BMGD #44 Mormon 7-9

November 19, 2012 | 10 comments
By

CHAPTER 7

1 And now, behold, I would speak somewhat unto the remnant of this people who are spared, if it so be that God may give unto them my words, that they may know of the things of their fathers; yea, I speak unto you, ye remnant of the house of Israel; and these are the words which I speak:

That . . . is a long and redundant introduction.  Why do you think this verse is structured this way?  Why was it so important to Mormon to describe precisely to whom he was speaking?

Does this verse imply that the category “remnant of the house of Israel” is hugely important in our day?  If so, why?

Why would it be of benefit to the remnant of the house of Israel to know of the things of their fathers?

Note the switch from third to second person in the middle of this verse.

Brant Gardner:

Every time that “speak somewhat” is used in the Book of Mormon text it is connection with a first person narrative. It is a qualifier that the speaker/writer places on the discourse that they are about to give. This is not just Mormon the editor speaking, but Mormon the author speaking for himself. The following message is Mormon’s intended conclusion to his text. Citation

2 Know ye that ye are of the house of Israel.

Who today is a remnant of the house of Israel?  What difference would it make in someone’s life if she thought of herself as a remnant of the house of Israel?

3 Know ye that ye must come unto repentance, or ye cannot be saved.

What does “come unto” repentance mean?  (It sorta makes it sound like repentance is a place that you go to.)

Why is repentance a pre-condition for salvation?  (If my kid were drowning, I would put no pre-conditions on his salvation.)

4 Know ye that ye must lay down your weapons of war, and delight no more in the shedding of blood, and take them not again, save it be that God shall command you.

How literally do you read this verse?  (That is, does it only apply to people who delight in warfare in a very literal way, or is there something more going on here?)

Remember that we had a famous BoM scene where weapons of war were buried as part of repentance.  Is that alluded to here, or is rather making a distinction between this verse and that event, since here the weapons are only laid down and not buried?

Why would someone delight in the shedding of blood?

(Does God command people to take up weapons of war today?)

Jim F.:  “Does this verse forbid the remnant from taking up arms to defend the United States or the other countries in Central and South America in which they live? What does it mean?”

5 Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up.

Does “knowledge of your fathers” mean (1) that you will know the stuff your ancestors knew or (2) that you will know stuff about your ancestors?  (Seriously, I think “of,” with its multiplicity of meanings, is a veritable tool of Satan.)  Does v9 shed any light on what it means?

If this verse is suggesting that knowledge of your fathers isn’t a fun little genealogy hobby with no more moral significance than knitting, but rather on par with repenting, why might this be so?  (And what does it imply about people who have no knowledge of their ancestors, perhaps because of a lack of records?)

Are “sins” and “iniquities” two different things or two ways of saying the same thing?

Think about the four “know ye” statements in v2-5.  How do they relate?  How do they differ?  Is there a pattern?

Note the parallel with v3, where the reader was supposed to come unto repentance.  How does that relate to coming to knowledge?

I think phrases like “by the Jews” are the kind of things that have led people to hiss and spurn the Jews.  I’d like therefore to nominate this phrasing (or perhaps:  the usual interpretation of this phrasing) as an imperfection in the record.

I’m curious about the idea that Jesus is raised by the power of the Father but Jesus is the one who has a victory over the grave.  What are the implications of this?

Do all people have to come to a knowledge of their fathers, or just the remnant of the house of Israel?

What is the relationship between knowledge of the fathers and repenting in this verse?

Why is repenting mentioned here when it was mentioned in v3?  (Do the references form bookends to the material in the middle?)

What effect does the word “victory” in this verse have on the reader?

What does “the power of the Father” mean in this verse?

Is victory over the grave and the sting of death being swallowed up two different things or two ways of describing the same thing?

What does “swallowed up” suggest to you?  What about “sting”?

Some backstory on “sting” here.

6 And he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead, whereby man must be raised to stand before his judgment-seat.

How does the first half of the verse relate to the second half?  Does it explain what resurrection means?  How it happens?  (In other words, what is “whereby” doing here?)

What does this verse suggest about the relationship between resurrection and judgment?

7 And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end.

Compare the “whereby” in this verse with the “whereby” in the previous verse.  Are the phrases before them parallel?  What about the phrases after them?

Why “guiltless” and not “innocent”?

What does “hath it given unto him” suggest to you about dwelling in the presence of God?  (My thought is that it makes it sound like a gift.)

How literally do you take the singing bit?  The choirs?

What does this verse teach you about the relationship between the members of the Godhead?

What does “one God” mean in this verse?

Does “in a state of happiness” refer to the members of the Godhead or the singing people in God’s presence?

How does the “state of happiness” mentioned here mesh with the idea that we know that God sorrows for sins?

8 Therefore repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record but also in the record which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews, which record shall come from the Gentiles unto you.

How does the “therefore” in this verse relate it to the verse before it?

What does the phrase “lay hold upon” suggest to you about the nature of the gospel?  (Iron rod reference?)  What about the fact that it is “set before you”?

Why isn’t the Bible named in this verse (as it is in 1 Nephi)?  Is there any possibility that he is talking about something else?

Notice how this verse places “the Jews” and “you” into parallel.

9 For behold, this is written for the intent that ye may believe that; and if ye believe that ye will believe this also; and if ye believe this ye will know concerning your fathers, and also the marvelous works which were wrought by the power of God among them.

Some clarification on the this/that:

Russell M. Nelson:

Scriptural witnesses authenticate each other. This concept was explained long ago when a prophet wrote that the Book of Mormon was “written for the intent that ye may believe [the Bible]; and if ye believe [the Bible] ye will believe [the Book of Mormon] also.” Oct 07 GC

Jeffrey R. Holland:

Thus one of the great purposes of continuing revelation through living prophets is to declare to the world through additional witnesses that the Bible is true. “This is written,” an ancient prophet said, speaking of the Book of Mormon, “for the intent that ye may believe that,” speaking of the Bible. Apr 08 GC

Notice the tie back to the fathers.

Isn’t this verse sort of circular in saying that the BoM was written so that you would believe the Bible and the Bible was written so you would believe the BoM?  What  might this circularity imply?

Thinking about “if ye believe that ye will believe this also,” I think that is saying that if you believe the Bible, then you will believe the BoM.  Is this true?

How should this verse shape your approach to the various scriptural text?  Should it change how you interpret the books, or what themes you look for, or how you think about apparent conflicts/differences between the two texts, or the project of scripture interpretation in general?

In what ways is it true that the BoM was written with the intent of making the Bible more believable?

10 And ye will also know that ye are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; therefore ye are numbered among the people of the first covenant; and if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior, according to that which he hath commanded us, it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. Amen.

What difference does it make to be numbered among the people of the first covenant?

CHAPTER 8

1 Behold I, Moroni, do finish the record of my father, Mormon. Behold, I have but few things to write, which things I have been commanded by my father.

Why would Mormon command Moroni to write things instead of just writing them himself?  (Maybe because of his injuries in a battle?  Or old age? Does v3 shed some light?)  Does it imply that Mormon died before he thought he was finished?  Did Mormon just command Moroni to keep the record or did he command him to write specific things?

Why would Moroni bother telling us that he only had a few things to write?

Is finishing the record of your father the same as or different from making your own record?

I read the second sentence as Moroni distancing himself from the record (“I’m only gonna write a few things, and only because my dad said I had to.”) but that doesn’t sound quite right.  What is going on here?

2 And now it came to pass that after the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold, the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed.

What effect does the word “hunted” have on the reader?

Brant Gardner:

Mormon had only indicated twenty four survivors of the devastating final battle (Mormon 6:11). However, there were still others who had escaped from the battle earlier, and gone to the countries in the south (Mormon 6:15). It is not clear in Moroni’s text if those who escaped were the twenty four or the ones mentioned in Mormon 6:15. In either case, the idea that every last Nephite was killed is rhetorical [hyperbole]. Citation

3 And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father. And whether they will slay me, I know not.

Does knowing of Mormon’s death change how you read the last chapter?

I wonder how Moroni was able to escape his father’s fate.  Interesting that no one explains this to us.

“Sad” seems like such a tepid word here. . .

Is it fair to assume from this verse that Moroni wrote it in hiding?

4 Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not.

Notice the valuation that Moroni gives his own life versus the records in this verse.

If we met someone today who had an “it mattereth not” attitude toward their own life, we would probably think that is a   problem.  Should we think the same for Moroni?

Brant Gardner suggests that one possible meaning of this verse is that it doesn’t matter where he goes to hide the plates–God will make sure that the plates are found regardless of where they are buried.

5 Behold, my father hath made this record, and he hath written the intent thereof. And behold, I would write it also if I had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none, for I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go; and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not.

In “I would write it also,” what does “it” refer to?  The record?  (That seems to work grammatically, but not logically.)  Maybe “the intent”?

Why would Moroni also want to write out the intent of the plates when his father has done that?  Is the implication that what Mormon wrote was in some was inadequate?  Or maybe does Moroni see value in repetition?  Or adding his own witness to it?

Note that the Lord did not preserve Mormon’s life in battle.

This verse is so sad . . .

For pretty much every person in scripture, we can think of other people who have similar missions or whose life it a type for someone else’s life.  But Moroni . . . who else has an experience like this one?

6 Behold, *four hundred years have passed away since the coming of our Lord and Savior.

Is this date symbolic in any way?

7 And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites.

8 And behold, it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it. And behold also, the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war.

So:  was it the hunting by the Lamanites or the hand of the Lord that caused their fall?  Or both?  What are the implications of your answer here?  What is similar today?

9 And now, behold, I say no more concerning them, for there are none save it be the Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land.

I kind of read this as a deliberate decision not to dwell any more on the wickedness around him.  Is that what he’s doing here?

10 And there are none that do know the true God save it be the disciples of Jesus, who did tarry in the land until the wickedness of the people was so great that the Lord would not suffer them to remain with the people; and whether they be upon the face of the land no man knoweth.

Is this verse a reference to the three Nephites?

Why modify “God” with “true” here?

Compare v8:  both mention things no one ones.  Are these ideas linked?

Why couldn’t these disciples stay with a wicked people?

11 But behold, my father and I have seen them, and they have ministered unto us.

What does “ministered” mean in this verse?

12 And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these. Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you.

Note that this verse says that there are imperfections in the BoM.

I think it is so important that the BoM is aware of its own imperfections.  It has saved us from the unfortunate inerrancy-bordering-on-biblioatry that plagues some groups that believe in scriptures.

Notice that, while acknowledging the imperfections in the book, Moroni tells us precisely what reaction to have to them:  we don’t need to pretend that they aren’t there, but we aren’t to condemn the entire  book because of its imperfections.  What are some ways in which we might be tempted to condemn the BoM because of its imperfections?  Note also the promise given to those who don’t condemn it for its imperfections.

Given that we already know that Moroni is speaking, why does he mention it again?  Esp. with the “behold” before it, it seems as if the goal is to really emphasize his identity.  Why might he have wanted to do this?

Does this verse imply that Moroni (thought he) knew all things?

13 Behold, I make an end of speaking concerning this people. I am the son of Mormon, and my father was a descendant of Nephi.

14 And I am the same who hideth up this record unto the Lord; the plates thereof are of no worth, because of the commandment of the Lord. For he truly saith that no one shall have them to get gain; but the record thereof is of great worth; and whoso shall bring it to light, him will the Lord bless.

So interesting that he is describing the plates as being of “no worth” when, spiritually speaking, they are of nearly infinite worth.  Also interesting because they are of great worth in a material sense, but the Lord’s intervention makes that worth impossible to exploit.  This verse performs this interesting split on the monetary and the spiritual value of the plates.

What precisely is the commandment that makes the plates of no worth?  (I think the verse would have been more straightforward if it said that they were of no worth because of the _protection_ of the Lord.)

Probably freaked poor Joseph out to be translating and suddenly realize that the text was about him . . .

Think about the ways in which the life of Joseph Smith was blessed (and the ways in which it wasn’t).

15 For none can have power to bring it to light save it be given him of God; for God wills that it shall be done with an eye single to his glory, or the welfare of the ancient and long dispersed covenant people of the Lord.

Skousen reads “singled” and not “single” here.

Think about the “or.”  Does it imply that what comes before and after it mean the same thing?

How would the bringing forth of the BoM impact “the welfare of the ancient . . . covenant people”?

16 And blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light; for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God.

What does the dark/light metaphor suggest to you about the BoM?

17 And if there be faults they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things; therefore, he that condemneth, let him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire.

How does this verse relate to the verse before it?

Is the difference between “faults” here and “imperfections” (v12) significant?

Who’s the “we”?

I like the way he subtly acknowledges that God knows more than he does:  he doesn’t see any faults, but God knows more than he does, so God may see some faults.

Thinking about perfectionism here . . .

Notice the “if.”  Is Moroni backing down a little from the previous statement that acknowledged imperfections?

Is the presumption of this verse that Moroni thinks a category exists that we might call “faults that are not faults of a man”?  If so, what would that mean, exactly?  (My thinking is that that isn’t quite true; rather, what he is saying is this:   if you find faults, don’t blame God for them; blame the writers.)

What does “be aware” mean?  Does it mean that if you condemn, but you are aware of it, then you _aren’t_ in danger of hell fire?  Does it mean that if you condemn in an unaware way that you aren’t in danger of hell fire?  Or what?

Note that Moroni has returned to the faults/condemnation theme.  Why was this important to him?  What should we learn from it?

Notice that the last mention of condemnation said that the person who condemned wouldn’t get greater things but this one says that the person who condemns is in danger of hell fire.  Why the shift?  Notice that there is no neutral path here.

18 And he that saith: Show unto me, or ye shall be smitten—let him beware lest he commandeth that which is forbidden of the Lord.

Skousen reads “be aware” and not “beware” here.

Who says “show me or be smitten”?  Show what? What kind of situation is envisioned here?  Is there one specific instance in mind, or is this more general?

How does this verse relate to the one before it?

Why would the Lord forbid this?

If this verse refers to the plates, it is interesting that there were many people (including a chick!) who saw the plates.  So it isn’t the seeing, but rather the demanding, that is at issue here.

19 For behold, the same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again; for according to his works shall his wages be; therefore, he that smiteth shall be smitten again, of the Lord.

(How) does this verse relate to the one before it?  Is it equating the instance on “showing” with rash judging?  If so, why would saying “show me” be equated with judging rashly?

Does the insertion of “rashly” into the famous saying about judging in Mt 7:1 mean that it is OK to judge others as long as we are not rash about it?

20 Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay.

Should this verse be read to say that we shouldn’t judge the BoM?  If so, what would “judge” mean in this context?

Notice the smite/judge/judge/vengeance pattern here–is it significant?

This is starting to feel like a tangent to me–wasn’t he supposed to be talking about people’s reactions to the BoM?  (V21 seems to return to that them.) And he’s kind of shifted to not getting vengeance–a topic that we usually talk about only when someone has been wronged but we are trying to get them to stand down and let the Lord take care of it.  Or is there a thematic link that I am missing?

21 And he that shall breathe out wrath and strifes against the work of the Lord, and against the covenant people of the Lord who are the house of Israel, and shall say: We will destroy the work of the Lord, and the Lord will not remember his covenant which he hath made unto the house of Israel—the same is in danger to be hewn down and cast into the fire;

22 For the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled.

A verse like this strikes me:  how different Moroni sounds than his father.  Not in theme (we saw virtually identical themes in 3 Nephi 29) but in word choice, imagery, that sort of thing.

What does “rolling” suggest to you about the purposes of the Lord?

23 Search the prophecies of Isaiah. Behold, I cannot write them. Yea, behold I say unto you, that those saints who have gone before me, who have possessed this land, shall cry, yea, even from the dust will they cry unto the Lord; and as the Lord liveth he will remember the covenant which he hath made with them.

What do you think made him start thinking about Isaiah at this point?

This verse kind of makes it sound as if he would have written them if he could have.  But why might he have wanted to do that when we already have them?  Is there something about the repetition?

24 And he knoweth their prayers, that they were in behalf of their brethren. And he knoweth their faith, for in his name could they remove mountains; and in his name could they cause the earth to shake; and by the power of his word did they cause prisons to tumble to the earth; yea, even the fiery furnace could not harm them, neither wild beasts nor poisonous serpents, because of the power of his word.

Notice the parallel made between faith and prayers in this verse.

Is this verse specifically about the Three Nephites, or what?

25 And behold, their prayers were also in behalf of him that the Lord should suffer to bring these things forth.

Who is the “him” in this verse?  How do you know?

Interesting that they would be praying for this person in the future . . . and that they’d be so invested in what happens to this record. (I’d  bet that even people who are really good journal keepers don’t go to crazy worrying about the future of their records.)

26 And no one need say they shall not come, for they surely shall, for the Lord hath spoken it; for out of the earth shall they come, by the hand of the Lord, and none can stay it; and it shall come in a day when it shall be said that miracles are done away; and it shall come even as if one should speak from the dead.

What does “they” refer to in this verse?  (Presumably the BoM, but I’m curious about the plural.)

Is Moroni concerned here about people in his own time who thought the record would never come forth, or what?

What’s the line about miracles doing in this verse?  Is the implication that the coming forth of the record out of the earth is a miracle, or something else?

I’m very curious about the idea of the record, in the ground (which is where we put dead people), speaking “as if . . . from the dead.”  (Also see v23.)  What’s going on here?  Why was this an important idea to Moroni?

27 And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness.

Was this particularly true at the time the record came forth?  If so, how?  If not, why mention it?  (I feel a little guilty about thinking this, but this almost strikes me as a throw-away line:  the kind of thing that’s always sort of true.  But I suppose I should be open to the idea that there was something special going on when the BoM came forth.)  You know, we’ll find out later that Moroni has a vision of this time period . . . maybe the point is just that is *was* bad, and he realized this (maybe he was even surprised–thinking it would come forth at a time when people would be worthy of it), but not necessarily that things were way worse then than they’d be 100 years earlier or later.

28 Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.

Skousen reads “shall be lifted up” instead of “shall rise in the pride” here.

Am I reading this right:  is this verse saying that church leaders will envy the church members?  If so, what does that mean?  If not, what’s going on here?

Again, were churches uniquely bad when the BoM came forth, or is that just Moroni’s perspective on things?

29 Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands;

(Is this ever NOT true?)  Or, maybe if I quit being so difficult for a moment:   maybe the emphasis here is on “when there shall be heard,” not on the calamities–maybe the point was that it would happen at a time when communication abilities were increasing?  (Although was that really actually true in JS’s day–we’re still pre-telegraph and pre-railroad, although I suppose there is more literacy and more newspapers than Moroni was used to.)

30 And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places.

Again, maybe the emphasis is on “heard of” and not on the wars per se.

31 Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.

What does “pollutions” mean here?  Does the rest of the verse give examples?

In what ways might an otherwise faithful LDS fall into the trap of thinking “do this, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such”?

32 Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.

It would be easy to see this verse as a reference to the medieval Catholic practice of “selling” indulgences.  But that practice was long ended by the time that the BoM came forth.  So how do you interpret what is going on here?

J. Reuben Clark quoted this verse and then said:

The ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than any others, are clothed in sheep’s clothing, because they wear the habiliments of the priesthood. Apr 49 GC

33 O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled.

In what ways might we be tempted today to use the church (or our membership in it) “to get gain”?

Why “transfigured”?  (We usually limit that word to, you know, transfigurations–the good kind.)

Is looking “unto” the revelations the same as looking “at” or “into” the revelations?

Notice the powers given to prophecy in this verse.

34 Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.

Think about what “shortly” means in this verse . . . (Hint:  1400 years, if you think he is talking about the coming forth of the BoM.)

35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

What does it mean to speak/write to someone as if they were present?  (What would the alternative be?  How would he be speaking differently if he weren’t speaking as if we were present?)

What effect does this verse have on the reader?

Why do you think Moroni would have had a vision of “our” day?  (Wouldn’t it have made more sense to leave that prophetic task to the prophet of this time?  We’re always talking about how Abraham didn’t get revelations for Moses’ time and Moses didn’t get them for Samuel’s time.)

36 And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.

This is an interesting thing:  a scripture directly criticizing its reader.

How literally do you take “none save a few only”?  (How many are “a few”?)

How does envy relate to pride?  How does strife relate to pride?

What did Moroni mean by saying that “every” church is polluted?  Who is the audience here?  (He couldn’t possibly mean us, could he?)

How does pride lead to pollution?

What does “walk” suggest to you about pride?

37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.

How can you tell if you love money?

This verse lists four things (money, substance, apparel, adoring churches) and then four other things (poor, needy, sick, afflicted).  How do they relate?  Is there a pattern?

38 O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?

What effect do these questions have on the reader?  What are the answers supposed to be?

Does the final question answer itself with “because of the praise of the world,” or is there a better way to read that?

39 Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?

Note the inverse parallelism (“and yet”) in this sentence.  How does the second half of the verse relate to the first?

What does “that which hath no life” refer to?  (Mink coats?)  Are we supposed to be adorning ourselves with that which has life (which is what exactly?) or not adorning ourselves at all?  Or maybe he means “no eternal life,” as opposed to adorning yourself with virtues?

Do you take “notice” as meaning “help,” or do you think it really means notice?  (I am not a Mitt Romney fan, but I read that while he was governor, he spent a day at a variety of professions and the thing he found hardest about sanitation work was that people looked through him.  I thought that was a great observation, and I am wondering if this verse might really mean “notice.”)

40 Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?

Widows and orphans were the paradigmatic defenseless people of the ancient world; who else fills that role today?

41 Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.

Why is the sword a good image here?

General thought:  every time I have ever been in a lesson that mentioned wealth/pride, someone, and usually most people, have deflected:  “this isn’t about us, it is about those rich people.”  (No one ever does that in a lesson about, say, faith–we all recognize we could do with a dollop more faith.)  I wonder why people tend to dig in on this topic and generally refuse to think that the BoM warnings about wealth apply to them.  There seems to me to be a huge unwillingness for introspection on this topic, but I don’t know why.

Note that there was originally no chapter break here.

CHAPTER 9

1 And now, I speak also concerning those who do not believe in Christ.

Does this mean that the people who were addressed at the end of the last chapter did believe in Christ? (A disturbing thought.)

It is kind of weird to have scripture addressed to non-believers.  Did he actually think that they would read this, or is this more of a rhetorical exercise?  Or perhaps he’s modelling here how believers should speak to non-believers?

2 Behold, will ye believe in the day of your visitation—behold, when the Lord shall come, yea, even that great day when the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, yea, in that great day when ye shall be brought to stand before the Lamb of God—then will ye say that there is no God?

Why “your” visitation?  Is he just making it personal or what?  Why call it a “visitation”?

What does it mean for the earth to be rolled as a scroll?  Is that literal or symbolic or both?

Moroni says three things about the day of visitation:  earth rolled, elements melt, and the reader is brought before the Lamb.  How do these relate?  Why are the first two cosmic and the final personal?  Is it possible to read the first two symbolically and the last literally, or do you need to pick one way of reading and stick with it for all three items?

The argument made by the question here seems to be:  you won’t deny it them, so why deny it now?  In what situations today might that kind of thinking be helpful?  Is the point that they will have no more evidence for the existence of God (or Christ) then than they do now?

Why “lamb” here (of all the possible titles)?

Is it significant that this verse says “no God” but the last verse was about belief in Christ?

3 Then will ye longer deny the Christ, or can ye behold the Lamb of God? Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with him under a consciousness of your guilt? Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws?

I’m curious about the opposition in the first verse:  why are “deny the Christ” and “can ye behold” put into opposition?  It is almost as if the latter is suggesting that one might, at the judgment bar, choose NOT to behold the Lamb.

Does the atonement remove our consciousness of guilt?

What does this verse have to say about happiness?

What does the idea of “abusing” laws suggest to you about the laws?

I think the point of this verse is not so much “Jesus will kick you out” as “you will not want to be there.”

4 Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell.

Interesting that this verse suggests that hell would make you happier . . .

5 For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you.

Notice:  naked, glory, holy.  Thoughts?

What does the fire symbolize here?

Note:  consciousness of guilt, filthiness, nakedness.  How do these descriptions work together?  What do they suggest to you about sin?

6 O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.

Thinking about this chapter in general, is there anything you see here that you should model when speaking to those who don’t believe in Christ?  Anything that you shouldn’t model?

What does “white” mean in this verse?

Again note that “cleansed by blood” is a great image.

So, in general terms, what is Moroni’s counsel to people who lack faith?

7 And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues;

Is Moroni thinking of distinct groups (those who deny Christ, those who deny revelations), or is this section more general than that?

Is there speaking with tongues today?  (And don’t give me that “learning languages quickly” stuff because that’s not what this meant.)  Are we guilty of denying the revelations of God according to this verse?

8 Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them.

What does this verse suggest to you about scripture reading?

Three things are mentioned in this verse:  denying things, not reading the scriptures, and not understanding the scriptures.  According to this verse, how are these three items related?

9 For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?

Note what he’s doing here:  making the point that if God is the same, we should be able to conclude that God’s gifts are the same.  Why is that a legitimate logical leap to make?

We often talk about the God of the OT as “different” (in the sense of being more focused on justice than mercy).  How does that idea mesh with this verse?

Are “variableness” and “shadow of changing” two different things or two ways of saying the same thing?

If God is always the same, why do we need modern revelation?

10 And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.

Why does God have to be constant to be a a God of miracles?  (Couldn’t a god who changes also be able to perform miracles?)

11 But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.

Three things here:  miracles, covenant/genealogy, and creator.  How do these three approaches to God relate?  Why does Moroni highlight these three?

12 Behold, he created Adam, and by Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son; and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man.

Moroni, I think you forgot someone here . . .

In what sense is it true to say that “because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ”?

What parallels does this verse suggest between Adam and Jesus Christ?

In what sense is it true to call Jesus Christ “even the Father and the Son”?  Can this be reconciled with modern LDS thought on the Godhead?

There’s a way that you can follow the logic of this verse to say that the fall caused redemption.  (Not just in the sense of requiring redemption, but actually causing it.)  Is that a reasonable way to think about this?

13 And because of the redemption of man, which came by Jesus Christ, they are brought back into the presence of the Lord; yea, this is wherein all men are redeemed, because the death of Christ bringeth to pass the resurrection, which bringeth to pass a redemption from an endless sleep, from which sleep all men shall be awakened by the power of God when the trump shall sound; and they shall come forth, both small and great, and all shall stand before his bar, being redeemed and loosed from this eternal band of death, which death is a temporal death.

To whom does the first “they” in this verse refer to?  (The logical thing is “man,” but that isn’t obviously plural.)

Thinking about “all men are redeemed”:  does this mean that _all_ people are redeemed, or is it maybe shorthand for saying “all men who are redeemed are redeemed this way”?

What does the word “sleep” in this verse suggest to you?

Why is “awakening” a good metaphor for resurrection?  And what is the “trump” in this metaphor?

What does “great and small” mean in this verse?

What does the bar symbolize in this verse?

Does this verse imply that the main consequence of the fall was removal from the presence of the Lord?  Is that the best way to think about the fall?

14 And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still.

Obvious emphasis in this verse on the idea that their state does not change.  Why does Moroni emphasize this?

If the filthy stay filthy, etc., then in what sense is there a judgment?  Don’t things just continue as they have been?  (In other words, if you read just this verse, I think you could conclude that “judging” is unnecessary if things stay the way they were . . .)

Note filthy/righteous/happy/unhappy set into parallel in this verse.  How do these ideas relate?  Is there a pattern?

15 And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.

What would motivate someone to imagine a god who cannot do miracles?

In what ways might otherwise faithful LDS be tempted to think of God as someone incapable of doing miracles?

Why does he ask if the end has come yet?  Why is this relevant to the main issue, of God’s ability to perform miracles?

16 Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?

How does this verse relate to the verse before it?

Why is Moroni asking questions here?

Note the assumption of this verse is that we are not able to understand everything that God does.

17 Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his word the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought?

I guess I don’t really think of the creation as a miracle per se, but I suppose that it is.

Notice the shift from “by his word” to “by the power of this word.”  Is this significant?

Note the three items in this verse:  how do they relate?

18 And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.

19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.

Why would changing make God cease to be God?

Is it actually possible for God to cease to be God?

What does this verse suggest about change?  How might it shape our attitude toward change?

20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.

So . . . he seems to be opening up room here to say that miracles _have_ in fact ceased, but it is because of the people, not because of God.  But then is it wrong for someone to say that miracles had ceased?  Because apparently they had!

Wouldn’t people dwindling in unbelief need more miracles, not fewer?

How can we know God?  (Seriously.)  I do like the link between knowing and trusting here–I think most of us intuitively understand that idea.

21 Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.

Is “doubting nothing” a reasonable standard for a mortal?  Are there really people who doubt nothing?  (I kind of doubt it.)

Would a non-doubter get literally any prayer answered, or is the assumption that the non-doubting type would only ask for things that God was willing to grant?

I read this verse to say that it is possible for any person not to doubt (hence the “unto all, even unto . . .” language).

22 For behold, thus said Jesus Christ, the Son of God, unto his disciples who should tarry, yea, and also to all his disciples, in the hearing of the multitude: Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;

I find it very curious that Moroni starts by saying that this was said to the three, but then explains that it was also to the twelve, and then notes that the multitude heard it.  Why does he do this?  And how is the audience significant to the message?  Does it mean that this command was or was not also given to (in the sense of: required of) the multitude?

How literally do you take “all the world” and “every creature” here?

How does this verse relate to the verse before it?

23 And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned;

Is this verse a complete representation (both of the requirements for salvation/damnation and the binary nature of the two), or is Moroni sort of summarizing here?

What does “damned” mean in this verse?

24 And these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover;

Do these signs follow all believers?

You don’t hear a lot about casting out devils in either the BoM or in modern times.  What’s up with that?

What does “new tongues” mean in this verse?  (Honestly, I think that might be a candidate for the “MTC gift of languages” thing.)

Why would they take up serpents?  What’s going on here?

Are disciples literally protected from poison?  Is this a sign?

In what sense are the things in this verse “signs”?

V22-24 appear to quote Mark 16:15-18.  Almost all scholars believe that Mark 16:9-20 is a later addition to the gospel, written by someone other than the writer of the rest of the gospel.  What does its presence in the BoM suggest about how we should understand the BoM and how we should understand the Gospel of Mark?

25 And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth.

What does it mean to “confirm” words?

If someone already doubts nothing, what would it mean to that person to have words “confirmed”?  (Is there some level beyond faith–maybe “knowledge”–envisioned here?)

What does “even unto . . . earth” modify:  words?  whosoever?  something else?

I like how Brant Gardner points out that snake handling is small potatoes compared to the real miracle described in this verse–one given to every believer–of having the words confirmed.  To the extent that I want to focus on the fireworks of the previous verse but don’t pay as much attention to the quieter-but-grander miracle in this one, I’m really missing the boat as to what is most important.

26 And now, behold, who can stand against the works of the Lord? Who can deny his sayings? Who will rise up against the almighty power of the Lord? Who will despise the works of the Lord? Who will despise the children of Christ? Behold, all ye who are despisers of the works of the Lord, for ye shall wonder and perish.

How does this verse relate to the verse before it?

How do the five questions in this verse relate?  Are they five ways of saying the same thing or five different things?

I’m having a hard time following what’s happening in the last sentence.  I think maybe Moroni is directly addressing that segment of his audience and telling them that they will wonder and perish.

“Wonder and perish” are an odd combination–what’s going on here?

27 O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.

In v26 and in this verse, “wonder” is a bad thing.  What does it mean?  How might we do that today?  (I’m thinking it means something like “being surprised at something God had told you was going to happen.”)

Note that “despise and wonder” are put into opposition against “hearken and ask.”  How might this work?  (Might we use “wonder” as an excuse to avoid obeying?)

I find it interesting that in the midst of all of this chastisement, there is an invitation to ask God for things.

Does this verse position doubt and belief as a choice one makes?

What does “begin as in times of old” mean?

What does it mean to “work out your own salvation”?  How does the atonement fit into that?

What do fear and trembling suggest?  Do they bookend despising and wondering (which you aren’t supposed to do)?

28 Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God.

Does this verse position being wise as a choice you make?

What does the use of the word “probation” suggest to you about mortality?

What does it imply about uncleanness to say that you can “strip” yourself of it?

What does “consume it on your lusts” mean?  What is the antecedent of “it”?  How does it contrast with “a firmness unshaken”?

Does it really make sense to have an unshaken firmness that you aren’t going to yield to temptation when that is something that we all do from time to time?

Notice the contrast this verse sets up between yielding to temptation and serving God.  What might we learn from that?

29 See that ye are not baptized unworthily; see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily; but see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God; and if ye do this, and endure to the end, ye will in nowise be cast out.

I find it interesting that this verse puts the burden of being sure unworthy baptism doesn’t happen on the convert and not on the leader . . .

30 Behold, I speak unto you as though I spake from the dead; for I know that ye shall have my words.

What effect does this verse have on the reader?

How would this section be different if he were _not_ speaking as thought he spake from the dead?  In other words, what exactly does it mean to speak as if from the dead?  Is that a thing?  Or is he just trying to emphasize . . . what, exactly?  That the BoM text was buried like a body, and then raised like a resurrected one?  That the book is not just a book, but real voices of real people?  What?

How does this verse relate to the verse before it?

Given that Moroni is not dead when he writes this, in what sense is he speaking “from the dead”?  (Does it maybe show more awareness of his audience than his own life?  That he focus was on us, not him?  That he wasn’t living in his present but in ours?)

31 Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.

This is the third time he’s mentioned the “imperfections” issue.  Why do you think it was so important to him?

Is it significant that “imperfection” is singular here?  In other words, is he thinking of one particular thing?

Why do you think he breaks out himself, his father, and those before him instead of treating all of the writers as one big bunch?

Note the contrast that this verse sets up between condemning and giving thanks.

Does this verse imply that, when we see imperfections in the scriptures, it is because God showed them to us?  (I really like that idea.)

I think what he is telling us is this:  when  you see our imperfections, don’t condemn us for them, but thank God that your awareness of them means that you are more advanced than we are.  Use them to become wiser.

32 And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.

What does “according to our manner of speech” mean?

Discussion on “reformed Egyptian” here and here and here.

33 And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.

The implication is that reformed Egyptian takes up less room than Hebrew.  That’s a pretty big deal, since Hebrew didn’t, for the most part, waste room on vowels.  Of course, this meant there was a certain level of ambiguity in Hebrew; I wonder if the level was even greater in reformed Egyptian, and then I wonder if this is related to the repeated worries about “imperfections.”

The verse suggests that there would have been no imperfections in a Hebrew record.  I find this hard to believe.  First, because the Hebrew records that we do have (that is, the OT) have “imperfections” because we can’t determine which vowel was meant, or we no longer know what a word meant, or any number of other problems, not the least of which is the fallibility and limitations of the author.

Does this verse imply that Moroni knew Hebrew?

34 But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof.

I wonder if Moroni actually knew how the language would be interpreted, or if he was just going on faith here.

It has always struck me as a little weird that BoM authors go thought this heroic effort to maintain a record, but the record is never technically necessary in the sense that it took a miracle to get the story to Joseph Smith anyway.

35 And these things are written that we may rid our garments of the blood of our brethren, who have dwindled in unbelief.

Is there an . . . I don’t know . . . negative vibe here?  Like he doesn’t really care about their souls but just doesn’t want to be responsible for them?  (Maybe the next verse softens this a little.)

36 And behold, these things which we have desired concerning our brethren, yea, even their restoration to the knowledge of Christ, are according to the prayers of all the saints who have dwelt in the land.

Once again, “desire” is huge in the BoM.

What does this verse imply about what a restoration is?  What does it imply about knowledge?

37 And may the Lord Jesus Christ grant that their prayers may be answered according to their faith; and may God the Father remember the covenant which he hath made with the house of Israel; and may he bless them forever, through faith on the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

General:

(1) L. Tom Perry:

Who would not want to heed the voice of warning of one who has witnessed such heartache and misery? Is it any wonder that his words are to declare that there is a better, happier, and more fulfilling way to live? Moroni’s words are not just a voice of warning, but also a voice of hope, as he lets us know that every one of God’s children are precious to Him. He desires that every soul enjoy immortality and eternal life. Oct 92 GC

(2) Interesting article on Moroni as a writer here.

 

 

10 Responses to BMGD #44 Mormon 7-9

  1. stephen hardy on November 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Julie:

    As the “end” of your Book of Mormon postings draws near, I would like to pay tribute to your enormous efforts.

    It is hard for me to know where to begin to describe my admiration for your weekly postings. I am teaching Institute in our Stake (a new calling this September) here in Massachusetts/New Hampshire. To be more precise, I am teaching Relgion 121/122 (The basic Book of Mormon Religion course at BYU.) as part of BYU-Idaho’s new (at least its new here) Pathway Program. I have a weekly class of nearly 30 students, about half of whom are in the Pathway Program and half are simply going to Institute.

    The calling to teach Institute was one I was happy to accept. However, for some reason the Pathway part of it was a bit intimidating to me. I was suddenly teaching a college course, for credit. (Although it is basically pass-fail.)

    I would estimate that I spend about 5 hours each week in preparation for my 75 minute weekly course. I am always over-prepared; I have not yet actually finished one of my lessons. I usually get about half way through each lesson.

    I draw my lessons primarily from the scriptures themeselves, of course. I use the Institute Instructor’s manual heavily. But I also rely on your weekly outlines. Your questions are always probing; they are always engaging and iteresting.

    And then there are your quotes. Where do you find them? You must have some system for recording/filing good GA/manual/blog quotes. They are apt, timely, insightful, and inspiring. They are always perfect. I am not exagerating when I tell you that occasionally (just last week for example) that one of the quotes that you used (Marion G Romney describing his experience with person revelation, a response to Enos) resulted in gasps from some of my students: The quote was powerful, and was made more so because we were studying the context of the quote by studying Enos.

    So please be aware that someone is there, reading your weekly posts line by line, word by word, concept by concept. I have enjoyed them. They are helpful to me as a teacher, and a help to me as my beliefs continue to move and adjust. Faith has never come easily to me; your posts have shored up some of my short-comings.

    I don’t think that my praise here is nearly enough for me to convey my appreciation for your weekly efforts. I can only hope that you also gain something from writing them.

    Thank you, thank you, and thank you again.

  2. Julie M. Smith on November 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Oh my gosh, stephen hardy, thank you so much–I can’t tell you how much your comment means to me. Wow. Thanks.

    (As for the quotations: I am sorry to have to tell you that I cheat: I use the General Conference Scripture Citation Index, which is one of the best things ever.)

  3. stephen hardy on November 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    So, of course I went looking for it, because I didn’t know about the General Conference Citation Index. I couldn’t find it through the church website. But I found it through BYU.

    Can I ask how you access it?

  4. Julie M. Smith on November 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    http://scriptures.byu.edu/

    I have to say: the thing crashes a lot. But I try to be patient, because it is worth using anyway.

  5. Kevin Barney on November 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Plus one to Stephen’s tribute.

  6. Cameron on November 20, 2012 at 3:57 am

    Plus two.

  7. Jones on November 20, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Plus three.

  8. Sam Brunson on November 20, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Agreed. I fell off the Sunday School reading schedule (life got really, really busy for a while there), but your posts have been invaluable to my study this year, and I look forward to revisiting them in the future. Thanks, Julie!

  9. Mark on December 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Another sustaining vote for Stephen’s fine tribute. Julie’s efforts have been an immense help to me.

  10. lana on December 2, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Here, here! Can I be the female voice of praise and say ditto. Thank you for your detailed and dedicated examination of the scriptures. They are an immense help. Stephen’s remarks are a great reflection of my feelings too.

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.