Friday, September 11, 2015

The Unusual Men – Mormon Part III

Alma the Younger received the plates about 92 B.C. (Mosiah 28:20), and Mormon took them up as Ammaron commanded when he was 24 years old, in 334 A.D.
Assuming that Mormon chose the name Moroni for his son based on Captain Moroni (left), who served as chief captain of the Nephite armies between 74 and 57 B.C., we can suggest that Mormon’s son, Moroni, was probably born around 40 to 50 A.D., when Mormon was around 30 to 40 years of age.
    Certainly, as a military man since he was 15 (Mormon 1:15), Mormon would have had little time for courting, marrying and fathering children. Mormon’s birth about 310 A.D. (Mormon 1:1), suggests he would have been 10 years old in 320 A.D., 30 years old in 340 A.D., and 40 years old in 350 A.D. Mormon would have had access to those records from the time he was about 24 years of age (334 A.D.), according to his writings.
    In addition, between the time of Mosiah leaving the city of Nephi and the prophet Mormon’s birth—a period of about 500 years (225 B.C. to 325 A.D.)—much had happened among the Nephites, most of which had taken place within the lands of Zarahemla, Bountiful, and the Land Northward, the latter being completely covered with Nephites by around 46 B.C.
    As an example, we know that Mormon was a pure descendant (Mormon1:5) of Lehi from Jerusalem, and was born in the year 310 A.D., (Mormon 1:2), which was at the time the three special disciples of Christ were still on the earth, though they were just about the only righteous ones left (4 Nephi 1:46). We also know that wickedness was rampant and robbers were everywhere (Mormon 1:18).
    However, Mormon must have been a stalwart among the Nephite people, a man apart, different than all the others:
1. At the age of 10 a prophet of the lord named Ammaron visited him with instructions about entrusting him with the sacred plates;
2. At the age of 15, he was visited by Jesus Christ (Mormon 1:15);
3. At the age of 15 he was forbidden to preach among the Nephhites (Mormon 1:17);
4. At the age of 16 he was made commander-in-chief of all the Nephite Armies (Mormon 2:2).
5. At the age of 16, he led the Nephite Armies in the defense of their land in a war with the Lamanites (Mormon 2:2)
It should be kept in mind that the Nephites had several standing armies and created additional ones when needed (such as the stripling Warriors under Helaman—left), and over each of these commands were stationed or appointed captains, and over all the armies and their captains was appointed a Chief Captain (what we call Commander-in-Chief today). At the time of Mormon, when 16 years of age, he was appointed Chief Captain, or commander-in-chief.
It should also be kept in mind that it was the custom among all the Nephites (save it were in their times of wickedness) to appoint military leaders that had the spirit of revelation; and also prophesy.
    Therefore the chiefest among all the captains and the great commander of the armies of the Nephites was appointed and his name was Mormon, who obviously would have been a man of great stature among his peers and those much older than him, a man of righteousness, a man seen living close to God.
    At this point in time, we do not know who the parentage of Mormon’s father was, however, we can align his age with that of the prophets/leaders of the Nephite nation. With Mormon being born around 310 A.D., we can suggest that his father, Mormon, would have been born between 270 and 280 A.D., and Mormon’s grandfather would have been born around 230 to 240 A.D.—about the time the evil people began again to build up again and “wax strong” in the land (4 Nephi 1:40).
Remember, the years before this time had been the Nephite Golden Age, the years after the advent of the Savior, the years when there were no “robbers, nor murderers, neither were their Lamanites, nor any manner of –ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the Kingdom of God” (4 Nephi 1:17) and they had everything in common (3 Nephi 26:19), and they did all things even as Jesus had commanded them (3 Nephi 26:20).
    However, about the time of Mormon’s grandfather, through the time of Mormon’s father’s birth, “the wicked part of the people began again to build up the secret oaths and combinations of Gadianton (4 Nephe 1:42), and the people “who were called the people of Nephi began to be proud in their hearts, because of their exceeding riches and become vain like unto their brethren, the Lamanites” (4 Nephi 1:43), “and from this time the disciples began to sorrow for the sins of the world” (4 Nephi 1:44).
    It is very possible that about this time, Mormon’s grandfather fathered Mormon’s father, who he named “Mormon,” in hopes of retrenching the Nephite people to stop the movement and growth of evil and return the Nephites back toward their Golden Age.
    He might have chosen “Mormon” as the name, reminding all of the “Waters of Mormon” where Alma brought about a great conversion of the people, re-established the Church of God, and put the Nephites back on the road to righteousness.
Thus Mormon’s father may have been given his name as a sign (or hope) that a renewal was on the horizon or underway among certain leaders, since a return to righteousness was certainly needed. As has been suggested on these pages in the past, since the leadership among the Nephites was often a father-to-son arrangement of worthy men, such as Moroni to Moronihah; Nephihah, son of Nephi, Nephite commander; Pahoran, chief judge and military leader after his father Nephihah, son of Nephihah; and there were also Cumenihah, son of Cumeni, Nephite commander; Limhah, son of Limi, Nephite commander; Nephi son of Helaman, or Nephi to Nephihah, the second Nephite chief judge, or Mathonihah, son of Mathoni, both one of the twelve Nephite disciples.
    Perhaps Mormon’s father was made the captain of the Nephite armies as part of this renewal, called back to Zarahemla, and brought eleven-year-old Mormon with him (Mormon 1:6). The point is, Mormon himself was a man of outstanding qualities, giving remarkable positions of importance, both spiritual and temporal, over the Nephite nation at an unprecedented early agethis seems most likely to have resulted from the position of his father.
Nor did this change throughout his lifetime. The Lord chose Mormon to compile from numerous plates and then abridge the Nephite dispensation of the gospel of Jesus Christ—a millennial-long history of the Nephite nation; he commanded 230,000 soldiers at Cumorah in their final battles with the Lamanites; he wandered with his beleaguered armies across the Land of Promise, not only concerned about his personal safety, but also fully aware of his responsibility to look after the spiritual and temporal souls of his people (even knowing the time of grace had already passed with them), to protect and secure the plates of his record, and to return them to hiding in the earth so they would not be found by the Lamanites and therefore destroyed.
    The greatness of Mormon should be quite clear to anyone who studies the Book of Mormon. The leaders of Nephite armies were much more than military commanders as we know today. They were also prophets, which is obviously why, in his abridgement, Mormon wanted the future generations to know about them and their accomplishments in serving the Lord.

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