Wednesday, November 3, 2010

1 Nephi 3

First Nephi chapter 3 is famous for Nephi's declaration of faith (verse 7) and his courage in calling his older brothers to repentance and action (verses 15-20), but I find a few other verses of note in this chapter. In particular, Laban's response to the requests of first Laman and then the entire band of Lehi's sons.

In verse 13 Laban accuses Laman of seeking to rob him and take the plates, but in verse 25 it is Laban whose greed leads him to attempt to kill Nephi and his brothers. This may be the most pointed example of hypocrisy in the scriptures.

And it points to how we often project our own sins on those around us. When we are greedy, we see everyone as a potential theif. When we lie, we can't trust others. When we are easy to anger, we expect similar behavior from others and become defensive and closed off.

The key then, it would appear, is to be humble and aware of our personal weaknesses, to not assume ourselves above any kind of sin and therefore vigilant about staying on the path, but forgiving of others' weaknesses.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Not That Book of Revelation...

For the past few weeks I have had the nagging feeling that I need to do a better job with my scripture study, which has become too casual and too unfocused. So recently I decided to begin reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning, doing a power read to finish by the end of the year. By way of confession, I have to admit that it has been too long since I have read the Book of Mormon cover-to-cover, so it's clearly time to repent and get going.

And, knowing that I do my bet work when I feel the impulse to make it public, I have decided to blog some thoughts on my reading—not necessarily every day, but pretty frequently. So, here goes.

Clearly, the Book of Mormon is a book of and about revelation. A large part of the purpose of the book, as stated on the title page, is to remind God's people that ancient covenants are in effect, that things revealed in the past are alive today, and that God will continue to speak to people in our day.

But even more than the coming forth of the ancient record, the first moments of the record itself rely on revelation. By the second page of his record—a scant six verses into things—Nephi tells us about a vision his father had. And it's here that all the trouble begins; everything the follows is a result of Lehi's prayer and God's answer to it.

From here, we continue with the vision f the tree of life, King Benjamin's inspired address to his people, Abinadi's preaching and the conversion of Alma, the subsequent visionary experience and conversion of Alma the younger, the conversion of Lamoni and his people, the Holy Ghost descending on the Lamanites after Nephi and Lehi preached to them in prison, Nephi's discovery of the murder of the chief judge, and the great events of the Savior's visit to the Nephites. Each of these powerful events relies on the opening of the heavens and man receiving revealed truth from God.

And so too does the impact of the Book of Mormon function, as outlined in Moroni's promise. The confirmation of what we read through the Holy Ghost makes personal for us what was personal for each of the prophets whose testimonies fill these pages. And, as with the restoration of the gospel in modern times, it all starts with a prayer and a vision.