The Book of Mormon is a sacred book of scripture for many people throughout the world. Its incredible message has brought many people unto Christ and has helped so many find truth in this confusing world full of opinion and opposing views.
I've read the Book of Mormon many times but each time I find new insight to the gospel of Jesus Christ though the struggles and successes of this ancient civilization.
Usually when I read, I try to immediately apply every story to my current life or today's society in general. After all, the Book of Mormon was written for our day, was it not? But recently, I've tried to make my study of the Book of Mormon a little different by first putting things into the context of their situation, the original intents of the author. This book was written for us, but was also written for the people living at the time it was written.
For example, Lamen and Lemuel often get a really bad rap from modern readers. We see them through the eyes of Nephi many years after they grew up together, after they had separated from each other. But think about what they were being asked to do. They were asked to leave their comfortable home and embark on a journey through the wilderness. In this time period, wilderness basically equated death. There would be little opportunity to find food and water, shelter would consist of a tent, and robbers were in plenty. They also didn't exactly know where they were going or how long it would take to get there. Honestly, they had a lot to complain about. While that doesn't make complaining right, it does help deepen my understanding of why Lehi said he was "exceeding glad" to hear Nephi accept this situation (1 Nephi 3:8). Lehi would have been so relieved to hear that at least someone was going to support him in this trial because this would have been a major trial for Lehi too!
Placing the family of Lehi in their proper context has helped me to recognize the characters of the Book of Mormon as so much more than an ancient people. They become real to me as I remember that even though they were prophets and did incredible things throughout their lives, they were just people too. People with weaknesses and short-comings that they had to overcome. And I applaud them that much more for what they did to draw closer to God.