Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Words of Mormon – Part II

The next morning, following that final battle at Cumorah, Mormon is given a view of the total carnage of his 23 regiments of 10,000 men each lying across the land in death (Mormon 6:10-15). He viewed 230,000 warriors, the remainder of his once great armies that must have numbered a million or more. For more than sixty years, most of Mormon’s entire life, he had spent defending these men and their wives and children. Now they were all strewn out before him in death—a death that would take them beyond the Lord’s grace, for His grace was passed with them (Mormon 2:15).
    Later, how much later we do not know, with marker and plates in hand, Mormon writes: “O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!” (Mormon 6:19).
    How, indeed? In righteousness they had withstood the Lamanites for several centuries. Through continual repentance and correction in their own lives, the Nephites had survived one Lamanite war after another. Now, however, they had not. They were gone. Mormon looked out over the carnage of every last man, woman and child of them with a heavy heart.
    “But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return” (Mormon 6:20). “Had ye not done this, ye would not have fallen, and I mourn your loss.” Mormon’s agony was more than he could bear. “And my soul is rent with anguish because of the slain of my people, and I cried.”
    Has there ever been a leader in this church who has not devoted unpaid hours of their time serving others in effort, prayer, and planning for the benefit of their people, who would not at this point, as Mormon found himself, look out over such a thing and not think of what they could have done more or better or more effectively?
    Mormon looked out over this scene that racked his soul and switched from recording events to preaching (6:21 through 7:10). His intent was to keep those of the future from repeating the errors of the past that lay before him. 
Now, somewhere along this line, thinking his work was completed and knowing he would soon die, obviously from his wounds, he obtains the plates once again to finish his writing (chapters 6 and 7), then sees to the burying of the plates in the hill Cumorah and giving the remainder of the small plates into the hands of his son, Moroni (Words of Mormon 1:2).
    At what point Mormon discovers the small plates of Nephi is not exactly clear, for he writes: “And now I, Mormon, being about to deliver up the record which I have been making into the hands of my son Moroni, behold I have witnessed almost all the destruction of my people, the Nephites. And it is many hundred years after the coming of Christ that I deliver these records into the hands of my son; and it supposeth me that he will witness the entire destruction of my people. But may God grant that he may survive them, that he may write somewhat concerning them, and somewhat concerning Christ, that perhaps some day it may profit them” (Words of Mormon 1:1-2).
    Evidently, Mormon is not as pressed for time as he starts out thinking, for he adds, “And now, I speak somewhat concerning that which I have written; for after I had made an abridgment from the plates of Nephi, down to the reign of this king Benjamin, of whom Amaleki spake, I searched among the records which had been delivered into my hands, and I found these plates, which contained this small account of the prophets, from Jacob down to the reign of this king Benjamin, and also many of the words of Nephi. And the things which are upon these plates pleasing me, because of the prophecies of the coming of Christ; and my fathers knowing that many of them have been fulfilled; yea, and I also know that as many things as have been prophesied concerning us down to this day have been fulfilled, and as many as go beyond this day must surely come to pass” (Words of Mormon 1:3:4).
    Whether or not Mormon had already finished abridging the Large Plates of Nephi when he discovers the Small Plates is, again, not clear, for he writes: “Wherefore, I chose these things, to finish my record upon them, which remainder of my record I shall take from the plates of Nephi; and I cannot write the hundredth part of the things of my people. But behold, I shall take these plates, which contain these prophesyings and revelations, and put them with the remainder of my record, for they are choice unto me; and I know they will be choice unto my brethren.” (Words of Mormon 1:5-6).
From the Small Plates, which Mormon did not abridge but merely included in his overall record of plates, we learn of the Nephites leaving the city of Nephi and coming to Zarahemla, and of the great king Benjamin, and his great spiritual and military leadership of the Nephites
     It seems that Mormon had already written about king Benjaman (as found in Mosiah chapters 1 thru 6), when he came across this information left by Amaleki and found in Omni regarding Mosiah I leaving the city of Nephi and discovering the land of Zarahemla.
    This small addendum Mormon added, called in the scriptural record “The Words of Mormon,” serve as a bridge between the small plates of Nephi and Mormon’s abridgement of the large plates of Nephi. Written almost 400 years after the birth of Christ, this addendum contains a short explanation of what the small plates of Nephi are and why Mormon felt they needed to be included with the other sacred writings. The Words of Mormon also provides valuable insight into why King Benjamin had such great influence with his people.
    We see in the writing of this addendum how the man and prophet, Mormon, was filled with the Spirit and trusted in the Lord for the fulfillment of the purpose he felt prompted to carry out. He did not know the outcome at the time, and possibly never did. Nevertheless, he sat down and wrote this addendum, this bridge between the two sets of plates that now provide us with the insight as to the nature of king Benjamin, why he was such a great leader, and not only had the leadership ability in spiritual matters as seen in his oration from the Temple tower to all his people, but also from the Small Plates and the short mention of Amaleki, who met him, as to his nature and leadership in a military sense, for he drove the Lamanites out of the Land of Zaraemla after they followed the Nephites from the City of Nephi and into that land.
    Obviously, this shows us that the Lord knows all things from the beginning, knows what will be needed and when, and unfolds his plan to the eyes of man who, with his limited knowledge and understanding, always seems awestruck of these events. Mormon tells us that he included these records, and wrote and abridged what he did, for a wise purpose in the Lord. As we read the scriptural record, we see that purpose unfold, much to the surprise of the laymen, who is always taken unaware because of his limited understanding of the Lord’s Plan and how He carries it out. He knew the Small Plates would be needed, waited until Mormon had abridged the Large Plates of this period, then showed him the Small Plates so that two sets would be available in the thwarting of the plans of evil men who wanted to show Joseph was a false translator.

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