1 Nephi 3-1 Nephi 4
I read chapters three and four tonight which tell the story of the sons of Lehi returning to Jerusalem to get the Brass Plates--a record of the Jews and a genealogy. The Brass Plates are scripture.
There are several quick lessons for me in this section. First, 1 Nephi 3:7 (Seminary Mastery Scripture), Nephi reaffirms his obedience to the commandments. The Lord will not give us a commandment that we cannot obey. No matter how difficult, the Lord will provide a way.
I think it's interesting that the brothers knew the job would be difficult. They obviously knew Laban and knew he would not be willing to give them the plates easily. Who is Laban? The keeper of the Brass Plates. A man who commands fifty (1 Ne 3:31). A mighty man. A man with many servants. A man who meets with the elders of the church at night wearing full armor and carrying a sword. A man who drinks. A relative of Lehi? I know little about this history, but I find it intriguing. My husband suggested that perhaps Laban had once been a good man entrusted with the plates and meeting with the elders. Or is his duty just a matter of lineage? Obviously by this point, Laban is not righteous. In 1 Ne 4:13, Laban is called "wicked" and the Lord considers it "...better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief." Nephi is convinced by the Spirit to kill Laban and obtain the Brass Plates.
A new man is introduced--Zoram. Nephi says Zoram spoke to him many times about the elders of the church. In fact, Nephi mentions this twice. Was Zoram interested in the affairs of the church? A religious man? When Zoram gives his oath that he will stay with Nephi and his brethren, they trusted him (1 Ne 4:37). Is this because of the power of one's word of honor in the culture or is this because Zoram is a particularly honorable man?
Of course Nephi does obtain the Brass Plates. Nephi shows remarkable faith and trust that yes, the Lord will help him. But I'm always curious about the opposite reaction of his brothers. An angel of the Lord has just appeared to them and told them that the Lord will deliver the plates to them (1 Ne 3:29). An angel! Then, as soon as the angel leaves, they begin to murmur and say there's just no way they'll be able to get the plates from Laban.
It's so hard to believe that they would be so quick to lose faith, and yet so many times I have witnessed miracles and the power of God in my own life and then later doubt that I can do what I'm supposed to do. I need to be more like Nephi. I need to have faith that with the Lord's help and by being obedient to the commandments that I can be a good mother and raise righteous, successful children. It's my greatest desire.
The second lesson taught by the story of the Brass Plates, the Lord establishes that one evil man can not stand in the way of His purpose and work. In 1 Nephi 4:13, we see that God is not a respecter of persons. The exaltation of many is more important than one man.
Third, that the written word of the Lord (the scriptures) is most important. I am so grateful to have free access to the scriptures. I can only imagine the darkness one might have felt during the age when only the monks had access to the written word of God. I do love the scriptures and I am resolving to become better about making time each day to read and study the Book of Mormon.