Sunday, October 25, 2009

1 Nephi - Chapter 9



That God could know in advance and prepare for Martin Harris' loss of the early Book of Mormon manuscripts is interesting and wonderful.  Salvaging Martin Harris' boo boo took revelation to Nephi and Mormon, not to mention effort on the part of each of them.  The story can be faith promoting.  It can also sound like a lame excuse to cover a fraud.  Which means it is a tool for separating the sheep from the goats, so to speak.  Right off the bat!  That God would anticipate and correct such an enormous problem, so far in advance, is wonderful and believable.  The possibility that he could, and probably does create and use such things in our own lives is very real.  (See  Coincidence?  I Don't Think So  for a recent example)  It isn't that He could or would that interests me.  What interests me is that He did do that, rather than just preventing the loss instead.

Clearly the answer to that question is that Joseph and Martin both had important lessons to learn from the incident and that learning from our mistakes is a vital part of God's plan for us.  Is it not wonderful, that God would orchestrate in our lives, such elaborate opportunities to learn and grow!

There is another element of the story that I had not thought of before.  During the translation of those 116 pages, Joseph Smith learned some things that may, even yet, be hidden from the rest of us.  I think there is a very real possibility that Joseph needed to understand some things from Lehi's family and travels, that we do not.  Here, in addition to all of the other reasons for the inclusion of the Small Plates of Nephi, may be the most important of all - a little aside between God and his prophet, if you will.  One that probably wouldn't have been necessary later, when Joseph was more adept and receiving revelation, but that may have been critical in those early moments of the restoration.  I have a testimony that Mormon was guided by God in what to include and what not to include in his abridgment.  Clearly, then, what he included in that lost portion was not to be wasted.  I suspect that it was far from wasted.

10 comments:

D1Warbler said...

I thought it was interesting that in verse 3 of this short chapter Nephi writes: "Nevertheless, I have received a commandment of the Lord that I should make these plates, for the special purpose that there should be an account engraven of the ministry of my people."

Then, two verses later, he writes: "Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not.

Nephi then follows this up with: "But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen."

Can you imagine Joseph Smith's thoughts when he hit this witness once he began to translate again after having lost the 116 pages of the manuscript? This double witness was probably given more especially for him than for anyone else who has ever read The Book of Mormon. (Although it is profitable for us to recognize its importance, too.) What an "ah, ha" moment that must have been for the young prophet.

It is amazing to me what these verses told Joseph then and also tells us now about the kind of preparation the Lord will go through to insure his purposes are fulfilled. It also gives us a great window into the scope of His foreknowledge.

I also think it’s probable that there is a double witness of the Lord’s “wise purpose” here just so none of us can easily miss what he has done.

Further, I see a "pattern" in this chapter. Nephi has told the Lord in Chapter 3, verse 7: “ I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for 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.”

Then, in Chapter 9, Nephi realizes that the Lord also prepares for His own tasks to be fulfilled -- whether or not the person fulfilling them understands the purpose of the task at the moment it is given to him.

The final witness to this is Nephi's statement, "and thus it is. Amen."

What would happen in our lives if we put such a coda to the things the Lord asks us to do. I know that I will try harder to do that after reading this short but very important chapter.

Candleman said...

I really love that observation, D1Warbler, we don't get to know the outcome of what Heavenly Father expects of us, but that clearly doesn't make "sowing seeds" etc. any less important. Thanks so much for pointing that out!

di said...

I’ve decided to comment a day behind, because I read so early that the days posting comes after my study time.

6. … he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men

We talked in RS yesterday about adversity and where it comes from. I keep worrying it in my mind. Does adversity come from the Lord? I know he gives unto man weakness, but what about adversity? He knows me so well and loves me so much. Does he place my stumbling blocks, or do I? How much of my life is just ‘natural’ occurrence, and how much of it was carefully planned? I feel protected and loved. I feel like he is in charge.

D1Warbler said...

In answer to your question, Di, my husband and I had an experience where we went through a very difficult, unwanted trial that we feel we didn't initiate. Before the end of that trial, my husband was given a blessing in which we were told that the Lord had "planned" for what had happened to us (and the outcome for it which we would understand down the line) for a very long time. The trial involved a move in which (looking back) the Lord allowed one of our children to meet the person she will probably end up marrying. (She wouldn't have met that person without that particular move.)

Often we never understand why we were given a particular trial (if that wasn't a trial we gave ourselves through disobedience, etc.), but, in that particular trial, because of the blessing my husband received, we think we may know why we had to suffer through it, and we can see that the Lord did have a particular purpose in having us go through it.

It's hard when you are going through adversity to think that the Lord may be involved in, it and that it will be for your good, but that often is the case!

I truly think that most of our life has been carefully planned by a loving Heavenly Father who knows us and our needs much better than we do.

I also think that if we connect your question to the events of this particular chapter (chapter 9)that the Lord had foreknowledge of what would happen with the translation of the Book of Mormon when Martin Harris asked to borrow the 116 pages, and thus He planned for that eventuality. However, Joseph still had his agency and could have withstood Martin's pleadings. If that had happened, we still would have had The Book of Mormon, but we might have had more scriptures in it (i.e., the large plates) --or the Lord might have had Joseph leave those out of the final Book of Mormon if they truly weren't needed for the record we were supposed to get. Either way, we would have had the book, but, because Joseph did allow the pages to become lost through disobedience, he was able to learn a great lesson at the same time the Lord was able to make sure the record contained all it needed to contain.

N said...

Isn't it interesting that Nephi must have seen in vision (1Ne. 9:4) the "wars and contentions of [his] people"? How else could he know as he wrote these verses that there actually would be those wars and contentions? That is a thought that I haven't had before. (I have not read any of the comments for this chapter that have been posted up till this time, so excuse me if I have duplicated someone else's thought.)

Also, since he had designated these plates that make up the current Book of Mormon as for the record of the ministry, it follows that the wars and contentions contained in these plates must be included for the purpose of teaching us things about such negative relationships that we could not have learned without them. As was mentioned in a comment to an earlier chapter about the lady who skips the "war" chapters, I agree that there must be lessons to be learned from them. I will be more on the lookout for those lessons as we come to those chapters.
(Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 9:4)

N said...

Regarding di's question about adversity and its source, I don't think it matters what is its source. The important thing is to always, always attempt to make good come from "bad." Always learn something positive from every experience, and the experience will not have been wasted. That approach has helped me through some really rough times. Don't try to place blame. Just try to grow. (I know --- that is much easier to say than to do!!!! ;) ) The Lord will help you do that if you ask him.

Candleman said...

Two of the greatest lessons I've learned in The Book of Mormon come from the War chapters. More details will come when we get to those chapters. Suffice it to say here that I don't think a word has been wasted in the entire book.

I also agree that our blessings and trials are all blessings in the end and very literally, tailor made for each of us.

D1Warbler said...

I just had another thought about adversity, di. The Smith family experienced at least one adversity that they did not cause, and that was the result of a climatic event called The Year Without A Summer. In 1815, a volcano called Mount Tambora erupted in Indonesia. The resulting ash caused temperatures to drop drastically during the following year in Northern Europe, Canada and in the Northern Eastern part of our country, in particular.

Because of these extremely low temperatures, the crops the Smiths had planted on their farm failed. This crop failure forced them to move, and they "chose" to move to Palmyra, New York, which then put Joseph in close proxmity to the Hill Cummorah.

We can ask whether or not the Lord planned for all of those events, but regardless of whether he did or not, the Smith's made choices because of those events that not only spiritually benefitted their family, but also benefitted the rest of the world through the restoration of the gospel.

I'm sure that at the time they were working their way through that trial, the Smith family may not have been grateful for it, but on looking back, they and we could all agree that if that was what it took to bring about the restoration of the gospel, it was well worth that "moment" of adversity in their lives.

Candleman said...

I marvel at the ease with which God manages complex circumstances to orchestrate his influence in our lives! What majesty to blow up a volcano in Indonesia to influence a family in Vermont. Meanwhile, surely blessing other families in other ways using the same volcano. What an elaborate classroom he has created in which to school us! Clearly he didn't scrimp on the education budget.

di said...

Thanks, all. Your responses were enlightening and welcome. I see the Lord's hand in all events in my life.