Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2011, November 30

“Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 5:14: Joseph–Being Preserved and Preserving” by grego

Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 5:14: Joseph–Being Preserved and Preserving–Service Extends Life


I was impressed by this verse today:

1 Nephi 5:14 And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that *Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine*.

God did not send Joseph to Egypt; his wicked brothers did. However, God *did* preserve him while he was there. Joseph could have ended up in many places and had many things happen to him, but he ended up in Potiphar’s house and was treated well. He could have been killed by Potiphar, but he was just put in jail, where he met someone who would introduce him and his talents to Pharaoh in a time of crisis. Pharaoh could have said “Good job” and sent him back, or whatever, but he put him in a high position where he would meet his brothers when they came for food. Why was he preserved? Not necessarily for his own good, or for the good of Egypt, but especially for the good of his father and his household.

Do you want to live better, longer? Serve others! We all have our time to pass over to the other side, but if you are living so that God can use you to bless others, you might have a better chance of making it for another day…

UPDATE: Two more verses from the Book of Mormon supporting “service extends life”…

King Benjamin

Mosiah 2:11 But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen by this people, and consecrated by my father, and was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king over this people; and <have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you> with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me.


Alma 2:29 And it came to pass that Alma fought with Amlici with the sword, face to face; and they did contend mightily, one with another.

30 And it came to pass that Alma, being a man of God, being exercised with much faith, cried, saying: O Lord, have mercy and <spare my life, that I may be an instrument in thy hands to save and preserve this people>.

31 Now when Alma had said these words he contended again with Amlici; and <he was strengthened, insomuch that he slew Amlici with the sword>.

And Alma is in more of the Book of Mormon than anyone else, saving and preserving the Nephites.

2011, November 21

“Book of Mormon: Nephi’s Vision of the House of Israel Fighting against the Twelve Apostles and Losing (1 Nephi 11:35)” by grego

Book of Mormon: Nephi’s Vision of the House of Israel Fighting against the Twelve Apostles and Losing (1 Nephi 11:35)


Ok, this has been sitting in the Drafts” section for too long, with nothing much more going on, so I’ll put it up for comment:

Nephi sees in vision:
1 Nephi 11:35 And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof; yea, behold *the house of Israel* hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
This happens after Jesus is slain on the cross:
33 And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.
34 And after he was slain I saw the multitudes of the earth, that they were gathered together to fight against the apostles of the Lamb; for thus were the twelve called by the angel of the Lord.
35 And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof; yea, behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
36 And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

After this, the vision seems to end, and another vision about Nephi’s posterity and the New World opens up.

This seems problematic: obviously Peter, James, John and the other apostles didn’t openly fight and overcome the world and its wisdom and pride, nor was everyone who fought against them destroyed.

Then what is the meaning of this part of Nephi’s vision: “the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb”?

2011, November 18

LDS/ Mormon | “Book of Mormon: Origins of Lehi’s 600-Year Prophecy of the Coming of the Messiah/ Savior Jesus Christ” by grego

Book of Mormon: Origins of Lehi’s 600-Year Prophecy of the Coming of the Messiah/ Savior Jesus Christ


Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon, we see that Lehi prophesies that Jesus would come around 600 years:
1 Nephi 10:4 Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews—even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world.

How did Lehi know that?? Some say that it was just a nice little thingy that Joseph Smith put in the book, to bolster its “prophecy power”. Let’s see what else the book says…

Nephi says:
1 Nephi 19:8 And behold he cometh, *according to the words of the angel*, in six hundred years from the time my father left Jerusalem.

And lastly:
2 Nephi 25:19 For *according to the words of the prophets*, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Which is the first mention of “Jesus Christ” in the Book of Mormon.)

I believe that Lehi did not just invent or have a completely new revelation on this fact. Note that 1 Nephi 10, and its content, seems to be closely related to Lehi’s study of the brass plates. Then note that in 2 Nehpi 25:19, Nephi writes that the 600-year prophecy is given “according to the words of the prophets”. My conclusion is that this prophecy (though maybe not in its “600-year” form) is given on the brass plates.

2011, November 11

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS/ Mormon: “The Most Effective Sunday School Class Teaching for Gospel Essentials” by grego

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS/ Mormon: The Most Effective Sunday School Class Teaching for Gospel Essentials


In October 2011 General Conference, Matthew O. Richardson, the Second Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency, spoke on “Teaching after the Manner of the Spirit”. He said:
“Those who teach after this manner of the Spirit help others by inviting, encouraging, and providing them opportunities to use their agency.”
“With the current conditions of the world, we desperately need real learning and teaching in our homes, meetings, and gospel classes.”
“My life has been blessed by real teachers, who have taught with the Spirit and especially by the Spirit. I invite you to align the manner of your teaching after the manner of the Holy Ghost in all you do.”
“or believe they are turning all their teaching over to the Spirit when, in truth, they are actually just ‘winging it.'”

I think this is most necessary for new members, which means for the Gospel Essentials class. (And hey, what do you know, that means priesthood and Relief Society now, too!) It totally agree about the Spirit.

The talk was ironic, because I’ve written the LDS Curriculum Department (twice, I believe) about this, but no changes have been made; in fact, I got a negative email back once.

So, I’m going to share the best teaching I’ve experienced with you!

The teacher is very knowledgeable, but has the ability to put the gospel in very easy to understand terms and concepts. Lesson preparation is done ahead of time, but the Spirit leads.

The teacher welcomes everyone, starts class with a prayer, finds out about everyone. The teacher invites students to share things about their lives from that week. Reports are given (later).

The tone of the class is set as a safe, welcoming place to learn. Many of the questions, in fact, are not asked by the teacher, but by the students.

A few of the class members are ward missionaries; they support the teacher in helping the students learn the gospel. They do this by sharing how they learned, experiences they went through, and their testimonies.

The lesson starts. There is lots of discussion. Everyone speaks, everyone shares.

At the end of class, HOMEWORK IS GIVEN!! It’s not mandatory to participate in it or complete it to any level, and no one is checking; but it is given. Everyone is invited to participate in both doing it, and in reporting their experience next week in class.

This reporting does not matter if the experience was positive or negative, successful or not, or unknown. This is the time to correlate the lessons to life, to explain better or deeper, to resolve concerns, to talk about what might have happened and why, to confirm faith, and share testimonies.

The more this was done, the more excited members became about living the gospel during the week and even attending class.


So, if by some remote chance the Sunday School General Presidency sees this… I encourage you to try it!

Oh, about that “winging it” part…
I’ve seen it done, true, but the person usually doesn’t have the Sprit much and is feeling guilty, so it’s hard to have a good lesson. But… I have something to share about “winging it”. For a few months I would do a lot of preparing for class (scripture reading, thinking about class and members, meditating, etc.), but would walk in there without a lesson, and just see what came up.
One day a girl started crying during class. I asked what was up. She shared that every week, for three weeks in a row, she had had pressing, stressful matters in her life—and that every week, for three weeks in a row, she had found the very answers she needed. The third time it happened, it was overwhelming and moved her to tears. Sometimes, there’s a fine line between winging it and teaching by the Spirit… ;) Yes, I had felt prompted, and then there was a time to end that way for that class.

2011, November 10

“Book of Mormon: The Unseen Lord is above All to Nephi—Even Present Angels (1 Nephi 3; 1 Nephi 4)” by grego

Book of Mormon: The Unseen Lord is Above All to Nephi—Even Present Angels (1 Nephi 3, 4)


Laman and Lemuel are mad at Sam and Nephi and beat them:
1 Nephi 3:29 And it came to pass as they smote us with a rod, behold, *an angel* of the Lord came and stood before them, and he spake unto them, saying: Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod? Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities? Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and *the Lord will deliver Laban* into your hands.
30 And after the angel had spoken unto us, he departed.
31 And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?

Note that the angel will not deliver Laban; the Lord will.

Nephi’s reply:
1 Nephi 4:1 And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and *let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of *the Lord*; for behold *he* is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?
2 Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea.
3 Now behold ye know that this is true; and ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you; wherefore can ye doubt? Let us go up; *the Lord* is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.

I think most people would pumped up, stressing: “Wow, we just saw an angel!! He appeared out of nowhere, and disappeared to nowhere! Power! SURE we can take Laban with his help!!”

But not Nephi. He knows and remembers that faith and power are in the Lord, not in His angels; His angels just speak for Him.

This reminds me of Nephi’s teaching:
2 Nephi 28:31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Nephi knows he can trust the Lord’s angel, though:
2 Nephi 32:3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.

“Book of Mormon: The Holy Ghost Persuades Nephi to Slay Laban (1 Nephi 3)” by grego

Book of Mormon: The Holy Ghost Persuades Nephi to Slay Laban (1 Nephi 3)


In 1 Nephi 4, Nephi shares what happened with Laban, and the influence of the Holy Ghost. I see it similar to this:

6 And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.
7 Nevertheless I went forth, and as I came near unto the house of Laban I beheld a man, and he had fallen to the earth before me, for he was drunken with wine.
8 And when I came to him I found that it was Laban.

The Spirit leads Nephi to the right spot, where he sees a man passed out on the ground. Seeing is not much of a certain thing in the dark streets of Jerusalem; I wonder if Nephi bent down to help a man, when he found out the man he intended to help was Laban.

9 And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel.

As I’ve mentioned in another article, Nephi does not draw the sword with the intent to slay Laban, but more out of “Wow, cool blade!”. God allows Neph’s natural thinking, curiosity, and actions to take over to prepare for and lead to the next step.

10 And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.

Would it be fair to say, minimally, that the Spirit says: “You should kill Laban.” It’s not a command, but an option, a suggestion.
Nephi says something like, “No, I’m not a murderer, I don’t want to.” Even after all that had happened that day, that’s a pretty typical thought for a righteous young man. (In another article I also mention Nephi’s probable mindset about how the Lord would deliver Laban and why.)

What does “constrain” mean? Here, from Webster’s 1828 dictionary:
“CONSTRAIN, v.t. [L., to strain, to bind. See Strain.] In a general sense, to strain; to press; to urge; to drive; to exert force, physical or moral, either in urging to action or in restraining it. Hence,
1. To compel or force; to urge with irresistible power, or with a power sufficient to produce the effect.
2. To confine by fore; to restrain from escape or action; to repress.
3. To hold by force; to press; to confine.
4. To constringe; to bind.
5. To tie fast; to bind; to chain; to confine.
6. To necessitate.
7. To force; to ravish. [Not used.]
8. To produce in opposition to nature; as a constrained voice; constrained notes.”
That’s a lot of choices, and all could fit well, and I think most of them are pretty obvious how they fit here, too.
I think the eighth definition is very interesting here: “to produce in opposition to nature”, or maybe, to “in opposition to one’s natural or normal state/ doing”. The Spirit doesn’t usually lead someone to kill someone else, and Nephi understood and experienced the Spirit in always the opposite way. And Nephi doesn’t naturally have lust or murder in his heart (look at how much love and patience he had with his brothers who had just yelled at and beat him, then chickened out to help).

11 And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.

The Spirit starts out with the “facts”, with the straightforward, non-debatable “as is”; what the Law prescribes. The Lord has delivered him–this is way too much beyond chance, you had no intention, etc.–it’s not a coincidence you are where you are now, in this situation.
So Nephi reviews the case, counts it out:
1. Laban unlawfully tried to murder him. (Not only that, but when Nephi was his guest, in his house.)
2. Laban had been given opportunities to obey the Lord, but had rejected them all—in fact, the opportunities to repent only lead to more sin.
3. Laban was a robber.

12 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands;

The Spirit does not stop. It reminds Nephi that Laban has been delivered by the Lord, for this purpose.

13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.

Nephi had previously said: “I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7).
The Spirit tells him here, “This is the way the Lord has prepared for you so you can obey his commandments”.
“You know that Laban is wicked, deserves to die by the law, is not repentant, and stands in the Lord’s way.”
“You as a man are not killing Laban; you are being a tool in the Lord’s hands to slay him.”
“One wicked man the Lord has delivered to you, or a nation of nonbelievers?”

14 And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise.
15 Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.
16 And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass.

“…a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.” A nation? Yes, Nephi—not the Spirit—makes the connection to what the Spirit means. Nephi knows at least much of the Law—but will his children? If so, how? They need these records for their belief and obedience. And his father had said: “Laban hath the record of the Jews”.

17 And again, I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands for this cause—that I might obtain the records according to his commandments.

Nephi understands clearly now—twice because of the Spirit and once because of his own understanding–that the Lord has delivered Laban to him, so that he can get the plates.

18 Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.

Nephi knows the Spirit has been telling him the truth, but he is now convinced to do the right thing. (Note that Laban was drunk and probably had no idea that he was dead—the Lord was still merciful to him.)

2011, November 7

“Book of Mormon | Laman and Lemuel: ‘Foolish Imaginations of the Heart’ (1 Nephi 2:11, 1 Nephi 17:20)” by grego

Laman and Lemuel: “Foolish Imaginations of the Heart”


Laman and Lemuel accuse their father of doing things that go contrary to what they believe should be done due to “the foolish imaginations of his heart”:
1 Nephi 2:11 Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness. And this they said he had done because of the *foolish imaginations of his heart*.
12 And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.
13 Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets. And they were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem, who sought to take away the life of my father.
14 And it came to pass that my father did speak unto them in the valley of Lemuel, with power, being filled with the Spirit, until their frames did shake before him. And he did confound them, that they durst not utter against him; wherefore, they did as he commanded them.

They accuse Nephi of the same:
1 Nephi 17:18 And thus my brethren did complain against me, and were desirous that they might not labor, for they did not believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord.
19 And now it came to pass that I, Nephi, was exceedingly sorrowful because of the hardness of their hearts; and now when they saw that I began to be sorrowful they were glad in their hearts, insomuch that they did rejoice over me, saying: We knew that ye could not construct a ship, for we knew that ye were lacking in judgment; wherefore, thou canst not accomplish so great a work.
20 And thou art like unto our father, led away by the *foolish imaginations of his heart*; yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years; and our women have toiled, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things, save it were death; and it would have been better that they had died before they came out of Jerusalem than to have suffered these afflictions.
21 Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy.
22 And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people; and our father hath judged them, and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his words; yea, and our brother is like unto him. And after this manner of language did my brethren murmur and complain against us.

Yet even after their father Lehi causes them to tremble by the Spirit, and after Nephi shocks them and they see the boat is good, they still don’t change their minds.

This is a nice “mirror” problem: they see in Lehi and Nephi and accuse them of what is in them, and accuse them of what is in them: “foolish imaginations of [their] heart”.

They actually believe that Jerusalem can’t be destroyed??
They actually believe that the people there are righteous??
They actually deny God and His hand in their endeavors after being visited by an angel, having the miracle of getting the plates, Nephi escaping their bonds of death, hearing the voice of the Lord, etc.??

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