When our Stake President challenged us to read the Book of Mormon again this year, or for the first time, for those who hadn’t gone all the way through it, it was no problem for me. I read it every year because it really brings me closer to my Heavenly Father, and I like that feeling. Because of that, I’m already past the story of King Benjamin, and it’s funny that doing these hero posts has given me yet another perspective on the scriptures. I’m better able to see how everyone fits into the timeline. I know you may not have that background, so here’s a little timeline that might help.
Lehi & Family Leave Jerusalem – 600 BC
Landing in the Americas – about 589 BC
Lehi died; Nephi led his people to the wilderness – Between 588-570 BC
2 Nephi 5:6 – Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words.
Nephi died and Jacob became prophet and record keeper – Between 544-421 BC
The plates and leadership pass through
- Enos (by 421 BC)
- Jarom (420 BC)
- Omni (361 BC)
- Amaron (317 BC)
- Chemish (279 BC)
- Abinadom and Amaleki (after Chemish, between 279 and 130 BC)
- Abinadi (about 148 BC)
- Alma the Elder (148 BC – but not the prophet and record keeper until much later)
- King Benjamin (before 130 BC – talks to the people about 124 BC)
- Mosiah (124 BC)
This brings us up to where we are now, and gives you a little idea of the times involved. Much of the history between Jacob and King Benjamin was not recorded in the records we have, because the times were, more or less, average – no one in those years stood out for the record of the spiritual activities. The government and society happenings were recorded on other plates and we don’t have those at this time. They are not what the people of our day need. The spiritual records which comprise the Book of Mormon were written specifically for the people of our day. We know this because many of the recording prophets said things that apply to our times, and occasionally one has said so.
The people listened to King Benjamin prophesy about Christ and tell them of the atonement:
Mosiah 4:6, 10 – I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body … believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.
He told them about forgiveness and verse 19, in bold, has become so meaningful in my own life:
Mosiah 4:16-21 – And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just— But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
After all these things that the people heard from their king, Benjamin sent among them, asking if they believed the words he had spoken. In Mosiah 5:2, we have their answer:
And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.
The people further made a covenant with the Lord (vs 5):
And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.
King Benjamin had recorded all the names of the people who made the covenant, and it was all except the small children who made it and took upon themselves the name of Christ, as the king had desired. Afterward, he set apart his son, Mosiah, to be king. This son was named after Benjamin’s father, and I suppose should be called Mosiah the Younger, but we don’t have a great deal of information about Benjamin’s father, and so when the name of Mosiah is used, it typically refers to the son of King Benjamin.
This Mosiah was a righteous king and a spiritual leader for the people. He kept the records and related heirlooms, such as the sword of Laban. As we shall see, however, it was too much to do everything for the growing population, and so next week’s hero, Alma the Elder, became the prophet and also recorded spiritual records.
Next week: Alma and the people who fled King Noah after Abinadi’s death