CLICK HERE to read Moroni 9.
Mormon is able to write to his son Moroni again, but it is of serious matters (verse 1). He knows his Nephite people are losing the battles against the Lamanites (verse 2), and he knows it is because they will not repent. The people harden their hearts against the Lord, and “Satan stirreth them up continually to anger one with another” (verse 3). Satan can only destroy us after he has divided us, turning us against each other (so that we have taken our eyes off of God), and so his tactics are always to separate and divide in order to plant contention and dissension and anger and bitterness and resentment and all these seeds that grow up into the destruction of individuals, families, communities, and entire nations.
Behold, I am laboring with them continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it; wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them (verse 4).
Without the Spirit of the Lord in our hearts, we cannot be softened and we cannot be prompted to turn back to the Lord. We are left to our own consequences. We are abandoned to the destruction we ourselves have chosen. We become cold and hard, empty and alone, driven only by the desire to conquer and take and gain for ourselves power and wealth and instant gratification in all things.
For so exceedingly do they anger that it seemeth me that they have no fear of death; and they have lost their love, one towards another; and they thirst after blood and revenge continually (verse 5).
But the tender prophet-father urges his prophet-son to still be diligent in teaching the people, for that is their role regardless of whether the people receive them or not (verse 6):
for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.
Mormon then tells of the suffering of the people, even those men and women and children who have been taken prisoner (verse 7). Many were killed in violent ways (verse 8), and all the ravages of war are committed upon them (verse 9). The people are so hard and evil that the torture others as a “token of bravery”, showing with whom they have made false covenants (verse 10).
Mormon grieves the loss of a people now uncivilized (verse 11), when they once had been “a civil and delightsome people” (verse 12). The people now delight in such abomination (verse 13) that the prophet wonders how to even expect God will keep from delivering them over to their consequences (verse 14). In his role as prophet, he knows the people have rejected God’s warnings, and so he has the “burden”, or his message is to cry out for their destruction – because it is what the people have chosen (verse 15). The people have chosen their own destruction, and they are destroying themselves with war and hunger and abandoning the priesthood (“widows and orphans” and “widows and daughters” always refer to those without access to the priesthood, and the context in which it is used shows whether the men are stepping up and using their priesthood as the Savior commanded or not) (verse 16).
He knows his army is weak (verse 17), and the people are depraved, even “without order and without mercy” (verse 18). Because they will not even respond to military orders, he can no longer enforce his command of the soldiers (verse 18). They are instead “strong in their perversion”, delighting in evil, and doing such horrific things even to the women and children that he cannot even write or talk about it (verse 19).
He writes to his son not to describe this “horrible scene” or its carnage, but to declare – as a prophet – that he knows the people “are without principle, and past feeling” (verse 20). There is nothing left in them that he can “recommend” unto God, no seed of possibility left for him to use to plead for God’s mercy (verse 21).
But he knows his son Moroni is faithful, and writes tenderly to him (verse 22):
But behold, my son, I recommend thee unto God, and I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved; and I pray unto God that he will spare my life, to witness the return of his people unto him, or their utter destruction; for I know they must perish except they repent and return unto him.
When we receive a recommend, it is a testimony in our behalf to God, that we are not to be destroyed. It is like the blood on the doorposts at passover. It is the testimony that we, although yet unfinished, have the seed of life within us, that we are turned toward God and trying, that we are seeking Him and doing our best, and so should be delivered as we have done all we can do. It is the prophet recommending to God that we be spared.
But Mormon cannot recommend the Nephites while they are cold and hard and hating against each other. He cannot recommend they be spared when they will not spare each other. He cannot recommend them even out of love, because they will not love each other. He cannot recommend them to qualify for the blessings of peace because they will not make peace with each other.
He can only recommend to God that these people be destroyed, because they have chosen destruction, and are intent only on destroying each other.
This is the lesson of the Book of Mormon.
Mormon himself compares the people to what happened to the Jaredites (verse 23), which is such an important reference that Moroni so wants us to understand that he made sure their record (Ether) was included before he finished compiling the sacred record.
The people will be destroyed if they do not repent, either physically because they will not make peace with each other, or spiritually because they desert and deny the Christ (verse 24).
We see Mormon the prophet teaching his son the role of prophet, even how to let the burden of this grief remain on the Savior – for He is the one to carry the burden (verse 25). It is not our own. The message is His; we only deliver the message. Our minds rest in “his mercy and long-suffering”, and we are lifted up by Christ (verse 25), who says to us, “Arise!”
And may the grace of God the Father, whose thrown is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever. Amen (verse 26).