reflect
Week 45 is scheduled for study Nov. 2-8, 2020. This week’s lessons are great for exercises in introspection. If there was one thing Moroni had, it was time on his hands. His writings reflect what he had probably been contemplating for years.

Day 1

Mormon 7 – I must believe in Jesus Christ and “lay hold” upon His gospel.

Mormon and Moroni had faith that their record would inspire those living in the latter days. As you read Mormon 7-9, write the impressions that come to you about how you can apply what you are learning.

I am fascinated with the term “to lay hold”. I can’t find the term in a dictionary, so I have been trying to think of all the ways in which I could lay hold on something. This is what I have come up with so far. If you think of additional ways in which we can lay hold on something, please include them in a comment at the bottom of the article. I would love to expand my definition of this expression.

Lay Hold

To grab or grasp something with your hands and not let it go

To embrace with your arms to contain (like in wrestling or trying to subdue someone)

To embrace an idea mentally and accept it – make it a part of yourself (like in learning a new concept you hadn’t thought of before)

To emotionally embrace something and accept it (like in learning to trust someone)

To mentally seek out learning with the intent to make it part of who you are (deliberate study with the intent of improving yourself)

As you read and reread Mormon 7, are there any other definitions you can think of that would apply to this term? As I thought about each definition, I tried to think of at least one example or way I could use the term in reference to the gospel, as well as with worldly knowledge and how I might use the term to reference something physical, like arresting someone or trying to solve a problem, etc.

To lay hold on something is a strong term. It doesn’t necessarily include violence, but it does demand insistence or a deliberateness about the action. I see it as a somewhat of an intense term, for there is nothing flimsy or wishy washy about laying hold of something.

Using verse 8 below, how might you describe the act of laying hold of the gospel of Christ? Do you sense any kind of implied commitment in Mormon’s statement here?

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.

I encourage you to take a few moments to think about your own commitment to the gospel of Christ. Are you currently able to say you are laying hold of it? If so, what can you name that would indicate you are?

Day 2

Mormon 7:8–10; 8:12-22; 9:31-37 – The Book of Mormon is of great worth.

Mormon and Moroni had faith that their record would inspire those living in the latter days. As you read Mormon 7-9, write the impressions that come to you about how you can apply what you are learning.

Reading through today’s lesson reminded me of a Christian movie I watched recently. A woman and her child were left alone when her husband was killed in active military duty. She lost her home, her husband, she felt abandoned by God, and she was always a razor thin edge away from losing her job. Tensions between the daughter and the mother escalated, until one day the daughter turned to her and yelled, “I hate you!” She said she wished it was her mom who had died, and not her daddy. This was followed by a scene where the woman passed the church house and suddenly slammed on the brakes, got out of the car, and proceeded to give God a good talking to for taking away from her everything she had held dear, which wasn’t fair, especially since she had devoted her life to Him.

I mention this movie only because without the Book of Mormon we would all be even more liable to be in her situation at some time or other than we already are. The woman in the movie was lost. She didn’t understand God’s plan for her salvation. She had no other reassurances than what she could find in the Bible. Though there are many, those reassurances were specifically written for the Saints of two thousand years ago. How much would she have benefitted if she had a book of scripture that had been written for all of us today?

Like the daughter, how many people, including yourself, who have at some point in time yelled at God and said, “I hate you!”? When life is difficult, and it feels like we have been abandoned, and have had everything we held dear to us stripped away, don’t we sometimes turn to the Lord and say, “Why? What could be the purpose of such hardships?”

Much of the power of the Book of Mormon is its ability to paint for us in exquisite detail the mercy, kindness, and everlasting faithfulness of Christ. And most importantly, the ever-present awareness of him in our lives. If we read carefully, the Book of Mormon gives example after example of how Jesus was intimately aware of what his people were going through. Think of the prophecies of Abinadi. He told them exactly what would happen to them if they didn’t repent, and what they would have to do to regain the Lord’s favor and protection once again. They never needed to lose his protection, but once lost he is always ready and willing to extend his love and kindness again, just as soon as we repent and return to keeping his commandments.

In the case of this woman in the movie, she had stopped reading her scriptures and attending church. She no longer prayed. And then she wondered why she felt abandoned. She had abandoned God first. The Book of Mormon, written for our day, took more than a thousand years to compile. Every prophet who contributed to its final pages protected their records and painstakingly hammered out plates and etched their record in them. Why? Because God was preparing something very special just for those who live in the last days – us!

The Bible is hotly contested, disputed, and constantly reinterpretted. But the Book of Mormon removes all doubt of the Bible’s authenticity by declaring this record from the Jews to be the handiwork of God for our eternal benefit. We are warned in the Book of Mormon that we need to read and heed the writings found in the Bible, and many of the disputed doctrines found in the Bible are clarified in the Book of Mormon.

How important is the Book of Mormon to us? Very! There is nothing that has ever been written that is of greater eternal worth to us than the Book of Mormon.

Day 3

Mormon 8:26–41; 9:1-30 – The Book of Mormon was written for our day.

Mormon and Moroni had faith that their record would inspire those living in the latter days. As you read Mormon 7-9, write the impressions that come to you about how you can apply what you are learning.

One of the lessons I have learned in my life is that whatever you grow up with is your definition of “normal.” It is normal, because it is all you know. This definition of normal defines what you expect out of life, out of other’s behavior, and out of the situations you expect to encounter in your life. This means that everyone’s “normal” is somewhat different from their neighbor’s normal, even though there is obviously a lot of overlap. When we minister to one another this is why it is so important that we not be judgmental. We have no way of knowing what worldview our neighbor or the stranger we just met was raised with.

What does “normal” have to do with the Book of Mormon? The prophets were shown both the conditions and the general attitudes and behaviors of the whole world in the last days. It is these behaviors and attitudes/beliefs they are addressing in the Book of Mormon, especially in Mormon 8-9. Remember that Mormon’s words are not just for 2020. His words are for all the centuries leading up to the return of the Lord to the earth. He mentions selling forgiveness for money, something called indulgences. That happened several centuries ago. But he also talks about events and behaviors that are still evolving. This passage of scripture is a roadmap of sorts that shows us the seriousness of the sins that the world has embraced, and will embrace, before Jesus returns.

God showed Mormon, and a number of the other prophets in the book, our day. Because of this vision of our day, the prophets were able to address their remarks in their recorded messages specifically to our general generation. Their people were completely destroyed by their poor choices. The prophets wrote to us to protect us from these same choices. The situations may be vastly different, but the choice of choosing God or Satan always has the same effect on the soul, no matter the social situation or level of technology in the civilization.

I marvel, and worry too, that the Lord took more than a thousand years to compile this book. It’s soul purpose is to show us that He loves His people and will protect them, guide them (us) and that Israel has not lost its Shepherd. All those centuries of silence in the heavens has taken its toll on the inhabitants of the earth. Now that God has prophets and faithful Saints to live and spread His message to His children, we can expect His choicest blessings once again. As the modern-day prophets have stated over and over again, though life may seem “normal” to us, we are, indeed, a chosen generation. We have been reserved to come at the last stage of the world to help God prepare for the return of His son to the earth. The Book of Mormon is the book of scripture God had written specifically for His covenant people to help and guide them through the trials and difficulties of our day.

FHE/Personal Scripture Study

Mormon 8:1–9 – Being alone

At the time of this writing many people have learned what it feels like to be alone – really alone. With a virus scare that caused whole governments to forbid people leaving their homes/apartments, many have gone stir crazy, even with all our electronic devices, just seeing the inside of their walls for the 90th day in a row. It is like being put into solitary confinement. We have been deprived of physical company of our friends, acquaintances, family, social contact, everything. 

Now look at Moroni’s experience. In 385 A.D. he lived to witness the remaining people of his nation completely wiped out, including his father, who had lead their armies for many decades. Moroni was commanded to finish the record his father had written and hide them up in the earth. Okay, so he did that. Now what? For the next 36 years Moroni couldn’t stray far from Cumorah where the plates were hidden, because he occasionally returned to update them with information he felt was really important.

I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be not just alone, but in hiding, afraid for your life, always running from those who would do you harm. For 36 years he hid from the Lamanites. Mormon 8 was written after 15 years in hiding. Read just the bolded part of the following verses.

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.

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

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.

What exactly does someone do when your entire people have been murdered before your eyes, and there are none left besides your mortal enemy and robbers? He spent 15 years after his father’s death in hiding, but doing what? Then he spent another 21 years, still in hiding, before writing the Book of Moroni. After hiding up this last addition to the plates we have no idea how long he continued to live alone, with no one to talk to, to associate with, before he died. Talk about a lonely and forlorn existence.

Sometimes we feel sorry for ourselves. We are lonely, feel abandoned, or forgotten. But here is a man who lived at least 36 years trying to remain hidden and just “enduring to the end.” It is easy for us to lose our perspective and feel like no one could possibly understand how we feel when we are cooped up in our tiny apartment or dark room for months on end, but I have learned a good lesson in this life, and that is that no matter how bad you think you have it, there is always someone else who has it worse than you.

I think this is partly why the Lord tells us to get out and serve each other. We will never really know how blessed we are until we help relieve the suffering of someone who has it worse than we do.

Mormon 8:12, 17–21; 9:31 – The trouble of imperfections

Have you ever considered how humble Moroni was? Look at Mormon 9:31.

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 at least the second time Moroni tells us bluntly that neither he, nor his father, were perfect. He admits that though he cannot find any fault with anything that is written in their record, that doesn’t mean they might have still made a mistake. He then hastens to assure us that God is perfect, and that we should be grateful that God has shown us, the reader of their record, their imperfections. Why? So we might learn to be more wise than they were.

Imperfection is very easy to spot in others, but so difficult to accept in ourselves, for we tend to justify our own imperfections. Why can’t we remember that our family members, friends, neighbors, fellow ward members, and complete strangers, are all just like us? We all readily live with our own imperfections, but find it so easy to point out and condemn faults in others. In this way we are all hypocrites.

Moroni goes on to warn us that how we live our life is how we will be judged. That is a crucial lesson to learn. Look at Mormon 8:21.

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.

We all hope for mercy in the judgment, but based on this verse, and others like it in the Book of Mormon, mercy won’t be shown unless we also show mercy to others. As Moroni puts it, he “that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again.” That may sound harsh, but that principle is supported by other verses throughout the scriptures. Are we being judgmental, quick to judge others? Do we voice our concern or displeasure over the conduct or habits of others, but justify our own conceits? If we are to be judged according to the Golden Rule then we had better take some time to seriously consider how we think about and treat those around us.

On the flipside to that coin of judgment, how many people can’t see their own virtues and abilities, but judge themselves so harshly they can’t see the good in their own life? All things need to be balanced. This takes reflection and consideration to see where each of us is on the spectrum between self loathing, and self aggrandizement.

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BoM Week 45

(Mormon 7-9)