Helaman 15:3, LeGrand Baker, God’s love
Some of you know Ammon Latham. My beloved friend who returned from his mission a few months ago. Last week Ammon fell over a cliff in the mountains. His funeral will be at 11am, Monday, June 18, 2012, at the stake house at 810 East 600 North in Orem.
3 Yea, wo unto this people who are called the people of Nephi except they shall repent, when they shall see all these signs and wonders which shall be showed unto them; for behold, they have been a chosen people of the Lord; yea, the people of Nephi hath he loved, and also hath he chastened them; yea, in the days of their iniquities hath he chastened them because he loveth them.
The human soul is vibrant and irrepressible unless culture and prejudice temporarily get in the way. and even those restraints cannot follow us beyond the grave. We can accomplish anything so long as we give it a name, and understand what it is and how to achieve it. Our purposes have to be named or they cannot become substantial. They have to be understood or they become lost in a forest of wishful thinking. Then, when they are clearly defined, the path to attainment becomes defined also. The road to the objective is no less more important than the objective itself, just as questions are more important than answers. If the object seams clear but the road is undefined, the object is unattainable.
If the answers are given but are neither preceded nor followed by questions, then the answers are without meaning. If we do not see the road or do not know the questions, then we are lost. The purposes of a prophet can be reduced to two essentials. First to help those who walk in darkness recognize that they are lost, and then, if they will listen, to teach them the way. Second to instruct those who chose to understand, both the objective and the road that brings them there. Here we see Samuel the Lamanite telling the Nephites in the most vivid way possible that they neither know the road nor its destination, and that the choices they have made, and are still making, will inevitably lead them to a destination that will destroy them.
The tragedy was that many of them refused to know, or would not admit to themselves that they were lost. Samuel says “yea, in the days of their iniquities hath he chastened because he loveth them.” That is true in principle but not factually correct. The Lord explained why:
7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles (D&C 19:7-8).
The fact is that God does not and never has punished anyone. The truth is that he warns them of consequences they bring upon themselves, then when those consequences have become reality, he uses that as a teaching tool and warns them again—ever trying to teach them to open their eyes and see the darkness they are in and the light that beckons them to come out of it. In assigning to himself the responsibility for their punishment (“in the days of their iniquities hath he chastened them because he loveth them”), he also seems to take upon himself the responsibility for their sorrows. In so doing, he can remind them that he can take their pains and sorrows upon himself as well. Thus, here as elsewhere in the scriptures the apparently stern anger that the prophets express in God’s behalf, is, in fact, a heartfelt pleading for them to come out of the darkness and not suffer the consequence of their sin.