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2 Nephi 29: 13

“And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.”
Well, happily the Jews “shall” get the Nephite words. Some day. Currently for the most part they don’t want them. And, even if they did, the “words of the Nephites” will include the sealed portion, because they are certainly part of the “words” the Nephites recorded. So this will be future, even if there were Jews interested in taking the offer today.
The Nephites also “shall” have the words of the Jews. However, once again as we have seen, the words include a great volume of material spoken by Christ, recorded by the Jews, and not in anyone’s current possession. So this, too, must be in the future. For now we aren’t even sure of who these “Nephites” are.
The Nephites and the Jews “shall” get the words of the lost tribes of Israel. This is a category, not a number. Remember that.  So once again, future event. Don’t know when.  Don’t know how many records. Don’t even know how many groups will be included.

But all these records are inevitably to come forth. Just not yet.

Why?
Read Mormon’s explanation: “But behold the plates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he taught the people. And these things have I written, which are a lesser part of the things which he taught the people; and I have written them to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people, from the Gentiles, according to the words which Jesus hath spoken. And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.  And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.  Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people.  Therefore I, Mormon, do write the things which have been commanded me of the Lord. And now I, Mormon, make an end of my sayings, and proceed to write the things which have been commanded me.” (3 Nephi 26: 7-12.)

What if I do believe these things? What if I will accept the things which He offers? What if my faith has been tried and I am found to be deserving of more information? Can a person come out from under the condemnation referred to above, even if the rest of mankind fails to acquit themselves? Alma comes with the reply:  “Yes.” (Alma 12: 9-11.) So, as it turns out, ignorance is voluntary.

Well, shut my mouth! (That’s a pun, you see.)
[Can you do puns in a religious blog? Or will the long faced and dour be offended? Well, they don’t get it anyway. Hey! Why are you reading this if it offends you? Stop it!]
What do you suppose it would take for the Lord to respond to us removing the condemnation that we labor under? How should we go about trying to make that happen? I don’t see it happening, do you? I’m sort of persuaded by Nephi’s pessimism of the gentiles of our day.  Even this mild blog discussion I am attempting has provoked ire in many readers. How we fix our collective disinterest seems a monumental enterprise beyond human ability. I fear it would take some great calamity to unfold before we would change. Then again, I think the Lord has already told us that. (D&C 1: 17; 45: 50.)

2 Nephi 29: 12

“For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.” 

This is more than interesting. The Lord speaks, various people write what He speaks to them. These groups include:

1.  Jews– we get that and it’s the Bible, right?
2.  Nephites– we get that too, the Book of Mormon, right?

3.  Other tribes– how many? Who? When?  Where? What?
4.  All the nations of the earth–Now it’s just too broad. What does “all the nations” mean, exactly?

So, let’s take this a bit by bit, going through each one:

1. Jews: We have a Bible. But we DON’T have all the writings of the Jews, do we? We already referred to missing prophets Zenos and Zenok, and there are others. Look in your Bible Dictionary for “Missing Scripture” and you’ll tree a list. (I’m pulling your leg.  If you look that up it’ll refer you to “Lost Books” so go there.)

[That reminds me of a joke I tell: If I get a tattoo it’ll say “Leviticus 19: 28.” But you probably won’t think that’s funny.]

Anyway, the Jews recorded more both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament than we have currently. So don’t get all certain the Bible is the final word from the ancient Jews. It isn’t. Never was. There’s more coming.

2. Nephites: Clearly more coming. Sealed material has not been revealed, and will be some day. Providing, of course, we were to actually merit the disclosure. So, I suppose that means don’t hold your breath.

3. Other Tribes: We got nothing. Not even a number. The one chance we had to get a number was blown by both the disciples in Jerusalem and the Nephites. I’ve written about this in The Second Comforter. So the only way to triangulate is to either take the allegory of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5 and try to estimate– a risky proposition since it was intended to convey an overall meaning not a number– or we can work backwards from the crucifixion to the approximate 11 1/2 months later when Jesus appeared to the Nephites. Take the time spent with the Nephites, then estimate He’s been busy doing that same ministry elsewhere. Divide the time taken to minister into the available time and you get something between 10 and 18 other potential groups out there depending on your estimate of the time used. The record attempts to prevent us from being too accurate because it identifies three days specifically, then resorts to just “many times” to cover what may have been days or weeks. (3 Nephi 26: 13.)  However, when you read of the Nephite disciples “journeying and preaching” but coming together in “mighty prayer and fasting” and the Lord’s appearance again there, it seems closer to the 10 number than the 18. (3 Nephi 27: 1.) Well, you work it out. It’s just an unknown plural number which might be greater than just a couple. And for these we have no record at all.

4.  All nations: Nothing here, either. And no basis from which to compile an estimate.

So, from the foregoing we can see that we have some tiny fragment of the whole, and cannot even begin to construct an outline of what we are missing. But despite our ignorance, the Lord spoke to them, they wrote it, and it is available for some group to eventually read.  Apparently not us. We do not even get the rest of the record written on parchment and hidden by John, (referred to in the headnote to Section 7 of the D&C). We only get a part of the information from it. (D&C 7: 1-8.)

So, there’s a lot to be had.  We don’t have it…But what we do have we won’t study. Well,  maybe there is a cause and effect…

Seems to me, you don’t want to talk about it. Seems to me, you just turn your pretty head and walk away. (Joe Walsh, from the James Gang era, before the heaviest toll was taken.)  

So the Lord wants us to know there’s ever so much out there. That we have a tiny fraction of what was once available. And we just don’t seem to care. We’d rather reduce the volume of topics we study and eliminate the “mysteries” from our diet of Gospel study, so as to relieve ourselves of any responsibility for what we already possess. We are beyond dumbing down the Gospel. We’re discarding it by the week. Tighter and tighter, until you are left alone, without God in the world. There’s a brilliant phrase. It comes from the Book of Mormon. It is found at Mosiah 27: 31; Alma 41: 11 and Mormon 5: 16. Of all the phrases turned in the Book of Mormon this is the most solitary, profound and descriptive of the fall from grace mankind experiences. It is perfect, even if what it describes is perfectly horrid.

Well, enough of this…

2 Nephi 29: 12

“For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.” 

This is more than interesting. The Lord speaks, various people write what He speaks to them. These groups include:

1.  Jews– we get that and it’s the Bible, right?
2.  Nephites– we get that too, the Book of Mormon, right?

3.  Other tribes– how many? Who? When?  Where? What?
4.  All the nations of the earth–Now it’s just too broad. What does “all the nations” mean, exactly?

So, let’s take this a bit by bit, going through each one:

1. Jews: We have a Bible. But we DON’T have all the writings of the Jews, do we? We already referred to missing prophets Zenos and Zenok, and there are others. Look in your Bible Dictionary for “Missing Scripture” and you’ll tree a list. (I’m pulling your leg.  If you look that up it’ll refer you to “Lost Books” so go there.)

[That reminds me of a joke I tell: If I get a tattoo it’ll say “Leviticus 19: 28.” But you probably won’t think that’s funny.]

Anyway, the Jews recorded more both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament than we have currently. So don’t get all certain the Bible is the final word from the ancient Jews. It isn’t. Never was. There’s more coming.

2. Nephites: Clearly more coming. Sealed material has not been revealed, and will be some day. Providing, of course, we were to actually merit the disclosure. So, I suppose that means don’t hold your breath.

3. Other Tribes: We got nothing. Not even a number. The one chance we had to get a number was blown by both the disciples in Jerusalem and the Nephites. I’ve written about this in The Second Comforter. So the only way to triangulate is to either take the allegory of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5 and try to estimate– a risky proposition since it was intended to convey an overall meaning not a number– or we can work backwards from the crucifixion to the approximate 11 1/2 months later when Jesus appeared to the Nephites. Take the time spent with the Nephites, then estimate He’s been busy doing that same ministry elsewhere. Divide the time taken to minister into the available time and you get something between 10 and 18 other potential groups out there depending on your estimate of the time used. The record attempts to prevent us from being too accurate because it identifies three days specifically, then resorts to just “many times” to cover what may have been days or weeks. (3 Nephi 26: 13.)  However, when you read of the Nephite disciples “journeying and preaching” but coming together in “mighty prayer and fasting” and the Lord’s appearance again there, it seems closer to the 10 number than the 18. (3 Nephi 27: 1.) Well, you work it out. It’s just an unknown plural number which might be greater than just a couple. And for these we have no record at all.

4.  All nations: Nothing here, either. And no basis from which to compile an estimate.

So, from the foregoing we can see that we have some tiny fragment of the whole, and cannot even begin to construct an outline of what we are missing. But despite our ignorance, the Lord spoke to them, they wrote it, and it is available for some group to eventually read.  Apparently not us. We do not even get the rest of the record written on parchment and hidden by John, (referred to in the headnote to Section 7 of the D&C). We only get a part of the information from it. (D&C 7: 1-8.)

So, there’s a lot to be had.  We don’t have it…But what we do have we won’t study. Well,  maybe there is a cause and effect…

Seems to me, you don’t want to talk about it. Seems to me, you just turn your pretty head and walk away. (Joe Walsh, from the James Gang era, before the heaviest toll was taken.)  

So the Lord wants us to know there’s ever so much out there. That we have a tiny fraction of what was once available. And we just don’t seem to care. We’d rather reduce the volume of topics we study and eliminate the “mysteries” from our diet of Gospel study, so as to relieve ourselves of any responsibility for what we already possess. We are beyond dumbing down the Gospel. We’re discarding it by the week. Tighter and tighter, until you are left alone, without God in the world. There’s a brilliant phrase. It comes from the Book of Mormon. It is found at Mosiah 27: 31; Alma 41: 11 and Mormon 5: 16. Of all the phrases turned in the Book of Mormon this is the most solitary, profound and descriptive of the fall from grace mankind experiences. It is perfect, even if what it describes is perfectly horrid.

Well, enough of this…

2 Nephi 29: 10-11

“Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.”
Within the Book of Mormon, as a new volume of scripture, is the caution that even it is incomplete. What a marvel that is if you think about it. Here’s a new revelation telling us that there are other revelations that aren’t included in either the Book of Mormon or the Bible.

Everyone nation, from time to time, received sacred messages from the Lord! No matter where they are – east, west, north or south, He’s been in touch. They have written it down. The records are sacred, and He watches over them.  They will be revealed. And, the good/bad news is that from their content we will be judged.

We are judged “according to our works,” but measured against “that which is written.” Think about that for a moment.
What if they haven’t come to light yet? Are they still written? Are they still going to be used to measure us? If we haven’t seen these words, why would it be appropriate for them to be used as a measuring stick for our conduct?  Was the Book of Mormon’s standards binding upon us even before the record came forth?
Why does He assure us He is unchangeable? Why does He assure us He is the same yesterday, today and forever? Is the standard going to change from ancient record to ancient record? If it does not change, then are we accountable for the same standard of conduct no matter when or where we live? How can we be held to account for things that are yet to be revealed?
If we cannot be judged against something we do not know (Mosiah 3: 11), how can these words set a standard for judging even before they are published?
I want to propose a concept that appeals to my mind. When we are trying to “prove” a proposition, it is possible to set up an experiment where we control all variables but one, then see what that one variable does. How it acts, or reacts. Life here is like that, I think. A fallen Telestial Kingdom, “or the world in which you presently reside”– to quote an authoritative source– is the same place for Able and Cain, Enoch and Noah, Abraham and Nimrod, Moses and Pharoah, Jesus and Ciaphus, Jacob and Sherem, Alma and Nehor, Joseph Smith and Thomas Sharp. Same place with all of these contemporaries. But with the exception of Enoch and Noah, (who took different routes, but nonetheless were both favored by God) all the other pairs had dramatically different outcomes? Why?
This world is a fallen, but controlled environment. We get introduced here with free will and the capacity to change. Inside that environment of a fallen world, there have been people who have come and lived with all the same limitations that we have, but who have grown to know God. Their lives are proof that it can happen. Their testimonies and records of success are part of the “proof” of God’s fairness and of mankind’s freedom to return to Him.

If the Bible and the Book of Mormon both attest to the fact that it is possible for mankind to overcome by faith and return to God’s presence, then we have the proof needed to see how this life should be lived. We have the evidence of God’s willingness to receive us, and of our own capacity to overcome and return to Him.

Testimony after testimony, experience after experience are recounted in the Book of Mormon. We have enough “proof” that this process is available and works. If we were to have more, in a different record, reaffirming the same thing involving other people, would it add any different proof than is already in our possession? If not, then can we be judged by the same standard without having the specific life stories before us to illustrate in another hundred ways how men have triumphed and men have failed?

Is it possible there are others, some of whom are still living, who may also have recorded unspeakable things? Do their words count? Are they binding upon us for no other reason than to prove that in this contemporary world of sin it remains still possible to return to God’s presence?
What interesting things the Book of Mormon raises for our pondering and edification. It is a revolutionary book, in the sense it revolutionizes our understanding of how God deals with mankind.

2 Nephi 29: 9

“And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.”
The assurance to us by the Lord that He is the “same yesterday, today and forever” appears often in scripture. (See, e.g., four times by Nephi including 1 Ne. 10: 18; 2 Ne. 2: 4; 2 Ne. 27: 23, and above; Alma 31: 17; Mormon 9: 9; Moroni 10: 19; D&C 20: 12; and D&C 35: 1, among other places.) Why do you suppose the Lord wants us to trust in this idea? What is it about the Lord’s “sameness” that is important for us to understand?
Are the Lord’s expectations different from one generation to the next? Are His teachings?  Are His ordinances? Can we discard what He has given us and be justified? If His expectations are as unchanged as He is, then how important is it for us to study and retain all that He has given by revelation to mankind? How important is it to keep ordinances entirely intact?
If the Lord does not change, and the story of the Nephite people is a story of temporary success followed by ultimate failure, then how relevant is that account for us? Does temporary success in repentance guarantee constant favor from the Lord? When the Book of Mormon follows splinter groups in the narrative, because the splinters kept the commandments of God better, does that preserve a relevant lesson for those reading the book today? If so, how?
If the Lord “speaks forth [His] own words according to [His] own pleasure” then how can we control to whom and when He is permitted to speak? If He reserves to Himself this right, what effect does our system of recognizing an authoritative message from Him have upon His right to speak? Did the revelation given to Oliver Cowdrey that told him that he could not write commandments, but only according to wisdom, and never command Joseph Smith who presided over Oliver, establish a binding precedent on the Lord? (D&C 28: 4-6.) If so, what limit does that place on the Lord?  Does the limitation on someone being sent forth as a missionary to preach the Gospel, and the requirement they be “regularly ordained by the heads of the church” limit the Lord’s ability to speak His own words?  (D&C 42: 11.) If so, in what way?
Does the revelation to Joseph Smith informing the Church in 1831 that no one other than Joseph Smith is to receive commandments and revelations for the Church limit the Lord’s ability to speak to anyone else? (D&C 43: 1-6.) In particular, what of the Lord’s counsel that this limitation was intended as “a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.” (Id. verses 5-6.) Does that prevent Him from speaking “according to His own pleasure?”
What about the 1830 revelation given to Joseph Smith that no one other than Joseph Smith is to receive revelations and commandments in the church? (D&C 28: 2.) Does that limit the Lord’s ability to speak according to His own pleasure?
Do the promises given to Joseph Smith apply directly and continually as the binding precedent and complete limitation on the Lord’s capacity to speak to us? If so, then can He still speak to individual members of the church but without providing a “revelation and commandment” to the entire church? For example, do we expect only President Monson to receive revelation on the individual members of your own family? How is President Monson supposed to be doing that for the families of some 13 million church members? If that isn’t possible, then what about the approximate 2,000 stakes? Do we expect only President Monson to receive revelation about each of these divisions? If the stake presidents have been delegated responsibility, then can the stake president receive all revelation for each family within the stake? Can the stake president alone receive revelation for the families of his stake?
If each person is intended to receive some revelation for themselves, is that an absolute bar to receiving revelation for another? If, for example, someone were not in your ward, not in your stake, not even living in your state, but asked you to give them a blessing because of illness or injury, are you entitled to receive revelation while giving the blessing? Even if you have no connection to this person by family or church calling?  Should you proceed with the blessing? If so, would you expect the Lord to assist, give revelation, and even inspire a commandment to the person if it were appropriate?
How hard and fast are the rules we impose on the Lord? Does His statement that He alone will decide when and to whom He speaks according to “His own pleasure” need to be weighed as part of the equation? If He cannot speak to anyone other than Joseph Smith, then did Joseph’s death prevent Him from speaking further? If He cannot speak to anyone other than Joseph’s successors in the office of President of the High Priesthood, then what if the occupant of that office is ill, infirm, or disabled?
Would the “system” govern, or the Lord’s “own pleasure” govern? If it is “His own pleasure” then how can we possibly know when He speaks?  What about the Lord’s house being a house of order? Once He has a church established, should we trust He will confine His efforts to that church alone?
I suppose all these questions are answered by the Lord adding to “His own pleasure” that “because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.”
In the final analysis, it is left to us to fast, pray, seek the guidance of the Spirit, and to find where the Lord’s own pleasure in speaking is to be found. I do not expect someone other than the presiding authorities to conduct the affairs of the church. Nor would I expect anyone would organize a ward or stake other than someone having authority over that responsibility, regularly recognized by the church. I would not expect to either pay tithing to, nor be asked to pay tithing to, someone other than a Bishop in the church.  But, just as Elder F. Enzio Busche encountered gifted sisters with the gift of prophecy and visions, I do not believe revelation is or can be confined to any single office, person, or group. (See F. Enzio Busche’s book, Yearning for the Living God.)  While serving in various church leadership positions, including as a General Authority, he encountered gifted women with spiritual capacities who astonished him. But, to his credit, he did not doubt them.
God speaks according to His own pleasure. He cautions you that just because He says one thing at one time, He is never limited in what He may say at another time; even if you think it contradicts His earlier statements. He is living and He has the final decision in what He says and to whom He speaks. We must not forget that principle. Even though we may not like the uncertainty this introduces to our trusted systems. He alone will remain in control.

2 Nephi 29: 8

 
“Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.”
 
Why would anyone complain or murmur because God has spoken? We do. Somehow we get offended at the very idea God can or has spoken further. It is disturbing. It requires us to learn more, and may require us to change. It is inconvenient. It is troubling.
 
But new information from God should always be welcomed. It should be exciting and delightful, even if it requires us to change.
 
Not only does the Lord remember all nations, but He “speaks the same words unto one nation like unto another.” Meaning two things:  First, the records are going to agree on doctrine, ordinances and practice. There will not be some shocking departure from what we have already learned. But, second, we may find that other records have done a better job of preserving deeper insight into the history or truths than have we.
 
At one time the record written by Moses contained what is now in the Pearl of Great Price. At one time the record written by Abraham also found in the Pearl of Great Price was among the Biblical record. However, they were lost until they were restored through Joseph Smith. At one time the Biblical record contained the prophecies of Zenos and Zenock, only a small portion of which are still available through the Book of Mormon.
 
Although the records will agree, that does not mean there will not be significant additions to our understanding as a result of these becoming available. Even the record of the Nephites is sealed, and that of the Jaredites only partially translated. (Ether 1: 4-5.) Joseph and Sidney were forbidden to give the full account of the vision of the afterlife. (D&C 76: 114-115.) So you must not presume that “the same words” will be identical to the teachings preserved in our records. They may include much more.
 
It is also interesting how the Book of Mormon contains so much more information upon close inspection that it appears to have in a quick read. It is a measure of how seriously we take the Lord’s words as to how carefully we search the text.
 
As I’ve pointed out, most of the Book of Mormon scholarship is devoted to the question of the book’s authenticity. Word studies, Jewish idioms, internal consistencies, author variances and other examinations of the book have dominated the Book of Mormon library we have produced. I have proceeded from the premise that the book is authentic, that it is what it claims to be, and worthy of respect. Then, based on that premise, I’ve asked what the book teaches. The result has been more than edifying, it has been at times shocking. I’ve found that most of the deepest doctrines taught by Joseph Smith can be found in the Book of Mormon. When his revelations reach the greatest heights, the Book of Mormon equals what is revealed.
 
We tend to view the Book of Mormon as a “basic” version of doctrine, because we all know there are sealed portions yet to be revealed. However, I think that attitude is wrong. Everything in the sealed portion is already in the book we have in front of us. But to find it we must look more carefully at the text than we generally do.
 
I keep hoping that by showing respect to the text we can accomplish two things:  First, please the Lord and remove our condemnation from neglecting this valuable ancient record. Second, increase our respect for the value of doctrine. Without the unique doctrines restored through the Book of Mormon, we may as well be Presbyterian or Methodist.

These verses promise us that the testimonies of differing nations will agree.  They will all testify both of Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Savior, and provide the means by which we can come to Him and be saved.

The numerous examples of the Book of Mormon all converge on knowing Christ.  Indeed, the text has more examples of Christ ministering through the veil to mortal men than any other record, including His Judean ministry. It is a veritable treasure of Second Comforter experiences. If you want to know Christ, the Book of Mormon is your best guide.

2 Nephi 29: 6-7

 
“Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?  Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?”
 
This is a continuing statement made to Nephi by the Lord. Besides the sermons delivered in the New Testament and Third Nephi, this is one of the most extensive revelations to be found given by Christ. Given its length, and the fact it is a quote from the Lord, we are compelled to take note. The Lord is doing all He can to draw our attention to the fact that the Book of Mormon MUST be valued above the Bible. It MUST take its place in latter-day study of God’s acts among men.
 
To say you have enough information from God is foolish.  God “created all men,” and as a result He “remembers all men.” He will “bring forth [His] word unto the children of men” in whatever place, time and circumstance as He decides. He cannot be circumscribed by our preferences or false understanding. He can and does exercise the prerogative to speak to whomever He decides.
 
When the Book of Mormon came forth, all people were startled at the idea God had more to say. They thought it an odd thing for anyone to claim there was yet more scripture. Joseph was persecuted and hated for announcing he had a new volume of scripture.
 
Now, some 180 years later we think the Lord is bound to talk to a specific person, in a specific way, and that anyone else or anywhere else is beyond the Lord’s capacity to accomplish. In our own way, we are also bound to a tradition which excludes the Lord’s prerogatives; we just redefine the box we confine the Lord.
 
He “brings forth His word” without regard to our views, and to “all the nations of the earth.” Now “nations” is not the same thing as we regard it today. The “nations” at the time of the Book of Mormon were something we would call “people” or “ethnicity” like the Israelites.  
 
The definition of an “isle of the sea” includes everything that is not part of the great Euro-Asian-African land mass. Although we regard North America as a continent, in the Book of Mormon vernacular it is an “isle of the sea.” (2 Ne. 10: 20.) Further, most of Israel was relocated onto the isles of the sea. (1 Ne. 22: 4.) So when the Lord affirms He speaks to those on the “isles of the sea” He is confirming that there are multiple locations, involving multiple parties, each one of which has received sacred communication from Him. There are, in short, still a great deal of His words which have not as yet come to our attention. They are coming. When they do, we are warned to take care in what we choose to reject.
 
When I was first investigating the church, this argument was presented to me by the missionaries in one of the first discussions. I have to admit the proposition made such sense to me that I found it completely persuasive. The idea that God would not be in communication with the vast majority of mankind living separate from Palestine during the Lord’s life seemed to be a sort of abandonment by the Lord. If He is the God of all mankind, then ought He not speak to all mankind?
The “wise men from the east” were not locals to Palestine.  Yet they remained both connected to, and watching for signs involving the birth of the Lord. If them, why not others? The Book of Mormon answers this query. This idea was too persuasive for me to find doubt.
 
If God does remember all mankind, and speaks to the various nations over time, then the failure to keep the information intact is also explained. The Book of Mormon shows what and how a society’s faith fails and is lost. It explains how very careless mankind is with knowledge given by God.
 
Riddles of history are better answered both directly and indirectly in the Book of Mormon than any other text, including the Bible.

2 Nephi 29: 4-5

 
“But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles? O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.”
 
If you wonder at the Lord’s patience and willingness to forgive you have an answer here.  The Lord’s respect for and defense of the “Jews” as His “ancient covenant people” is unmitigated by any criticism of them. Instead He points to their “travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews” experienced in bringing forth this Biblical record.
 
The Jews deserve our thanks, our gratitude and our respect for this great work of preserving the record.

Twice the Lord calls the Jews His “ancient covenant people.” The Bible is a record of rebellion, persecution of the righteous, and slaying of prophets. It is a record of a fallen people who were often in apostasy, resisting true prophets calling for repentance, and suffering the judgment and condemnation of God.  When the New Testament record (also a product of Jewish writers–even in the case of Luke who, though born to gentile parents, was converted to Judaism) came into existence it was the Jews who resisted and persecuted the Lord. Yet He still calls them His “ancient covenant people.” He insists we have been ungrateful to the Jews for their work on the Bible.
 
This is the Lord speaking in the first person.  Nephi is quoting Him. These are the same people Lehi taught would be the only ones “who would crucify their God.” (2 Nephi 10: 3.) Yet despite that, Christ refers to them as His “ancient covenant people” to whom we owe a debt of gratitude! How merciful is our Lord?
 
Now, those who produced the Bible text are not merely the believers, true prophets, and victims of Jewish hostility and persecution.  The text may have originated with the prophets, but it passed quickly into the hands of the priests and Levites, scholars and Rabbis.  These others may not have had the same divine inspiration and association with angels, but they nevertheless attended with strict discipline to preserving the record of the prophets. Even those who directly challenged the Lord included the scribes who worked to preserve the records of the prophets. These “labors” and “pains” and “diligence” have produced gratitude from the Lord!
 
If He is willing to thank them, how generous is our Lord in His thanks to mankind! How ungrateful are we?
 
We tend to see those with whom we differ as enemies. But the Lord does not want us to approach religious disagreement in this way.  Instead he would have us “recover” them. He says: “ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them.” As Joseph Smith’s History recounts, his persecutors ought “to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me.” (JS-H 1: 28.) That is the only way to obtain agreement – persuasion, gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned. (D&C 121: 41-42.) Instead of “holding a court” against someone, we ought to preach the Gospel to them and teach them the truth with love and meekness. It is clear the Lord is showing by example how our attitudes ought to be displayed with those who persecute and reject us. But, then again, He taught the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5, 67) and in how He lived (John 8: 10-11) and died (Luke 23: 34). Oddly we would convict and excommunicate the adulterer, but our Lord would not. Nor does He who holds the greatest claim to condemn the Jews condemn them. Instead He says we ought to have gratitude for their pains, labors and diligence.
 
What does our ingratitude merit us? It merits us judgment. For the same judgment we apply to them will in turn be applied to us. We will see it used as the basis for His rejection of us:  “I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.”
 
Being a religious people is fine; but being a self-righteous people has always been perilous.  It is no different today. We should use the scriptures to inform our inner life. It is meant for internal use only. External application is likely to cause burning.

2 Nephi 29: 3

 
“And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.”
 
This is one of the great missionary scriptures.  It is used to show the Book of Mormon already anticipated an argument against it, and as a result shows there is no reason to reject the Book of Mormon because there is already an existing, recognized volume of scripture.
 
The gentiles are prone to prefer the Bible to the Book of Mormon. We emphasized the Book of Mormon for a few years, but found that other faiths were critical because we were not using the Bible as we should. So there has been a conscious effort to re-emphasize the Bible and de-emphasize the Book of Mormon. This has been done to broaden our appeal to members of other faiths.
 
The gravamen of the argument is in the words: “there cannot be any more Bible.” The idea there are other words of God, requiring equal respect to the words in the Bible, is a shocking heresy for many of the gentiles.  Remember that first phrase in the first verse: “Behold there shall be many” who are going to say this. The “many” are the gentiles, and their criticism will be Bible-based.
 
So, how are we doing with this idea? Do we prefer the Biblical teachings to those of the Book of Mormon? Do we spend more time with the Bible than the Book of Mormon in our own individual study? If we had to choose one as the “standard for our people” which one would we choose? The Book of Mormon (as verse 2 suggests) or the Bible (as verse 3 suggests)?  The Lord’s standard is the Book of Mormon. The gentile standard will be the Bible. Once again we are at odds with Historic Christianity.
 
This is not to say we disrespect the Bible. We don’t. We accept it as scripture. It is an admittedly valuable standard work, to be used in study and receiving knowledge of the things of God. Indeed, among other things the Book of Mormon testifies of the truth of the Bible.  Therefore the Bible is certainly accepted as a work of importance and value to us in matters of faith. But only one can assume primacy. The primary one for us is the Book of Mormon.
 
We may be justified in our attachment to and affection for the Bible. But the Book of Mormon must be preeminent. Our respect and affection for the Doctrine and Covenants, Temple and church organization is also well placed and should inform our understanding and behavior. But the Book of Mormon was intended to be the primary means for the Lord to impart understanding to us.
 
Much has has been written and said about this volume of scripture, but we are only now beginning to understand what we are looking at.

In Eighteen Verses I have shown how little we have done so far with this book of scripture. I have never attempted to be exhaustive in any discussion about the book. In a decade of teaching weekly about the book, where I only went from 1 Nephi 1: 1 to Jarom 1: 4, the discussion was not exhaustive.
 
This book was a gift to us. We ought not think the Bible has more to offer than what we find in “the most correct book” because a “man can get closer to God by abiding the precepts [of the Book of Mormon] than any other book,” just as Joseph Smith said.
 
The primary text of scripture I have used in The Second ComforterNephi’s Isaiah and Eighteen Verses has been the Book of Mormon. The primary text used in this blog is the Book of Mormon.
 
Until we understand that book, I fail to see why we think we should have more. There is more in that book than we’ve noticed. The first step ought be to notice what we have. Then things will be added. However, until we have taken the Book of Mormon seriously, I fail to see why the most important message for us –found within that book– should not be the first thing to be understood.