Know Your Book of Mormon
The title page of the Book of Mormon tells us that it was restored to “show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” A book with such a powerful purpose should be understood in its plainness so that all can come unto Christ. The purpose of the “Know Your Book of Mormon” collection is to uncover its plainness and help awaken those with eyes to see and ears to hear to the real power of this message that is contained in this book. The message of the Book of Mormon is illuminated when we read anything contained in it that we ask ourselves, “how is this related to the original covenant?”
The Book of 1 Nephi
The “great things that the Lord hath done for our fathers” are manifested by the way the Lord preserved the covenant and its path from destruction among the Jews so that it could come forth in the last days prior to the Lord’s second coming. Yes! The book of “1 Nephi” is the beginning of the historical record of how we “may know the covenants of the Lord, that [we] are not cast off forever.” That “way” was to lead some families on a physical and spiritual journey out of Jerusalem to a land of promise where the record could be preserved.
The book of 1 Nephi has a summary heading. This summary is primarily describing the physical journey out of Jerusalem.
- The Lord warns Lehi to depart out of the land of Jerusalem, because he prophesieth unto the people concerning their iniquity and they seek to destroy his life.
- He taketh three days’ journey into the wilderness with his family.
- Nephi taketh his brethren and returneth to the land of Jerusalem after the record of the Jews.
- The account of their sufferings.
- They take the daughters of Ishmael to wife.
- They take their families and depart into the wilderness. Their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness.
- The course of their travels.
- They come to the large waters.
- Nephi’s brethren rebel against him.
- He confoundeth them, and buildeth a ship.
- They call the name of the place Bountiful.
- They cross the large waters into the promised land, and so forth.
However, if we realize the purpose of the Book of Mormon (stated above) then we also realize that it is primarily a spiritual record. This is especially true when you can identify the countless symbols used in this record. The record as a whole is symbolic–a king and a priest (the Lord) has sufficient power (Christ-power) to guide them through the wilderness (the world; trials) and over deep waters (sin) to deliver them (atonement) to a personal promised land (personal redemption; eternal life). The ones I have mentioned are the broad-strokes theme but Nephi’s record is loaded with more.
Mormon had accumulated piles of records. As chief editor, he was inspired, yea even commanded, to preserve selected portions so that we “may know the covenants of the Lord, that [we] are not cast off forever.” So, again, we should ask“how is this related to the original covenant?” And with new eyes you can see how the first book of Nephi is actually detailing a spiritual record of preserving the knowledge of the covenant and its path:
- Chapter 1:
- Why the covenant and its path needed to be preserved (future destruction of Jerusalem.)
- Nephi pulls from the records of his father and makes an official account of his father, Lehi, receiving a personal fulfillment of the covenant–receiving his baptism of fire and Holy Ghost, second comforter experience with the Lord and learns of his calling to preach repentance to the people and the destruction of Jerusalem–only to have his people seek to destroy his life.
- Chapters 2-5: Efforts to obtain sacred records to preserve knowledge of the covenant path.
- Chapter 6: States the reason for obtaining and keeping record to preserve the covenant path (see also v4).
- Chapter 7: More of their physical and spiritual sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness in an effort to preserve the records and knowledge of the covenant path. The course of their travels.
- Chapter 8: Mormon selects one of Lehi’s most important visions to preserve because it outlines the covenant path symbolically.
- Chapter 9: Nephi is commanded to keep his own records and told to make the records “for a special purpose” (v3) yea even “for a wise purpose in him, which purpose [he knew] not” at the time (that knowledge of the covenant path could come forth in the last days prior to the Lord’s second coming.)
- Chapter 10: Lehi witnesses again as to why the covenant path needed to be preserved.
- Lehi prophecies of the Savior, Jesus Christ, who is author and finisher of the covenant.
- He compares the scattering and gathering of the Lord’s covenant people (Israel) to an olive tree where Gentiles will restore knowledge of the covenant path in the latter days.
- Nephi, declares that he “was desirous also that [he] might see, and hear, and know of [the things his father saw] by the power of the Holy Ghost” knowing and saying that “those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.” [He wanted to receive his second comforter and be taught personally by the Lord like he did to times before him.]
- Chapters 11-15: Because of Nephi’s diligence in seeking the Lord, Nephi sees all the things that his father saw and reveals the interpretation thereof. The things he saw all pertain to the actual fulfillment of the covenant that was originally prophesied to Adam and Eve (Moses 5) as well as it includes the revealing how the knowledge of the covenant path will come forth in the latter days after an apostasy.
- Chapter 16: They receive the Liahona to help guide them in their pursuits to the promised land (to preserve the knowledge of the covenant path).
- Chapter 17: They are commanded to build a ship to take them to the promised land (to preserve the knowledge of the covenant path). Nephi exhorts his brethren by recounting the history of God’s covenant-dealings with Israel.
- Chapter 18: Temporal and spiritual experiences on the actual journey to the promised land by ship. They people and the records are preserved as they arrive safely in the promised land because of those that had faith in Jesus Christ.
- Chapter 19: The Lord commanded Nephi to begin adding his own record of his family’s journey and other select prophecies about the Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the fulfillment of the covenant originally given to “the fathers.” Nephi also prophesies that the Jews will be despised and scattered until the latter days, when they will return unto the Lord through the gentiles that will restore “the covenant” and its path (through Joseph Smith) in the latter days.
- Chapters 20-21: The Lord through Isaiah reveals what is the future of the covenant among the house of Israel and among the gentiles.
- Chapter 22: Nephi explains to his brethren the details of the life and restoration of the covenant among Israel and the gentiles in the last days. Nephi also explains that receiving and fulfilling the covenant path in the last days will be what saves them against the abominable church of the devil (corrupt governments and the forces of secular dominion), saying, in those last days “he [the Lord] gathereth his children [those that have received and fulfilled the covenant; sons and daughters of the Lord; having been saved with a remission of sins; received their baptism of fire and Holy Ghost] from the four quarters of the earth ; and he numbereth his sheep [these same sons and daughters of Jesus], and they know him [personal witness]; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture. And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth (v22-28).
Thus, with new eyes you can see how the first book of Nephi is actually detailing a spiritual record of preserving the knowledge of the covenant and its path to personally fulfilling it.
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This is such a great reference point!