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Mormon Abridging Nephite Records on Plates of Gold -by Tom Lovell
Because of the frequent emphasis in my recent blog posts on the extremely faithful Nephite Prophet Mormon's key role in providing our modern day descendants of his relatives, the Lamanites, and also you and me (to whom he refers to as Gentiles,) The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, I have often begun these posts with the painting provided above.
One reason for that repetition is that I only have access to two paintings of Mormon and the other one of him shows him just before he died in battle. I realize full well that it is only right that Mormon's role in our having the Book of Mormon to use in our day and time ought to be emphasized so I keep using the same photo in my posts.
I highlighted in red the words to use, above because I intend to emphasize in Today's Post as its THEME, the critical importance of our using what we learn from the Book of Mormon in our own lives. I have come to realize personally that the Lord, through His Servant, Mormon's great accomplishment in abridging (condensing) his peoples' records, wants us to USE the teachings of this sacred book in our daily lives! He actually gives us tips here and there in his abridgement to help us (the Gentiles) and the Lamanites of our day which we can use.
Speaking of daily lives, please take another look at the painting above. I have actually completely overlooked something in it until I began this post. (Of course, it is the artist's interpretation of Mormon's daily life, but I'm sure this artist took great care to make his painting as accurate as possible by studying what is said in the Book of Mormon about the Prophet, Mormon's life.)
I always notice in that painting the evidence of Mormon's sacred errand from the Lord in inscribing the words of his people's history and teachings on plates of gold. However, there is also evidence of something else which must have, at times, overwhelmingly occupied Mormon's time and attention, which surely made his daily life at least at certain times, extremely challenging and hectic.
Please notice two objects that can be seen in front of Mormon which he has leaned against his work table:
His battle shield and club-sword!
That tells us something about Mormon's great dedication to the Lord Jesus Christ's cause! He obviously placed a high priority on the assignment the Lord gave him of bringing about The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, but there is no doubt from my reading the record he wrote, that out of necessity he faced frequent and most likely, unexpected battles in a his role as a general! Otherwise, his weapon of war would not be so accessible to him (and so easy to grab and run with it along with his shield, out the door when called to battle).
The terror and bloodshed Mormon was forced to experience was brought about by the vast majority of his people when they, quite early in his lifetime, completely abandoned the nearly perfect way of life which the Resurrected Jesus Christ in A.D. 34 had brought to their ancestors (about three hundred years before Mormon's time in life) and which had continued to bring them perfect peace for over two hundred perfect years. That was a great record, but when it was over it was really over!
Painting: John Scott
This great prophet and teacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Mormon, by emphasizing the importance of doing the Lord's "errand for him," in bringing about The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, while often living in serious danger, demonstrates his great love for you and me, whether we be Gentiles or we be Lamanites, people he would never meet in his lifetime!
In doing this he certainly was also demonstrating his great allegiance to His and our Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ, because Israel and believers from other nations are the Lord's people and serving them is the errand He gave the Prophet Mormon and his son, Moroni!As promised above, I'll now give you just one example of how Mormon in his abridging of the Nephite accounts onto the golden plates from which The Book of Mormon was ultimately translated by the Prophet of God, Joseph Smith, in the early Nineteenth Century into english and then later into a very large number of modern languages spoken throughout the world in our day; of how he exhorts and instructs us how to live righteously, or in the words I used above Mormon, would want us to:
I have quoted the following from an article entitled, "Mormon's Poetics" written by Heather Hardy and published in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, A Publication of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University (Volume 16/Number 2/2007)
"USE the teachings of His sacred book in our daily lives! He actually gives us tips here and there in his abridgement to help us (the Gentiles) and the Lamanites of our day to actually do that." (emphasis added)This very insightful view by Heather Hardy gives us and all readers of the Book of Mormon a very clear example of how the Prophet Mormon, in his putting together the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, shows us, the readers of that Book of Books, the attitudes we should have in order to live our lives worthily. Sister Hardy sums up what Mormon was saying to us in these words:
As Mosiah, Chapter 23 opens, Mormon has just concluded the tale of the people of Limhi--how they were in bondage to the Lamanites, escaped from slavery, and then were led back to Zarahemla by Ammon (Mosiah 19-22). At this point Mormon inserts a heading: "An account of Alma and the people of the Lord, who were driven into the wilderness by the people of King Noah." In this way, Mormon tells his readers that he is disrupting the chronology by picking up a story he left off earlier, As Mormon returns to the story of Alma and his people, it is not surprising that "they began to prosper exceedingly in the land" (Mosiah 23:19). This is exactly what we have come to expect in reading the "first book" (You would have to read Heather Hardy's entire article to understand that term I have italicised) as the consequence for those who follow the prophet, enter into covenants, and keep the commandments; indeed, it is satisfying and reinforcing to see the righteous duly rewarded. But there is a problem coming, and Mormon tells us directly and ahead of time so that the clear moral of his tale is neither diluted nor confused by what happens next:
at Mosiah 18:33-34: "And now the king (Noah). . . sent his army to destroy them. And it came to pass that Alma and the people of the Lord were apprised of the coming of the king's army; therefore they took their tents and their families and departed into the wilderness."
Mosiah 23: 21 Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.
22 Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people.
23 For behold, I will show unto you that they were brought into bondage, and none could deliver them but the Lord their God, yea, even the God of Abraham and Isaac and of Jacob.
24 And it came to pass that he did deliver them, and he did show forth his mighty power unto them, and great were their rejoicings. (emphasis added by Neil Birch)
"Don't be too concerned about what you are about to read (next). God is in control; he has his reasons and everything will turn out happily in the end." (The word, next, was added by Neil Birch)
Now, I'm suggesting that you to read an account given in the LDS Sunday School Reference Book being used throughout the Church: Throughout this world-wide Church sometime in July 2009 in many different languages, members of the church, including my wife, Melva and I, will review or have already reviewed (as she and I have already done) this pivotal part of this Church's History.
OUR HERITAGE, A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In our Sunday School Class we also viewed a video which reviewed in an interesting and well done manner this point in Church History I would like you to read now. I wish I could show you the video, but that project would be a much too advanced for my present technological abilities.
The Church was in great need of priesthood leaders who had been tried, given experience, and proven faithful, who would remain true to the Lord and his prophet under any circumstances. An opportunity to prove obedience in difficult circumstances and to be trained personally by the Prophet Joseph Smith was provided by the march of Zion’s Camp.
Zion’s Camp was organized to help the Saints in Missouri who were being severely persecuted because of their religious beliefs. Many had been driven from their homes. On 24 February 1834, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that he should organize a group of men to march from Kirtland to Missouri and help restore the Saints to their lands (Read D. and C. 103:36) The Lord promised that his presence would go with them and that “all victory and glory” would be brought to pass through their “diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith”. Most of the original members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Quorum of the Seventy were prepared for their future responsibilities by this experience.
Zion’s Camp was formally organized in New Portage, Ohio, on 6 May 1834. It eventually included 207 men, 11 women, and 11 children, whom the Prophet divided into companies of tens and fifties, instructing each group to elect a captain. One recruit, Joseph Holbrook, reported that the camp was organized “according to the ancient order of Israel.” For 45 days they marched together to Clay County, Missouri, a distance of over 1,000 miles. They traveled as quickly as possible and under harsh conditions. It was very difficult to get enough food. The men were often required to eat limited portions of coarse bread, rancid butter, cornmeal mush, strong honey, raw pork, rotten ham, and maggot-infested bacon and cheese. George A. Smith, who was later to become an Apostle, wrote that he was frequently hungry: “I was so weary, hungry and sleepy that I dreamed while walking along the road of seeing a beautiful stream of water by a pleasant shade tree and a nice loaf of bread and a bottle of milk laid out on a cloth by the side of the spring.”
The camp placed great emphasis on spirituality and obeying the commandments. On Sundays they held meetings and partook of the sacrament. The Prophet often taught the doctrines of the kingdom. He said: “God was with us, and His angels went before us, and the faith of our little band was unwavering. We know that angels were our companions, for we saw them.”
However, the difficulties of the camp began to take their toll on the participants. This refining process revealed the grumblers, those who did not have the spirit of obedience and often faulted Joseph for their troubles. On 17 May the Prophet exhorted those who were possessed with a rebellious spirit “to humble themselves before the Lord and become united, that they might not be scourged.”
By 18 June the camp had reached Clay County, Missouri. However, the governor of Missouri, Daniel Dunklin, would not keep his promise to help the army of Saints reinstate the Church members who had been forced from their homes. For some in the camp, the failure of this military objective was the final test of their faith. Disappointed and angry, some openly rebelled. As a result, the Prophet warned them that the Lord would send upon them a devastating scourge.
Soon a calamitous epidemic of cholera spread through the camp. Before it ended a third of the camp was afflicted, including Joseph Smith, and thereafter 14 members of the camp died.
On 2 July, Joseph again warned the camp to humble themselves before the Lord and covenant to keep his commandments and said that if they did so, the plague would be stayed from that hour. The covenant was made by uplifted hands, and the plague ended.
In early July, the camp members were honorably discharged by the Prophet. The journey had revealed who was on the Lord’s side and who was worthy to serve in positions of leadership. The Prophet later explained the outcome of the march: “God did not want you to fight. He could not organize his kingdom with twelve men to open the gospel door to the nations of the earth, and with seventy men under their direction to follow in their tracks, unless he took them from a body of men who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham.”
Wilford Woodruff, a member of the camp who later became the fourth President of the Church, said: “We gained an experience that we never could have gained in any other way. We had the privilege of beholding the face of the prophet, and we had the privilege of traveling a thousand miles with him, and seeing the workings of the spirit of God with him, and the revelations of Jesus Christ unto him and the fulfilment of those revelations.”
While viewing the video of Zion's Camp I pondered over how many of those men who were involved in that Camp, had studied The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, sufficiently that teachings in it like the author, Heather Hardy cited in that part of her article I provided you above, actually helped those of Zion's Camp bear their challenges well.
Looking over the list of names in the Zion's Camp article I quoted from our Sunday School Reference Manual, I realize that I know personally quite a bit about the men on that list who were later called, by the Lord Jesus Christ through His Latter-day Prophet, to lead in His Church. I venture to say that most of them, if not all, at some early time in their lives as Church members, had become very well-acquainted, with the teachings found in the Book of Mormon.
I would like to think, but I can't prove it, that some of those faithful men in Zion's Camp, actually thought about what Mormon taught in Mosiah, Chapter 23:21-24 and/or in similar Book of Mormon passages during their arduous and very long trek from Eastern Ohio to Western Missouri and back on foot.
Regarding those Zion's Camp members who did not listen to the Prophet Joseph Smith's counsel, I suggest that most of them had not really studied the Book of Mormon and gained a testimony of it by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, let alone using the inspired teachings in it to guide them through life's difficulties with the right attitude!
About twenty one months before Zion's Camp began their historic march to Western Missouri and then back to Kirtland Ohio, the Lord revealed the following through His prophet, Joseph Smith, from which I quote:
D. and C. 84: 57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—
58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father's kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. (emphasis added)
I hope that you who may be readers of this blog post, whether members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or not will feel the Spirit of the Lord whispering to your soul telling you that The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ provides you with guidance that will, if you study its inspired words and USE them to guide your lives, lead you safely back, along with many if not all of your family members, at the end of this life, into the loving arms of Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Savior. I now repeat Mormon's inspired words we read earlier in the excerpt from Heather Hardy's article for your and my benefit:
Mosiah 23: 21 Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.22 Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people.23 For behold, I will show unto you that they were brought into bondage, and none could deliver them but the Lord their God, yea, even the God of Abraham and Isaac and of Jacob.
24 And it came to pass that he did deliver them, and he did show forth his mighty power unto them, and great were their rejoicings. (emphasis added by Neil Birch)
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