One of my favorite things to do is to, after finally coming to the last chapter of the BOM, Moroni 10, read it, and then to begin again with the first chapter of the BOM, 1st Nephi 1, on the same day. It’s a symbolic statement that I’m never finished with this book.
First, some back ground…
About 700 or so years before the coming of Christ, Isaiah was alive and well, and recording the revelations he was receiving from The Lord. Isaiah is one of the hardest books of the Bible for me to understand as a whole, but it also contains some of the most profound and clear prophecies of Jesus Christ and His mission ever recorded. Isaiah 53 is a heart wrenching account of the atoning sacrifice of The Savior. Other verses speak of His birth (“For unto us a child is born”). In Isaiah 9: 6 a detail is added to the New Testament’s account of Christ’s suffering that chills me. It says they plucked out his beard. I don’t know why that gets to me so much, considering everything else He went through; it just does.
A century later prophets of God were still warning Israel to repent and call upon God. Jeremiah was among these. He lived during the reign of Zedekiah, King of Judah, and was persecuted and even jailed for his efforts in The Lord’s service. Another prophet, not mentioned in The Bible, was Lehi. Lehi resided in Jerusalem with his wife Sariah, his sons Laman, Lemuel, Nephi and Sam, and also several daughters (we don’t know their names). Lehi saw in vision the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and Israel being brought into captivity. His efforts in warning the people fell on as many deaf ears as Jeremiah’s did. The Lord warned Lehi to gather his family and flee Jerusalem because the people were going to kill him.
Thus begins the Book of Mormon. Lehi and his family fled Jerusalem into the wilderness, leaving behind land and gold to follow the will of The Lord. The first part of the BOM was written by Lehi’s son Nephi. I've heard many people, including myself, testify of the truthfulness of the BOM, but one of my favorites is from Nephi himself: "And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge." (- 1st Nephi 1: 3)
So, hows about we go to 1st Nephi and study a little…
1 Ne 1: 1-2.
1. “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea having had a great knowledge of the goodness of and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.” 2. “Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.”
Nephi’s reference to ‘goodly parents’ probably refers to Lehi and Sariah’s wealth as opposed to their parenting skills, although I’m sure they were good parents too. And, being wealthy, Lehi could afford to educate his children; therefore, Nephi was taught in the learning of his father. Lehi had spent time in Egypt, and was fluent in the Egyptian language. The language the BOM was originally written in was Egyptian, or “reformed Egyptian” as they called it, allowing for the fact that their Hebrew culture most assuredly impacted their use of the language over time. Nephi and the other prophets of the BOM inscribed their writings on metal plates in order that they would be preserved for many generations, even until our day. Space on the plates was limited. Since Egyptian hieroglyphics used far less room than Hebrew would, they chose to go that route.
The first prophecy of Jesus Christ in the BOM comes in verse 19 of the first chapter. Lehi tries in vain to teach of the coming of a Messiah and His redeeming power, just like prophets had been doing for generations. And much like many of their experiences, Lehi telling these people that they were sinful and need to repent ticked them off something fierce.
That’s it for today…
Tune in next time when we join our heroes as they flee, go back, flee again, go back, and flee again.
Peace be with you.