Moroni saw me daily
Growing up in a traditionally Black Church in the South, Pentecostal, Holiness, and Baptist, I miss cultural aspects of my religious heritage that I've not found other places: dancing, shouting, and praising!
My children, born in the covenant and raised in the truths of inspired prophets through membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do not share the cultural connection to African American heritage that type of worship brings.
Even when I introduce them to the love-inspired dance and praise worship I cherished as a church-going kid, they wonder what it's all about when the Spirit comes to us without a need for all of the dancing and the shouting.
About A Feeling
It wasn't about the Spirit, if I'm honest, and I am. For me, it was about the cultural experience of group worship. It was about being in a sea of people that looked like me is what I miss.
It's about saying, "Good Morning," to the congregation and feeling the roar of the responding "Good Morning!"
That feels like home, to me.
I feel the Spirit at home. It is not the dancing or the shouting that brings the Spirit, but the welcome.
I know when I go to a predominantly African American Church, a Holiness Church more times than not, I am welcome. I am home, I am accepted, I am a part of, I am included, and I am family.
I've felt that way in the Atlanta Ward of the Atlanta Stake in Georgia, United States.
I've felt that while serving as a missionary for The Church in South Africa--simply because everyone tended to look similar to me, a seas of shades of brown skin and black hair.
I felt understood at Church there immediately without having to explain myself because we all had a common appearance and struggle, a shared struggle or wrestle with Western culture!
Now, I feel awkward purposefully gathering together trying to feel that acceptance. I did not have to "try" in Atlanta Ward or on my mission, or when I go to African American churches. It just happens. In most of my missionary service and at most of the Wards, congregations, members gathered to Church. Most, if not all of us were Black.
Purposefully gathering does create some of that feeling of belonging, but it can also feel forced--too much so at times. Satan is about force. God is about feeling.
Notice all of the feelings and felts mentioned above.
One method of bringing the influence of the Spirit is through sharing personal experiences, and another, through showing love and concern--feelings.
I relate all of this to share the following video.
Please, Saints, don't listen to what Sister Shirley Caesar says about the dead church and claim it as ours, which is the living Church in TRUTH!
The dead church is the one that doesn't allow its members to feel like they belong.
Nearly a millennia of history attested of the brilliance of the Nephite nation erased from time by ethnic cleansing. Three hundred and eighty-four years following the birth of Jesus Christ, the nation of Nephites marshaled an army of approximately 230,000 strong to battle against as a group known among them only as Lamanites, not numbered due to their numbers. The dead of the Nephites, at least, numbered above a quarter-million to a half-million souls including women and children following the debacle. Mormon, a man who believed in Jesus Christ, historian, and commander of a powerful military produced a record, The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, detailing the winding-up scenes of his nation’s existence. People deserted to flee the slaughter. Many of these escaped. Some even blended into the new order of things. For Mormon, his life was spent, in this early to mid-seventies at the time. He fell wounded in the last great battle surviving with 24 other people--his son Moroni among them.
Mormon buried the historical records in Cumorah to hide from the invading Lamanites and left out his abridgment for Moroni, recording last words in that abridgment before relinquishing it to him and being killed by Lamanites.
Mormon bore testimony of Jesus Christ to the seed of Lehi (and the world) in a distant time, etching of the peaceable things of the kingdom of God.
Teachings of Mormon permeates the entire record declaring Jesus slain and resurrected to bring redemption to mankind. Testifying Jesus will usher His disciples into the heavens for eternal glory and happiness; inviting all to repent and come unto Christ through baptism and the Holy Ghost; he testified the Bible, should be followed as well as his abridgment. Specifically speaking to the literal descendants of the children of Lehi, he promised that his abridgment would help them know that they are of the House of Israel, closing, “and if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior, according to that which he hath commanded us, it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. Amen.” Mormon 7:10
The prophetic and poetic words of Mormon show no more as Moroni takes trust with the survival of the Nephite history. Though Mormon completed the majority of the abridgment, multiples prophets, kings, and others kept the records safe for Mormon to do his work. Mormon's words have helped change the lives of millions of people in the latter days before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each person introduced to Jesus Christ because of Mormon's witness through the Book of Mormon owes him a debt of gratitude.
Mormon fought a fight that could not be won and stayed true to Christ to the very end. He was killed because he believed in Jesus Christ. The great general laid down his life at the hands of his enemies and left a legacy of faith in The Book of Mormon, which is another testimony of Jesus Christ.
The Nephites seem to have had different relationships with other peoples who lived on the American continents. Where the Lamanites blended with other cultures, it seemed the Nephites stood apart and unique from other cultures in the winding down scenes of their history--conjecture since none of it is in the record as presently constituted.
Lehi's seed is a mixture of the sons and daughters of Lehi and Ishmael and the former servant of Laban, Zoram quite possibly with other ethnicities who lived on the American continents. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not take a position on where the party that formed the Nephite and Lamanite nations landed, constituting the reason this article uses the term “American Continents” instead of a singular term. Researchers from Latter-day Saint heritage and others have different ideas of where the civilizations in The Book of Mormon could have occurred. Prevalent folklore in Latter-day Saint culture centers around the Natives of the Americas and the island as descendants of Lehi whether by Lamanite or Nephite blood according.
During Mormon's era, the Nephite and Lamanite division was not a matter of family history so much as politically created ethnicities. Much of the history in Mormon’s record suggests that Laman and Lemuel, the eldest sons of Lehi fathered the Lamanite nation and all people of Lamanite descent come from them. A careful read of the record indicates that Lamanite heritage changed after about 500 years to mean people associating with those against the Nephites. In fact, there are examples in Mormon’s record where Nephites who betrayed the nation boldly affirmed new Lamanite heritage.
When the Lamanites rebelled in 320 A. D., they did not do genetic tests to determine if they were descendants of Laman or Lemuel. This group of people, a mixture of all the seeds, made a conscious decision to separate from the government to form a new nation with separate customs and beliefs. These rebels purposely took the name of Lamanite, which probably meant something semantically different than what it meant 300 years earlier.
This group opposed the Gospel of Jesus Christ so much that they rebelled against it and withheld it from their children! In the final battles, the Lamanites fighting the wars were not former Christians, but the children of former Christians with no cultural ties to Christ.
The Nephites were a mixture of the seeds of Lehi who did not reject the cultural ties to the Church of Jesus Christ but did reject the Church and its teachings in full apostasy. Patriotism was the call for most Nephites. In this new patriotism, religious guarantees existed, because Mormon and Moroni identified as Christians. From the things Moroni and Mormon included in their record, other Christians existed, but only as long as the Nephite government existed to protect them.
The new grievances of the new Lamanites were not the same as from the beginning--that the Nephites robbed their fathers of the rightful governance of the people. Now, their excuse was pure hatred. So bitter came the hatred of these new Lamanites toward the Church of Christ that Moroni wrote, “because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ. And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life.” [Moroni 1:23] Two groups of the mixture of the seeds of Lehi warred with each other--cousins fighting.
Genealogical records existed, kept so families could trace their ancestry back to Lehi as Mormon recorded, “I am Mormon, and a pure descendant of Lehi. I have reason to bless my God and my Savior Jesus Christ, that he brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem, and that he hath given me and my people so much knowledge unto the salvation of our souls.” 3 Nephi 5:20 Possibly this means Mormon traced his paternal heritage back to Lehi--not necessitating his maternal heritage consist of Lehi, especially since all the sons of Lehi Married the daughters of Ishmael. Mormon’s heritage most logically consisted of a mixture of the seeds of all the peoples of the Nephites and Lamanites with a direct paternal line to Lehi. Since other ancestral groups existed due to the Lord leading other groups to that portion of the Americas, Mormon felt it prudent to point out his genealogy.
Laman, a villain in the record akin to Satan himself, could be his ancestor making him still a descendant of Lehi. Because he is righteous, and how closely associated righteousness is with Nephite heritage, generally, people would assume that Mormon was of Nephi’s family line. Mormon does not indicate that his lineage to Lehi is through Nephi, Sam, Lemuel, Laman (the original four brothers), Jacob, or Joseph in the records available currently. Assumptions come from folklore.
"I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle. And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites did grant unto me the thing which I desired." [Mormon 6:2-3]
The king of the Lamanites at this time felt confident that his armies could defeat Mormon. How could he not? Mormon’s disadvantage, besides the Nephites rejecting all things holy, came from the constant defectors to the Lamanite armies who gave up every tactical strategy once they deserted, possibly. The record does not go into detail about those who left or the multiple reasons the Nephites lost. Mormon contributed every defeat to the spiritual decadence of his people: yet, he strove with them. He boldly called them to arms as he spent almost a year preparing his armies in the south for the campaigns that followed.
contract with God
Fifth-century life proved difficult for Mormon, a man who believed in Jesus Christ who also commanded a powerful military until his life ended at the hands of his enemies. His record became The Book of Mormon.
Why did the Nephite nation start to decline when it appeared it tactically had the advantage in the land of Desolation? The answer rests in the words Mormon records. Mormon 4:4 in The Book of Mormon, states that "it was because the armies of the Nephites went up unto the Lamanites that they began to be smitten; for were it not for that, the Lamanites could have had no power over them."
At odds with Mormon, the downfall of the Nephite nation came because it committed an act of aggression for the first time in almost a thousand years of existence!
Nullifying their contract with God, which hung by a thread, this final thread, the Nephites took it upon themselves to attack the Lamanites out of vengeance. Not only did this nation forswear itself and commit unholy acts, but also it dared to enforce its sins by attacking an enemy that was no more wicked than was it! Until that point, the Nephites were still innocent of aggression. The Nephites, by doing this thing without sanction from the Lord, cast the last tie to God off saying, "We don't need God. We will avenge our dead and revile God’s prophets!"
Formula For A Winning Military
Mormon gives the formula for a winning military in the 43rd chapter of the book of Alma. During that time in 74 B.C., Captain Moroni headed the armies of Nephi against a different group of Lamanites who fought for Monarchy and power. Nephites fought for their families, liberty, and religion--they were also not the aggressors. Alma 43:46 states, “they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies.”
God decreed the Nephites should not suffer themselves to be slain if they are not guilty of the first and second offenses committed against them. Mormon recorded it as a witness! God DID NOT instruct the Nephites to attack the Lamanites after two offenses but to DEFEND their lands. Unlike the Canaanites in the old country whom God told the Israelites to destroy, the Lamanites were not to be destroyed because of the blessing that was placed upon them by God that they should remain.
When the Nephites decided to attack the Lamanites, it weakened their position not only physically, by decimating their armies, but putting them at odds with the decree of God He gave through Father Lehi in 2nd Nephi 4 that his seed shall not utterly be destroyed. Not that the Nephites would have destroyed the seed of Lehi if they had stood triumphant against the Lamanites since the Nephites also were of the seed of Lehi.
Fifth-century life proved difficult for Mormon, a Christian, a man who believed in Jesus Christ who also commanded a powerful military until his life ended at the hands of his enemies. His record became a book with his name, The Book of Mormon. The period covered describes events in his life before the battle at Cumorah, the last stand of the Nephite government, and the finale of Mormon’s mortal life.
Several reasons give importance to the land of Cumorah to both the people of Nephi and modern Saints. Firstly, Mormon took all of the records that he used for The Book of Mormon and hid them in the land of Cumorah in a hill of the same name. At no time did Mormon indicate that he placed The Book of Mormon in the hill. He gave that record to Moroni. Mormon had a thousand years of records from his civilization to comb through to make his record besides the Brass Plates, which contained a record since the days of Adam and Eve.
It appears that Mormon hid those records because he understood that the Lamanites wanted to obtain them to destroy them, “having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni.” [Mormon 6:6].
The Lamanites took a charge to purge the land of everything associated with the Nephites. History shows, successfully. Ethnic cleansing is not something unique to modern times. Mormon hid the source records he used to make the Gold Plates he gave to Moroni. He abridged information from documents hundreds of rulers, kings, scribes, and prophets recorded for a millennium to produce what the modern world calls The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
Cumorah provided some type of strategic vantage for Mormon to accomplish something if only to hand off the Gold Plates to Moroni and establish a path to help him do what he eventually did, run! General Mormon left the command of the Nephite military because of its wickedness at one time. To give Moroni an advantage in preserving the record, his prophetic work, Mormon needed to lead the rowdy, unruly, and distinctively ferocious men to battle, using all that muscle and ferocity to service God in some way, to preserve the record.
Calculating the battle plans and the disparity that existed between his armies and the armies of his foes, Mormon witnessed how the Nephite military suffered at the hands of the Lamanites with such intensity as the wars raged on into final battles. The lands of Desolation. once peopled by the ancient Jaredites--possibly the Olmecs--then the descendants of the People of Ammon who converted to the version of Judaism practice among the Nephites fell to the Lamanites who spread through the Northern Lands like debilitating cancer, killing Christians. Mormon returned to his post and would fight.
No one knows where Cumorah or the hill exists where those records rest. Moroni never divulged that he would bury the Gold Plates, The Book of Mormon, in the same place his father hid the library of the Nephite nation. In fact, why would Moroni return to that tragic place to inter the record?
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have differing views on the location of the hill in Cumorah and the land of Cumorah; though tradition and folklore place the hill in Palmyra, New York, where a resurrected Moroni led Joseph Smith II to the plates buried by mortal Moroni sometime after the final battle of the Nephites as a nation. Many refer to the hill in Palmyra as the Hill Cumorah regardless of the correct location of the last battle or the fact that no other records surfaced from that hill.
Read The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
The Pearl of Great Price details portions of the history of a prophet extolled by the faithful for his righteous works and bemoaned by detractors for his foibles, Joseph Smith. It details some of the things Moroni instructed on multiple recorded visits.One of the impending prophecies Moroni informed Joseph rests in Isaiah 11, the entire chapter!
Moroni quoted Isiah’s writings regarding the Millennial reign of Christ and the condition of life at that time, instructing Joseph Smith that the reign of Christ will soon come upon the world, which could happen within the next 100 to 300 years--comparing the modern timeline to the pattern established in the record of The Book of Mormon. The meeting occurred almost 200 years ago between Joseph Smith and Moroni, September 21, 1823.
Joseph Smith reported Moroni quoted scripture that prophesied the coming of Jesus Christ in mortality by Moses confirming what the apostles taught in the Bible. Word for word did Moroni quoted to the 17-year-old boy Joseph, Joel 2:28-32 revealing that it was about to be fulfilled in 1823.
The last 200 years are evidence those verses in Joel have and are fulfilled daily! A long list of the different promises the Lord made through Moroni to Joseph currently happening is a testament to the truths establish and reaffirmed in the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ, the advent of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—for I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven…” [Doctrine and Covenants 1:30-32]
Joel wrote, Moroni quoted, and I adapted the following 16 thing modern society has to look forward to and benefits from:
The bulleted promises, blessings, scientific discoveries, medical breakthroughs, aeronautic splendors, communication marvels, etc… are in the process of fulfillment if not completed!
Just like Moroni's father Mormon, Joseph was a humble lad and easy to entreat. Moroni capitalized on Joseph's malleability to appear to him at the right moment to give him instructions about eternal things. He repeated himself five times--three times at home, one time in the field before instructing Joseph to include his father, Joseph Smith Senior, and again at the site of the gold plates--to make sure Joseph did not forget at such a tender age to record later, which he did.
Sidney B. Sperry (1895-1977) explores the entire message Moroni could have given to Joseph Smith according to his article, Moroni Expounds Old Testament Scriptures [link]. Sperry provides an excellent appraisal of what Joseph Smith and Moroni possibly exchanged in those visitations.
Moroni could see things unfolding in the boy's face speaking directly for the Savior, revealing in great earnest his message--knowing that he would visit Joseph four more times to complete the very same message.
Two more times in a crowded bedroom of his siblings and parents, once in the field as he headed to his home to rest after the fatigue from the three in the night, and another time after his father told him to follow the instructions of Moroni to go to the location of the gold plates.
Besides the written words in the many documents about his visits to Joseph Smith by historians and researchers, Moroni used four years to instruct Joseph. Joseph did not write all of his visions and visitation in records. Sacred experiences meant for the Church and the world he published. Others, he cherishes privately even in post-mortal memory.
Satan had four years to tempt Joseph in between the visits.
Fortunately, and in the words of the official record of Joseph Smith regarding the record Moroni loaned to Joseph, "by the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand. When, according to arrangements, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him; and he has them in his charge until this day," Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith History 1:60.