As I thought about the fact that there were two trips and the order in which they came, I felt a message that said it is important to establish a pattern of righteousness, valuing and using the scriptures, before entering into the most important relationship in time and in eternity.There was wisdom in obtaining the plates first.Two trips were necessary to emphasize this pattern.(1)
Friday, May 20, 2016
A Vital Pattern Found Early in the Book of Mormon©
Why Two Return Trips to Jerusalem?
This morning I read a BYU-Idaho devotional address given in March of this year by Michael T. Ringwood who is an Area Authority Seventy. His subject was “The Power of the Book of Mormon.” He began with a lesson he drew from the two return trips Nephi and his brothers made from the Valley of Lemuel to Jerusalem. The first was to get the brass plates of Laban which would serve as their scriptures. The second was for Ishmael and his family, which consisted of several daughters who could become wives to Nephi and his brothers. We estimate that the round trip to Jerusalem and back would have been about 500 miles and would have occupied a minimum travel time of twenty-five days at a pace of twenty miles per day and perhaps twice that much in the harsh conditions of the desert. Who can really blame the boys for their reluctance? Laman and Lemuel as everyone knows murmured a good deal about the first assignment and were ready to abandon it at the first sign of opposition from Laban–the custodian of the plates. There seemed to be less resistance to the second trip to find another family to travel with them and which had eligible daughters.
At this point Elder Ringwood asks a question which I suspect most students of the Book of Mormon have asked. He wonders why there needed to be two trips? The answer is probably that given the very hostile reaction of Laban to the request for his plates, his subsequent death, and the likely hunt for those who killed him, it wouldn’t have been good to be traveling in a caravan with a family and all their belongings. So then, the next question is why send them for the plates first. Why not the family first?
Here Elder Ringwood has a wonderful insight which I felt was worth bringing to your attention.
He sees an important “pattern” in the sequence. Individuals need to establish a pattern of righteousness which includes valuing and using the scriptures before marriage. Wow! Amen! I personally think that is one of the great benefits which can come to every missionary if they will take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime in the lifetime of the opportunity. What opportunity? To study the scriptures and the gospel two hours every morning for two years. That is time to really fall in love with them and to establish a lifetime pattern of scripture study. Unfortunately, far too many lose the habit in the throws of the daily worldly post-mission grind. But, I think that may be one of brother Ringwood’s points. That shouldn’t happen. That pattern should be established and maintained. And today with so many more sisters on missions, they too have the opportunity to establish the pattern. Think what can happen if two of these humble, obedient super-saints marry each other!
There really does seem to be a pattern here. It is the same one Jesus taught at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount when he taught the multitude that they needed to establish themselves on a foundation of bedrock in order to be able to weather the storms of life.(2) That bedrock was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And we need to continue to build a foundation there throughout life, because our family expands needing a larger domicile. Our circumstances and experiences challenge, broaden, and enrich us, requiring continual shoring up and strengthening the foundation upon which we build a fruitful life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Elsewhere Jesus taught the necessity of counting the cost before committing to the Gospel, because it is not only a life-long, but an eternal commitment and will require determination, dedication and stamina to engage in the two activities already alluded to–building and fighting a war.(3) Satan is always trying to chip away or undermine the foundation–so even in war the care and maintenance of the foundation is vital.
But, you say–“Not every young man goes on a mission.” “True,” I say, “but they should. There is always wisdom and safety in following the established patterns and programs of the Gospel.” But, yes, your point is taken–we must be realistic. Part of that realism also includes the opportunity for the vast majority of the youth of the Church to participate in daily seminary instruction during the school year. If both teachers and students have the vision of what this program is all about and its potential, it too can assist in helping young people to begin to build a firm scriptural foundation. And Institute, although not as widely available, is another powerful auxiliary for this age bracket.
Not so incidentally, I see the same pattern in the temple. Individuals must qualify and go to the temple to receive their endowments by making individual covenants of righteousness. When men and women do this honestly, sincerely and faithfully, those covenants constitute something of a “pre-nuptial agreement” which potentially eliminates many possible problems by placing each individual on a firm foundation of righteousness before they are permitted to join together as a couple by making mutual covenants.
The Lord does indeed establish a pattern of getting his individual sons and daughters not only introduced to and acquainted with, but actually to fall in love with the Standard Works–the guides for a successful mortal and eternal sojourn.
Let’s think together again, soon.
1. Michael T. Ringwood, “The Power of the Book of Mormon,” BYU-Idaho devotional, 15 March 2016, internet edition, available at:
2. Mt. 7:24-27.
3. Lk. 14:25-33.