Why Is Family History Important?

Heavenly Father wants us to build strong relationships with each other, and those relationships are not limited to people who are currently living.

After Lehi left Jerusalem with his family, He sent his sons back on a dangerous mission. They were to acquire a valuable spiritual record engraved on brass plates which were in the possession of a wealthy and powerful man named Laban (1 Nephi 3:1-6).

Why was it so important to obtain this record? Nephi tells us that it contained the words of many prophets, from Moses to Jeremiah (1 Nephi 5:11-13). But he also tells us that it contained a genealogy of Lehi’s ancestors. After studying the words on these plates and learning of his own spiritual heritage, Lehi “was filled with the spirit” (1 Nephi 5:17).

As Lehi’s descendants wrote their own record on metal plates, one of their stated purposes was to preserve their genealogy (Jarom 1:1, Omni 1:1). They wanted their descendants to know them and to feel an affinity with them. Lehi’s son Jacob put it particularly poignantly:

We labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents (Jacob 4:3).

When Jesus visited the American continent, He quoted the words of Malachi, including the promise that Elijah the prophet would one day come to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (3 Nephi 25:6, Malachi 4:6).

I love the following verse from a hymn written by my Uncle Paul:

Turn your hearts toward your parents–
Generations gone before.
May you seek until you find them;
In the temple seal and bind them
To your hearts forevermore (“Turn Your Hearts,” Hymns, 291).

That is why it is important to learn about our ancestors: so that we can build strong relationships with them. As we learn about them, we will feel an affection for them, and they will be bound to our hearts forever.

Today, I will think about some of my ancestors. I will remember that the bonds of love can stretch beyond the grave and into the eternities.

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