Lesson 14: For a Wise Purpose

Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 61–65


Purpose

To emphasize that the scriptures have been prepared and preserved to guide and direct us.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      Enos. Influenced by the teachings of his father, Enos prays for forgiveness. After receiving forgiveness, Enos prays for his people, the Nephites, and for their enemies, the Lamanites. He asks the Lord to preserve the records of the Nephites.

    2. b.

      Jarom. Jarom records that the Lamanites come to battle often against the Nephites. The Nephites withstand the Lamanites and prosper in the land because prophets and teachers persuade them to repent continually, keep the commandments of God, and look forward to the coming of the Messiah.

    3. c.

      Omni. Omni, Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and Amaleki keep the records. The Nephites experience seasons of peace and seasons of war, and the “more wicked part” of them are destroyed. Mosiah and his followers encounter the people of Zarahemla (the Mulekites).

    4. d.

      Words of Mormon. Mormon adds the small plates of Nephi to his abridgment of the large plates of Nephi, knowing that he does so “for a wise purpose.”

  2. 2.

    If you use the attention activity, ask a class member to prepare to share an incident or feeling that would have been forgotten if the class member had not recorded it in his or her journal. Or prepare to share such an incident or feeling from your own journal.

  3. 3.

    Copy the following chart onto the chalkboard or a large piece of paper:

    records
  4. 4.

    If the picture Mormon Abridging the Plates is available, prepare to use it during the lesson (62520; Gospel Art Picture Kit 306).

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Ask the assigned class member to tell about an incident or feeling that would have been forgotten if he or she had not recorded it in a journal (or tell about one yourself). Have the class member answer the following questions:

  • Why did you write about this incident (or feeling)? How has it benefited you to have this information written in your journal?

Then have all class members discuss the following question:

Explain that the keepers of the records that have become the Book of Mormon labored mightily to preserve the word of the Lord and the experiences of their people in learning to keep His commandments. They recognized the importance of recording this information for future generations. Because of their diligence in keeping the records and because of God’s hand in protecting and preserving the records, we are able to learn from the spiritual successes and failures of those who have gone before us.

Point out that the four books discussed in today’s lesson—Enos, Jarom, Omni, and Words of Mormon—were written by eight men who, like Nephi, understood the importance of keeping sacred records.

Scripture Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Discuss how the selected scriptures apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Enos prays for himself, the Nephites, and the Lamanites.

Discuss the book of Enos. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud.

  • Whom did Enos credit with teaching him the gospel? (See Enos 1:1.) Who was Enos’s father? (See Jacob 7:27.) What does it mean to teach children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”? (See the quotation below.) How can the teaching and example of righteous parents help children develop faith in the Savior?

    President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled parents to be righteous examples for their children, as Enos’s father was for him: “Treat your children as sons and daughters of God. Be kind. Love them. Respect them. Counsel with them. Teach them. Pray for them. Guide them and God will bless both them and you” (in Church News, 1 Nov. 1997, 2).

  • What did Jacob’s teachings influence Enos to do? (See Enos 1:3–4.) How did Enos describe his prayer to the Lord? (See Enos 1:2.) Why do you think Enos called his experience a “wrestle”? What can his account of seeking forgiveness teach us about repenting?

  • How did Enos know his sins had been forgiven? (See Enos 1:5–6.) How can we know our sins have been forgiven? (See the quotation below.) What enabled Enos to receive forgiveness of his sins? (See Enos 1:7–8.) Why is faith in Christ necessary for us to repent and receive forgiveness?

    President Harold B. Lee said: “If the time comes when you have done all that you can to repent of your sins … and have made amends and restitution to the best of your ability … , then you will want that confirming answer as to whether or not the Lord has accepted of you. In your soul-searching, if you seek for and you find that peace of conscience, by that token you may know that the Lord has accepted of your repentance” (Stand Ye in Holy Places [1974], 185).

  • After Enos learned that his sins were forgiven, what did he pray for? (See Enos 1:9, 11–13.) Why did Enos want to be sure that the records would be preserved? (See Enos 1:13–14.)

  • What can we learn about prayer from Enos?

  • Enos described the Nephites of his time as a “stiffnecked people” who were only moved by “exceeding harshness” and “exceedingly great plainness of speech” (Enos 1:22–23). What similarities do you see between the Nephites of Enos’s time and some people today?

  • What impresses you about Enos’s faith and testimony? (See especially Enos 1:15–18, 26–27.)

2. The Nephites prosper through continual repentance.

Read and discuss selected verses from the book of Jarom.

  • What did Jarom say was his purpose in adding to the records? (See Jarom 1:1–2.) Why didn’t Jarom record the prophecies and revelations he had received?

  • How did Jarom describe his people, the Nephites? (See Jarom 1:3–4; see also the additional teaching idea.) How were they able to prosper in the land and overcome the Lamanites? (See Jarom 1:5, 7–12.)

  • What role did prophets, priests, and teachers play in the success of the Nephites? (See Jarom 1:11–12.) What does it mean to “prick their hearts with the word”? (Jarom 1:12). When has your heart been pricked by the words of a prophet or another Church leader or teacher?

  • The Nephite leaders persuaded the people to “look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was” (Jarom 1:11; see also Mosiah 3:13). How can we follow this counsel as we prepare for the Savior’s Second Coming?

3. Omni, Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and Amaleki keep the records.

Read and discuss selected verses from the book of Omni. Point out that the book of Omni covers approximately 200 years and was written by five record keepers, yet it is only 30 verses long.

  • Although the writers of the book of Omni wrote little, each writer obeyed the commandment to keep and preserve the plates. Why was preserving the records so vital?

Explain that the second half of the book of Omni, written by Amaleki, illustrates the importance of preserving the records by showing what happened to a people that had not preserved its records.

  • Amaleki recorded the story of Mosiah and his followers, who were commanded by the Lord to leave the land of Nephi. Where were Mosiah and his followers led? (See Omni 1:13.) Whom did they find in the land of Zarahemla? (See Omni 1:14.) Where had these people come from? (See Omni 1:15–16; see also 1 Nephi 1:4, which explains that Zedekiah was king of Jerusalem at the time that Lehi and his family went into the wilderness.)

  • Why were the people of Zarahemla (the Mulekites) so happy to see Mosiah and his followers? (See Omni 1:14.) What consequences did Amaleki imply had come to the Mulekites because they did not bring any records with them when they left Jerusalem? (See Omni 1:17. Their language had degenerated and they had lost the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His teachings.) How might we be affected if we did not have the scriptures? (See Mosiah 1:3–5.) How are we affected when we have the scriptures but do not study them?

Explain that by interpreting an engraved stone kept by the Mulekites, Mosiah learned of another civilization, the Jaredites, that had existed in the land (Omni 1:20–22). The Jaredites came to the western hemisphere at the time of the Tower of Babel. Coriantumr, the last survivor of the Jaredite nation, had lived with the Mulekites for a time. Point out that the records of the Jaredites are abridged in the book of Ether, and they will be discussed in later lessons.

  • What can we learn about Amaleki from Omni 1:25–26? How can we “offer [our] whole souls as an offering” to the Savior, as Amaleki counseled?

4. Mormon adds the small plates of Nephi to his abridgment of the large plates.

Read and discuss selected verses from the Words of Mormon. Point out that from 1 Nephi through Omni, the Book of Mormon contains a straight chronological account. The Words of Mormon, however, were written more than 500 years after Amaleki completed the book of Omni. If you are using the picture of Mormon abridging the plates, display it now.

  • When did Mormon write the Words of Mormon, and why? (See Words of Mormon 1:1–5.)

    Explain that after Mormon abridged the large plates of Nephi, he found the small plates of Nephi and included them in his record (Words of Mormon 1:3–5). The first six books of the Book of Mormon, from 1 Nephi through Omni, are a translation of these small plates. The book titled Words of Mormon is Mormon’s explanation of why he included the small plates. It serves as a transition between the records from the small plates and the records from the large plates.

  • What were Mormon’s impressions of the small plates? (See Words of Mormon 1:4, 6.) Why did he decide to include the small plates in his record? (See Words of Mormon 1:7.) What was the “wise purpose” to which Mormon referred?

    Display the chart showing the records that Mormon and Moroni abridged and compiled (see “Preparation,” item 4). Note that the books that are not listed on the chart (Words of Mormon, Mormon, and Moroni) were written by Mormon and Moroni.

    Explain that the small plates of Nephi covered approximately the same time period (600 to 200 B.C.) as the first records in the large plates. There was no apparent need for Mormon to include both in his abridgment. But the Lord knew that the translation of the first records from the large plates would be lost centuries later, when Martin Harris took 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript to show to his family members and friends. After these 116 pages of the translation were lost, the Lord instructed Joseph Smith not to retranslate the same records (D&C 10:8–14). These records are not found in the Book of Mormon today. Instead, the same time period is described through the account from the small plates.

  • What did Mormon say was the purpose of the entire sacred record he was abridging? (See Words of Mormon 1:2, 8; see also the itle page of the Book of Mormon.) Why is it important that we read the Book of Mormon with this purpose in mind?

Conclusion

Remind class members that the writers of the Book of Mormon kept and preserved the records of their people so that future generations would know the dealings of the Lord with these people. Encourage class members to study the Book of Mormon so that they may be guided and directed by the word of the Lord contained within it.

As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.

Additional Teaching Idea

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use this idea as part of the lesson.

Feeling the promptings of the Spirit

Ask a class member to read Jarom 1:3 aloud.

  • What four conditions did Jarom mention that can keep us from feeling the promptings of the Spirit? (A hard heart, deaf ears, a blind mind, and a stiff neck.)

Discuss with class members what these four symbolic conditions represent and how they prevent us from feeling the promptings of the Spirit.

  • What blessings come to those who overcome these conditions? (See Jarom 1:4.)