9 How is it that ye have not hearkened unto the word of the Lord?
10 How is it that ye have forgotten that ye have seen an angel of the Lord?
11 Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten what great things the Lord hath done for us, in delivering us out of the hands of Laban, and also that we should obtain the record?
12 Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.
It is striking that Laman and Lemuel have seen an angel, but yet are so quick to forget the things the angel taught. It is also striking that they are so quick to forget their deliverance from Laban.
Then again, I’ve seen many people who have had incredibly powerful conversion experiences only to fall away in time. Merely feeling the spirit of having a spiritual encounter just isn’t enough.
Forgotten is in some ways an apt description and in other ways lacking. I don’t think we ever truly forget about our experiences. Instead, we come to rationalize them away. Laman and Lemuel must have come to see deliverance from Laban as pure luck, or even as a sign of their brother’s craftiness and wickedness. They must have seen the angel as a sleight of hand or a delusion of the mind.
Laman and Lemuel are so frustrating to read about because they come so close at times to doing the right thing, and yet fall just barely short. They aren’t inherently wicked. They go to get the plates, they follow their father, etc. And yet they are not converted through their experiences and so the moments when they do right are temporary diversions rather than transformative moments.