After the stirring words of King Benjamin, his son, Mosiah, begins his reign. Mosiah sends a search party after a group of Nephites who had left many years earlier and were never heard from again. They had desired to inherit the land of Nephi, the land of their father’s inheritance. When they are located, we learn that they have their own records that they kept since their departure and that they have also found 24 plates written in a language they don’t understand.
What stood out to me, is that this whole experience occurs because two individuals choose to believe stories that are not correct. This leads to many lives being lost over the course of three generations.
A simple model illustrates how we make this same mistake on a regular basis, and it helps us to discover what to do to avoid such mistakes. It is best to write this model down before I explain it. Here it is:
Observe –> Story –> Emotions –> Actions.
Now I will try to briefly explain the model so that you can recognize how it works in your life. As we observe something through our senses, we take in filtered information and begin to process it. As we organize and process what we observe we begin to tell ourselves a story to make sense of what we observed. If we are not careful in our observations, we cause ourselves to create a story based on limited or false information. The stories we tell ourselves create emotions. Our emotions can cause us to take certain actions. This is one reason why when one watches a movie it can cause terror and tears even though they know it is “just a movie” and the people are “just acting”. One can tell themselves over and over that its “just a movie” and still act/respond in a way that they don’t want/expect.
This process is a constant in our lives, and can both help us and hurt us. We must have the facts/truth for this model to help us. Without the truth we tell ourselves the wrong story, which creates the wrong emotions, which lead to the wrong actions, and eventually the wrong ending. So we have to be VERY careful about the stories we tell ourselves. And since this all originates with the observations we make, we must be EVEN MORE CAREFUL to evaluate the validity of our observations to determine the truth (D&C 93:24
). We must be “quick to observe” (Mormon 1:2
), and careful to make “righteous judgment” (John 7:24
). This is just one of many reasons that we need the Gift of the Holy Ghost
to help us discern
between truth and error each day (Jacob 4:13
; Moroni 10:5
; see also Judgment
). We need to slow down our “story” making process and evaluate our “observations” to make sure that they are correct and based in truth, otherwise we may become “overzealous” (Mosiah 7:21
) and make decisions that lead to tragedy.
Reflect on your life and how this process works. Can you remember a time when you were hurt because of limited or false observations? Can you remember a time when you averted the wrong actions because you took time to get all the information and make the correct observation of the situation or person?
When you understand this process you may understand these pages in the book of Mosiah
with more clarity and discover a very important principle to help you avoid similar mistakes–even mistakes that could affect several generations. I will give you some verses that describe how Zeniff
and King Laman
were both hurt by this process. I will also share some verses that show how Zeniff averted making another bad mistake simply by taking enough time to make the proper observation.
Here are the verses that illustrate what limited/false observations can do: Mosiah 9:1-10
. It is well worth the time to study these verses with this model in mind. We constantly make bad choices for the same reasons.
is a great illustration of the importance of taking enough time and caution to make sure that your observations are based on TRUTH. The Truth will cause you to create the correct story, which can lead to the appropriate emotions, which can then help you to choose the right (CTR) actions/response. Right observations lead to creating right stories. Wrong observations lead to creating wrong stories. Choosing the right story leads to choosing the right actions, and choosing the right actions leads to the right ending!
To help you create the correct “story” of the next few readings (Mosiah 7-24
), I will include some illustrations provided by the Church Educational System for you to “observe”.
Sometime after King Mosiah I
(the father of King Benjamin) arrived in Zarahemla, a group of people wanted to go back to the land of Nephi. The first group that went failed because of contention (see Omni 1:27–28
). A second group, led by Zeniff, succeeded in establishing a settlement in the land of Lehi-Nephi (see Omni 1:29–30
; Mosiah 7:9, 21
). About 50 years later, King Mosiah II
sent a group under the leadership of Ammon
to find out what happened to Zeniff’s people (see Mosiah 7:1–6
It is helpful to remember that Mosiah 1–8
is Mormon’s abridgment of the record of Mosiah and contains the story of the Nephites in Zarahemla until the reign of Mosiah II
. Mosiah 9–22
is taken from the record of Zeniff and tells the story of the Nephites who left Zarahemla at the time of Mosiah I
and followed Zeniff back to the land of Lehi-Nephi.
In Mosiah 7–9
we read that Mosiah II sent an expedition, led by Ammon, to find out what happened to Zeniff’s colony, which had left Zarahemla over 50 years earlier. Ammon found Zeniff’s grandson, King Limhi, and his people in bondage to the Lamanites. In Mosiah 21
, we read about the coming of Ammon and his men from Limhi’s point of view.
- After Lehi’s death, the Lord commanded the followers of Nephi to separate from the followers of Laman. The Nephites settled in a land that they called the land of Nephi (2 Nephi 5:5–8). The land was later also known as “the land of Lehi-Nephi” (Mosiah 7:1).
- About 400 years later the Nephites were led by a king named Mosiah. The Lord commanded Mosiah to flee from the land of Nephi with “as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord.” Mosiah and his people discovered a group of people called the people of Zarahemla. The two groups of people united and called themselves Nephites. Mosiah was appointed to be their king (Omni 1:12–19).
- A group of Nephites left the land of Zarahemla to regain part of the land of Nephi (Omni 1:27). They obtained land there under the leadership of a man named Zeniff, who became their king (Mosiah 9:1–7).
- About 79 years later King Mosiah II, the grandson of the first King Mosiah, “was desirous to know concerning the people who went to dwell in the land of Lehi-Nephi.” He permitted a man named Ammon to lead an expedition for this purpose (note that this Ammon was not the son of Mosiah who later preached the gospel among the Lamanites). Ammon and his brethren found King Limhi and his people. Limhi was Zeniff’s grandson (Mosiah 7:1–11).