Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Motivation to keep sacred records: external versus internal

In 1 Nephi 5 when Lehi examines the brass plates, he finds all kinds of good stuff on them. Something that I noticed with more attention recently was that they also had “many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah” (v 13). I found this interesting because Jeremiah was a contemporary of Lehi and had been put in prison, according to Nephi. What is more odd is that “Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records” (v16). “Kept the records” could mean keeping them secure, or it could also mean adding to them. But Laban does not seem like the type who would be carefully recording Jeremiah’s prophecies, full as they are of imminent destruction. Can we imagine this murderous man studiously laboring, stylus in hand, to engrave the words of Jeremiah?

This puzzled me for a while until I looked at the chronology of the kings as in the Bible Dictionary. I found that Jeremiah began his ministry during Josiah’s reign. It is likely that part of Josiah’s reforms were mandates that prophecies be recorded, and Laban and his fathers were responsible to see that royal command was carried out, so they wrote down many prophecies of the prophets, including Jeremiah’s. But it seems as soon as Josiah died, all motivation for record-keeping ended and the brass plates went neglected in the treasury. The motivation was only external and hadn’t been internalized.

This has some application in my own life. This semester I have taken a seminary preservice institute class and one of the assignments was to write down insights received during daily scripture study. The class ended this week. I could stop writing my insights down every day if I wanted to. But if I stopped, I realize I would be no better than Laban and his family. So I think I must keep on.

I have a better reason for continuing, however. It has been very helpful to me to write the things I have learned without worrying about evaluating them on whether to post them on my blog or not. It has reminded me that I really do learn so much from the scriptures through the Spirit, even if it is little tidbits at a time. It has also reminded me that sometimes when we record what we have learned, in the very act of writing, the Lord gives us even greater insight.


Anonymous said...

About ten years ago I started keeping a "scripture journal". I grew to love keeping a scripture journal almost immediately as I saw - even when jotting down simple notes - that as I tried to take the message of the scriptures from my brain to my pen - it had to pass through my heart.

I keep my scripture journal every day - when studying the scriptures. Often, the entries are pretty simple - a few sentences. But there are times when I feel the scriptures open to me, personally, and I see that they have become a urim and thummim to my life.

Over time, I've also started to record my "personal spiritual history" for my children. This is a more formalized record, but I feel like there will be a point when I want them to know what I know and how I know it.

Anyways - have fun with continuing on recording your experiences. Thanks for the post.

Curls said...

I love my scripture journal too, and my personal journal, but they are hard to keep up with. Sometimes it's easier to do it the public way because we get reinforcement, your post was a push in the right direction for me to work harder to stay internally motivated to do that private record keeping, not just blog.

I love your external journal too-you share such great insights on this blog.

Michaela Stephens said...

It's funny, but I never ran across the idea of a separate scripture journal until a few years ago. Whenever I had insights on scriptures I would just jot them in my regular journal.
Do you suppose having a separate scripture journal is a modern application of the story of Nephi making his small plates?