Approximately A.D. 310-385.
Mormon was a prophet and general for the Nephite people at the close of their civilization. More important for people today, however, may be the fact that he was also a record keeper and a major editor of the record known today as the Book of Mormon.
Preparation and Calling
Mormon was prepared as a youth for his calling as an eventual prophet-leader. He was a quick learner and of a sober disposition who was “visited of the Lord” in his fifteenth year. At age 16 he became the general of all Nephite armies, which, though a secular position, required all the inspiration of a prophet to lead and protect his people for many years. Though he also held this military position, he held firm that his primary responsibility was as prophet.
Interaction with God
Mormon was a man of unusual spiritual prowess, having been “visited of the Lord” when but in his fifteenth year. This closeness with his Father in Heaven served him well as he taught his people of the mercy and love of Jesus Christ. He understood the heavenly culture and sought to bring his people to it, but in the end they chose to place their faith in their own swords instead of the Lord. This led to their destruction, and Mormon finished his life in hiding, editing the sacred records with which he had been entrusted and preparing them for a young man named Joseph Smith to translate 14 and a half centuries later.
The Nephites were on their last leg. The Lamanites sought their total destruction. The Nephites themselves tended to trust themselves rather than God. Mormon was in the unique and challenging position of leading a declining people both spiritually and militarily, a feat that he accomplished with surprising success for over half a century.
Nephi was privileged not only with spiritual insights but also all the learning of a significant culture. As record keeper, he had access to hundreds of years of recorded history—both secular and spiritual. This combination of insight and information provided him with a perspective enjoyed by only a few in the history of the world. It is no small moment then to read his messages, which tend to be clear and simple. He taught of the need for repentance, baptism, and discipleship to Jesus Christ. He witnessed to the combined power of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and he taught of the necessity of both in blessing the children of Israel in both the New and Old Worlds. Finally, his son Moroni preserved his father’s writings on the need for charity and the wrongness of infant baptism, which implied a total misunderstanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Living with the Prophet
Mormon was unflinching in his courage to do the Lord’s will, willing to be tutored by Him in every instance. He took the Lord at His word. As we are called to use our talents to do the seemingly impossible, when we feel overpowered and outnumbered, can we recall Mormon’s mindset that the Lord can be relied on to accomplish His purposes.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 1, s.v. “Mormon.”
Book of Mormon, Reader’s Edition, ed. Grant Hardy.
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