"The people began to forget"
The big point of this entire chapter is found in the first two verses – “the people began to forget.” How many times do I forget a wonderful, spiritual experience and I begin to err and sin. One of the many lessons I learned in Guatemala was with President Ramos. After a very spiritual interview, President Ramos identified the Spirit and then told me that whenever I have a spiritual experience, I must strive to keep the Spirit with me as long as possible. I’ve noticed before, too, that after a powerful spiritual experience, temptations and distractions come more quickly and often. I often remember thinking how temptations would come after an excellent missionary discussion or testimony meeting.
I imagine that the only way to keep the spirit with you is to work harder than before to have spiritual experiences. Soon enough, trials will come, which if approached with faith and a good attitude will make you stronger in the spirit. The only way to get through a trial is by prayer and faith. This whole process reminds me of that talk by Elder Maxwell in the June 1996 Ensign. I think I still have that article.
Another point is that after the Nephites began to forget, they also began to disbelieve. Satan had tricked them into thinking that men made all these signs and wonders. How often do I attribute the miracles of God to men? I believe that we sometimes think that we got an ‘A’ in a class or that we got the job, and we forget whose breath it is that gives us life. Other times we know that we could not have done a certain thing without the help of God, yet we take the credit.
In this chapter we see the Nephites slip into their cycle once again. After the sign of Christ’s birth (year 91), the Nephites repented and most of them were righteous. But in a matter of four years (year 95), the Nephites were “less and less astonished at a sign or wonder” (verse 1). Then in verse 2 it says “thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again.”
In verses 5-7 we read of the change in dating systems. It has been 100 years since the days of king Mosiah, 609 years since Lehi and left Jerusalem and 9 years since the sign of Christ’s birth. The Nephites now reckon their time according to the sign of Christ’s birth.
In year 13 there are many wars and contentions. The GR are very strong and threaten the destruction of the Nephites. The GR are so strong and wrecking so much havoc that the Nephites and Lamanites are “compelled” to fight them. In verse 12 it reads that they must fight the GR to defend their families, rights, religion, privileges, freedom and liberty. This sounds a lot like when Captain Moroni fought the Lamanites with his Standard of Liberty.
Gadianton Robbers and Terrorists
Another note about the Nephites and Lamanites taking up arms against the GR – I remember reading these verses about the GR as a missionary and high school student. I always wondered who the GR would be in our day and time. Then September 11, 2001 came and our eyes were opened. Now, there is no doubt in my mind who the modern day GR are. They are the terrorists who fight in the same manner as the GR did. Not as a nation with its armies, but as a bunch of thugs who are loosely organized, but great in number and insanity.
Now what I wonder about is when the day will come that the free people of the world will be threatened with destruction just as the Nephites were threatened with destruction (verse 19).