Throughout the record of 1 Nephi, Nephi refers to his duty of keeping the record. I think, that for the first time ever, I have come to really understand how important that duty actually was.
As an overview, when Nephi received his vision of the history of the world just like other prophets before him did, he learned about the Lord’s plan of redemption for His children, and the part that he, Nephi, was to play in that plan. I believe we are shown a pattern in the accounts given in the scriptures whereupon each person who is visited by the Lord is given an understanding of their calling, or job, in this grand scheme of things. It is probably most evident in the account given in Moses wherein the Lord explains to Moses that “I have a work for thee, Moses, my son.” Nephi too was shown what his calling, or work, was that was required of him by the Lord.
In the vision Nephi was shown a book:
13: 23 And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.
24 And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God.
25 Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God.
I believe that this book is the Bible, the combination of the Old and New Testaments. It originally contained the covenants the Lord made with the House of Israel, the prophecies of the holy prophets concerning them, and the fullness of the gospel of the Lord.
But, look what happens to that record in its purity:
13:26 And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.
27 And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.
28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.
29 And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.
The corruption of the record happened, removing the sacred covenants, and many of the plain and precious teachings that were necessary for the salvation of men. These truths were needed so that Satan might not have power over the children of the Lord. Nephi is shown these details so that he understands just how important his particular assignment will be for his posterity, and for the world.
So, just what is his assignment? Did he fulfill his calling? What significance does the success in his calling have for us today?
As the vision continues, Nephi is shown another record:
13:34 And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel—and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed of thy father—wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment, and smitten them by the hand of the Gentiles, and after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb—I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb.
35 For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb.
36 And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my brock and my salvation.
Nephi was shown that the only way for the whole world to be saved and not “dwindle in unbelief” was for them to receive the truths that he and his posterity would record, which adds back the “plain and precious truths” that were taken away from the first record. That is a pretty important assignment, don’t you think?
13:40 And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.
41 And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.
His records were to testify of the Lord, and make known once again the covenants He made with His children. They were to be plain and easy to understand. They were to contain precious truths necessary for the salvation of the world. They would be another testimony of the validity of the Bible, and the importance it holds for us. This is one very important calling. Nephi and his posterity are the keepers of the record.
I know Nephi understood his role, and impressed the importance of record keeping upon his posterity because even when they later confess, many generations removed from Nephi, that they had nothing really important to add, they still kept the record. This record is what we now know as the Book of Mormon.
I am grateful that Nephi understood the work that the Lord had for him to do, and that he was faithful in doing that work. He obviously made his election, and calling, sure.