As always, use the Official Gospel Doctrine Manual in your preparation, these ideas are supplemental.
Mormon laments the loss of life among the Lamanites, and turns his attention to the Lamanite’s descendants, and to any future readers who may have the opportunity to read the Book of Mormon.
1-10 – “Know Ye…?” Mormon asks four “Know ye?” questions, the answers to which are a brief but powerful summary of the central gospel message: Do you know who you are? Do you know that you must repent? Do you know that ye must choose peace over war? Do you know that ye must learn what your fathers knew about Christ, that He is the Son of God who was slain but has risen again, and who will judge us all at the resurrection?
8 – “Lay hold upon the gospel of Christ” Mormon appeared to have known that when the Book of Mormon would come forth, the gospel of Christ from the Bible would already be available to his audience in a record which would come forth from the Gentiles, which is the Bible. His admonition is to grasp something that is already in their midst. It is one thing to be aware of the gospel, and another to “lay hold” upon it. The phrase “lay hold” reminds us of Lehi’s Dream. Not all who were on the path chose to grasp the rod of iron, and when the mists of darkness arose, those who did not lay hold upon the rod “wandered off and were lost.”
9 – “This is written for the intent that ye may believe that” I have memorized this verse, so that if I ever encounter anyone who thinks that Mormons discount the Holy Bible, or downplay its importance or significance, I can be ready to give an answer from the Book of Mormon itself. The central purposes of the Book of Mormon are stated on the Title Page: , 1) to show the house of Israel what great things the Lord has done for their fathers, to 2) that they may know the covenants of the Lord, and 3) to convince Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ. Those are the main purposes. But there are additional “sub” purposes mentioned in the text as well, and this is one of them. If we insert the meaning of “this” and “that” the verse sounds like this:
For behold, this [the Book of Mormon] is written for the intent that ye may believe that [the Bible]; and if ye believe that [the Bible] ye will believe this [The Book of Mormon] also; and if ye believe this [the Book of Mormon] ye will know concerning your fathers, and also the marvelous works which were wrought by the power of God among them.
The Bible and the Book of Mormon are not rivals. They are dual witnesses of Jesus Christ and his gospel, which invite all people the believe in Christ, repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost.
10 – “believe in Christ” Mormon’s closing words to future generations are the first principles and ordinances of the gospel.
Mormon 8 Moroni’s lament!
1 – “I, Moroni do finish the record of my father” These first few verses are not doctrinal. They are the words of a very sad man who has lost everything, and is suddenly thrust into the role which it appears he did not expect – to finish the record which was begun by his father. Eventually, it would be Moroni who would deliver the ancient record to Joseph Smith. The Doctrine and Covenants mentions that Moroni (not Mormon), holds the “keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim” (see D&C 27:5).
3 – “I even remain alone” My students have wondered if Moroni had a wife, and if he did, if she remained alive after all the battles. It doesn’t say. However, Moroni says twice that he was “alone” (3, 5) and that “all [his] kinfolk” (5) were slain in battle. If “all” means “all,” then we may safely assume he was totally alone. (If he did have a wife, after saying he was alone and that he had no kinsfolk or friends, he will have some explaining to do).
8 – “the Lamanites are at war one with another” We might assume that once the Nephites were wiped out, Satan had accomplished what he wanted and the wars would cease. But now that the Nephites are gone, the wars continued. President Spencer W. Kimball once said that “there is no tragedy in death, only in sin.” Satan’s desire is to send all people to their death – whether Nephite or Lamanite – unprepared to meet God. That’s the tragedy, not death, but to die in one’s sins. In the war chapters we read:
Now, they were sorry to take up arms against the Lamanites, because they did not delight in the shedding of blood; yea, and this was not all – they were sorry to be the means of sending so many of their brethren out of this world into an eternal world, unprepared to meet their God (Alma 48:23).
11 – “My father and I have seen them” These “disciples of Jesus” are often called the “three Nephites,” which would have been in mortal years nearly 400.
12 – “the imperfections which are in it” Moroni mentions more than once his concern of how the Gentiles will receive this record, because of imperfections. I am not exactly sure which perfections he is referring to, but it is interesting that he openly acknowledges that a record kept by men, even inspired men, will have imperfections. Joseph Smith never said that the Book of Mormon was perfect, but that it was the “most correct of any book on earth.” Even with any imperfections, if we do not condemn it, we are promised “greater things than these.”
14 – “the plates … are of no worth” The plates, which had the appearance of gold, were only the medium to contain the record. The record is of great worth, but the plates were of no worth, because the Lord would not allow them to be sold to get gain. Paper decays and falls apart, but metal endures, and if the metal is gold or brass, it won’t even rust. Interestingly, the best books that contain words and ideas which are priceless are often the cheapest books available. Bibles are available at Dollar Tree and in hotel room drawers. If anyone wants a Book of Mormon, I know several million people would love to give you a copy for free. Elder Robert E. Wells told a wonderful story about a man who was looking for the least expensive book in a used bookstore, and you can almost guess what happened:
I listened to this experience at a stake conference as told by a member who had been asked to give his testimony about his conversion.
The brother said he rode to and from work about an hour each way on a company bus to a sugar mill outside of town. He liked to read books on the boring ride but did not have the money to buy new books. He had a favorite bookstore which also sold used and secondhand books. One day, with very little money, he entered the store and asked the owner what the cheapest big book was, of over two hundred pages, in the entire place.
The owner pointed to a box of very old books in a corner. “Those are about to be junked,” he said. “The prices are marked, but I might even lower it more if you find something you like.”
The interested reader dug through the box of dusty and discarded volumes. The cheapest one in the whole box was a very tattered, coverless, stained, but intact Book of Mormon. He bought it because it had over five hundred pages and was the cheapest book there. He had already read the Koran, the Talmud, and the Bible, so he thought the Book of Mormon would be as educational as any other religious book. He was a voracious reader and liked the printed word, he explained to the store owner.
On the bus he started to read the old, beaten Book of Mormon. He did not mind the double columns with every verse numbered, because he felt it gave a certain dignified importance to each thought. He did not mind the lack of illustrations, nor did he expect any in such a book. But the spirit of the contents intrigued him. He liked the old-fashioned and unique way the story began. He followed it carefully, pondering over what he was reading.
This fellow got all the way to 2 Nephi chapter 2, when something strange began stirring within him. (Second Nephi 2 is probably the single-most doctrinally profound, deeply philosophical, and spiritually potent chapter in the entire volume. Noted writers on the Book of Mormon such as Dr. Sydney B. Sperry and Dr. Hugh Nibley have commented on the outstanding nature of this chapter. If I have to single out one chapter in the Book of Mormon as having had the greatest impact and importance to me, it would be this one.)
The brother giving his conversion story went on to say that as he read in this chapter he felt an urge to pray to God for the first time in his adult life. He said he had gone to Mass as a boy with his mother until he was about twelve; then, since his father never went, he decided that he was grown up enough that he did not have to go to Mass nor pray anymore.
Now he offered a simple prayer to God in his mind, saying, God, what is this book? What am I feeling? What am I supposed to do about it?
He said his answer was nothing more than the impression to wait and God would tell him more. That night, the fellow was reading in his humble home when two missionaries on their way home felt a distinct inspiration to stop at his door. They followed the Spirit. As the man opened the door to their knock, the entry light fell on the Book of Mormon that one of the missionaries held in his hand in such a way that the title was easily visible to him. He exclaimed, “You’ve got my book!” The missionary held his book more tightly, thinking, “No, this is my book.” The fellow explained, “No—it’s just that I have never seen a Book of Mormon with a cover on it. Come on in! I want to talk to you.” He later joined the Church. – Hasten My Work, (Bookcraft 1996), 23-24.
23 – “Search the prophecies of Isaiah” Here is Moroni, over a thousand years after Isaiah lived, encouraging future generations to study Isaiah. Why would that be? Because Isaiah didn’t just talk about the past. He didn’t only speak of events and kings and wars in his day, he talked extensively about the future of the house of Israel. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: “[Isaiah’s] most detailed and extensive prophecies portray the latter-day triumph and glory of Jacob’s seed. He is above all else the prophet of the Restoration.” – Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, [Bookcraft, 1998], 302.
Additionally, Isaiah prophesied of a people who would speak “out of the ground” and “low out of the dust.” Elder Russell M. Nelson taught:
Isaiah wrote, “Thou shalt … speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.” (Isaiah 29:4). Could any words be more descriptive of the Book of Mormon, coming as it did “out of the ground” to “whisper out of the dust” to people of our day? [Isaiah foresaw that God would do “a marvellous work and a wonder” in the latter days (Isaiah 29:14). – October 2007 General Conference.
26-32 – “It shall come in a day when” The era of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is described in some detail – it shall come in a day when:
It shall be said that miracles are done away
The blood of the saints shall cry unto the Lord
The power of God shall be denied
Churches become defiled and lifted up in the pride of their hearts
Leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts
There shall be heard of fires, tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands
There shall be heard of wars, and rumors of wars, and earthquakes in diverse places
There shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth
There shall be murders, and robbing, and lying and deceiving and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations
When there shall be churches built up that shall say, “Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins
After giving this impressive list of conditions in the latter days, Moroni asks a series of “why” questions to future generations:
Why have you transfigured the holy word of God?
Why have ye polluted the holy church of God?
Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ?
Why do you not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies?
Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life…?
Why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain?
31 – “there shall be great pollutions” What are these pollutions? Perhaps they refer to the physical environment as well as the moral environment. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught:
I cannot remember when I first heard profane and vulgar expressions in common use….Today, our young people hear such expressions from boys and girls in their grade schools, from actors on stage and in the movies, from popular novels, and even from public officials and sports heroes. Television and videotapes bring profanity and vulgarity into our homes….Surely this is one fulfillment of the Book of Mormon prophecy that in the last days “there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth” (Ensign, May 1986, 49).
Additionally, President Spencer W. Kimball taught:
I have traveled much in various assignments over the years, and when I pass through the lovely countryside or fly over the vast and beautiful expanses of our globe, I compare these beauties with many of the dark, miserable practices of man, and I have the feeling that the good earth can hardly bear our presence upon it. I recall the occasion when Enoch heard the earth mourn, saying, ‘Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me?'” (Ensign, June 1976, p. 4; see Moses 7:48.)
35 – “Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me” At the beginning of Mormon 8, Moroni pours out his heart in grief. He has no family, no friends, no ore, no place to go. After lamenting his current situation, he ponders his options, and commits himself a new purpose. Notice the difference in tone in verse 35, compared with the first few verses of the chapter.
36 – “I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts” Notice the first thing Moroni warns us about after having seen us in vision is pride! One of the classic talks in General Conference history was given by President Ezra Taft Benson in April 1989, and was called “Beware of Pride.” It was not an “all is well” address, but a warning voice of a modern-day prophet. The Book of Mormon is the story of what pride did to two civilizations. The Jaredites destroyed themselves by pride and secret combinations, as did the Nephites. Now the voices from the dust warn us about how we might destroy ourselves.
39 – “Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life” The Book of Mormon often uses the phrase “costly apparel” to indicate a level of pride and materialism. Since there were no cars, boats or electronics back then, wealth and materialism were manifested in clothing and jewelry. To adorn ourselves with lifeless jewelry while neglecting and passing by those who have life, is a classic case of treating things like people, and treating people like things, the height of materialism.
2 – “Will ye believe in the day of your visitation? Mormon 9 is directed to those who may read the Book of Mormon in the future who do not believe in Christ. Moroni’s question seems to be, “You don’t believe in him now, but will ye believe when the earth is melting?”
4 – “ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God…than … with the damned souls in hell” Moroni makes a fascinating point here – heaven will only be heavenly if you feel comfortable there – for some, heaven would be a miserable experience. More important than getting into the Celestial Kingdom is getting the Celestial Kingdom into us. Also, we may assume that filthiness would rather be where filthiness is. A similar idea is expressed in D&C 88:32:
Any they who shall remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.
8 – “if so, he does not understand them” There are Bible scholars in this world who are not Bible believers. It’s possible to study the scriptures without the Holy Ghost. It’s always a good idea to ask for revelation while reading the revelations of the Lord.
12 – “by Adam came the fall of man” The creation, the fall and the atonement have been called the “three pillars of eternity.” Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:
The three greatest events that ever have occurred or ever will occur in all eternity are these:
- The creation of the heavens and the earth, of man, and of all forms of life;
- The fall of man, of all forms of life, and of the earth itself from their primeval and paradisiacal state to their present mortal state; and
- The infinite and eternal atonement, which ransoms man, all living things, and the earth also from their fallen state so that the salvation of the earth and of all living things may be completed.
These three divine events—the three pillars of eternity—are inseparably woven together into one grand tapestry known as the eternal plan of salvation. We view the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ as the center and core and heart of revealed religion. It brings to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Salvation is in Christ.
But had there been no fall, there could have been no atonement. The fall of Adam brought temporal and spiritual death into the world, and it is from these deaths that man and all forms of life are ransomed through the atonement wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ. Adam brought mortality; Christ brought immortality. Salvation comes because of the fall and the atonement.
But if the earth and man and all living things had not been created in their physical and paradisiacal state, in a state of deathlessness, there could have been no fall. The fall, with its resultant probationary estate, is the child of the original and primeval creation, and the atonement is the child of the fall.
Hence salvation was made available in and through and because of the creation of the heavens and the earth and all that in and on them are. Salvation comes because of the creation, the fall, and the atonement; these three are each part of one divine plan. (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Deseret Book, 1985], 82.)
Alma and Aaron also taught the “three pillars” to King Lamoni and King Lamoni’s father (see Alma 18:36, 39; Alma 22:13).
14 – “he that is filthy shall be filthy still” This principle has been called the “Law of Restoration.” Alma’s son Corianton held the mistaken belief that no matter what one did, he could be restored to happiness. Alma taught him that “wickedness never was happiness” and that “restoration” does not mean taking something from an unholy state and making it holy. “Restoration,” in this sense, means “what goes around comes around” (see Alma 41). Therefore, “he that is filthy shall be filthy still,” and “he that is happy shall be happy still.” This is also a reminder to us to live “after the manner of happiness” in this life, if we want to be restored to happiness in the next.
20-21 – “the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles….” Miracles cease because faith ceases; “Wherefore if these things have ceased,” Moroni teaches later on, “then has faith ceased also” (Moroni 7:38). If we think for a moment, we will be able to recognize miracles that have taken place in our lives. President J. Reuben Clark Jr, in an address which has become the like the constitution for seminary and institute teachers, taught:
I say once more there is scarcely a youth that comes through your seminary or institute door who has not been the conscious beneficiary of spiritual blessings, or who has not seen the efficacy of prayer, or who has not witnessed the power of faith to heal the sick, or who has not beheld spiritual outpourings, of which the world at large is today ignorant. You do not have to sneak up behind this spiritually experienced youth and whisper religion in his ears; you can come right out, face to face, and talk with him. You do not need to disguise religious truths with a cloak of worldly things; you can bring these truths to him openly, in their natural guise. Youth may prove to be not more fearful of them than you are. There is no need for gradual approaches, for “bed-time” stories, for coddling, for patronizing, or for any of the other childish devices used in efforts to reach those spiritually inexperienced and all but spiritually dead. (The Charted Course of the Church in Education, Improvement Era, 1938, Vol. Xxxi. September, 1938. No. 9. .)
31 – “That ye may learn to be more wise than we have been” Here, another sub-purpose of the Book of Mormon is articulated. It is said that “wise men learn from experience, and super-wise men learn from other’s experience.” The scriptures contain the experiences of others as they go through mortality, and we can learn and benefit from their troubles and triumphs.