1 Nephi 15: Nephi and the Tree of Life
After having seen these visions, Nephi returns to the tent of his father Lehi, where he finds his brothers arguing over what their father had seen in his visions. Nephi explains that Lehi had seen visions that “…were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord…” (1 Nephi 15:4) Essentially Nephi is saying that those things Lehi spoke of were not easily understood without the inquiring of the Lord to have a deeper understanding. In other words, in order to understand the words of Lehi one must have the Spirit of the Lord.
Nephi was saddened because of the destruction he saw in his visions, nevertheless he desired to know why his own brothers were fighting against their father. They explain to Nephi; “…Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the natural branches of the olive tree, and also concerning the Gentiles.” (1 Nephi 15:7) Nephi asks them if they had inquired of the Lord to know of its meanings, and they explained that they had NOT inquired of the Lord. Nephi asks his brothers; “Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (1 Nephi 15:11) Nephi knew that if you asked the Lord in FAITH, He would answer your prayers.
Regardless of the hardness of their hearts, Nephi explains the meaning behind the branches of the Olive Tree; “…now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed— And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.” (1 Nephi 12-14) In other words, the seed of Nephi and his brothers will become the Gentiles in the Americas who will eventually come to the knowledge of their divine inheritance, that they shall be grafted into the Olive Tree in Israel. They will become the covenant people of the Lord!
Nephi explains to his brothers that the Jews will also be restored and shall no more be confounded or scattered among the land. Nephi’s brothers then ask for a meaning of the Tree of Life, which Lehi and now Nephi had seen.
The Tree of Life
“And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree? And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.” (1 Nephi 15:24) Nephi urges them to give heed unto the words of the Lord that they might keep His commandments and shall overcome the adversary.
25 Wherefore, I, Nephi, did exhort them to give heed unto the word of the Lord; yea, I did exhort them with all the energies of my soul, and with all the faculty which I possessed, that they would give heed to the word of God and remember to keep his commandments always in all things.
“And they said unto me: What meaneth the river of water which our father saw? And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water.” (1 Nephi 15:27) Nephi explains that this river of water was an awful gulf, that separated the wicked from the tree of life… it was a representation of Hell.
Nephi explains to his brothers that this vision is meant to be both temporal and spiritual, for if someone were to die in their wickedness they would be judged of their works. No unclean thing can enter into the presence of the Lord. Therefore, those who die in filthiness will remain in filthiness and shall be given their just reward.