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While stories of (and warnings against) secret combinations permeate The Book of Mormon, many readers come away from the scriptures with little to no understanding regarding the relevance of such subjects in our day. Despite warnings that scheming insiders imploded two societies, a disconnect exists when Latter-day Saints consider why God gives so much focus to these evil groups.
In short, such people may be thinking “what’s the big deal?”
The Book of Mormon contains the answer, and it comes in the middle of a prophetic sermon by one of the early Nephite settlers, Jacob. Preaching to his family and friends, he references what by then must have become family lore: specific and significant promises given of God to this branch of Israel landing in a new world.
These promises deal with the Lord’s watchful eye over Lehi’s posterity—a gathering of his descendants, a restoration of their rightful inheritance, and an education about their lineage and the gospel. Jacob notes that these “are promises unto us according to the flesh,” or in other words, they are temporal blessings meant to be fulfilled on the earth, as opposed to the vague or eternal-sounding statements which can sometimes find fulfillment in heaven, after death.
These promises extend to the “Gentiles” who currently inhabit and govern the land to which Jacob referred. “Thus saith the Lord God,” said Jacob, that “this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land.” While freedom would flourish, the Lord would also serve as a shield against outside attack. “I will fortify this land,” he said, “against all other nations.”
These promises are profound and life-changing. They are, like most blessings, conditional upon belief in Christ—which means obedience to Him as well. But what does this have to do with secret combinations?
Having faith in God is not the only condition under which his end of the bargain can be fulfilled. After listing and emphasizing these potential blessings, he stated (through Jacob):
Wherefore, for this cause, that my covenants may be fulfilled which I have made unto the children of men, that I will do unto them while they are in the flesh, I must needs destroy the secret works of darkness, and of murders, and of abominations. (emphasis added)
Think about that for a moment. The Lord’s marvelous work and wonder can only be fully realized by destroying secret combinations. In other words, God’s work succeeds in inverse proportion to Satan’s success here on earth.
This scripture brings important context and added significance to other verses that detail the threat and pervasive influence of these works of darkness. Murder, plunder, and other conspiratorial and wicked actions must be destroyed such that God’s covenants can be fulfilled. To infuse the earth with light, he must dispel the darkness.
Turning a flashlight on both illuminates a room and dispels the darkness that was previously there. So, too, with God’s work. Notice the word used to describe how the secret works of darkness should be counteracted: the Lord said that he must needs destroy them.
How does one destroy evil? The Book of Mormon again provides the answer. When the Gadiantions threatened the society they sought out to dominate, they were embraced and supported by God’s people. Nephites ensured the secret combination’s success. The Lamanites acted differently, and their reaction provides our answer:
And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites. (emphasis added)
The group of Gadiantons furthering Satan’s work on earth was destroyed by preaching the gospel. The Lord’s light dispelled the satanic darkness these people were perpetuating. God’s marvelous work and wonder fulfills covenants while “destroying” the opposition.
Of course, this work depends entirely on us. Far too many Latter-day Saints focus on propagating the basic gospel message while failing to understand the Lord’s need to destroy secret combinations, let alone having anything to do with it themselves.
You and I must look to the Savior rather than the satanic state. We must open our mouths and preach love, peace, service, and humility—the exact opposite of what the Gadiantons in our day say and do. And as the Lord’s Latter-day Saints, we must help bring about the fulfillment of his covenants by helping to “destroy the secret works of darkness, and of murders, and of abominations.” The clock is ticking.