The Gold Plates (1 Nephi 1:1-3; 1 Nephi 19:1-4; 2 Nephi 25:21-23; Enos 1:15-18; Words of Mormon 1:11; Ether 3:22-24)
Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon. (Alma 37:4)
The Book of Mormon, translated from plates of gold, is the record of two groups of people who were directed by the Lord to migrate from biblical lands to the American continents. The first group, the Jaredites, left their homeland at the time the Lord confounded the languages at the Tower of Babel. The brother of Jared, who was the spiritual leader of the group, received many revelations from the Lord and saw Jesus Christ and talked with Him face to face. The brother of Jared was commanded to write about his experiences but not to share his writings with others. The Lord promised that in His own due time He would bring the record forth, and He gave the brother of Jared interpreters to seal up with the record so the writings could be translated. (Ether 3:22-24)
The second group to come to the Americas was led by the prophet Lehi. The Lord commanded Lehi and his family to leave Jerusalem in 600 B.C., just a few years before the destruction of the city. The Lord directed Nephi, the son of Lehi, to keep a record of his people on plates of ore (1 Nephi 1:1-3; 1 Nephi 19:1-4). The record Nephi started was kept by a succession of his descendants for a thousand years. It contains the history of the children of Lehi, sacred teachings and prophecies they received, and the account of Jesus Christ's visit to the Americas following His Resurrection. The Lord promised those who recorded on the plates that He would preserve their writings. He promised He would bring them forth in the last days as a witness for Jesus Christ and as a tool for convincing people of the truth. (2 Nephi 25:21-23; Enos 1:15-18; Words of Mormon 1:11)
Several hundred years after Christ's visit to the Americas, Mormon abridged the Nephite record on thin sheets of gold. Moroni, the son of Mormon, was the last prophet-historian to keep the sacred record. He abridged the Jaredite record, sealed up the gold plates, and buried the records in his possession and the interpreters in the ground in about A.D. 427. In 18-23 the resurrected Moroni visited Joseph Smith and later delivered the plates to him. Joseph Smith translated these writings as directed by God and brought forth to the world the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ.
Ancient prophets who lived on the American continent wrote the records of their people on plates of ore. These writings contained the teachings of the prophets and the account of Jesus Christ's visit to the Americas after His Resurrection. A prophet named Mormon made a shorter account of the writings on gold plates, and his son, Moroni, buried the plates in a hill. The resurrected Moroni gave the plates to Joseph Smith, who translated the writing on the plates with the help of Heavenly Father. The translation is called the Book of Mormon.
The Bible and Book of Mormon: Two Witnesses (Ezekiel 37:16-19; 1 Nephi 13:23-25, 1 Nephi 13:38-41; 2 Nephi 3:12; D&C 21:1; D&C 27:5)
The fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines. (2 Nephi 3:12)
From the time of Adam the righteous have kept records of their genealogies, of the covenants they have made with the Lord, and of the prophecies the Lord has revealed to His people (Moses 6:5; Abraham 1:28, Abraham 1:31). The Lord has given us important promises about what He will do with the records His people have kept.
One of the prophecies of the last days is that the Lord will take the stick of Judah and the stick of Ephraim "and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand" (Ezekiel 37:17). The stick of Judah is the Bible, which records the covenants the Lord made with Adam and his posterity, especially the covenants with the house of Israel (1 Nephi 13:23). The stick of Ephraim is the Book of Mormon (D&C 27:5).
The Lord promised He would join the stick of Judah and the stick of Ephraim for two important reasons. The first reason, as the Lord explained to Nephi, is that when the record of the Jews was written, it contained the fulness of the gospel (1 Nephi 13:24). But over the centuries many of the truths of the record were lost. Adding the stick of Ephraim to the record of the Jews would "make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them" (1 Nephi 13:40). The second, and most important, reason is that combining the records would convince the world that "the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true" and that "the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved" (1 Nephi 13:39-40). The records were "established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth" (1 Nephi 13:41).
One of the promises the Lord made to us is that in the last days He would combine two records, or accounts, of people who have lived on this earth. These records, the Bible and the Book of Mormon, both testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Together they teach us the fulness of the gospel and tell us the commandments that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want us to keep.
Artist, Greg K. Olsen
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