Recently, I was reading from the Book of Mormon as part of my nightly devotional. Some nights my efforts are from habit more than devotion but this night I was troubled by events of the day and was seeking solace of the word in the book of Jarom. It might seem a little unusual to look there because that is not one of the places where we seem to find deep doctrinal or spiritual enlightenment. But it was my place of refuge that night.
|An original copy of the Book of Mormon|
Jarom is the great-grandson of Lehi, the prophet who initiated the events recorded in The Book of Mormon. He (Jarom) was given the plates of Nephi by his father, Enos, and commanded to continue the record of his people. Lamenting the struggles he witnessed among those he loved and the challenges they were having with their enemies, Jarom shared a few thoughts about God’s mercies towards the Nephites.
As a lifelong member of the LDS Faith, I have read this little book numerous times but on this night I was touched by the faith and tenderness this good man expressed as he reported their circumstances. Likewise, I was affected by the stark reality of how much his concerns mirrored the thoughts, events, and actions of our day. Here’s an example:
v. 3 – Behold, it is expedient that much should be done among this people, because of the hardness of their hearts, and the deafness of their ears, and the blindness of their minds, and the stiffness of their necks; nevertheless, God is exceedingly merciful unto them, and has not as yet swept them off from the face of the land.
We, in the Americas, live in a promised land that is reserved for those who are followers of Christ. As taught by many prophets in scripture and in real life, we have also been warned that if we lose our focus and turn away from the Master of this earth we will lose the protection that comes with faith in Christ.
As a purveyor of the Internet and its accompanying social media, I believe it is easy to recognize that there are many who suffer from “hardness of the heart”, “deafness of the ears” and “blindness of minds”. And yet, God has continued to be merciful unto us and is letting us work out our own path through the landmines of mortality.
(BTW, I am not excluding myself from the descriptions above – there are times when I have fallen and continue to fall into the trap that results from a hard heart, blind mind, and stiff neck).
I suppose that is one of the things that interested me in the history Jarom was reporting. With a gap of more than 2 millennia, it is interesting to see that his people (and he himself) were not so different than the people of our day. They tried to be good (most of them) but often drifted into contentious experiences. The only thing that seemed to keep them united was a desire for protection from their enemies.
That’s all well and good, you say, but what does this have to do with me and you. Well, I’m glad you asked because I’m about to spew forth my ramblings on the subject.
Are you ready?
It might be obvious that Jarom is prejudiced in the way he looks at the events of his day. He was raised in a home where revelation and prophecy were the norm and it seems his own view of life was skewed in that direction. It was not an unusual thing for him to see and hear prophecies (his dad and grandpa were prophets) so he had some understanding of those things. Here is how he saw his people and their response to the challenges they were confronting:
v. 4 – And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked. And as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith.
I believe, like Jarom recorded, that there are many who have revelations to help them know what to do in life.
Not just prophets, but good people.
Of every religion.
Who have faith in God and are doing the best they can in life.
God will make Himself known to anyone who comes to Him for help.
He doesn’t care if they know EXACTLY who He is.
He only cares that they want to know the truth He has to offer.
But Jarom was acting as a Prophet to his people so he had a deeper need to know what God wanted the Nephites of his day to do for greater protection from their enemies. What could Jarom teach those in his stewardship that would draw them closer to God and His protective embrace?
Ta Da!! Revelation!
That’s how God does it.
And it was simple.
Not new, but simple.
v. 5 – And now, behold, two hundred years had passed away, and the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land. They observed to keep the law of Moses and the Sabbath day holy unto the Lord. And they profaned not; neither did they blaspheme. And the laws of the land were exceedingly strict.
All it takes is keeping the commandments God has given with guarantees of blessings. Basic, effective, and proven laws founded on eternal principles. Given by those who were called of God to guide His people.
But sometimes there has to be a little extra in the teachings. Not doctrinally, but emphasizingly (I know, that’s not a word)!
v. 11-12 – Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them. And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance.
|Had to include this in memory of|
my recent experiences. :-)
Despite the gap of 2400 years, the process today is exactly the same. In order to find peace in our time we must follow the path given by God. Jarom knew what he was talking about. Mormon saw the truth of the message and included it in these sacred words from God. The answers are there if we want them.
And prophets will also emphasize the areas where we are weak so that we might progress. That’s why our Prophets have been doing so much to increase Sabbath Day observance. They recognize the value it will bring to our trek in mortality. The hearts of mortals must be ‘pricked’ often to keep them aware of their duties. Otherwise we all drift and lose sight of the important things.
Let me be a little bold for just a moment.
There is no one on earth who deserves more attention than the prophets who speak for God. These 15 men, working together, are the only hope we have for finding the path back to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Just as Moses spoke to Israel for their benefit during the 40 year sojourn from Egypt, so we have prophets who speak during our travails through life.
They are the guides through our treacherous path of mortality.
They will help us find the way.
They are NOT infallible. But they are united in the desire to better our lives.
And their united voice is the voice of Jesus Christ to the world.
No government program is going to change the way people pass through this existence. We cannot legislate our way into the presence of God.
Politicians are not the answer to finding peace. They have too many distractions and agendas.
Only One has the power to calm the storms that rage over this earth.
|Thomas doubted -- but found his|
way despite that moment.
Each of us is expected to find our way. The map is available from a loving Father and His Son. They knew we needed help and prepared enough to guide us home. The trick is to find the manual, listen to the guides, and then follow the directions home.
Jarom got it. I’m starting to get it. Many of you are already well on your way.
Happy Trails and give me a kick if you see me slacking on the road.