Friday, September 6, 2013

Testifying Out of the Dust (2 Nephi 27)

The Prophet Moroni buries the golden plates near Palmyra, NY about 450a.d.

The coming forth of the Book of Mormon was prophesied of in several places in the Bible, Old and New Testaments, but none so clear as the one in Isaiah Chapter 29.  Nephi throws this one last Isaiah chapter into the Plates of Nephi in 2 Nephi 27.  I bet it made old Nephi glad when he read this chapter and understood that Isaiah was talking about the very plates he was writing on, that his sore fingers weren't for nuttin'.

In 2 Nephi 27, Isaiah talks quite plainly about a book containing the "words of them who have slumbered in the dust" (dead people) coming forth in the last days, which will contain revelation from God (scripture).

2 Nephi 27: 6-7
6.  And it shall come to pass that The Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book, and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered.

7.  And behold the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof.
It would be pretty cool to flip to the end of the Book of Mormon and see how the world ends.  Too bad that part of the plates was sealed off, and therefore not translated by Joseph Smith into the BOM we have today.

I hope I didn't miss it!
It's probably a good thing we don't have the "sealed portion" yet.  We will have it some day, and then we'll read it on top of our house.  I guess that's a good place to be alone.

Moroni delivers the plates

Moroni delivering the plates to Joseph Smith in1827
Having buried the plates in the ground on a hillside close to the future site of Palmyra, New York sometime around 450 A.D., the Angel Moroni, now a resurrected being, delivered the golden plates to 21-year old Joseph Smith on Sept 22, 1827.  The miraculous work of translation from the ancient text (written in what the BOM calls "reformed Egyptian") into English commenced, but because of persecution and multiple attempts by evil men to steal the plates, it took Brother Joseph 2 years to get the first edition to the printers.  The actual translation took a combined total of only about 90 days.  

 Professor Anthon

In this chapter, Isaiah prophesied that when this book comes forth, the unsealed portion will be delivered to a "learned man", who will reject it. 

During the early days of translating the BOM, Joseph Smith wrote down some of the hieroglyphic characters from the BOM plates and their translation, and his buddy Martin Harris took them to New York City to a Charles Anthon, a professor at Columbia University, and who was known for his "literary attainments".  Anthon studied the characters, and wrote a certificate, certifying both the authenticity of the characters, saying that they were true characters from the Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac and Arabic languages, and the accuracy of the translation.  Anthon asked to see the entire set of golden plates.  He doesn't say anything about greed being his motive, but the BOM says so. 

2 Nephi 27: 15-18
15.  But behold, it shall come to pass that The Lord God shall say unto him to whom He shall deliver the book [Joseph Smith]:  Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he [Martin Harris] may show them unto the learned [Professor Anthon], saying:  Read this, I pray thee.  And the learned [Professor Anthon] shall say:  Bring hither the book, and I will read them.

16.  And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God.

17.  And the man [Martin Harris] shall say:  I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed.

18.  Then shall the learned [Professor Anthon] say:  I cannot read it.

When Martin Harris said, "I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed," to the professor, Anthon replied, "I cannot read a sealed book."  He then tore up the certificate that he'd written, and said that angels do not appear to man in our day. 
But of course he now denies it; you'd expect that of a con.  But he couldn't run forever, not even Charles Anthon.
Joseph Smith

Isaiah then says that the book will be delivered to an "unlearned man", who will do the marvelous and wondrous work of God.

2 Nephi 27: 19-21
19.  Wherefore it shall come to pass, that The Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned [Joseph Smith]; and the man that is not learned shall say:  I am not learned.

20.  Then shall The Lord God say unto him:  The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.

21.  Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work.  

With only 3 or so years of formal education, Joseph Smith was an "unlearned man".  One of the criticisms against Joseph in his day was that he was an uneducated farmer, and yet professed to be a prophet of God.  Goodness knows, The Lord should never, would never, could never use a poor commoner to share His words...

Oh, except for David the shepherd

Oh, and Peter, James, John and Andrew; they were fishermen

Oh, and except for Jesus Christ; He was a carpenter
Twelve Witnesses

A certain number of people were given the chance to be witnesses of the plates of Nephi, which was talked about in this chapter as well.

2 Nephi 27: 12-13
12.  Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein.

13.  And there is none others which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for The Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.

The Three

The 3 witnesses testified to the world that they had seen the angel Moroni and the golden plates.  You can read their account in the first few pages of the BOM.  These 3 men all eventually left The Church, but none of them ever denied this witness.

Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris both returned to The Church eventually.  David Whitmer did not return to The Church, but gave a strong testimony on his deathbed, swearing to the truth of his vision of the angel Moroni and the golden plates.

The Eight

The Eight Witnesses testified that they saw the golden plates.  These 8 did not see the angel Moroni, but they saw and "hefted" the plates.  The testimony of the eight witnesses is found at the beginning of the BOM.

The 8 witnesses were:  Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr, John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith Sr, Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith.
But, Three + Eight = Eleven

The 12th witness to whom I referred when I says there'd be 12 witnesses is yours truly.  I saw no plates, nor angels, but I know that there were angels in the room on January 24, 1987, when I had the light and warmth and love and gratefulness of the Holy Ghost drill a hole into my heart and deposit there, underneath untold layers of fat and cholesterol, a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and the marvelous and wonderful story of its coming about.  Tears sprung from my face like a shook up Sprite, and in that unforgettable and most important moment I received the following treasures:

  • God lives
  • God is my Father in Heaven
  • Heavenly Father loves me
  • I am worth Heavenly Father's time to answer
  • Jesus Christ lives
  • Jesus Christ loves me
  • Joseph Smith was visited by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
  • The angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith and delivered the golden plates to him
  • Joseph Smith translated the golden plates into the BOM
  • The Book of Mormon is the Word of God
  • The Priesthood that was given to me by Richard Barney, and to him by Mike Barney, and to him by Dale Pelo, and to him by Alvin R. Dyer, and to him by Joseph Fielding Smith, and to him by Joseph F. Smith, and to him by Brigham Young, and to him by the 3 Witnesses, and to them by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and to them by Peter, James and John, and to them by Jesus Christ is real
  • I'm glad I went on a mission

JB at the MTC, Jan 1987

And I'll here repeat what was and has remained the most important one to me on this list....

  • I am worth Heavenly Father's time to answer!

Peace be with you...


  1. Honestly, I mostly just look at pix...and I love this one of you in the MTC!

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing this! I love reading your commentary as I am re-reading the Book of Mormon, and teaching twenty one Seminary students. It really does help me to read your perspective!