From these statements by the Lord, we understand better the importance and power of the Book of Mormon. Through the Book of Mormon we learn how to build a closer relationship with our Father in Heaven. The Prophet Joseph said, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (HC 4:461).
Nephi knows through prophetic insight that the record he is initiating will be brought forth in the fulness of times as a light shining out of the darkness, illuminating the pathway for mankind. He also knows that the record will be received with disbelief because of the sectarian philosophy that the canon of scripture is closed. It must thrill Nephi to engrave upon his plates the Lord’s own response to such narrow-mindedness: “Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?” (2 Nephi 29:7).
Ezra Taft Benson points out the key place this new scripture occupies in the process of the Restoration:
A powerful testimony to the importance of the Book of Mormon is to note where the Lord placed its coming forth in the timetable of the unfolding Restoration. The only thing that preceded it was the First Vision. In that marvelous manifestation, the Prophet Joseph Smith learned the true nature of God and that God had a work for him to do. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon was the next thing to follow.
Think of that in terms of what it implies. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon preceded the restoration of the priesthood. It was published just a few days before the Church was organized. The Saints were given the Book of Mormon to read before they were given the revelations outlining such great doctrines as the three degrees of glory, celestial marriage, or work for the dead. It came before priesthood quorums and Church organization. Doesn’t this tell us something about how the Lord views this sacred work? (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 49)