I was sitting in my Pathway Gathering last night and I had one of those AH-HA moments. The lead student was teaching us about the Principles study skill. She shared a number of great scripture verses in our assigned reading block that exactly exemplified the principles taught in the Book of Mormon. She also explained something that I have heard before but was again struck by last night. She said that principles are teachings that we can take out of the story it’s found in and it can stand alone. A principle is something that remains relevant and true despite the group of people it’s taught to or the time it is taught in.
One example she used was the principle of repentance found in Helaman 12:39. This principle is very straightforward and easily recognizable in this one verse. Another example she used takes a more in-depth look at chapter 16 of the same book. This chapter starts with Samuel on the walls of the city preaching to the Nephites. Some believed, most did not, but none were able to harm him when they tried. This was a miracle or a “sign,” if you will, in and of itself but the people didn’t even take notice they simply cried unto their captains, saying: Take this fellow and bind him, for behold he hath a devil; and because of the power of the devil which is in him we cannot hit him with our stones and our arrows; therefore take him and bind him, and away with him. (v6) The people blamed the miracle on the devil instead of accepting what Samuel had taught them. Samuel did get away and was able to preach among his own people for some time.
Then in verse 12 we learn the people began to be more hardened in iniquity, and do more and more of that which was contrary to the commandments of God, in the eighty and ninth year of the reign of the judges. But in the very next verse it says there were great signs given unto the people, and wonders; and the words of the prophets began to be fulfilled. And angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy; thus in this year the scriptures began to be fulfilled. (v 13, 14) Despite the iniquity of the people, they were given many sign and wonders, angels even appeared…this would surely open their eyes and make them believe. Nope. The next 8 verses explain that they certainly did not believe but began to depend upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom (v15). They refused to believe the signs right in front of them. Verse 23 tells us And notwithstanding the signs and the wonders which were wrought among the people of the Lord, and the many miracles which they did, Satan did get great hold upon the hearts of the people upon all the face of the land.
As we discussed this chapter in our little Gathering class, someone else mentioned the “faith precedes the miracle” phrase but this is not quite the same thing. This chapter speaks of miracles and signs already happening so in my head the wheels are still churning. Then someone mentioned Laman and Lemuel and how those two could not see all the miracles that were performed right in front of their noses. I have always wondered why these two unbelievers were witnesses to so many wonderful signs and still turned out the way they did. They lacked the faith to see them for what they were: miracles from God. We have to have the faith and eternal perspective to see these workings, signs, and miracles for what they are.
Then that AH-HA moment that I needed this week: THE MIRACLES WERE NOT PERFORMED FOR LAMAN AND LAMUEL. All of the many miracles Laman and Lemuel witnessed were to fulfill the Lord’s plan or to protect/aid the Lord’s servant, Nephi. Many of the miracles in the first half of the Book of Mormon were to protect the faithful son from the prideful sons. The rest were to fulfill God’s purposes for Lehi and his posterity.
And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.(1 Nephi 15:9) But he had! Their father was a prophet, they had seen angels, they had witnessed many miracles, they had the plates of Laban, they had been taught the same things as Nephi, they just lacked the faith to see and the humility to find out.
Just like in chapter 16 of Helaman. God’s purposes are always fulfilled. Miracles are happening all around us, large and small. The words of the prophets, ancient and present, are being fulfilled. The question is if we have the faith to see them.