I am a flurry of thoughts and emotions as I start into this final chapter of the Book of Mormon, in what has been a 12-year daily affair for me. But as I read Moroni’s invitation in verse 3 to meditate upon the mercy of the Lord extended towards his people since the time of Adam up until my present moment in time, the thought is overwhelmingly profound. How do I have in my possession a book that is of ancient date, which God has been able to use to school and train me in matters of profound spiritual significance. I have done something that was unique to me, and the result is that the Lord has taught me to repent: the infinite-tries, bounce back card, that never stops working.
How merciful is this! How profoundly life-altering is this.
God works by power. It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that truth is made known. It is by power that God work with us, according to our faith.
The invitation to prove the veracity of the Book of Mormon is in verse 4. Verses 5, 6, and 7 are then a backwards progression through the Godhead with a focus on proving the existence of Christ by the power of God. I had missed that focus on Christ previously, but it is here, as it always is, in the Book of Mormon:
Verse 5 states that we can know the truth of all things by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Such a profound and reassuring statement.)
Verse 6 turns the focus towards Christ, explaining that all that is good (or just and true) points us to Christ and acknowledges the existence of Christ. (For example the Book of Mormon points us to Christ and acknowledges him.)
But then I missed this in verse 7 (because Christ is referenced only by pronoun), by the power of the Holy Ghost, we will know that Jesus Christ is! Therefore, we must not deny the power of God, because this is how we will gain a witness of the Christ. (There is no other way.)
This is what Moroni was trying to get at with these first 7 verses. Gain a witness of the Book of Mormon because it will point you to Jesus Christ. That’s the whole point. They are trying to point us to Jesus.
I was about to move on, but then I was brought back to a phrase in verse 3 that I don’t fully understand: “If it be wisdom in God that ye should read them…” In Spanish, it roughly translates to ” If God judges that it be wise (or prudent) that you should read them…” (I suppose that when I have wrestled with this it will be plainly and painfully obvious.)
There is a timing element in this statement, as if to suggest that if God saw that this was the right time for you to read and consider these things.
(Side tangent: as I am wrestling with this, I was just brought back to housing plans for a home in Arizona that I had considered and contemplated building. I don’t know why. But it was like a packet of truth was unlocked and a flowering of inspiration and ideas resulted. Why? The housing crisis that we have is because we’ve homogenized the building process for commercial gains. That has to stop! We build houses according to local environs, not according to mass production.)
But the greater question is this: Why would it NOT be in God’s wisdom or time table that one should read these things? Or would it be prudent that God would judge that someone would not be ready to receive these things? This is such an interesting and yet profoundly important conditional that Moroni is laying here at the gateway to this invitation.
My takeaways from the above observation are these:
- God is explaining to me why he has waited until now to reveal these things unto me concerning Florence Nightingale, India, Irrigation, etc.
- It may be wisdom in God to place some of his children elsewhere in the vineyard.
Despite all that our Church does directly, most humanitarian service to the children of God worldwide is carried out by persons and organizations having no formal connection with our Church. As one of our Apostles observed: “God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of his great and marvelous work. … It is too vast, too arduous, for any one people.”4 As members of the restored Church, we need to be more aware and more appreciative of the service of others.Pres. Dallin H. Oaks, Helping the Poor and Distressed, October 2022 general conference
I have followed this further to the quote referenced by President Oaks from Orson F. Whitney. When contemplating why good men such as Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley couldn’t see the prophets of God right in front of them, Elder Whitney offered this insight:
…Perhaps the Lord needs such men on the outside of his Church, to help it along. They are among its auxiliaries, and can do more good for the cause where the Lord has placed them, than anywhere else. And the same is true of the priesthood and its auxiliaries inside the Church. Hence, some are drawn inside the fold and receive a testimony of the Truth; while others remain unconverted — for the present; the beauties and glories of the gospel being veiled temporarily from their view, for a wise purpose. The Lord will open their eyes in his own due time.Orson F. Whitney, General Conference Report, p. 59 (emphasis added)
There is a preparation exercise in verse 3. Preparation for what? For the invitation to “ask God” in verse 4.
The preparation exercise is to ponder the merciful nature of the Lord towards his children since the beginning of time. Indeed, a Being of omniscience and omnipotence patiently waits for his wayward and prideful children to come around to him, generation after generation. I don’t know how and I don’t know why he would be such with us. Maybe because this is how seeds grow?
Then the invitation to ask is given in the negative. In consideration of God’s merciful goodness towards the children of men, with what we know of that, are the things presented in the Book of Mormon not an accurate account of God’s ongoing merciful nature with his children? Are these things NOT true? (I need to pray.)
I come back around to one of the first points made in this post: God works by power.