Thursday, February 9, 2012

Multiple records give a truer picture

Notice the difference between these two records:

Noah-Limhi record

34 And it came to pass that Alma and the people of the Lord were apprised of the coming of the king’s army; therefore they took their tents and their families and departed into the wilderness….

1 And it came to pass that the army of the king returned, having searched in vain for the people of the Lord. (Mosiah 18:34-19:1)

Alma record

1 Now Alma, having been warned of the Lord that the armies of king Noah would come upon them, and having made it known to his people, therefore they gathered together their flocks, and took of their grain, and departed into the wilderness before the armies of king Noah.

2 And the Lord did strengthen them, that the people of king Noah could not overtake them to destroy them. (Mosiah 23:1-2)

The difference in viewpoints gives us a more accurate picture. The Noah-Limhi record of Mosiah 18:34-19:1 states that Alma and his people were “apprised of the coming of the king’s army,” but the Alma record of Mosiah 23:1-2 shows us it was the Lord who warned Alma that King Noah’s army would come. The Noah-Limhi record indicates how King Noah’s people thought some person must have warned them, implying they didn’t think God could warn them. It is nice to have Alma’s record because then we learn the truth—that the Lord can warn us ahead of time to flee dangers.

Also, the Alma record of Mosiah 23:1-2 shows that Alma’s people believed that the armies of King Noah were very close to catching them and the Lord strengthened them that the armies could not overtake them. But the Noah-Limhi record of Mosiah 19:1 shows us that the armies of King Noah searched in vain for Alma’s people and couldn’t find them anywhere. This shows the Lord warned quite a bit in advance, and Alma and his people were obedient to the Lord’s warning, leaving quickly enough that King Noah’s armies had not a clue where they had gone. Chasing simply never entered the case. It is nice that we have this record too because we get a truer picture of what happened.

The Nephites seem to have learned this benefit too.

5 And it came to pass that Mosiah did read, and caused to be read, the records of Zeniff to his people; yea, he read the records of the people of Zeniff, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla until they returned again.

6 And he also read the account of Alma and his brethren, and all their afflictions, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla until the time they returned again.

7 And now, when Mosiah had made an end of reading the records, his people who tarried in the land were struck with wonder and amazement.

8 For they knew not what to think; for when they beheld those that had been delivered out of bondage they were filled with exceedingly great joy.

9 And again, when they thought of their brethren who had been slain by the Lamanites they were filled with sorrow, and even shed many tears of sorrow.

10 And again, when they thought of the immediate goodness of God, and his power in delivering Alma and his brethren out of the hands of the Lamanites and of bondage, they did raise their voices and give thanks to God.

11 And again, when they thought upon the Lamanites, who were their brethren, of their sinful and polluted state, they were filled with pain and anguish for the welfare of their souls.

12 And it came to pass that those who were the children of Amulon and his brethren, who had taken to wife the daughters of the Lamanites, were displeased with the conduct of their fathers, and they would no longer be called by the names of their fathers, therefore they took upon themselves the name of Nephi, that they might be called the children of Nephi and be numbered among those who were called Nephites. (Mosiah 25:5-12)

In this block of verses, Mosiah reads to the people the records of Zeniff-Noah-Limhi and Zeniff-Noah-Alma. It seems there is such a mixture of good and bad in these stories (and we see it for ourselves) that there is a mixture of reactions, both happy and sad. The Nephites seem to have thought about what they heard from all the angles—Limhi’s people (both survivors and slain), Alma’s people, the Lamanites, and the Amulonites.

On this occasion the children of Amulon and the wicked priests of Noah hear about their fathers in a totally new way, and they so dislike what they hear that they decide to call themselves by some other name than the names of their fathers. (And by the way, these children of Amulon-and-priests are not the children by the Lamanite mothers. These are the children who had been left behind with Limhi’s people, and escaped with Limhi’s people. *)

If there had only been the record of Zeniff, perhaps the children of Amulon and the wicked priests would never have learned about the things their fathers had done, but because Alma also kept a record, they found out.

What does this mean for us today? It reminds us of the record we make of our lives; someday our descendants are going to read it. But not only that, in the judgment day when all the books are opened and we are judged according to those things that were written, we may find that other people have written about us too in their records. It will be a mix of good and bad. Perfidies that we have committed and whitewashed in our own record will be presented in all the scarlet hues of hurt. And if we haven’t repented, what will be the result? Won’t our children wish to do the same thing as Amulon’s children did? Won’t they be displeased with us and wish to be part of a different family?

The principle in these verses is very valuable to us. It is that multiple records of our acts (both good and bad) are being kept besides our own and someday they will be read and known. We want good things to be found instead of bad things.

* No matter which set of children the Book of Mormon refers to, Amulon’s and his wicked fellows would not have a good account. His children by the Lamanite women would have found out the whoredoms of their fathers with King Noah and their part in the martyrdom of Abinadi. Their children who had been left behind with the people of Limhi would have found out the treachery of their fathers in joining the Lamanites and their cruelty enslaving and persecuting Alma’s people. Either way, their case was pretty awful.


Clifford said...

Very perceptive. How wonderful -- and yet how humbling -- will be the day when all the sacred records, including so many now lost -- will be read to the ears of all mankind.

Michaela Stephens said...

This link is to someone's blog post about their journal writing.
There's a great story in it about how his journal entry helped convict a drunk driver.