Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2013, January 16

“Book of Mormon and Other Scriptures | 3 Nephi 24: Comforting Passages of Scripture for the Extremely Discouraged/ Despondent and/ or Falling Saint” by grego

Book of Mormon and Other Scriptures | 3 Nephi 24: Comforting Passages of Scripture for the Extremely Discouraged/ Despondent and/ or Falling Saint

(c) 2013

One of the strongest and most comforting passages of scripture I have found is in 3 Nephi 24/ Malachi 3—right after the much, much more famous tithing scripture passage. I see it as a major question asked by those frustrated with trying to live the gospel in a lower world, such as many teenagers and newly-baptized and those who try so hard to give they forget to receive; and the answer is extremely touching and strong:
3 Nephi 24:13 Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say: What have we spoken against thee?
14 Ye have said: It is vain to serve God, and what doth it profit that we have kept his ordinances and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts?
15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.
16 Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.
17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
18 Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

While we need to try much harder to LIVE and BE “here and now”, or as many would say, “being present”… It’s NOT just about “here and now”. Oh, the living righteous part is, of course; but not the consequences, nor the results—whether inside us or outside of us—of obedience.

In addition to that, in a similar situation, comes another passage of scripture. This is also comforting because it talks about situations where we are not righteous enough, and yet…:
Doctrine and Covenants 101:1 Verily I say unto you, concerning your brethren who have been afflicted, and persecuted, and cast out from the land of their inheritance—
2 I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions;
3 Yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels.
4 Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son.
5 For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.
6 Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.
7 They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble.
8 In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.
9 Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding their sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards them. I will not utterly cast them off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy.
10 I have sworn, and the decree hath gone forth by a former commandment which I have given unto you, that I would let fall the sword of mine indignation in behalf of my people; and even as I have said, it shall come to pass.
11 Mine indignation is soon to be poured out without measure upon all nations; and this will I do when the cup of their iniquity is full.
12 And in that day all who are found upon the watch-tower, or in other words, all mine Israel, shall be saved.
13 And they that have been scattered shall be gathered.
14 And all they who have mourned shall be comforted.
15 And all they who have given their lives for my name shall be crowned.
16 Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.

The section heading introduction reads: “At this time the saints who had gathered in Missouri were suffering great persecution. Mobs had driven them from their homes in Jackson County, and some of them had tried to establish themselves in Van Buren County, but persecution followed them. The main body of the saints was at that time in Clay County, Missouri. Threats of death against individuals of the Church were many. The people had lost household furniture, clothing, livestock, and other personal property, and many of their crops had been destroyed.”

The hymn that naturally follows these passages is “How Firm a Foundation”:
1. How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

2. In ev’ry condition–in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea–
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

3. Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

4. When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

5. When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

6. E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

7. The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

Text: Attr. to Robert Keen, ca. 1787 (grego: and edited by LDS Church). Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835.

I believe that in the coming days of trial and great discouragement, these scriptures will be of utmost importance in sustaining us in our faith and fidelity to our covenants. They go right along with the Isaiah passages (especially from Nephi) in the Book of Mormon.

2009, August 21

Book of Mormon: “3 Nephi 1 and the Faith of Believers in Prophecy” by grego

Book of Mormon: “3 Nephi 1 and the Faith of Believers in Prophecy”
(c) 2009

I found this very interesting:
3 Nephi 1:5 But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite.

3 Nephi 1:6 And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.

3 Nephi 1:7 And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.

3 Nephi 1:8 But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain.

3 Nephi 1:9 Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet.

3 Nephi 1:10 Now it came to pass that when Nephi, the son of Nephi, saw this wickedness of his people, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful.

3 Nephi 1:11 And it came to pass that he went out and bowed himself down upon the earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people, yea, those who were about to be destroyed because of their faith in the tradition of their fathers.

Having only been five years, I imagine that most of the saints had either heard of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy or heard others speak about having heard it. They had likely felt the Spirit when they heard it.

Yet here it was, it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen. Perhaps… something was wrong? What? What had changed? What was the cause? Was it due to a change in the conditions of the prophecy? Had they been wicked? Had their faith not been enough? Did something happen “over there”, in Jerusalem? (Or before you jump on my case, Bethlehem, Judea, wherever…) They were unsure. *They didn’t know.*

I’ve had the experience of giving many priesthood blessings, which are basically all prophecies. I’ve had glorious experiences seeing many of them fulfilled. A few also make me wonder about “what happened”… So, I’ve felt before a little of what they were feeling. I know others have, too. Sometimes things *do* change—I know about that, too. Still, there is the “watching steadfastly” for the fulfillment of the prophecy.

I feel the humbleness and belief of the believers in verse 7. They weren’t worried others might think they were misled or stupid; they weren’t quick to retort with lots of “reasons why” and explanations, though I imagine there were many; they weren’t mad at Samuel the Lamanite or Nephi. Frankly, when it came time, I doubt they were more worried about dying; they were “very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.” It was similar with Nephi, who was “exceedingly sorrowful”, not just about his faith, I imagine, but about the “wickedness of his people”—*not* the saints, but the Nephites who were going to kill the saints.

2008, April 21

Book of Mormon: Critique of John Tvedtnes Comment in Meridian Magazine–Stripling Warriors

Many of the explanations/ arguments are basic ones that have been around for quite a while and treated elsewhere. Either that, or ones that I never thought anyone would ever argue, but I guess he’s heard them. Ok, cool. There were a few new ones, though, and being the negative critic that I usually am, here’s one that I just had to write about… Here’s what John Tvedtnes writes:

Battle Wounds
Critics and Latter-day Saints alike have misread Alma 57:25 as meaning that, of Helaman’s 2,060 stripling warriors, all of them had “received many wounds,” but “there was not one soul of them who did perish.” Critics point out the impossibility that none of the more than two thousand wounded died, while believers point out that this was, after all, a miraculous event.
However, a careful reading of the verse shows that only 200 of the 2,060 had been wounded and fainted and that it was these 200 who had the “many wounds” but none of them perished. “And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds” (Alma 57:25).
A similar situation is described in Alma 49:23-24, where we read that no Nephites died in the battle, though fifty had been wounded and that many of [these wounds] were very severe.”

This reminds me of a pretty bright philosophy professor at BYU. The irony of his high priesthood group was this: they would all be arguing about something, it would be getting louder and louder, then one old man would stand up and wave his hands, “Brethren, brethren, brethren! We shouldn’t be arguing about this. This is wrong!” After it would get quiet, he would add, “Now, I’ll tell you the *real* answer…”

(As I show in some of my other critiques, some scholars are really good at twisting things to make the text out to what they want when it’s convenient.) No, that’s not what the text clearly shows. See, antecedents in the Book of Mormon are famous for being split between “good English” and “bad English”. In other words, sometimes they refer to the thing right before them, and sometimes they refer to something further back. In the Book of Mormon, you can’t use them as proof–which is where Tvedtnes’ entire argument lies here. I think Tvedtnes got a little confused here. I think I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here, but I think he got tripped up on that one part and lost the context; what he meant to say was, the record talks about those that had fainted were the ones with the wounds, not that the others of the 2,000 didn’t die. But it *is* right to say that none of the 2,000 stripling warriors were killed in battle. It *was* a miracle. That’s the whole story–none of them died. Not one of the stripling warriors died. Yet, Tvedtnes would have everyone believe otherwise. (Nope, not backing this up just because I fell in love with an interpretation and I don’t want my sacred cow messed with…)
Alma 56:46-48 makes no sense at all if you interpret it the way Tvedtnes does:
46 “For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and *he will not suffer that we should fall*; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.”
47 “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.”
48 “And *they* (all of the stripling warriors, not just the 200 that got wounded) rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: *We do not doubt our mothers knew it*.”

Neither does Alma 56:55-56, which talks about an earlier battle:
55 “And now it came to pass that when they had surrendered themselves up unto us, behold, *I numbered those young men who had fought with me (the stripling warriors), fearing lest there were many of them slain*.”
56 “But behold, to my great joy, there had *not one soul of them fallen to the earth*; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war.”

What Tvedtnes really says is that 200 stripling warriors getting wounded and not dying is cool… even if the other 1,860 did… Huh? That doesn’t quite make sense to me.
Oh, and Alma 58:39-40 *really* doesn’t make sense if his interpretation is the correct one:
39 “And those sons of the people of Ammon, of whom I have so highly spoken, are with me in the city of Manti; and *the Lord has supported them, yea, and kept them from falling by the sword, insomuch that even one soul has not been slain*.”
40 “But behold, *they have received many wounds*; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.”

To top it off, here’s another similar miracle:
“6 And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, *as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away*.”

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