Thursday, November 3, 2011

This time, heads are gonna roll... (1st Nephi 4-5)

In June of 1989, about 6 months after returning home from a mission for The Church, I prayed about what I should do next.  I knew what I wanted out of life in very general terms, but the details were so overwhelming that it had kind of a paralyzing effect.  In answer to my prayer, The Lord told me in untypical for me plainness that I needed to pick up and move back to the area where I served my mission (the Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky area).  I was 22 years old, broke, and I didn't have a car.  My response was, "Ok."  5 months later I took the $500 in tax return money that I didn't know I was going to get (not having filed for 1986 because I left for my mission in January '87), threw my crud into my brother Bob's Renault Encore that he loaned me while he served in Japan in the Navy and drove to Oxford, Ohio. 

Cincinnati, Ohio from Northern Kentucky
1st Nephi 4: 6 tells of a similar predicament Nephi had (not really comparable, but I'm trying here, folks).
6.  And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.
Nephi had just been saved from a good beating from his brothers by an angel from God, and was determined to remain diligent in his commitment to obey The Lord's command to retrieve the Brass Plates from Laban.  In order to do this, Nephi had to stand and boldly testify to his brothers who had just tried to kill him that The Lord will help them.  You'd think the angel's message would have been enough, but apparently not.  Part of Nephi's testimony of The Lord's power included reminding them of the story of Moses.  The miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea is referenced quite a few times in the BOM. 

1 Nephi 4: 2-4
2.  Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither (here and there), and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea.
3.  Now behold ye know that this is true; and ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you; wherefore can ye doubt?  Let us go up; The Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.
4.  Now when I had spoken these words, they were yet wroth, and did still continue to murmur; nevertheless they did follow me up until we came without the walls of Jerusalem.
I find it interesting that Laman and Lemuel believe in the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel and the miracle that occurred there, but lack the faith that The Lord's love and blessings can be offered to them in real time.  I hate it when I can see how stupid Laman and Lemuel are being, and then realize I often do the same thing.  I can talk about my own testimony of the coming forth of the BOM or the visit to Joseph Smith by God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, an event that I entirely believe inside my own intestines, and yet I fear and quake when I don't know what to do or which way to go.

1 Nephi 4: 6
6.  And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.
I wish I was a man like unto Nephi.  But, hey!  I did throw my junk into Bob's car and drive to Ohio, didn''t I?  Yes, I did.  The problem is maintaining that faith when the ground turns to mud again and the angel leaves.

Bravo Co. 2-15, Task force 2-15, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (San Francisco Chronicle)
As Nephi walks towards Laban's house inside Jerusalem's walls with his brothers without, he sees a drunken man passed out in the street.  A closer look reveals this man to be Laban, out cold.  Nephi receives a revelation from The Lord through the Holy Spirit which told him to kill Laban.

1st Nephi 4: 10
10.  And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart:  Never at any time have I shed the blood of man.  And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.
Three times the Spirit patiently tells Nephi that this is what he is supposed to do, with the understanding (I think) that, to those who try to be obedient, killing a human being seems contradictory to the commandments of God.

1st Nephi 4: 12-13
12.  And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again:  Slay him, for The Lord has delivered him into thy hands.
13.  Behold The Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes.  It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.
The many aforetimes asked question may have occurred to you:  Why did Nephi have to kill him to get the plates?  Couldn't The Lord have just made him stay passed out, or helped Nephi get the plates anudder way?

I believe the reason Laban was killed was more than just getting the plates.  There are several places in the BOM where it talks about how nobody knew that Lehi left Jerusalem.  According to The Lord's eternal purposes and omniscience, Lehi's family's journey in the wilderness and reaching their land of promise in the Western Hemisphere had to remain a secret.  If any other scenario other than Laban dying would have played out, at what point do you think Laban would have stopped trying to get those plates back?  Yeah, Laban had to die.  And, for some reason known only to those above, Nephi had to do it.  What gets me is this:

1st Nephi 4: 18-19
18.  Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.
19.  And after I had smitten off his head with his own sword, I took the garments of Laban and put them upon mine own body; yea, even every whit; and I did gird on his armor about my loins.
Why, for goodness sakes, didn't Nephi take Laban's clothes off of him first, and then cut his head off?  What a mess!  I'm just joking.  You need to give the scriptures a break sometimes.
A fellow is introduced to us now who always makes me think of Shaggy from Scooby Doo for some stupid reason.  Probably a cartoon video I saw of scripture stories at one time or anudder.  Anywayz, his name is Zoram.  I like Zoram.  He is one of Laban's servants.  Nephi meets up with Zoram at Laban's house and asks him to get the brass plates for him.  Zoram is sure this is Laban.  He looks like him.  He's wearing Laban's clothes.  He even sounds like Laban.  Zoram helps Nephi carry the brass plates to his brothers who are waiting outside the walls of Jerusalem.  Zoram does so without question.  There's an interesting comment in their conversation:

1st Nephi: 4: 22
22.  And he spake unto me concerning the elders of the Jews, he knowing that his master, Laban, had been out by night with them.
Laban was out hanging out with the elders of the church, and then he passes out from being drunk out of his gourd on the way home.  Yeah, Jerusalem wasn't in a high state of righteousness at this time for sure.

So Nephi (who Zoram thinks is Laban) and Zoram approach where Laman, Lemuel and Sam are hidden outside the wall, and Nephi yells out to them so they'll know it's him.  Zoram gets a little freaked out by this, and tries to make a break for it.  Remember, it is VERY important that nobody can know where Lehi's family went.  And, if Zoram is left there alive, he is going to tell the local sheriff who killed Laban, and he'll for sure send out a posse looking for Nephi. 

1st Nephi 4: 31, 36
31.  And now I, Nephi, being a man large in stature, and also having received much strength of The Lord, therefore I did seize upon the servant of Laban, and held him, that he should not flee.
36.  Now we were desirous that he should tarry with us for this cause, that the Jews might not know concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue us and destroy us.
Nephi explains to Zoram that if he agrees to come with them to the promised land, he will be a free man.  Zoram agrees to come along.  Zoram was a good man.

Back to Mom and Dad's they go...
American Gothic, -by Grant Wood
Now, Mom had been pretty worried about her boys, and had made her views pretty plainly known to her husband.  He comforted her as best he could, bearing his testimony about his revelations from The Lord being real, and that they would all be ok.  When they finally did return, she was very happy, and gained her own testimony of her husband's prophetic warnings.

When Lehi studied the Brass Plates, he discovered that they contained, in effect, what we know as the old testament up through Jeremiah, including some significant additions that we don't have.  Some of these are mentioned later in the BOM, most notably the writings of the prophets Zenock and Zenos.  Our modern day Bible also speaks of records from some prophets of old testament times which have never been found.

Also significant, Lehi discovered his genealogy, and that he descended from the tribe of Joseph, the son of Jacob (or Israel), who was sold into Egypt, and not from Judah as he had assumed.  And of Joseph's sons, Lehi and his family came through the line of Manasseh.  This becomes significant when the prophecies of Joseph are studied.  Joseph, while in Egypt as Pharaoh's number 2, saved his father Jacob and all of his brothers from starvation.  The house of Israel would have become extinct were it not for Joseph.  In a similar way, the descendants of Joseph (Lehi and his family) through their experiences and writings which were recorded and preserved as the BOM for our day will eventually reach out to all of the tribes of Israel and be an instrument in bringing them unto Christ, saving them in a very real sense. 

1st Nephi 4: 21-22
21.  And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of The Lord unto our children.
22.  Wherefore, it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us, as we journeyed in the wilderness towards the land of promise.
The BOM is a sacred and true record of an ancient people who knew and prophesied of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  I testify that Jesus Christ is The Messiah taught about in the Book of Mormon. 

Tune in next time when we talk about marriage, love and living the American dream...
Peace be with you.


  1. I want you to continue that Oxford Ohio storyline! Who/what did you slay in OH!?

  2. Perchance I will disgust that in my udder blog some time :)

    1. Love the illustrations you choose as you tell the story. Clever.