Tag Archives: scattering

#BOMTC Jacob 5: God Wants Good Fruit from “OLIVE” Us!

#BOMTC Day 22, April 28~Jacob 5 or Pages 127-32: God Wants Good Fruit from "OLIVE" Us!

Click graphic to ready Jacob 5

To understand Jacob 5, one must begin at the end of Jacob 4. In Jacob 4 the prophet Jacob had asked us to consider how the Jews could ever build on the “sure foundation” of Jesus Christ after they rejected Him (v. 17). To answer this question Jacob quotes the teachings of the prophet Zenos.

Zenos’ allegory of the olive tree teaches us about the Lord’s purposes in the scattering and gathering of the house of Israel. Interestingly, the olive tree tends to be God’s great object lesson when referring to the scattering, gathering, and salvation of His children (see my #BOMTC 1 Nephi 16 post for more on this). Chapter 6 then contains Jacob’s commentary on the major points of Zenos’ allegory, and Jacob emphasized the Lord’s mercy and justice while encouraging his people—and us—to repent.

Olive Tree Alegory chart

Click here for a graphical explanation of the allegory of the olive tree

Interestingly, the scattering of “the branches of Israel” all over the world is a blessing to both Israel and to the Gentiles. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained:

“In general, the Lord sends to earth in the lineage of Jacob [Israel] those spirits who in pre-existence developed an especial talent for spirituality and for recognizing truth. Those born in this lineage, having the blood of Israel in their veins and finding it easy to accept the gospel, are said to have believing blood” (Mormon Doctrine, 81).

#BOMTC Day 22, April 28~Jacob 5 or Pages 127-32

“What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (Jacob 5:41, 47, 49) “It grieveth me that I should lose this tree” (Jacob 5:7, 11, 32, 46, 51, 66)

As scattered Israel mixed with the Gentiles around them, the blood of Israel was spread even further. Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, commented:

“The scattering of Israel throughout the world sprinkled the blood that believes, so that many nations may now partake of the gospel plan” (Ensign, Nov. 1982.).

Jacob 5 as a word cloud

Jacob 5 as a word cloud

What really stands out to me in these pages is how much the Lord loves “OLIVE” His children, and how much He desires us to produce “good fruit” (good works).

“Good fruit” is referred to 7 times, and “fruit” 67 times. Sometimes I copy the text of a chapter or talk and create a word cloud to help me identify literary elements like the intent of the writer. You can see by the word cloud above that “fruit” (our part) is definitely a dominant theme in this message. If I were to LIKEN this allegory to myself I would say, “God loves me, and He will do whatever is necessary to help my life to become as ‘fruitful’ as possible!”

#BOMTC Day 22, April 28~Jacob 5 or Pages 127-32 (3)

God does indeed love “OLIVE” us, and wants “OLIVE” us to live “good fruit”-ful lives!

What are your thoughts on this awesome allegory?

The Olive Tree Allegory

CLICK HERE TO VIEW SEGMENTS 1-5 OF THIS VIDEO

 A LIKENING: The Currant Bush and the Will of God

God uses love-inspired correction to guide us to a future we do not or cannot now envision but which He knows is the better way for us.

Want to learn more? Check this out:

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 25-26: Importance of Plainness

#BOMTC Isaiah Survivor Award!

Post it proudly to your social media once you finish 2 Nephi 24

#BOMTC Isaiah Survivor Award! Post it proudly to your social media once you finish 2 Nephi 24.

I love studying 2 Nephi 25 for many different reasons. Some of my favorite verses are vv. 23, 26, 29. Some of my favorite things taught are: (1) keys to understanding Isaiah, (2) the importance of Isaiah’s writings, (3) the gathering of Israel, and (4) Nephi’s testimony of Jesus Christ’s ministry and mission.

#BOMTC Day 17, April 23~2 Nephi 25-26 or Pages 97-102 Nephi's Keys to Understanding Isaiah

Click on the graphic to read an article by John Bytheway about Nephi’s Keys to Understanding the Isaiah Chapters.

What really stands out to me is Nephi’s sincere desire to be so PLAIN that “no man can err” (vv. 7,20,28). This seems to be the pattern that Nephi has adopted from The Master Teacher. It reminds me of a quote by President Harold B. Lee:

You’re to teach the old doctrines, not so plainly that they can just understand, but you must teach the doctrines of the Church so plainly that no one can misunderstand” (“Loyalty,” in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. [1982], 64)

That is what I truly love about Nephi’s writings. His “plainness” allows him to testify and teach so powerfully of Jesus Christ. He also gives commentary on Isaiah’s writings to help them to be more “plain” to us so that “no man can err”. My testimony is strengthened in the Savior every time I read the writings of Nephi. THANK YOU, NEPHI!

A friend once asked me a question about something found in 2 Nephi 25:23. He was wondering about the meaning of the phrase, “after all we can do,” and how it relates to God’s saving grace referenced in that passage.

2 Nephi 25:23, Saved by Grace

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23)

Now, I have heard a lot of ideas and read a lot of commentary about this passage from both anti-Mormon and faithful-Mormon sources. However, for me the key to understanding this verse is to simply study it in context of the verses surrounding it. Too many times we encounter problems with a scripture because we begin to isolate it from the rest of the text and it loses the original intent of the author. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught repeatedly that the best commentary written for understanding the scriptures IS the scriptures.

One of the things that I would invite you to do is to reread 2 Nephi 25:23 in the context of verses 16-30. Now, when you study these 14 verses surrounding verse 23, you may want to mark and note the number of times that Christ is referred to by name. I would encourage you to do this before reading any more of my post. Go ahead, the my post will still be here…

Word Cloud of 2 Nephi 25:16-30

Word Cloud of 2 Nephi 25:16-30

Now that you have seen what Nephi’s real focus is–CHRIST–reread verses 23-30 again and see what Nephi is really teaching us in these verses.

Continue reading below once you are ready…

2 Nephi 25:26, Christ in the Book of Mormon

2 Nephi 25:26, Christ in the Book of Mormon (Credit: Book of Mormon Central)

 

One way that I have tried to help people to understand this verse in context is to simply change the order in which the phrase, “after all we can do” is read.

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that after all we can do, it is by grace that we are saved.

Nephi is clear that it is by the grace of God and His Son that we are saved. His personal illustration is his observance of the Law of Moses. Everything that Nephi did and taught his people to do concerning the Law of Moses was to help them come unto Christ and be “alive” in Him, even though the Law of Moses was “dead” to them (see 2 Nephi 25:25-27).

2 Nephi 25:26

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26)

 gave a wonderful talk in general conference entitled, “The Gift of Grace”. I would invite you to read, watch, or listen to the entire talk. If you are strapped for time, at least read this brief expert from his talk:

“The Gift of Grace,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

All We Can Do

The prophet Nephi made an important contribution to our understanding of God’s grace when he declared, “We labor diligently … to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.31

However, I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase “after all we can do.” We must understand that “after” does not equal “because.”

We are not saved “because” of all that we can do. Have any of us done all that we can do? Does God wait until we’ve expended every effort before He will intervene in our lives with His saving grace?

Many people feel discouraged because they constantly fall short. They know firsthand that “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”32 They raise their voices with Nephi in proclaiming, “My soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.”33

I am certain Nephi knew that the Savior’s grace allows and enables us to overcome sin.34 This is why Nephi labored so diligently to persuade his children and brethren“to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God.”35

After all, that is what we can do! And that is our task in mortality! (Read, watch, or listen to the entire talk.)

Grace is a gift from God that we did not earn and that we cannot lose. It is a gift that each of us must choose to accept and use on a daily basis (see Ephesians 2:8).

Dear brothers and sisters, living the gospel faithfully is not a burden. It is a joyful rehearsal—a preparation for inheriting the grand glory of the eternities. We seek to obey our Heavenly Father because our spirits will become more attuned to spiritual things. Vistas are opened that we never knew existed. Enlightenment and understanding come to us when we do the will of the Father.

Grace is a gift of God, and our desire to be obedient to each of God’s commandments is the reaching out of our mortal hand to receive this sacred gift from our Heavenly Father. (Read, watch, or listen to the entire talk.)

“His Grace Is Sufficient,” by Brad Wilcox

!BOMTC Day 17, April 23~2 Nephi 25-26 or Pages 97-102 His Grace is Sufficient

 YouTube Playlist: His Grace

“The Atonement: ‘After All We Can Do’,” by Brad Wilcox

Articles of interest related to this post: 

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed from 1 Nephi 1-21 at one of the following:

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 15-19: “His Hand Is Stretched Out Still”

In today’s chapters Nephi continues to quote from the Prophet Isaiah (2 Nephi 15-20). One footnote of interest prior to this reading is found in 2 Nephi 12:2, footnote a, “Comparison with the King James Bible in English shows that there are differences in more than half of the 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, while about 200 verses have the same working as the KJV.” An example of how this comparison is helpful is found in 2 Nephi 12:16, footnote a, “The Greek (Septuaging) has ‘ships of the sea.’ The Hebrew has ‘ships of Tarshish.’ The Book of Mormon has both, showing that the Brass Plates had lost neither phrase” (see, “Upon All the Ships of the Sea, and Upon All the Ships of Tarshish”: Revisiting 2 Nephi 12:16 and Isaiah 2:16 for an insightful article on this verse).

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 (3)

One thing that has always stood out to me in these pages is the phrase, “but his hand is stretched out still”. It follows the very threatening phrase, “his anger is not turned away” (2 Nephi 15:25; 19:12,17,21; 20:4). So is it a good thing or a bad thing that “his hand is stretched out still”? Well, I guess it depends on what you decide to do when God stretches His hand out (For a great article on this thought see, “His Hand Is Stretched Out Still”: The Lord’s Eternal Covenant of Mercy).

Isaiah may have intended more than one meaning with the phrase “his hand is stretched out still,” because the Lord’s hand can be extended for both justice and mercy. One meaning may be that because the people of Isaiah’s time did not turn away from sin (see Isaiah 9:13–16), they would experience the Lord’s hand in the form of destruction. But Isaiah may have also been teaching that the Lord still offered hope for eventual mercy if the people would repent. How can both images of the Lord’s hand stretched out—one threatening justice and the other offering mercy—help us decide to repent and come unto Him?

The following chart comes from the Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2014:

“The phrase ‘his hand is stretched out still’ can represent both the justice and mercy of God—justice (destruction and punishment) for the wicked and mercy for the repentant if they will turn to God. From the context of the surrounding verses, the reader can often determine which meaning was intended by the scripture author.”

PASSAGES WITH “HIS HAND IS STRETCHED OUT STILL” THAT LIKELY REFER TO GOD’S JUSTICE:

PASSAGES WITH “HIS HAND IS STRETCHED OUT STILL” THAT LIKELY REFER TO GOD’S MERCY:

Isaiah 5:25 (2 Nephi 15:25)

Isaiah 9:12,* 17, 21 (2 Nephi 19:12, 17, 21)

Isaiah 10:4 (2 Nephi 20:4)

Isaiah 10:13–14 (2 Nephi 20:13–14)

Isaiah 14:26–27 (2 Nephi 24:26–27)

Isaiah 23:11

Exodus 6:6

Deuteronomy 5:15

Deuteronomy 7:19

Psalm 136:10–14

Jeremiah 32:21

Ezekiel 20:33–34

2 Nephi 28:32

Jacob 5:47

Jacob 6:4–5

Alma 5:33–34

Alma 19:36

3 Nephi 9:14

Mormon 6:17

D&C 136:22

* Isaiah 9:12, footnote d, indicates that the phrase in this verse can refer to both justice and mercy.

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Jesus with Outstretched Arms

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminds us of the merciful aspect of this imagery:

“To all of you who think you are lost or without hope, or who think you have done too much that was too wrong for too long, to every one of you who worry that you are stranded … , this conference calls out Jehovah’s unrelenting refrain, ‘[My] hand is stretched out still’ [Isaiah 5:25; 9:17, 21]. ‘I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them,’ He said, ‘[and even if they] deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, … if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts’ [2 Nephi 28:32]. His mercy endureth forever, and His hand is stretched out still. His is the pure love of Christ, the charity that never faileth, that compassion which endures even when all other strength disappears [see Moroni 7:46–47].

“I testify of this reaching, rescuing, merciful Jesus, that this is His redeeming Church based on His redeeming love” (“Prophets in the Land Again,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006).

One way to understand and apply Isaiah’s writings is to consider his possible use of Hypostasis. Have you ever heard of hypostasis? Hypostasis is a technique that is used frequently in the scriptures. This technique uses a part of the corporeal nature of God to represent God as a whole. An example of this is when the scriptures say something to the effect of “the voice of the Lord”, “the face of God”, “the arm of the Lord”. These “parts” of God are used to imply that God himself–whole and complete–was actually present. So, if “his hand is stretched out still”, then the implication is that HE is still near. So, how are you going to react to His hand?

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Jesus with Outstretched Hand

What I am referring to can be illustrated in Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life. The Rod of Iron is usually thought of and portrayed in visuals as something akin to a guardrail. However, Lehi, Nephi, and Isaiah NEVER use the word rod in this way (see 2 Nephi 20:5, 15, 24, 26, for example). They always use the word rod to talk about something that is held in the hand and stretched out (with the exception of 2 Nephi 21:1, 4; Isaiah 11:4, although these work too). What does this change about how you picture, or think, of the “rod” that is coming from the Tree of Life”? If the Tree of Life typifies Christ (see my SNellFour post), then what is the Tree of Life holding out to all? Is His hand “stretched out still”? How one reacts to His outstretch hand makes all the difference.

Just as it was significant as to how the people reacted to the “rod” in the vision of the Tree of Life, it will depend on how we react when His hand/presence is “stretched out still”. If His hand is stretched out, then we must do as Isaiah admonishes:

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

#BOMTC Day 15, April 21~2 Nephi 15-19 or Pages 85-90 Jesus Hugging a Girl

You may enjoy learning more from the following :

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 10-14: “SNellFour”

As Jacob concludes his invitation to come unto Christ (2 Nephi 10), Nephi validates his words by letting us know that Jacob has seen the Promised Messiah (2 Nephi 11:3). Nephi also invokes the Law of Witnesses by stating that he has also seen the Redeemer (2 Nephi 11:2). In that same verse we are told that one of the reasons he loves the words of Isaiah so much are because Isaiah has also seen Christ.

Law of Witnesses, Isaiah, Nephi, and Jacob Are Witnesses of Christ

The Law of Witnesses: Isaiah, Nephi, and Jacob Are Witnesses of Christ.

To me, the key phrase in this chapter seems to be “my soul delighteth” (2 Nephi 11:2,4,5,6). This chapter precedes Nephi’s recording of 13 chapters from the writings of Isaiah (2 Nephi 12-24; Isaiah 2-14). You may want to see exactly what his soul delights in before you read these chapters so that you can LOOK FOR those elements in the writings of Isaiah that he will quote.

#BOMTC Day 14, April 20~2 Nephi 10-14 or (Pages 79-84) SNellFour

Try and see Jesus in this illustration. This exercise is similar to searching for SNellFour’s in scripture.

One insight that was shared with me many years ago by a colleague (Todd Davis) is found in 2 Nephi 11:4. He referred to this verse as SNellFour (if you break up the spelling of the name it is a clever abbreviation of the scripture reference: S=Second, Ne=Nephi, ll=11, Four=4). We learn from this verse that:

all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of Him [Jesus Christ]” (2 Nephi 11:4)

SNellFours help us to see Christ in the Scriptures.

SNellFours help us to see Christ in the Scriptures.

So the term SNellFour refers to any THING, PERSON, PLACE, etc. that is a type or shadow of Christ. This is one of the keys to understanding the writings of Isaiah, the Old Testament, and the Book of Mormon. For example, the Law of Moses typifies Christ and proves He shall come (Mosiah 13:27-35). Every prophet is a type and shadow of Christ (i.e. Jonah in the great fish for 3 days and subsequent release foreshadows the Savior’s entombment and resurrection). Christ points out that the Manna that gave their fathers life in the wilderness was a SNellFour meant to teach Israel about the Bread of Life that would come to them (John 6).

#BOMTC Day 14, April 20~2 Nephi 10-14 or (Pages 79-84) Jesus is MannaThe list of SNellFours seems endless. The great thing about such a large list is that each SNellFour points to different things that we can learn about the Savior and His attributes, ministry, mission, etc. As we read the writings of Isaiah that are quoted by Nephi, we will discover several things about the Savior by simply seeing these things, people, and places as SNellFours–types and shadows of the Savior Jesus Christ.

Christ in Hebrew and Greek

The English word “Christ” comes from the Greek “Christos”(χριστός), which has the same meaning as “Messiah”, which comes from the Hebrew (משיח). In both languages the words mean “anointed one.”

Take a moment to learn from from Dr. Todd B. Parker, a professor of ancient scripture, about SNellFours in the scriptures and the world around us. His insights and illustrations will help you understand this study skill of seeking the Savior in the scriptures:

The Temple in 2 Nephi 12 is a SNellFour—what do we learn about Christ when we remember that the Temple represents Christ? In chapter 13 Christ is both the Advocate and the Judge—what do these SNellFours teach us about Him and our relationship to Him? In chapter 14 Isaiah refers to a SNellFour that we are familiar with from the Exodus experience—what can we learn about Christ and His grace by referring to Him as “a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night”?

#BOMTC Day 14, April 20~2 Nephi 10-14 or (Pages 79-84) cloud by day fire by night

The second graphic that I have placed with this post has an image of Christ hidden in it, so you must look closely and examine it to see Him. It is the same with SNellFours. Once you are aware of what SNellFours are, and you begin to watch for them, you will develop a new appreciation for Isaiah, the scriptures in general, and the Savior specifically.

#BOMTC Day 14, April 20~2 Nephi 10-14 or (Pages 79-84) Jesus Christ is in the Old Testament

Ponder on the things you have read in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon that are SNellFours. What SNellFours can you recognize from those memories? LOOK FOR SNellFours as you study Isaiah and you will discover things that you had never noticed before!

You may enjoy learning more from the following :

#BOMTC Isaiah Survivor Award! Post it proudly to your social media once you finish 2 Nephi 24.

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#BOMTC 1 Nephi 22-2 Nephi 1: Isaiah for DUMMIES (Laman and Lemuel)

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 Isaiah

After Nephi shares 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? (see Acts 8:26-39) 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.

This 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 as 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 own 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 1 Nephi 19-21: DESSERT FIRST!

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

#BOMTC Day 8, April 14~1 Nephi 19-21 (or Pages 43-48) What we learn from Scriptures

Nephi 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).

Sources for the Book of Mormon

The sources behind the Book of Mormon are remarkably complex, and sometimes hard to keep straight. Here is a helpful chart to use as you read and study. (Content by John Welch. Graphics by Fernando Vazquez.)

Mormon will also submit his will and 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” in this. 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 created 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 different plates of Nephi as literal plates. So 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 over 2,000 years before. The history would be lost, but the ministry would be preserved. (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.)

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).

As I looked at the paper plates that I had labeled, 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 may think, “The Large of course”. But think of the purpose for each type of plate at a BBQ. Just as Nephi’s Plates served different purposes, the different size plates at a BBQ usually serve different foods. What is the Large plate for? The main course–you can put lots of different things on there. 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. So, given the fact that I have a major sweet-tooth, if I was given the option of choosing just one plate at a BBQ, I would usually 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, and besides that, it was the recommendation of my dentist!). 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 good stuff, and 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 the ministry to the people. The Small Plates are the dessert of the gospel–the sweetest stuff he had to offer.

#BOMTC Day 24, April 30~Jarom-Words of Mormon or Pages 139-144 (4)

So the next time you are at a BBQ you can remember that Nephi’s sweet ministry is on the Small Plates by having DESSERT FIRST!

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#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).

NOTE: It was one year previous to this date, on April 12, 1828 in Harmony, Pennsylvania that Martin Harris went to Joseph Smith’s home (in Harmony), where he began to help with the translation of what would become the 116 Book of Mormon pages from the book of Lehi that were lost. I find it very interesting that it was during pretty much the same time period in 1828 (mid-April to mid-June) that 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.

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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