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In the title page of The Book of
Mormon, the prophet Mormon identifies the three groups of people the book
addresses. “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the
house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile.”
In order to receive the message of the
Book of Mormon meant for us. it is important to recognize which group
we identify with. Am I a Lamanite? Am I a Jew? Or Am I a Gentile?
of Mormon Title Page
An Account Written
by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi
Wherefore, it is an
abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the
Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house
of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of
commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of
revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that
they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of
God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni,
and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the
Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.
An abridgment taken
from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of
Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the
language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to
heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel
what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they
may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off
forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that
Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all
nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men;
wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found
spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.
BY JOSEPH SMITH, Jun.
The prophets of the Book of Mormon saw
our day and know exactly who they are addressing and what message
each group needs to hear. These identities stay consistent
throughout the entire book.
Behold, the Lord
hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which
must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth
among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye
are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know
your doing. Mormon 8:34-35
How does the Book of Mormon serve each
of these three groups?
To show unto the remnant of the
house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their
fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they
are not cast off forever.
To the convincing of the Jew and
Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting
himself unto all nations.
It was foreseen that the house of
Israel would be scattered among all nations. It would follow that all
the nations upon the face of the earth would be blessed by this
things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both
temporal and spiritual; for it appears that the house of Israel,
sooner or later, will be scattered upon all the face of the earth,
and also among all nations. 1 Nephi 22:3
With this understanding, Mormon
continues to distinguish the Gentiles from the House of Israel in his
writings. Notice even when the Gentiles receive the fulness of the
Gospel, they are still called gentiles. In the Book of Mormon,
receiving the Gospel does not seem to change a Gentile into an
Yea, even my father
spake much concerning the Gentiles, and also concerning the house of
Israel, that they should be compared like unto an olive tree, whose
branches should be broken off and should be scattered upon all the
face of the earth.
Wherefore, he said
it must needs be that we should be led with one accord into the land
of promise, unto the fulfilling of the word of the Lord, that we
should be scattered upon all the face of the earth.
And after the house
of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again;
or, in fine, after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the
Gospel, the natural branches of the olive tree, or the remnants of
the house of Israel, should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge
of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer. 1 Nephi 10:12-14
The gentiles are given the hope that if
they repent and return unto the Father, they shall be numbered among
God's people; but still the record does not show that their identity
changes when they accept God's offering and protection. What is the
difference between being numbered among them and becoming one of
And I will show
unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power
over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of
Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my
gospel. But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the
Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of
Israel. And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of
Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the
Father. 3 Nephi 16:12-14
If Joseph and the people attending the
dedication of the Kirtland Temple have already been baptized, why did
Joseph still identify the members of the church and himself as
Gentiles? Joseph Smith reiterates these distinctions between these
three groups of people in his prayer.
Now these words, O
Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and
commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with
But thou knowest
that thou hast a great love for the children of Jacob, who have been
scattered upon the mountains for a long time, in a cloudy and dark
day. We therefore ask thee to have mercy upon the children of Jacob,
that Jerusalem, from this hour, may begin to be redeemed; And the
yoke of bondage may begin to be broken off from the house of David;
And the children of Judah may begin to return to the lands which thou
didst give to Abraham, their father.
And cause that the
remnants of Jacob, who have been cursed and smitten because of their
transgression, be converted from their wild and savage condition to
the fulness of the everlasting gospel; That they may lay down their
weapons of bloodshed, and cease their rebellions.
And may all the
scattered remnants of Israel, who have been driven to the ends of the
earth, come to a knowledge of the truth, believe in the Messiah, and
be redeemed from oppression, and rejoice before thee. D&C
Just as the gentiles were allowed to go
through and tread down the seed of Nephi's brethren,
And it came to pass
that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of
promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of
my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were
smitten. 1 Nephi 13:14
the house of Israel shall go through
among the gentiles, and shall tread them down. The last shall be
first, and the first shall be last. 1 Nephi 13:42
But if they
[gentiles] will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will
suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that
they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they
shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good
for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my
people, O house of Israel. 3 Nephi 16:15
Which specific group of Gentiles is
Jesus describing in this verse? Who has been called to be the salt of
When men are called
unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting
covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor
of men; They are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that
salt of the earth lose its savor, behold, it is thenceforth good for
nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. D&C
Which group of Gentiles were called
with an everlasting covenant?
What is this group of Gentiles doing?
What have they rejected? What will the Father do?
commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when
the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the
fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their
hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole
earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits,
and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and
priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they
shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel,
behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from
And then will I
remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of
Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them. 3 Nephi 16:10-11
Who is the fulness of the gospel of
Jesus Christ? What does it mean to reject the fulness of the gospel?
What does it mean to receive the fulness of the gospel of Jesus
Of whom we bear
record; and the record which we bear is the fulness of the gospel of
Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed
in the heavenly vision. D&C 76:14
As Gentiles we have the opportunity to
be numbered among God's people but it requires us to repent and
return unto God. We too must seek the face of the Lord and receive
the promise of eternal life.
Verily, thus saith
the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his
sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my
voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I
am; D&C 93:1
And verily, verily,
I say unto you, he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that
receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me. D&C 39:5
And seek the face
of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and
ye shall have eternal life. D&C 101:38
About five years ago, I learned that I
don't need to make a payment to men to receive blessings from the
Lord. Up until this time, I paid more than 10% of my earnings to the
church of my fathers.
In my religious culture and family
tradition it's that wonderful time of the year when people report on
how much money they've given to the priests. If it isn't at least 10%
of their income, they are judged as unworthy and denied “the Lord's
But this is the Lord's truth. “Come, my
brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he
that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk
without money and without price.” 2 Nephi 9:50
It is very common among churches to ask
the congregation for money to support the priests. This is what the Book of Mormon has to say about priestcraft:
And he (Nehor) had
gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed
to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring
unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become
popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they
ought to be supported by the people. And he also testified unto the
people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that
they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their
heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also
redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.
And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many
did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him
and give him money. Alma 1:3-5
But Alma said unto
him: Behold, this is the first time that priestcraft has been
introduced among this people. And behold, thou art not only guilty of
priestcraft, but hast endeavored to enforce it by the sword; and were
priestcraft to be enforced among this people it would prove their
entire destruction. And thou hast shed the blood of a righteous man,
yea, a man who has done much good among this people; and were we to
spare thee his blood would come upon us for vengeance. Therefore thou
art condemned to die, according to the law which has been given us by
Mosiah, our last king; and it has been acknowledged by this people;
therefore this people must abide by the law. Alma 1:12-14
did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land;
for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they
went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake
of riches and honor. Alma 1:16
Yea, they did
persecute them, and afflict them with all manner of words, and this
because of their humility; because they were not proud in their own
eyes, and because they did impart the word of God, one with another,
without money and without price. Alma 1:20
Here is another excerpt from the Book
of Mormon which juxtaposes the free offering of Jesus Christ with
For behold, my
beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in
darkness. He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the
world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life
that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that
they shall not partake of his salvation.
Behold, doth he cry
unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he
saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey,
without money and without price. Behold, hath he commanded any that
they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of
worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. Hath he commanded any that they
should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but
he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people
that they should persuade all men to repentance. Behold, hath the
Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness?
Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like
unto the other, and none are forbidden.
He commandeth that
there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that
men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that
they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the
welfare of Zion. 2 Nephi 26:23-29
Giving money to the priests is not part
of Jesus's temple recommend questions. Giving money to the priests
will not bring forgiveness of sins or make you worthy before the
. . . there shall
be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money
you shall be forgiven of your sins. O ye wicked and perverse and
stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to
get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye
might bring damnation upon your souls? Mormon 8:32-33
God has asked us to give alms to help
relieve the burdens of the poor. This is how it is to be done:
Take heed that ye
do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no
reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest
thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do
in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of
men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But when thou doest
alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That
thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret
himself shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:1-4
What is the reward of men? What is the
reward of God? From whom do we seek our reward?
Why have we turned things upside down?
Since when has giving money to support the priests and the building
of spacious buildings become noble, righteous, and a condition for
And wo unto them
that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works
are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And
they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be
esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto them,
saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. For shall the
work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing
framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding? 2 Nephi
I suspect if head high priests preached
only for the love of God and the reward He gives, their motives would
be more pure and not governed by their pocket books.
Note: In the LDS church, those at the
local or low level are not paid. They are the ones doing the paying.
Those at general or high levels are paid.
Over the last few years, I've thought a
lot about what it means to cry unto the Lord. In the last few weeks,
I have received greater understanding.
First, what does it mean to cry?
shed tears, especially as an
expression of distress or pain.
shout or scream, especially to
express one's fear, pain, or grief.
say something in an excited or
anguished tone of voice.
a spell of weeping.
a loud inarticulate shout or
scream expressing a powerful feeling or emotion.
a loud excited utterance of a word
an urgent appeal or entreaty.
This kind of emotion cannot be faked or
forced when communicating with the Lord. It's something that comes
from deep within the heart.
When I no longer cast blame and
judgment and am unwilling to make excuses. When I no longer am the
victim but willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit
to inflict upon me (Mosiah 3:19). All that is left is the pain of a
broken heart. The defense mechanisms I set up to protect myself from
the pain are gone, and I cry. I pray continually by day, and mine
eyes water my pillow by night; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I
know that he will hear my cry. (2 Nephi 33:3)
What kind of heart cries because of the
pain of others? What kind of heart free-falls totally trusting in
God? What kind of heart cries unto the Lord in all things?
Moses 7:49 And when
Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord,
saying: O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth? Wilt
thou not bless the children of Noah?
Moses 7:54 And it
came to pass that Enoch cried unto the Lord, saying: When the Son of
Man cometh in the flesh, shall the earth rest? I pray thee, show me
Moses 7:58 And
again Enoch wept and cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the
Moses 7:45 And it
came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the
families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall
the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the Righteous be
shed, that all they that mourn may be sanctified and have eternal
Moses 7:50 And it
came to pass that Enoch continued his cry unto the Lord, saying: I
ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus
Christ, that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah and his seed, that the
earth might never more be covered by the floods.
1 Nephi 2:16 And it
came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless
being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the
mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he
did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the
words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel
against him like unto my brothers.
1 Nephi 2:18 But,
behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being
grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord
1 Nephi 17:7 And it
came to pass that after I, Nephi, had been in the land of Bountiful
for the space of many days, the voice of the Lord came unto me,
saying: Arise, and get thee into the mountain. And it came to pass
that I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the Lord.
2 Nephi 4:30
Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will
praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and
the rock of my salvation.
2 Nephi 5:1 Behold,
it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my God,
because of the anger of my brethren.
2 Nephi 26:7 O the
pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my
people! For I, Nephi, have seen it, and it well nigh consumeth me
before the presence of the Lord; but I must cry unto my God: Thy ways
Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our
records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me:
Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall
receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.
Therefore they hushed their fears, and began to cry unto the Lord
that he would soften the hearts of the Lamanites, that they would
spare them, and their wives, and their children.
Mosiah 29:20 But
behold, he did deliver them because they did humble themselves before
him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out
of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases
among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them
that put their trust in him.
Alma 37:36 Yea, and
cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the
Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let
all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections
of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
Alma 34:27 Yea, and
when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out
in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the
welfare of those who are around you.
Alma 18:41 And he
began to cry unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, have mercy; according to
thy abundant mercy which thou hast had upon the people of Nephi, have
upon me, and my people.
Alma 15:10 And then
Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this
man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.
8 And it came to
pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain
and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord
Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But
behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul.
50 And they began
to stand against the Lamanites with power; and in that selfsame hour
that they cried unto the Lord for their freedom, the Lamanites began
to flee before them; and they fled even to the waters of Sidon.
49 And it came to
pass that they turned upon the Lamanites, and they cried with one
voice unto the Lord their God, for their liberty and their freedom
26 And Alma cried,
saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O
Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ,
even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were
bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear
of destruction had come upon them.
37 And it came to
pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord
had compassion upon their friends and their families also, that they
were not confounded.
22 And he cried
again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou
hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and
behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer
that we shall cross this great water in darkness?
Ether 6:7 And it
came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no
water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a
dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore
when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the
Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.
3 Nephi 1:12
12 And it came to
pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord all that day; and behold,
the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying:
3 Nephi 3:15 Yea,
he said unto them: As the Lord liveth, except ye repent of all your
iniquities, and cry unto the Lord, ye will in nowise be delivered out
of the hands of those Gadianton robbers.
The list of scriptures goes on. The
soft heart, the broken heart, the heart that cries to God is heard by
God. “Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer
the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a
contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be
answered.” 2 Nephi 2:7
Our culture teaches us to harden our
hearts, fight for our rights, defend our position, make a mock of our
brother, seek our own self interest, and war one with another.
Behold, when ye
shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in
your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness
of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been
hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall
call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite
spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the
covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel. Ether
The Lord really does know how to fix
things. Let us soften our hearts, cry unto the Lord, and love each
As I struggled with a challenge that
was out of my control, I heard the Lord speak these words, “Give me
Cast thy burden
upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the
righteous to be moved. Psalms 55:22
As my burden weighed heavily upon me, I
yearned for relief. I handed my burden over to Jesus. Now it was his
problem not mine. He asked for it, and I was willing to give it to
I still felt the burden in the coming
days. I asked myself, “What attachment do I have to this burden?
Why do I want to hang on to it when Jesus said he would take it? What
can I do? What do I do with all the pain and ramifications of the
situation? Even though I can't fix the problem, there must be
something I can do to redirect my focus and attention.”
But if ye will turn
to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him,
and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will,
according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.
This mantra came to mind, “I give you
my burden. I am thy servant.”
I repeated these words over and over. I
prayed for strength to truly let go and let God handle the problem.
God inspired me with things to do and ways to see things differently.
I did what he asked without attachment to the outcome.
His light and intelligence began to
give me a deeper understanding. I felt His love, hope was restored,
and I experienced the miracle of the atonement.
Come unto me, all
ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my
yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and
ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my
burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 (emphasis added)
having a considerable or
sufficient amount of natural light; not dark.
of little weight; easy to lift.
easily borne or done.
gentle or delicate.
free from worry or unhappiness;
God has enlightened and illuminated my
understanding, unfolded a mystery, ignited my spirit with the fire of
his love, made my burden easy to lift, has been gentle with my feelings,
and given me happiness. Yes,
His burden is light!
I gladly give Him my burdens. It is my
privilege to be His servant.