So apparently Oliver can't let go of his desire to translate because God has to give another revelation on the subject. This one is a less subtle, less confusing smackdown.
Expediency's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Translate
It starts out gently, informing Oliver that it's "not expedient" for him to translate now, but that there will be "other records" that he can translate later.
This seems like God is lying. I say that because God is omniscient—even in the unusual Mormon tradition—and because God is a long-term planner, so it's not like he's making things up as he goes. So why would he give Oliver Cowdery hope of translating future scriptures when he knows damn well it's never gonna happen? That seems intentionally misleading and kind of cruel, like he's just stringing the poor guy along.
Cowdery doesn't translate shit. He leaves the church. Even if he hadn't left the church, what would he have translated? The Book of Abraham, which Joseph Smith started working on years before Cowdery's excommunication? So much for that prophetic promise.
Reproving Betimes with Sharpness
Next, continuing in his cruelty, God starts explaining to poor Oliver that his inability to translate is all his own fault. Verse 5 vaguely chastens him because he "did not continue as [he] commenced," a reprimand that nobody today really seems sure of the impetus for. And, even worse, in verse 7, it's revealed that Oliver assumed the power to translate would be given to him merely by asking God for it. "Behold, ye have not understood," God informs him.
Wait...how many times so far in the D&C has God said, "ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you"? God is basically a stereotypical sitcom wife punishing her clueless partner for paying attention to the words she said instead of paying attention to what she really meant.
But it's better to understand late than never, right? So God explains the part that he hasn't previously stated but that Oliver was supposed to have known (verses 8-9):
But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.
Oh, that's handy to know now, after I've been rebuked for not knowing it.
But it's interesting to me that the "stupor of thought," which is referenced now and then in the church, has some detail to it that's either deemphasized or isn't commonly discussed. My understanding was that the stupor of thought meant that you'd feel uncomfortable and confused if your request was wrong—as opposed to warm and confident if it was right. But the scriptures say that you'll actually forget what you were asking about if you were asking "amiss." You'll actually forget.
I guess this means the fact that I remember praying so hard about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon indicates that it's true. If I had been asking amiss, I'd have forgotten all about it, therefore the Book of Mormon is true and my butt will be in a pew on Sunday.
When has an apostle ever talked about this method of making choices? Not sure if you should take that job and move your family across the country? Pray about it with your spouse—if neither of you remembers what you were praying about once you stand up, then you'll know not to put your house on the market! Ingenious!
You Can't Always Get What You Want
God twists the knife a little bit (verse 10):
Now, if you had known this you could have translated; nevertheless, it is not expedient that you should translate now.
What a jerk. If you had known this thing I didn't tell you and kind of implied something dissimilar to, you could have translated. But since you didn't know the thing I didn't tell you and kind of implied something dissimilar to, you're out of luck. Window of opportunity closed.
And then God leaves one final bruise on Oliver's ego before saying some nicer stuff at the end of the section (verse 11):
Behold, it was expedient when you commenced; but you feared, and the time is past, and it is not expedient now;Again, this is basically gloating about how Oliver missed out on an opportunity to do something he really wanted to be able to do. Also, it's his fault because he was scared. I actually feel bad for Oliver Cowdery because of the way God keeps dicking him around.