#BOMTC Day 12, April 18~2 Nephi 6-8 or Pages 67-72: “Jehovah Saves!”

Click on the graphic to read 2 Nephi 6-8

Click on the graphic to read 2 Nephi 6-8

The first thing we read after the separation of the righteous Nephites from the wicked Lamanites is a discourse by Jacob, the brother of Nephi (2 Nephi 6:1-3). What will be his text? Isaiah 49:22-52:2. What will be his purpose? To help us “learn and glorify the name of [our] God” (2 Nephi 6:4).

Isaiah means “Jehovah Saves” (ישעיהו, see the graphic above). His name alone helps us to “learn and glorify” the name of God! But as Jacob points out, Isaiah’s name and words are not enough. His teachings must be “likened unto you” (2 Nephi 6:5).

#BOMTC Day 12, April 18~2 Nephi 6-8 or Pages 67-72 Isaiah 50~7 LOVEThis is not the first time that Isaiah has been quoted in The Book of Mormon, nor will it be the last (see the post on “Isaiah for Dummies—Laman & Lemuel). It is also not the first time, nor the last, that a prophet will teach us that the words of Isaiah must be “likened” to us (1 Nephi 19:23).

As you read these pages, discover what Jacob and Isaiah share that will help you “learn and glorify the name of your God”.

#BOMTC Day 12, April 18~2 Nephi 6-8 or Pages 67-72 Isaiah 50~10 WORTHY

Jacob points out in 2 Nephi 9:1 that one of the things that will help you “learn and glorify the name of your God” is to learn from these pages “concerning the covenants of the Lord… with all the house of Israel”. He also expects that once we have finished studying these pages we will “rejoice, and lift up [our] heads forever” (2 Nephi 9:3). Seems like it is worth the time and effort to try and understand these pages. I have found a lot of help by using the following manuals and articles when I study Isaiah. I have hyperlinked these manuals to specific parts for today’s reading, but if you take time to explore the manuals you will find much more helpful information that will help you understand Isaiah in 2 Nephi.

Click on the graphic to read, "Don't Just 'Get Through' 2 Nephi: Get Something From It!", an article by John Bytheway.

Click on the graphic to read, “Don’t Just ‘Get Through’ 2 Nephi: Get Something From It!”, an article by John Bytheway.

One other reason to pay the price for understanding these pages is because Jacob will use them as his springboard for the rest of 2 Nephi 9—one of the greatest doctrinal discourses on “the merciful plan of the great Creator” (2 Nephi 9:6) that I have found in scripture (I am excited for tomorrow’s read!).

Jacob’s use of Isaiah’s Messianic chapters are indeed a powerful tool that help us to “learn and glorify” the name of our God, and strengthens our witness that “Jehovah Saves”!

In this short video, John Bytheway teaches some simple techniques that can help you better understand Isaiah in the scriptures:

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#BOMTC Day 11, April 17~2 Nephi 3-5 or Pages 61-66: Life’s Defining Moments

Click graphic to read 2 Nephi 3-5

Click graphic to read 2 Nephi 3-5

These pages begin with the conclusion of the final blessings of Lehi upon his posterity. As he addresses his youngest son, Joseph, we learn a great deal about how great of a Seer Joseph of Egypt (the son of the patriarch-prophet Jacob, from the Genesis account) really was (2 Nephi 3:5-24; 4:1). Lehi uses the prophecy of Joseph of Egypt to explain the blessings that Joseph (Lehi’s son) will enjoy. This is because of the covenant that God made with Joseph of Egypt; and Lehi’s family is from the lineage of Joseph of Egypt. This is a “defining moment” for Joseph, son of Lehi. If he chooses to live the covenants that his forebearers have made he will receive great blessings.

#BOMTC Day 11, April 17~2 Nephi 3-5 or Pages 61-66 (1) Defining MomentsLehi also leaves his blessings upon the children of Laman and Lemuel (his grandchildren) from which we can glean important insights about the responsibility that parents have to bring up children in the ways of the Lord (2 Nephi 4:3-9). This is a “defining moment” for Laman and Lemuel as patriarchs in their homes. President Thomas S. Monson is fond of teaching the eternal truth that, “Decisions determine destiny.” Laman and Lemuel are the perfect examples to illustrate the negative aspect of this truth.

Decisions determine destiny ~ President Thomas S. Monson

Decisions determine destiny ~ President Thomas S. Monson

“Sure and steady Sam” is then blessed with a simple and profound blessing (2 Nephi 4:11). Good old Sam has always been right there with Nephi, and he will receive the same blessings. Once father Lehi has died, Sam will have to decide who will become his “patriarchal figure”. This is a “defining moment” for Sam.

#BOMTC Day 11, April 17~2 Nephi 3-5 or Pages 61-66 (1) Decisions Do Determine Destiny President Thomas S. Monson

Decisions do determine destiny ~ President Thomas S. Monson

We now reach a very tender moment—Nephi’s “defining moment”. Lehi dies and Nephi exposes his soul to us. Unlike the murmuring account of the children of Ishmael when Ishmael died, we find Nephi, as a son of God, turning to his Heavenly Father when his earthly father passes (2 Nephi 4:12-35). Not only are Nephi’s words in this account illustrative of his “defining moment”, but he is literally “defining” himself to us. He shows us the Nephi that we could never imagine (2 Nephi 4:17-19), and yet at the same time he shows us a new and improved Nephi (2 Nephi 4:28-35). The following video is one of my favorite songs. It is a musical rendition of Nephi’s feelings in 2 Nephi 4. In this video the BYU Singers perform Ronald Staheli’s arrangement of “I Love the Lord” composed by Jean Sibelius with lyrics by John Tanner drawn from 2 Nephi 4.

In stark contrast to this tender account, 2 Nephi 5 marks a “defining moment” for the Book of Mormon. God’s pattern will be repeated once again—the righteous must flee the wicked (2 Nephi 5:3-9). Just as Lehi had to leave his home at Jerusalem, Nephi and the other faithful family members must leave their first home in the Promised Land and establish a new home. With this new start Nephi states, “…we lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27). An examination of verses 10-18 of chapter 5 give us clues to how we too can live after “the manner of happiness”.

#BOMTC Day 11, April 17~2 Nephi 3-5 or Pages 61-66 (1) Defining Moments (2)

Additionally, chapter 5 also gives us clues about how “defining moments” can bring the cursing of God upon us (2 Nephi 5:2-3, 20-24). Indeed, “The word of the Lord was fulfilled” (2 Nephi 5:20), just as Lehi, Joseph of Egypt, Zenos, Isaiah, and other Seers had prophesied. These “defining moments” led to two nations residing in the Promised Land—one in opposition to the other… only one will survive. This is the story of the Book of Mormon.

What will you do with your “DEFINING MOMENTS”?

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#BOMTC Day 10, April 16~2 Nephi 2 or Pages 55-60: “It’s My Vote That Counts”–Agency and Accountability

#BOMTC Day 10, April 16~2 Nephi 2 or Pages 55-60 (2)

Click on the graphic to read 2 Nephi 2

In 2 Nephi 2, Lehi teaches some great doctrine about the Plan of Salvation to his son, Jacob.
Jacob appears to be relatively young, but very spiritually mature (2 Nephi 2:2-4). Lehi is able to lay out God’s Plan in such a way that we are able to see clearly that ANYONE can have ETERNAL LIFE—you just have to want it MORE than anything else.

#BOMTC Day 10, April 16~2 Nephi 2 or Pages 55-60 Focus On What Matters MostTherein is the problem for me. Sometimes I give up what I want MOST for what I want at the MOMENT. I know what I should do, but I don’t always do it; and I know what I shouldn’t do, and I sometimes do it anyway.

#BOMTC Day 10, April 16~2 Nephi 2 or Pages 55-60 What Matters MostThe fact of the matter is that God has given me EVERYTHING that I need to gain Eternal Life (2 Nephi 2:4-9). There are no excuses for me! I am free to ACT for myself (2 Nephi 2:14,26). I CHOOSE my own outcome (2 Nephi 2:27-29). As President Boyd K. Packer is fond of saying, “The Lord is voting for me, and Lucifer is voting against me, but IT IS MY VOTE THAT COUNTS.” (Cleansing the Inner Vessel, emphasis added.)

#BOMTC Day 10, April 16~2 Nephi 2 or Pages 55-60 (3)

Click graphic for more on “Agency and Accountability”

My every action and choice I make is either helping me gain “liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator… or… captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27). God wants me to choose “joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). It really is MY VOTE THAT COUNTS!

#BOMTC Day 10, April 16~2 Nephi 2 or Pages 55-60 It Is My Vote That Counts

ON THIS DAY IN 1829: Harmony, Pennsylvania. Joseph Smith received Doctrine and Covenants 9, a revelation directing Oliver Cowdery to be content to write rather than attempt to translate.

“This is the Spirit of Revelation”

The early experiences of Oliver Cowdery serve as a case study to help students understand principles of personal revelation (D&C 6,8-9). (9:41)

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#BOMTC Day 9, April 15~1 Nephi 22-2 Nephi 1 or Pages 49-54: Isaiah for DUMMIES (Laman and Lemuel)

#BOMTC Day 9, April 15~1 Nephi 22-2 Nephi 1 (or Pages 49-54) (2)

Click graphic to read 1 Ne 22-2 Ne 1

In today’s reading we get Nephi’s commentary on Isaiah 48 & 49. The great thing about reading Isaiah in the Book of Mormon is that you get prophetic commentary from those who saw much of what Isaiah saw and lived where Isaiah lived. The bad thing is that sometimes we may identify more with the rebellious Laman and Lemuel than with righteous Nephi when reading Isaiah.

#BOMTC Day 9, April 15~1 Nephi 22-2 Nephi 1 (or Pages 49-54) Book of IsaiahAfter Nephi reads these chapters from Isaiah, his brothers ask, “What meaneth these things [Isaiah 48-49] which ye have read?” (1 Nephi 22:1). How many times have you thought that same thing while reading Isaiah? Nephi is kind enough to elaborate on Isaiah’s writing which pertain “to things both temporal and spiritual” (1 Nephi 22:3). In this case Isaiah’s writing focus primarily on the scattering and gathering of Israel.

#BOMTC Day 9, April 15~1 Nephi 22-2 Nephi 1 (or Pages 49-54) IsaiahThis happens today as people depart from the standards of the gospel in their personal life (spiritual scattering = self-inflicted apostasy). Soon they no longer wish to gather with the Saints and find themselves in a personal “Diaspora” (physical scattering = also self-inflicted).

The pattern for most of those who find themselves in this situation today parallels the general gathering of Israel outlined by Isaiah and explained by Nephi. They will usually experience a spiritual gathering through the help of loving family, friends, neighbors, etc. (just as this occurs for Israel through the Gentiles generally, 1 Nephi 22:8). As they experience an increase of the Spirit of the Lord, their desire to gather physically with the Saints increases (1 Nephi 22:12). This gathering leads to a unity in faith and heart with the Saints that hastens one’s personal millennial-like blessings.

Nephi refers to the actual blessings of the Millennium that are enjoyed by the righteous in 1 Nephi 22:15-28. As you read those verses you will readily recognize that you enjoy those same blessings every time that you live up to God’s standard of righteousness. Just as it is possible for each of us to experience personal scattering (Diaspora) and gathering, it is also possible to enjoy personal millennial-type blessings here and now. Isaiah enjoyed those blessings in his time; Nephi enjoyed them in his; and you can enjoy them now!

This is exactly what Lehi continues to explain to his sons, Laman and Lemuel in 2 Nephi 1. As he calls his sons to “be men” (verse 21) and repent and return (gather spiritually and physically with them), he paraphrases Isaiah as well (Compare Isaiah 52 with the verbs he admonishes them with in 2 Ne 1:12-24). Lehi’s Isaiah for Dummies (Laman and Lemuel) is an invitation for us also to claim our personal millennial blessings.

As Isaiah teaches (and Nephi explains, and Lehi confirms), you must first spiritually and physically gather with the Saints. Then you can begin to experience those personal millennial blessings in your life—HERE & NOW! (1 Ne 22:30-31; 2 Ne 1:28-32)

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#BOMTC Day 8, April 14~1 Nephi 19-21 or Pages 43-48: Dinner or Dessert?

Click this graphic to read 1 Nephi 17-18

Click this graphic to read 1 Nephi 17-18

I refer to these pages as “Dinner or Dessert” because it helps me understand how the Large and Small Plates of Nephi work.

#BOMTC Day 8, April 14~1 Nephi 19-21 (or Pages 43-48) What we learn from ScripturesNephi had originally referred to the fact that there were two sets of records in 1 Nephi 9. He now repeats that he does not know why he has been commanded to make similar records, but emphasizes once again that it is for a “wise purpose” (1 Nephi 9:5-6; 19:3). Mormon will submit his will and the scripture record to God under the same reasoning (Word of Mormon 1:7). From latter-day events and revelation we are able to understand God’s “wise purpose”. With the loss of the 116 manuscript pages that Martin Harris had helped Joseph Smith to translate, the Lord would provide an even greater witness of the Savior (D&C 3:19-20; 10:38-46).

Many ancient documents such as King Benjamin’s speech or the plates of brass were quoted or abridged by the ancient authors who compiled the books found on the small and large plates of Nephi. The abridgments, quotations, and original writings of those Book of Mormon historians are displayed on the left-hand and middle columns of this chart and are then shown in relation to the new set of plates produced by Mormon and Moroni that was delivered to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni. Joseph dictated the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon from the plates of Mormon. Copying that original manuscript, parts of which survive today, Oliver Cowdery prepared a printer’s manuscript (owned by the RLDS Church). The first edition of the Book of Mormon was typeset from that printer’s manuscript. (Source: https://byustudies.byu.edu/book_of_mormon_charts/charts/13.aspx)

Many ancient documents such as King Benjamin’s speech or the plates of brass were quoted or abridged by the ancient authors who compiled the books found on the small and large plates of Nephi. The abridgments, quotations, and original writings of those Book of Mormon historians are displayed on the left-hand and middle columns of this chart and are then shown in relation to the new set of plates produced by Mormon and Moroni that was delivered to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni. Joseph dictated the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon from the plates of Mormon.
(Source: Charting the Book of Mormon)

The records that Nephi recorded are referred to as the Large Plates and the Small Plates. At one point I had a hard time remembering which contained more history and which contained more ministry. I would usually have to go back to 1 Nephi 19 to figure it out. On one of these occasions when I was trying again to remember, it occurred to me to think of the Plates of Nephi like literal plates. So as I read it that time I actually took two disposable paper plates, one large and one small, and wrote down on each one what was contained–Large had history, Small had ministry. Through the Martin Harris incident we lost part of Nephi’s Large Plate account. In the Doctrine and Covenants we find the Lord’s wisdom in commanding Nephi to create the Small Plates. The history would be lost, but his ministry would be preserved. As I looked at the plates it reminded me of a BBQ. If I could only choose to have one set of plates at a BBQ, which would it be. At first you think, “The Large of course”. But you have to think of the purpose for each type of plate. Just as Nephi’s Plates served different purposes, so do the plates at a BBQ. What is the Large plate for? The main course–you can put lots of different things on there. Now what are the Small plates for? That’s right–Dessert!!! It is smaller, and you have to be a bit more selective on what you put on it, but to me it is THE BEST part of any meal. Now, if I was given the option of choosing just one plate at a BBQ, I would pick the Small plate. I love desserts! Yes I like the meats and all that other good stuff. BUT I LOVE DESSERTS! When I am eating somewhere that dessert is served at the same time as the main course, I ALWAYS eat my dessert first (ask my wife, she is witness). Now dietary wise, it is a very poor choice that I am making, but it just tastes soooooo good. I LOVE IT!

LARGE PLATES = HISTORY SMALL PLATES MINISTRY

LARGE PLATES = HISTORY (Abridged)
SMALL PLATES = MINISTRY (Included)

Now the point to that whole rant is this: Nephi’s Large Plates had a lot of room for a lot of stuff, but for the most part were historical in nature. Good stuff, and lots of it, but not quite as “tasty” as what was on his Small Plates. The Small Plates, like the dessert plate at a BBQ, did not have as much room and therefore Nephi had to be more selective and stick to the best of the best in recording his ministry to the people. The Small Plates are the Dessert of the Gospel–the best tasting stuff he had to offer.
So the next time you are at a BBQ you can remember Nephi’s ministry is on the Small Plates by having DESSERT FIRST!

The Work of God

Martin Harris tells a young man the story of the lost manuscript, emphasizing that the works, designs and purposes of God cannot be frustrated (D&C 3,10).

For some very insightful and informative information on the topic of the translation and the lost manuscript, see the HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION to D&C 10 in the Joseph Smith Paper project.

ON THIS DAY IN 1829: Harmony, Pennsylvania. Joseph Smith commenced the second week of dictating the translation of the Book of Mormon to Oliver Cowdery.

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#BOMTC Day 7, April 13~1 Nephi 17-18 or Pages 37-42: What Do You KNOW?

Click this graphic to read 1 Nephi 17-18

Click this graphic to read 1 Nephi 17-18

In these pages we find Nephi receiving the command to build a ship. His efforts are mocked by his brothers, Laman and Lemuel (the infamous naysayers). Their rant against Nephi consists of several “we knew” and “we know” statements (1 Nephi 17:19-22). However, Nephi is quick to point out to them the truth about what they really know (1 Nephi 17:25-29,42,46). He reminds them of something similar to a bumper sticker I remember seeing: “Jesus loves you, but I’m His favorite!“(1 Nephi 17:35,40; 1:20. More on this concept can be studied by reading Elder Russell M. Nelson’s article entitled, Divine Love. You must read the footnoted references in the talk for it to make sense–very insightful!).

#BOMTC Day 7, April 13~1 Nephi 17-18 (or Pages 37-42) Jesus Loves You But I'm His Favorite

Nephi is the perfect example of “likening” scriptures. It seems that almost every time that he is trying to persuade someone to follow God he uses an experience from what we now consider the Old Testament (their Brass Plates). In just this one instance he refers to the liberating of the Israelites from bondage, the crossing of the Red Sea and destruction of Pharaoh and his army, the manna, water from the rock, the pillar of light and a cloud by day that led and protected them, their subsequent wondering and regeneration before entering the Promised Land, and even the reason for the current residents being expelled from the land. He caps it all off by reminding them that one can either become RIGHTEOUS or RIPE (1 Nephi 17:35).

This is the perfect LIKENING because they are also going to cross the water to enter a Promised Land. But he is not done yet. In verse 41 he likens his brothers to the faithless and fearful Israelites who had to be chastened and “straitened”. Nephi seems surprised that after all that the Lord has done those at Jerusalem are “nearly unto ripeness” (1 Nephi 17:43). He continues to liken Laman and Lemuel to those who are ripening and points out that they are “swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord” (1 Nephi 17:44-45). Nephi’s words seem to infuriate the already agitated brothers, but the Spirit of God protects Nephi much the way it will when Abinadi testifies before the evil king Noah. Unlike in Abinadi’s situation however, Nephi is commanded to “shock” his brethren with a bit of God’s power. It makes sense that the Lord would do this. Being so hard of heart, and so focused on the physical, it seems that the physical is all they will respond to (1 Nephi 17:53-55; 18:20). Interestingly enough, the chapter ends in a very different, yet similar way to its beginning. Laman and Lemuel once again exclaim, “we know“, but this time they are correct in their statements.

Nephi is then instructed by the Lord on how exactly to go about building the ship (1 Nephi 18:1-4), which will become the stage for the next dramatic episode of the dubious Laman and Lemuel (1 Nephi 18:9-20). I guess it is not enough to “know”, we must always act on what we “know” to be right, but first we must make sure that what we “know” IS right.

So what do you “KNOW”, and how does that affect how you ACT? Are you becoming RIGHT or RIPE before God? Remember what Joseph Smith taught the brethren about The Book of Mormon: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” Happy sailing on your personal journey to God’s Promised Land–The Celestial Kingdom!

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#BOMTC Day 6, April 12~1 Nephi 16 or Pages 31-36: “Have Ye Inquired of the Lord?”

#BOMTC Day 6, April 11~1 Nephi 16 (or Pages 31-36) (2)

Click on this graphic to read 1 Nephi 16

We start off with good ol’ Laman and Lemuel in their usual “state of complaint”. Nephi quickly diagnoses their problem as a hard heart (spiritual heart disease), “therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought” (1 Nephi 14:3).

#BOMTC Day 6, April 12~1 Nephi 16 (or Pages 31-36) Spiritual Heart Disease

In 1 Nephi 15:7  Laman and Lemuel were complaining that they “cannot understand” the things that their father, Lehi, had shared with them about his vision of the Tree of Life and his discourse on the Olive Tree (On a side note, in the ancient world an olive tree was very much a “tree of life”. Olive trees provided Israel with food–nourishment, light–vision, healing–life, and anointing–power. Professor Andrew Skinner put it this way, “It was used to worship God as well as to sustain man. The olive tree and its oil were unequivocally regarded as one of the necessities of life. In fact, nothing from the olive tree went unused in the daily life of Israel. The oil from the fruit (the olives) was used for cooking, lighting, medicine, lubrication, and anointing. Those olives not crushed and pressed were pickled in brine and spices and then eaten. The wood of the olive tree was not only used in constructing buildings but also in making furniture, tools, and carvings and even in crafting the shepherd’s crook or staff. In turn, one may truly say that the olive tree was, and continues to be, a staff of life in the Middle East.” See “Autumn, Olives, and the Atonement,” in Religious Educator 1, no. 1 (2000): 107-121). Nephi has one simple, and personally tested, question: “Have ye inquired of the Lord?

#BOMTC Day 6, April 12~1 Nephi 16 (or Pages 31-36) Have Ye Inquired of the Lord

I would like to pause at this point to leave the murmurous brothers and focus on US. By this point we have read 30 pages of The Book of Mormon. HAVE WE INQUIRED OF THE LORD? If there is something that WE have not understood, have WE asked for His help? Before WE read, are WE asking for His blessing and guidance? While WE read, are WE asking Him to manifest its veracity to US? Or have WE read 30 pages of Christ-centered/saturated text and not even once thought to “inquire of the Lord?” (1 Nephi 15:8)

Have WE Inquired of the Lord?

Have WE Inquired of the Lord?

Alright, back to Laman (indeed, a “LAME”-man) and Lemuel… their reply to Nephi’s soul-searching question is one of spiritual immaturity, doubt, and convenience: WHY TRY? They say, “We have not [inquired of the Lord]: for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto US” (1 Nephi 15:9, emphasis added). Well, even if they were right in that assumption (and they are not!), couldn’t they at least try? The wording seems to imply that they believe that the Lord will make it know to others, but not them. Pretty convenient for them–don’t give God a chance and you don’t have to do anything yourself either. People do this all the time today. What “sins of omission” may we be committing by simply putting the blame on God without giving Him a chance?

#BOMTC Day 6, April 12~1 Nephi 16 (or Pages 31-36) Sins of Omission

As President Thomas S. Monson is fond of saying, “If we do not TRY, then we do not DO. And if we do not DO, then why are we here?” Laman and Lemuel can blame God and appear correct, to themselves (as I said, people do it all the time today—it’s just convenient). But to Nephi, and you, and I, this is a “LAME”-man response!

"If we do not try, then we do not do."  ~ President Thomas S. Monson

“If we do not try, then we do not do.”
~ President Thomas S. Monson

Nephi then asks a few soul-searching questions of them and bears his witness that “if” they would sincerely give the Lord a chance, even in their lame and corrupt state, God will “surely” make these things “known” unto them (1 Nephi 15:11). Nephi KNOWS! He then goes on to share with them what he has learned by inquiring of the Lord. In the process we not only learn more ourselves about the vision of the Tree of Life, but also the judgment and justice of God (1 Nephi 15:26-36).

Of course Laman and Lemuel cannot feel very good about themselves after hearing the plain truth of God’s judgment and justice. Instead of changing anything though, they once again complain. “Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear” (1 Nephi 16:1). Wow! Are they serious? It is indeed true that, “the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for [because] it cutteth them to the very center” (1 Nephi 16:2). The truth can either CUT or TOUCH, it just depends on the condition of your HEART. HARD hearts must be CUT; SOFT hearts need only be TOUCHED. I am sure that as you read the truths in chapter 15 you were touched. However, it appears that the same exact same words will CUT those who are of a hard heart (spiritual heart disease). Nephi leaves them with the perfect reflective “If…, then…” statement to ponder, and an invitation to repent (1 Nephi 16:3-4).

Well, the families grow and prepare to move on. But before they leave their temporary residence they are given “means” to guide them. Lehi finds a “round ball of curious workmanship” that “pointed the way” they should go on their journey (1 Nephi 16:10). They would indeed need this divine guide, since the wilderness they were entering was called “Shazer”, meaning “twisting” (1 Nephi 16:13). However, with the help of their guide they were able to not only find their way, but also keep to the “most fertile parts” of the wilderness (1 Nephi 16:14,16).

Painted by Ken Corbett

Painted by Ken Corbett

Once again, we depart from the story for a LIKENING moment to ourselves. What has the Lord given us to guide us through our “twisted” journey here on earth? Many of the brethren have compared this round guide, later identified as being called the Liahona, to God-given guides such as the Holy Ghost, a Patriarchal Blessing, and the Scriptures. And just as the Liahona worked “according to the faith and diligence and heed” they gave to it, we must do the same with “Life’s Liahona’s” that we have been given (1 Nephi 16:28). For, as Nephi said, “thus we see that by SMALL MEANS the Lord can bring about GREAT THINGS (1 Nephi 16:29. See also, Alma 37:6-7—really you need to study the whole chapter of Alma 37 for proper perspective). Are we using “Life’s Liahona’s” to look to the Lord and encounter the “most fertile” parts of the “twisted” wilderness that this world seems to place in front of us?

Laman and Lemuel would not look to the Lord and inquire. Lehi temporarily lost sight of the Lord (1 Nephi 16:20-27). Nephi’s questions properly persuade people to look to the Lord and inquire of Him (1 Nephi 15:8; 16:23).

By the time we come to the end of chapter 16, we find that Nephi was right all along and Laman and Lemuel are left without excuse, because even as they reach an extreme state of rebellion “the voice of the Lord came and did speak many words unto them [Laman and Lemuel], and did chasten them exceedingly” (1 Nephi 16:39). I guess God has left them without excuse and convenience. The fact of the matter is that the Lord did make such things “known unto” them, and they can never deny it. LOOK TO THE LORD! D&C 6:36-37.

NOTE: It was one year previous to this date, on April 12, 1828 in Harmony, Pennsylvania that Martin Harris returned to Joseph Smith’s home (in Harmony), where he began to help with the translation of the 116 Book of Mormon pages from the book of Lehi that were later lost. I find it very interesting that it was during pretty much the same time period in 1828 (mid-April to mid-June) Joseph and Martin translated the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon known to us as the Book of Lehi. Just one year later, Joseph would translate the entire remaining unsealed portion of the Book of Mormon in almost the same amount of time, but with even greater persecution and interruptions. Here is a brief summary from the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home Study Seminary Students of what led up to this point:

From mid-April to mid-June 1828, the Prophet Joseph Smith was translating the gold plates while living in Harmony, Pennsylvania. A wealthy farmer and businessman named Martin Harris was acting as scribe while Joseph translated the Book of Mormon. Martin was 22 years older than Joseph and had given Joseph and Emma $50 (which was a substantial amount of money at that time) to relocate to Harmony, where Emma’s family lived, thus helping to support Joseph while he translated the plates. In February 1828, Joseph allowed Martin to take copies of characters from the plates to be authenticated by two professors in New York City (see Joseph Smith—History 1:63–65). Lucy Harris, Martin’s wife, had become increasingly concerned about Martin’s interest and financial involvement in the translation of the plates. She and others began to pressure Martin for evidence of the plates’ existence. To satisfy their concerns, in mid-June Martin requested that Joseph allow him to take the 116 pages of manuscript they had completed to show as evidence.

For some very insightful and informative information on the topic of the translation and the lost manuscript, see the HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION to D&C 10 in the Joseph Smith Paper project.

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