“Wrought Upon” – 1 Nephi 13:12-13

After observing an odious society in which the wealthy oppressed the poor, Nephi saw some people from that society cross the ocean to the “land of promise” where his family’s descendants would live. The process began with a single individual:

And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land (1 Nephi 13:12).

Subsequently, many other people followed:

And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters (1 Nephi 13:13).

The word “wrought” was once the past tense of “work” (Oxford English Dictionary). Over time, it has inherited a connotation of sustained and skillful work over a period of time (as in “wrought iron,” “wrought embroidery,” or “wrought essays”).

I’ve been thinking today about the concept of being “wrought upon” by the Spirit of the Lord. This terminology does not appear in the King James Version of the Bible, but it does  appear multiple times in the Book of Mormon. For example:

  • On a later occasion, after Nephi stretches out his hand toward his brothers, they don’t dare to touch him for several days, “so powerful was the Spirit of God; and thus it had wrought upon them” (1 Nephi 17:52).
  • Nephi prophesied that, at the time of the crucifixion of the Savior, there would be many natural disasters, so that “the kings of the isles of the sea shall be wrought upon by the Spirit of God, to exclaim: The God of nature suffers” (1 Nephi 19:12).
  • Enos said that he had been “wrought upon by the power of God that I must preach and prophesy unto this people” (Enos 1:26).
  • After describing the miraculous transformation of the sons of Mosiah from “the very vilest of sinners” to missionaries, Mormon explains: “thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them” (Mosiah 29:4).
  • When a later prophet named Nephi casts devils out of people, they testify that they have been “wrought upon by the Spirit of God, and…healed” (3 Nephi 7:22).
  • Moroni indicated that, after people were baptized, they were “wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 6:4).

Today, I will be grateful that the Lord is willing to make sustained efforts with me over time. I will recognize that I and others can be “wrought upon by the Spirit of God.”

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