Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lamanites Cursed (2 Nephi 5)

My brudder Bob and me in 1979
Again about 2005
My own siblings and I have always been close friends.  It makes me sad when siblings don't get along.  This one guy told me once, "I really love how good of friends you and your brother (Bob) are.  I haven't spoken to my brother in 20 years."  I was totally blown away.  I guess it happens.

After the death of dear old Lehi and Sariah, Laman & Lemuel wouldn't stop being butt-heads, so The Lord warned Nephi to get out of Dodge.

2 Nephi 5: 5-6
5.  And it came to pass that The Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me.

6.  Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me.  And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words.  

  • I'm glad Nephi mentioned his sisters.  Women didn't get a lot of mentions in the old days.
  • Jacob and Joseph didn't have families yet, apparently.
  • There were others besides the known good guys who followed Nephi.  I wonder if this included any of the children of Laman, Lemuel or the sons of Ishmael.  
Can a principle be applied to us from this little story?  Yup, I reckon it can.  See, back at the beginning of this chapter Nephi tells us why the move was necessary.

2 Nephi 5: 1-2
1.  Behold, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cry much unto The Lord my God, because of the anger of my brethren.

2.  But behold, their anger did increase against me, insomuch that they did seek to take away my life.
I think it's worth noting that Nephi had some major challenges in his life, brought on him through no fault of his own.  He prayed to his Heavenly Father for this challenge to be removed.  Specifically, that his brothers would stop behaving so badly toward him, and stop threatening him with death day in and day out.  Was it in The Lord's power to answer this prayer the way Nephi wanted it?  Yup. Did He?  Nope.

Instead, "their anger did increase against me."  Why wasn't Nephi's prayer answered?  Well, it was, just not the way he wanted.  Not the way he wanted, but in a way that would not only benefit his posterity for many generations, but you and me as well.

Ya see, kids, in this case, it was absolutely vital that the 2 groups, Nephites and Lamanites, one obedient and the other not so much, separate, and then the more righteous group would have to lean on The Lord almost constantly in order to not get destructed by the udder group.  That's how The Lord saves them, by giving them trials that encourage them to call upon Him for His blessings.  If not for the trials of life, they [we] would have gotten too complacent, & felt like they didn't need Him so much, and slowly drifted away toward the world.

Wherefore, we can pray about our own challenges, and sometimes those challenges will be decreased or removed, while other times, we will be blessed to be able to handle them.  In any case, The Lord's answer will ALWAYS play into the bigger picture, which means the answers may not come in the way we wanted.

It took some searching to find the following scripture, but I knew it was there somewheres.  Anywayz, it kind of illustrates my point.  Sorry if I overcomplicated a small principle, but that was where my thinks took me.  So, read this Alma thing, and then let's move on....

Alma 48: 15
15.  And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger.

So, they moved from the land of Lehi north to the land of Nephi.

In their new home, Nephi and the newly dubbed "people of Nephi" prospered exceedingly in the land.  They worked hard and kept the commandments of The Lord, according to the Law of Moses.  Nephi constructed a temple after the pattern of the Temple of Solomon.

A few chapters back, when Lehi was talking to his posterity, he told his grand kids that if they ended up being cursed, that the cursing would be answered on the heads of their parents, and that in the latter days, they would be brought back into the light.  Here's the curse... 

2 Nephi 5: 21-23
21.  And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity.  For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto to my people The Lord did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

22.  And thus saith The Lord God:  I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

23.  And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing.  And The Lord spake it, and it was done.

Raise your hand if you were offended by anything in those verses...

Yeah, taken at face value, without an understanding of the whole picture, I can see how this would make people stop and wonder what this was about.  Even a lot of devout believers in the BOM hurry over this part, I'd imagine.  This is something that's hard for me to write about because I don't have a clear understanding of it myself. 

But I'll tell you some of my thinks...

  • I think there were other peoples living here in the Americas who were a darker skinned people, possibly even from the Orient and had crossed over the land bridge of Alaska during the ice age as science suggests.  I think that while Nephi and his followers kept their covenants of chastity and keeping their relations within the house of Israel, the Lamanites mixed and mingled with the natives, causing their offspring to inherit the darker skin.  Did Heavenly Father snap his fingers and these people's skin just turned dark in an instant.  I just have a hard time believing that.  Though it is important to make note of the fact that I DON'T KNOW.

  • I think that the real cursing was being cut off from The Lord, cut off from the Holy Spirit.  In verse 24 it says that, because of the cursing, they did become idle and full of mischief and subtlety.  I don't think that the color of someone's skin causes them to be idle, mischievous or subtle (devious).  I think it is the absence of God and His direction in a person's life that does these things.

  • I think the darker skin was to keep the 2 groups separate so that they wouldn't mix together and make one big semi-righteous group.  This would have caused the righteousness in them to slowly dwindle away to nothing.  You've just gotta have a Lamanite Army always trying to kill you to keep you on your toes, and on your knees.  

  • I think this was the best strategy for The Lord to use in order to save the greater number of His children.  It really is the reason that the Book of Mormon was able to be written in the first place, and it will serve in the end to bless this ancient situation greatly.  

  • I think that the reference in verse 21 to the Lamanites before the cursing being "white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome," refers to them having the Spirit with them.  And afterwards when they're called "loathsome", this refers to them losing that Spirit, and it showed in their countenance.  Those who have the Spirit of God with them have a certain thing about them, a spark, a radiance.  Those who don't, don't.  In Jacob 3: 8, Jacob tells the Nephites that, due to their iniquities, at the judgment bar the skins of the Lamanites would be more white than theirs, if they didn't repent.  And in Alma 23:18, speaking of the thousands of Lamanites who were converted to The Lord, "...and the curse of God did no more follow them."  Much later in 3rd Nephi 2: 15, it says of the righteous Lamanites, "And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites."   

Anyone still offended?


Well, I just don't think that the transformation spoken of that came over these people was a sudden and physical change from dark skin to light skin.  I just believe that it was the light in their eyes, in their countenance that signified that God was a part of their lives, and that they had been enlightened by the Spirit of God. 

Consider this...

Alma 5: 21
21.  I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of Him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem His people from their sins.

Isaiah 1: 18
18.  Come now, and let us reason together, saith The Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

3 Nephi 19: 25 (When The Savior Himself appears to the people of the Book of Mormon)
25.  And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto Him; and His countenance did smile upon them, and the light of His countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof.

White is a symbol of purity and cleanliness according to the cultures of those who kept these records.  Is that a racist statement?  Well, sort of, at least, pretty politically incorrect according to today's standards, but I don't think it was meant that way.

My final argument is this:  I know that The Bible and The Book of Mormon are truly the words of Christ, our Lord.  I echo the words of Nephi back in...

1 Nephi 11: 17
17.  And I said unto him:  I know that He loveth His children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.
That's about the best I can do.  If you are troubled by any of these things, please seek The Lord in prayer.  He said,

"Ask, and ye shall receive.  Knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

Peace be with you...

1 comment:

  1. Well said. 2 nephi 26:33 is the verse the church has recently added to 2 nephi 5:21's footnotes which clearly declares our position that all are alike to God and welcome to go to Him. Thank you for the post.