Are We Ripening for Destruction?
We find some interesting patterns when the theme in the Book of Mormon of ripening for destruction is analyzed. These are very pertinent to us who are living in the last days, and particularly to those in the promised land of America where the Brother of Jared was warned “that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should aserve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.” This fulness of God’s wrath “cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.” Why? Because “this is a land which is choice above all other lands,” a land where it has been promised that “whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ.” (Ether 2:8-12)
We find warnings concerning what takes place when a people are fully ripe all over the place, and the Lord leaves no room for confusion. “Cursed shall be the land, yea this land…unto destruction…when they are fully ripe…for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” says the Lord through Alma. (Alma 45:16) Nephi prophesied that “in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish.” (2 Nephi 28:16) In this dispensation the Lord warned that “when the earth is ripe…all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up.” (D&C 29:9) Mormon similarly taught that it is actually possible to get to the point where the day of grace can pass both spiritually and temporally—or in other words, a point of no return. (Mormon 2:15)
But what exactly does it mean to be fully ripe? And why is this the imagery that is used? Hugh Nibley taught:
“Though [God] does not give us dates and figures, he does give us unmistakable signs of the times, and urges us to pay the closest possible attention to them. Simply by looking at a fig tree, for example, one can estimate quite closely about how far away the harvest is. The word historia was borrowed by Hecateus from the medical profession, the historia being progressive symptoms of a disease or illness; just as there are signs by which the doctor can tell how far along the patient is and how long he has to go, so there are such signs in the body politic of any society. Specifically, if we want to know the sure sign of the end, we are instructed to look for ripeness or fullness. . . Fruit is fully ripe at that moment when further ripening would not mean improvement but only deterioration. . . And a vessel is full when nothing more can be added to it; when its contents can no longer be improved or damaged by adding any more ingredients. When the fruit is ripe there is no point in letting it remain longer on the tree. And when the cup is full nothing further remains to be done about its contents. Ripeness and fullness are that state of things, in short, when nothing further remains to be done in the direction of filling or ripening, and the process has reached the end. A society has reached such a point when it can no longer go in the direction it has been taking, when the only hope of motion lies in a change or a direct reversal of direction.” (Beyond Politics, Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless, p. 293-294)
Thus, being fully ripe means there is nothing more the Lord can do for a society—things would deteriorate and get worse for everyone if the fruit was not pulled, and the judgment not brought forth. It is at this point that He weeps and laments: “What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (Jacob 5:41) It is at this point when the righteous—the wheat—are gathered out from among the wicked—the tares (D&C 86:7) because if they were allowed to grow together any longer the harvest would altogether be lost. It is in this condition of ripeness we are told that “those who are proud and do wickedly shall be as stubble” and “shall perish” (D&C 29:9; 2 Nephi 28:16). This is the juncture when the Lord’s covenant people, and the inhabitants of America, experience a reversal of circumstances and receive the covenant curses Isaiah and Book of Mormon prophets spoke of, including the curse of destruction “according to the power of God” (Alma 37:28).
But how can we tell when a society has reached this point? What are the signs of ripeness? The Book of Mormon offers many clear tell-tale signs. A nation, or society, becomes ripe when they who choose evil are more numerous than they who choose good.
“For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.” (Hel. 5:2)
This is something King Mosiah warned about years in advance, stating that “if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.” (Mos. 29:27) Amulek affirmed “Yea, well did Mosiah say…that if the time should come that the voice of this people should choose iniquity, that is, if the time should come that this people should fall into transgression, they would be ripe for destruction.” This indicator becomes painfully clear simply by glancing at a nation’s elected officials.
This situation paves the way for secret combinations to ascend to power. These are then built up and supported to the point when they are enabled, by the people, to “obtain the sole management of the government” and “rend and turn their backs on the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God” (Hel. 6:39). Mormon notes that “in the end of this book [the entire record of the people of Nephi] ye shall see this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi” (Hel. 2:12). Moroni likewise notes that secret combinations “caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking [the Jaredites], and also the destruction of the people of Nephi” (Ether 8:21). These conspirators are even championed by the Lord’s covenant people:
“And it came to pass on the other hand, that 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.” (Hel. 6:38)
The Nephite record offers us many expressions of the sin of pride which also establish grounds for ripeness. The outcomes of rejecting the truth (Hel. 8:25), forgetting the Lord (Hel. 7:20), and gross immoral behaviors are often produced by a focus on riches and the vain things of the world:
“But behold, ye have rejected the truth, and rebelled against your holy God; and even at this time, instead of laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where nothing doth corrupt, and where nothing can come which is unclean, ye are heaping up for yourselves wrath against the day of judgment.” (Hel. 8:25)
“O, how could you have forgotten your God in the very day that he has delivered you? But behold, it is to get gain, to be praised of men, yea, and that ye might get gold and silver. And ye have set your hearts upon the riches and the vain things of this world, for the which ye do murder, and plunder, and steal, and bear false witness against your neighbor, and do all manner of iniquity.” (Hel. 7:20-21)
Next come class distinctions: “And they began to be divided into classes” (4 Nephi 1:26), “and some were lifted up unto pride and boastings because of their exceedingly great riches…and the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning…and thus there became a great inequality in all the land…thus…they were in a state of awful wickedness” (3 Nephi 6:12-17). These divisions foster great afflictions and persecutions for the poor, and the humble followers of Christ.
Ripeness culminates with with wicked being marked in their wrists and foreheads, coming out in “open rebellion” against God, (Rev. 13:16; Alma 3:18; Mormon 2:15) and the eventual withdrawal of the Lord’s Spirit completely as the people become “past feeling” (Ether 2:15; Moroni 9:20). The righteous are then cast and led out to the wilderness, and as it has only been “for the righteous’s sake” the society has been spared, Samuel the Lamanite informs us that “when ye shall cast out the righteous from among you, then shall ye be ripe for destruction” (Hel. 13:14).
This open rebellion constitutes a refusal to repent that seals the fate of the wicked. Hugh Nibley observes:
“It is when reach the point of refusing to repent that they have reached the point of fullness…The reason that our lives are extended as they are beyond the age of reproduction is to allow us the fullest possible opportunity to repent. Therefore, when men have lost the capacity to repent there is no reason why God should let them stay around any longer to corrupt the rising generation…There is a time limit, then, and I believe the time limit has now been reached—the cup is full. For we have in our time the terrifying phenomenon of men who refuse to repent.” (Beyond Politics, Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless, p. 294-295)
Thus, repentance marks our only hope of deliverance—our only hope of being numbered among the remnant the Lord will preserve. We must repent now while there is still time. The Lord Himself warned:
“Behold, the world is ripening in iniquity; and it must needs be that the children of men are stirred up unto repentance, both the Gentiles and also the house of Israel” (D&C 18:6).
“And now cometh the day of their calamity, even the days of sorrow, like a woman that is taken in travail; and their sorrow shall be great unless they speedily repent, yea, very speedily” (D&C 136:35).
Suggestions for Application:
Practice daily repentance with full purpose of heart, willingly making any changes the Lord directs you to make.
Humbly give an accounting to the Lord of your actions, thoughts, and intents each day. Openly receive any chastisement and counsel from the Lord regarding how to become more pure.
Let go of any attachment and pursuit of riches and the vain things of the world.
Identify and remove any points of pride within you that cause you to create class distinctions or ranks of any kind between you and fellow children of God.
Identify the secret combinations that have obtained sole management of the government and are seeking to establish a new world order, and stop anything you are doing to uphold or support them in any way.