The Book of Mormon: A Typological View
The Book of Mormon constitutes the most relevant book that currently exists for understanding the world we live in, and the events that are to come. It is the most correct of any book on earth and has been given to us as a sacred gift from God, providing for us a clear view of the latter days. According to Mormon, the book was written “by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation,” indicating that it is indeed a book of prophecy, not merely an interesting historical record. (Book of Mormon Title Page)
The types of prophecy found in this sacred book of scripture can be divided into two categories: direct prophecy and types and shadows. In direct prophecy the message is not implied, it is spoken very straightforwardly in bold terms. (Eg. Christ in 3 Nephi 20-21) Types and shadows are different in that they are essentially coded into a story. (Eg. Jacob 2-3) It is a way for the Lord to hide His prophets’ foretelling of events from those who don’t have eyes to see and ears to hear. Each are relevant and we need to use both to get the whole picture of the end-time.
The types and shadows are rich with implied meaning and application for us in our day. This is where the Book of Mormon authors employ the classic Hebrew manner of prophesying, perhaps put best by Jesus in His description of the words of Isaiah, “all things that he spake have been and shall be.” (3 Nephi 23:1-3; c.f. 2 Nephi 25:21) Having been shown our day in vision, Mormon and Moroni included specific stories that typify, or foreshadow, what will occur in our time. (Mormon 8:35) In other words, they inserted the stories in their abridgment they knew would repeat themselves, thereby predicting the end from the beginning just like Isaiah. (Isaiah 46:10) This is why we consistently see statements like this throughout Mormon’s record: “and I cannot write the hundredth part of the things of my people.” (Words of Mormon 1:5)
Effective interpretation of these types and shadows requires us to liken the characters in the story to us, regardless of how unpleasant they may be. In conjunction to this, we must also take into consideration the circumstances and events connected with various figures in the Book of Mormon. The knowledge of these can provide us with a prism through which we can view the circumstances and events of our own day to enhance discernment. It is vital that we constantly remind ourselves as we read, that if the stories didn’t typify what would actually happen, they couldn’t have been included in the record. Therefore, we must consider ourselves—the covenant people of the Lord in the latter days—as if we are the Nephites and Jaredites in the stories.
It is vital that as we study The Book of Mormon, and all Hebrew scripture, we maintain a willingness to apply the good types and shadows to ourselves, as well as the bad. This mindset proffers additional, more revealing puzzle pieces to the end-time scenario, ensuring that we obtain a clear view of what will take place. The tendency to only apply the good news keeps us and our understanding figuratively locked in a box, and it leads to the continued embracement of false precepts of men. As we analyze the Book of Mormon, we must strive to honestly accept and recognize the negative with humility rather than unrighteous judgment and condemnation of others. Avraham Gileadi wrote:
“We cannot ignore certain types, even though they might be painful to us. We then would not learn our lesson but would exemplify the folly of man that they teach. Seeing these parallels surely must not cause us to point the finger at others. Rather, it should help us take the attitude, ‘let him who is without sin cast the first stone (John 8:7). More than that, aberrations existing within a people’s leadership, whether political or religious, tend to be symptomatic of the general condition: our leadership reflects what we ourselves are, both at our best and at our worst.” (The Last Days: Types and Shadows from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, p.49-50)
What good are the Book of Mormon authors’ continual appeals for repentance if we constantly think the invitations apply to someone else? It is about time that we as a people, individually and collectively, accepted Mormon’s challenge to take a good hard look at ourselves in the mirror. I have included a small sample below to help you to get a feel for identifying and applying the types and shadows in the Book of Mormon.
An Example of Major Typological Events in the Book of Mormon
The covenant people of God, especially the men, become immoral and break the hearts of their spouses and children. (Jacob 2)
People of God become rote in their religious observance, and puffed up in pride because of their so-called elect status as God’s chosen people, to the point of disgusting and laughable idolatry. (Alma 31)
Through murder, deception, and conspiracy, secret combinations rise among the people and gain power over them by obtaining the sole management of the government. This takes place in a manner that is largely unknown and unrecognized by the majority of people. They influence the elections and change the civic laws of the people to protect themselves and support wickedness and depravity. (Helaman 1-2, 6-7, 3 Nephi 6)
Wicked political leaders use the media, lies, and false flag methodology to incite the people to invade/go to war with foreign nations when it is in no way warranted. (Alma 48)
A servant of the Lord is sent to testify against the political and religious leaders who have colluded together in wickedness to maintain power over the people and live off their labors. The religious priests insist the servant should be killed for exposing their machinations and deceptions against the people. The political authority in power authorizes the priests to take the servant away and put him to death. One priest listens to the servant of God and flees, taking a following with him. (Mosiah 11, 17-18)
Conspirators plot to overthrow the freedom of the people and establish a king in the covenant land of America. (Alma 51; 3 Nephi 6)
– The high priests over God’s covenant people secretly enter into a Satanic pact with the judges and lawyers of the land to destroy the freedom of the people. (3 Nephi 6)
God sends independently called prophets/holy men to testify against the apostate covenant people and their high priests. (3 Nephi 6)
Because of commerce and economic prosperity, people of God become proud, forget Him, and recede into apostasy, bringing bondage and suffering upon themselves. (The books of Alma, Helaman, 3 Nephi)
Covenant people of God reject the law of consecration and having all things in common among them because of pride, riches, and the fine things of the world. These same people profess to know Christ yet deny the more parts of his gospel. They administer the priesthood and ordinances of God to those whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness. (4 Nephi 1)
A patriarch, seer, and king intercedes as proxy for his sons who then go out and minister to a generally wicked nation of people, converting and preserving thousands. Because of the patriarch/king’s righteousness and intercession, the sons are not permitted by the Lord to taste of death when normally they would have. (Mosiah 28, book of Alma)
A man who was once classed among the vilest of sinners rises to become the greatest prophet/missionary in the history of the Nephites, receives the holy order of the priesthood, and is eventually translated. (Alma)
Righteous disciples receiving the gift of translation and rising into glorified beings who perform marvelous works of wonder and cannot be killed. (3 Nephites)
An exodus that involves leaving comfort, wealth, and normal society to live in the wilderness in order to avoid destruction. This while the life of the father/patriarch is being sought because of his mission given to him by the Lord. (1 Nephi 1-2)
A righteous man leads a group of faithful people as their proxy and intercessor into the wilderness and promised land. He sees and converses with the Lord, and is shown a vision of all things. (Ether 1-3)