In 1 Nephi 9, Nephi reflects on God’s commandment that he keep two sets of records, known as the Large Plates of Nephi and the Small Plates of Nephi. The Large Plates contained the full history of the people, while the Small Plates were devoted to spiritual accounts that would persuade people to come to God.
Although Nephi understood the commandment, he didn’t really understand God’s reasoning. Why two sets of records covering the same period of time? Couldn’t all the information just be put in one place? Finally, acknowledging, “the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning,” Nephi decided to just trust that God had some wise purpose and do what He commanded.
The same “Why?” probably crossed his mind on multiple occasions when he had to engrave the same account twice, but he dutifully continued to do that for the remainder of his life and instructed the record keepers who followed him to do the same.
So, what happened? Fast-forward 2,400 years:
- Joseph Smith begins translating the Large Plates portion of the abridged record with Martin Harris as his scribe.
- After 116 pages are complete, Martin Harris brings the completed pages home to show his wife, and the pages are lost, never to be re-translated.
- When the translation continues, Joseph Smith begins with the Small Plates portion of the record, which covers the exact same time period of the pages that were lost — as a result, there are no gaps in the Book of Mormon account!
Do we find ourselves questioning or second-guessing God when He gives us direction?
- Why should I relocate? I can serve God where I am now.
- Why should I talk to that person about the church? He would never be interested.
- Why should I take this class in school? I don’t need it to graduate.
- Why should I look for a new job? I make good money where I work now.
Assuming that God is actually directing us to do one of the above or anything else, it is in our best interest to proceed because God know what lies ahead. He sees the big picture and knows how the various events will play out so that His desired end is accomplished. If we resist God’s direction in even a small matter, we may be frustrating the plan of God and changing future events in a way that is contrary to the will of God.
If Nephi had done what seemingly made sense by keeping all of the records in one place, our current Book of Mormon would be an incomplete record. Instead, we have a wonderful volume (including the First Book of Nephi through the Book of Omni) because Nephi followed God’s direction, understanding that God knows what lies ahead.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.