Picking up where we left off, Nephi has grown old and has given his brother, Jacob the small plates with the charge to write only the most precious truths on them for the benefit of their posterity and us reading them, helping to persuade all of us to come until Christ. Together with his brother Joseph, they spend the remainder of their days teaching the people of Nephi. “And it came to pass that Nephi died.” (Jacob 1:12)
Jacob wastes no time and gets to work, though not happy that he does because of the things that they are doing. “…O that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!” (Jacob 2:16) The people have become very rich from all the wealth the earth has to offer and has corrupted themselves in various ways, breaking the hearts of the tender among them. One is the riches themselves that they have set their hearts on and are neglecting the poor. Jacob lets them know that riches aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but you must fist seek for the Kingdom of God, then if you want riches seek them, but “for the intent to do good-to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and afflicted” (Jacob 2:19)
Another is purposefully misinterpreting the Brass plates (the Bible) and the stories of David and Solomon to mean that because they had wives and concubines, the Nephites can too. Not really. Jacob gives them a sound prophetic lashing against what they’re doing. One wife. One spouse. Anything more is adultery. Period. In fact, because of this, the Lamanites were more righteous than them. Clearly the Lord sees chastity as one of the most important commandments. Because the Lamanites chose to observe this one commandment, they were spared forever.
Jacob continues to minister and labor among the people and cant’t write even one-hundredth part of what he does and says. But with the limited space and time he has, he feels it important to include a chapter from the book of Zenos, who was a prophet from the Brass plates. It’s an allegory of the tame and wild olive trees, which is alluding to the history of the earth and the Lord’s dealings with it. Not going to expound on it as to do so would take pages!
Jacob is getting old and so gives the plates to his son, Enos and bids us adieu, “hoping that many of [his] brethren may read [his] words.” (Jacob 7:27)
Enos. Jarom. Omni. These next three books are all one chapter in length. We have always been told that the plates were small, and now it appears they are running out of room.
Enos is interesting. He doesn’t sound or write like his father and Uncle. He’s a bit more easygoing, I think. More laid back. Nephi was older and has been through more than any of us can imagine, when he wrote his portion in the plates. Jacob was born into adversity and it seems it never left him. He was a sober writer. Not given to much happiness, only his own deeply personal joy in his Savior.
Then we have his son Enos, who seems little like his father, at first. Enos goes out to hunt. We have no idea how old he is. We do know that his father taught him in the Nephite language, “and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. (Enos 1:1). But apparently, while Enos was taught, he didn’t act and completely follow those nurturing and admonitions, nor did he read his scriptures. So while he was hunting, he starts to think about all the things his father had taught him. Another point is that we have no idea if his father is dead or alive at this point. So he’s thinking and what’s really happening is that he’s allowing the Spirit to touch him. I’m going to assume that his father is dead because among what he’s thinking about is eternal life. Losing a parent would cause one to think about such things. We also see that he’s spiritually starved for he says that his “soul hungered” (Enos 1:4). So he kneels down and prays. But not any simple prayer, he “cried unto him in mighty supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did [he] cry unto him; yea and when the night came [he] did still raise my voice high that it reached to heavens.” (Enos 1:4). For an entire day, Enos prayed continually. He hears a voice that tells him that he’s been forgiven and will be blessed.
This part is important: “And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.” Through the lessons hid father taught one thing we see he had an unshaken testimony of, that God can not lie, that he knew the perfect character of God. Wondering, though, he asks how could he be forgiven. His answer, faith. Faith in Jesus Christ who Enos had not seen or heard before, unlike his father and Uncle who had seen him. Faith is always at the root of all doctrine. It is why it’s the first principle of the Gospel.
How often do we starve our souls? What’s the longest that we have ever prayed? How often do we allow the Spirit of the Lord to soften us and change us in such a way that it becomes impossible for us to live any longer without knowing that we are in the Lord’s favor? Enos gives us a powerful example of how to pray.
The plates are now transferred on to Enos’ son, Jarom, which my husband and I named our son after. He doesn’t feel the need to say much in the way of doctrine, explaining that all had already been said by his predecessors. And while he says that the people and hard-hearted, deaf and blind as to the gospel, but despite that, they are a strong people who keeps the pure law of Moses, keeps the Sabbath day holy, does not profane, or blaspheme. Because of this, they are able to win the wars against their enemies, the Lamanites, despite the Lamanites being exceedingly more numerous than they. The language of Jarom is short and to the point, and he passes the plates on.
The last book in the Small Plates of Nephi is a series of short writings from 5 men. Son to son to brother to son to son. Omni, Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and Amaleki. Omni admits to being wicked and so does his duty by writing in them and then gives them to his son. Amaron tells us in 4 verses that during his time the more wicked of the Nephites were destroyed for not keeping the commandments and that the righteous were spared from the Lamanites. He then gives the record to his brother. Why? No son? Hmm….
Chemish is the shortest author in the entire Book of Mormon with one single verse written. (Omni 1:9) At this point, we’re aware that the plates are running out of space to write but really? One verse? In this verse he tells us that he’s writing a few things int eh same book as his brother that he saw write his part in the book with his own hand. He tells us that Amaron didn’t write his part until the day he delivered the plates to Chemish. Why was that? Procrastinator perhaps? Waiting until the end of his life to sum it up? More likely. Reading along….why yes! In this one verse we learn that it is only until they are at the end of their life that they are to then write in the plates. That it is a commandment to witness their predecessor writing with his own hand the things they are inspired to write! How important is that instruction for us to know! All along we had been told that they were given commandments, but that was it. So then, how were they able to remember everything they were supposed to write in there? For those at least that had much to say. Did they keep their own personal journal? Musings. Other than that, we know nothing of Chemish. Good, bad or otherwise. I hope to meet him someday in the Eternities. Please don’t skip over this man’s contribution. Though it is only one verse, it is still mighty.
From here, Abinadom takes over and tells us of the wars that happened and that like his great-grandfather thinks that all the revelations have been revealed and so there’s no more need to talk about the Gospel. The end.
Now, Amaleki speaks to us somewhat. Lots happened in his time. The Nephites are told through a man who would be king, Mosiah, to flee out of the land. So, as many as would go left and eventually came to a land called Zarahemla, but the land was not empty. Turns out there are a people there who was also brought out from Jerusalem about 20 years after Lehi. Unlike the Nephites, they have no written record and because of that, their language had become corrupted and they lost the full truth of the Law of Moses. They combine people, calling all Nephites and Mosiah becomes their king and prophet, teaching the people of Zarahemla the their language. They give him a large stone engraving that he’s able to translate through the Spirit. Amaleki gets old and since he had no children, is inspired to give the plates to Mosiah’s son, King Benjamin, who is a just man and becomes a prophet. But before he leaves, Amaleki bears his testimony of the Gospel. Something that hadn’t been done since Enos.
The small plates are done. First person, done. We now move into the rest of the Book of Mormon, where the book gets its name from as it was a man named Mormon, who was the second to the last of the righteous people of the Nephites, the narrative changing to the third person. He was called to abridge 600 years worth of writings into one single book. So to meld the two together, Mormon inserts his own tiny, one chapter book, explaining what’s going on simply titled, “Words of Mormon“. Mormon tells of the trouble that the holy and righteous King Benjamin had in laboring to bring peace to the land with the help of other prophets.
Moving to the last 3 chapters of what I was to read about. From here, we see the beginning of our modern day General Conference. King Benjamin is getting old and will confer the kingdom to his son, Mosiah. While he does this, he wants to give one final admonition to his people. All come with their tents to hear him. He build a tower, but there’s still too many people, so he has his words written down and circulated among the people. He starts by telling them that he didn’t call them to listen for them to not listen. He says, “…I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with my words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear and your hearts that ye may understand and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.” (Mosiah 2:9)
Some key points king Benjamin spoke of that I’ll list out before I wrap this up:
- Keep the Commandments
- Kings are no better than anyone else
- Kings are servants
- When we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are actually in the service of God.
- No matter how hard we try to be perfect, we will always be unprofitable servants
- We will be immediately bless if we keep his commandments
- Contentions allow us to obey Satan. Beware of contention.
- If we don’t repent in this life, we will not be able to endure standing before God
- If we keep the commandments, we will be happy and blessed both temporally and spiritually.
- And Angel spoke to him
- Our natural selves are enemies to God.
- We will not inherit Eternal Life without becoming as children and yield to the enticings of the Holy Ghost
- We become saints through the Atonement of Christ.
- We are to become: submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things.
Concluding musings for the week. The prophets don’t speak to us for us to only think that what they are saying are nice things and apply to others, but not to ourselves. Or that what they’re saying is too hard now, but eventually, some magical day we’ll get around to it. The word “trifle” used here is not referring to the dessert. Trifle means, “something that does not have much value or importance, and, something of little value, substance, or importance” (Merriam-Webster)
Knowing its full meaning, is this what we’re doing with the words of the Lord from his servants? I will say that I have viewed prophetic counsel in this way. Not that I would ever consciously think so, but my actions, or rather, inaction proves otherwise. How often do we really think about and then act on what we are taught from General Conference? Though we are not supposed to run faster than we have strength and we learn line upon line and precept upon precept, we are supposed to act and apply something that has been taught to us. If we are not daily striving to become more like Christ, than we are actually falling back. If we yield to out natural selves, we will never achieve the righteous state that we’ll need to be in to have Eternal Life, which is the greatest of all the blessings God can give us, which is the entire point of his existence. To bring us back to him.
Choose something. Choose just one thing that you will strive daily through concentrated, consistent action to become more like Christ. I promise, you will not regret it!