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After those warnings, Moroni goes back to telling the story of the Jaredite people. By the secret plans of King Omer’s friend, they did steal the kingdom from Omer (verse 1). However, “the Lord was merciful unto Omer” and to his righteous sons and daughters (verse 2), and warned Omer in a dream that he should leave the land with his family (verse 3).
With King Omer gone, Jared got himself anointed king, and gave his daughter as a wife to the one who plotted to kill the king (verse 4). Jared, however, seemed unconcerned with the irony of being king and giving his daughter as a wife to the man who wanted to kill the king. Now that same man wanted to kill Jared, the false king, and began making secret plans again to do so (verse 5). The people of the land were corrupted by “the spreading of this wicked and secret society”, and so Jared was also murdered just as he had arranged the murder of the king before him (verse 6).
This king-killer made himself king, but all he had done was make himself a paranoid king. Afraid his son would do the same thing to him, he put his son in prison “and kept him on little or no food until he had suffered death” (verse 7). When this son died, one of his brothers was angry with their father for starving the son to death (verse 8). This son gathered an army, and fled to where King Omer was in exile (verse 9).
The false king’s family continued to grow, and the people of his stolen kingdom were happy except that they had promised to do “all manner of iniquity” that he could come up with (verse 10). Because he had taught them how to gain power through money and murder, the people began to respond when the sons of the false king began to buy the people’s loyalty (verse 11).
Now the pattern repeats itself again, with a false king facing his worst nightmare: battle against his sons who want to steal the throne in the same way he himself did steal it (verse 12). So many were killed in battle that Omer was restored to his rightful place on the throne (verse 13).
When Omer grew old, his son replaced him as king (verse 14). There was peace in the land (verse 15), and the Lord began to “take the curse from off the land”, and the people and land began to prosper (verse 16). They became so rich that they had silk and fruit and grains and gold and silver (verse 17); they had cattle and oxen and cows and sheep and swine and goats (verse 18). They had useful animals that worked (verse 19). The Lord poured out blessings upon the people in this choice land according to the law he had set that the people of this land would possess it for the Lord or be destroyed in their own iniquity (verse 20).
The righteous king grew old, with peace in the land; he was faithful and righteous, and “even saw the Son of Righteousness” (verse 22).
The phrase “Son of Righteousness” is also in 2 Nephi 26:9:
But the Son of righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him, until three generations shall have passed away, and many of the fourth generation shall have passed away in righteousness.
We know that in that verse, Nephi is prophesying the visit of Christ that would come 600 years later. Christ is called “The Righteous” in Moses 7:45, 47.
Righteousness is the path to Holiness (see Romans 6:19 and Moses 7:19). They are very similar, and the difference is subtle. Righteousness is the vehicle by which we arrive at the destination of Holiness (by the cleansing of the atonement and the sanctification of the spirit). No one can return to God until first becoming holy (see Hebrews 12:14), and no one can be holy without being at-one with other people (D&C 38:24).
Holiness is a state of being. It is who we are called to become. It is who our Father-in-Heaven already is, and so He is called “The Man of Holiness” (Moses 7:35). Jesus Christ, His Son, is called “The Son of (the) Man of Holiness” all throughout the New Testament (see Luke 9:22 and 21:36; Moses 6:57 and the Guide to the Scriptures under “Son of Man”).
So we know when Moroni writes of Omer seeing “the Son of Righteousness” that he is referring to the Savior. But it is interesting, I think, that this is the title chosen. It is as if the Savior is teaching Omer (and his people) that He is the path to holiness, akin to when He said “I am the way” (John 14:6). This is a different feel than when Enoch saw the Lord and reached that place of holiness through their righteousness. This is as if the people are still in process, still learning to be righteous. This is their endowing with power, as they have already repented but now claim the Son – and by so doing, they claim joy and peace.
But also, there is a footnote that refers us to 3 Nephi 25:2, which is nearly the same as Malachi 4:2. Remember that Malachi 4 is one of the chapters that Moroni expounds upon to Joseph Smith, so these verses do pertain to our day specifically. It is another reminder that the Father works through His Son and His Spirit to accomplish His plan (our salvation), but that righteousness precedes salvation. It is the Prophet that guards the way, which is righteousness, to our eternal lives. It is Jehovah that closed the Garden (the Father’s physical presence/Temple) and placed the Prophet (“flaming sword”) between us and Him (Jehovah), and so it is only by the Prophet that we return to Christ, and through Christ that we return to our Father (see also 1 Nephi 13:41).
In this process, we are granted His Spirit (presence) in order to learn righteousness (as taught by the prophets – both capital “P” Prophets and the testimonies of others – see Revelation 19:10) so that through Christ we can (are prepared to) return to our Father’s actual presence (and enjoy it/be comfortable there).
It is a time I hunger for essays, to know more of what happened and what they learned, to understand more of what led to this experience and what they gained from it, to see more of how it changed their lives and how they applied it.
But at the time of telling this story, Moroni is bound to brevity and being hunted by the Lamanites.
It is not the time for delivering long speeches or chiseling expanded essays onto metal plates, and so the story continues without further explanation.
When it was time for him to die, he anointed his son Coriantum as king (verse 21). Coriantum was righteous as his father was, and the cities prospered under his reign (verse 23). When he was old, his wife died. He took a new wife, and began to have children (verse 24). He passed his kingdom on to his son, who had his own family (verse 25).
Wickedness returned to the land, with the son of the king again trying to use secret plans to kill the king and steal the kingdom (verse 26). This time he killed the king himself (verse 27).
Because the people were wicked, the Lord sent them prophets to urge the people to repent, and to warn them there would be a famine if they did not (verse 28). But the people would not listen, and cast them out, and threw them in pits, and left them to die (verse 29).
Then the famine came, and the people began to die quickly (verse 30). Poisonous snakes came, and more people died (verse 31). The people began to flee (verse 32), but they could not get around the snakes (verse 33). The people had no choice but to “follow the course of the beasts”, eating carcasses of animals that died along the way (verse 34).
Finally, the people realized the prophets spoke truth, and that they needed to repent.
And it came to pass that when they had humbled themselves sufficiently before the Lord, he did send rain upon the face of the earth; and the people began to revive again, and there began to be fruit… and the Lord did show forth his power unto them in preserving them from famine (verse 35).