“In the Space of Not Many Years”

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen

The brief period of near-universal peace and prosperity in the land is ruptured with the unexpected murder of leadership by secret conspirators, unleashing a seething epidemic of iniquity, especially among the Nephite population. What was earlier an unprecedented embracing of righteous covenant principles turns into a depraved and widespread embracing of the evil covenant of Gadianton—all “in the space of not many years” (verse 32). The cycle of wickedness and pride begins anew, as so many times previously. Righteousness and prosperity dwindle as the people forget God. Pride and wickedness ascend to a position of supremacy in society, and Satan gets hold of the people’s hearts. The Spirit of the Lord will be withdrawn (see Helaman 6:35). Despite the warnings of the prophets—especially the righteous Lamanite servants of the Lord—the Nephites largely turn a deaf ear to the word of God and permit the Gadianton plague to envelop the highest circles of government. By contrast, the Lamanites flourish in righteousness and extinguish the secret combinations from their ranks. The contrast is compelling. Mormon invokes his rhetorical signature multiple times in these verses, “And thus we see,” to remind us of the inevitably destructive consequences of pride and iniquity, as well as the inevitable magnanimity of the Lord in bestowing divine blessings upon the obedient and penitent.

The cycle is brought home again with stark clarity: humility leads to righteousness and prosperity; ease gives way to pride; the prophets warn and teach; the people suffer the consequences of disobedience (turmoil, wars, destruction, pestilence); they listen and repent; they do the will of God and prosper; then all too often they lapse again. Why can we not learn to take the high road of obedience? We cannot forget our God and his goodness.

Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2