Today’s Reading: 4 Nephi 1:17-36
18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.
22 And it came to pass that two hundred years had passed away; and the second generation had all passed away save it were a few.
34 Nevertheless, the people did harden their hearts, for they were led by many priests and false prophets to build up many churches, and to do all manner of iniquity. And they did smite upon the people of Jesus; but the people of Jesus did not smite again. And thus they did dwindle in unbelief and wickedness, from year to year, even until two hundred and thirty years had passed away.
36 And it came to pass that in this year there arose a people who were called the Nephites, and they were true believers in Christ; and among them there were those who were called by the Lamanites—Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites;
37 Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three disciples of Jesus who should tarry) were called Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites.
Did you know that the United States of America is now 240 years old? This year marks 240 years from the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
From the time Christ visited the Nephites on the American continent the people had seen a time of unparalleled prosperity and peace – which lasted through the first and into the second generation of eye witnesses to Christ’s visit – until the 231st year. The 231st year brought about “great division” – and if we peruse into tomorrow’s reading by two verses we see that the divided people, the “all manner of ‘ites'” did willfully rebel against God and did teach their Children to believe not in God.
If we compare what was happening 231 years after the time of Christ to 231 years after the founding of the United States that would put us into 2007, which year saw an end to a time of prosperity within our financial markets.
It only takes 244 years for the bulk of what had been the Nephites to completely and utterly apostatize and begin to hate the followers of God. We’re in our own year 240. Do you think we’re anything like the Nephites – this nation that was founded to protect religious freedom?
I’ll let you come to your own conclusions and look for your own parallels.
Where did the Nephites go wrong? It’s hard to say, really. But verse 22, though it seems unassuming, actually looks like a pivot point. All of the eyewitnesses to Christ and all of the generation they taught and fostered passed away. Their direct connection to Christ dwindled, and sadly with that direct connection, their secondary connection – the Priesthood, the Holy Ghost, the Gospel – also dwindled. Is that happening among us today? Not just in America but throughout the world? Perhaps for some. But not all – not most. While opposition rages against the Kingdom, the Kingdom of God upon the earth is still growing. We have unprecedented access to Temples, the Priesthood, the Gospel, worldwide.
What can we each do to make sure that our hearts don’t dwindle in unbelief? That we don’t turn away from the delicious, precious and plain truths of the gospel? That we live each day as though today is the day we’ll be welcomed into the arms of our Savior?
In his April, 2015 Conference talk Stay by the Tree, ElderKevin W. Pearson said “Our daily discipleship will determine our eternal destiny.”
What will you do today?
What will you do tomorrow?