What Is the Sealed Portion of the Book of Mormon?

Isaiah described a “sealed book” which would confound a “learned man.” He would be asked to read it and would say in frustration, “I cannot; for it is sealed” (Isaiah 29:11).

An unlearned man would then protest that he could not read the book because of his lack of education. In Nephi’s paraphrase of this chapter, God gives the following reply:

The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.
Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work (2 Nephi 27:20-21).

The original text of the Book of Mormon was engraved on thin metal plates, bound together with metal rings to look like a book. According to David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses, “A large portion of the leaves were so securely bound together that it was impossible to separate them.” He indicated that the sealed portion “was as solid to my view as wood” and that “about…half of the book was sealed” (quoted in “What Did the Golden Plates Look Like?New Era, July 2007).

Source: Steven Pratt, “A Model of the Plates,” New Era, July 2007

After the brother of Jared saw the finger of the Lord, he was given the privilege of “beholding within the veil” (Ether 3:19). Because of his belief, God showed him “all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth” (Ether 3:25).

Moroni, who abridged the record of the Jaredite people, wrote on the plates “the very things which the brother of Jared saw” (Ether 4:4). But God told him to “seal up” that part of his record:

For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord (Ether 4:6).

But the Lord made a conditional promise to us:

In that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are (Ether 4:7).

And the Lord invited us to prepare ourselves to receive additional knowledge:

Come unto me…and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief (Ether 4:13).

To me, the message of the sealed portion of the plates is simple: we have much more to learn. We should be grateful for the knowledge we have received from God, and we should also acknowledge the limitations of our knowledge. The Lord can teach us so much more if we overcome our unbelief and trust in Him.

Today, I will acknowledge the limitations of my knowledge. I will exercise faith in God and will open my heart to the knowledge which He will share with me as quickly as I am prepared to receive it.

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