Sunday, April 30, 2017

Future-proofing the Scriptures -- 1 Nephi Chapter 9

What Happens

"Nephi makes two sets of records—Each is called the plates of Nephi—The larger plates contain a secular history; the smaller ones deal primarily with sacred things."
1 Nephi 9 Chapter Heading


Here we have another aside from Nephi, explaining that these plates that he is writing (and we are reading) are not the original record that he wrote.  That record is more complete, and it has an account of the wars and and the reign of the kings, but God commanded him to make these plates as a record of the ministry.  This is similar to the aside that Nephi wrote in Chapter 6, where Nephi mentions other plates that were kept by his father, and that he isn't going to write everything here because he wants to save the space for the things of God.

Significantly, in this chapter in verse 5, Nephi mentions that he doesn't know why God has commanded him to make these particular plates.  I feel like the not knowing might have bothered Nephi a little bit, which is why he writes these asides, trying to explain to us why he isn't giving us more information.  But I love that even though he didn't know why, he is still certain that God has it under control, and that he always prepares a way for his works to be accomplished.

And of course, looking back at history, we know the reason: the 116 lost manuscript pages and the need for a different version of what had been lost (D&C 10:40-42).  God's foresight/omniscience preserved his work, and answered the prayers of both the people writing the record and the people, hundreds of years later, who needed another chance and a way to repent of something that couldn't be undone or salvaged.

I think maybe this is also why God didn't tell Nephi why.  Telling us too much maybe sometimes could interfere with our agency, or instill in us a desire to change things, which just gets us into lots of time travel paradox plots.  If we could send a message back in time and warn ourselves of something, would we want to?  Sure.  In fact, that possibility might become the central desire and obsession of our lives and distract us from focusing on things NOW.  In addition, those warnings could change our pasts, and thus who we are now, therefore changing our need to issue a warning, etc.   If Nephi warned Joseph Smith and then the whole thing 116 pages incident never happened, no need for the warning anymore, but something else probably would have happened that needed some extra planning.  We know that "all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men" (Alma 40:8-9), so he probably has to be pretty careful not to break our minds. :)

Tune in next time as we read some more cool prophecies of Lehi.

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