Studying the Book of Mormon 1

02 December

Nephi’s Reign

     The twenty-fifth Psalm of David is a heart cry to the Lord to forgive him of his sin as well as a profession of his faith in the Lord who always gives comfort and direction.  King David obviously made some mistakes in life, of this there is no doubt.  However, we also see there is hope in his life story because of the mercy of God, His forgiveness and the timeless lesson of obedience for us.  The main lesson I got out of this Psalm was to wait upon the Lord no matter how long I think its taking.  Our God doesn’t work in the manner of timelines.  He is not bound by the secondhand on the clock that ticks away at our very lives.  He’s not bound by the laws of man that have mostly been self-inflicted; much like a wound we won’t lance for fear of the initial pain.  We keep applying more laws to cover the mess of not upholding the ultimate of laws; that being the Law of God.

     When I say this to people many of them will say “but Michelle, Jesus did away with the Law of Moses”.   My response is always the same; “He did”?  I thought Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not get rid of it.  Jesus told the Pharisees on many occasions that while they were busy making their laws of not having extra-marital affairs they were already found guilty by just thinking of it.

     Jesus’ message of salvation should be a welcome relief to those who live to be right.  Your struggle is over my friend!  He came and did the job for you because whatever task you’ve imposed upon yourself is now accomplished thanks to our Lord.  Psalm 25 can be used as a comfort to us that while we are worshipping this Almighty God, He is ever faithful to show us how He loves and cares for us.  The main theme to this life:  wait on the Lord.

     I’m at the end of a Bible study that began last fall on the book of Jeremiah.  Never had I imagined how good of a study this was going to be!  I signed up on the premise that it would be good for me to learn more about Old Testament times and learn which order the books of the Old Testament are in.  Oh I know there is always something God wants us to learn and I don’t recall a time that He hasn’t provided that way.  This study though was one of the best Bible studies I’ve been in since I was saved 14 years ago.

     We begin learning about Jeremiah by reading that He’s been called by God to proclaim instructions to the Israelites during the takeover and captivity.  The Babylonian Empire was sweeping through countries and continents, plundering everything and everyone in its vicious path.  The Israelites had broken into two kingdoms that being Judah in the south and Israel in the north.  The Kingdom of Israel had already been taken captive by the Assyrians in 722 BC and dispersed.  By the time 612 BC came rolling around with the takeover of Nineveh by the Babylonians, the marching of the soldier’s feet became louder by the moment for the Kingdom of Judah.  The Israelites begged Jeremiah to go and receive instruction from the Lord so they would know what to do; stay in Jerusalem or flee to Egypt where it seemed there would be peace (Jer. 42:1-6).  The year was 605 BC.

     God’s word to Jeremiah came back with the explicit order to stay put.  The Israelites were not to move an inch, but to wait upon the Lord.  He was tired of having to punish them and wanted to just love them with blessings of comfort and sustenance, yet once again they would have nothing of it.  He promised them that the King of Babylon while being ruthless would have mercy upon the Israelites and allow them to live and stay where they were.  Instead the majority of Israelites packed their camels and headed south.  The consequence of their move was what God had promised – annihilation.

     With this story in mind let’s open the Book of Mormon to the very first book they call 1st Nephi.  The date and place are supposedly the same.  It was circa 600 BC and the first scene opens up in Jerusalem where the prophet Lehi has lived all of his life.  In the first chapter we read that Nephi being born of Lehi and Sariah; was living in war-torn Jerusalem and has become fearful.

     Now in order to understand who these people are let’s take a look at what the doctrines of the LDS Church have to say about them.  These particular people are supposedly part of the “ten lost tribes of Israel”.  When the tribes of Israel split in two, ten of the twelve tribes moved north.  The two remaining tribes, that of Benjamin and Judah, stayed in the south and the city of Jerusalem was in this region.

     LDS scholars have said Lehi and his family were part of these ten tribes that were scattered but they aren’t sure where they went initially- they claim Lehi’s an Ephraimite.  For the sake of the argument let’s say he fled from the north and settled in Jerusalem with his family.  Why then didn’t he obey the words of Jeremiah?

     Nephi tells us his father Lehi went to the Lord in prayer to seek guidance from God as to what he should do.  After witnessing a pillar of fire and “seeing many things” he went home to lie down on his bed.

     While lying in bed from being overcome by the Spirit, Lehi had a vision.  In his vision he saw the heavens open and “he thought he saw God sitting on His throne”, in addition to a “concourse of angels”. Then “he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.”  All of this is in 1 Nephi 1:7-9.

     Now I am a regular, ordinary mom of two teen daughters, a housewife, and your average, everyday type of person.  I haven’t graduated from any Bible Seminary, nor have I engaged in any profoundly deep theological studies of Christian church history.  I’m all the things I listed above, but more than that, the most important of all is that I’ve been adopted by God as His child.  Because of this I know His voice and through study, I can discern when others are telling me something that isn’t true.  Case in point – the story about Lehi in Jerusalem circa 600 BC.

     The first thing I would have to question is the claim that this is a true account of historical facts that God has kept hidden until the 19th century when He revealed it to Joseph Smith.  Is it really a true word from God?  Throughout the Old Testament up until that time God had meticulously shared with His people who He was.  He had gone to great lengths to prove Himself time and again and really left no doubt as to how He would righteously judge and the consequence if they were to disobey.  God never beat around the bush; He didn’t give one rule to one child and another rule to the other son.  That’s not how our Father operates.  It might be how you and I as a parent or a boss might operate in life, but not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  I don’t know about you, but the older I get the more comforting this is to me!

     Now historically speaking, we have verifiable proof and evidence the King of Babylon began showing dominance over Judah (the southern kingdom) in 605 BC.  He took many Israelites captive at that time and sent them to Babylon on three different captures before the final destruction of Jerusalem in BC 586.  Still there were was a remnant God had intentionally left in Jerusalem that survived.  We see this in Jeremiah 42:7-22 when Jeremiah delivers the word of God to the Israelites after they had asked him to inquire of the Lord’s direction on their behalf.

     Remember, God said don’t move.

     In the book of Nephi it is written that Lehi, the patriarch of the family, received many visions and words from God, but Nephi said he wasn’t going to write down all of his father’s dreams.  He did however state he had received many visions and visits from angels as well and in fact would go ahead and write those things down.   It says in 1 Nephi chapter one those writings are an abridgement to the work of his father’s writings.

     We’re never told exactly how the Israelites sinned or what they were guilty of except they had committed abominations and would be destroyed if they didn’t escape.  When we make it to chapter two we read that Lehi had received another vision telling him that he needs to pack up the family and leave.  While wandering for a few days in “the wilderness” they come upon the river of Laman which supposedly emptied into the Red Sea.  While camping there Lehi has yet another dream and he instructs his sons to go back to Jerusalem and retrieve the brass plates which contain the writings of the Law and their family history as well as all the gold and other valuables they had left behind in their rush to escape.

     While on their journey to retrieve these items and after a few mess ups, Nephi encounters a drunken man sleeping on the ground outside the city walls named Laban.  Before Laban can wake up Nephi is instructed by the “Spirit of the Lord” to remove the sword of steel from Laban’s sheath and chop his head off.  After obeying this spirit he dresses in Laban’s clothing and then goes into the place where Laban kept the plates of brass that this Jewish family is after.  He tricked the servant into believing he was Laban and took the plates to give to his father.

     After they returned to the tent of their father he began to read all the stories that had been written by the holy prophets and even up to the time of Jeremiah.  1 Nephi 5:13.  It says that he also read about the genealogy of his father which told him they were related to Joseph who had been thrown into a well by his brothers and then sold to the Egyptians.  The sad part about this story…none of it is true.

     There are many things within the first five chapters of the Book of Mormon that give us warnings of impending danger when you place it as an addendum to the Bible.  If you’re a member of the Church I simply encourage and challenge you to look these things up for yourself.  Below is a chart that consists of dates, places, people and their references.  Now the Book of Mormon says in 1 Nephi 5:13 that even the records of Jeremiah are imprinted upon the plates so we can obviously say with a fair amount of certainty they’ve heard about him and acknowledge they are in the same vicinity at the same time.

Bible Book of Mormon
God said: Don’t go to Egypt. –Jer. 42:1-22 Escape to Egypt – 1 Ne. 2:2
Israelites actions: Left for Egypt –Jer. 43:1-7 Left for Egypt – 1 Ne. 2:3-6
Consequences: Most were killed –Jer. 43:8-44:14 Blessed/ obedience 1 N 5:20-22
Northern tribe lived: Nineveh/scattered Jerusalem/scattered
Southern tribe lived: So. Israel/Jerusalem Jerusalem 
Timeline: 605 BC Circa 600 BC

     Pressing forward we read in 1 Nephi chapter seven that Lehi thinks his boys should go back into Jerusalem and get themselves some wives.  They do as their father commands and go back to of all places, Ishmael’s house.

     Now regardless of what the Book of Mormon says, it was never a good idea to hang out with people named Ishmael.  Worshipping the god of Ishmael is what got the Kingdom of Israel taken into captivity by the Assyrians and scattered more than a century beforehand.  They were worshipping the god Milcom that Solomon had eventually built altars for because of his bad habit of liking women from the stranger’s tribes.  Nonetheless, here is Lehi receiving revelations from his god to send his sons to marry the girls of Ishmael and that’s exactly what they did.

     The Ishmael mentioned in Jeremiah 40:13 – 41:18 is one of the sons of the king and he went about making much trouble not only for the Jews, but for the Chaldeans as well.  The Bible tells us In Jeremiah 41:2 that Ishmael, along with his friends, murdered Gedaliah the governor of the Israelites, who were the leftover poorest of the poor that stayed behind in Jerusalem.  He also murdered ten others that were supping at a banquet that Gedaliah had invited him to that day in addition to the Chaldeans.

     Having an uncontrollable hatred for the Israelites, Ishmael and friends went out the next day to greet a company of eighty Jews, weeping as they approached the men.  These eighty men were bringing offerings for the Lord with shaven faces and torn clothing; a sign of submission.  Ishmael and his men bemoaned the horrible death of Gedaliah saying they had found him dead and led the group into the city.  When they all got inside the city walls Ishmael and his team slaughtered the eighty men and threw their corpses into the cisterns.  The news of his evil deeds spread throughout the region quickly and people began to get nervous.

     The few remaining Israelites begged Jeremiah to speak to God on their behalf – Jer. 42:1-7 which takes us back to the beginning of this article.  Did God really tell Lehi to leave and go to the wilderness or Egypt or stay where he was at?

     After all that, let’s skip on over to 1 Nephi 17 to see some of the workings of Nephi and company.  In this chapter there are many reasons to question and ask why Nephi, if he was born of godly Israelites, would say and do the things written about here.

     In this chapter there is the problem of how they are to eat meat.  The Bible tells us in Lev. 7:25-6; “Moreover ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings.  Whatsoever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.

     In contrast 1 Nephi 17:2 says;  “And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.”

      Further down in verse 12 we see that God reassures Nephi that He would make the meat sweet so there was no reason to cook it.  In verse 3 it said they obeyed the commandments of God, but which commandment is true; the commandment from the god of the Jaredites or the God of the Israelites?

     1 Nephi 17:44 reiterates that their god told them to leave Jerusalem; “Wherefore, the Lord commanded my father that he should depart into the wilderness; and the Jews also sought to take away his life; yea, and ye also have sought to take away his life; wherefore, ye are murderers in your hearts and ye are like unto them.

Why would the Jews be after him if he was an Israelite?

     The next area a problem arises is in verse forty-seven.  Nephi is having trouble with his brothers who are questioning his authority since he is younger than they are, just like the story we see in the Bible with Joseph and his older brothers in Gen. 37:1 – 45:28.  He tells his brothers not to do harm to him because he is filled with the Spirit of God.

     The reason we know this is a problem is because of what it says in the Bible.  In the three chapters of the gospel of John fourteen through seventeen we are taken to the last teachings of Jesus.  In John 14:16-17 Jesus was telling His disciples that if they love Him and keep His commandments then He will ask the Father and He will give them another Helper so that they would never be alone.

This had never happened before.

     In verse twenty Jesus tells them and us what it will be like when they are truly saved; “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.”  In fact He goes on to tell them this in verse 26; “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

     Now if the Holy Spirit had never been in anyone why was Nephi the only person to ever have this happen?  Again, something’s fishy in Denmark!  After they had made it over the “great waters” and into the “promised land” the small group of adherents began their new lives, build great cities, fight in massive wars and eventually die out as a people altogether.

     This my friend is how the Book of Mormon begins.  There are many more facts throughout the rest of the Book of Mormon that cry out lies, false prophecies, absolute impossibilities and contradictions.  But we don’t want you to take our word for it, instead take it slowly, look at the evidence and determine for yourself what is right.  Your decision shouldn’t be based upon Moroni 10:4-6 alone.  That is no test at all; it’s subjective reasoning and futile.

     Above all know that we pray for the Mormon people daily.  We know that you love Jesus in your hearts and believe you are doing the right thing.  If you’ve been praying about what to do I’m here to tell you there is a way out!  If you’d like more information or simply want prayer, don’t hesitate to let us know!

With Love in Christ; Michelle Grim …

1 Cor. 1:18

    Overview and Facts to Consider from First Nephi

If it wasn’t the Spirit of God with and in Nephi then who might it be?

Why would everyone but Lehi’s group be killed for fleeing to Egypt?

Why would anyone who is following the original Law not abide by all of its commandments?  1 Nephi 17:2, 12.

Why did the sons of Lehi marry the daughters of Ishmael when God told His children not to mingle with the Egyptians and other foreigners?

Is it reasonable that Lehi and his family could have left Jerusalem and walk 210 miles in three days to get to the Red Sea?  1 Nephi 2:4-7.

Why would the destruction of Jerusalem be marvelous as Lehi said in 1 Nephi 2:18?

Key words to use in study and research:  Nephi, Lehi, Jaredite, Laban, Laman, Gedaliah, Milcom, Ishmael, brass plates, Joseph Smith, Mormon, LDS, Bountiful, Zoram, Zenock, Reformed Egyptian

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