CLICK HERE to read Mormon 1.
This book is written by Mormon, who says he will call the collection of the records “the Book of Mormon” (verse 1). This is written later, after he is done, the last bit he is adding in, his testimony, this being his eyewitness account. He tells us how he got the records, how he became one in the chain of record-keepers that recorded and protected these records so that we – even me – would someday have them, and learn from them.
He gets the records from Ammaron, who had hidden the records as the Lord instructed (verse 2). Ammaron tells the child Mormon that when he is grown, he should go get the records that Ammaron hid (verse 3). Ammaron says that Mormon should leave the plates hidden, except for taking out the ones he needs to add the records of his own people (verse 4).
Mormon then talks about the wars he experienced growing up (verses 7-11), saying their was only peace when “the Lamanites withdrew their design” (verse 12). But this peace was only “no bloodshed”, which is not the same thing as the joy and happiness of a peaceful people as described in 4 Nephi. “No bloodshed” is not the same as making peace, loving others, and keeping covenants. The iniquity was still so great that the disciples were removed (verse 13), and there were no gifts of the spirit “because of their wickedness and unbelief” (verse 14). Nibley said:
There are times when the Lord turns off the power completely. This is very dangerous if we go on thinking we don’t have to repent because other people are wicked. That’s what we’ve got the Book of Mormon for.
It doesn’t matter what other people do to us, or who starts what, or which political party messes up what part of life. It doesn’t matter how difficult my experiences have been, or how challenging my circumstances are. It doesn’t matter. No matter how you define enemy, it is irrelevant.
I am responsible for my behavior.
Difficult days, dangerous circumstances, wars beyond my control, or the bad behavior of those around me do not excuse me from being righteous, from making good choices, or from looking to God.
Only when we turn away from God do we lose hope.
Mormon remained faithful, and received his own testimony, and “tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus” (verse 15). He wanted more than anything to preach to the people, even his family (like Abraham), but he was forbidden because “they had willfully rebelled against their God” (verse 16). He lived amongst them, but could not tell them the things he wanted to say, could not show them the way to real peace or to real happiness – because they had already rejected happiness and had already rejected peace (verse 17). If they have rejected the message of the prophets, then there is nothing left to preach. One can only mourn, withdraw, and be silent as the people receive the consequences they have chosen. Nibley says:
As we read in the Jaredite case, the prophets mourned and withdrew. There’s nothing else you can do. God forbids him to preach; more preaching would be damnation.
Instead, Gadianton robbers were back, infesting the people like a plague (verse 18). Rather than caring for and serving each other, the people worked only for what was their own. Rather than being empowered to help others, the people only wanted power for themselves. “The power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land, even unto the fulfilling of all the words of Abinadi, and also Samuel the Lamanite” (verse 19).
So the tragedy begins, as a people choose their own destruction.