CLICK HERE to read 3 Nephi 6.
This chapter takes us up to about the same time as when the Savior began his ministry in Palestine.
The people were living in peace, and flourishing as they thrived in happiness (verse 1). Those robbers who repented and entered covenants not to steal and murder and kill were given provisions from the extra food storage the people had prepared already (verse 3), and there was still plenty for the Nephite people (verse 2). Together, all the people began to prosper because they were living in Order and following laws “according to equity and justice” (verse 4). There was nothing to stop them, or to hinder them, and they would continue to prosper long as they did not “fall into transgression” (verse 5). This is the principle of living the commandments, for they did provide the way for us to be happy. But when we sin, or transgress the commandments, then we do choose consequences and these always make us miserable or put us into bondage in some way.
The leaders of the people established peace in this way (verses 6, 9), even building up cities that had been destroyed in war (verses 7-8). This seemed to be an outward symbol of the inward strength and joy and peace and happiness. As the people united together and flourished in peace by living the commandments, so their cities also flourished.
That is, until “there began to be some disputings among the people; and some were lifted up unto pride and boastings because of their exceedingly great riches” (verse 10). There were many merchants, and lawyers, and officers (verse 11), and so the united people began to dived into classes and ranks (verse 12). As the rich stopped caring for the poor, some were living in poverty by no choice of their own, and others were able to be educated only because of the families they were born into… the people, as a community, stopped caring for each other “with equity and justice”. Instead, “some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble” (verse 13). Some people were vile and angry and bitter and mean and ugly, persecuting those who believed in God, while others would not return ugliness with ugliness and worked to be “humble and penitent before God” (verse 13).
This is how inequality came into the land, so much that “the church began to be broken up… (except for those who) would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord” (verse 14).
… Satan had great power… stirring up the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world. And thus Satan did lead away the hearts of the people to do all manner of iniquity; therefore they had enjoyed peace but a few years (verses 15-16).
The people who had made bad choices, pushed the limits, broken their covenants, or treated others poorly were delivered up to the consequences they chose: to be tempted further by the devil, to be led away into wickedness, to surrender their life in exchange for misery (verse 17).
Now they did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them, for it had been taught unto them; therefore they did wilfully rebel against God.
The governor’s son became governor, and people began to be inspired to testify to those around them. We are all called to be prophets (little “p”) by testifying (see Revelation 19:10). In this way, these people did begin
preaching and testifying boldly of the sins and iniquities of the people, and testifying unto them concerning the redemption which the Lord would make for his people, or in other words, the resurrection of Christ; and they did testify boldly of his death and sufferings (verse 20).
This made the people angry (verse 21). People cannot remain true to themselves and reject the testimony of Christ, and so become something that is not themselves – angry, ugly, bitter, hateful, all things that are not-of-God, because it is not-of-God to reject Christ. When those who do not know Christ are confronted by the testimony of Him, it does change them – and this brings the Spirit unto them, though their agency must choose to let it into them or not. Thus the people became very angry, because they did not want to do the work of making changes, but also could not entirely reject the testimony. They felt it was true, even before they understood how it was true. If this were not the case, they would not have been so stirred up about it, would not have cared, could have been neutral – but we cannot be neutral about the gospel of Christ.
But still, their laws still protected freedom of worship, and so no lawyer or judge would condemn the prophets for testifying of Christ (verse 22). They did, however, secretly put many to death and not tell the governor until after it had happened already (verse 23). This was illegal (verse 24), and so many began to complain about the lack of due process (verse 25). When the judge fount out what was going on (verse 26), he was swayed by relatives and friends who were also layers and judges (verse 27). This is how the people made fighting against righteousness legal, much like it had been with the robbers. This legalization of evil deeds led to the acceptance and normalcy of it amongst the people (verses 28-29). In this way, “they did set at defiance the law and the rights of their country; and they did covenant to destroy the governor…” (verse 30).
This turning from righteousness was the beginning of their downfall, which was their destruction.