The Gadianton Robbers
What Kishkuman started, Gadianton took to the next level. Gadianton "was exceedingly expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery." (Helaman 2:3) He premeditated and thought out all the strategy of carrying out murders and robbing. He was no common criminal hoping to get a buck from a quick robbery. He made it a profession. Taking it to the next level is what proved to be the legacy of the Gadianton Robbers. They were the mafia and drug cartel in their day.
"And behold, in the end of this book ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi." (Helaman 2:13)
The Northward Migration
The year 2007 has proven to be the year about the immigrant. The United States has had a massive influx of Latinos from Mexico, Central American and even South America. There is much political debate about this issue.
The Book of Mormon had its share of a massive migration too. The migrations that took place toward the end of Alma and into the book of Helaman were because of great contentions and dissentions. People were fed up with whatever was going on in Zarahemla. So they moved north to find some form of freedom from these oppressions.
The Church and the People Prosper
During this same period of time, the church grew very rapidly. So many found religion and the church, that even the priests and teachers were astonished by the rapid success.
Because of the great peace found in the land, many people prospered materially. The Lord had poured out blessings on them.
The Gate is Open
Many protest (from all denominations) that our temples should be open to the public and what goes on in them should be made known to all. The leaders of the Church have claimed that what goes on in the temples is not secret, but sacred and that anyone can enter the temple to find out for himself, granted that he is a member of the Church and has proved himself worthy. The gate and temple are indeed open unto all. What prevents people from entering is their faithfulness.
The Word of God: Quick and Powerful
Mormon says, "we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a straight and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked." (Helaman 3:29)
The word of God has a two-fold mission. In the rod, (like the Iron Rod) it can help us and lead us on the straight and narrow path. It guides us and supports us in our journey through this life. It is corrective and supportive.
In the sword, it cuts down the temptations and lies and snares of the devil. It is a defense and weapon.
I can't fully go into all the comparisons, but there are two articles that do delve extensively into the comparisons of the word of God being a rod and a sword.
The first is entitled "Rod and Sword as the Word of God" by John A. Tvedtnes published by the Maxwell Institute at BYU. The second draws on the first and was posted as a blog entry at newcoolthang.com under the post "The Rod Along the Bank (more on Lehi's dream)". Both are excellent articles.
Yield Your Heart to God
No one really likes a fence-sitter. Many of us have done it with something in our life … we sit in the middle not wanting to commit one way or the other. We're afraid of the repercussions. We've been burned before when we've committed ourselves to someone or something only later to have our hearts broken when the other end of the commitment fell through or the deal wasn't what we thought it was when we signed up. So whenever someone or something asks us to be committed to him or her or it, we hesitate. We want to be sure that we fully understand what we're getting into and what we have to do and what we will get. We have to find out if we can trust the other party.
The one person we can fully trust is God. He wants us to be committed to him and in return he will bless us beyond measure. But the enticing of the devil constantly beats in our ears. We think we know what will make us happy, but unless we submit to God, we will never know true happiness. So we sin in our own wish and find that we are not happy. Once we've been disappointed enough times, we may eventually turn to God and submit our heart to him. Thankfully, he will always be there for us.
Elder Maxwell gave a wonderful talk on "Willing to Submit" back in April 1985.