Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Nephite Golden Age Began After Christ’s Visit – Part I

We have been asked many times to describe the events that must have taken place during the Nephite Golden Age, and what brought it to an end, once the Savior left after his visit with the surviving Nephites in 3 Nephi 9 onward. While anything we say will be couched in speculation, as one might image when nothing whatever is written about that period, we can surmise certain events based in part of the scriptural record and also on the events that eventually followed. We also have that period following king Benjamin’s talk to the second generation to draw upon, as well as the events we see in our society today following the period of time which began in 1830.
The Nephite Golden Age began in 35 A.D., when the Discpiles of Christ had formed a Church of Christ in all the lands round about (4 Nephi 1:1). To begin with, we are told that “the more righteous part of the Nephites had nearly all become wicked; yea , there were but few righteous men among them” (3 Nephi 7:7), we are also told that those who survived the destruction “were more righteous than they” who did not (3 Nephi 9:13), and that the Lord was inviting them to “now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you.” Many of these, we are told “did truly repent of their sins, were baptized…and received the Holy Ghost” (4 Nephi 1:1).
    In the Church at this time, then they lived what became known as the United Order in Joseph Smith’s time, “and they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift” (4 Nephi 1:3). Imagine living in an environment where there were no elite and no homeless, no starvation, no lack of food and want. It was the utopia that philosophers have written and dreamed about for centuries, but never understood how to obtain.
We have a large number in our society today who believe in such a Utopia, however, like that of Thomas More (left), who coined the word in 1516, their Utopia is no better than the false claims that have been made by socialists, communists and other -isms over the centuries. After all, each isolated group has their own idea of Utopia such as those mentioned as well as capitalists, monarchists, feminists, anarchists, democratic, patriarchal, egalitarian, hierarchical, racist, left-wing, right-wing, reformist, free love, nuclear family, extended family, and those of today’s LGBT.
    To each of these, their personal view would be their Utopia, but far from the Utopia or United Order, or Kingdom of God that we understand. Of course, in the years following Christ’s visit, the Utopia or Golden Age that was experienced by the Nephites was based on the Priesthood—the only true Utopia when governed by God.
    This Golden Age would have continued for about 200 years when, in 230 A.D. the Nephiteas once again broke into sub-groups or back into tribes—Nephites, Josephites, Jacobites, and Zoramites, as well as Lamanites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites (4 Nephi 1:38).
    During this nearly 200 years the Nephites would have rebuilt their destroyed cities and perhaps built others, repaired their roads, renewed their shipping businesses, and prospered in every endeavor—“ they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another.” (3 Nephi 26:19), and “they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them” (3 Nephi 26:20).
They had no war, no disputes, and obviously were living a high level of righteousness; however, after nearly 200 years, not only those who saw and heard the Savior had died off, but also those who know of them who had seen and heard him had died off and even a third generation had died off—thus to those left, the advent of the Savior was just a distant memory.
    It is interesting that this type of behavior, the forgetting of the past by future generations, has been repeating itself forever. Even in my own lifetime—when I was a child, Adolph Hitler set the world ablaze with his war to expand Germany and rid the world of who he considered undesirables. That generation that went to war in Europe and Asia and saw first hand the atrocities the Nazi’s caused and all that it entailed—however, as I am now living 71 years after Germany was defeated and all of that generation that went to war from 1941 to 1945 have now nearly all died and we have an entirely new generation of young people who do not even know the words like Auschwitz, Nazism, Fascism, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, etc., let alone the millions that died at their hands—who know nothing of the Bataan Death March, the Final Solution, the Treaty of Versailles, Gualdalcanal (Isatabu in Solomon Islands), Okinawa, Saipan, Leyte, Iwo Jima, Midway, the Coral Sea, Tarawa, etc.
And that is just in 71 years. Think of another 100 years what will be not only forgotten, but not even believed to have happened. Today, there are those who deny the holocaust that resulted in the systematic annihilation and inhumane deaths of six million Jews; in another hundred years, will they claim Pearl Harbor didn’t happen, or the blitzkrieg? Will they claim that 60 to 80 million didn’t die in World War II because the numbers are unbelievably too larege?
    Younger generations are least likely to know very much about older generations, what they went through, what happened to them, and what their lives were like. When the generations died off that had heard and experienced the “change of heart” as a result of king Benjamin’s talk from the tower inside the temple walls. As Mormon abridged it: “that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers” (Mosiah 26:1).
Think of it, we have a generation today that is growing up who get the vast majoriyt of their news from Social Media, and know more about Justin Bieber, Madonna, Harry Potter, Muhammad, Brittany Spears, Charles Darwin, Martin Luther King, Trey Songz, and Karl Marx, than they do about Jesus Christ, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Nikola Tesla, Eisenhower, Churchill, and Teddy Roosevelt. In addition, the vast majority of the younger generation today have never heard of Anzio, Normandy, Omaha Beach, or Palermo, yet those terms were part of a world war that killed upwards of 80 million people, disrupted the lives of more than half the planet, and destroyed hundreds of cities across Europe, Asia and the South Pacific.
    As with nearly every new generation, “They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ. And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened“ (Mosiah 26:2-3).
    But in between Christ’s ascension into Heaven and the coming of this later generation nearly 200 years later, the Golden Age of the Nephites saw them spread all across the land, building, interacting, succeeding in their endeavors, being baptized and growing in the Church, treating their fellowman with respect and having all things in common among them. It was an age that nearly every generation since Adam sought to create, yet not only did none accomplish that, but few even had an inkling of how it could be done. Yet, the Nephites had several peaceful times that were highly regarded in the scriptural record, because of their willingness to  be obedient to God. But it is always the next or a subsequent generation that thinks it knows more and down the path to oblivion they head.
In another hundred years, World War II, which shaped our world for untold generations and affected more people than any other non-religious event in history, will be as meaningful to that future generation as is the War of the Roses or the Invasion of England by William the Conqueror are to us today. In fact, we can already see, based upon spot polls on college campuses taken today show, that World War II already has about as much interest to the rising generation as the War of 1812 has to us today. Yet, for a short but critical time in October, 1943, less than 73 years ago, the world was spinning in an abyss of inhumanity that, had it gone unchecked, would have eliminated the freedom of all mankind, perhaps forever. 
(See the next post, ”The Nephite Golden Age Began After Christ’s Visit – Part II,” for more information on this 200 year period and how it’s understanding affects us today)

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the thrust of your article. But remember: "For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad." Luke 8:17 This implies that there are hidden things that are being hidden from the masses. But that all these things will eventually be revealed. For instances, all will know who was involved in assassinating President Kennedy. All will know if the homicidal gas chamber claims by Jews was just war propaganda or real. All will know who really took down the three towers 1,2 and 7 on the September 11 attack. And on and on-- every hidden thing will be brought to light by the power of Christ. Those that ridicule and make illegal any researched opinion they claim is above being questioned, are really the ones that should not be trusted.