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Another short one-chapter book in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, this chapter-book is exactly what it is called: just a few words from Mormon. It’s like a monologue between acts, or an explanation to the audience about what is happening.
We jump forward in time for a minute, with Mormon saying it is many hundred years after the coming of Christ. This is a huge jump in time, as the last book – Omni – was about 300 years before the time of Christ. So just reading along in the Book of Mormon, we don’t even know yet that Christ has come – just that He is promised. But these words are inserted here as an explanation, years later by Mormon, while he is in the present moment trying to gather the records to protect them from being destroyed in war. He is literally fighting for his life, and one of the few Nephites left, and trying to save the records. When we read these words, we can nearly hear the sound of war, smell the smoke, see the darkness, and feel the rustling of leaves under our feet and our heart pounding in our chest as he moves deftly through towards his son to get these records delivered safely before it’s too late.
Mormon’s words explain that he has completed the compiling of the records of the Nephites. It’s a very serious time, as Mormon has been at war and the Nephites are very nearly destroyed (verse 1). Mormon is now going to hand the records to his son Moroni, adding that “he will witness the entire destruction of my people” (verse 2). Yet he leaves Moroni with a blessing, “that he may survive them, that he may write somewhat concerning them, and somewhat concerning Christ…” (verse 2).
Mormon speaks about how he has organized these records that have been passed down (verse 3), and he shares his love for the teachings and his testimony of their truth.
“And the things which are upon these plates pleasing me, because of the prophecies of the coming of Christ” (verse 4).
There is so much that has happened, he says, that he “cannot write the hundredth part” of all that has gone down (verse 5).
But he does pick the “choice” pieces, the best parts, and includes them in the records to be passed down (verse 6).
“And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will” (verse 7).
This organizing of the records, so that the history of the people was separate from the spiritual record of the people was for a very important purpose indeed! These are the pages lost by Martin Harris, so that only the historical documents were lost but we still have the spiritual record of the Nephites.
In this way, the Lord did answer Mormon’s prayer: “that they may once again come to the knowledge of God, yea, the redemption of Christ; that they may once again be a delightsome people” (verse 8). This will continue to be fulfilled as the Latter-days unfold.
So Mormon says that he has finished his record, “according to the knowledge and the understanding which God has given me” (verse 9).
Then he picks up where Omni left off, with the last author in Omni being Amaleki. He says that Amaleki did as he wrote he would do, taking the records to King Benjamin (verse 10). These records were then passed down “generation to generation” until given to Mormon himself (verse 11).
“And I know that they will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them” (verse 11).
We know, from the last book in the Book of Mormon, that Mormon gives these records to Moroni, who adds his own records of his time, and then buries them for safe-keeping. He is the angel, then, that later shows Joseph Smith where they are buried so that they can be brought forth for all the people as the Testament of Jesus Christ we have today.
In the meantime, Mormon takes us back to King Benjamin and the contention of his time (verse 12). This led to the great wars between the Nephites nad the Lamanites (verse 13), with King Benjamin driving the Lamanites out of their land (verse 14).
Then came false Christs (verse 15), false prophets, preachers, and teachers (verse 16), and all these other contentions that King Benjamin had to fight. He fought against these things with the help of holy prophets (verse 16) “for behold, King Benjamin was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness’ and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffnecked of the people” (verse 17).
Sharp words are not needed with the people are soft and responsive.
But when we are stubborn and “stiffnecked”, sharp words are sometimes required.
So King Benjamin, with the help of the prophets, and “by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, did once more establish peace in the land” (verse 18).
This is Mormon’s introduction to the next book, Mosiah.