Note: This post was originally published on May 2, 2011. I thought it would be appropriate to share again on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States by terrorist groups. My thoughts are turned to the victims - both those who survived and those who did not - and their families. It is heartbreaking that our country had to endure such tragedy, but I am hopeful that we can remember the unity that we experienced after those attacks and work at unifying our country again - especially as we come together in a few months to choose a president for this country. I hope that we will keep in mind that unity, and not be so divided by all the partisanship and the backbiting and the arguing. United we conquer, divided we fall. Let us be united in this great country.
Yesterday, the President of the United States announced that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York, the Pentagon, and (presumably) the White House, has been killed in Pakistan.
What does this have to do with a scripture blog? Plenty.
The Book of Mormon is rampant with examples of “secret combinations.” What is a secret combination? Examples in the Book of Mormon talk about secret combinations that “plan to murder, rob, get power” (Hel. 2:8), “secret combinations murder to get kingdom” (Hel 6:15, 18-19, Ether 14:8-10), “government is destroyed by secret combinations” (3 Ne. 7:6,9), “secret combinations are had among all people” (Ether 8:20), “nations that uphold secret combinations shall be destroyed” (Ether 8:22-23), “many are slain by sword of secret combination” (Ether 13:18).
But secret combinations “had their origins long before Lehi left Jerusalem, long before the Jaredites colonized the Western Hemisphere.” (here) In Moses 5, we can read of secret combinations of Cain – the son of our first father, Adam. Secret combinations want to gain power and influence by violence and fear. If al-Qaeda is not a secret combination, I don’t know what is.
“Great civilizations of the past have fallen because of the influence of Cain’s combination. As it happened in the past, it could happen again.” When we look at the horrible political, social, and military conditions of countries in the middle east, where al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, run rampant, we see the truthfulness of this. Any country that gives support to these secret combinations will not be great. They will be ravaged and torn.
While most of the country, and probably the world, celebrates this recent military victory for the United States, I am reminded of the death of Kishkumen in the Book of Mormon. In Helaman 2:8, we read that the servant of Helaman (the chief judge) tricks Kishkumen into coming with him to the judgment seat, but slays Kishkumen instead, Gadianton and his little band of robbers flee into hiding so that they can’t be found. Just because our military found and killed bin Laden doesn’t mean that the rest of al-Qaeda will be easy to catch.
We can hope for the best, like what happened shortly before Christ’s death and visit to the Nephites. In 3 Nephi 5 we find out that all the members of the secret combinations were taken into prison – and my favorite part? They “did cause the word of God to be preached unto them; and as many as would repent of their sins and enter into a covenant that they would murder no more were set at liberty.” Of course, God’s law required mercy. I wonder if our countries would do this if by some miracle they were able to round up every member of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Would they allow the gospel to be preached to these murderers?
Unfortunately, it didn’t really turn out so well for the Nephites. The scriptures don’t say if it was the same people who had “made covenants” and were set “at liberty,” but a few chapters later, in 3 Nephi 7, we read about the secret combinations that developed in the actual government, and the eventual collapse of the government. Why, after they were able to overthrow the secret combinations, and they were able to grant such mercy to those members of the combinations who would repent, did they fall so hard and so fast? They had prospered because of their righteousness, and “some were lifted up unto pride and boastings because of their exceedingly great riches, yea, even unto great persecutions".
In the United States, the stock market rose slightly to the news of bin Laden’s death, and oil prices dropped slightly. Some suggest that if this success is effective long-term against the terrorism groups, our economy might grow substantially. I doubt it will take long for us to fall back into wickedness. After the September 11 attacks, we were united as a country, people were more religious – they prayed more, they went to Church. And our country prospered. Then we started to talk about gay rights, we started to talk about same-sex marriage, we started buying more than we could afford, we stopped going to church, we started consuming more than we needed, and the economy dropped like a rock. And now, we have worked again together to uproot secret combinations from our world – which is really very small these days – and we will probably see our economy rise again. I wish that I could say I think we might last a little longer this time, but we probably won’t. In 3 Nephi, shortly after the government fell, Christ came to the Nephites.
I can’t make any predictions about when Christ will come again, but I can feel that it will be soon. (But remember Lehi and all those other Book of Mormon prophets who said “the time is near at hand” – 600 years or so before Christ’s birth – so when I say “soon” I don’t mean in the next few years – but I can believe within the next hundred years or so).
On our family blog, I have this scripture written (it’s kind of my personal theme for our family), and it is no more true then than it is now:
this life is the time
for men to prepare to meet God;