“A Great Division Among the People”

Monte S. Nyman

Nephi’s comment inserted after quoting Isaiah 11:4 (2 Nephi 30:9) is explaining what will lead up to the slaying of the wicked. The great division among the people began with the organization of the Church in April of 1830. Those who will accept the gospel and remain faithful will be led to the establishment of a Zion society. The early saints were repeatedly admonished to “keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion” (D&C 6:7; 11:6; 12:6; 14:6). The Prophet Joseph said: “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object” (TPJS, 160).

Satan does not sit idly by. He is well aware of the coming of Zion and does everything in his power to stop it or at least slow it down. The Prophet Joseph observed: “In relation to the kingdom of God, the devil always sets up his kingdom at the very same time in opposition to God” (TPJS, 365). As the time of Christ’s visit among the Nephites approached, the devil’s pattern was shown in the establishment an growth of secret combinations among the Nephites.

27 And it came to pass that the ninety and third year did also pass away in peace, save it were for the Gadianton robbers, who dwelt upon the mountains, who did infest the land; for so strong were their holds and their secret places that the people could not overpower them; therefore they did commit many murders, and did do much slaughter among the people.
28 And it came to pass that in the ninety and fourth year they began to increase in a great degree, because there were many dissenters of the Nephites who did flee unto them, which did cause much sorrow unto those Nephites who did remain in the land.
29 And there was also a cause of much sorrow among the Lamanites; for behold, they had many children who did grow up and began to wax strong in years, that they became for themselves, and were led away by some who were Zoramites, by their lyings and their flattering words, to join those Gadianton robbers.
30 And thus were the Lamanites afflicted also, and began to decrease as to their faith and righteousness, because of the wickedness of the rising generation. [3 Nephi 1:27–30]

Note that the increase came from the dissenters of the faith and the rising generation, the same pattern can be described in the Church in the latter-days. The Lord foretold two movements that would precede his Second Coming:

34 And again, verily I say unto you, O inhabitants of the earth: I the Lord am willing to make these things known unto all flesh;
35 For I am no respecter of persons, and will that all men shall know that the day speedily cometh; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion.
36 And also the Lord shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst, and shall come down in judgment upon Idumea, or the world. [D&C 1:34–36]

Now, over one hundred and seventy years later, the fulfillment of the Lord’s declaration is obvious, the Saints have grown both temporally and spiritually towards becoming a Zion society, and the world’s wickedness has escalated. Joseph Smith saw the day when peace would be taken from the earth:

The time is soon coming, when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her stakes. I saw men hunting the lives of their own sons, and brother murdering brother, women killing their own daughters, and daughters seeking the lives of their mothers. I saw armies arrayed against armies. I saw blood, desolation, fires. The Son of Man has said that the mother shall be against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother. These things are at our doors. They will follow the Saints of God from city to city. Satan will rage, and the spirit of the devil is now enraged. I know not how soon these things will take place; but with a view of them shall I cry peace? No; I will lift up my voice and testify of them. How long you will have good crops, and the famine be kept off, I do not know; but when the fig tree leaves, know that the summer is nigh at hand. [TPJS, 161]

As we see Joseph’s prophecy being fulfilled, we must work to be a part of the Zion society.

Book of Mormon Commentary: I Nephi Wrote This Record