Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Plates of Brass 1 Nephi 3

Right after Nephi had been “blessed” by the Lord because “he had sought Him diligently, with lowliness of heart”, the Lord provided a way to prove him to see if he would truly “keep His commandments”.
What is the assignment given from the Lord?
1 Nephi 3:1 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, returned from speaking with the Lord, to the tent of my father.
2 And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem.
3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.
4 Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness.
5 And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.
Lehi had received the command from the Lord to send his sons back to Jerusalem to retrieve the “plates of brass”. Because our knowledge of the records of Lehi are limited, it might be difficult to observe exactly what Lehi’s Abrahamic test was. I believe that in keeping with the story of Abraham, wherein Abraham was required to sacrifice his son by the Lord, Lehi similarly is required to sacrifice his sons by sending them back to Jerusalem. Quite possibly, this could be the test that proves Lehi and Nephi at the same time, similar to Abraham and Isaac. I will address this more in my next post.

For now, I would like to concentrate on why the Lord instructed Lehi to get the plates.
Nephi explains to his brothers the importance of the plates in the following:
1 Nephi 3:19 And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers;
20 And also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time.
Nephi points out that the plates were needed to:
1) preserve their language
2) preserve the words of the prophets, in other words, instructions on the “covenant”
Later in the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin also expounds on the need for the plates:
Mosiah 1:3 And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God.
4 For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time.
5 I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.
King Benjamin taught that the information in the Brass Plates was necessary to know the “mysteries of God”, which we have previously discovered, by seeking makes it possible to be visited by the Lord. He also stressed that the written word was necessary to preserve the commandments. We have also discovered that keeping the commandments allows one to receive the blessings attached to them. Without the knowledge of what the commandments are, it would literally be impossible to keep them, limiting the Lord’s ability to bless us. Finally, the written word would keep the “traditions of men” from becoming the law and a stumbling block to us.
What did these important records contain?
1 Nephi 5:11 And he beheld that they did contain the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world, and also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents;
12 And also a record of the Jews from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah;
13 And also the prophecies of the holy prophets, from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah; and also many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah.
14 And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine.
It appears that the “Brass Plates” were similar to the records we have in the beginning of the Old Testament. They contained the history of the Covenant People up until the time of Lehi’s departure. We are told later, as Nephi is given a vision of the future (1 Nephi 13:23), that the record that Lehi was commanded to get had even more information in it than the Old Testament we have today, perhaps pre-removal of plain and precious truths. It was their “Book of Scripture” similar to our standard works of today.
Jumping ahead in the story line, we soon find out that the first thing Lehi did after receiving the plates from his sons was to search them.
Are we searching them still? If we are not searching them, is it really any different than not having them? Lehi was willing to sacrifice the lives of his sons in order for us to have the information contained in these records, are we grateful for them? How do we show our gratitude for them?
King Benjamin was truly grateful for the sacrifice made to have the records in his day. He bore a solemn testimony of their worth and implored his posterity to not regard them as a “thing of naught.” He understood that the records allowed his posterity to “keep the commandments” and call upon the “promises” made to his fathers. (Remember that is the promise we have just discussed in 1 Nephi Chapter 2)
Mosiah 1:6 O my sons, I would that ye should remember that these sayings are true, and also that these records are true. And behold, also the plates of Nephi, which contain the records and the sayings of our fathers from the time they left Jerusalem until now, and they are true; and we can know of their surety because we have them before our eyes.
7 And now, my sons, I would that ye should remember to search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby; and I would that ye should keep the commandments of God, that ye may prosper in the land according to the promises which the Lord made unto our fathers.
Are we searching diligently? Are we profiting from the information contained in the records from the Lord? Do we know and understand the commandments contained in these records so that we can be obedient to them? Are we calling upon the promises given to us because of our obedience?
I, like King Benjamin, know these records contain truth and am grateful to have them before my eyes.
What say you?

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