Mormon’s map (Alma 22) is sacred not secular history; it has a divine mission for our time in the process of fulfillment that needs to be accelerated. 2 Nephi 3:12 “Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write [The Book of Mormon]; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write [Bible]; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.”
The purpose of Mormon’s map insert in Alma 22 comes into focus when we understand its placement in Alma’s Lamanite mission history text for its geographic location. Clearly, Mormon at the start (vs. 27) describes in great detail a major geographic landmark, a straight east-west mountain range boundary line between the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla, intended to lead latter-day missionaries back to the land of Mormon’s people to return his record that will restore them to the knowledge of their fathers and to the knowledge of Jesus Christ which they had (2 Nephi 30:5). The Lamanite mission context Mormon chose to insert his map has profound meaning for this restoration mission.
Following his miraculous conversion, the king over all the Lamanites sends a proclamation throughout all the land to secure the safe travels of the missionaries to all Lamanites throughout the land of Nephi, and in the land of Zarahemla, covering the entire world of the Book of Mormon of that day in the first century BC. By putting the map composed in the fourth century AD in this context with the king’s proclamation, Mormon is sending his record in the latter days back to his homeland, and by inference to the entire world of the Lamanites in the latter days dispersed throughout the Americas.
The Lamanite conversion context sends another important message: how the latter-day conversion to Jesus Christ by the same miraculous transformation changes hearts to never fall away and remain true and faithful to the end of life. This profound message was highlighted by the Savior speaking out of darkness from heaven after his crucifixion, inviting and pleading with those who had survived the catastrophic destructions to repent and return to him so that he could heal them: “And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” [did not comprehend the miraculous cleansing change of heart to discern and forsake all evil] (3 Nephi 9:20). This is likewise Christ’s invitation to all peoples today that comes through a witness of the truth of the Book of Mormon by the Holy Ghost (Moroni 10:4-5).
It is the first duty of a missionary to gain that personal spiritual transformation witness by the Holy Ghost from the Book of Mormon in order to lead others to this miracle, so they will remain faithful to the end.
Another benefit from obtaining this historic geographic witness of Mormon’s map is confirmation of a literal historic companion record to the Bible, proving that Jesus Christ is the living Creator God of this world. The power of this knowledge to help establish the kingdom of God on the earth, and transform the world reeling in sin has hardly been tapped. This is the purpose of Mormon’s map in Alma 22 revealed here.
In January 2013 I was persuaded the time had come to bring Mormon’s map forward out of obscurity, to resolve the map making confusion spread across the Americas that had tended to discredit Joseph Smith as a prophet and the Book of Mormon´s historic authenticity. After exhaustive study of all details in Mormon’s map (Alma 22: 27-34), I was impressed to reconstruct his map in historic context in a single page insert in Alma 22 to make it widely accessible as a witness and study aid.
The location of Mormon’s map in Alma 22 was first disclosed by Joseph Smith in Central America in a Times and Seasons editorial (1 Oct 1842) titled “Zarahemla” in which he located the Nephite capital somewhere among ancient Maya ruins in Central America as the land southward with reference to Alma 22:32 describing the land southward nearly surrounded by water due to a narrow neck of land on the north connecting the land northward. Joseph challenged the Saints then to search antiquities that sustain Book of Mormon history to prove his prophetic mission to translate the gold plates revealed by angel Moroni.
Mormon’s map that locates the lands of his record has an extremely important restoration mission for our time. The Book of Mormon by divine design came forth in the 1820’s before there was any developed knowledge of American archaeology and geography that could relate to it, making it a faith history, and a perfect set up for future archaeological discoveries to prove it, now multiplying at an accelerated pace. The supreme tangible evidence was and will remain the gold plates, seen and handled by eye witnesses including scribes who assisted Joseph in the translation, and who were shown the plates by an angel.
No amount of archaeological evidence can ever compare to these eye witnesses of the divinely revealed gold plates history, designed to prove the living creator God of the world in the heavens who is the resurrected Jesus Christ, who broke the bands of death in his resurrection as witnessed in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon for all mankind.
The Lord’s admonition to Joseph Smith and Latter Day Saints is “to obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man” (D&C 93:53) in order to learn from Book of Mormon lands and history–to corroborate life beyond death in the heavens with other world religions, and share the message of the Messiah with the peoples of those lands.
-V. Garth Norman, 2013