The Prophet Joseph Smith once wrote in his journal. “It was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord.” (History of the Church 1:226) One who must have felt that “awful responsibility” as much as any other in this world was Mormon, who at the tender age of ten years was introduced to the weighty assignment that would be his.
After nearly a thousand years of Nephite history he was called of God to select and summarize the story of his people. After long decades of darkness, the appearance of Mormon’s book would be one of the first contributions toward the “restitution of all things.” (Acts 3:21) in preparation for the fullness of times. His task was as crucial in the eternal plan of salvation as it was unique. (The Man and the Book, Elder Jeffrey Holland, in Book of Mormon: It Begins with a Family).
Let’s first look at this incredible prophet Mormon and his mission that literally lasted his entire life. I never realized the extent and scope of Mormon and the sacrifices he made to bring this record named after him, to light. Watch and observe him his whole life—from age 10-74.
Joseph Smith wrote the following to the editor of the Times & Seasons: “The error I speak of is the definition of the word ‘Mormon.” It has been stated that this word was derived from the Greek word mormo. This is not the case. There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of the Lord, translated the Book of Mormon . . . The word Mormon, means literally, more good.” (HC 5:399-400) The prophet Mormon literally did “more good” than anyone during his time period, and “more good” for generations to come in defense and to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Similarities between Mormon and Joseph Smith: (Read p 295, 296 “Search These Things Diligently, Brian Garner)
They both had a prophet who buried the gold plates in a hill near their home when they were young
(Joseph-17, Mormon 10)
They both started their official work at the age of 24
They both had a glorious vision of the Lord when they were very young
(Joseph 14, Mormon 15)
After the vision they tried to share part of what they had learned but were rejected by the people
Both were physically large and powerful men for their day
Both had the same name as their father
Both were born into a state of general apostasy
Both led their people as a military leader, prophet, dispensational head, and record keep
(Joseph translated the plates, Mormon abridged the plates)
Their enemy’s persecutions became so intense that several times they were forced to leave their home and move with their people from city to city
Their enemy’s persecutions continued unto they succeeded in murdering them
Continued rejection of their message by the general population resulted n a civil war which divided the North from the South in the costliest casualty war of their era
MORMON 1: 321 – 326 AD –285 years since Jesus appeared-Mormon 10,11 years old
READ: 1, 2 selected verses (marked)
Mormon 10 years old—“quick to observe”
Elder Bednar tells the word observe has two primary uses here.
- l) observe denotes “to look” to see or to notice
Isaiah said, “Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears but hearing not.” * Isaiah 42:20
2) observe suggests to obey, to keep—“But blessed are they who have keep the covenant and observed the commandment, for they shall obtain mercy.” D&C 54:6
“Thus when we are quick to observe, we promptly look or notice and obey. And the prophet Mormon is an impressive example of this gift in action. . . Being quick to observe is an antecedent to and is linked with the gift of discernment . . . We can hope to obtain that supernal gift of discernment and its light of protection and direction only if we are quick to observe—if we both look and obey. “ Elder Bednar (Ensign Dec 2006, p 32, 34).
READ V 13-end
V 15—saw Jesus—gave him power to endure
Keys to APPLYING TO OUR TIME/SCRIPTURES FOR OUR DAY: Purpose of reading the scriptures—application to ourselves.
Nephi wrote: “For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.” 2 Nephi 4:15
HOW TO SURVIVE WHEN YOUR WORLD IS FALLING APART ALL AROUND YOU: (David Ridges commentary)
FIRST KEY: (Mormon 1:15) Gain your own testimony of the gospel/own experience with the Lord through prayer—Mormon said he was “visited of the Lord” (same with the prophet—around the same age).
“I was visited of the Lord and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus.”
Skim verses 18, 19 Abinadi testified that extreme wickedness would lead to destruction—words of the prophets are always fulfilled.
MORMON 2 327 -350 AD –Mormon is 15
READ v 1-5-Imagine a 16 year old leading the Nephite army—had trust in him, though they weren’t righteous, they knew he was and wanted him to lead them
V 5 Without God’s help we will be driven back rather consistently, not only by others, but by Satan and the forces of evil. There truly isn’t any rest for the wicked.
READ v 8: the people are becoming “past feeling.”
Nephi told his brothers: “. . . He hath spoken to you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words” so the angel had to come and shake them into listening to his words
V 10: Mormon is 19—He keeps getting his hopes up that his soldiers and people will repent and turn to God for help, but time and time again he is disappointed. Just think how difficult it would be to lead an army of wicked, unrepentant people who “curse God and wish to die” when you, yourself know of God and His power to rescue and save from physical enemies as well as spiritual foes.
President Benson: “It is not uncommon to find men and women in the world who feel remorse for the things they do wrong. Sometimes this is because their actions cause them or loved one great sorrow and misery. Sometimes their sorrow is caused becaue they are caught and punished for their actions. Such worldy feelings do not constitute “Godly sorrow.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realiztion that our actions have offended our Father and our God . . .” (Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings, 72).
V 13-15: day of grace is passed—
Like in Helaman 13:38
“But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; ye, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, (stop here) which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.”
- 13—3 Nephites taken from their midst—no gifts/miracles
3 Nephites still very active in the world today—tell accounts/joke—still ministering
Verse 19: READ—days filled with sorrow
Mormon had to grow up quickly—saw war, terrible wickedness his entire lifetime. Didn’t have a happy childhood or a happy life at all
Testament that just because you’re righteous, doesn’t mean you won’t have trials and will always have a happy life. Joseph Smith also and years of persecution. Emma said essentially, “If people would just leave us alone, we could live as well and happily as any other family.” Just get out of jail, arrested on another false charge and be torn from his family again. Testimony to the truthfulness of the church—no one would want to live as they did, if it wasn’t true.
Mormon was blessed, but he was also sad, frustrated, angry, discouraged, lonely, most of his life. Rare to have a few years of peace while he lived in such a turbulent time period.
Yet the Lord sustained him—it was his hard lot to record the destruction of the Nephite civilization: “someone had to do it!”
Mormon said he was “visited by the Lord, knew of His goodness,”
Angels visited him and sustained him, visited by the 3 Nephites and they did minister to him (gave him a priesthood blessing).
Also one of the keys to surviving sorrow and discouragement in our lives, brought on by the behavior of others:
SECOND KEY TO SURVIVE TURBULENT TIMES—LIKE OURS
(Mormon 1:5, 2:17) Personal, strict obedience (observe and obey) to righteous commitments, covenants,
“I remembered the things which Ammaron had commanded me (Mormon 1:3-4). I had gone according to the word of Ammaron and taken the plates of Nephi, and did make a record according to the words of Ammaron.”
GO AND DO! JS: “ I have made this my motto: If God commands, do it!”
READ V 19:
THIRD KEY TO SURVIVE TURBULENT TIMES
Confidence in your personal standing with God
“I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day.” (powerful key to surviving sorrow and discouragement in our lives brought on by the behavior of others.
Q.How could Mormon have hope when he was “filled with sorrow.”
“A wholesome view of self-worth . . . is best established by a close relationship with God.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1986, 6)
- How to help others gain self-worth—help bring them to know God
story of Joseph F. Smith—related by my sister Maria
V 20 Hunted and driven—Mormon is 35 years old now
Lord continually working with people through Mormon. Lord doesn’t destroy people without many chances—works with them through the years to have the gospel available to them, again and again. Mormon hoping and praying they’ll change and REPENT!
READ v 23: -27
Great leader like Captain Moroni’s Title of Liberty—fight for families
READ V. 26: “The strength of the Lord was not with us; we were left to ourselves, that the spirit did not abide in us, we had become weak like our brethren.”
(Helaman 4:24—because of their iniquity . . . they had become weak like unto our brethren, and the spirit did not dwell in them anymore.
President Holland said, “Mormon faced the most hopeless of all military tasks—fighting “when the strength of the Lord was not with us.”
As he fought against the enemy with sword and shield, he also tried to pierce the heart of his own people with strong testimony. But his cry was in vain. These people would not make that one crucial admission that the Lord God of Israel held the keys to their success. The warring would go on. “
How are we left to our own strength?
Lord lets us suffer the natural consequences of our sin, disobedience
Withdrawal of his spirit, miracles, blessings
- Do we put our trust in God (Proverbs 3:5-7) or rely on the arm of flesh:
Nephi: “O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh.”
(cut?) D&C 101: 7-9—human nature
“They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble.
In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but in the day of their trouble, of necessity they FEEL after me.”
Come Thou Font of Every Blessing:
“Prone to wander, ‘ere I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love,
Take my heart oh Lord and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above.”
PRAY CONTINUALLY (THROUGH GOOD AND BAD)—Alma 37
Last lesson I taught—what Jesus taught: “PRAY ON!” And when he asked them to cease praying, told them not to cease praying in their hearts.
FAVORITE SCRIPTURE TO RELY ON AND REPEAT:
“Look unto me in every thought—doubt not, fear not.” D & C 6:36 -37
Didn’t connect this next scripture until now:
“Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and my feet.”
In other words: REMEMBER THE ATONEMENT—REMEMBER THE PRICE I PAID FOR EACH OF YOU
Blessings: “Be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the Kingdom of heaven.”
Nothing new—keep on the path—to the tree.
Sister’s mission statement is beautiful and simple: “Meet at the Tree”
We all are responsible to keep our individual covenants and get there
MORMON 3: 360-362 Mormon is 49 years old
V 1: 10 glorious years of PEACE!! How he must have enjoyed not battling, but still crying repentance in vain.
V 2, 3: Lord extends His hand of mercy again—REPENT!!
The Lord spares the wicked from destruction for as long as possible, in order for them to have additional opportunities to repent. It was a good thing he wanted the people to do, as a parent would want the reclaim their wayward children, but they wouldn’t listen.
New stake president, in his first meeting with the High Priests, President White challenged all those present to repent. Not that he knew anything about their individual situations, but he taught that repentance is a continuous process we should go through our whole lives, and it opens the door to more revelation (Prophet learned that during the restoration—many times repented and more revelation).
President White said this in our ward conferences:
“I wonder how well we understand repentance. When we hear the word repentance, it often creates in us an uneasiness and brings forth negative emotions. We associate it with guilt, shame and weakness. A true understanding of repentance brings optimism, strength and the desire to act. Repentance is one of the happiest words in the English language because it means there is hope for each of us to go beyond what we are today to become something greater.”
INSPIRED LEARNING: REPENTANCE IS A WONDERFUL PRINCIPLE OF THE GOSPEL
President Nelson said: “Repentance is a resplendent gift. It is a process never to be feared; it is a gift for us to receive with joy and to use—even embrace—day after day as we seek to become more like our Savior.”
(cut) Alma, sons of Mosiah
Saul became Paul
Laman and Lemuel (for a time—weren’t converted—angels don’t convert—HG converts—hardened hearts, were past feeling)
“Behold, I shall tell you in your mind and in your heart by the Holy Ghost.” D&C 8:2 feelings in your heart, impressions in on your mind
Today we have modern-day conversions—
Steve Smith—anti-Mormon-repented sincerely—wanted to so he could become close to God again (get quote)
V 11 utterly refuse to lead them—so wicked/Mormon in a quandary
Hard situation because they were always his people and he loved them
V 12 Mormon as a Christ figure—how the Lord loves His wayward children and tries to reach and redeem them—like Enos
Lord extends His hand to our children/those he loves to reclaim
Holland: “Yet as such moments of disappointment and frustration we learn something special about the heart and hunger of this man. His faith, his hope, and his charity were irrepressible. He could not abandon his own people.
Yet they had now passed over the threshold-people had decisively chosen darkness over light, evil over goodness, blood over benevolence.”
We all have family, some children who aren’t active in the church. How the Lord wants them to repent and return—how much we do as well. We must keep praying for them, hoping like Mormon, they will turn towards the gospel and have it in their lives again.
My favorite quote: lds.org Hope for Parents of Wayward Children
(Orson F. Whitney)–READ
READ to v 16: stand as an idle witness (how hard for him when he had led them to stand and watch and do nothing) when they boasted of their own strength, didn’t acknowledge God –swore to have an offensive war against enemy and get revenge (take justice into their own hands)
Didn’t lead them but retreated on his own, and wrote to those he couldn’t see—Gentiles, 12 tribes, Lamanites—bears testimony to ALL
- Q.Why does he write to us?
To issue a warning that we will all be judged some day—to prepare
So that we might believe in Jesus Christ
So that the Jews will have another witness that Jesus is the Christ
MORMON 4- 363-375 AD
READ V. 5:
CS Lewis: “When souls become wicked they will . . . hurt one another; and this, perhaps accounts for four-fifths of the suffering of men. It is MEN, not God who have produced racks, whips, prisons, slavery guns, bayonets, and bombs; it is by . . . human stupidity, not by the foolishness of nature, that we have poverty and overwork.” CS Lewis, Problem of Pain, p 80).
God usually gets blamed for horrible things happening, but man does it.
READ and REVIEW to V 23
V 23: huge task of moving ALL the plates—many other records besides the large plates of Nephi, hard and dangerous to move them somewhere else—to Cumorah
MORMON 5 375-384 AD 64 years old at start of chapter
READ 1, 2:
KEY FOUR: Try and try again—DON’T’ GIVE UP—ENDURE TO THE END!
Mormon doesn’t give up, even though he doesn’t have much hope for them to repent anymore—leads them again
It shows Christlike love to keep trying—“curse God and die stage”
Mormon retreats and writes the history of the destruction in solitude and also letters to his son Moroni who is out trying to do good too (not in our lesson, but Moroni shares more about Mormon later).
Sad and hard time for them:
“And now my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay (while in this mortal body), that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness (Satan) and rest our souls in the Kingdom of God. “
V 24—none can stop the gospel from progressing –read commentary
INSPIRED LEARING: THE KINGDOM OF GOD WILL ROLL FORTH—ALL PROPHECIES WILL BE FULFILLED—YOU CAN TRUST IN GOD
MORMON 6: 385 AD Mormon is 74
Nephite army led by Mormon in his older age:
“If you think it is an inspiration that a 16 year old boy could win the leadership of a great national army what would you think of a man between the ages of 65 and 74 who was still the best man among his entire people for this top position of leadership, and in those days the general marked at the head and not at the rear of his troops (Mormon 6:11). It is one thing to shoot a guide missle at an enemy a thousand iles away, but it is quite another thing to meet the enemy face to face, and with a sword or a battle axe, take on whoever comes at you, and still be in there fighting at age 74. No weakling or coward survives a test like that.”(Sterling W. Sill in Daniel H. Ludlow, Companion, 299).
Sad warning of what happens to a people and civilization who are given repeated opportunities to understand the gospel and repent, but who openly refuse to do so.
230,000 killed all in one day—24 lived (only the righteous) of the entire Nephite nation
Mormon wounded but they passed by him and didn’t kill him—his mission wasn’t finished yet
Moroni lives too
“The scope and significance of that horrible slaughter may be seen more readily when we realize that the American Civil War of the 1860’s, the costliest war, in terms of human life that the US has ever known, took the lives of 140,000 men in a five-year period. Here, 230,000 fell in a single day!!
Lament of Mormon:
“Oh ye fair ones . . .”
Jacob 5: allegory of the vineyard—Jacob 5:41,47
And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept, and said unto the servant: what more could I done more for my vineyard?” I have nourished it, digged about it, pruned it, and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long, and it grieveth me that I should hew down all the tree and cast them into the fire.
Who is it that hast corrupted my vineyard?”
Matt 24:37: “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killeth the prophets and stone them which are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wing, and ye would not. Behold your house is left unto you desolate.”
President Nelson: dedication of the Rome temple—met with Pope
He wrote on Instagram:
“more than 2000 years ago, our Savior Jesus Christ ministered to the world, establishing His Church and his gospel. He called Apostles and gave them the decree to “go ye therefore, and teach all nations.”
In our day, the Lord’s Church has been restored. The Savior stands at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As moden-day Apostles of Jesus Christ, the message we share today is the same message that Apostles shared long ago—that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ.”
Bold to declare this in Rome
President Nelson and 12 apostles—first time all have been off US soil together in one place
Historic—prophet met with the Pope—“Catholic people are so fortunate to have such a wonderful, caring man at the head.”
So inclusive –shared common beliefs, care for people –share in over 30 common causes/charities together
Significant to be in Rome—center of Christianity—only 2 men claim to walk in same footsteps as Peter
Pres advised members to take vitamins and keep in shape to keep up with what’s in store for the church/ “this is only the beginning.”
“This is a hinge-point in the history of the Church. Things are going to move forward at an accelerated pace of which this is a part. The church is going to have an unprecendented future, unparalleled; we’re just building up to what’s ahead now.”
“Members should eat your vitamins and get your rest because the church’s future is exciting!”
Ending: stay hopeful–keep covenant–believe in Christ and trust Him
“My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up . . .”