1: “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” (Dec. 30–Jan. 5)
Did you know that the Book of Mormon doesn't begin with "I, Nephi?" In our first study group of 2020, Tammy and her friends Sharmaine and Tamu dig into the real beginning of the Book of Mormon — the introductory pages — and share how the entire purpose of the Book of Mormon can be found in just four simple words.
Segment 1: (00:00–10:37)
Question: Where do you think the Book of Mormon begins?
Answer: The Book of Mormon begins with the title page, which was written by Moroni and translated by Joseph Smith.
The four purposes of the Book of Mormon:
1. Show: Show unto a remnant of the house of Isreal what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers.
2. Know: That they may know the covenants of the Lord.
3. Not Cast Off: That they are not cast off forever.
4. Convince: To the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.
Definition of Jesus Christ: "Jesus" is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name "Yeshua," which means salvation (Matt 1:21, Luke 1:31). "Christ" in Greek means "Anointed." (He was anointed by our Heavenly Father in the pre-existence and in Acts 10:38). Together, "Jesus Christ" means "Salvation through the Anointed One."
President Ezra Taft Benson quote: "Over one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord. Some form of Christ’s name is mentioned more frequently per verse in the Book of Mormon than even in the New Testament. He is given over one hundred different names in the Book of Mormon. Those names have a particular significance in describing His divine nature" (President Ezra Taft Benson, "Come Unto Christ," Oct. 1987 general conference).
Segment 2: (10:48–21:32)
Question: How did we get the Book of Mormon?
Answer: Through the gifts of God and the power of God.
Question: What is the definition of the Urim and Thummim?
"Ur" means light and "Thum" means perfection in Hebrew. The ending, "-im," notes the plural form of these words. Together, Urim and Thummin means "lights and perfections" (also see Bible Dictionary).
Did you know Aaron, the brother of Moses, had a Urim and Thummim?
Scripture: "And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the aUrim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the Lord: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually" (Exodus 28:30).
Question: What does the Urim and Thummim symbolize?
They are a symbol of Christ. All light is in Him—He is Light (John 1) and He is perfection. As John Gill, an English Baptist pastor from the 1700s said:
"The light of nature and reason is from him, as the Creator, and is given to every man that comes into the world; . . . Perfect holiness, all light, life, strength, wisdom, joy, and comfort" (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible).
While translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith kept the Urim and Thummim in a box alongside the plates along with the sword of Laban and the Liahona.
Jane Manning James, an early Latter-day Saint pioneer, was able to handle the Urim and Thummim. According to her autobiography:
"One morning I met Brother Joseph coming out of his mother's room. He said, 'Good morning,' and shook hands with me. I went into his mother's room; she said, 'Good morning; bring me that bundle from my bureau and sit down here.' I did as she told me. She placed the bundle in my hands and said, 'Handle this and then put in the top drawer of my bureau and lock it up.' After I had done it she said, 'Sit down. Do you remember that I told you about the Urim and Thummim when I told you about the Book of Mormon?' I answered, 'Yes, ma'am.' She then told me I had just handled it. 'You are not permitted to see it, but you have been permitted to handle it,' [she said]. 'You will live long after I am dead and gone and you can tell the Latter-day Saints that you was permitted to handle the Urim and Thummim'" (Jane Manning James, "The Autobiography of Jane Manning James," ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Question: What is a seer stone?
Answer: "A special stone used for seeing visions and aiding translation" ("Seer Stone," Glossary, josephsmithpapers.org).
Using seer stones to find objects was a European tradition that went as far back as the middle ages. According to the Joseph Smith Papers:
"This practice accompanied European immigrants to North America and was part of JS’s cultural environment in western New York in the 1820s, though by then the practice was waning.3 In his youth, JS occasionally used seer stones to help neighbors find missing objects or search for buried treasure.4 By 1826, JS had at least two seer stones, and according to Brigham Young he eventually had five seer stones.5 According to JS, in 1823 an angelic messenger revealed to him the location of gold plates and an instrument with which to translate them.6 This instrument consisted of 'two stones in silver bows' that had been used by 'seers in ancient times.'7 The Book of Mormon itself referred to 'interpreters' that were to be kept with the plates.8 JS explained that he used the pair of stones found with the plates in his translation of the Book of Mormon9" ("Seer Stone," Glossary, josephsmithpapers.org).
Joseph Smith would place a seer stone inside a hat to exclude all light while he translated what he saw. "Eyewitnesses reported that he also translated using a dark brown seer stone placed in a hat to exclude exterior light and that he used a seer stone for many of his early revelations10 ("Seer Stone," Glossary, josephsmithpapers.org).
Segment 3: (21:43–31:00)
Question: What is a keystone?
Answer: A keystone is a very carefully measured stone that fits perfectly into place so that it can stand without any outside support.
Ezra Taft Benson Quote: “There are three ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony" (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon: The Keystone of Our Religion,” general conference October 1986).
Marion G. Romney Quote: “I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness” (Marion G. Romney, "The Book of Mormon," Ensign, May 1980).
Quote: About keystones, Ezra Taft Benson said, "A keystone is the central stone in an arch. It holds all the other stones in place, and if removed, the arch crumbles" (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon: The Keystone of Our Religion,” general conference Oct. 1986).
Segment 4: (31:11–40:38)
Question: How many witnesses were there of the plates?
Answer: At least 12, the three witnesses, the eight witnesses, and Mary Musselman Whitmer.
Three Witnesses Saw an Angel and Heard the Voice of God
- Oliver Cowdry
- David Whitmer
- Martin Harris
President Dallin H. Oaks Quote: "Each of the three had ample reason and opportunity to renounce his testimony if it had been false, or to equivocate on details if any had been inaccurate. As is well known, because of disagreements or jealousies involving other leaders of the Church, each one of these three witnesses was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by about eight years after the publication of their testimony. All three went their separate ways, with no common interest to support a collusive effort. Yet to the end of their lives—periods ranging from 12 to 50 years after their excommunications—not one of these witnesses deviated from his published testimony or said anything that cast any shadow on its truthfulness" (President Dallin H. Oaks, "The Witness: Martin Harris," April 1999 general conference).
Eight Witnesses Who Saw and Handled the Plates
- Christian Whitmer
- Jacob Whitmer
- Peter Whitmer, Jr.
- John Whitmer
- Hiram Page
- Joseph Smith, Sr.
- Hyrum Smith
- Samuel H. Smith
Mary Musselman Whitmer also saw and handled the plates. Mary was married to Peter Whitmer, Sr. and housed Joseph, Emma, and Oliver Cowdery as well as four of her children while Oliver and Joseph were translating the Book of Mormon. Housing Joseph, Oliver, and Emma added extra work for Mary, but it was during this time that she received a witness.
Quote: "You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors, but you are tried because of the increase of your toil; it is proper therefore that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened” (Report of Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith, Deseret News, 23 Nov., 1878).
(Also see Saints, Vol. 1: The Standard of Truth, 1815-1846, pg. 70 to read more about Mary Musselman Whitmer.)
Of these 12 witnesses, eight remained faithful (two were rebaptized) but all remained true to their witness.
Did you know Emma Smith, Lucy Harris, and Luck Mack Smith were also witnesses to the translation process of the Book of Mormon? Read more about their experiences here.
Segment 5: (40:46–48:06)
Question: How many plates were there exactly?
Answer: The Book of Mormon was compiled from four sets of plates: The Plates of Nephi (small and large plates), The Plates of Mormon, The Plates of Ether, and The Plates of Brass (See "A Brief Explanation About the Book of Mormon").
When Nephi discusses the "large and small plates," he is referring to the large and small plates of Nephi. The small plates were devoted to spiritual matters while the large plates were devoted to the secular history of the people.
In 1 Nephi 9, look for and highlight:
- “these plates”=Small plates of Nephi
- “other plates”= Large plates of Nephi
Nephi didn't know at the time why he had to make two sets of plates, he only knew it was for "a wise purpose."
Scripture: "Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not" (1 Nephi 9:5).
There was no way Nephi could know about the lost 116 pages. Here's a little background about these lost pages.
Joseph Smith and Martin Harris had just concluded translating for a time because Emma had just given birth and Joseph stopped to help her. This is where Martin asks to take the 116 pages at the insistence of this wife, Lucy. In fairness to her, Lucy gave Joseph $28, (today that would be the equivalent of $780). According to the article "Four Women Were Witnesses to Book of Mormon Translation Process," on ChurchofJesusChrist.org:
“[Lucy] Harris, who was staying in the Smith home overnight, retired to bed following her conversation with Joseph,” Sister Cope said. “The following morning, Lucy Harris shared a very remarkable experience that she had had that night with the Smith family.”
In her dream she recalled a personage that appeared to her and chastised her for interfering with the work. The angel then showed her the plates, resulting in a powerful witness. Upon waking up, Lucy Harris insisted on giving Joseph $28—personal money she had received from her mother prior to her mother’s death.
“Although Lucy Harris did eventually become antagonistic to the work, … Lucy Smith confided that she continued to believe in their physical reality,” Sister Cope said (Marianne Holman Prescott, "Four Women Were Witnesses to Book of Mormon Translation Process," ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
"Certifying Lucy Harris as the first recorded donor to the Book of Mormon’s translation and may have felt entitled to see where her money was being used. Three times Joseph asked. The 116 pages were given to Martin and as the story goes, were lost. When Joseph learned of this he was so distraught that he exclaimed: Oh, my God! ... All is lost! all is lost! What shall I do? I have sinned—it is I who tempted the wrath of God, I should have been satisfied with the first answer” (Bushman, Richard Rough Stone Rolling, pg.67).
Question: Why didn't Joseph Smith retranslate the lost 116 pages?
Answer: In Doctrine and Covenants 10, Joseph Smith was commanded not to retranslate those pages, which came from the large plates of Nephi.
Scripture: "Behold, I say unto you, that you shall not translate again those words which have gone forth out of your hands;" (Doctrine and Covenants 10:30).
However, as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:
"We got back more than we lost. And it was known from the beginning that it would be so. It was for a wiser purpose . . . . I think it would be exciting if the 116 pages of manuscript turned up someday, but if they were delivered to my office tomorrow I would never trade them for the material in the small plates of Nephi . . . ” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Standard unto My People” [address given at the Church Educational System Symposium, Aug. 9, 1994]).
Segment 6: (48:16–58:01)
Question: Why should we study the Book of Mormon?
Quote by President Benson: "Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or our condemnation.
“Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise, he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not” (President Benson, "The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God," Ensign, May 1975).
Prophetic Promise from President Russell M. Nelson, “I promise that as you ponder what you study [in the Book of Mormon], the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life” (President Nelson, “The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2017).
Question: What are your thoughts about President Nelson's prophetic promise?
How many times have you started the Book of Mormon? I mean, seriously, like, how many times because every time we get a challenge, I'm restarting that Book of Mormon. But I want you to think about this—if you're like me and you have always assumed that, "I Nephi, having been born of goodly parents..." is the beginning of the Book of Mormon, well today we are going to study the real beginning. I'm so excited.
Welcome to the Sunday on Monday Study Group, a Desert Bookshelf PLUS+ original brought to you by LDS Living, where we take the Come, Follow Me lesson for the week, and really dig into the scriptures together. I'm your host, Tammy Uzelac Hall. So here's something fun: Did you know you can listen to this podcast in two totally different ways? It's divided into six segments so you can either study a little bit each day, or you can listen all at once and call it good for the week. How cool is that? Something else that's really fun about this podcast is that I get to have friends join me and we get to talk about the scriptures.
So today I have two very good friends who are going to join us, they are Sharmaine Howell and Tamu Smith.
Okay. And if you're anything like me and you need to put a face with a name, we've got pictures and more information about each of our guests on our show notes, which you'll find LDSliving.com/sundayonmonday. So here's something fun about each one of my friends, Sharmaine, this is what I love about Shar is that she is in the trenches.
I actually like to call it in the stenches. It's so sticky
For you, it is because her kids are age 11 to two.
Yeah, it's stinky.
But what I love about her is that she's real though. So one time we were sitting in Relief Society and everyone was saying, "What do you love about motherhood?" And it was like a Mother's Day lesson and you were by me and you're like, "Nothing." Because it was when you had five under the age of 10 and a was a newborn, that was tough.
It's a kick in the pants.
It is and that's what I love about you is that you're real. And then Tamu, my favorite thing about Tamu is she loves Jesus more than anyone I know.
I do love the Lor, I love Him, He's good to me.
One time we got up to go to church together and I didn't think she'd get up with me because it was so early in the morning, we were out at a different city traveling together. And I was in the lobby, and you showed up and I said, "I can't believe you showed! I thought for sure you'd sleeping because you just never get that chance." And she says to me, "I'm not sleeping in on Jesus. I'll sleep in on anybody else, but not Jesus.
Yeah, you can sleep in on a lot of people, not the Lord.
Yes. So that's my favorite memory of Tamu.
All right, ladies, grab your scriptures. Let's dig in. So we're going to talk about and get cozy with the title page, the introduction and the testimonies of the three and the eight witnesses. Now, I want you to finish the sentence for me, "I Nephi...
"...having been born of goodly parents."
Exactly. I think everyone who heard that knew exactly how that sentence ended. And forever I used to think that that's how the Book of Mormon started. So anytime I got a challenge to read the Book of Mormon, that's right where I went to.
Wait, that's not where it starts?
No, no. I know it's fascinating. So here's where the Book of Mormon starts. It's with the very beginning, the title page.
I actually didn't know that. I mean, I'm a convert to the LDS faith and so I joined the church when I was 11, got a Book of Mormon. I read the testimonies maybe once, twice, I know, I did it in seminary. But also in seminary, nobody said, "This is where the Book of Mormon starts." You just like you studied in seminary, and they talk about testimonies. And then you start where The Book of Mormon starts in my mind at "I Nephi, having been born of goodly parents," that's what I thought.
Tamu, I was the same way. And so when I found this out, it changed the way I read the Book of Mormon because I thought, "Wow if we start right here from the Book of Mormon, we get to find out the reason for the Book of Mormon even being written." So first off, we need a little context. The title page was written by Moroni and then it was translated by Joseph Smith. There are some scholars who think that Mormon wrote a couple of the lines at the beginning, but suffice it to say is that Joseph Smith didn't write it. And so that's what we need to know, he translated it and that's important. So there's a lot of cool things about this title page. And we're going to talk a little bit about these. The most important part, I think, is in this translation, the very last paragraph, there are four things that Moroni and Mormon want us to know about the Book of Mormon. and I broke them down into four words, it's called "show," "know," "not cast off," and "to convince." So everybody, take a quick look at the second paragraph on the title page. And we're not going to read the whole paragraph together, I'm just going to show you where these four things are so that you can watch for them in your own personal study.
Number one: "To show unto the remnant of the house of Israel, the great things the Lord has done for their fathers."
Number two: "That they might know the covenants of the Lord." That's pretty powerful. Like why would we need to know that? What do you think?
Just what President Nelson says over and over and over. Stay on the covenant path. That's the first thing that came to mind, you've got to know they are to stay on it right?
Yeah. So now we get to know the covenants and that's what the Book of Mormon is for.
Number three; "That they are not cast off forever." Why did you raise your eyebrows?
Because "cast off forever," former Pentecostal person is hell. And it's real, like to know that they're not cast off forever.
It's a book of hope.
Like it's called the Book of Mormon and it should say underneath it, "The Book of Hope," because that's what this will be for us.
The fourth thing: "and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations." And what's really cool about "Jesus is the Christ," if you highlight those words, these are significant, the word "Jesus" and then the word "Christ." The word "Jesus" is the Greek name and it's Hebrew equivalent is Yeshua, which is also Joshua. And it's neat because when Mary was told that she was going to have a son, the angel said, "You're going to name him Jesus." But what's really cool is that the word "Yeshua" in Hebrew means "salvation." So Jesus's name literally means salvation, which I think is cool because my name means "palm tree." I think how cool that Mary's told you're going to name him "Jesus" and in Hebrew, I wonder if she knew that means salvation. Like if that was a testimony moment for her. And then right here, the word "Christ" is neat, because, in Greek, the name Christ means "Anointed" or "Anointed One." And so Jesus Christ is, we receive our salvation through the anointed one. And that's what we are going to be convinced of as we read the Book of Mormon. So tell me some of the things you're thinking.
I'm just looking at this and I find it— I don't want to say endearing, but I just, it fills me knowing that he's testifying to the Jews, the Gentiles, that Christ, the eternal God is manifesting himself to all nations. And I think that for me, that's the beautiful part of the Book of Mormon. And it testifies again here, that it's not just for the Jews and it's not just for those who would consider themselves Gentiles, it's for everyone, and it's for all of the nations.
All. And think about how many nations, that's a lot of people. And to think that it testifies of Jesus Christ. This is kind of a cool fact, Ezra Taft Benson said, "Over one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord, and there are over 100 different names for Him in the Book of Mormon." Isn't that cool?
Say that again?
I need to write that down.
Totally. "Over one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord," And then, "There are over 100 different names for Him in the Book of Mormon." And all of this information that we give in today's podcast will be in our episode show notes. So if you're feeling like, "I can't write that down fast enough," you can definitely go there and we'll have all this information.
Shar, what do you thinking?
I don't know, I haven't studied this title page ever so this is awesome. I think it's really cool. I just love that the whole purpose of the Book of Mormon is we know that it's all about Christ, right? And I think what our Prophet has told us, to stay on the covenant path, and to get personal revelation, that's all we need, really, you know. And that's what we get from the Book of Mormon. So we read this, and He's going to show us the great things He's done for us, and we're going to know how to get back to Him. I don't know, it just seems so simple to me that we can learn about Jesus and get back to Him.
Well, let me ask you this, now that we know this about the Book of Mormon from the title page, does it change how you'll read the Book of Mormon or would it? I don't know, I mean, I'm trying to think—as I start now with our first Nephi chapter one verse one.
Yeah, I think it makes me want to kind of like the challenge the Prophet gave us to read the Book of Mormon and just to simply highlight when we notice it talking about Jesus, every time we see Christ mentioned. To me it's kind of says that like, look for Christ, look for His goodness, know Christ through this book and you'll know His covenants and what He wants of you. And so it makes me want to read the Book of Mormon just looking for Him. You know, sometimes I read it for like, "How can I change my mothering or how can I help this kid?" And I think those are great ways to read the Book of Mormon as well, but I think there's power in it when you read it looking for Christ.
I agree. My uncle was a pastor, he's passed away, but he used to encourage us to read the scriptures as if someone left us money in a will, but we had to figure out how to get it. You should be reading through the scriptures like you're looking for the treasures.
Oh, I like that a lot.
Yeah, that's so good. That's a great way to put it. So when you think about this, and you think about the role that this title page plays into the way we read the Book of Mormon, what's really fascinating to me was when I studied this—and it talks so much about Jesus Christ—then I think of the role that Jesus Christ played in how we got the Book of Mormon and in the translation. So in our next section, we're actually going to talk about how Jesus Christ helped bring forth the Book of Mormon. And it's really cool story.
All right, let's talk about the translation. Now, when you think about how the Book of Mormon was translated, what are some of the things you think of? What comes to mind?
Joseph Smith, looking, had his head in a hat and I think that I knew that prior to seeing any of the pictures, but then when I saw the picture of the translation, the first one that I saw, there was no hat. So I kept thinking, what happened? Did they get it wrong? And so and recently I've seen the picture where he's actually translating with that.
Okay, we'll talk about that.
I just think of like the seer stones, you know, the sheet between them, and it's covered up. And that's kind of what I think of.
What's interesting is, I think a lot of the way we view it is based on paintings we've seen. That's how it's been interpreted for us. Before we get into all the ways that the Book of Mormon was translated, here's something that I thought was pretty cool. On your title page, in the very first paragraph, there are two mentions of how the Book of Mormon was translated. And both of them say, "by the gift and power of God." If you turn the page and go over and read the introduction, you can also find that it was translated, it says, "By the gift and power of God." I want to ask you this though, do you like gifts?
The more the better.
Tamu, tell your story right now about your Christmas list to your family. Don't be embarrassed.
Okay, I don't want people to think I'm petty, but this was petty. So it was actually my birthday, I wanted these skates for my birthday. And I feel like as a mother, we don't ever buy the thing for ourselves that we really want. And for years I've wanted some roller skates, like the four-wheel roller skates, not rollerblades. Finally, I just—and I've never asked my kids or my husband like I've never said this is what I want for my birthday. I told them you can get me one for Christmas and one for my birthday, but I really want these skates right now.
A left and right, you mean?
And so I told them I wanted an Apple Watch, I'm not wearing one, so clearly that's not what I got. And on my birthday, I did not get a pair of skates. So for the whole rest of the week, I was being very petty like I was just like—I can't even believe that you guys—like every time I'm driving somebody somewhere in the car, "I can't believe you guys didn't me the skates." And so my son, finally, because I was talking—ugh I'm a horrible person—he went to lunch with his friends and he's like, "I got this, mom." I was like, "Oh, you got this but you didn't get my skates?" And he's 19, almost broke down, I was like, "It's okay because I'm not buying..."— Like seriously upset, "I'm not buying any y'all nothing for your birthdays. It's good because now I can save money, I'm not getting anybody anything except for the two younger ones. And he was like, "Mom, you wanted us to get you these skates, we ordered them, they're coming! But now you're making it horrible for everybody." And I was like, "You did?! Oh, I love you guys so much. I'm so sorry. Wait, let me see—you ordered them how?" And he's like "They have to be custom." And so yeah, I got the skated, but I was like that's why you just say that they're coming in a card or something. Like you made me be petty to you.
It's their fault.
It's their fault.
So Tamu loves gifts. Are you a gift person?
Yes, definitely, the more the better, the more the better.
I totally agree. And that word, the word "gift," it will come up a lot in conjunction with the word translate.
That makes me excited!
Yeah, you should be.
And I've never thought about that! But the gifts, and He is the gift. Okay, let's get it. Let's go.
All right, here we go. As you read this title page, and as you're reading the introduction, and as you're reading the witness's statements, I want you to look for the idea of gift and power because that is exactly how it's explained. In fact, just look at the very last line of the first paragraph, it says, "The interpretation thereof by the gift of God." So you're going to see that on the title page twice, on the introduction, and then when the three witnesses share their testimony—they're going to say, "by the gift and power of God." So let's talk about the things that were used—that Joseph Smith—the gifts he used to translate. Because sometimes this can be a little bit confusing, definitely for those of us who weren't raised talking about this.
So in the past, we haven't had a lot to go on. But now we have the scholarship, we have the Joseph Smith Papers, and we have artists who are starting to depict what actually happened, which brings it to light and helps us to understand a little bit more. So let's talk about what those specific gifts were. Obviously had the gift of translation, but before he could even get that gift, he was given things to help him translate. So you said the seer stone Sharmaine, the Urim and Thummim. And then Tamu, you said this black hat. And what I found fascinating in the Joseph Smith papers, I liked the way it described the black hat. It said that it was something used to keep out light. So we're going to talk about just some of the three things that I thought were interesting as I studied this—the gifts. Let's start out with what you guys already know about some of these things. Urim and Thummim, what do you know?
Hmm, I mean, not much. You know, it was used by faith, right? It worked by faith. And that it was found—and then Joseph Smith used it to help translate the Book of Mormon. That's about all I know.
No, I think that's great. I don't know how much we really do know. Here's what I know about that after studying biblical Hebrew for the last five years, the word "Urim" and "Thummim" are two Hebrew words, and they're actually plural. So anytime you add an "-im" to a Hebrew word, it makes it plural. So the actual word is "ur", and like kind of a "Thum" kind of a word. So "ur" means light, but the "-im" ends with a plural, so it's "lights," and then the word Thummim means "perfections." So he's given lights and perfections to help him translate. It dates back to the book of Exodus when Aaron was given a Urim and Thummim to put in his breastplate, where he was supposed to use that to judge the children of Israel. And it's been handed down all throughout scripture and even to the brother of Jared who had it, and then Joseph Smith's going to get it. And so he has this ability—lights and perfections—to translate these characters that are on these gold plates.
So let's talk about the next thing he had, which was a seer stone, what do you know?
A stone that helps you see.
Exactly. And in the Joseph Smith papers, it's kind of cool because they write that he used the Urim and Thummim and then this seer stone, it was a stone that he found in the ground while he was treasure hunting, which everyone at the time was doing—treasure hunting was not a weird thing. Like we think, "Oh he's a treasure hunter." It was a very common way.
So the seer stone wasn't like in the box with the plates.
Good question, it was not. It was in the ground and Joseph Smith found it. But what's cool is that Joseph wasn't the only person to have a "seer stone," this was a common thing. There's actually a cool church history story written about a young girl that claimed to have a seer stone and she could look into it and find where Joseph was. And so it was a common thing, people claimed that they had seer stones. And so I think it's interesting that Joseph doesn't really know what he's doing or how he's going to translate the plates. He's given a Urim and Thummim, he finds a seer stone, because that's what he's familiar with. And I think it's kind of cool how the Lord's like, "Well, how do you want to translate it? Work with what you know."
That's kind of like the brother of Jared. Like, "What do you think the solution should be? What's common to you?"
Exactly. So he uses what he knows and what's familiar to him. I think that what we've done is when we hear the word black hat or we think about that, we're kind of just looking at it through the wrong lens. And maybe we just need a little more information to help us understand why a black hat. And maybe we're looking at it through our current lens rather than a historical lens.
Right, like if we were talking in 100 years looking back at us, they might be like, "What is doTERRA?" Why do they use that stuff? It's so weird.
It's important for us to be able to look at these gifts of God with a different sort of perspective or lens rather than looking at it from only our perspective. So that was helpful for me to look back and go, "Oh, this is what was going on at the time." And when you read about the black hat, that actually wasn't a gift. That was not a way for him to translate, it just helped him because—I love how the Joseph Smith papers wrote, it was only to keep light out. He just needed a dark room and there wasn't a dark room. So he just put the stone, or the Urim and Thummim—those words were used interchangeably—in the hat and he'd look in the hat and see a word one of the time, come up. This is kind of cool in the history, as a word would pop up, he'd say the word in English. Emma Smith writes that as she was scribing for Joseph, he would say the word and then he'd pause and he would say to Emma—Emma's writing it down—he would say to Emma, "You spelled that wrong," without ever having seen what she wrote. And she would cross it out, rewrite it correctly, and he would say, "Good," and they'd move on. So that, I mean, that's another gift and power.
It's so fascinating to me. A fun quote that Emma also said is that she knew it had to be the gift and power of God. I like how she says, "Joseph Smith wasn't capable of penning a letter to a friend, let alone writing an entire book, or the Book of Mormon."
Absolutely. I forget that he was a treasure hunter, I really do because, I mean, I didn't grow up with the whole Joseph Smith history. And so I got to come into it very fresh. And so I come into it as there's a 14-year-old boy who the Lord spoke to. And I believed that because I was an 11-year-old girl that the Lord spoke to. And hearing my uncle's words in my head, "Look for the treasures," he was treasure hunting and he found this rock that helped him, you know, produce this book of scriptures that I'm going to go to, and I'm going to start my discoveries and find out what the Lord wants me to know from this treasure.
I love that, that's so great.
As you're saying that, in my mind, I'm thinking, "And it's a book that he will translate that will only speak of Jesus Christ." There's nothing erroneous in this book or crazy. It's based on the Lord,
Jesus Christ. So that's fascinating. And because Christ is the cornerstone of our religion, that perfectly segues into what we're going to talk about next, which is how the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion.
After we've figured out the whole gifts, gifts of God, and that it was translated that way, what's really fascinating is a word that is used to describe the Book of Mormon. And this word makes me kind of giggle because I have my own personal story about it, but when I say the word "keystone," what do you think?
I love that. I didn't even know what this word meant.
Okay guys, stretch with this. Don't call the show, don't judge anybody. I'm a convert.
So my family when I was 16, my family moved from Salt Lake to St. Louis. And the very first thing our family did in St. Louis was we went to the arch. And we're standing down below the arch and my dad says to me, "You know when they built this arch, they started on the sides and they build each side all the way up until they got to the top and then they carefully placed what's called a keystone in the very middle that held it all together." And I was 16 and I go, "Whatever Dad, why didn't they just start with the top and work their way down?" Like I was a snarky teenager, I probably sounded more like, "Whatever dad, that's like so stupid. Why didn't they just start at the top and then work—" Like I had to, I just wanted to fight him. I don't even know why.
You just wanted to argue.
I wanted to argue. And when I read the word "keystone," I just embarrassingly remembered that story because you can't start with that. But it's interesting because in the Book of Mormon, in the introduction, let's just go to the introduction. And we're going to go to this paragraph that talks about how the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. So I'm going to count down 1-2-3-4-5-6 paragraphs down, and it starts with the word "concerning."
Shar, why don't you read that paragraph for us?
"Concerning this record, the Prophet Joseph Smith said, 'I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of our religion. And a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.'"
So I circled the word "Keystone." And then in my scriptures, I wrote the definition and I think this definition is worth saying because the word Keystone means "careful measured and fits perfectly into place." So we know that, but this is what I like about the definition, "so that it can stand without any outside support." And when I think of the arch, it perfectly does that. There's nothing holding it up in place, it just stands without anything supporting it. With that imagery in your mind, let's talk a little bit about the Book of Mormon. Can it do that? Can it stand without support? Like what are you thinking?
I gotta think.
I do think that it can stand without support. I think it stands on its own. Just like I mean, I think the Bible stands on its own. The New Testament could stand on its own, except for, you know, the Old Testament introduces the New Testament. But if you didn't have it, you would just still be waiting for the New Testament. I think that the Book of Mormon can stand on its own just because the people that Christ came to, and it's their testimony of Him coming to them.
It's a great question to ponder, isn't it?
Right, it is like.
I'm still kind of reeling from it when I read that definition and I thought, "Wow, does it stand on its own?"
You know, I don't know if it does, though, because I think that the Old Testament could stand on its own, but then we would be waiting for more. And then we get the New Testament. And you think that that's it, and then we get the Book of Mormon, but you need it those two to introduce the Book of Mormon, because without the first, like without the Old Testament, who is Jesus Christ?
Oh, I like that. That's a great introduction. So maybe when you think about how an arch is made, that the Old Testament and New Testament are the sides, and then it's the Book of Mormon that connects everything.
And, you know, thinking about it, I've been pondering the word "nations." We have this testimony of Christ coming to the Americas. But this is one nation, where else has He been and where is that testimony?
Well, and 3 Nephi beautifully says that the other sheep I have which are not of this fold, He says about the people in America and I can't wait for those records. That will be fascinating.
Right, and I'm, as I'm thinking about these arches and you know, Christ is the Keystone and these just help shape it. He holds it together.
In your own life, I want you to think—because I was thinking about this—I thought, "maybe it's the keystone of my life." Is the Book of Mormon my Keystone? And has it ever been a keystone in my family or in my own personal struggles that I've been going through? Because there's a really great quote by Marion G. Romney, and Tamu, do you want to read that for us? And actually, it's Ezra Taft Benson quoting Marion G. Romney in his classic talk and he starts with the quote. So Tamu, read this really cool quote.
"I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to that counsel. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.”
I want to talk about this. First of all, let me just say it doesn't say your children will never have agency. It doesn't say if you read the Book of Mormon, everyone's going to turn out perfect and wonderful and fine. It doesn't say that. But the promises that it gives are pretty powerful. Have you had this experience in your own life or with your families?
When we are reading the scriptures, absolutely. But I said when we're reading them, and when we're living them. And I think that you know, I don't know how other people's families operate, but in mine, we go in spurts. I've noticed that when we read the scriptures, that we do have peace because you want to have that peace that Christ brings, that the Spirit brings.
Sometimes I felt like, you know, we try to make it a regular habit to read scriptures and with little kids, some nights, I just don't want to read and I want to just shove them in bed. And my littlest ones are always like, "We didn't read scriptures!" And I'm like, "You are such a—how come you remember that?" So we pull out the scriptures and, you know, we read a chapter or a couple of verses, actually. And it does, it brings peace. It softens my heart. In just the littlest things it does bring, like it says, "peace, joy and happiness," like it will follow. When we do those things, when we have the scriptures present in our homes, it follows, you know?
Yeah, there was a time in our family where we were not reading the scriptures because we had a teenage daughter who was going through a real, real a dark time and did not want to go to church, didn't believe in God. And so we actually stopped reading the scriptures, because I was worried I was going to offend her. I didn't want to cause more ripples, I didn't want to give her more reason to be mad at us. And so we just stuck with saying family prayers. And I had this real moment where the spirit was like, "Why would you stop that?"
Yeah, that's one thing you need to keep.
Yeah. And I hadn't really considered that. And so I just thought, because I don't want to make this child of mine more angry or have another reason to hate me. But I talked to my husband and he's like, yeah—and it's interesting, he had been having the same promptings. And so that night, we just started back to reading. And it really was two verses, that's as good as it got for us, and that was enough. It really did change, and it didn't happen overnight, it took years for her heart to soften and to come back around. But it was something my other little kids needed. And I think that was what I had forgotten, that I also had other littles who needed that and then my own heart needed that. It did help me to raise this daughter of mine who was just struggling, oh struggling, I would never go back to that, I mean, it was a dark time at the Hall house.
It's just the reminder of my belief, and bless my unbelief, two verses are enough.
It was enough. This is beautiful because the idea of us in the introduction, it says, "We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts, and to ask God," and then to get our own witness. And that's what the witnesses did. So we're going to talk about the witnesses of the Book of Mormon and then our own witness.
In your scriptures, let's turn to "The Testimony of the Three Witnesses," and "The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses." Fun fact, did you know that there were more than—I have to count because I'm not good with my fingers—there's more than 11 witnesses. So in your scriptures, I want you to add these because at the very bottom, we have the three witnesses, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris. Then we have the eight witnesses, and you can see all eight of them. Did you know that there was a woman who was a witness?
I know! How cool is this? I want you to put her name right below "The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses," and her name is Mary Muscleman Whitmer.
Why didn't we know that? Why isn't her name in here?
I don't know. But we're going to put it in there right now. So I think it's really cool. Mary Muscleman Whitmer. And she is the mother of the Whitmer boys, who were also witnesses.
I think I've read this story in "Saints." Is this in "Saints?"
Oh, it will be in "Saints," I don't know if it is.
Because I'm pretty sure I've heard this story and it like is my all-time favorite because she's a mom and she's taking care of everything, right?
That's exactly right. And she felt completely overwhelmed and overcome because Mary had four children living with her at the time. Her older children were married, but they were living close by. So she has four children in her home, in addition to her husband, and then Emma, Joseph, and Oliver Cowdery moved in with them. They were translating the plates in this house. And Mary is beside herself, you can imagine, she's providing food for these people, a place for them to stay. And so the story goes, I'll just kind of read this because it's neat. It's reported by elder Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith, and we'll put this in our show notes.
And it's in the book saints, so if you read the whole story, that's where I read it and I remember.
So this is what the angel said to her, so an angel appears to her and says, "You have been very faithful and diligent in your labor's but you are tried because of the increase of your toil. It is proper therefore that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened," and then showed her the plates.
I love that so much.
So great. The other witnesses, they didn't actually see the plates, but there's a really cool article on the church website listed, there other women who were witnesses, Lucy Mac Smith was a witness of the truthfulness of the translation, although she didn't see the plates. Emma. And it's funny to me, because I think if I was Emma—I'm surprised—I probably would have looked. She said she touched them and she knew that they were real, but it would have been so hard for me not to just like 1-2-3 lift off the sheet.
That's why you were not Emma.
Boy, that's the truth. One of the reasons
That's one of the reasons I wasn't either.
Okay, so we're going to look—So of these witnesses, it's just important to take note of them. And if you have time to research each one of their names, you can find out who left the church—several of them did. Some were rebaptized, but all of them maintain that what they saw and what they witnessed was true. And nobody ever went back on their witness of the Book of Mormon or the truthfulness of it. And so when you think about that, and you think about these witnesses, it's interesting because I want you to ponder this question for a minute, "What is your witness?"
Now, each one of the witnesses had a different experience. So we are on the page that says, "The Testimony of the Three Witnesses," and then "The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses." So "The Testimony of the Three Witnesses," they saw an angel, and they heard the voice of God. But the eight witnesses saw and handled the plates. So they have kind of different witnesses, and all the same are witnessing of the truthfulness of these plates. So I think it's fascinating when we think about our role then, and what our role is as witnesses and what is your witness?
Or you mean, like, what's my witness, like what's my testimony of the Book of Mormon, or how do I witness of the Book of Mormon?
Both, tell me. What do you think?
I guess for me, what I hear you saying is what is your go-to? What is like when I'm going through my trials and feel like I'm in quicksand and it will just be easy to leave this faith or all faith, my first witness is to know that I know that there is a God. I know that I've come to places in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where I have to reevaluate my relationship. I think that there are lots of us who have this trial of faith. And my witness is that I know of the truthfulness of this church, because of the voice of the Lord, that when I heard it, it just radiated throughout my soul. And so there are things that I don't have a testimony of. But the things that I do have a testimony of draw me right back to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because that is the belief that God instilled in me.
Excellent. It reminds me of a time that I read a book years ago as a new seminary teacher. I had a teacher give me this and say, "You should read this. It's an old, old book." And I read it and it rocked my testimony to the core. It was everything anti that I could have read, and I read it and I remember thinking, "I have to quit my job." Like, there's no way I can teach seminary because I don't believe this is true. And I went into the teacher who gave me the book, and I threw the book on the desk, and I said, "I hate you." And he's kind of, he's was kind of a rough teacher and a lot of people had opinions about him. And I don't—I trusted him to read the book. And I said, "I can't believe I trusted you to read this book. You've destroyed me. Like I have to quit my job."
And he looks at me, he goes, "Don't be so dramatic."
And I said, "You told me to read this. And now I don't know if it's true." And I was kind of dramatic because then I leaned up against the wall and slid slowly down the wall into the fetal position.
And he looked at me and he said, "Let me ask you this. What did you believe before you read the book?"
And I said, "Well, I did believe that God and Jesus Christ were real. I did believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I did believe that Heavenly Father loved me. But I don't know now."
And he looked at me and he goes, "If you believed it before, it is still true. If you are a witness to those things, this book doesn't change that. Truth is truth no matter what." And he said, "The rest of this stuff, you've got to figure it out." And I had not received a witness that Joseph Smith really did see what he said he saw, I prayed for that on my mission, because I didn't have that and I thought, "How can I be a missionary and not know the Joseph Smith story is true?" And I prayed and I never got a witness. And now here I am as a seminary teacher, 31-years-old, and I still didn't know, I read this book, my testimony is just in shambles. What he said resonated and I thought, "Okay, maybe I won't quit my job." So I started teaching seminary that year, which happened to be church history. And there we are, first week of school, I'm teaching the Joseph Smith story and as I'm teaching the very last period of the day—I've taught this lesson seven times. I don't know what happened, but we watched the Joseph Smith video and I read out of scriptures to my kids, Joseph Smith History saying, "I saw a light." And I looked at my kids and just from my head to my toes, I knew that that story was true. And I looked at my kids, and I said, "You guys, this is true."
And it was funny because they were like, "Duh." I said, "He really did see what he said he saw. I cannot deny that." That was my witness at that and I was 31-years-old before I got that witness.
But I need you to go back because I think that we do that thing to ourselves where we say, "I don't know what happened." You know, what happened. When we're talking about these spiritual things, and then we bear testimony, you know what happened. That was the spirit radiating in you because you had asked God and he was answering your prayer.
And it was 10 years after I'd asked originally. That's what's crazy. I did get the answer but I had to wait for it.
He don't come on our time but He is always on time.
Can I get an amen? Brilliant. All right. So when you think about what is your witness, and what that looks like, my witnesses is, and I like how you said, Tamu, that you continue to get witnesses. And I think I as I've studied the Book of Mormon, and for me, my witness is constantly changing, I'm continually getting, "Wow, this is true, this is true."
Just thinking about witnesses, I think my whole life, I've kind of felt like, "Oh yeah, I guess I'm a little lame and a little boring, because I've never had one of those overwhelming whole body experiences. Or I've never had, you know, the Lord speak to me and be like, boom, this is it." And so I've just had those feelings like I guess I'm still waiting for it. But recently, it's been more of a reminder to me that it's all along. And I've known my whole life, and it's witnesses in all the small things that I do. And I just read in the scriptures and have been learning a lot about faith is a principle of action. And as I've done action throughout my life, and as I've done things, that's what's caused the witness. When I finish the Book Mormon, I get down on my knees and pray, and I feel good about it. Those are my little witnesses along the way.
Beautiful, thank you. Now as we continue to talk about the idea of witness, a witness for me came when I studied 1 Nephi chapter six and chapter nine. And so we're going to talk about that and the role that it plays in the Book of Mormon. And the page in your scriptures that says, a brief explanation about the Book of Mormon. Because a lot of people have questions: large plates, small plates, 116 pages that we're missing, what are we talking about? So let's talk about that next.
Let's go to 1 Nephi chapter six and then 1 Nephi chapter nine. Now, these chapters are kind of fun to read, because in 1 Nephi chapter six, Nephi talks about how he is told to write the things of God. So in first Nephi chapter six, verse three, let's read verse three, Tamu, will you read that for us?
"And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of my father, for they cannot be written upon these plates"
So he's going to write things of God and another separate set of plates. So the Book of Mormon is set up where you have big plates of Nephi, small plates of Nephi, the plates of the Jaredites, then you have an abridgment from Mormon. And this can all seem a little bit confusing, because then you have the last 116 pages. And this is where I got a witness. Because the Lord says to Nephi, "Now you need to set up and you're going to write two separate plates." And for me, I am all about lowering the bar. Like if there's a faster way to do something, and a lot more, just quicker and easier, I'm going to figure it out. So I would have been like, why can't we just do one plate and call it good? those are heavy plates, I've gotta carry these around now for the rest of my life? Two separate sets. But I love how he's like, "It's not wisdom in me, clearly, it's because it's the things of God and that's what I'm going to do." So now go to 1 Nephi chapter nine, because he talks about this again. And in 1 Nephi chapter nine, what you need to know is, there's definition between the word "these plates" and "other plates." So when you read and study 1 Nephi chapter nine, every time you see the word, "these plates," it's talking about the small plates of Nephi. And every time you read "other plates," it's talking about the large plates. You guys can't see this, but in my scriptures, I'm going to show Tamu and Sharmaine, you can see all the times that the "other plates" and "these plates" is marked. I'll take a picture and put it in show notes, so you can follow along. But it's important to know that when you read "these plates," we're talking about the small plates. When you read "other plates," we're talking about the large plates. Now you're probably wondering, but what difference does it make if it's a large plate or small plate? And this is what I thought was so interesting, so I'm going to give a little history that I learned. Okay, go back to 116 pages, what happened to them?
They were translated and then lost.
And who lost them?
And who's winning an award for knowing the most today?
Me. thank you very much.
I love that. So this is interesting because I didn't realize this, but after they finished translating the hundred—well actually, they were translating, Joseph Smith, Martin Harris. And as he's writing all of these things, Emma Smith is pregnant, and she actually gives birth. And Joseph stops the translation process to go help Emma with this newborn baby. So that's where they got, that's 116 pages. When they finished, Martin's like, "Let me just take those." And we all know the story is at the insistence of who?
His wife. I feel like the woman sometimes get like villanized.
because listen to this, though, I kind of I feel for her. She gave Joseph Smith $28 to help and aid in the translation process. That's the equivalent, ladies of $700 today. That, by the way, she got as a gift from her mom who died. That's a lot of money and money. So she just wants to know that her money's going to a good cause. Am I right? Who would not want that?
Well, I'm laughing because you're his wife. Yeah, you would have to see the plates,
Exactly. So this is Martin Harris, this is Lucy Harris. And so in fairness to her, she just wants to know, like just give me a witness. I just need something. And so she says to her husband, "I just want to know, I want to know." And so he goes back as a good husband, maybe afraid, I don't know. And just says, "Come on, Joseph. Let me take them." Three times he asks. Joseph, finally on the third time, is like, all right. Because the Lord just goes fine, because he said, "no," two times. And then they go to him and then sure enough, over the course of time, the 116 pages Get lost. And so we always think, "Oh, we can only have those 116 pages." Now, this is kind of the cool part that I think's interesting. Joseph Smith loses the ability to translate. And then we get Doctrine and Covenants section 10. and in Doctrine and Covenants section 10, the Lord says to Joseph, "Do not retranslate, we're done. We're not even going to worry about that portion of the plates anymore." What I think is really neat is that the small plates of Nephi, the extra record that Nephi had been keeping, interestingly enough, covered the exact same time period that was lost in the 116 pages. So the Lord says, "Don't retranslate. We have it somewhere else, we have it in the small plates of Nephi. That's where you're going to start. You're going to record and translate what he wrote all the way up to the point of the 116 plates that you lost."
There's a great quote by Elder Holland in the book called "Christ And the New Covenant," such a good book. You can imagine it in Elder Holland's voice, he says this, "We got back more than we lost." He says, "And it was known from the beginning and it would be so and it was for a wiser purpose." Back in 1 Nephi six, Nephi's like, "I don't know why I'm doing it, but it's a wiser purpose in the Lord." And the Lord's like, "Yeah, because you're gonna lose some of those, but I'm going to take care of that." That's a witness.
And I love how Nephi does something that he doesn't even know why. And it doesn't even affect his lifetime, it affects ours, it's for us, you know. He's just carrying around these extra set of plates for no good reason to him. And it really was for no good reason for him. It was for us, which is so cool.
Totally for us. And then it made me think, what wise purpose is he doing for me now? What wise purpose is he working in your life for your children? Like Tamu said, it's not our timing—
It's the Lord's. And you're about to make me cry now. I'm just like, "Please let him be working for my children."
Come on Nephi. Because I think that we go through—I think we're going through hard things. I mean, you're talking about how it's so frustrating when they're little, girl, you don't even know.
Don't tell me that.
And so I just feel like my family is going through some hardships and I'm watching my kids and you just hope that the thing that you're doing that they're watching, because I remember watching my mother. And I actually was a good kid. Nobody in my family will tell you that I wasn't, because I was. I loved the Lord, I loved to go to church, I loved to be in spirit. But I was not the average kid. And so when I look at my kids, and I remember my grandmother who raised me, looking at her kids and thinking, "Lord, I hope it works out like I'm just gonna do what I can do." And I'm looking at my kids and I'm like, "Lord, it's me and you and I feel like I'm rolling the dice." But knowing that people came before that did things for me today, I know it's not a roll of the dice. I hope they get it together.
Well, no matter where you are in your life, maybe some of you listening are waiting for the wise purpose to unfold. And maybe the wait it has been longer than you even thought it would be. What is so wonderful is that there is a prophetic promise from our Prophet today, President Nelson about the role that the Book of Mormon will play in helping our wise purpose and in helping our families. And so we're going to talk about that next.
We spoke earlier and Char, you talked a little bit about how reading the Book of Mormon with little kids can be difficult. And Tamu, reading scriptures with teenagers can be difficult. And one of the things we want to focus on now is just how we're going to read the Book of Mormon this year. And what does that look like in your regular everyday life in real-time? Because it's so easy for us to say we're going to read it every day, but boy when I was in the stenches, I can remember my own personal scripture study, this is how good it got. I would be at a red light and I would click on my gospel library app, and I would read a couple of verses before the light changed and I was calling it good for the day. And before it used to be Facebook, I actually had to take the Facebook app off my phone, just so I would read the scriptures because I just wanted to know what everyone was doing. So I thought, okay if that's all I can do today, that's as good as it gets, right? What does it look like for you in real-time?
It is me at my kitchen table in the morning, because I'm hoping my kids are watching me. So they're getting this mental picture, and I might not even be reading, but they think I'm reading. I'm sitting here with these scriptures open to send that message to these sweet kids. Because you know, and then I'm like, "Okay, get away from me, I'm reading my scriptures"
I'm in time out to read my scriptures.
I think it's just the little effort and the visual in my house right now, that's kind of all I can do. You know, and then I have people climbing on me. And like, well, this is maybe good enough, them seeing mom read scriptures, that's where we're at right now.
Ooh, I like that.
For me, it looks like driving my kids to school and pulling up the library and then having it play as we drive. And then having discussions about that, you know, along the way or pausing it, or even later that day going back because of course, I'm not as focused. But having something stick out and then writing that down and then talking about that at dinner.
Those are great ways. I hadn't even considered listening to it while my kids are going to school. That's a great one. Because I get so hung up on the idea that we have to be in our scriptures, like, ideally, in my dream world, we're all in our scriptures around my bed and everyone's reading. It's never happened.
Cause that's the picture in the Ensign.
It's never happened. You know, when I was single—and I was single for a long time, I didn't get married till I was 35. And so my scripture study, you would think would be like, oh I had all the time in the world. But I was busy. And so my scripture study, my own personal scripture study really was, I would open my scriptures, read a few verses and go to sleep. And sometimes that was as good as it got. And I know as a seminary teacher, I got paid to read my scriptures, but there's just something different, preparing a lesson versus reading for my own benefit. And so sometimes it really just was a couple of verses before I went to bed. Because we didn't have the technology where I could listen to it. I probably would have done that, listened to it while I drove to work or something. But I think it's interesting because there's no right way to do it. That's the thing we have to agree.
I agree with that. I have a friend that used to send her kids and her husband—he traveled a lot—she'd send in a text a couple of scriptures. And that was their family doing scripture study. She knew that they read text messages.
Oh, that's a good one. Because I feel like however, you're doing is right because you're doing it. So let's read this prophetic promise by President Nelson. And Char, do you want to read that? This is a great one.
"I promise that as you ponder what you study in the Book of Mormon, the windows of heaven will open and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life." I love that.
That is just like, what more do I need than personal revelation? We're all so different. Everyone's life is so individualized, we have such different circumstances. And I need to know what God needs me to do and what I should be doing with my life and my kids and the situations that I'm in. And that's exactly what he says. If I read the Book of Mormon, I'll know it. I love it.
Beautiful. Tamu, what are your thoughts?
I have to be honest, I want to be honest, but I hesitate to be honest. And the truth is this: Growing up in a very Christian, you know, King James Version house of the Bible, I have really struggled with the Book of Mormon lately, the past few years. And it's not a struggle with the Book of Mormon. You know how somebody likes something and they like it so much that they're always talking about it and then you stop liking it. That's how I feel sometimes, because it almost makes me feel like I got bamboozled a little bit. Because when missionaries came to our house, and I didn't know anything about other like religions and faiths. But the reason that my parents allowed me to join this church is because they thought it was a Christ-centered church. And that they also believed in the King James Version of the Bible that my family studied. The thing that made me a little bit different was that I would now have another set of scriptures, another testament of Christ. I feel like it's very difficult for me as a convert, to sit in a congregation and have someone say, "This is the most correct scripture." Like it makes it feel like we're saying that the Bible is not correct and the Book of Mormon is so much better than the Bible.
I've kind of had this resistance because I know I have to explain why we say things like that to my non-LDS family. It also is another separator for me and my family because they're Christian, they're Pentecostal. And so as I read, I hope that I have this softness to it—and it's not that I don't believe that the Book of Mormon is true, because I do. My grandmother actually read the Book of Mormon and I have relatives that read it, who are Pentecostal and they have a testimony, they gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon, but they're still doing their study, their scripture. But I just like, I'm gonna lean into that promise. Yeah, I'm going to study, I'm going to lean into it and get to a place where people can say what they want to say and it doesn't affect how I feel about this book of Scripture.
Thank you for sharing that. And what I really liked was when you said, "I'm going to lean into that promise." Because I think so often, there's many of us who hear promises and really wonder, or we talked about that doubt. But leaning into the the truth that is being spoken here. Thank you for sharing that.
This has been such an awesome discussion of the Book of Mormon. And I'm so excited to get ready to start it this year. When we think about the time we've spent together today talking about the Book of Mormon, what are your takeaways? Or do you have one main takeaway?
Like I said, I'm going to lean into this promise, and I know that the windows of heaven will be open and I will receive the answers to my own life questions through this. That's gonna be my takeaway for this whole study.
After talking about it today, I feel like I want my study to be of Jesus Christ. You know, like finding Him, finding Him throughout the Book of Mormon, and then finding Him in my life. You know, as I see Him and all the ways he shows His, you know, His tender mercies in the book, I can find those in my life as well because it's the same for us as it was back then. I love that promise that you know, the heavens will be open, who doesn't want that? Right? And I just, I mean, I want that in my life and I want that for my family. And I want that as I read these scriptures, just the heavens opened.
Thank you for sharing those thoughts and feelings. When we talk about our takeaways, I love how it's personal and everyone listening has their own takeaway. I think my takeaway from this was the wise purpose. Because when I think about how much the Lord did to orchestrate something, hundreds, thousands, whatever years—I'm not good with the math. But what he's orchestrating in my own life, and has been up to this point, and looking for that, looking for the little tiny miracles. And I just, I love the Book of Mormon. I really do. And I like how you shared the thoughts about the Bible, because the Old Testament's my favorite. I mean, if I could teach—we've had this discussion—if I could teach any book of Scripture, Old Testament for sure.
Right? I'm learning to love that. It makes it sound like, "She says she loves the scriptures, but she's learning to love a lot." I'm learning to love the Old Testament. But also another takeaway for me, what is it, Mary Muscleman Whitmer, I'm going to find her.
It's pretty fabulous.
So thank you, Tamu and Sharmaine, thank you so much for joining me today.
Thanks for letting us be here!
It was great.
And for those of you listening, tell us, what was your big takeaway from this week? This is kind of cool because every Saturday on our Instagram and Facebook account, we are going to share a post asking you for your weekly takeaway. So go to our show notes at LDSliving.com/sundayonmonday, and find the link to our social media there to follow us and get in on the conversation. I want to know what you think, I want to know what you learned. I really want to hear from you. And speaking of show notes, if you can't remember a quote, or you're looking for a reference, or even just some more reading on these topics, go to LDSliving.com/sundayonmonday, find this episode, and you'll find all this good stuff including a transcript of the episode.
And can I just say, I can't wait to dig into the scriptures again next week with two new friends. It's going to be so fun. So we will see you then.