Liken the Scriptures (1 Nephi 19)
After arriving at the promised land of the Americas, Nephi spent considerable time with the various records in his possession. It was then that he prepared the plates on which he would record his own family's record. He also read from the records of the prophets that were recorded on the plates of brass.
Nephi also spent time teaching his brothers from the writings of the prophets and even read to them from these writings. His favorite prophet to read from was the prophet Isaiah. He said that he chose Isaiah to read from because his writings were especially applicable to his family who were part of the House of Israel. The way he put it was that they could "liken the scriptures" to themselves.
We gain the most from reading the Bible and Book of Mormon if we "liken the scriptures" to ourselves. The accounts contained in these books are not meant to be just interesting stories but opportunities to learn from what the people went through and how they handled different situations, rightly or wrongly. For example:
- When we read the story of David and Goliath, is it just a chance to root for a virtuous boy to triumph over the forces of evil (like Harry Potter)? Or can we learn how to face our own Goliaths in life, going up against seemingly insurmountable opposition by exercising our faith and courage and standing up for our belief in God?
- Is the story of Noah and the ark an adventure story on the water (like Titanic)? Or can we liken ourselves to Noah, being ridiculed by his neighbors but remaining steadfast and obedient to God?
- Is Samson the Bible's version of a superhero with a secret weakness (like Superman)? Or can we learn that even the strongest of us can fall if we don't follow God's direction in our lives?
- The story of Nephi and his brothers is not meant to be some type of family drama or reality show. As past blog articles have illustrated, their story can teach us about setting priorities, being "all in" for God, not making excuses, etc.
Then there's the story of Jesus. There are many people who interacted with Jesus that we can liken ourselves to. One of those is Barabbas. Really? A murderer? How can we liken ourselves to him?
What I have learned from Barabbas comes from thinking about how he must have felt as he contemplated being punished for his wrongdoing — and then having Jesus take his punishment for him, thereby setting him free! We have each experienced something similar, being set free from a penalty (far greater than Barabbas was facing) for which we are equally deserving by the same Jesus who was equally undeserving of the punishment He endured. I don't know that Barabbas showed any appreciation for what Jesus did for him, but hopefully we are expressing our appreciation for what Jesus did for us by living our lives for the Lord.
So, as you read scriptural accounts, liken them to yourself. If you're called upon to preach or teach from these accounts, don't just tell the story — liken them to the congregation or class so each can benefit from the lessons contained therein. To the extent that we can derive personal benefit from scriptural accounts, the more that we'll be likin' the scriptures!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.