This week in our review of the Book of Mormon we’ll review chapters 51 to the end of Alma – chapter 63. What we see in these chapters is a recurring sequence of events that cycle into a repeating series of war and peace. These repeating events in history are called history cycles or cycles of history. Various authors have advanced cycles of history. For instance, Alexander Tytler is credited with the Cycle of Democracy, and Henning Prentis for the Cycle of Liberty and Bondage. Strauss and Howe in their book, The Fourth Turning, sets out a Cycle of Institutions and Individualism. In the Old Testament, we see a Cycle of Apostasy and Restoration. But here in Alma we see a Cycle of War and Peace. So, this week we’ll look at these cyclical events in Alma and consider how God will resolve these perpetual cycles of history.
History Cycles Introduction
History Cycles are a recurring sequence of events that repeat throughout history. Generally, it is a repeating sequence of tearing down and building up.
In a free society, like ancient Israel and in America today, which are constitutional republics, these cycles of history take a specific form. That form is the interaction between institutions like governments and organized religion, and individual’s wants and desires. A free society starts out with individuals subjugating their own wants and desires for the common good and the establishment of righteous institutions, which builds unity in a community. However, over time we see the emergence of individualism and the corruption of institutions. Individualism leads to sin and disunity, which then leads to civil chaos and confusion, which then leads to authoritarianism and bondage whether within or without, which then leads to revolution and then back to the establishment of righteous institutions – church and state. We saw this happen to ancient Israel when every man did right in their own eyes – Judges 17:6, So this cycle looks like this.
If you would like to read more about this Cycle of Institutions and Individualism, see Strauss and Howe’s books, The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy.
Alma’s Cycle of War and Peace
Now let us turn to the Cycle of War and Peace that we see at the end of the Book of Alma. Our sequence of events looks like this.
The Nephites established/restored peace under a free government and a church of true believers after much fighting and loss of life. (Alma 2:31–3:3; 43:37–38; 44:17–20; 46:32–38; 48:20; 49:22– 23; 51:31–32; 52:32–39; 56:13, 49–54; 57:23; 58:33; 59:7; 60:5, 7–9, 22; 62:38, 42, 50)
Lack of unity in the church and nation as people sought their own wants and desires. (Alma 50:21; cf. 50:25–26; 59:11–12; 60:15–17; 62:40), (Alma 45:23–24; 53:8–9; 61:3–8).
Internal chaos/confusion provided an opportunity for evil men attempt to seize power and put the Nephites into bondage. (Alma 2:1–4, 9–14; 43:8, 29; 44:2; 46:1–10; 51:5–8; 60:16; 62:6).
Evil men among the Nephites took sides with enemies becoming enemies themselves to the people. (Alma 2:24–25; 43:4; 47:1, 36; 51:13; 61:8).
A righteous military commander (Alma, Moroni, Moronihah) who supported freedom was appointed lawfully. (Alma 2:16; 43:16–17; 48:11–13, 17–18; 62:43)
The commander rallied the Christians to defend their freedom. (Alma 46:11–21, 36; 48:10; 62:4–5), (Alma 43:9–10, 30, 45–48; 44:5; 46:21–24; 48:7, 10, 14, 23–24; 54:10; 60:30; 61:9–14).
Together, they put down internal rebellions and executed those who refused to defend their liberty. (Alma 2:17–19; 51:15–21; 62:7–10).
They fought foreign enemies and dissenters, who defected, and invaded their land. (Alma 2:24, 31–37; 43:4–6; 47:1; 48:1–6; 61:8; 62:6–8; 63:14–15).
The Nephites established/restored peace under a free government and a church of true believers after much fighting and loss of life. (Alma 2:31–3:3; 43:37–38; 44:17–20; 46:32–38; 48:20; 49:22– 23; 51:31–32; 52:32–39; 56:13, 49–54; 57:23; 58:33; 59:7; 60:5, 7–9, 22; 62:38, 42, 50).
So this cycle looks like this.
For more reading, consider A War Pattern, Studies in the Book of Mormon, Gileadi.
Ending History Cycles
One might ask themselves how do we end these cycles of history or is humanity locked into a perpetual cycle never to end? Well, God has a plan for that with the Millennium. His solution is to eliminate those who won’t corrupt righteous institutions of government and religion. Only those who pass into the Millennium won’t sin against His Gospel Law – Jeremiah 31:33. We can identify those who will be eliminated with our Theme of Threes.
When we look at our Theme of Threes and Isaiah's Spiritual Categories of Humanity, God will eliminate those who are Unjust.