In this chapter, Moroni thinks he is concluding the record of his father. His people are all dead, he is hunted and alone and he doesn't seem to expect to survive much longer. At such a time, his preoccupation is with us, the recipients of the record. He has seen us in vision (vs 35). As such, his message is compellingly direct. I'm going to focus on two aspects of it: Promises to Covenant Israel and warnings that feel particular to me.
Promises to Covenant Israel:
Book of Mormon shall be brought to light and to the knowledge of the people by the power of God
The Lord's promises shall all be fulfilled, despite wrath, strifes and threats against the covenant people.
Ancient American saints will cry to the Lord from the dust for their posterity and the Lord will remember his covenant with them.
Warnings to Me
If I set myself against the Lord's work for Israel, I'm in danger of being hewn down and cast into the fire (vs 21)
I need to avoid being lifted up in pride, wearing very fine apparel, envy, strife, malice and persecutions (including toward strangers in the sphere of politics). (vs 36)
I need to love the poor, needy, sick and afflicted more than money, property, fashion and adorning of churches because materialism pollutes even the holy church of God. (vs 37-38, 39-41)
Questions To Consider
1. In what ways might I misinterpret the Lord's work for Israel and be tempted to set myself against it? What are my blind spots? This is a question I need to keep asking. It's easy for me to see others' blind spots and to think I should point them out. But that puts me in danger with number 2. And distracts me from the personal repentance that needs to be my focus. Here are some questions about blind spots I'm trying to get changed to clarity.
* Immigration. If the Lord could establish our immigration policy, what would it be? When Lehi prophecies "there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord," is that literal? Does that really mean "none." Is there a balance to be struck between national sovereignty and our stewardship as people who hold a land in trust for those to whom the Lord has promised it, with the potential to become joint heirs?
* My responsibility. What is my responsibility in those areas where I have minimal power or influence? If I seek to help the poor, needy, sick and afflicted in my area, have I fulfilled my responsibility? Or do I have an accountability to do something (and what something?) about, for example, the masses of Latin American would-be immigrants who are detained in refugee camps at the US/Mexican border? Blaming the government (if the government is blameable) stokes my self-righteousness while doing nothing to alleviate the suffering of the detainees. If I feel distressed by news reports, that's a call to some productive and compassionate action instead of outrage.
2. How do I ensure I don't get sucked into strife, persecutions, malice and envy while engaging in the political process? I think the answer to that is to consciously cultivate humility, and also to assume good will on the part of those who see things differently. It is also to share my own journey as blind spots give way to sight.
3. What is the appropriate balance of caring for myself and family while giving to the poor, needy, sick and afflicted? What constitutes honouring my personal stewardships while giving generously in my current circumstances? Is it irresponsible or an act of faith to give in a way that stretches my budget at the beginning of the month? In Malachi 8, the Lord reprimands his people for robbing him "in tithes and offerings." Yet, the promise to open the windows of heaven is attached specifically to tithes. I think that's significant. While the Lord does bless us for generosity, he also expects us to be wise and to not run faster than we have strength. It is appropriate and wise to pay a full tithe, even when we can't afford it. And, unless specifically directed by the Lord like the Widow of Zarephath, it is inappropriate and unwise to give to others more than we can afford. Yet, how do we determine what's affordable? I think that can be worked out by prayerfully establishing my monthly budget. Oh.... and maybe I could give to others a generous portion of any income that exceeds my expectations.