This is the fourth of six posts answering a series of questions suggested by President Russell M. Nelson. So far I have written about what the Book of Mormon is, what it affirms, and what it refutes. Today, I am writing about what it fulfills.
“The eyes of the blind”
The prophet Isaiah wrote about a time when there would be great confusion in the world. People would seek for happiness in all the wrong ways. He compared them to a hungry man who dreams that he is eating, but when he wakes up, he’s still hungry. The solution would come in the form of a book. He said, “In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness” (Isaiah 29:18, 2 Nephi 27:29).
The prophet Nephi learned more about this book. He saw in a vision that many plain and precious things would be lost from the Bible, and that those omissions would cause many people to stumble. His descendants would write about the gospel, and their words would be made available to future generations. Those words would not only support the Bible, they would also complement the Bible, restoring crucial information which had been lost (1 Nephi 13:28-29, 35, 40).
The Book of Mormon fulfills God’s promise to send clarifying scripture in a time of confusion.
“Other sheep I have”
During His mortal ministry, the Savior referred to Himself as the “good shepherd.” He described His “sheep” (His disciples) as hearing His voice and following Him willingly. He said that He was willing to lay down His life for His sheep. Then, He told His disciples:
Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd (John 10:16).
Who were those other sheep?
After His death and resurrection, He told a group of people on the American continent that they were some of the “other sheep” He had spoken of (3 Nephi 15:21). He also told them that He had additional “sheep” in other locations, whom He would visit as well (3 Nephi 16:1-3).
The Book of Mormon records the fulfillment of the Savior’s promise to minister to people outside the land of Israel.
“They shall cry from the dust”
The Lord told the ancient prophet Joseph that His descendants would write the word of God and that the descendants of his brother Judah would also write the word of God. At some future time, those writings would “grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins” (2 Nephi 3:12). (See also Ezekiel 37:15-19.) The Lord told Joseph that his posterity would “cry from the dust; yea, even repentance” (2 Nephi 3:20).
Most of the authors of the Book of Mormon were descendants of Lehi, who was a descendant of Joseph. When the book was completed, the last author, Moroni, buried it in the earth (Mormon 8:4). Centuries later, it was unearthed, translated, and published.
The Book of Mormon fulfills God’s promise that Joseph’s descendants would preach repentance “from the dust.”
“Thy fathers have also required of me this thing”
After Enos received a remission of his sins, he prayed for his own people (the Nephites) and then for their enemies (the Lamanites). He made a remarkably specific request: If, at some future time, his people were destroyed and the Lamanites survived, would God preserve a record of his people, which might help the Lamanites to be saved?
The Lord assured Enos that He would do so. Then, He said:
Thy fathers have also required of me this thing; and it shall be done unto them according to their faith; for their faith was like unto thine (Enos 1:11-18).
The Book of Mormon fulfills promises God made to ancient prophets on behalf of future generations.
“The work of the Father hath already commenced”
During His ministry on the American continent, the Savior taught the people about the gathering of Israel. Then, He told them how they would know when the gathering was beginning:
I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place….
When these things which I declare unto you…shall be made known unto the Gentiles…
It shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel (3 Nephi 21:1-7).
President Russell M. Nelson has elaborated on this passage:
The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a sign to the entire world that the Lord has commenced to gather Israel and fulfill covenants He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob….
The Book of Mormon is central to this work. It declares the doctrine of the gathering. It causes people to learn about Jesus Christ, to believe His gospel, and to join His Church. In fact, if there were no Book of Mormon, the promised gathering of Israel would not occur (“The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” General Conference, October 2006).
The Book of Mormon helps fulfill God’s promise to gather scattered Israel.
Today, I will recognize the Book of Mormon as a fulfillment of promises made by God to ancient prophets. I will be grateful for their interest in the spiritual strength of future generations, and I will be grateful that God answered their prayers and fulfilled the promises He made to them.