14 And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine.
15 And they were also led out of captivity and out of the land of Egypt, by that same God who had preserved them.
16 And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers. And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records.
17 And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed—
(1 Nephi 5:14-17)
One of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is “to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers” (Title Page). Based on the passage above, the brass plates fulfilled a similar function for Lehi. Not only was he able to read about his spiritual heritage, he was able to connect the dots and understand how he was related to these great prophets who had lived more than a thousand years earlier. Thus, the characters in these stories were not only relevant for the great lessons they taught; they were his family. Nephi tells us that “when [his] father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit.” Surely the connection with his ancestors was an important part of his heart being opened to the Spirit of the Lord.
President Henry B. Eyring has taught that learning about our ancestors can invite the Spirit of the Lord into our lives:
Many youth have discovered that giving of their time to do family history research and temple work has deepened their testimony of the plan of salvation. It has increased the influence of the Spirit in their lives and decreased the influence of the adversary. It has helped them feel closer to their families and closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. They have learned that this work saves not just the dead; it saves all of us (see D&C 128:18) (“Gathering the Family of God,” General Conference, April 2017)
This weekend, I will dedicate some time to learning more about my ancestors. Like Lehi, I will remember the debt that I owe to the people who have gone before and prepared the way for me. I will also remember that learning about them and connecting with them can bring me closer to God.