Friday, August 14, 2009

Comparing Lehi and Mormon

I think it is interesting to compare and contrast the family at the beginning and the family at the end of the Book of Mormon.

The level of information we know about Lehi’s family and Mormon’s family is different.

We know a lot more about Lehi’s family than Mormon’s. We know names, attitudes, and family incidents. Family happenings loomed large as they left Israel society.

Concerning Mormon’s family, all we know is that he had a father who relocated their family from the land northward to the land southward, and a son (Moroni) who was called to the ministry and who was eventually the ending voice of the Book of Mormon. The national backdrop was high in Mormon’s concern as a prophet, general, and record-keeper.

Lehi’s Jerusalem and Mormon’s Nephites were going to be destroyed.

Lehi’s Jerusalem
For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed. (1 Nephi 1:4)
Mormon’s Nephite civilization
14 And when they had sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they would go up unto their enemies to battle, and avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren, behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying:
15 Vengeance is mine, and I will repay; and because this people repented not after I had delivered them, behold, they shall be cut off from the face of the earth. (Mormon 3:14-15)
Both Lehi and Mormon had profound spiritual experiences

Lehi’s happened in manhood.
5 Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.
6 And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly. (1 Nephi 1:5-6, see also verses 7-13)
Mormon’s happened in boyhood.
And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mind, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus. (Mormon 1:15)
Both Lehi and Mormon were prophets to their home culture.

Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard. (1 Nephi 1:18)
I did endeavor to preach unto this people (Mormon 1:16)
2 And it came to pass that the Lord did say unto me: Cry unto this people—Repent ye, and come unto me, and be ye baptized, and build up again my church, and ye shall be spared.
3 And I did cry unto this people… (Mormon 3:2-3)
4 Behold, I am laboring with them continually….
6 And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation... (Moroni 9:4,6)
The reaction of the people to the preaching seems to have been different.


Lehi preached to the people and they mocked him and wanted to kill him.
19 And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him [Lehi] because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.
20 And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away… (1 Nephi 1:19-20)

Mormon preached to the Nephites and they forbade him from speaking, or ignored him, or were angry with him, or tried to put down authority from God.
And I did cry unto this people, but it was in vain; and they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance. And behold they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God. (Mormon 3:3)
…when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it; wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them. (Moroni 9:4)
…in this part of the land they are also seeking to put down all power and authority which cometh from God; and they are denying the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 8:28)
Could the apathy-or-anger response of Mormon’s Nephite culture be what we are seeing today?

What Lehi and Mormon did after the rejection of their message was different.


Lehi was told to take his family and leave.
2 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.
3 And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.
4 And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness. (1 Nephi 2:2-4)

Unlike Lehi, Mormon stuck with the Nephites until the end, even when their wickedness exceeded that of the Lamanites, although he noted that the Lord took His disciples away from the wicked Nephites (Mormon 1:13) and that the Lord told him “vengeance is mine and I will repay”. Mormon led the Nephites in battle, then swore off involvement when he saw they were only intent on revenge, but after a number of years he then repented of his oath when they were being driven from place to place.

Both Lehi and Mormon became caretakers of records from their peoples.


The Lord told Lehi the brass plates were needed.
…the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem.
3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.
4 Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness. (1 Nephi 3:2-4)

Mormon was given charge of the plates by the prophet Ammaron. Mormon actually inherited hidden records as the Holy Ghost had already prompted Ammaron to hide them. Mormon moved them several times, abridged them, and added to them until they were placed in a hill and delivered the abridgment to Moroni.
And now I, Mormon, seeing that the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land, therefore I did go to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammaron had hid up unto the Lord. (Mormon 4:23)
And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni. (Mormon 6:6)
What are we doing with the records in our possession?

Their knowledge of their people’s destruction was different, but they knew about it.


Lehi wasn’t there for Jerusalem’s destruction, but he was apprised of it by God;
For, behold, said he, I have seen a vision, in which I know that Jerusalem is destroyed; and had we remained in Jerusalem we should also have perished. (2 Nephi 1:4)

Mormon was there to witness the Nephite’s destruction.
7 And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them…
8 And it came to pass that they came to battle against us…
9 And it came to pass that they did fall upon my people with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war.
10 And it came to pass that my men were hewn down, yea, even my ten thousand who were with me, and I fell wounded in the midst; and they passed by me that they did not put an end to my life.
11 And when they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps, from the top of the hill Cumorah, [insert recital of 230,000 people that died]….yea, even all my people, save it were those twenty and four who were with me, and also a few who had escaped into the south countries, and a few who had deserted over unto the Lamanites, had fallen; and their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth.
16 And my soul was rent with anguish, because of the slain of my people… (Mormon 6:7-11,15-16)
Questions that come to my mind after this comparison are the following:
Why didn’t Mormon take his family and leave the Nephites? Was it because there was no greater chosen land to be led to?

In finding the scriptures for my comparisons, I happened upon a possible answer. It seems that the Lord required Mormon to be a witness that the prophecies of destruction were being fulfilled.
…I did even as the Lord had commanded me; and I did stand as an idle witness to manifest unto the world the things which I saw and heard, according to the manifestations of the Spirit which had testified of things to come. (Mormon 3:16)
Do you feel like Lehi or Mormon? I can’t really decide how I feel. I sometimes feel like Mormon when I try to share the gospel with people or suggest that they pray when they are in trouble and they don’t listen to me. I sometimes feel like Lehi fleeing to safety when I remember the prophets’ counsel to stand in holy places, go to the temple, live providently, hold onto covenants, strengthen families, etc.


Jared said...

I agree, it is very difficult to help others, but we need to do what we can.

I particularly feel this way about family, extended family, and close friends.

I admit to being anxious and frustrated with the results of my efforts.

Its not so much they don't believe in the church and the power of prayer. It seems they feel like God doesn't want to bless them because of their lack of commitment. So I suggest they increase their commitment, which is nothing more or less than repenting. I'm not seeing much success, but I just stay close to them, pray for them, and wait on the Lord.

In my mothers case, it took over forty years, but before she died she finished her temple work and had things in order in few months before she passed away at 84 years.

The key is never to give up. Easy to say, hard to do, but its worth it based on what happened with my mother.