Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 43 – How Could Ye Have Departed from the Ways of the Lord?

1. Mormon is given responsibility for the sacred records.

Mormon 1:2 I perceive that thou art a sober child

“We know that ‘every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose’ in his premortal existence. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365.) Perhaps that call has an effect on those men even in their earliest mortal years, for Mormon was recognized by his predecessor Ammaron as being ‘a sober child’ and one ‘quick to observe.’ (Morm. 1:2.)” (Jeffrey R Holland,  Ensign, Mar. 1978, “Mormon: The Man & The Book”)

Mormon 1:15 Being fifteen years of age

“There must be something significant . . . concerning the stage of life one goes through at the age of about 14. Mormon’s awakening to spiritual matters at about this age foreshadows a similar awakening at a similar age by the young Joseph Smith, who would translate Mormon’s record. . . . Similarly, through modern-day prophets, the Lord has specified 12 as the age when worthy young men of His Church can receive the Aaronic Priesthood. What all of this seems to suggest is a heightened spiritual sense experienced at about this age – something that conscientious parents of young teenagers would do well to keep in mind.” (E.D. Clark & R. S. Clark, Fathers and Sons in the Book of Mormon, as taken from Church News, 10/24/92)


Mormon 1:16 I did endeavour to preach unto this people

“The maturing Mormon, by then fifteen years of age, stood beyond the sinfulness around him and rose above the despair of his time. Consequently, he ’was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus,’ trying valiantly to preach to his people. But as God occasionally does when those with so much light reject it, Mormon literally had his mouth shut. He was forbidden to preach to a nation that had wilfully rebelled against their God. These people had rejected the miracles and messages delivered them by the three translated Nephite disciples, who had now also been silenced in their ministry and been taken from the nation to whom they had been sent.

“Remaining among those people but silenced in his testimony.” (Christ And The New Covenant, p. 318)

2. Mormon becomes the leader of the Nephite armies. The Nephites suffer in battle because of their wickedness.

Mormon 2:7-8 They did not repent of their evil doings

‘These verses paint an important but complicated picture. As the Nephite army rapidly retreats northward, it attempts to gather its civilian population and move them north as well. Mormon’s army travels together, almost by definition, giving the pursuing army a single focal point. Yet Mormon describes the whole land as chaotic, “filled with robbers and with Lamanites.” Apparently the Lamanites and Gadiantons are pursuing a kind of scorched-earth policy, eliminating or dominating settlements en route rather than focusing, as earlier, just on the army.

Mormon laments that the people “did not repent of their evil doings,” by which he meant their acceptance of outside influences and other religions. I read his description of “one complete revolution throughout all the land” as related to their “evil doings.” The Nephites had increasingly accepted Lamanite ways. Now, threatened by an exceedingly powerful Lamanite army representing the life to which the Nephites were already gravitating, they may have simply rebelled against Nephite rule and accepted the newcomers.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Mormon 2:13 Sorrowing of the damned

“After recognition, real remorse floods the soul. This is a ‘godly sorrow,’ not merely the ‘sorrow of the world’ nor the ‘sorrowing of the damned’ when we can no longer ‘take happiness in sin’ (2 Corinthians 7:10;Mormon 2:13). False remorse instead is like fondling our failings. In ritual regret, we mourn our mistakes but without mending them” (Neal A Maxwell, in Conference Report, Oct. 1991).

Mormon 2:19 I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day

‘Those members of the Church who devote themselves wholly to righteousness, living by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God, make their calling and election sure. That is, they receive the more sure word of prophecy, which means that the Lord seals their exaltation upon them while they are yet in this life…

..The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy through the power of the Holy Priesthood.’ (D. & C. 131:5.)…The prophet, for one, had this seal placed upon him…To him Deity said: ‘I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father with Abraham your father.’ (D. & C. 132:49.)’ (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 109-110)”

Mormon 3:3 The Lord granted unto them a chance for repentance

‘Agency is a tremendous tool, allowing our souls to be re-formed in God’s image. When agency is coupled with humility, we can turn our life experiences into divine understanding. This process absolutely requires repentance. Repentance is the mechanism that turns experience into expansion—that alters the sin from barrier to springboard. But using agency to refuse to repent or continue to make negative choices can have the exact opposite effect spiritually.

The Nephites’ sin was a barrier, not only to their spiritual progress, but also to their very existence. Rather than humbly turning to their God, they refused to hear him. They believed in defenses of earth and wood rather than the defense offered by Yahweh’s infinite power. Of this sad human tendency, Nephi lamented: “Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost” (2 Ne. 28:31).’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Mormon 3:8-11 Mormon refused to be a commander

‘In spite of Mormon leading his people for approximately 35 years, at this point he refused to lead them. Mormon must have been influenced by the abridgement he was making of the Book of Mormon. He saw Captain Moroni’s and Helaman’s justifiable reasons to go to war (see Alma 43:9–58:12)—defending their lands, houses, wives, children, rights, privileges, liberty, and ability to worship. He taught the people these purposes of war (seeMormon 2:23–24). After seeing the motivation the Nephites in his day had for fighting the Lamanites—to “avenge themselves” and that they “began to boast in their own strength” and that they were guilty of great “wickedness and abomination”—he temporarily refused to lead their armies (Mormon 3:9–14).’ (Book of Mormon Institute Manual)


Mormon 3:12 Notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle

‘Mormon’s decision does not affect his love for his people. In spite of their imprudent actions and decisions, he still loves them and sorrows for the actions that would lead them to destruction. Many parents have similar feelings for their children, without the ability to resign their particular commission.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Mormon 3:15 Vengeance is mine

“…men are not called upon to curse mankind; that is not our mission; it is our mission to preach righteousness to them. It is our business to love and to bless them, and to redeem them from the fall and from the wickedness of the world. This is our mission and our special calling. God will curse and will exercise his judgment in those matters. ‘Vengeance is mine,’ saith the Lord, ‘and I will repay.’ We are perfectly willing to leave vengeance in the hands of God and let him judge between us and our enemies, and let him reward them according to his own wisdom and mercy.” (Joseph F Smith, Conference Report, Oct. 1904, p. 5)

3. Mormon explains the purposes for the records he has abridged and written.


Mormon 3:16 I did stand as an idle witness

“A striking new study has been initiated comparing a subtle, recurring pattern in the Book of Mormon with a particular type of human behavior recently identified in the writings of the ‘survivors’ of Hitler’s and Stalin’s death camps…the dominant response of the few who survived the European concentration camps has been an irrepressible desire ‘to bear witness.’ The world of death camps and gulags produces a consistent reaction, a will to survive not for oneself, but rather to bear witness to the world in a particular kind of testament or indictment against man’s inhumanity to his fellows. ‘Survival is an act involving choice [even when death might seem easier]…The ‘utmost concern’ of such survivors was to hide up a record ‘preserved for future generations.’ One survivor speaks of his duty to witness as a ‘mission,’ a ‘sacred task,’ and a ‘burning within me, screaming: Record!’

“…That profile has much in common with the human conduct of several people in the Book of Mormon, like Mormon and Moroni. For example, there is the will ‘to remember and record’ that overcomes one’s fears of the surrounding savagery (see Mormon 2:15; 4:11-21). There is the survivor viewing his task as a sacred duty, born out of the realization that no one will be left.” (John W. Welch, Reexploring The Book of Mormon, p. 267)

Mormon 3:18-22 Our judgement

‘Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that others would take part in our Judgment: “The reality is that there will be a whole hierarchy of judges who, under Christ, shall judge the righteous. He alone shall issue the decrees of damnation for the wicked” (The Millennial Messiah [1982], 520).

The scriptures teach that there will be at least five sources who will take part on Judgment Day:

  1. Ourselves (see Alma 41:7; History of the Church, 6:314)
  2. Our bishops (see D&C 41:9; 58:14, 17–20; 64:40; 72:17)
  3. Scriptures (see Revelation 20:12; 2 Nephi 25:18; 29:11; 33:14; 3 Nephi 27:25–26)
  4. Apostles (see Matthew 19:27–30; 1 Nephi 12:9; 3 Nephi 27:27; Mormon 3:18; D&C 29:12)
  5. Jesus Christ (see John 5:22; 3 Nephi 27:14)
  6. Ourselves (see Alma 41:7; History of the Church, 6:314)
  7. Our bishops (see D&C 41:9; 58:14, 17–20; 64:40; 72:17)
  8. Scriptures (see Revelation 20:12; 2 Nephi 25:18; 29:11; 33:14; 3 Nephi 27:25–26)
  9. Apostles (see Matthew 19:27–30; 1 Nephi 12:9; 3 Nephi 27:27; Mormon 3:18; D&C 29:12)
  10. Jesus Christ (see John 5:22; 3 Nephi 27:14)

President John Taylor (1808–87) further elaborated on the role of the Apostles in our judgment: “Christ is at the head. … It would seem to be quite reasonable, if the twelve apostles in Jerusalem are to be the judges of the twelve tribes, and the twelve disciples on this continent are to be the judges of the descendants of Nephi, that the brother of Jared and Jared should be the judges of the Jaredites, their descendants; and, further, that the first presidency and twelve who have officiated in our age, should operate in regard to mankind in this dispensation” (The Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham [1987], 138).’ Book of Mormon Institute Manual)

Mormon 5:10 The Gentiles who have care for the house of Israel

“A loving father does not despise his children. These [Lamanites] are a chosen people, and this Church has an important part in restoring them to their rightful inheritance. The chasm between what they are and what they will be is opportunity. The gospel furnishes that opportunity; it is ours to give.” (Spencer W Kimball, Ensign, Dec. 1975)

Mormon 5:15 That the seed of this people may more fully believe this gospel

“In a special way, the Book of Mormon was written to the Lamanites, the descendants of Lehi, as a major tool to restore them to Christ.  It seems that the righteous Nephite prophets, knowing the destruction of their own people, wrote with special feelings to the future Lamanites.  Mormon in his final chapter said, ‘And now, behold, I would speak somewhat unto the remnant of this people who are spared’ (7:1); and Moroni in his last chapter said, ‘Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites’ (10:1).

“In 1829, about a year before the publication of the Book of Mormon, the Lord spoke plainly to Joseph Smith after the 116 pages of manuscript had been lost.  While reproving young Joseph, the Lord impressed upon him the sacred character and purpose of the Book of Mormon and hence the great importance of his work.

‘Nevertheless, my work shall go forth, for inasmuch as the knowledge of a Savior has come unto the world, through the testimony of the Jews, even so shall the knowledge of a Savior come unto my people-
And to the Nephites, and the Jacobites, and the Josephites, and the Zoramites, through the testimony of their fathers-
And this testimony shall come to the knowledge of the Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the Ishmaelites, who dwindled in unbelief because of the iniquities of their fathers, whom the Lord has suffered to destroy their brethren the Nephites, because of their wickedness and abominations.
And for this very purpose are these plates preserved, which contain these records-that the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people; and that the Lamanites might come to a knowledge of their fathers’ (D&C 3:16-20; emphasis added).

“The Book of Mormon was written to all the world as another testament of Jesus Christ.  In a special way, however, it was written and preserved to restore the Lamanites to the knowledge and testimony of Christ once had by their fathers and also to convince the Jew and Gentile that ‘Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God’ (title page, Book of Mormon).” (Rex C. Reeve, Jr., Book of Mormon Symposium Series, 2 Nephi, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 266-7)

4. In a final great battle, all but 24 of the Nephites are killed.

Mormon 4:5 It is by the wicked that the wicked are punished

“Of one thing I am sure, God never institutes war; God is not the author of confusion or of war; they are the results of the acts of the children of men. Confusion and war necessarily come as the results of the foolish acts and policy of men; but they do not come because God desires they should come. If the people, generally, would turn to the Lord, there would never be any war. Let men turn from their iniquities and sins, and instead of being covetous and wicked, turn to God and seek to promote peace and happiness throughout the land, and wars would cease. We expect to see the day when swords shall be turned into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks, and when men shall learn war no more. This is what we want. We are for peace, plenty and happiness to all the human family.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 366-367.)


Mormon 4:23 Brief overview of the movement of the plates

‘Ammaron told Mormon to take the large plates of Nephi from the Hill Shim and add to them. Mormon was to leave the rest of the plates (plates of brass, small plates of Nephi, and plates of Ether) in the Hill Shim (see Mormon 1:2–4). Mormon removed the large plates, wrote a full account of the activities of his people on them, and used a selected portion of them to create his own condensed and abridged history of his people (see Mormon 2:18). Later Mormon returned to the Hill Shim and removed all of the plates (plates of brass, small plates of Nephi, plates of Ether, and all other plates) from the hill (seeMormon 4:23). Fearing that the Lamanites might destroy the records, Mormon hid the plates again—except his abridgement and the small plates of Nephi (the gold plates) in the Hill Cumorah (see Mormon 6:6). These gold plates Mormon gave to his son Moroni (see Mormon 6:6; Words of Mormon 1:1–7).’ (Book of Mormon Institute Manual)

Mormon 5:1-2 Never cease to labour

‘In this crucible of wickedness the true greatness of Mormon shines like a star as he calls his son to action, telling him that no matter how bad things are, we must never stop trying to do what we can to improve matters, ‘for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay.’ (Moroni 9:6.) In this spirit Mormon took over command of the army even when he knew that all was lost, ‘… for they looked upon me as though I could deliver them from their afflictions. But behold, I was without hope… .’ (Mormon 5:1.)

His is the predicament of the true tragic hero: ‘… I had led them notwithstanding their wickedness … and had loved them … with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.’ (Mormon 3:12.) However it might appeal to our own age of violence, Mormon found little consolation in the fact that his people were wonderfully tough and proud of it—‘for so exceedingly do they anger that it seemeth to me that they have no fear of death.’ (Moroni 9:5.) ‘… they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them.’ (Mormon 5:2.) They could take care of themselves, thank you—and they did. ‘ (Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah: The Book of Mormon in the Modern World, pp. 437–38)

Mormon 6:6 These few plates…I gave unto my son Moroni

“Before the last great battle ensued between the Nephite and Lamanite armies at Cumorah in the year 385 A. D., Mormon entrusted the plates containing his abridgment of the plates of Nephi to his son, Moroni. (Mormon 6:6.) Nevertheless, after the battle-in which he was wounded-Mormon again obtained the plates and added some final words found in chapters six and seven respectively of the book called after his own name.  All of the other records of his people he had previously hid up in the Hill Cumorah. (Mormon 6:6.)” (A Book of Mormon Treasury, p. 122)

“‘…therefore I made this record [the Book of Mormon] out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates [the Book of Mormon] which I gave unto my son Moroni’ (Mormon 6:6). In other words, the Book of Mormon explicitly states that the records hidden in the Mesoamerican Cumorah were not the plates of the Book of Mormon, but were the other records of the Nephites…Mormon 6:6 specifically states that all the Nephite records, except the Book of Mormon plates, were buried in the hill Cumorah near the narrow neck of land by Mormon, not Moroni. Nowhere in the Book of Mormon does it state where the Book of Mormon plates were finally buried.” (William J. Hamblin, FARMS: Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 2, no. 1, Spring-1993, pp. 173,178)

Mormon 6:7 My people

“The account of the gathering of all the Nephite people in the lands around Cumorah, and the way Mormon refers to his women and children, men, and people, somewhat interchangeably, introduces some ambiguity into his account. Could it have been that in their last-ditch effort at survival, preparing as they were for a prearranged great battle, Mormon and the 22 other leaders divided the whole Nephite people, rather than just the armies, into contingents of ten thousand each? If so, the victims of the slaughter at Cumorah were 230,000 men, women, and children, all of the Nephites who had gathered around Cumorah.”(FARMS: Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 6, no. 1, 1994, pp.2-3)

Mormon 6:16-22 Don’t reject the open arms of Christ

“We long for the ultimate blessing of the Atonement—to become one with Him, to be in His divine presence, to be called individually by name as He warmly welcomes us home with a radiant smile, beckoning us with open arms to be enfolded in His boundless love. How gloriously sublime this experience will be if we can feel worthy enough to be in His presence! The free gift of His great atoning sacrifice for each of us is the only way we can be exalted enough to stand before Him and see Him face-to-face. The overwhelming message of the Atonement is the perfect love the Savior has for each and all of us. It is a love which is full of mercy, patience, grace, equity, long-suffering, and, above all, forgiving.

“The evil influence of Satan would destroy any hope we have in overcoming our mistakes. He would have us feel that we are lost and that there is no hope. In contrast, Jesus reaches down to us to lift us up. Through our repentance and the gift of the Atonement, we can prepare to be worthy to stand in His presence” (James E Faust, in Conference Report, Oct. 2001).

Mormon 9:5 A flame of unquenchable fire

“A man is his own tormenter and his own condemner. Hence the saying, They shall go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. The torment of disappointment in the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone. I say, so is the torment of man.” (Teachings, of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 357)


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