Have you ever wondered what it might have been like to be a fly on the wall and hear Abinidi testify in front of King Noah and his court and verbally rub his nose in his own wickedness? or listen to one of Noah’s sermons predicting a rather large rainstorm? Or listen to Samuel the Lamanite testify while dozens of angry listeners slotted arrows trying to kill him?
How on earth could any of those wicked heathens deny what the prophets were saying? If we were there, we would have totally defended them all day long, even unto death right?
Here’s the thing, We have no idea what that world was even like. We have no idea, really, what its like to fear for your life because of what we believe or say. That world is a brutal, evil, vicious, unforgiving world.
Surely, in our enlightened, educated world today we have moved past, and now progressed away from such barbarism. Certainly, we, today, are a much more civil, organized, intelligent, tolerant, and understanding world. Without any doubt, we have moved past such killing based on mere beliefs today, right?
Just ask the Christians in Syria right now.
Time to check ourselves.
We do know exactly what its like to hear Abinidi, Noah, Samuel, Alma, Nephi, Moroni, Peter, John, and all the others.
We hear them all the time. At least every six months. Their names are Thomas, Deiter, Henry, Boyd, L. Tom, Russell, Dallin, M. Russell, Richard, Robert, Jeffrey, David, Quentin, D. Todd, and Neil. They speak all the time, But do we listen? Do we hear them in the same context as the other great prophets? Probably not. But, thats our problem, not theirs.
Today, I can drive to work, and no one tries to kill me. I can go to the store, and buy food, and no one tries to steal it, beat the crap out of me, and leave me for dead on the side of the road on the way home. I can leave my family when I go to work, and I can have confidence that they will be there, alive, when I get back.
I am comfortable.
But, am I complacent?
Do I need a dose of reality?
In 1973, Ezra Taft Benson gave a talk, that is as close to anything I have heard to those face melting verbal beatdowns of Abinidi, and Samuel. It delivers a healthy dose of reality to a wicked world. It is sobering. I listened, and all I could think of was that this is our modern day Alma in Ammonihah. No one is openly threatening to kill him, but the audience is the same. A world that is completely apathetic to moral standards.
And because the world isn’t exactly more morally clean today than it was 42 years ago when he delivered it, we can only assume that this message is now tame compared to what it might have been today. Remember, he delivered this bad boy in 1973.
Want to hear some cool facts about how 1973 was a hot mess?
- In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled on Roe vs. Wade, making abortion legal in the U.S.
- In 1973 The Vietnam war was just ending for American ground troops in a cease fire, after years of questionable leadership and purpose.
- In 1973 Richard Nixon, the President of the United States, was mired in an ongoing watergate scandal investigation and uttered the famous quote, “I am not a crook”. Sure.
- In 1973 Egyptians and Syrians attacked Israel to start the largest Arab-Israeli conflict to date on the holiest Jewish day on their calendar. Yom Kippur.
Not exactly sunshine and lollipops.
Ezra Taft, in his talk, then proceeds to school us with a little history lesson, comparing us to the Nephites who fell because of wickedness, then to the Romans, who fell because of wickedness, and then warns us again, not to be wicked. Then, in the end, tells us how not to be wicked.
It basically comes down to that simple promise made about 2400 years ago, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land.”
The ancient people in America seemed to go back and forth between righteousness, and wickedness, in about 200 year intervals. They would be righteous for a while, then they would get sidetracked, turn wicked, then get totally crushed, and destroyed, then try again.
Think of 4th Nephi, in the year 201 after Christ, they started to be divided again, after 200 years of pure awesomeness. The Romans enjoyed 200 years of powerful reign, but took a nosedive in their 3rd century.
We, are currently in the 228th year of our country. It was founded on moral, christian, principles. The founding fathers constantly spoke of adherence to God’s laws, it was everywhere, the monuments, their writings, even the money!
So, the questions really is, are we as a country, and a people still keeping the commandments?
And now another question, are we really prospering in the land?