This chapter provides instructions to the translator of the text regarding witnesses. A film entitled “A Day for the Eternities” addresses this time period in the translation process. I find the placement of this chapter interesting, because of the timeline of historical events and the timing in which Joseph Smith would have come across this set of instructions. He mostly likely was found with Oliver Cowdery in the Peter and Mary Whitmer home at Fayette, New York, as their guests.
In verse 1, Moroni reminds the reader and Joseph (the translator) that: “… I have told you the things which I have sealed up; therefore touch them not in order that ye may translate; for that thing is forbidden you, except by and by it shall be wisdom in God.”
The footnote on the verse goes back to the previous chapter and the most detailed description we have of the things that were revealed unto the Brother of Jared. And there is a promise as well:
6 For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.
7 And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.
So even though there is a section of the Book of Mormon that is still sealed, Christ can show unto anyone these very same things to those that will exercise faith in seeking Him. Repentance is required. Becoming clean before the Lord is required.
The last two verse of this chapter re-emphasis the point of repentance. For a long time, I have misunderstood the essence of this principle. My efforts to repent were trite and more vain repetitions, which I sensed God did not want, but which I wrongly supposed that I had no need of repentance. Now I see it differently, and I cannot say what has changed in my approach. Only I know that I am in grave need of the refining influence of repentance, for I have much to change that I am powerless to do on my own.
How simple is this injunction though: “And if it so be that they repent and come unto the Father in the name of Jesus, they shall be received into the kingdom of God.” (vs. 6) There is no complicated list of qualifications for admission into the kingdom of God. Only two things are required: 1) repent and 2) come unto the Father in the name of Jesus.
The final verse of this chapter is one that demonstrates that Moroni is speaking from a position of clear knowledge of events as they pertain to the end of the world. “…for ye shall know that I have authority when ye shall see me, and we shall stand before God at the last day.” (vs. 6, emphasis added) This is not a conditional statement, but rather a future reality.
Moroni doesn’t have permission to reveal unto us anything of events that had been shown him of the last days or the end of times, but this statement is fact: that we shall stand before God and Moroni will be there as a witness of the truth.
I thought I was done with this chapter, but then I was brought to consider “the parable of the tares of the field” found in Matthew 13:36–43. Verse 41 has resonated with me since my morning prayers of yesterday: “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;” (emphasis added).
The feeling that I have as I contemplate this is one of complete peace. Why? Back to my prayers.
Strangely, I’ve found this obscure teaching from Joseph Smith that assimilates the work of the three witnesses to the parable of leaven found in this same chapter of Matthew, bringing this study full circle again. (Only the Spirit of the Lord can do something like this.)
Faith is at the crux of all things. Without faith, we do not progress spiritually. Without faith, we do not fulfill our purpose. We do not understand who Christ is without faith.
Y para los fieles, hay grandes promesas si siguen fieles hasta el final.
These verses are a hidden treasure to me, on par with other more well know passages where the voice of our Lord is more readily known. Herein are several promises of faith, or a set of strong motivators to seek after faith. These promises have resonated deeply with me this morning. Partly because of the blessings that I have already received. Partly because of the hope of greater insights and blessings yet to be received.
The middle of this chapter is a long quotation that Moroni includes here of the word of the Lord Jesus Christ directly from the His mouth. I have to work to remind myself that this is Jesus speaking. He even addresses here this mortal tendency to doubt His words even though they be His words.
And he that believeth not my words believeth not my disciples; and if it so be that I do not speak, judge ye; for ye shall know that it is I that speaketh, at the last day…
…He that will not believe my words will not believe me—that I am; and he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me.
Verses 10 & 12
The thing that I am appreciating most about this obscure passage is how familiar His voice is in these passages: these are the words of Christ.
I have gone back to the beginning of the chapter and been caused to consider the revelation given to the brother of Jared that he was subsequently commanded to seal up and keep hidden from the world until the faith of the people should be sufficient to understand all these things, according to the will of God. There was a period of time wherein the Nephites, after Christ’s personal ministry to them, were given this revelation, but then it was taken away.
The only way to get the Lord to give this knowledge back to us is to, as a group, increase in our faith. It is not a solo enterprise.
Back in this long quoted passage which comes straight from the mouth of the Lord:
But he that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true; for it persuadeth men to do good.
Verse 11 (emphasis added)
If these are not the words of Christ, these words exhorts us to judge for ourselves. But if they are the words of Christ (and I believe they are ), then this is of momentous importance. Furthermore, this verse 11 resonates so deeply with me, because of my personal experience with the Book of Mormon over now many, many years. I believe the things which Christ has spoken, and I have been visited time and again with the manifestations of the Spirit, and because of this reality (this is my lived reality), I know its true.
I stood in a testimony meeting recently in a distant city, and testified of the Christ. It seemed strange to me how simple and strong that witness came to me, and with such clarity. Yet, this verse 11 offers to me an explanation of why that happened the way that it did, and why it was so. I know this is true.
I need to sit with the comparison that is found in verse 12, and my interpretation of this precept, many times erroneous.
“And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for agood cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good;”
Elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, we can read similar passages that offer even more of a comparison between Christ and the devil:
“…For there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord: and that which is evil cometh from the devil.” – Omni 1:25
“For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.” – Alma 5:40
I am now returning from a weekend at youth conference. The verses I read today talk about the mysteries of God being revealed to those who have faith sufficient to believe.
This chapter ends with the words of Christ telling us, telling me that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and my faith in the Christ will bring me to understand that the Father hath made covenants with our fathers long ago which impact me today. We are witnessing the fulfillment of promises made by God millennia ago. We are a part of the time that John saw in revelations and which are being now fulfilled. The time has already come and the work is already commenced. Those that now believe and are baptized shall be saved in the Kingdom of God.
These final verses ARE the words of Christ. This is His voice telling me what I must know to return to him. And because these things are not logical, tangible, nor able to be proven with scientific means of observation (exclusively), they will always be discounted by the world. And yet this is where the truth IS.
And blessed is he that is found faithful unto my name at the last day, for he shall be lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world. And behold it is I that hath spoken it. Amen.
Understanding the exchange that is recorded in this chapter is pivotal to conversion and life itself.
The Lord is allowing the Brother of Jared to call the shots in finding a way to light the vessels within the ships that they have built to conduct themselves to the promised land. What then follows is such a significant exchange, and such a revelation of faith that it was actually kept from the people prior to the Savior’s mortal ministry. (See Ether 4:1)
The Brother of Jared sees the Lord’s finger as an answer to his inquiry, and that sends him hiding out of fear that the Lord would smite him. Though the Lord had nurtured him along up until this point, the natural tendency was to fear (or be afraid of) God.
The Lord sees the Brother of Jared’s fear and asks why he had done this. His response was that he thought the Lord would respond violently with him, but the even greater surprise was that the Lord had a body of flesh and blood. (Or at least, this is was the Brother of Jared perceived to be flesh and blood.)
All this leads up to an explanation of the power of the faith of the Brother of Jared. No one prior to the Brother of Jared had exhibited such faith in the Lord that he was permitted to see the Lord as He touched the stones with His finger. (Had no one else seen the Lord prior to this? I wonder about the context of this statement, but I can let it stand.)
The Lord continues to ask questions: “Sawest thou more than this?”
To which the Brother of Jared is overcome with desire: “Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.”
Then the Lord asks another question, and this one catches me off guard: “Believest thou the words which I shall speak?“
On Sat, Jun 18, 2022, I added a noted to my scriptures:
Such an important question! Do you believe that I, your God, am telling you the truth? When we violate a commandment of God is it not always on the premise of faith? If we don’t follow God, it is because we doubt that what He has told us is true. We are assuming that some how God is lying to us.
Or is it that we assume that we could know better than God? What motivation would God have in not telling us the truth? Why would God need to lie?
There are three sets of doctrine that correspond and work with each other here. They are as follows:
Faith vs. Doubt
Truth vs. Lies
Redeemed vs. Fallen
Faith vs. Doubt
In verse 11, after the Brother of Jared asks to see the Lord, the question of belief is placed before him. Do you believe all the words that the Lord shall speak? (future tense) So the first pillar of this argument is faith. And to more fully appreciate it, I juxtapose this to doubt.
In what individuals and institutions do I doubt their truthfulness; in what individuals and institutions do I place my faith in? “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart…” “Doubt not only be believing…” Faith is the integral first step. If I don’t believe that the Lord can show me truth, why would I show up to talk with Him? And that leads me to the next consideration.
Truth vs. Lies
What we choose to believe makes all the difference. Do we believe in lies or do we believe in truth. Conversely, do we doubt the truth, or do we doubt the lies? Doubt lies, believe the truth.
This all sounds extremely simple, but the reality is that we spend the majority of our mortality caught up in this very thing, expending large amounts of energy every day either in believing lies or believing truth. Our belief structure dictates everything about what we do with our time. It is where we place our energies and how we choose to work.
There is a matrix that may help us to visualize this better.
We doubt that Christ is telling us the truth. We believe that God is lying to us.
We believe that Christ is telling us the truth. We believe that God is a God of truth and cannot lie.
We doubt the lies, snares, and false information that the adversary tries to present to us. We see lies for what they really are.
We believe the lies, snares, misinformation presented by the adversary and mistake it for truth or reality.
Obviously, a diagonal line from bottom left to top right is the desired position of alignment along this matrix, but the reality is that we are usually not that well aligned. However, such a position of alignment where we believe God and doubt the devil (and the institutions that support such) is precisely the orientation that will lead us back into God’s presence.
What makes the Brother of Jared’s position so powerful is it is riveted by conviction and testimony: “I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.” (vs. 12)
This absolute knowledge that the Lord allows the Brother of Jared to express as an answer to a question is the ticket back into the presence of the Lord.
Redeemed vs. Fallen
(I am sitting at the gate for this last point, but realizing that this doctrinal progression doesn’t exactly fit what I’ve observed and learned from the scriptures.) So the underlying doctrine that is supporting this progression is testimony. It is the knowledge or testimony that the Brother of Jared has of God as a being that tells the truth which propels him forward back into the presence of the Lord.
Of course that knowledge first came of belief. And this process of growth from belief to sure knowledge is not documented in the Brother of Jared’s account. We come to this record with the Brother of Jared already in full conversion for three chapters now, having received direction and specific communications with the Lord all along the way.
So in verse 13, when the Lord shows himself to the Brother of Jared, the Lord then reiterates to him the impact of his testimony upon his life:
Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall;
therefore ye are brought back into my presence;
therefore I show myself unto you.
What are the implication of redemption? Being redeemed from the fall? My mind goes to scriptures that discuss the fallen condition of the world in general, the bondage of sin, and the very real weight that this places upon people. Being delivered from this fallen state is significant and huge.
Why? Because the cares of the fallen world are not the cares or the concerns of the redeemed. It is not to say that we lead a carefree life or lifestyle (far from it), but our energies and our concerns are focused on different priorities. Correct knowledge and life education can be obtained in ways that are liberating and empowering to engage in the real work of mortality.
The cares of a fallen world typically revolve around self-preservation, usually through deceptive means. The carees of the redeemed are more exalted, looking outward to the needs of others. They are concerned with doing God’s will, not their own.
In verse 13, the Lord tells the brother of Jared that he (the Lord) will show himself unto the brother of Jared. Then in verse 14, we have the words that the Lord uses to describe himself as he is physically revealing himself to the brother of Jared.
“Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people.” This thought has impressed me for several weeks now, since Father’s Day, that Christ had to be prepared to accomplish the mission that was set before him. This reality, coupled with many other examples, show me that a child can be trained up in the way that they should go. We can prepare our children to do great things. (I see many successful latter-day saint families preparing their children in this regard, even if my own efforts have not quite materialized in such a fashion.)
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.“ There is so much to take away from these two simple statements. He identifies himself ante-mortally as Jesus Christ, where he was otherwise known as Jehovah before his birth. That his titles as both Father and Son are then given here is also significant. Admittedly, this does add a little confusion to understanding the roles of the Godhead, but it is more importantly an accurate statement for Christ to state that he is both Father and Son. (I will not study this further here, though I could easily add more).
“In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name;”
I’ve jumped ahead to the next two verses. Never had Christ showed himself before to man whom he had created. Therefore, Christ has the power to reveal himself unto man. What’s harder for me to comprehend, though it must be true as Christ has said it, “this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit.” So our spiritual bodies are in the express image of a physical body. Or actually, it is the other way around. Our physical bodies are created in the image of our spiritual bodies.
I end my study today with a lot of questions about the nature of spiritual bodies and how they differ from a physical body. And the Spirit seems to suggest that this is a correct mode of thinking, or rather that I should continue to pursue this line of thought and discussion.
In verse 16, it states Christ created man after the man of his spiritual body. So what was first? Christ in the body of his spirit was first. As an exclusively spirit body, Christ proceeds to create the physical bodies of man and woman after his own image. Image of what? Image of his spirit body.
In the next few verses, Moroni steps in as editor to explain the parallel between this visit of the Lord and his visit to the Nephites after his resurrection. The demonstration of his body, though only in the spirit was similar in manner to the way that Christ showed himself to the Nephites. This is a striking observation, which really causes me to consider differently the nature of spiritual bodies. (We know nothing of this reality.) The other parallel, and arguably the more important one is the ministry of Christ. Moroni points out that Christ ministered unto this man in the same manner as he did to the Nephites. “and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him.” (vs. 18)
I don’t know what it is about this particular chapter, but it is rich in significant doctrine. The footnotes are expansive in instruction. Today, I find myself consumed in verse 19 following the footnotes for both “knowledge” and “veil”.
The doctrine of the “veil” I find to be particularly curious because that it is clearly a part of our understanding of the the plan of salvation, but that plan is not really laid out anywhere biblical, and it is really only through the narratives of modern apostles and prophets that we have crafted such a detailed blueprint of what this plan looks like, with the veil playing such a central role at birth and throughout mortality.
Continuing along in verse 20, we’re back to the point that the Brother of Jared could not be kept from seeing Christ because of his faith. And the wording of this verse seems to suggests that the Lord was bound because of the exceptional or exceedingly strong faith of the Brother of Jared: “Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil;” The footnote leads to chapter 12, a much deeper discussion on faith that corroborates this point. (See Ether 12:19–21)
The second point that is presented for consideration is that the Brother of Jared did see Jesus Christ. With his physical eyes he was brought to visually see the ante-mortal Lord. The reality is that we do have actual witnesses of our Lord, both ancient and present.
The Brother of Jared is commanded not to reveal publicly the things which he both saw and heard. Rather he was commanded to treasure these things which were given him.
The word of the Lord is recorded verbatim in verses 21-24. This instruction pertains to sealing up the things which were shown unto the brother of Jared until such a time as the Lord decreed should be appropriate for their coming forth.
In verse 25, the Lord shows the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth, all “which had been, and also all that would be;” Verse 26 explains further that it was the Lord that initiated this action by telling the brother of Jared “that if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things—it should be shown unto him;”
The significance of this set of events is simply this: The Lord had given him prior instruction. These verses explain the realization of this instruction received “in times before.” It is the result of the brother of Jared’s faith in the word of the Lord that he had previously received.
This chapter ends with a set of instructions from the Lord to “write these things and seal them up.” The Lord wanted a record made of what had transpired, yet he didn’t want it immediately available until such a time as the Lord saw it fit to make these things available: that is our time.
This chapter is resonating deeply with me this morning. It is how closely the Lord stood with them as he directed them along the way to where they needed to go, and how far they needed to go before they reached their destination. How many barges He had them build and abandon.
The land of the Americas is set forth as a free land here in these verses. Moroni takes pains to explain the decrees of God upon the Americas which have been ever since the days of the Jaredites, and which continue to be even until this time now.
Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ…
Continuing down through the rest of this chapter, I am impressed by the manner in which the Lord chooses to communicate with the brother of Jared. Or rather, the focus of this record is not a history of the people of Jared and his brother, but rather to report on key events (many of them being communications) between the Lord and his servants. Four years had passed with their people camped along the seashore. The brother of Jared forgot to call upon the Lord and was reprimanded for not doing so in a communication that lasted 3 hours.
I also appreciate how, after following his instructions to build barges, the Lord is able to reason with the brother of Jared about the nature of their travels and is really challenging the brother of Jared to think differently about the challenge in front of them. (See verses 23-25)
El enfoque de mi estudio en esta mañana es en como el Señor relata con su pueblo. Siento que esto es el enfoque de Moroni también.
Primordialmente, este libro es para mostrar como el mano del Señor termino o destruyo el pueblo de Jared. Pensamos como humanos que somos encargados de nuestro propio destino. Fue el Señor que confundió la lenguaje del pueblo que empeñaban a construir un torre para llegar al cielo. Fue el Señor que también dio permiso al hermano de Jared para mantener su lenguaje, y el lenguaje de sus familiares para que pudiera continuar como pueblo, un pueblo que esforzaron a seguir al Señor.
He rayado en este capítulo toda las acciones del Señor. Son muchos, y con este enfoque se muestra que este relato es tanto como el Señor actúa con su hijos como un relato de las caracteres principales.
De la Biblia, veamos en el relato del gran torre un Dios que se enoja de gran manera con sus hijos. –[El Señor] juró en su ira que serían dispersados.– (vs. 33) Pero aquí veamos que también había un hombre con quien el Señor se compadeció. (vs. 35)
Al final del capítulo, muestra que el Señor escuchó, se compadeció, y habló con el hermano de Jared. Le dio instrucciones para seguir y bendecir a los que estaban dispuestos a seguirlo.
Es difícil para mí leer estas escrituras sin sentir que el autor esta señalando con el dedo. Pero no lo es. No esta escribiendo desde un lugar de juicio.
I have now spent several days trying to work past the beginning of this chapter. Indeed, I’ve read the chapter now, but I am being drawn back to the very beginning to contemplate “those who do not believe in Christ.” It is a choice, upon which the entire ship sets its course. And because it is a choice, this is something that Moroni knows can be brought to be influenced through the preaching of the Word.
Furthermore, the issue of accepting or not accepting Christ is dimensional, or that of a process. I am trying to find the words that articulate this dilemma of perceptions. Moroni is trying to illustrate that you cannot show up at the judgment bar of Christ unprepared. Using words like nakedness, and filthiness, and a flame of unquenchable fire. But the challenge in using such imagery, true as it may be in the reality of the unrepentant soul at the end of times, is that it is flat. You are either this or your that. Flip or flop. One side or the other.
Then here is the invitation, and something of an ambiguous statement:
O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.
It’s the use of the word “perhaps” suggesting to my mind the uncertainty of our salvation? This doesn’t coincide with…
I prayed about this, and soon discovered that the spirit in which one can read the scriptures can be completely off mark. The reality is that “perhaps” indicates the instability of the human condition. It’s not God who is random or arbitrary.
A new morning and I am back near the beginning contemplating again the flatness of the depiction of what seems to be to be in reality a very dimensional process of coming unto Christ, embarking on the process of becoming a converted disciple of Christ. With fresh eyes, I can see a little clearer now that those who Moroni addresses, those who will not believe in Christ, this disbelief is what makes the process look flat. From outside the front gate, you cannot see much of what lies beyond.
If one doesn’t walk through the gates in this life, and begin to approach the house of God, and then step through the doors and make their way into the deeper corridors, clean one’s self up, put on the garments (symbolically speaking here), sit in the parlor and enjoy meaningful conversation with the Master of the house, join the Family for meals, and games, and service activities… then of course, of course, you are going to feel like you never belonged here in the first place — feeling naked, feeling like you would rather be consumed by fire, than being forced to stay somewhere that doesn’t feel comfortable to you. (See verses 3-5)
This is a very charitable thing that Moroni has done, causing the unbelieving to contemplate the end, the inevitable end, or the assured final steps of this probation: namely, the final judgment. This is for anyone who would insist that there is no Christ, no God in this world.
Side note: the later end of the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 26:3, Mormon 5:23, and here in verse 2) are these references to the earth being rolled together as a scroll at the end of time. That’s quite a visual, illustrating an rather dramatic end and complete upheaval of things as we know them. As permanent as it seems, this all is a temporary existence.
Will there be empty seats in heaven?
These verses are causing me to consider another interesting dynamic. I have children that are outside the safety net of the gospel of Christ, yet mine and my wife’s marital covenants to each other remain in tack. Where do our children who are presently choosing to reject the Christ and His gospel land if they do not change? If they remain bound to us (because we have covenants to be so to them), but do not want to be with us where we will dwell eternally, what does this look like?
Praying about these questions, I discover two things:
I am asking the wrong questions. There is an assumption in these questions that my beliefs have already preassigned me to my destination. I know where I am going, but I am by no means already there.
The covenants that I have made are action-oriented, requiring me not to sit on my laurels with the hope of arriving at the destination, but rather of working towards becoming.
Un Dios de Milagros (A God of Miracles)
Moroni illustrates in this chapter a God of miracles.
My attentions have been drawn to verses 25 -27 this morning. “Who can stand against the works of the Lord?” Moroni asks in verse 26. I am contemplating my involvement with Florence Nightingale, and what I’m learning of her life’s work. I have much to learn about this, but somehow this is God’s work, and I am being enlisted in this, particularly as it pertains to India. ( I re-read this note two days after having written it, and the Spirit reverberated even stronger within me the reality of these truths. Despise not the works of the Lord. )
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.” (vs. 27) Earlier in the same verse is another invitation to “ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever you shall stand in need of.” So here I am again at that moment, where even the Spirit of the Lord encourages me to do the same.
In verse 29, Moroni admonishes us (3x) to avoid unworthiness (twice) and then to be worthy (once). But what is worthiness before the Lord? A reference to Leviticus 22:3 offers this clarification: “Whosoever… that goeth unto the holy things, which… having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the Lord.” (emphasis added) Being worthy, in a spiritually defining way, then has to do with being permitted to dwell in the presence of the Lord.
I am sitting with my own personal history and experiences with the influence of the Lord in my life. I cannot look back in my family life and see a time when I felt that I had walked in unworthiness before the Lord, yet still great hardship has befallen me and my family. In fact, it is quite the opposite, I look back and can see the hand of the Lord with me, even at times and in seasons where I now look back at and say to myself, I should have done this thing better during that time, or my focus should have been elsewhere.
Yet, the Lord has never abandoned me as I have sought him, even in profound states of error. How can such a thing be? How could I be so wrong and yet still qualify for and find grace in His presence?
I am reading through the chapter one more time from top to bottom, highlighting key thoughts as I go:
God is a Holy Being, one into who’s presence as mortal being we cannot stand the exposure to his physical presence. It was as if we were to be thrust into the core of the sun and not expect to burn.
Which way am I facing? The only right way to turn is towards Christ, every other direction is wrong. Even towards myself. Verse 6 applies to me as much as any heathen.
God is a God of miracles. Moroni goes to some length in illustrating this point, offering an outline of the plan of redemption as a proof of God as a Being who works by miracles.
Chapter 8 of the book of Mormon starts with a sudden shift in narration from Mormon to his son, Moroni. It come unexpectedly, though chapter 7 is a fitting farewell tribute for Mormon. One get the sense that there was more that Mormon had intended to write.
What stands out to me at the beginning of this chapter is Moroni’s singular purpose, and yet the uncertainty and precariousness of the situation in which he finds himself. He doesn’t know if he will soon be slayed himself. (All it would take is one failed interaction with the enemy. )
The uncertainty of the situation is express in this simple statement: “and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not.” (vs. 5)
After describing the complete and utter destruction of his people, Moroni concludes: “it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it.” (vs. 8)
He points again to the Lord in stating that He would not suffer the disciples of Christ tarry. Moroni has continue the course of his father’s authorship in showing what the Lord was doing among his people.
“And there are none that do know the true God save it be the disciples of Jesus…” (vs. 10) This is an important distinction for Moroni to make: that there are none left that are connected to God, none that know the true God, except it be these three disciples of Jesus. Moroni then says that he has seen them and that they had ministered to him. This makes a great deal of sense to me and also shows me how even one faithful disciple (Moroni) can be preserved, strengthened, and protected to accomplish the work of the Lord.
Tools, means, methods, agents, resources, ministers; the Lord has many things at His disposal to accomplish His work.
And then what promise is unveiled in verse 12! If we will accept the Book of Mormon, and not condemn it or find fault with it, ours will be the blessing of greater knowledge. This is a promise contained elsewhere in the Book of Mormon but also in the Bible:
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them. …Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people.
Verse 14 is my focus today, and how it is that something that transform in purpose, and even value, according to the Lord’s interactions with it. Precious metal, gold plates, can be rendered of no value for the purpose of monetary gain, when the Lord’s words are recorded upon them. Sudden it is the word of God that literally transforms its purpose and worth. Arguably, the value is increased and becomes of much greater worth than its monetary value.
This has my thoughts going in multiple directions:
One, how materials can be transformed into something of much greater importance than what they were before the thing was created.
Second, Moroni is talking with the Lord here, and it is the words of the Lord that he is referencing here: “For he truly saith that no one shall have them to get gain;” What I am getting at here is that it is the voice of the Lord that Moroni is hearing, and Moroni’s reference point is direct communication with Him. This is why this book is a witness of Christ. This is a man who is walking hand and hand with the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of his civilization. How else could should a book be conceived?
If you believe this, Brent, and I do, there is more to learn.
I am now focused this morning on a selection found in verses 14 – 16. Moroni points to him that will bring forth the record, and declares his blessed state, and how it is that the Lord will bless him. The reason why Moroni makes this bold statement is because, as we’ve already discussed, this is God’s work, and Moroni knows that whoever it is that gets tasked with revealing it on the other end, he will already be favored of God:
For none can have power to bring it to light save it be given him of God; for God wills that it shall be done with an eye single to his glory, or the welfare of the ancient and long dispersed covenant people of the Lord.
Something that I have never seriously considered in a scripture study is that violence, physical force, is never condoned in the scriptures. It is always the wrong answer.
Yet how strangely ironic is this dynamic of our physical, mortal experience. How often I have resorted to mild violence in parenting techniques in the past. Frustration boils. This is something that I have repented of, and that I might more deliberately repent of.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. But the days will come, when the violent shall have no power; for all the prophets and the law prophesied that it should be thus until John. Yea, as many as have prophesied have foretold of these days. And if ye will receive it, verily, he was the Elias, who was for to come and prepare all things.
Jesus suffered violence, but did not resort to it in return or in response to his violent accusers. He didn’t even respond with anger, the precursor to a violent disposition.
Reading further into Mormon 8:21-26 and I am considering how powerful is the word of the Lord. Whether or not it is believed, it is brought to pass. The reality of the situation is that this is another agenda, a higher agenda, a divine priority that will be realized. The Lord’s timing and purposes will be fulfilled, regardless of our personal judgments or ambitions. There are covenants at play between the Lord and his prophets. These are prayers of the prophets that the Lord has covenanted to answer in his own time. There are things that cannot be altered by the whims of men.
Judgment and Violence
What is the purpose of judgment and why do we resort to threats, anger, and ultimately violence as a means of enforcement of our judgments.
Considering the following scriptures:
19 For behold, the same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again; for according to his works shall his wages be; therefore, he that smiteth shall be smitten again, of the Lord.
20 Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay.
11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
There exists such a binding power between the Lord and his Saints! It is strong and woven through countless prayers from many years gone by. It is a woven generational tapestry that has already been crafted through the faith of these our dead ancestors. It is now in the hands of the Lord to fulfill His promises. “For the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled.” (vs. 22)
A restoration to the way things “used to be” is not going to happen.
Moroni is painting a very compelling argument for why the wicked ought not to stand in the way of the Lord. He is illustrating the character of those saints who have petitioned the Lord. These were individuals of such faith that in the very name of the Lord they could move mountains, shake the earth, and destroy prisons. You literally cannot oppose this kind of faith without getting run over.
Why did the Lord honor such faith? “And he knoweth their prayers, that they were in behalf of their brethren.” (vs. 24)
The first thing that stands out to me in this chapter written directly to descendants of Lehi is the invitation to come unto repentance, coupled with a warning: or you cannot be saved.
It is that straight forward: if I do not accept repentance as a way of living, the way of life, then I am nothing and cannot be saved. If I am not willing to embark upon this amazing journey of self-discovery, than have I no purpose. There is no other purpose to our existence (but we don’t usually explain it as such). Rather we cannot be saved (understand what this means, Brent) in the kingdom of God. We cannot claim the position or the space that we were created to occupy, if we do not embrace the prescribed course for our becoming who we are destined to be: heirs of God.
Therefore, we must become as little children (submissive, meek, teachable) or we cannot become as He is. We must educate ourselves unto repentance.
I have more questions and more thoughts as I continue to read this very succinct exposition on the plan of redemption:
How do we obtain to a place of guiltless being before the Lord? Surely we cannot just sit upon our laurels with a vain of hope of having done nothing and really hope to be esteemed as guiltless before the Lord when we appear to be judged of him.
And if Christ who bore his cross calls on me to bear mine, how can I shrink from such an assignment as this? And not do the hard work of changing myself to be where I need to be to qualify for the work in front of me?
It is not enough to stop at the gate of being “sin free”? Why would I be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, if I only needed Christ’s cleansing effect of being “sin free”? Why would I be found singing praises to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, if I had only received cleansing through Christ? The Father indeed sent Christ, but what of the Holy Ghost? If there was nothing more to do than to be save? Salvation would be a one-and-done deal, but there is much more to it than this.
I am coming to understand the scope of the work before me to do…. “It is well with my soul.” (See Prayer on 15 Apr 2022.)
I cannot begin to describe the feeling of my soul this morning. The lyrics of the hymn (it might as well be one) “It Is Well with My Soul” are coursing through my veins this morning, stronger than life itself.
My Soul who on Jesus Hath leaned for repose,
My Sin not in part, but in whole,
Is Nailed to the Cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, it is well with my soul.
Al leer en español este capítulo, hay la frase en vercículo 5 que dice: –debéis llegar al conocimiento de vuestros padres–. Siempre pensaba que aquí se hablaba a los descendientes de Lehi, pero siento que Mormon está hablando a mi con este mandato. Sentí algo parecido ayer cuando leí la frase: Sabed que son de la Casa de Israel.
Paro en un nuevo día de estudio en el versículo 4, y pregunto –cuales son mis armas de guerra?– ?Cuales son los instrumentos de conflicto en mi vida? Como yo no podría ver el conflicto, ni puedo ver los instrumentos que empleo que están causando conflicto en mi vida.
I have just assigned a title to this entry: “Know Ye.” The phrase “Know ye…” is repeated throughout this chapter, and I hadn’t stopped to consider it until this morning. Mormon is also exhorting that we come to a place of belief. Consider this: “…and if ye believe this ye will know…” (vs. 9) Belief therefore does lead to knowledge. Perhaps knowledge can only be acquired in faith.