“When ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation”

This sounds like a COVID-19 warning, of a coming season’s danger yet ahead of us.  But this “awful situation” is far worse, yet, perhaps encompasses the suspicions we have all had in the face of our current crises.  We all labor through the uncertainties that fill us with gratitude for the clear and clarion direction from a living prophet yet shake our heads in near disbelief as we don masks to do our shopping. We are all struggling with the mixed emotions of mourning with those who have succumbed to the virus, yet recognize that the loss from countless other crises of varying causes far exceeds the current hyper-focused media attention.  

Likewise, sitting to write what he thought was the end of his Father’s record, Moroni mourned, “My father…was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people.” (Mormon 8:3) He knew that he was yet to abridge the Jaredite account of the destruction of their people from this same devastating cause.  Certainly, he had read the complete record, but in the struggle for  survival from this repeated malignancy and the sense of loss at the death of his beloved father, his attention turned to their shared vision and its message to a future people who would face the same deceptions and morally eviscerating disease.

“The Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.” Mormon 8:34-35

In the ensuing years, finally in relative safety, Moroni was abridging that most sacred of records when he paused, perhaps reliving the feelings of loss, and the desperation he felt for us, for our day that he had seen so clearly.  He was laboring over how much to include in the Jaredite story of intrigue and murder that had included key characteristics of the pernicious plague that eventuated the end of a civilization at least equal in grandeur to that of the Romans centuries later.  He used those specifics and his rising sense of distress in trying to penetrate the anesthetic prosperity of our generation,

“O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be”. Ether 8:23

Speaking of our day, the Savior warned of this damning deception by saying, “in those days there shall also arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant. JSM 1:22

A false Christ could include all those promising some kind of safety, rescue, redemption, etc.  False prophets might include all those foretelling our future days common to the economy or world affairs.  The problem is that their credibility is verified by data, and predictions, etc.  The concern in this alarming prophecy is its focus on those who are covenant keepers, THE everlasting covenant of the gospel.  This plague seems overwhelming.  Fortunately, there are four solutions associated with stopping the spread of this plague.  But first we need to know how to recognize its presence among us.  President Benson[1] warned that those in secret chambers[2] seeking our destruction would use social issues to foment unrest, create problems for which they would then offer solutions, including increasing personal security for everyone…but for a price, of course.  These are especially effective for those whose “hearts fail them,” filled with fear.[3]  The price is usually the sacrifice of personal liberties but with a fear-focus that makes it seem justified.

Moroni’s warning in Ether begins by noting “THEY” but then as he continues, he notes that the great danger is from “IT.” [4] The change from plural to singular is noteworthy but requires our understanding of what Hugh Nibley identified from the Book of Mormon as the four types of secret combinations and their common driving purpose which Moroni identifies as, “And they were kept up by the power of the devil to administer these oaths unto the people, to keep them in darkness, to help such as sought power to gain power, and to murder, and to plunder, and to lie, and to commit all manner of wickedness and whoredoms.” Ether 8:16

To paraphrase Hugh Nibley’s simplification of a secret combination as those that would convert human life to money and power using every means at their disposal includes all who seek power, fame, glory, money, sex, property, control, etc., using misinformation, lies, flattery, advertising, manipulation, force, violence, murder, addictions of all kinds from food and drink to drugs and pollution, etc.  They are had among all nations at almost all times[5]:

…oaths given by them of old who also sought power Ether 6:15

…to help such as sought power to gain power Ether 8:16

“Unite with us and become acquainted with our secret works, and become our brethren that ye may be like unto us—not our slaves, but our brethren and partners of all our substance.” 3N3:7

“Satan did stir up the hearts of the more part of the Nephites, insomuch that they did unite with those bands of robbers, and did enter into their covenants and their oaths, that they would protect and preserve one another in whatsoever difficult circumstances they should be placed, that they should not suffer for their murders, and their plunderings, and their stealings…they did have their signs, yea, their secret signs, and their secret words; and this that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant, that whatsoever wickedness his brother should do he should not be injured by his brother, nor by those who did belong to his band, who had taken this covenant. And thus they might murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their God. And whosoever of those who belonged to their band should reveal unto the world of their wickedness and their abominations, should be tried, not according to the laws of their country, but according to the laws of their wickedness” Helaman 6:21-24

“Turned out of the way of righteousness, and did trample under their feet the commandments of God, and did turn unto their own ways, and did build up unto themselves idols of their gold and their silver.” Helaman 6:31

The four categories identified by Brother Nibley from the Book of Mormon are:

  1. Religious Fronts with a political agenda purposed to obtain the above.

    Nehor began…preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people. And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day Alma 1:3-4
    • Hidden: They work hard to keep their political agenda secret by using religion, religious words, purposes, attire, scripture, titles, and altruistic masks like social causes but their purpose is self-serving.
      • “For behold, they do study at this time that they may destroy the liberty of thy people…” Alma 8:17
    • Open:  Uses religion, as in the hidden category, but uses it openly to gain political power by connections, influence, or opposition to some religious issue or social purpose.
      • Amlici…being after the order of Nehor … had drawn away much people after him… that they began to be very powerful… 4 …it was his intent to destroy the church of God. 10…Amlici was made king over them he commanded them that they should take up arms against their brethren; and this he did that he might subject them to him. (Alma 2:2-4,10.)
  2. Corrupt Political Insiders
    • “Amalickiah was desirous to be a king; and … people …were also desirous that he should be their king; and they were the greater part of them the lower judges of the land, and they were seeking for power…that he would make them rulers over the people.” Alma 36:4-5
    • “For there was one Gadianton, who … did flatter them, and also Kishkumen, that if they would place him in the judgment-seat he would grant unto those who belonged to his band that they should be placed in power and authority among the people…Helaman 2:4
    • “those Gadianton robbers filling the judgment-seats—having usurped the power and authority of the land; laying aside the commandments of God, and not in the least aright before him; doing no justice unto the children of men; Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money; and moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills—” Helaman 7:4-5
  3. Gangs, The Mob, independent contractors, etc. that delight in:
    • Killing
    • Chaos, confusion, disorder
    • Mayhem
    • Robbing and stealing
    • Rape
    • Violence

      “… it was the object of all those who belonged to his band to murder, and to rob, and to gain power Helaman 2:8

      “…to murder, and to plunder, and to lie, and to commit all manner of wickedness and whoredoms.” Ether 8:16

      “…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.” 3 Nephi 1:27
  4. The Privileged Class seen as Rich and Elite… who desire more of everything; recognition, power, money, etc. It is they who have the means to manipulate and promise the political insider, and use the independent contractors and gangs.
    • “Now those who were in favor of kings were those of high birth, and they sought to be kings; and they were supported by those who sought power and authority over the people.” Alma 51:8, 60:18
    • “…those who were angry were chiefly the chief judges, and they who had been high priests and lawyers…And they did enter into a covenant one with another, yea, even into that covenant which was given by them of old…Therefore they did combine against the people of the Lord, and enter into a covenant to destroy them, and to deliver those who were guilty of murder…And they did set at defiance the law and the rights of their country; and they did covenant one with another to destroy the governor, and to establish a king over the land, that the land should no more be at liberty but should be subject unto kings.” (3 Nephi 6:22-30.)

The problem for us in identifying this plague of secret combinations is that they speak as if they had the power they seek.  So powerful is their capacity to convince that most are drawn into their plan as noted at the end of Helaman chapter 6:

“The Nephites did build them up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and to join with them in their secret murders and combinations. And thus they did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God.” Helaman 6:38-39

The early saints were even warned that this secret plan leading to their destruction was ubiquitous, and pervasive:

“…lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth” DC 38:30

This may seem like a generic comment until one notes that the phrase “voice louder than that which shall shake the earth” was used by the angel appearing to Alma in Mosiah 27[6] as part of his convincing Alma when Alma was set against being convinced.  The Lord’s warning for our day is that even the very elect can be convinced, deceived even when they don’t want to be. 

This leads us to the divinely provided solutions that accompanied each scriptural warning:

  1. In the JSM verse 22 warning that the very elect may be deceived is accompanied by verse 37, And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived.” Could a treasuring, a loving, memorizing, searching, etc. of the scripture provide deception protection?  YES, it is a divine promise.
  2. In the Ether 8 warning, Moroni provided a solution to the “IT” consuming our world:

    “O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be. Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you”

    A two-fold call to action is to awaken all of us:
    • Repent!  Of what?  If the more part of the righteous are deceived by the lust for ownership, prosperity, influence, control, etc. then we might begin with and inner prayerful plea asking Father to manifest our weaknesses to this infection.
    • “Suffer not” is a call to become active in stopping this plague…but how?  Most of us don’t have that kind of influence!  The following numbers three and four provide powerful tools to even the weakest of saints.
  3. When Isaiah, then Nephi spoke of this latter day battle between the Lord’s people and the Luciferian combinations, they called him “the terrible one” and promised that he should be “brought to naught” by the presence and use of a book that would speak from the dust:[7]  We understand that this book is The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.  We know how to share that book even when it is under attack by the very servants of he who will be brought to naught!  We perhaps just weren’t aware that by doing so, we “awaken” to a sense of our awful situation and then act in a way that will ultimately bring number four to reality:
  4. When God warned Joseph Smith in Kirkland about the secret plot and the prevailing darkness that was gaining world control, and the danger of the convincing voice of those plotting, He furnished a powerful protective invitation.  We quote it often without reading the context.  We like, “If you are prepared, you shall not fear.”  But does that just mean having enough toilet paper in storage?  Note in verse eleven the beginning of the warning.

    11 For all flesh is corrupted before me; and the powers of darkness prevail upon the earth, among the children of men, in the presence of all the hosts of heaven—
    12 Which causeth silence to reign, and all eternity is pained, and the angels are waiting the great command to reap down the earth, to gather the tares that they may be burned; and, behold, the enemy is combined.
    13 And now I show unto you a mystery, a thing which is had in secret chambers, to bring to pass even your destruction in process of time, and ye knew it not;

    Then God promises to be merciful to the saints by giving them a commandment “for their salvation.” (v16)

    14 But now I tell it unto you, and ye are blessed, not because of your iniquity, neither your hearts of unbelief; for verily some of you are guilty before me, but I will be merciful unto your weakness.
    15 Therefore, be ye strong from henceforth; fear not, for the kingdom is yours.
    16 And for your salvation I give unto you a commandment, for I have heard your prayers, and the poor have complained before me, and the rich have I made, and all flesh is mine, and I am no respecter of persons.

He then puts in perspective the commandment he is about to give so that it won’t seem to the natural man, like a sacrifice but rather a powerful solution to the coming infective plague that will sweep the world.

17 And I have made the earth rich, and behold it is my footstool, wherefore, again I will stand upon it.

18 And I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh;

19 And I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts.

20 And this shall be my covenant with you, ye shall have it for the land of your inheritance, and for the inheritance of your children forever, while the earth shall stand, and ye shall possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away.

21 But, verily I say unto you that in time ye shall have no king nor ruler, for I will be your king and watch over you.

22 Wherefore, hear my voice and follow me, and you shall be a free people, and ye shall have no laws but my laws when I come, for I am your lawgiver, and what can stay my hand?

23 But, verily I say unto you, teach one another according to the office wherewith I have appointed you;

This perspective contains a list of noteworthy items like a beautiful land of inheritance that will extend to our posterity, the privilege to hear His voice, freedom and liberty, perfect divine law, etc.  Then he begins to give the protective commandment but does so with a parable:

24 And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me.

25 And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself.

26 For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?

The inequality in the world seems to be a product of divine purpose.  One that includes us as God’s hands in providing for His poor.  He does so because the infective disease of pride and covetousness can only be eliminated from our hearts by doing, not just hearing.

27 Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.

This call to unity by sharing, is the call to Zion, that state of the four unities of the Atonement: one heart, one mind, one standard of behavior, and one economic state.[8]  Now with the formation of Zion placed as the culmination of the solution to the secret combination plague and the pattern of its formation through charitable sharing, He warns again to avoid the convincing voices that convince even the very elect. 

28 And again, I say unto you that the enemy in the secret chambers seeketh your lives.

29 Ye hear of wars in far countries, and you say that there will soon be great wars in far countries, but ye know not the hearts of men in your own land.

30 I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.

The convincing power of the media and advertisements has been thoroughly studied to show that by repetition, peer acceptance, subliminals (pictures, words, associations, etc), shifting standards, etc. that even the stubborn and determined can be convinced. So, Father gives tools to avoid media’s reach.  The first we see, is to treasure wisdom.  Most have stopped reading good books in favor of relaxing to watch TV or stream a movie, or play a game.  Wisdom must be acquired.  We become what we consume. Then He adds the one more powerful tool that shields and protects due to its transveil influence giving us “more than are with them.”[9]

31 And that ye might escape the power of the enemy, and be gathered unto me a righteous people, without spot and blameless—

32 Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high;

33 And from thence, whosoever I will shall go forth among all nations, and it shall be told them what they shall do; for I have a great work laid up in store, for Israel shall be saved, and I will lead them whithersoever I will, and no power shall stay my hand.

34 And now, I give unto the church in these parts a commandment, that certain men among them shall be appointed, and they shall be appointed by the voice of the church;

35 And they shall look to the poor and the needy, and administer to their relief that they shall not suffer;

The formation of Zion begins apparently with charity and the temple endowment.  God has great things in store for His people who cannot fear, but must prepare through being taught by study and by faith.

“As all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith; Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” DC 109:7-8

The clarion guiding call from a living prophet[10] includes optimism, promises, and power to each and all of us. What a great time to live!


[1] Both communism and socialism seek to destroy our economic system and replace it with socialism; and their success, whether through evolution by socialism or through revolution by communism or a combination, will destroy not only our economic system, but our liberty, including the ‘civil’ aspects as well…. Elder Ezra Taft Benson, Conference October, 1961

[2] JSM 1:25 Wherefore, if they shall say unto you: Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: Behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not;

DC 38:11-13 For all flesh is corrupted before me; and the powers of darkness prevail upon the earth, among the children of men, in the presence of all the hosts of heaven— Which causeth silence to reign, and all eternity is pained… And now I show unto you a mystery, a thing which is had in secret chambers, to bring to pass even your destruction in process of time, and ye knew it not;

[3]  DC 88:91 And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people.

Luke 21:26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

Moses 7:66 But before that day he saw great tribulations among the wicked; and he also saw the sea, that it was troubled, and men’s hearts failing them, looking forth with fear for the judgments of the Almighty God, which should come upon the wicked.

[4] Ether 8: 20 And now I, Moroni, do not write the manner of their oaths and combinations, for it hath been made known unto me that they are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites.

21 And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.

22 And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.

23 Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.

24 Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.

25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies;

[5] Ether 8:20 they are had among all people,

[6] …the angel of the Lord … spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake…the angel said… I come to convince thee…Mosiah 27:11, 14

[7] Isaiah 29:20; 2 Nephi 27:29-31

[8] Moses 7:18 “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”

[9] 2 Kings 6:15-18  And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

[10] President Russell M. Nelson; The Future of the Church: Preparing the World for the Savior’s Second Coming, Ensign April 2020