Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Part in the Prophecies

Book of  Mormon Papers - a series of posts
containing papers I wrote for a
BYU Religion class my freshman year of college.

(Note: There are several examples in the scriptures of events that happen to prepare a prophecy of the Lord – or commandment – to come forth. Every Christmas I think about Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem to be counted. I am pretty sure they didn’t have to go to Bethlehem in person, with Mary so close to delivery. I imagine they could have gone to their Rabbi and let him know Mary was going to have a baby any day now, so they were prefer to be counted by proxy. Like absentee voting. I am certain there wouldn’t be that big a problem. But Joseph knew who the child was the Mary was carrying, and he also knew that the baby Jesus was supposed to be born in Bethlehem, not Nazareth. We have the opportunity to help bring to pass the prophecies of the Lord. We know what they are (the gospel will be preached to all the earth – so serve missions!; the constitution of the United States will hang by a very thread and the Elders of the Church will rise up to save it – so get involved in the government of our nation!) I am sure you can think of several others. I think this is part of the importance of studying the words of Isaiah – not only so we can know the prophecies of the Lord, but so that we can take part in them. And be on the Lord’s side of the prophecies)

Throughout the entire journey of Lehi’s family in the wilderness, Laman and Lemuel murmured against Nephi and their father. Angels, shocking and other miracles failed to convince Laman and Lemuel of the power of God. When Laman and Lemuel were rebellious and desired to return to Jerusalem, why didn’t the Lord simply let them go back and destroy Laman and Lemuel along with the wicked of Jerusalem? Nephi testifies of the purpose of God saying “thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled.” (1 Nephi 17:3) In addition to strengthening Nephi and his family through afflictions brought on by the two, Laman and Lemuel would play a part in the prophesies that were shown to Nephi concerning the destruction of his seed and the apostasy which would eventually lead to the opening of the dispensation of the fullness of times.

The weaknesses in Laman and Lemuel’s testimonies caused Nephi to become a more faithful servant of the Lord. Nephi prayed often on behalf of his brothers and cared about their salvation a great deal. He was constantly reproaching his siblings because of their wickedness and rebelliousness. However, even when his whole family seemed to be murmuring against the Lord, Nephi’s faith was strong enough to withstand that temptation. It could have been difficult for Nephi to continue in the ways of the Lord when even his father, a great prophet, murmured against the Lord; however, Nephi not only showed his faith in the Lord, but he showed faith in his family when he asked his father “Whither shall I go to obtain food?” (1 Nephi 16:23) Nephi’s faith in the Lord was strengthened because of his family’s weaknesses. Nephi did not have the luxury of his family’s testimony to rely on all the time. His family was weak in their testimony, so Nephi was required to have a stronger testimony of the things he knew were true.

Although it may have been easier for Nephi and his family to get through the wilderness without the constant bickering and murmuring of Laman and Lemuel, the Lord needed Laman and Lemuel to play a special part in the plan that would include the apostasy and eventual restoration of the gospel. In 1 Nephi 12:15, Nephi sees in a vision the seed of Laman and Lemuel coming against his seed to war. This war led to the utter destruction of the righteous and the seed of Laman and Lemuel to be a “dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.” Nephi showed his understanding of the necessity of his afflictions when on the ship Laman and Lemuel bound him with cords. Nephi recorded, “Nevertheless, the Lord did suffer it that he might show forth his power, unto the fulfilling of his word which he had spoken concerning the wicked.” (1 Nephi 18:11) Nephi understood that he was being used as an instrument in the Lord’s hand to bring to pass the judgment of his brothers.

Nephi’s blessings were great because of the afflictions brought on his family because of his brothers, and Nephi understood the commandments and prophesies of the Lord wherefore he “did not murmur against the Lord because of [his] afflictions.” (1 Nephi 18:16) Laman and Lemuel may have made the journey difficult, but the Lord has said “Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12:6) It may have been easier for the Lord to let Laman and Lemuel return to Jerusalem and be destroyed or carried into captivity, however the Lord is all knowing and “thus we see that the commandments [and prophesies] of God must be fulfilled.” (1 Nephi 17:3)

Have you ever felt like you were part of a prophecy? Do you think you have seen others who are part of a prophecy? Have you ever had to rely on your own testimony because your family didn’t have a strong enough testimony to sustain you?

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