Sunday, November 2, 2008

4 Nephi Parallels the Winding Up Scenes of the Millennium

The scriptures are clear that during the Millennium, Satan is to be bound for a time. For example, Revelation 20:3 teaches that there will likely be an initial physical binding of the adversary (maybe through priesthood power), while 1Ne 22:26 explains that his power will be severely restricted during this time as a result of the righteousness of the people. Indeed, Satan will be sealed up in the bottomless pit for a thousand years – but not forever. “When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed” to once again deceive and gather followers from all nations to a battle in which Satan and his angels will eventually be cast off forever (see Rev. 20:7-8).

How is Satan finally loosed? After centuries of ignoring his enticements and the outward determination of the people of God not to listen to him, nor be governed by him, how does Satan once again gain a foothold in the lives of God’s children?

This is likely not an overnight transformation of the people, but a gradual decline of the righteousness of God’s people near the end of the Millennium. Satan only gains power over man through man’s exercise of his own agency. Thus, the Lord will not bind Satan and take his power from the earth while his children are willing to be governed by him.

The Book of Mormon provides an interesting illustration that may parallel this future event for us. In particular, 4 Nephi 1 gives us a sobering preview of how the bright millennial era may be brought to a close. After Christ’s visit to the descendants of Lehi in the Americas, the people entered into a millennial condition wherein they lived in a Zion-like society (see 4Ne 1:15-18). In fact, they were so righteous that they became one of the few peoples in recorded scripture that successfully lived the Law of Consecration for a time (see 4Ne 1:2-3).

The breakdown in this near-perfect society had tiny beginnings: “a small part of the people . . . revolted from the church and [had] taken upon them the name of Lamanites” (4Ne 1:20). Several years later, social classes were instituted once more and the Law of Consecration was abandoned (4Ne 1: 24-26). From that point, society disintegrated rapidly. Within the next decade:

[T]here were many churches in the land; yea, there were many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel, insomuch that they did receive all manner of wickedness, and did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness. And this church did multiply exceedingly because of iniquity, and because of the power of Satan who did get hold upon their hearts. (4Ne 1:27-28)

Thus, Satan, who had essentially been bound, was loosed again in the land because man invited him in once again. In due time, Satan's now-welcome influence caused severe unbelief, wickedness, and divisions among God’s people. In fact, the wicked eventually became more numerous than the righteous (4Ne 1:40). By the time 300 years had passed away from Christ’s visit, wickedness had spread all over the face of the land, and “there were none that were righteous save it were the disciples of Jesus” (4Ne 1:46).

In a parallel fashion, at the end of the Millennium, I believe that those present will again invite the adversary's influence into their lives, thus loosing him "for a little season" (D&C 43:31). The Lord will allow mankind to exercise their agency and worship how (and whom) they wish. As a result, leading up to the final battle, we may likely see class divisions and religious strife as those in 4 Nephi did.

This is just another parallel that I have seen from the Book of Mormon as it relates to our future events.

8 comments:

Anthony Larson said...

Yes. Now extend that comparison back in time. You find that the end of Helaman and the first of 3 Nephi parallels our time.

Jeremy said...

Anthony,

I agree. I have always seen the parallels from Helaman and 3 Nephi 1-11 as a foreshadowing of things to occur fairly soon in our generation. However, I had never seen the Millennial comparison in 4 Nephi until my recent study of John's Revelation.

Thanks for your comment.

linda said...

I find your insites facinating. As I was reading this, I couldn't help but ask one question. While the Nephites were only righteous for 300 years after Christ left, during the Millenium Christ will always be here. So, I understand that it is by righteousness the satan is bound, isn't it possible righteousness could set him free? After we have been in the presence of Christ for 1000 years wickedness might not be on the earth, the people born during the millenium won't have had a true test. Possibly satan needs to be "unbound" for everyone to get an equal opportunity to be tried by satan. Just a thought. However, I also understand that in prosperity, or ease people can become complacent. I hope I'm there to find out. Maybe there's room in your analysis for both points. Thanks for making me think about that. ( I am Nate Rees's sister)

Jeremy said...

Linda, I tend to lean toward your second interpretation, that "in prosperity, or ease people can become complacent." During the Millennium 2 classes of people will associate daily; mortals and resurrected beings.

"During all these years men dwelling in mortality will have the privilege of associating with those who have received their resurrection. Our Lord and Savior will be a familar figure among the righteous saints. Instruction will be given by resurrected prophets. How could wickedness remain under such conditions? Those who have passed through the resurrection will not, however, dwell with those in mortality. They will not stay in earthly, or human homes nor sleep in the beds of mortals. Such a thing would be inconsistent." (Joseph Fielding Smith, "The Way to Perfection," 312-13)

Note that Christ will "be a familiar figure among the righteous saints." In fact, Christ will likely not be on the Earth 100% of the time during this 1,000 years (see parable in D&C 88:46-61). The Prophet spoke on this also:

"Christ and the resurrected Saints will reign over the earth during the thousand years. They will probably not dwell upon the earth, but will visit it when they please, or when it is necessary to govern it." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 268)

I believe that a few people, as a result of spiritual complacency, will begin to question the faith of their fathers (as did the Nephites) and they will be separated from the "righteous" that are privileged to see Christ. Their mortal children will then grow up without a knowledge of the Gospel. This may spiral downward until a generation of mortals is wicked enough to spiritually release Satan upon the face of the Earth once again.

Thanks for stopping by (even if you are Nate's sister - I forgive you).

linda said...

Jeremy,
You made me think of one more thing (besides spell checking). In 4 Nephi all of the people "took upon themselves the name of Christ" for a short time. Not only did the Nephites question the faith of their fathers, the Lamanites and other "ites" desired a name distinction. Instead of being humble and looked at as a group of children of Christ, pride set in their hearts and they looked to be distinguished from everyone else. It wasn't good enough to be prosperous, they wanted to be more prosperous.

I'd also be interested in your thoughts on something else. I was watching Discussions on the Book of Mormon this morning and caught the last part of a comment from Robert Millet. (They were discussing 4 Nephi)It was the last part of a sentence he said "..this is why the Law of Consecration works and Socialism doesn't." I know in part he was speaking of pride, but I haven't done enough research on the Law of Consecration to understand the statement. Any thoughts you would be willing to share? I would appreciate it.
Also, I have enjoyed reading other parts of your blog, I tend to agree with you and find your comments thought provoking. Thank you.

Jeremy said...

Linda, the biggest difference I see between socialism and the Law of Consecration is the heart and mind of the adherents. [Please note that there are several other differences, however]

The scriptures teach us that a Zion-like people, or people capable of truly living the Law of Consecration, are the "pure in heart." Having a pure heart, to me, means that you exude charity toward your fellow man.

With that in mind, read some of the characteristics of the Nephites from 4 Nephi:

2) . . . there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
3) And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.
13) And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus.
15) And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

Notice how many times it says there was no contention there. Why was there no contention? Because they had charity, or the love of God. These same characteristics followed the inhabitants of the City of Enoch, Melchizedek's people, and the Saints shortly after Christ's resurrection, all of whom were a Zion people.

Socialism won't work because you are forcing people to have charity. By forcing someone to act, you are restricting their agency which will breed contention. This formula never works, as was clearly seen in the pre-mortal councils in heaven when Satan desired to eliminate our agency and force us to return to our Heavenly Father.

I hope this helps.

linda said...

"Socialism won't work because you are forcing people to have charity."

I did a lot of reading on the Law of Consecration last night. I now understand why it was constantly pointed out that socialism and communism were Satans "version" of the Law. It also makes sense now why during the millenium things can start out great and turn ugly. Even with a pure heart, over a period of time I can see pride setting in the hearts and people resenting the law.
Thanks for your time, your blog is one of my new favorites!
Linda

Jeremy said...

Thanks Linda. Glad you enjoy our religious rantings.