. As saints, it is our duty to own up to our own mistakes, to take the appropriate consequences as they come and to repent fully for them. We do not consider ourselves above any laws. We are bound to uphold them as citizens of our countries. If we are striving to be honest citizens, then we will not do anything to stop another from proper punishment, and we will not cover up any crimes. We can and should still show love for anyone who has done something wrong, while allowing the consequences to be put into action. Punishment is in place for the benefit of all men and women.

9 We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.
10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

There is wisdom in keeping the laws and rules of the land in the control of those who lead the land, and separately keeping the laws and rules of any religion in the control of those who lead that religious group. Although, I have a desire for all men to believe as I do and to worship as I do, that does not mean that the leaders of a church should have control over a land. We cannot learn and grow if we are not given the choice to worship freely. I am happy when there are good, religious individuals as leaders in the government, because a righteous influence for good is ideal. But the church should leave the control of government to those who have been chosen to lead it. Likewise, any government should allow the churches to lead their own churches, as long as there is nothing that they do contrary to the laws of the land.

11 We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.
12 We believe it just to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men; such interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in servitude.

Any person has the god-given right to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their own property. There are appropriate ways to deal with any abuse or attack that comes against us, and we should be wise in doing what is appropriate. Likewise, governments should have a responsibility to provide help in the appropriate situations. If, however, a government chooses not to help or is unable to help, when assistance is fully deserved, there is a right to our own defense against attacks.

As saints, we are believers in taking the gospel to the world. However, it is a gospel of peace and if preaching the gospel would put the peace or safety of others in jeopardy, it is not the right time for it. We do not believe that people should not be allowed to hear the gospel, but we will respect the laws of the lands. If we live righteously, and if as a church we are being strengthened and fortified, the Lord will open doors for the gospel in places where it has not been allowed before. I believe this is true.

I am so grateful for the safety that comes from having a government in place. I am glad that I live in a country that allows as much freedom as I have. I believe in laws and consequences and I know that we will be blessed by God for being good citizens where ever we live. I believe in freedom, and I am especially grateful to live where I can choose to worship freely and in a time when I do not need to fear for my life because of it. I am very grateful for the saints, who believed as I do now, and who endured through so many trials so that I could live the life of freedom that I have now.

3 Nephi, Chapter 7

What led to the downfall of the government?

The government has the ability to control our lives on all levels.  A benefit of government is protection and safety that we cannot always provide for ourselves.  There are other benefits as well, but there is a lot of things about government that complicate our lives, especially right now, when it seems they want to control all aspects of how we live and what we do.

“Now behold, I will show unto you that they did not establish a king over the land; but in this same year, yea, the thirtieth year, they did destroy upon the judgment-seat, yea, did murder the chief judge of the land (v. 1).  And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land (v. 2).”  The Nephite government was destroyed when the chief judge was killed and everyone separated into tribes of family and friends.

“And every tribe did appoint a chief or a leader over them; and thus they became tribes and leaders of tribes (v. 3).  Now behold, there was no man among them save he had much family and many kindreds and friends; therefore their tribes became exceedingly great (v. 4).  Now all this was done, and there were no wars as yet among them; and all this iniquity had come upon the people because they did yield themselves unto the power of Satan (v. 5).  And the regulations of the government were destroyed, because of the secret combination of the friends and kindreds of those who murdered the prophets (v. 6).”  The break-down of the government was caused by the iniquity of the people that led to the secret combinations and the prophets being killed.

“And they did cause a great contention in the land, insomuch that the more righteous part of the people had nearly all become wicked; yea, there were but few righteous men among them (v. 7).”  There were very few left that were still righteous.

I don’t know what would happen if our government collapsed.  I imagine that there would be a lot of fighting that would be uncontrolled.  It would make life rather difficult in many ways. I think I would turn to those whom I trust (family and friends) as well, for safety and security.  If our country divided into tribes, the makeup of this country would look very different.  It’s hard to even imagine considering how large this country is, but I could imagine separating into smaller countries the size of our states now.  We have very strong divisions beginning in our country today, because of political issues.  It’s not difficult to see that we could be headed towards a fall of the government the way the Nephites had.  If we had more righteousness in our leaders, we would be able to find a common purpose and have less contention and more peace.

As members of this gospel, we know that government is a good thing.  We know that it is good to be an active member in our community and all levels of the government.  The 12th Article of Faith states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”  We know that having laws to obey is part of the plan that God has for us.  However, these things can fail us if righteousness is not part of government as well.  We need to be anxiously engaged in standing for what is right and in keeping those that rule over us in government, accountable for their actions.

How did secret combinations once again become a dangerous power?

Flattery is a tool used to get what we want, either in a reaction or action, from someone else.  Flattery is a way of praising someone and making them feel good about themselves in a more excessive way than strictly complimenting them.  It appeals to the pride in the “natural man”.  Flattery may seem innocent but it is in opposition to humility.  Flattery can lead to a greater pride and eventually the ability to convince others to do iniquity.  It is a tool that is often used by Satan to lead us away from righteousness.

“And thus six years had not passed away since the more part of the people had turned from their righteousness, like the dog to his vomit, or like the sow to her wallowing in the mire (v. 8 ).  Now this secret combination, which had brought so great iniquity upon the people, did gather themselves together, and did place at their head a man whom they did call Jacob (v. 9); And they did call him their king; therefore he became a king over this wicked band; and he was one of the chiefest who had given his voice against the prophets who testified of Jesus (v. 10).”  Jacob was made king over the wicked band of robbers.

“And it came to pass that they were not so strong in number as the tribes of the people, who were united together save it were their leaders did establish their laws, every one according to his tribe; nevertheless they were enemies; notwithstanding they were not a righteous people, yet they were united in the hatred of those who had entered into a covenant to destroy the government.”  The band of robbers were enemies to the tribes of people.  They hated those who had wanted to destroy the government.

“Therefore, Jacob seeing that their enemies were more numerous than they, he being the king of the band, therefore he commanded his people that they should take their flight into the northernmost part of the land, and there build up unto themselves a kingdom, until they were joined by dissenters, (for he flattered them that there would be many dissenters) and they become sufficiently strong to contend with the tribes of the people; and they did so (v. 12).  And so speedy was their march that it could not be impeded until they had gone forth out of the reach of the people. And thus ended the thirtieth year; and thus were the affairs of the people of Nephi (v. 13).”  He took his band to the land northward and gathered dissenters of the Nephite tribes with his flattery, so that his band was large enough to fight with the tribes.

Complimenting each other is not a bad thing, when we genuinely feel that someone has done well.  When we excessively compliment as a way of getting what we want, it is flattery and is designed to persuade another to do what we want, which is not okay.  We need to be cautious of others who compliment us to the point of flattery and we can discern motives with the help of the spirit, if we are living righteously.

Have you ever “stoned” a prophet?

If I ever saw someone throwing anything at our prophet, I would feel personally offended by it.  If someone ridiculed or tried to hurt this man of God that I hold dear to my heart, I would feel sad and like a personal attack had been made on me.

“And it came to pass in the thirty and first year that they were divided into tribes, every man according to his family, kindred and friends; nevertheless they had come to an agreement that they would not go to war one with another; but they were not united as to their laws, and their manner of government, for they were established according to the minds of those who were their chiefs and their leaders. But they did establish very strict laws that one tribe should not trespass against another, insomuch that in some degree they had peace in the land; nevertheless, their hearts were turned from the Lord their God, and they did stone the prophets and did cast them out from among them (v. 14).”  Because the people had turned from God, they were still a wicked people and they stoned the prophets and threw them out of their lands.

When people today, attack the validity or righteousness of the prophets and other church leaders, they are symbolically stoning them.  There are many, even within the church, who do not sustain the prophet and other church leaders, because they are quick to say that things they have said are not of God.  The prophet is only a man, but he is the mouthpiece of God on the earth today, and his words are the Lord’s words for us.  To attack what he says, is in a sense stoning him and throwing him out of our personal lives.  The same applies to other church leaders, even locally.  When we attack them in any way, we are turning our backs on them.  If we understand the gospel and the nature of the priesthood, than we must understand that each and every one of these people have been called by God to lead in that calling.  When we turn our backs on them instead of sustaining them and supporting them, we are saying that we do not believe they are called of God, or that God was wrong in placing them in that position.  This is an awful sin.  If we find that we disagree with something they have done or said, we should pray for personal guidance in dealing with it.  The Lord will never allow our church leaders to lead us astray.  If we have a problem with them, than we need to find the thing in our life that needs to change.

Nephi–an instrument in God’s Hands

It is an awesome feeling to know that you are acting as an instrument in the Lord’s hands.  I have noticed a few times in my life and have been so grateful for it.  I know that great blessings come from allowing our lives to be used for His work.

Nephi had the ability to be an instrument in God’s Hands because he “had power given unto him that he might know concerning the ministry of Christ”, had seen angels and been visited by angels and heard the voice of the Lord, and could recognize the change of heart in the people (v. 15).  He truly cared for the people and wanted them to change (v. 16).  He had the ability to testify of repentance and to minister and say many wonderful things to the people “with power and with great authority” (v. 16-17).  He was a man of great faith; “for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily (v. 18 ).”  He had the power to perform miracles.  “And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits; and even his brother did he raise from the dead, after he had been stoned and suffered death by the people (v. 19).”  He had the priesthood power, and performed this miracles in the name of Jesus.  He continued to preach unto them and because of his miracles and preaching, many of the Nephites converted and were baptized (v. 23-26).  Nephi was truly an instrument in the Lord’s hands.

The people who had been caught up in pride and wickedness, had the ability to have a change of heart (v. 15).  They knew that Nephi had a great power in him and knew that his words were true, which made them angry (v. 18, 20).  Even knowing that many of the people were angry with his words and his works, Nephi continued to preach unto them.  He is a good example of enduring in the face of adversity.  When others are angry at us, we need to live with the spirit as our guide and influence.  The spirit will not allow us to do the wrong thing if we are trying to live righteously.  Nephi was led by the spirit because he was a man of great faith.  And because of his great faith, the people could not deny that his words were truth and his miracles were done with power from on high.

The few converts who were converted unto the Lord, were strong in their change of heart.  They “did truly signify unto the people that they had been visited by the power and Spirit of God, which was in Jesus Christ, in whom they believed (v. 21)” and “did truly manifest unto the people that they had been wrought upon by the Spirit of God, and had been healed; and they did show forth signs also and did do some miracles among the people (v. 22).”  They accepted Christ and received the power of God, to also be instruments in the Lord’s hands.    They showed “a witness and a testimony before God” by repenting of their wickedness and being baptized and went out telling others they needed to baptized also (v. 24-25).  And with the testimony of many in addition to Nephi’s, and the ministry of these few converts, many more of the Nephites were converted and baptized (v. 26).

My conversion has taken place over a number of years in my life.  One of the most wonderful gifts of the spirit that I have recognized in my own life, is the ability to believe whole-heartedly on the testimony of others.  I do not feel the need to questions principles of the gospel being true.  Everything about the gospel just seems to fit and make absolute sense to me.  I do not doubt it.  This gift of the spirit gives me a strength that I can share with others in my own testimony of these wonderful things.  In just the last two years, I have realized this as one of the ways that I can be an instrument in the Lord’s hands and it brings me great joy to share with others.

Mosiah, Chapter 29

What makes one form of government better than another?

The United States experienced a horrible tragedy on September 11, 2001.  I don’t think anyone who was old enough to know what was going on, will forget where they were or how they felt on that day.  I got into my car to drive to work when I heard the news that a plane had flown into one of the twin towers.  I went to work still, but spent the entire day watching the news in my office.  I watched the aftermath of both towers being hit, one plane hit the pentagon, and another plane had been brought down that was also hijacked.  I remember that on my drive home, the radio station played a montage of sound clips that had been recorded that day; people screaming, sounds of buildings crumblings, bits of news coverage about heroes, and a song about time that made me cry.  I did not know anyone personally, who had been in any of those terrible experiences, but you did not have to to feel the attack that had occurred to our nation.  On that day, and several to follow, the United States was the most united that I have ever known it to be.  People were so proud to be American.  It was an awful thing, but great courage, hope, love and patriotism came out of it.

Article of Faith 12 says, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”  We, as citizens of the United States, are expected to follow the laws that are put forth and maintained by the President, congress, and the judiciary branch of the government.  We have a constitution, which explains what makes up these leaders and how they can use the powers given to them by the people.  We also have a bill of rights which is designed to protect the people from the tyranny that can come from those in power.  Our rights are what keep us the free country that God has promised to us.  We maintain these rights as long as we live by the laws that are in place, and as long as our rulers do not take them from us, either by the voice of the people or by their own choice.

After Mosiah had given Alma the records (discussed in my last post), he wanted to know what the people thought he should do about the kingdom.    “And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: We are desirous that Aaron thy son should be our king and our ruler (v. 2).”  However, none of his sons were willing to be the king, but chose to be missionaries instead.  Mosiah told the people, “Behold, O ye my people, or my brethren, for I esteem you as such, I desire that ye should consider the cause which ye are called to consider—for ye are desirous to have a king (v. 5).  Now I declare unto you that he to whom the kingdom doth rightly belong has declined, and will not take upon him the kingdom (v. 6).  And now if there should be another appointed in his stead, behold I fear there would rise contentions among you. And who knoweth but what my son, to whom the kingdom doth belong, should turn to be angry and draw away a part of this people after him, which would cause wars and contentions among you, which would be the cause of shedding much blood and perverting the way of the Lord, yea, and destroy the souls of many people (v. 7).  Now I say unto you let us be wise and consider these things, for we have no right to destroy my son, neither should we have any right to destroy another if he should be appointed in his stead (v. 8 ).  And if my son should turn again to his pride and vain things he would recall the things which he had said, and claim his right to the kingdom, which would cause him and also this people to commit much sin (v. 9).”  Mosiah had fear for the future of his people, if they would appoint another king who was not the rightful heir to the kingdom.

“Therefore I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let us appoint judges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God (v. 11).”  Mosiah proposed that the people be led by righteous judges instead of a king.  Mosiah tells the advantage there is to having judges who are men of God.  “Now it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just (v. 12).”  We are not perfect, and therefore our ways can be swayed by the temptations of Satan.  If we are swayed, our judgements are also swayed, but God will not ever change and so his judgements are always just.  “Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you (v. 13).”  If a king is as righteous as King Benjamin, than it is good to have him as a king.

“And even I myself have labored with all the power and faculties which I have possessed, to teach you the commandments of God, and to establish peace throughout the land, that there should be no wars nor contentions, no stealing, nor plundering, nor murdering, nor any manner of iniquity (v. 14); And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I punished according to the crime which he has committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers (v. 15).”  It takes a lot of work and a strong will to lead the people righteously.

“Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you (v. 16).  For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction (v. 17)!  Yea, remember king Noah, his wickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bondage (v. 18 ).”  If a king is not as righteous as King Benjamin, he can use his power to do evil things and lead his people to do the same.

Behold, O ye my people, or my brethren, for I esteem you as such, I desire that ye should consider the cause which ye are called to aconsider—for ye are desirous to have a king.
6 Now I declare unto you that he to whom the kingdom doth rightly belong has declined, and will not take upon him the kingdom.
7 And now if there should be another appointed in his stead, behold I fear there would rise acontentions among you. And who knoweth but what my son, to whom the kingdom doth belong, should turn to be angry and bdraw away a part of this people after him, which would cause wars and contentions among you, which would be the cause of shedding much blood and perverting the way of the Lord, yea, and destroy the souls of many people.
8 Now I say unto you let us be wise and consider these things, for we have no right to destroy my son, neither should we have any right to destroy another if he should be appointed in his stead.
9 And if my son should turn again to his pride and vain things he would recall the things which he had said, and claim his right to the kingdom, which would cause him and also this people to commit much sin.

There have been many great leaders throughout the world’s history.  Some who have had to help save the righteous children of God from rulers who were not righteous and who had caused them to be in bondage.  Moses led the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry land.  Brigham Young led the pioneers from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley.  “And they did wax strong in love towards Mosiah; yea, they did esteem him more than any other man; for they did not look upon him as a tyrant who was seeking for gain, yea, for that lucre which doth corrupt the soul; for he had not exacted riches of them, neither had he delighted in the shedding of blood; but he had established peace in the land, and he had granted unto his people that they should be delivered from all manner of bondage; therefore they did esteem him, yea, exceedingly, beyond measure (v. 40).”  Moses, Brigham Young and Mosiah were great leaders because they were never selfishly trying to get gain for themselves.  They did not want any of their people to die in order to give them more riches or land, but rather they were peaceful people who wanted to protect their people and keep them free from others as well as from the bondage of Satan.  In D&C 121:41-46 we find traits that make a good leader (either in the Church, or the world in general), “power or influence … maintained by … persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned (v. 41) … kindness, and pure knowledge … without hypocrisy, and without guile (v. 42) … Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost … showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved (v. 43) … faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death (v. 44) … bowels  … full of charity towards all men … household of faith … virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly … confidence wax strong in the presence of God … doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul (v. 45) … Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy … unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth … an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means (v. 46) …”.  This a lot for the people of Mosiah to expect from just one man, and that is why he proposed that several men judge in righteousness instead.

Will we ever have a king again?

There are several different types of government; Monarchy (king or queen), Anarchy (none), Theocracy (by the church), Democracy (by the people), Republic (elected offices representing the people) and a Dictatorship (Dictator).  The United States is a republic.  Some would say it is a democracy, but the people do not have total control of the government, they trust those who are elected to do their will.  We have a democratic process here, but we are a republic.

According to Mosiah, a righteous king would be necessary to rule if possible (v. 13).  In Revelation 17:14 we read, “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”  The greatest king for the people, would be Christ.  During the Millennium, Christ will reign personally upon the earth.  Article of Faith 10 reads, “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.”

The manual quotes from The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary about what type of government will exist when Christ reigns.  “In the Church of Christ where the government is that of the Kingdom of Heaven, neither autocracy nor democracy obtains, but government by Common Consent.  That is to say, the initiative in all that pertains to the government of the Church rests with the Head of the Church, even our Lord Jesus Christ, and He exercises this sovereign function through his authorized servants, upon whom He has bestowed the Holy Priesthood; but it is the privilege of the people to accept, or reject, His laws and ordinances, for God has given every individual free agency.  Obedience must be voluntary.  The government of the Church has been called a Theodemocracy.  It is the form of government that will be general during the Millennium.”

“By the voice of the people”

When we are deciding on an issue as a family, it is important for everyone to have a say for it to be a fair decision.  On issues that are opened up to the whole family, meaning those that are not strictly made between mother and father, everyone’s vote should be weighted the same.  (Their may be exceptions, such as on day’s of celebration for one person.)  If someone chooses not to voice their opinion, than they may by stuck doing something that does not make them happy.  If we can come to a decision together, it will hopefully make most, if not all happy, because we want our family to be content.

When we have a national election (or even a state/local election), the average is less than half that actually vote.  Sometimes people don’t vote, because they don’t know what the issues are.  Some don’t vote because of the weather.  Some don’t vote because they don’t know their is an election.  Some don’t vote because it is too much of a hassle to take time from their lives. No matter what the reason, they are giving up their right and responsibility to elect righteous leaders.  In order for those who are righteous and religious to run for office, they must first be taught the importance of having good righteous political leaders as a child.  It all starts in the home.  If our leaders to not live up to our expectations, than those who choose not to have a say may only blame themselves for allowing it to go without a true voice of the people.

“And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land (v. 27).”  If most people choose evil (or allow evil to be chosen), then the judgment of God is upon all the people.

Their are four governmental principles that guided the reign of the judges (discussed in an Ensign article, “Six Nephite Judges: A Study in Integrity” from September 1977).  In this chapter of Mosiah we read, “Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord (v. 25).”  First, the law rules in society, not force, authority, or personality.  Second, the voice of the people determines the procedures of the law to support and preserve their freedom.  Third, the people recognize that the correct principles of law were given to man by God, through prophets.  “Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people (v. 26).”  And forth, (also see verse 27 above) the people must be committed to “the necessity for a spiritual foundation of that law in society.”

These ideas are fleeting in our nation currently.  A greater number of the people in America are choosing to deny that their is a God, or that God has a place in our government.  They don’t believe that our laws should be based upon good morals, but upon the concept of equality to all.  Our freedoms are not a right that we may always have.  They are earned by our morality.  The voice of the people in our nation, should keep our leaders responsible for what they do, just as it did for the judges in the Book of Mormon.  We have a system in place that is designed to keep our leaders from overstepping their bounds.  If the system is used as originally designed then it works.  The system is, a president who can veto laws if they do not seem right and can present laws to congress, congress who rights the laws based on the support of the people, and the judiciary branch who upholds those laws.  Their is a problem is beginning in our system today.  The judiciary has begun to create laws in addition to enforcing them, congress has begun to create laws which force people to do things their way rather than allowing the people to have a say, and the President is using his power of “personality” in both the judiciary and congress, to make things go his way.

“And now if ye have judges, and they do not judge you according to the law which has been given, ye can cause that they may be judged of a higher judge (v. 28).  If your higher judges do not judge righteous judgments, ye shall cause that a small number of your lower judges should be gathered together, and they shall judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people (v. 29).”  This was the form of checks and balances that they used with the judges.  As long as the majority were righteous, their would not be a misuse of their power.  That is the most important piece of the entire system, righteousness.  When we loose it, we loose the balance and Satan gains a stronger hold over the people, through the leaders.

I agree wholly with what Mosiah tells his people in verse 32, “… I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land.”  I want all the people in America to feel that this is a land of liberty.  I know that the only way for the people to feel this way, is if they come to Christ and are willing to live a moral lifestyle.  Otherwise, we are split, and some feel freedoms where others do not.  I pray that the side that feels that they have freedoms continues to be the side who are trying to live the gospel.

Mosiah’s words convinced the people.  “Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins (v. 38).  Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their voices concerning who should be their judges, to judge them according to the law which had been given them; and they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty which had been granted unto them (v. 39).”  We need to have the same desire to use the liberty that has been given to us, so that we can choose more righteous leaders.

Qualities of a great leader

Their have been some pretty wicked rulers in the history of the world.  Some that delight in shedding blood.  Some who are greedy and always want more.  Some who oppress those who want to live righteously.  Their have also been some pretty righteous leader like King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon.  Their are clear differences between the two.

“And they did wax strong in love towards Mosiah; yea, they did esteem him more than any other man; for they did not look upon him as a tyrant who was seeking for gain, yea, for that lucre which doth corrupt the soul; for he had not exacted riches of them, neither had he delighted in the shedding of blood; but he had established peace in the land, and he had granted unto his people that they should be delivered from all manner of bondage; therefore they did esteem him, yea, exceedingly, beyond measure (v. 40).  And it came to pass that they did appoint judges to rule over them, or to judge them according to the law; and this they did throughout all the land (v. 41).  And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church (v. 42).  And now it came to pass that Alma did walk in the ways of the Lord, and he did keep his commandments, and he did judge righteous judgments; and there was continual peace through the land (v. 43).”  Mosiah was one of those good leaders and the people loved him for it.  Alma became the first chief judge, because he was trusted by the people and because his father had trained him well.  He was righteous and kept the commandments, which helped to bring peace to the people.

Alma (the elder) and Mosiah (the elder) both died and the judges began to reign in Zarahemla over the Nephites.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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