1 Nephi 4:11-13 — LeGrand Baker — “That one man should perish”

1 Nephi 4:11-13 

11 And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.
12 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands;
13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.

There is a titanic struggle going on in and for this world, and the combatants in the struggle are myriad and they are fully engaged. From our perspective, there are at least three major questions at issue: (1) How can people be happy while on this earth? (2) How can we be assured that we may ultimately return to our Father in Heaven? (3) Who (Satan or The Meek) will ultimately inherit this beautiful earth?

Of those questions, most people tend to be most interested in the first—and that often to the exclusion of the other two. Often that question is just about wanting an assurance of health, wealth, and pleasure. For that reason, the question is often turned upside-down so that it reads: “How could God allow such bad things?” Thus altered, the question becomes the great and unanswerable dilemma and hovers over human society like a shroud of darkness. Many who ask the question in that way get frustrated and angry, or else they just stop thinking about God altogether.

To other people who look forward to leaving this world with an anticipation analogous to that of a child looking forward to Christmas, the upside-down question is moot because it doesn’t ask anything that is ultimately most important. In their minds, the pivotal question is the second one: “How can we be assured that we may ultimately return to our Father in Heaven?” and the real issue is about the adventure of having enough experiences along the way that we will understand the important things while we are here.

The third question, “Who (Satan or the Meek) will ultimately inherit this beautiful earth?” is enormous. Its answer is already known, but that does not preclude the battle, which has raged throughout our existence. The answer includes the whole panorama of the patterns of our eternal development, and encompasses the eternal biography of each one of us. More recently it focuses on the political and cultural balances and counterbalances of human history.

Heavenly Father’s intent is that the maximum number of his children who are born into this world will receive the blessings of the gospel while they live here. It has to do with sealing powers that guarantee that the earth will not be wasted at his coming.

The righteous include the greatest of our Father’s children— the noble and great ones like Abraham, Joseph Smith, and others like George Washington. A partial list is given in D&C 138:38-56.

The people on Satan’s side are not slouches either. Among them are Cain, who was “Perdition” before he was born (Moses 5:22-25), and the leaders in Jerusalem who took it upon themselves to kill the Savior and sought to destroy his Kingdom.

There were others of the same ilk who came shortly thereafter, who infiltrated the Church so they could destroy it from within. Jude warned against such people, suggesting that they were in league with “the angels that kept not their first estate” (Jude 1:3-6).

There have always been people like that whose aim is to thwart the purposes of God. If Laban was a practitioner of the kind of pagan rites Ezekiel described, then he and those associated with him were engaged in covert activities designed to supplant the worship of Jehovah. The fruit of their intrigues would soon bring about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and the captivity of the whole Jewish nation. Lehi’s duty was not only to save his own family and establish a nation in the new world but also to preserve the worship of Jehovah as it had been practiced in the Jerusalem Temple services. This was not a trifling matter, and God’s assurance, “It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief,” is apparently rooted in a much greater and more far-reaching concept than only the thousand-year history of the Nephite people.

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