Principle: Only with authority from God can gifts be given and be used
We can see in Mosiah 8:5-6 that even Ammon a man of God could not use the instrument given of God to translate the record that King Limhi desired him to translate. We read; "And it came to pass that he caused that the plates which contained the record of his people from the time that they left the land of Zarahemla, should be brought before Ammon, that he might read them.
Now, as soon as Ammon had read the record, the king inquired of him to know if he could interpret languages, and Ammon told him that he could not."
However, as we continue to read we see that Ammon did know of a person who could use the instrument, or had the gift given of God that could receive revelation; or was a seer. We read;
"Now Ammon said unto him: I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer."
King Mosiah was the person whom had the instrument and gift from God being spoken of by Ammon that would help translate the records that King Limhi's people had found; and that King Mosiah possessed two stones; or the Urim and Thummim; according to President Joseph Fielding Smith in his overview of interpreters. ( BOM Student Manual Religion 121-122 )
We can also see in the Old Testament that those in authority had a Urim and Thummim as we read in Exodus 28:30 ; "And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the Lord: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually."
From the Jerusalem Talmud ( A record recorded by Jewish Priests ) we learn that High Priests could use the Urim and Thummim to ask questions that would benefit all people, or questions pertaining to expansion of Jerusalem or building new temples. ( Yoma 41 b )
In my research about the history of the Urim and Thummim I found a very interesting piece of information as recorded again in the Talmud.
It states that the Urim and Thummim was suspected to have been lost before or around the time that Jerusalem was taken captive by the Babylonians. ( Tamid 65 b ; Jerusalem Talmud )
As well this theory of the Urim and Thummim no longer being used by this people is apparent as we read about individuals seeking to determine if they were descended from the Priesthood; but were required to wait for a Priest with the Urim and Thummim who could find out, as we read in the book of Ezra 2:62- 63;
"These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.
And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim."
As well in an overlapping account in Nehemiah 7:65; it reports this same problem of not having a Urim and Thummim and Priest to provide revelation. Thus supporting this theory as well that the Urim and Thummim was no longer available. ( Jewish Encyclopedia )
One reason why God could no longer permit such a tool as the Urim and Thummim to be provided amongst the people anymore could be due to the era of the Maccabees- A group of individuals responsible for leading the Jewish rebel army; whose object was to reassert Jewish religion by forcing conversion.
And, Lastly all of these things can help remind us of how merciful that Our Father In Heaven is as he called Lehi and his family out of Jerusalem; and as well The Brother of Jared ( Ether 3:21 ), in order that these records could be kept and sealed up; and once again interpreted by the Urim and Thummim; and by one whom has the authority; and was prophesied to bring the fullness of the gospel back to the earth; even as Joseph Smith used this same process with the Urim and Thummim.
Joseph Smith History 1:42
"Again, he told me, that when I got those plates of which he had spoken—for the time that they should be obtained was not yet fulfilled—I should not show them to any person; neither the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim; only to those to whom I should be commanded to show them; if I did I should be destroyed. While he was conversing with me about the plates, the vision was opened to my mind that I could see the place where the plates were deposited, and that so clearly and distinctly that I knew the place again when I visited it."
What beautiful examples that we have in the Old Testament, The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants about the means by which revelation can be provided to those with authority. As well, although I do not have the literal stones and breastplate that these scriptures explain; I am reminded of my temple garments and covenants; which do provide me my own compass or direction to know truth or as it says in the Jewish Encyclopedia;
"In consequence, Urim and Thummim has traditionally been translated as lights and perfections (by Theodotion, for example), or, by taking the phrase allegorically, as meaning revelation and truth, or doctrine and truth"
The temple and the covenants that I make there do provide me light and perfection; just as the Urim and Thummim can do....
I am so thankful for my opportunity to have the truth and light that I am blessed with in His gospel.