Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stories: Nephi and the Brass Plates

So, I had a thought over the weekend.  I personally love hearing stories from other people's religions.  I think they're fascinating.  So I decided I would love to share stories from my own religion.  For those of you who don't know, I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We are Christians, we believe in the Bible, but we also believe in continuing revelation, and that God speaks to all His people.  The book that gave us our nickname, The Book of Mormon, is a record of God's people in the Americas.  I'd like to share the story of their founding: the story of Nephi and the Brass Plates.
The Book of Mormon begins around 600 B.C., just before Jerusalem is destroyed by the Babylonians.  At that time there were many prophets warning about the city's destruction.  One of these men was named Lehi.  The people were angry with him because he told them they were sinning, and they decided to kill him.  Lehi was warned in a dream to take his family out of Jerusalem before they were all murdered, so he, his wife, and his children packed the essentials and fled into the wilderness.  Lehi's family included him, his wife Sariah, and four sons: Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi (there is some speculation that there were daughters as well, but they were never specified).  Laman and Lemuel were furious about having to leave their home, their birthrights, and their wealth (Lehi was a very wealthy man).  They blamed their father for all their hardships in the wilderness.  Nephi, on the other hand, decided to ask God if what his father had done was right.  When he prayed he received a revelation telling him that his father was right, and that because Nephi was humbler than his brothers, he was called to be a ruler over them in the land God was leading them to.  God also warned Nephi that unless Laman and Lemuel would soften their hearts and humble themselves, they would be cut off.
When Nephi returned to his father after praying, Lehi told him God had spoken to him again in a vision, telling him his sons needed to go back to Jerusalem to retrieve the brass plates.  These plates were not only a collection of the books of Moses, which they would need to teach their children, but they also included a record of Lehi's ancestry.  Laman and Lemuel complained that their father had given them a hard task, but Nephi knew it hadn't come from their father, but from God, and that God never gives His children commandments that they can't keep.  They traveled back to Jerusalem and drew lots to see who would go to visit Laban, the man who currently had the plates.  The lot fell to Laman.  When he asked Laban for the plates, however, Laban called him a thief, threw him out of his house, and sent his servants to kill him.  Laman escaped, came back to his brothers, and said, "Well, that didn't work, time to go!"  Nephi, however, wasn't quite as willing to give up yet.  They'd tried just asking, that hadn't worked, but as I mentioned before, Lehi was a wealthy man, and he had left all his possessions in Jerusalem before he left.  They went back to their home, gathered their wealth, and went back to Laban and offered to trade all their property for the brass plates.
Well, Laban was a wicked man.  He saw their property and coveted it, but he wasn't about to give up the brass plates.  Instead he told his servants to kill them, and when they fled, he took their property for himself.  Now not only had he tried to kill them for no reason, he had stolen their property.  The four brothers hid in a cave outside the city, and Laman and Lemuel were so angry they found a rod and began to beat Nephi, and then Sam.
Then an angel appeared.  He chewed Laman and Lemuel out for a) not believing their father and their brother, b) complaining about their task, and c) beating their brothers.  Basically, he warned them that if they didn't shape up, they were going to be cut off from the presence of God.  When he left, Laman and Lemuel stopped beating Nephi, but they still complained about how hard their task was.  Nephi decided to go alone into Jerusalem to get the brass plates himself.

Well, unfortunately, I have to run to class now, so I guess I'll finish the story in my next post!

Fare thee well, friend!

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