Among other things, back to school unfortunately means loading all forty-two pounds of textbooks into your backpack, lugging it around from the time you leave your bedroom in the morning until you return home after school. Whoever invented these backpacks anyway? Better yet, whoever decided that you need textbooks for school?
Think for a moment, if you will…What would happen to your education if there weren’t any textbooks? Your instructors would have to have learned their craft by simply listening to their instructors, in the hopes of remembering everything in order to educate you well enough to benefit from your studies. How would your English teacher remember everything to teach you about nouns, verbs and dangling participles? Would the Pythagorean Theorem retain its integrity from generation to generation? How would the brainwork of Newton or Einstein be passed down to you? What about the wonderful Greek philosophies from Socrates or Plato? What if you couldn’t turn the pages of the great novels of Steinbeck or Twain? What would your education be, if you didn’t have these textbooks that have kept the record straight for so many generations?
The written word preserved so well in your textbooks is similar to the written word that was so important to Lehi and his family. They were already many days into their journey to a new land of promise, when he asked his four boys to return to Jerusalem and bring back the brass plates that had been used to keep the records of the Jews, from the creation on down to their present day. Without these records, Lehi’s descendants would not be able to hang on to the teachings of God; the traditions and lessons learned of their ancestors would all be for naught; their genealogical records would only be left to memory. Just as your education would suffer greatly without textbooks, God’s law and remembrance would have suffered dramatically if Nephi and his brothers did not return for those valuable plates of brass.
As you study about the issues surrounding the possession of the brass plates, you should contemplate the importance of their written word when you try to imagine pursuing your education without textbooks. The absence of the written word certainly contributes to the ignorance of mankind – then and now. The Lamanites dwindled in unbelief because they did not have the records of their ancestors. However, the Nephites kept, recorded and remembered the words of their ancestors, and prospered because of it. Just how important were those brass plates to Lehi and his family – both immediate and for generations to come? It becomes clear that they were so important that it became necessary to go outside of their comfort zone in order to obtain them. It’s hard to justify some things that happened in obtaining the plates; but it would have been much more difficult to condone ignorance and unbelief. The written word provides you with valuable teachings, history, mistakes to avoid, and ideals to pursue. The brass plates held these same values to Lehi’s family – and ultimately all the way down to you in your day, as you study their written word, as it is recorded in the Book of Mormon.
When you read and ponder about the story of the brass plates, just think of them as being similar to your textbooks. How important are they to you? To your children? To generations to come? Then, convert that sense of importance into a desire to learn more about what is recorded on them. They certainly are available for your benefit, you just need to open the book and read them!