Tag Archives: prophets

#BOMTC 1 Nephi 16: “Have [WE] Inquired of the Lord?”

We start off today’s reading 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 are complaining that they “cannot understand” the things that their father, Lehi, 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:

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

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 then 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 us or TOUCH us, it just depends on the condition of our 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 in 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 God-given 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 divine guide, later identified and 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 nor inquire of Him. Lehi temporarily lost sight of the Lord as well (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).

A couple articles that may interest you and go well with these chapters are:

DON’T FORGET TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS…

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:
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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 14-15: “Plain and Precious Things”

Some people may ask you why we need the Book of Mormon when we already have the Bible. In fact, Jesus Christ even testified that this would happen (see 2 Nephi 29:3). There are many reasons why the Book of Mormon is important in our day (for example, see 2 Nephi 29:7–11). Tad R. Callister, a former Sunday School General President and President of the Presidency of the Seventy, explained one important reason:

“The Bible is one witness of Jesus Christ; the Book of Mormon is another. Why is this second witness so crucial? The following illustration may help: How many straight lines can you draw through a single point on a piece of paper? The answer is infinite.

“For a moment, suppose that single point represents the Bible and that hundreds of those straight lines drawn through that point represent different interpretations of the Bible and that each of those interpretations represents a different church. What happens, however, if on that piece of paper there is a second point representing the Book of Mormon? How many straight lines could you draw between these two reference points: the Bible and the Book of Mormon? Only one. Only one interpretation of Christ’s doctrines survives the testimony of these two witnesses. Again and again the Book of Mormon acts as a confirming, clarifying, unifying witness of the doctrines taught in the Bible.” (“The Book of Mormon—a Book from God,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2011, 75).

#BOMTC Day 5, April 11~1 Nephi 14-15 (or Pages 25-30) Bible and Book of Mormon

Nephi’s vision of the Tree of Life identifies the “mist” that would affect the people of the latter days from seeing the “Lamb of God/Tree of Life“. The “mist” in the vision “blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men” (1 Nephi 12:17). Nephi was taught by the Spirit of the Lord that Satan tries to “blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men” by having “plain and precious” teachings “taken away” from the Bible (1 Nephi 13:24-29,32). The Spirit also taught Nephi that the Bible (the record of the Jews) contained the covenants of the Lord and many prophesies of the holy prophets, was of great worth, and contained the fullness of the gospel. Then many “plain and precious things from” the Bible began to be “taken away” (1 Nephi 13:40). Nephi was taught about another book (the Book of Mormon) that would be written by his seed and would restore the “plain and precious” things that had been “taken away”–a book that would be “hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles by the gift and power of the Lamb” (1 Nephi 13:35).

The Book of Mormon Builds Faith in the Bible

The Book of Mormon teaches plainly of the doctrine of Christ and restores the fulness of the gospel to the earth once again (see 1 Nephi 13:38–41). For example, the Book of Mormon helps us know that baptism must be performed by immersion (see 3 Nephi 11:26) and that little children do not need to be baptized (see Moroni 8:4–26 and Why We Need the Book of Mormon, New Era, April 2013. At the bottom of that article you will find other helpful video clips and links).

The Bible and the Book of Mormon work together as companion witnesses of Jesus Christ–The Lamb of God–and testify that “all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved… for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth” (1 Nephi 13:40-41). To add to this witness, chapter 14 teaches about the Apostle John, by name, and speaks of his future writings, explaining that “the things which he shall write are just and true” (1 Nephi 14:23, 27). The scriptures are our “de-MIST-ifiers”. They are the Iron Rod to which we must hold tight (1 Nephi 8:30). We must never allow Satan to “blind” us by keeping us from the “plain and precious” scriptures that are “just and true”!

Remember the great truths taught by President Russell M. Nelson regarding the Book of Mormon:

My dear brothers and sisters, I testify that the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God. It contains the answers to life’s most compelling questions. It teaches the doctrine of Christ. It expands and clarifies many of the “plain and precious” truths that were lost through centuries of time and numerous translations of the Bible.

The Book of Mormon provides the fullest and most authoritative understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to be found anywhere. It teaches what it really means to be born again. From the Book of Mormon we learn about the gathering of scattered Israel. We know why we are here on earth. These and other truths are more powerfully and persuasively taught in the Book of Mormon than in any other book. The full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is contained in the Book of Mormon. Period.

The Book of Mormon both illuminates the teachings of the Master and exposes the tactics of the adversary. The Book of Mormon teaches true doctrine to dispel false religious traditions—such as the erroneous practice of performing infant baptisms. The Book of Mormon gives purpose to life by urging us to ponder the potential of eternal life and “never-ending happiness.” The Book of Mormon shatters the false beliefs that happiness can be found in wickedness and that individual goodness is all that is required to return to the presence of God. It abolishes forever the false concepts that revelation ended with the Bible and that the heavens are sealed today.

When I think of the Book of Mormon, I think of the word power. The truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console, and cheer our souls.

My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions.

Whenever I hear anyone, including myself, say, “I know the Book of Mormon is true,” I want to exclaim, “That’s nice, but it is not enough!” We need to feel, deep in “the inmost part” of our hearts, that the Book of Mormon is unequivocally the word of God. We must feel it so deeply that we would never want to live even one day without it. I might paraphrase President Brigham Young in saying, “I wish I had the voice of seven thunders to wake up the people” to the truth and power of the Book of Mormon. (“The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?Ensign, Nov. 2017.)

A couple articles that may interest you and go well with these chapters are:

Think about how your life is different because you have the Book of Mormon and consider SHARING:

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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 11-13: “Behold the Lamb of God”

I know that most people would probably expect to see the picture of Nephi’s vision of the Tree of Life, but I chose a picture that represents the whole reason for the vision. The image below is definitely “worth a thousand words”. (Hopefully it’s not too graphic for you.)

Powerful image of the Lamb of God. Take a closer look to see why. (Scapegoat Studio - Behold the Lamb of God by Jonathan Mayer)

Powerful image of the Lamb of God. Take a closer look to see why. (Behold the Lamb of God, Jonathan Mayer)

Why this image? Well I couldn’t help but notice how often the “Lamb of God” was referred to during Nephi’s vision. A quick list of references will illustrate:

WOW! And it doesn’t stop there… keep looking in 1 Nephi 14 and you will find it another 17 times! Jesus Christ is the “Lamb” that was slain for us (see Isaiah 53), and Nephi wants us to KNOW IT!

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God

Dr. David Bokovoy, a colleague who studied at Brandeis University, taught me about something called “leitwort” (leading/theme word)–the intentional use of a word, over and over again to highlight a theme within a text (many examples are found in the Bible and other Hebrew texts). Without a doubt (to me), Nephi’s use of the “Lamb of God” is to bring us back, over and over, to the central figure of the vision of the Tree of Life—Jesus Christ—so that we don’t get lost in the vision–like so many others literally did.

The Lamb of God suffers in Gethsemane.

The Lamb of God suffers in Gethsemane.

By the time Nephi’s vision ends in chapter 14, one will have read the word “Lamb” over 43 times. That is some serious “Leitwort”! This is indeed an indicator of the leitwort that makes up The Book of Mormon—Jesus Christ.

Red highlights reference Jesus Christ. Click the photo to find out more.

Red highlights reference Jesus Christ. Click the photo to find out more.

My wife, Hilary, once read the entire Book of Mormon and marked each reference to Jesus Christ by His many titles. She would tally the total at the end of each page. It is incredible to flip through the pages, with so much marked, and realize that she was only marking references made to the Savior. Perhaps you have done the same.

I was so inspired by just flipping through the pages of my wife’s marked-up copy of the Book of Mormon that I decided to do the same. This was THE BEST experience that I have had to date of studying the Book of Mormon. I was not only amazed that what I learned about my Savior Jesus Christ, but I was astonished by how much I was able to see and learn that I had never grasped before in the Book of Mormon as I focused on the Savior. I invite you to do the same if you have never tried this exercise in studying the Book of Mormon. For more on this and a helpful chart visit my post “SEEK THIS JESUS“.

"Finding Christ in the Book of Mormon". Click on the pic for more info.

“Finding Christ in the Book of Mormon”. Click on the pic for more info.

A study conducted by Dr. Susan Easton Black determined that 101 names for Jesus are found in 3,925 references in the Book of Mormon’s 6,607 verses–an average of once every 1.7 verses–from the first reference to Him as “Lord” (1 Ne. 1:1) to the final name of “Eternal Judge” (Moro. 10:34).

Don’t forget about leitwort as you continue studying the Book of Mormon. Leitwort can help you identify the intent of the author and the message that they wished to convey. The videos below will be very helpful for those seeking to understand the connection between lambs and the Lamb of God. Happy reading!

Aprons of Fig Leaves and Coats of Skins

After partaking of the forbiden fruit, Adam and Eve attempted to cover their sins by making aprons of fig leaves. However, the Lord in His infinite mercy, instead covered them with beautiful coats of skins that protected them, gave them warmth, and would remind them of the atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ.

Sacrifice and Sacrament

A man goes back in time to teach his younger self about the purposes of sacrifice and sacrament. By understanding the symbolism of animal sacrifice in the Old Testament, we come to realize its similarity to the sacrament—to remember the Savior and to commit ourselves to him.

Yom Kippur Reenactment

A reenactment of Yom Kippur (the day of atonement) the most holy day in the Jewish year. On this day the High Priest entered the Holy place and sprinkled blood from the sacrifice on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. Only the High Priest could enter this room, and only blood can cover sin “…it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” Leviticus 17:11. And the High Priest could only enter this room one day a year, Yom Kippur.

Sacrifices & Offerings of the Law of Moses

Video adapted from a filmstrip produced by the Church Education System (CES) in 1980 about the Law of Sacrifice. It is one of the better discussions I have seen on the Law of Moses and Jesus Christ.

A couple articles that may interest you and go well with these chapters are:

DON’T FORGET TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS…

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:
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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 7-10: Desirous that My Family Should Partake

Lehi Exhorts His Posterity to Righteousness by Philip Leaning

Lehi Exhorts His Posterity to Righteousness by Philip Leaning

Today’s reading from 1 Nephi 7-10 reminds me of the Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham. In this case however, it is the patriarch-prophet Lehi who is desirous that his family partake of the fruit of the tree of life. He experiences the sweetness and joy of the fruit of the tree of life and he wants his loved ones to “partake of the fruit” and experience the same happiness that it brought him.

#BOMTC Day 3, April 9~1 Nephi 7-10 (or Pages 13-18) Lehi Enjoys the Fruit of the Tree of Life

This is the same reason that I put so much effort into creating the Book of Mormon Translation Challenge. I love the Book of Mormon! Every time that I read it I feel the same way that Lehi felt when he describes the fruit from the Tree of Life: desirable to make one happy”, “sweet”, “filled my soul with exceedingly great joy”, “desirable.

Lehi eats of the fruit of the Tree of Life

Lehi eats of the fruit of the Tree of Life

As Another Testament of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon brings us to THE Tree of Life–Jesus Christ. HE is what makes the book a source of happiness, sweetness, joy, etc. My desire, like Lehi’s, is that my family and friends will “come… and partake of the fruit which is desirable above all other fruit”. By making the Book of Mormon a regular part of daily scripture study they can more fully come unto Christ–the source of all goodness.

So now I play the same roll as Dr. Seuss’, “Sam I Am”, but instead of Green Eggs and Ham, I invite people to try reading the Book of Mormon. “You do not like [it]. SO you say. Try [it]! Try [it]! And you may. Try [it] and you may, I say.” WILL YOU TRY IT???

Click here to visit a blog with a complete version of Green Eggs and Ham adapted to Brother Lurch and the Mormon Church

Click here to visit a blog with a complete version of Green Eggs and Ham adapted to become, “Brother Lurch and the Mormon Church”

Here is just one thing that you will learn to love about the Book of Mormon if you try it: These pages testify over and over of the Messiah!

Before reading on, please take a moment to study the painting below, “Tree of Life” by Chelsea Speirs. I know we don’t usually use the word “study” when we talk about artwork but we should. Artists are trying to tell us something in their work the same way that an author is trying to tell us something with their words. What is Chelsea trying to tell us? What do you notice about The Tree? What do you notice about the fruit? What do you notice about the stance of the girl? What else to do notice? Why did Chelsea depict these things this way; what is she trying to help us learn about the gospel?

#BOMTC Day 3, April 9~1 Nephi 7-10 (or Pages 13-18) Tree of Life IS Jesus Christ by Chelsea Spears

The Messiah is at first seen in Lehi’s vision as a Tree, the Tree of Life (see 1 Nephi 8:10). Lehi is well aware of the Messiah’s ministry and mission even before this time (see 1 Nephi 1:9,19). Lehi has a vision in which the Tree of Life–the Messiah–is the focal point. Everything is taught in relation to the Tree. It is the point of reference for all other things in the vision (see 1 Nephi 8:13,19,20,21,22,24,30). His description of the fruit that the Tree bears is quite descriptive of what the Messiah offers all who will come unto Him (see 1 Nephi 8:10-12). Lehi’s only desire after partaking of the Messiah’s fruit is to share it with his family (see 1 Nephi 8:12,15).

#BOMTC Day 3, April 9~1 Nephi 7-10 (or Pages 13-18) Tree of Life (2)

After he relates the vision of the Tree of Life (the Messiah) to his family, he testifies with great clarity and power to them of the coming of the Messiah and the events surrounding His ministry and mission (Note the use of the word Messiah in 1 Ne 10:4,5,6,7,9,10,11,14,17).

#BOMTC Day 3, April 9~1 Nephi 7-10 (or Pages 13-18) Tree of Life (5)

Terms such as “Messiah”, referring to Jesus Christ, are used every 1.7 verses in the Book of Mormon (every 1.3 in 1 Nephi!). It is indeed “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”!

Don’t miss the beautiful online art exhibit, The Vision of the Tree of Life

Tree of Life by Chelsea Speirs

Tree of Life by Chelsea Speirs

What did you learn in those pages? Comment below!

A couple articles that may interest you that go well with these chapters are:

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed from 1 Nephi 1-10 at one of the following sites:
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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 4-6: The Importance and Value of the Scriptures

1 Nephi 4-6 is an illustration of the importance of the scriptures in our lives, and their value is demonstrated as several lives are “on the line” for the Plates of Brass.

The Lord sent Lehi’s sons through the wilderness, back to Jerusalem, to obtain the Brass Plates (1 Nephi 3:3,19-20; 4:14-17; 5:10-17). These Records were so important that a man had to lose his life so that a nation could be saved (1 Nephi 4:13).

When the Brass Plates were retrieved, the first thing that Lehi did after giving thanks to the Lord (1 Nephi 5:9) was to “search them from the beginning” (1 Nephi 5:10). As he searched the scriptures “he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy” (1 Nephi 5:17). I know that we too will be “filled with the Spirit” as we “search” the scriptures with the same desire.

Developing a Love for the Scriptures

I experience this “Scripture Power” each time that I put forth the effort to read God’s Holy Word. As Lehi, I have also “found that they [are] desirable; yea, even of great worth” in my life (1 Nephi 5:21). And as Nephi testifies, I also bear witness that “it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us” as we journey towards our Eternal Promised Land (1 Nephi 5:22).

Lehi studies the Brass Plates

Lehi studies the Brass Plates

It is obvious that the Lord is trying to help us understand the great worth of the Word of God. As you and I study the Book of Mormon we will surely receive an added witness of the power that the Lord intends to bless us with through His scriptures.

NOTE: Recall that after Lehi’s sons had returned with the Brass Plates, the very first thing that the family did was “offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel” (1 Nephi 5:9). 

It was only after they had given thanks unto the God of Israel that “Lehi, took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and he did search them from the beginning.” (1 Nephi 5:10-11) Now I am pretty positive that a large part of the thanks that was being offered to God was gratitude for the safe return of their sons. But it seems to me that they were probably pretty grateful that they had the scriptures as well. I would like to extend a similar invitation to all those studying the Book of Mormon, or any scripture. Meaningful scripture study will require some type of sacrifice on our part. You have probably already realized that. But it would be well for us to begin our daily scripture study with a prayer of thanks and plea for help.

Ponder & Pray with Scripture Study

Perhaps you already do this, but if not, please consider the following counsel from President Dallin H. Oaks:

“There’s one thing that I’ve learned about scripture study… and that is that it is a great mistake to try to read the scriptures like you read a magazine or a newspaper. What I refer to is the fact that I pick up a newspaper and I just read it, or I pick up a magazine or a textbook and I just read it. But when I pick up the scriptures, I’m picking up the word of God, written by prophets under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord. Those should never be read without praying over them first.

“When I go to the table to eat, I don’t take physical nourishment without asking the Lord to bless that food to nourish and strengthen my body. Similarly, I think when we study the scriptures, we should bow our head and pray—often it would be silently because of the surroundings—but we would pray that the Lord would bless us that we’d be able to understand what we’re reading and that the act of reading the scriptures would summon the Spirit of the Lord to guide us on things other than simply the meaning of what we’re reading. In this way the scriptures can be a Urim and Thummim to help us receive revelation. But it begins with prayer; it doesn’t begin with reading, like a newspaper or a magazine.” (“A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks,” Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Broadcast, August 7, 2012)

We PRAY before EATING.

Why not PRAY before READING?

Scripture study is an example of the principle that, “You get out of it only as much as you are willing to put in to it.” President Spencer W. Kimball illustrated this principle with this simple analogy:

Mr. Conrad N. Hilton of the Hilton Hotel chain… told about a plain bar of iron being worth about five dollars. But that same iron, if made into horseshoes, would be worth $10.50. If it were made into needles, it would be worth $3,285. And if turned into balance springs for watches, its worth would be over $250,000.

Apparently the value of the raw iron is only what it costs to process it from the hill. Its greater value is determined by what is made of it. (“On Cheating Yourself,” New Era, April 1972.)

Similarly, the value of our scripture study is measured much the same as as how the value of iron is determined. Remember, “The iron rod is the word of God” (see Hymns, 274 – The Iron Rod and 1 Nephi 11:25). You and I can treat the scriptures like nothing more than raw iron through casual reading, or we can carefully polish our scripture study to a high degree and make our it more valuable. The value of our scripture study is determined by what we make of it.

Do you remember Tevye, the poor milkman in the musical Fiddler on the Roof who  dreamed of being rich? You may recall a fun song from that musical, “If I Were a Rich Man“.  What would you hope for if you were rich? There is an interesting line of reasoning in that song that Tevye related to scripture that most people tend to gloss-over as they sing along. As you watch it, listen to the lyrics, and maybe sing along, and see if you can catch what Tevye says about scripture that most people miss.

Did you catch it? What is his fondest dream, if he were to strike it rich?

“If I were rich I’d have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray
And maybe have a seat by the eastern wall.
And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men
Seven hours ev’ry day.
This would be the sweetest thing of all.”

Sister Susan W. Tanner, a previous Young Women general president taught this in relation to Tevye’s melodious desire to study the scriptures:

If you were rich, would you spend your free time studying the “holy books,” or the scriptures, for several hours a day? If you were rich, would the sweetest joy that you could imagine be to have more time for intensive scripture study?

To study holy books is regarded by Orthodox Jews as a sweet blessing and a great privilege. In fact, in some Jewish traditions, when the child was to start his education in the Torah, a taste of honey was given to the student so that he would associate the study of the holy books with sweetness. This was intended to reinforce what it says in Psalms:

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

Similarly, Psalm 19 compares the scriptures to gold and honey. The Psalmist beautifully exults in the word of the Lord, as follows:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7–11)

All of these terms in this scripture—law, testimony, statutes, commandments, fear (or reverence), and judgments—are synonyms for the word of the Lord, or scriptures. They are “more to be desired . . . than gold, yea, than much fine gold: [and] sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

I sometimes think that we should feel more like Tevye… Are the scriptures delicious to us—as precious as gold and sweeter than honey? Do we feast on them, delight in them, and ponder them as Nephi taught? (See 2 Nephi 4:15–16.) Do we liken them unto ourselves as Jacob counseled? (See 2 Nephi 6:5.) Do we search them for the Lord’s specific words to us—bringing conversion, wisdom, enlightenment, revelation, comfort, and rejoicing? Do we recognize them as one of the sweetest, most sublime blessings we have? (Scriptures—More Precious Than Gold and Sweeter Than Honey, September 11, 2005.)

These sentiments were echoed by in his talk, “The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?” He began by relating the following story and teaching an important truth related to the value of the scriptures in our lives:

In 1986, I was invited to give a special lecture at a university in Accra, Ghana. There I met a number of dignitaries, including an African tribal king. As we visited prior to the lecture, the king spoke to me only through his linguist, who then translated for me. I responded to the linguist, and the linguist then translated my responses to the king.

After my lecture, the king made his way directly to me, but this time without his linguist. To my surprise, he spoke in perfect English—the Queen’s English, I might add!

The king seemed puzzled. “Just who are you?” he asked.

I replied, “I am an ordained Apostle of Jesus Christ.”

The king asked, “What can you teach me about Jesus Christ?”

I responded with a question: “May I ask what you already know about Him?”

The king’s response revealed he was a serious student of the Bible and one who loved the Lord.

I then asked if he knew about the ministry of Jesus Christ to the people of ancient America.

As I expected, he did not.

I explained that after the Savior’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, He came to the people of ancient America, where He taught His gospel. He organized His Church and asked His disciples to keep a record of His ministry among them.

“That record,” I continued, “is what we know as the Book of Mormon. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. It is a companion scripture to the Holy Bible.”

At this point, the king became very interested. I turned to the mission president accompanying me and asked if he had an extra copy of the Book of Mormon with him. He pulled one from his briefcase.

I opened it to 3 Nephi chapter 11, and together the king and I read the Savior’s sermon to the Nephites. I then presented the copy of the Book of Mormon to him. His response lodged in my mind and heart forever: “You could have given me diamonds or rubies, but nothing is more precious to me than this additional knowledge about the Lord Jesus Christ.

After experiencing the power of the Savior’s words in 3 Nephi, the king proclaimed, “If I am converted and join the Church, I will bring my whole tribe with me.”

“Oh, King,” I said, “it doesn’t work that way. Conversion is an individual matter. The Savior ministered to the Nephites one by one. Each individual receives a witness and testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

My brothers and sisters, how precious is the Book of Mormon to you? If you were offered diamonds or rubies or the Book of Mormon, which would you choose? Honestly, which is of greater worth to you? (Emphasis added.)

One of my FAVORITE stories from the Old Testament tells of the importance and value that a king named Josiah placed on the scriptures.

Josiah was only eight years old when he began to reign in Judah, and although his immediate progenitors were extremely wicked, the scriptures tell us that “he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.” (2 Kings 22:2.) This is all the more surprising when we learn that by that time (just two generations before the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.) the written law of Moses had been lost and was virtually unknown, even among the priests of the temple!

But in the eighteenth year of his reign, Josiah directed that the temple be repaired. At that time Hilkiah, the high priest, found the book of the law, which Moses had placed in the ark of the covenant, and delivered it to King Josiah.

When the book of the law was read to Josiah, he “rent his clothes” and wept before the Lord.

Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us,” he said, “because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.” (2 Kings 22:13.)

The king then read the book before all the people, and at that time they all made a covenant to obey all the Lord’s commandments “with all their heart and all their soul.” (2 Kings 23:3.) Then Josiah proceeded to clean up the kingdom of Judah, removing all the idols, the groves, the high places, and all the abominations that had accumulated during the reign of his fathers, defiling the land and its people. …

And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.” (2 Kings 23:25.)

I feel strongly that we must all of us return to the scriptures just as King Josiah did and let them work mightily within us, impelling us to an unwavering determination to serve the Lord.

Josiah had the law of Moses only. In our scriptures we have the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness; and if a taste is sweet, in fulness there is joy.

The Lord is not trifling with us when he gives us these things, for “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” (Luke 12:48.) Access to these things means responsibility for them. We must study the scriptures according to the Lord’s commandment (see 3 Ne. 23:1–5); and we must let them govern our lives and the lives of our children. (“Chapter 6: Discovering the Scriptures for Ourselves,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball (2006), 59–68. See also “Josiah—Believer in the Scriptures,” Friend, Feb. 1998.)

4 SCRIPTURE STUDY TIPS

Scriptures Legacy

Preserving the Scriptures

Reading the Scriptures

Understanding the Importance of Scripture

How to Use the LDS Scripture Study Aids

A couple articles that may interest you that go well with these chapters are:

DON’T FORGET TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS…

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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 1-3: It Begins with a FAMILY

IT BEGINS WITH A FAMILY!

#BOMTC Day 1, April 7~1 Nephi 1-3 (or_Pages_1-6) Silly Simon Family

It seems that God has a pattern, and it involves families:

As a father and husband, I have many lessons to learn in 1 Nephi 1-3 about my own involvement in my family. You may not be a father or a husband, but you are a member of a family–wife, mother, daughter/son, sister/brother, aunt/uncle, grandma/grandpa, etc.–and God has lessons for you in these chapters of the Book of Mormon. There are many more lessons in these chapters as well that relate to you as a son or daughter of God.

Something to keep in mind is that the book of 1 Nephi must be understood in the context of the book of Jeremiah. If you have not read the book of Jeremiah, then I would encourage you to study the all of the footnotes in 1 Nephi 1-3 that reference Jeremiah.

#BOMTC Day 1, April 7~1 Nephi 1-3 (or Pages 1-6) Lehi Preaching in Jerusalem

What lesson can one learn about God and His Plan when we consider the contrasting lives and missions of two of the Lord’s “many prophets” (1 Nephi 1:4) testifying in Jerusalem at that time? In 1 Nephi 2 we learn that Lehi is to leave Jerusalem with his family and “depart into the wilderness” (1 Nephi 2:1-4). According to our record, it isn’t until v. 20 that Nephi is informed of a “Land of Promise” and a foreshadowing of the events of the entire Book of Mormon history.

#BOMTC Day 1, April 7~1 Nephi 1-3 (or Pages 1-6) Lehi's Family Leaves Jerusalem

The phrase, “Let us be faithful in keeping the commandments” (1 Nephi 3:16,21;4:1), seems to be a prevailing principle in these pages. Those at Jerusalem had not been “faithful in keeping the commandments”, and were about to lose their promised land. The key to residency in the Lord’s promised land(s) has always been, and will always be, obedience to the commandments of the Lord. Lehi and Nephi have both heard the Lord teach this lesson personally to them (1 Nephi 2:1,19). Now they are trying to help others realize the same blessings in their lives.

#BOMTC Day 1, April 7~1 Nephi 1-3 (or Pages 1-6) Jeremiah and Jerusalem

Jeremiah, on the other hand, will be faithful to the Lord’s command given him to stay at Jerusalem, not have his family, continue to be persecuted throughout his life, and be killed by those he tried so hard to serve and save.

So many amazing insights in just the first six pages of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ!

Don’t miss the beautiful online art exhibit, The Journey of Lehi’s Family
Lehi Exhorts His Posterity to Righteousness by Philip Leaning

Lehi Exhorts His Posterity to Righteousness by Philip Leaning

KnoWhy: See the following for some great additional insights on these chapters.

DON’T FORGET TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS…

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:
REPLY at the bottom of each post at: bookofmormontranslationchallenge.wordpress.com
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#BOMTC Moroni 1-7: Moroni’s Handbook of Instructions

#BOMTC Day 83, June 28~Moroni 1-7 or Pages 519-524, Handbook

I really wish that this post on Moroni 1-7 were something that we could just sit down together and discuss, with our scriptures open, ready to learn from each other.

From what I have observed, some people don’t really seem to appreciate these chapters of the Book of Mormon. So, I want to take a moment and look back at the chapter headings and consider what a “gold mine” we have in these small chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Moroni writes for the benefit of the Lamanites—The Nephites who will not deny Christ are put to death.
  • Chapter 2: Jesus gave the twelve Nephite disciples power to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  • Chapter 3: Elders ordain priests and teachers by the laying on of hands.
  • Chapter 4: How elders and priests administer the sacramental bread is explained.
  • Chapter 5: The mode of administering the sacramental wine is set forth.
  • Chapter 6: Repentant persons are baptized and fellowshipped—Church members who repent are forgiven—Meetings are conducted by the power of the Holy Ghost.
  • Chapter 7: An invitation is given to enter into the rest of the Lord—Pray with real intent—The Spirit of Christ enables men to know good from evil—Satan persuades men to deny Christ and do evil—The prophets manifest the coming of Christ—By faith, miracles are wrought and angels minister—Men should hope for eternal life and cleave unto charity. About A.D. 401–421.

Do you see what I mean? That is not “milk” of the gospel type stuff; that is serious “meat and potatoes” gospel stuff. Sure, it may seem common place to us now, BUT that is only because Moroni put it there in the first place so many of us have known it most of our lives!

Sometimes we don’t realize the value of what we have because we have always had it. What we are really looking at in these chapters is what Moroni knew was essential, and he knew that these essentials were not yet found in the Book of Mormon. Indeed they are just as Moroni had hoped–they have been, and are, of great “worth” (Moroni 1:4).

Let’s see how these seemingly common-place teachings helped to bring about the marvelous restoration of Christ’s church in the latter days.

As I wrote in the title of this blog post, I like to refer to these chapters as, “Moroni’s Handbook of Instructions”. This handbook has both ecclesiastical and personal application. Let’s first take a look at the ecclesiastical aspect of it.

In Doctrine and Covenants 18:1-5 we find a “commandment” that was given to Oliver Cowdery. See if you can discover what that commandment was by taking a good look at those verses.

Now, behold, because of the thing which you, my servant Oliver Cowdery, have desired to know of me, I give unto you these words:

Behold, I have manifested unto you, by my Spirit in many instances, that the things which you have written are true; wherefore you know that they are true.

And if you know that they are true, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written;

For in them are all things written concerning the foundation of my church, my gospel, and my rock.

Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

Alright, so what was the “commandment” that Oliver was given? Yes, you can see the word “commandment” in verse 3, but you need to use verses 4-5 to really understand why he needed to “rely upon the things which are written“.

Let me review those verses with you again with a little added commentary:

Now, behold, because of the thing which you, my servant Oliver Cowdery, have desired to know of me, I give unto you these words:

Behold, I have manifested unto you, by my Spirit in many instances, that the things which you have written [the Book of Mormon] are true; wherefore you know that they [the things which you have written in the Book of Mormon] are true.

And if you know that they are true, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written [in the Book of Mormon];

For in them [the things which you have written in the Book of Mormon] are all things written concerning the foundation of my church, my gospel, and my rock.

Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock [the things which you have written in the Book of Mormon], the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

The verse summary of D&C 18 also gives us a clue to the commandment given to Oliver:

“1–5, Scriptures show how to build up the Church”

Was that helpful? Are you starting to see the commandment that Oliver was given?

In the article, “How the Revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants Were Received and Compiled” we learn that:

Most of the Christian churches located in New York at the time Joseph Smith received his first revelations had “confessions,” “creeds,” “platforms,” or “articles of faith.” These documents contained brief statements of basic beliefs, doctrine, duties of members, and other information useful to investigators and members. Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants (which was known as the Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ during the first decade of the Church) has many parallels to the confessions of the Christian churches of the day and appears to have been written for the same purpose. It is composed of short statements about basic doctrines, ordinances, duties of members and priesthood bearers, and the baptismal and sacrament prayers.

What appears to be an early draft of the Articles and Covenants (in Oliver Cowdery’s handwriting and dated in 1829) is in the Archives of the Historical Department of the Church. It is titled: “A True Copy of the articles of the Church of Christ.” Oliver Cowdery wrote at the beginning of this document that he composed it by commandment. If the procedure was the same then as now, such a commandment would have come through the Prophet [D&C 18:3]. This document contains quotations from the Book of Mormon and from earlier revelations [D&C 18:4-5]. Most of the Book of Mormon quotations are retained in the current form of section 20.

The existence of this document helps solve two matters concerning the text of section 20. First, when a comparison is made between the current text and various earlier printings of section 20, it is clear that this section has had numerous additions and deletions. For example, section 22 was included as part of this section when it was first published in the Evening and Morning Star. Similarly, verses 14–15, 41, 50–52, and 61–67 are either additions to the text or are verses that were completely revised over the years.

The second matter involves a letter that Oliver Cowdery wrote to Joseph Smith in July or August of 1830, asking that a part of verse 37 which he considered to be in error be taken out of the revelation. A portion of this early document is similar to verse 37 in section 20, but does not contain that part of the verse Oliver Cowdery wanted removed. The portion questioned by Oliver was later reinserted by the Prophet.

Thus, section 20 is an example of the principles taught in sections 67 and 68 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In section 67, we are informed that the revelations were given in the language of the Prophet Joseph Smith with all the normal imperfections of human communication. In section 68, we are told that when a servant of the Lord is moved upon by the Holy Ghost, what he says is the mind and the will of the Lord, and is scripture. The historical background of section 20, therefore, appears to be centered in an effort to put into words the basic beliefs and tenets of the Church. The document was drawn from earlier revealed sources and was thus inspired by the Spirit over a period of time; it is, therefore, scripture.

On 9 June 1830, the first conference of the Church was held as directed in the Articles and Covenants of the Church (section 20). The complete Articles and Covenants were read in this conference by Joseph Smith as one of the first items of business. This document was then received by the “unanimous voice of the whole congregation.” Thus, section 20 became the first revelation of this dispensation canonized by the Church. It was also the first revelation of this dispensation to be printed in the first edition, and was printed on the first page of the first newspaper of the Church, the Evening and Morning Star (vol. 1, no. 1, June 1832). From that point on, basic practices of the Church have been conducted in accordance with this section. In succeeding conferences, the Articles and Covenants were read in order that the Latter-day Saints might be reminded of the policies and procedures they were to follow. (Bolded emphasis added.)

So, here is what happened… In D&C 18:1-5, Oliver was commanded to take an active roll in creating the Articles and Covenants of the Church (D&C 20) by “rely[ing] upon the things which are written” in the Book of Mormon.

man reading book

Now what parts of the Book of Mormon match up best with D&C 20? In the true spirit of discovery and seeking learning by faith, you may want to take a break from this post and study Moroni 2-6 as if you were Oliver Cowdery and had been commanded by the Lord to “rely upon the things which are written” to figure out how to organize Christ’s Church. As you do so, I would recommend that you mark anything that stands out to you.

Once you have completed your study, go to D&C 20 and look for the elements that you discovered in Moroni 2-6. I would encourage you to write the Book of Mormon references that you discovered with their companion scriptures in D&C 20. After my first read I found eight references in Moroni 2-6 that are directly correlated to companion scriptures in D&C 20. I am sure that there are more. See what you can discover for yourself!

open book with gold ribbon

For a great little article on the Church Handbook of Instructions used today, see “Church Handbooks: The Written Order of Things“.

These chapters from Moroni seem to have been inserted and intended to be of “worth” for the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in the latter days. However, as I mentioned before, we can also see these chapters as a Personal Handbook of Instructions.

#BOMTC Day 83, June 28~Moroni 1-7 or Pages 519-524, DAB The Book of Mormon is our handbook of instructions

The Book of Mormon is our handbook of instructions as we travel the pathway from bad to good to better and strive to have our hearts changed. (David A. Bednar, “The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” Ensign, April 2012.)

To me, these chapters can serve as a handbook from Moroni on “How to Never Be Alone“. This man knows what it is like to be alone! He has been alone for a loooong time (it appears to be about 20 years). During that time long time alone he has protected the plates and added to them.

Now I know that Moroni’s intent in writing these chapters is not to be a handbook for how to never be alone. All I am doing is “likening” what is found in these chapters to things that the Lord has given us to help us never feel alone… even when we are.

Once again, in the spirit of discovery and seeking learning by faith, I invite you to study what is found in Moroni 1-7 and find what can help you to understand that you never have to feel alone when you live the gospel. This time you really will have to be like Oliver Cowdery, because there will be no supporting document to show you the right answers. You can do it! “Rely upon the things which are written,” and find what the Lord has given you in these chapters so that you never have to feel alone.

#BOMTC Day 83, June 28~Moroni 1-7 or Pages 519-524, We Are Never Alone full quote

Dare to Stand Alone

President Thomas S. Monson shares an experience he had in the Navy when he had to stand alone and reminds us that “we are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven.”

I Never Stand Alone

(When I Stand With God)

Alone I stand,
While all the world around me
Surrounds me
And takes me for a fool.
But I am not
The first to be regarded
As weak and simple-hearted
For choosing to believe

That He keeps watch over His own.

I never stand alone
When I stand with God
And I stand with His prophets.
Wherever I may go,
When I stand with God
I never stand alone.

And so it is
My heart has been befriended,
Defended
By those who, ve gone before.

Who call to me
Like distant rolling thunder,
“You cannot be outnumbered!
You, re standing with the Lord.”

And He keeps watch over His own.

I never stand alone
When I stand with God
And I stand with His prophets.
Wherever I may go,
When I stand with God
I never stand alone.

I stand with Nephi and Moroni,
With Abinadi, who testified in flames!
With saints through the ages,
Stalwart and faithful,
Leading me, telling me . . .
I never stand
I never stand alone
When I stand with God
And I stand with His prophets.
Wherever I may go,
When I stand with God
I never stand alone.
I never stand
I never stand alone

(From the Steven Kapp Perry Album ‘From Cumorah’s Hill’)

Dare to Stand Alone

(Especially for Youth 2015 album, “Here Am I” )

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:

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