The record of the Jaredite people was engraved on twenty-four plates (Ether 1:2). The Lord gave the brother of Jared two stones to store with the plates. He explained that those stones would enable future readers to understand the words he would write.
For behold, the language which ye shall write I have confounded; wherefore I will cause in my own due time that these stones shall magnify to the eyes of men these things which ye shall write (Ether 3:24).
Shortly after the end of the Jaredite civilization, a search party sent by King Limhi discovered the twenty-four plates (Mosiah 8:7-9). King Mosiah subsequently translated them, using two stones, which he called “interpreters” (Mosiah 28:11-16). He then entrusted the plates and the stones to Alma (Mosiah 28:20).
About twenty years later, Alma passed these sacred things on to his son Helaman. He explained the importance of guarding the plates and the interpreters. Then, he quoted the following prophecy:
And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations (Alma 37:23).
Who or what was Gazelem? The word doesn’t appear anywhere else in the Book of Mormon or in the Bible. The context is somewhat ambiguous: it’s not clear whether it refers to the servant or to the stone. The index to the Book of Mormon chooses the former interpretation, identifying Gazelem as “name given to servant of God.”
And there is evidence that Joseph Smith saw himself as at least a partial fulfillment of this prophecy. In the early editions of the Doctrine and Covenants, names of living individuals were replaced by code names to preserve their anonymity. One of the code names used for Joseph Smith was “Gazelam.” (See, for example, D&C 104:43 in the 1835 edition and in the 1844 edition.
What can we learn from this passage? When God gives you a mission, He also gives you the help you need to fulfill that mission. President Thomas S. Monson used to say, ““When we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help” (“To Learn, To Do, To Be,” General Conference, April 2008). Just as the Lord gave his servant Gazelem a stone to enable him to fulfill his calling, God blesses us with abilities and with tools to help us fulfill the responsibilities He has given us.
We sometimes talk about bishops receiving a “mantle,” a reference to the cloak which was passed from Elijah to Elisha (2 Kings 2:13-14). This mantle represents a set of divine gifts to help the bishop function in his calling. (See Elder Robert D. Hales, “The Mantle of a Bishop,” General Conference, April 1985). But maybe we should think about this concept more broadly—every time we receive an assignment from the Lord, we receive gifts from Him to help us fulfill that assignment.
Today, I will be grateful for divine assistance as I serve God. I will remember that the Lord gave Gazelem a stone to help him fulfill his responsibilities, and that He will also help me fulfill the callings I have received from Him.