It is appropriate, now that we have come to the end of the Book of Mormon, to pause and review the pattern it presents for us. When things are too sacred to discuss openly, they must be discussed in code or not at all. The scriptural discussion of the ancient Israelite/Nephite temple drama was like that, and the ancient scriptures are full of it. Even now, it is not appropriate to discuss it except by using their code. Interestingly, the code is the Israelite drama itself. That is, if one knows the ancient drama, one knows the code. If one does not know the Israelite/Nephite drama, the encoded story is not there. It is not appropriate to discuss the ancient drama here, but it is not inappropriate to examine the scriptures that employ the code to discuss it. We did that is Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord. The first half of the book shows that the Psalms were the liturgy of the Israelite Feast of Tabernacles temple drama, and the second half shows that virtually every sermon in the Book of Mormon was based on the Nephite temple experience. Here are two examples. The first is one we wrote in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord. It is a chapter called “Mormon’s Outline of the Book of Mormon” It is simply a quick outline of the entire Book of Mormon.
The surface text of the Book of Mormon uses the Nephite history as a vehicle to carry their prophets’ testimonies of the Savior and the message of his gospel. The subtext teaches the same testimony and principles, but from the point of view of the of the Israelite/Nephite Feast of Tabernacles temple drama. It focuses on the sequence, covenants, and ordinances of the Nephite drama, throwing a magnificent light on their meaning in the context of priesthood, and of the covenant relationships between Jehovah and each participant in the congregation.
After reading the following outline, it will be apparent how Moroni’s conclusions fit into the overall plan of the Book of Mormon, and that Moroni finished his father’s work just as it should have been finished. If you are inclined, I suggest you read the outline rather carefully.
Mormon’s Outline of the Book of Mormon
The prophet Mormon followed the same principle. An examination of the subtextual outline of the entire Book of Mormon shows a carefully structured pattern. If one does a hopscotch across the pages of the book and only lands on the major sermons and on an occasional outstanding ecclesiastical event, the following is what one finds:
1) As one would expect, the Book of Mormon begins with the decisions made in the Council in Heaven. During a sode experience Lehi attends a meeting of the Council where Elohim sits on his throne and presiding. Jehovah, who conducts the affairs of the Council, gives Lehi an earthly assignment.
2) Lehi and his family make the necessary preparations to fulfill their assignment. (Much of First Nephi is about their receiving the things requisite for the success of the mission. They included, among others, Nephi’s new dynastic authority, the brass plates, Ishmael and his family, Lehi’s tree of life vision, Nephi’s vision of the tree of life and of his posterity so he could understand the importance and intent of his mission.)
3) They cross the chaotic waters (the ancient symbol of creation as well as of birth) and they go to a new world.
4) When they get there, Lehi teaches his sons about Adam and Eve and the Fall.
5) Nephi’s psalm asks why we have come here when it is so very difficult.
6) Jacob seems to answer that question by teaching about the Atonement.
7) Nephi quotes much of the first part of Isaiah whose underlying message is that God is the God of this world and Satan is not.
8) Nephi concludes Second Nephi by teaching about faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
9) Jacob teaches about the importance of keeping covenants
10) Enos teaches that one must pray.
11) King Benjamin teaches his people about the importance of obedience. They make a covenant that they will obey, and they receive a new name.
12) Abinadi teaches Alma the gospel. He does this by explaining the Savior’s sacrifice; then we see Abinadi’s sacrifice also.
13) At the Waters of Mormon the people are baptized. But Alma’s prayer does not mention the remission of sins. This baptism seems to be the token of a covenant that the people will support each other, the church, and the kingdom.
14) When Alma and his followers are in the wilderness, they briefly live the law of consecration.
15) They get to Zarahemla, and in Alma 5 and 7 the prophet sums up many of the principles of the drama and admonishes the people to keep their covenants.
16) In Alma chapters 12 and 13, he teaches Zeezrom about the eternal legitimacy ofpriesthood and kingship.
17) Alma 26 and 29 are psalms about responsibilities of missionary work.
18) Alma 32 teaches how to partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and eventually how to become as a tree of life. (The tree of life was always an important part of the ancient drama. If Alma 32 were not there the whole structure of the pattern would collapse.)
19) When Alma talks to his three sons,
19a) he teaches his oldest son he must keep sacred things sacred.
19b) he teaches the second that he must be true to the law of his own being.
19c) he tells the third about justice and mercy and the importance of the law of chastity.
20) There are many wars in Book of Mormon history as the people struggle to overcome the aloneness of this dark and dreary world. But Mormon chooses to give the most detail about one, which he identifies as a sacred war between good and evil. He introduces it with a whole series of covenants and covenant names (There are always new names associated with new covenants).
20a) Captain Moroni tears off a piece of his coat (after that it is called “garment” so it is the outer of the two—there are always two).
20b) He writes a chiastic poem on it. The poem is a covenant, and he gives it the title of “Liberty.”
20c) At this point Mormon interrupts his narrative to insert the information that those who believe in Christ “took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ,” and are called Christians.
20d) Captain Moroni then identifies the land in terms of its geographical boundaries (measuring it and defining it as sacred space) and gives it the same name as the poem—“the land of liberty.”
20e) The people come and join in the covenant that they will keep the Lord’scommandments and he will preserve them in their Liberty.
20f) Shortly thereafter we are told that the sons of Helaman “entered into a covenant,” and “they called themselves Nephites” (Alma 53:16-17).
20g) It is in the context of these covenants that Helaman tells the story of their part of the war. The point being that all the boys who made and kept their covenants were protected—some were badly hurt, but they all survived.
21) After the war, Nephi, Lehi are baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost.
22) Nephi is given the sealing power—“even that all things shall be done unto theeaccording to thy word “ (Helaman 10:5).
23) Samuel the Lamanite tells the people that the Savior is coming, and urges them to getready to see him.
24) In three days of darkness, the world is cleansed of its unrighteousness (this maps to Jehovah’s restoring Israel and the king after he has been in the Underworld for three days).
25) The Savior comes to his temple just as the king does in the drama.
26) The Savior organizes his church and kingdom, and teaches the people how to keep their covenants (these map to the seventh day of the drama).
27) Then in Fourth Nephi the people do keep their covenants and live the law of consecration (this maps to the eighth day of the drama). In the symbolism, they had returned to the Garden to enjoy the blessings of the eating freely of the fruit of the tree of life (3 Nephi 20:5-9), and the promised millennial reign.
28) The book of Ether is the counterbalance of that story. It shows the destructive consequences when people do not keep their covenants with God.
29) The Book of Mormon’s crescendo is repeated three times near the end of the book. There the reader is taught one must have faith, hope, and charity in order to enter the presence of God (Ether 12:28,39; Moroni 7; and Moroni 10:20-21).
30) Then Moroni reviews the entire drama and in the last verse he says, “I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, … before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah.”
The second example was written by Moroni as his parting words to us.
28 I declare these things unto the fulfilling of the prophecies. And behold, they shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the everlasting God; and his word shall hiss forth from generation to generation.
29 And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true.
30 And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.
31 And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled (Moroni 10:28-31).
In his final testimony, Moroni reflects, “I declare these things unto the fulfilling of the prophecies.” The verbs in that sentence are all in present tense. It does not say that the prophecies will be fulfilled, but that his declaration is the fulfilling of them.
To understand that requires a definition of “prophecy.” We usually think of it as a prediction about the future, and sometimes it is, but not always.
Prophets speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, and their words are “prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10, Alma 6:8) Their prophecy is their testimony of the Savior and of his gospel, whether it is in the context of the past, the present, or the future. Now, if one removes from Moroni’s use of the word the idea of a projection into the future, then Moroni’s “prophecies” takes on quite a different meaning. He writes “these things unto the fulfilling of the prophecies,” meaning that the prophecy is fulfilled as he writes it. It is also fulfilled as we read it. We will discover that it is a testimony of the Savior and his relationship with the ancient Nephites as was taught to them through their temple drama.
It is very obvious that Moroni had no intention of describing the Nephite drama to inappropriate readers, but it is equally apparent that his intention was to demonstrate to his “beloved brethren” that he knew the ancient drama and that his knowing it gave priesthood legitimacy to what he and his father had written. He presents it in a sequence that is different from that shown elsewhere, but that is part of the encoding. The elements are there. Squaring these elements of the Nephite drama with the correct sequence is the reader’s responsibility.
28 I declare these things unto the fulfilling of the prophecies. And behold, they shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the everlasting God; [God is speaking, so we are listening.] and his word shall hiss forth [“Whisper” is my old dictionary’s synonym for “hiss.” The connotation is that God speaks in a whisper, as a secret or a mystery.] from generation to generation. [God is unchanging so the message will always be unchanging from generation to generation.]
29 And God shall show unto you [Now God is showing, so we are watching.], that that which I have written is true.
30 And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ [In the Feast of Tabernacles temple drama, that happened after the coronation ceremony when the king approached the great veil of Solomon’s temple. His standing before the veil is described in Psalm 21.], and lay hold upon every good gift [One lays hold of something with one’s hand.], and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing. [Moroni saw his whole world destroyed by secret combinations. He knows that there will always be such counterfeit oaths and signs, and warns that we must not participate in them.]
31 And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem;
This is a paraphrases of Isaiah, who wrote,
19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead (Isaiah 26:19).
In that passage “awake” means to become mentally alert and alive, and “rise” means to become physically alive. Paul understood the phrase the same way.
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light (Ephesians 5:14).
When Lehi used the phrase “awake and arise,” he, like Paul, was making it a command. This he addressed to his sons:
13 O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.
14 Awake! and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return; a few more days and I go the way of all the earth (2 Nephi 1:13-14).
The last part of verse 31 refers to a marriage that remains “forever,” and is the ultimate fulfillment of “covenants of the Eternal Father.”
31 … yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled (Moroni 10:28-31).
The marriage ceremony Moroni alludes to here is also a paraphrase of Isaiah, so its imagery comes from his culture rather than from Moroni’s. In the Near Eastern desert, when a man married he gave his wife a tent, just large enough for the two of them. It was then hers, and she was responsible for it. As the children came, she, with the help of the other women, took camel’s hair and beat it into a heavy felt. With this, she made another flap for the tent. As the family grew the tent grew also, so the tent was always large enough for the family. She also added more stakes and rope to secure it so the wind would not blow it away. Isaiah wrote,
1 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.
2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.
3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited (Isaiah 54:1-3).
Like Isaiah, Moroni was talking about more than just a single family unit. He wrote,
31 … strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled.
“Confounded” is chaos. It is the jigsaw puzzle in a box with no parts connected. “Cosmos” is order where everything is properly connected. Moroni’s promise is that all families will be connected “forever,” “that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled.”
If, as I have suggested, Moroni’s words are about the ancient Nephite temple experience, then the next verses are about what one must do after one left the ancient temple. I will examine those next week.