1 Nephi 18

1 Nephi 18: Crossing the Sea to the Promised Land

                Nephi and his family continue the construction of the ship, a ship that was not built; “…after the manner of men…” (1 Nephi 18:2) Nephi finishes the ship and sees that it; “…was good, and that the workmanship, thereof was exceedingly fine…” (1 Nephi 18:4) After Nephi’s brothers saw the craftsmanship of the ship, they did humble themselves before the Lord.

Nephi explains that while in the wilderness (before building the ship), Lehi [Nephi’s Father] had two sons ‘Jacob’ and ‘Joseph’. Nephi and his entire family loaded up the ship with all their provisions and went forth across the ocean as the wind blew. After traveling the sea for the space of many days, Laman and Lemuel and their families began to dance and sing with “…much rudeness…” (1 Nephi 18:9) In other words, they were rioting and rebelling. Nephi was filled with fear that the Lord would be angry with them, and for this purpose they might be swallowed up in the sea. Nephi began to speak with his brothers, to try and persuade them to repent of their actions; this of course only angered his rebel brothers.

liahonlp.nfo o 131b Nephi-ship

“…it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me [Nephi]  and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness;  …it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass [The Liahona], which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work.” (1 Nephi 18:11-12) Because of the wickedness of Laman and Lemuel, they did not know which direction to travel and their arose a great storm and tempest that caused the ship to be pushed back for three days, and on the fourth day the storm worsened.

“…after we had been driven back upon the waters for the space of four days, my brethren began to see that the judgments of God were upon them, and that they must perish save that they should repent of their iniquities; wherefore, they came unto me, and loosed the bands which were upon my wrists, and behold they had swollen exceedingly; and also mine ankles were much swollen, and great was the soreness thereof. Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.” (1 Nephi 18:15-16) Even though Nephi was miserable, broken down physically and mentally… he praised the Lord!

Laman and Lemuel had caused the entire family to be stricken with great affliction, but even with this, they would only soften their hearts if they knew they would be on the brink of destruction. The Lord knows each and every one of us, and He knows that sometimes we need horrible things to happen to us in order for us to wake up and hear his crying voice. Laman and Lemuel both had to be brought right up to the point of destruction in order to realize the power of God and repent of their actions.

Laman and Lemuel loose the bands of Nephi, and Nephi did take the compass; “…and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm….it came to pass that I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land.” (1 Nephi 18:22) The Lord wants us to be obedient and sometimes He has to use extreme measures in order for us to hear His voice and follow His command.

“…it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land… and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.” (1 Nephi 18:24) Because they hearkened unto the voice of the Lord they were delivered and did arrive in the Promised Land as the Lord had promised.  In the Land of Promise they did find; “…beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper.” (1 Nephi 18:25)

1 Nephi 17

1 Nephi 17: Building the Ship

                Nephi explains that they traveled through the wilderness, eastward and did come across many afflictions and even childbirths along the way. Regardless of their afflictions, the blessings of the Lord were also great; “…we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.” (1 Nephi 17:2) Nephi explains that even though their journeys were tough, the commandments of the Lord must be fulfilled and in doing so, God; “…doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them…” (1 Nephi 17:3) Their entire journey took 8 years, before they came to the land, which they called ‘Bountiful’ because of bountiful honey and fruit. After being in this land for only a few days the Lord came to Nephi and commanded him that he should go up into the nearby mountains.

Once upon the mountain the Lord commanded Nephi to build a ship to carry them to the ‘Promised Land’; “…it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters.” (1 Nephi 17:8) The Lord advised Nephi that He would help him find and build the instruments he needed to construct this ship. Nephi made many tools from molten rock and when he began to build the ship, his brothers again murmured; “…saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters. And thus my brethren did complain against me, and were desirous that they might not labor, for they did not believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord.” (1 Nephi 17: 17-18)

Nephi’s brothers continued this until Nephi reminded them of how the Jews were led into bondage and how the Lord, with Moses led them out of bondage. Nephi explains that the Lord does many wonderful things for the righteous and destroys the wicked. Nephi speaks to his brothers;  “…the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it. And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked. And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes.” (1 Nephi 17:36-38)

By recounting history, Nephi hoped that his brothers would understand that Nephi, like others throughout history were being led by God and doing so to lead the righteous away from the evil-doers. Nephi explains that they too could understand and feel the Lord, but “…ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words…” (1 Nephi 17:45) The Lord often times will try to communicate to us through the Holy Ghost, but like Laman and Lemuel many are past feeling the spirit and therefore lose the ability to feel the Spirit of God. Nephi was confused as to why his brothers were so lost and confused, he explained; “Behold, my soul is rent with anguish because of you, and my heart is pained; I fear lest ye shall be cast off forever. Behold, I amfull of the Spirit of God, insomuch that my frame has no strength.” (1 Nephi 17:47)

Because of his words, Laman and Lemuel desired to kill Nephi. However, they were shaken by the Lord and prevented from laying their hands on Nephi. They then repented and told Nephi that they knew he had the power of the Lord.

1 Nephi 16

1 Nephi 16: The Liahona

                After Nephi had finished speaking to his brothers, then began to murmur and say that Nephi spoke ‘hard’ things to them. Nephi responds by saying; “…the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.” (1 Nephi 16:2) Nephi told them that if they followed the commandments of the Lord, they would not say that Nephi was asking ‘hard’ things of them. Nephi urges them to follow the commandments of the Lord!

FribergLiahona

                Nephi, and his brethren take the daughters of Ishmael to wife, and Lehi (the father of Nephi) receives commandment to depart in the morning on his journey. Upon waking up in the morning; “…to his great astonishment he (Lehi) beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness.” (1 Nephi 16:10) This device, called the Liahona, would guide Lehi and his family through the wilderness. They traveled for the space of 4 days, with their provisions; “…we did take our bows and our arrows, and go forth into the wilderness to slay food for our families; and after we had slain food for our families we did return again to our families in the wilderness, to the place of Shazer. And we did go forth again in the wilderness, following the same direction, keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which were in the borders near the Red Sea.” (1 Nephi 16:15)

During their journey in the wilderness, Nephi went to hunt with Laman and Lemuel, however; “…as I, Nephi, went forth to slay food, behold, I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel; and after I did break my bow, behold, my brethren were angry with me because of the loss of my bow, for we did obtain no food.” (1 Nephi 16:18) Laman and Lemuel began to murmur for the want of food, and began to complain against the Lord for guiding them into the wilderness without food. Nephi, be un-deterred, made; “… out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?” (1 Nephi 16:23) Nephi knew that if he did his part, the Lord will help with the parts he couldn’t do. Instead of complaining Nephi made a makeshift bow out of wood and then relied on his faith in God to help him obtain meat through hunting.

Lehi consulted the Liahona and Nephi; “…beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them.” (1 Nephi 16:28) Nephi and his family did travel for the space of many more days before he climbed to the top of a great mountain to slay wild beasts and obtain meat for his family. Ishmael died in the wilderness, during their journey; “…and was buried in the place which was called Nahom.” (1 Nephi 16:34) Because of the loss of their father, the daughters of Ishmael began to murmur against God and against Lehi, saying; “…Our father is dead; yea, and we have wandered much in the wilderness, and we have suffered much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue; and after all these sufferings we must perish in the wilderness with hunger.” (1 Nephi 16:35)

Because of this, Laman and Lemuel began to stir up the hearts of the family against Lehi and Nephi, claiming that Nephi desired to be a king and ruler over them. However, the voice of the Lord chastened them and they did repent.

 

1 Nephi 15

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.

1 Nephi 14:

1 Nephi 14: Two Churches – The Church of God and the Church of the Devil

“….if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power… unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks—…they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.” (1 Nephi 14:1-2)

                In other words, if the Gentiles follow the Lord and do not harden their hearts against Him, they shall have stumbling blocks before them removed and they shall be numbered among the house of Israel in the Last Days and shall remain in the Promised Land forever.

The Angel shows Nephi more visions;

“…it came to pass that he [the Angel] said unto me [Nephi]: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil. And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” (1 Nephi 14:9-10) Nephi saw that there could only be one Church of God, those who do not belong to that Church belong to the Church of Satan. Nephi is shown more of the vision of this Great and Abominable Church; “….I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.” (1 Nephi 14:11-12) Nephi saw that the Great and Abominable Church was strong in power and people and spread throughout the world. Nephi also saw the True Church of God upon the face of the earth, however its numbers were few. Nephi sees that Satan teams up to attack the True Church of the Lamb.

Nephi sees that there appear wars and rumors of wars throughout the land and that because of this great and abominable church, war was also declared among the Saints of the True Church of the Lamb. “…when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel.” (1 Nephi 14:17) In the Last Days the Lord will deliver His people and will prepare a way for those who desire to join his church and fulfill their covenants with Him.

The Angel of the Lord commands Nephi to look, and Nephi looks. He sees one of the Twelve Apostles and is told that one of the Twelve would finish writing what he had seen in a book [the Bible] and shall also write regarding the End of the World and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

The Angel of the Lord speaks to Nephi; “…the things which he shall write are just and true; and behold they are written in the book[The Bible – New Testament]  which thou beheld proceeding out of the mouth of the Jew; and at the time they proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, or, at the time the book proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, the things which were written were plain and pure, and most precious and easy to the understanding of all men.” (1 Nephi 14:23) Here it makes sense why the Book of Mormon was needed. At the time of this Vision the Bible (which was still being written) was just a pure, and easy for the understanding of men. However, with time these things became perverted by evil men who desired to change the Word of God. Therefore, throughout the ages the Bible had been changed and parts of the book were also lost. Therefore the Book of Mormon would come forth in the last days to be a companion to the Bible, in order that we might understand more of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1 Nephi 13

1 Nephi 13: The Restoration and Zion

                 Nephi sees many nations throughout the world and is told by the Angel that those nations and kingdoms were of the Gentiles;

“…I [Nephi] saw among the nations of the Gentiles the formation of a great church. And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity… I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it.” (1 Nephi 13:4-6) Nephi saw the formation of an evil church, whose founder was the devil. In this church there was gold, silver, silks, scarlets and fine-twined lined and all manner of precious clothing.

Nephi sees that many of the seed of his brethren were divided among the waters and a multitude of them forming in the promised land [America], where they; “…had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations… I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land; and I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them.” (1 Nephi 13:19-20) Nephi had seen the colonizing of America and the scattering of the Gentiles!

Nephi also beheld a book that was carried with them into the Promised Land; the Angel asked him if he knew that this book was, and Nephi responded that he did not. The Angel explains; “…Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew… a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.” (1 Nephi 13:23) This book that is being referred is the Bible, more specifically the Old Testament of the Bible which was written in part by the Jews.  The Angel explains to Nephi that at the time this Book “…contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record…” (1 Nephi 13:24) However, the Bible was continued with the New Testament which included more of God’s word and at the time of its completion was also considered the ‘fulness of the Gospel’. In this sense the Book of Mormon only adds to the value of the Old and New Testaments the same was the New Testament adds value to the Old Testament.

The Angel explains that after Jesus Christ formed His Church and called Apostles the church fell apart upon the death of Jesus Christ. From this point the great and abominable church was formed and from them; “…they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away…. all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God…. after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles… even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—…because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.” (1 Nephi 13:27-29)

Apostasy

                After Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross, the Apostles he had called attempted to hold the church together, but even they were eventually persecuted and killed. With TRUE Authority gone from the earth the Church, its scripture and gospel were perverted. Elder M. Russell Ballard [An Apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints] explained it well;

                “It’s no wonder, then, that the thousand year period known as the Middle Ages wasn’t exactly the best of times for Christianity. The name of the Lord was invoked upon all manner of horrifying campaigns, from the Crusades to the Inquisition, leaving a bloody trail of death, persecution, and destruction. Christ’s central teachings of faith, hope, charity, and tolerance seemed lost upon zealots who were absolutely determined that ‘every knee shall bow’ one way or another.”

Many wonderful men tried to bring those lost gospel truths to the light of the people, however with so many truths lost, many argued over who was right and as a result we see the formation of many churches throughout the world. It is also no wonder that this ‘great and abominable church’ was that of the Catholic Church. William Tyndale, a man who desired to have the scriptures in the hand of the common man, had an argument with a ‘learned’ clergy man, who said; “We had better be without God’s laws than the Pope’s.” Tyndale responded: “I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!

The Angel continues to speak to Nephi and explains that God will be merciful unto the Gentiles;

…I [God] will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious….” (1 Nephi 13:34) The Lord will command prophets in the Americas to write his Gospel, that it might not be perverted from the writings of the Bible in the ‘Old World’.

Nephi sees the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the coming forth of Zion in the Last Days, the Great Apostasy being unfolded and the coming forth of both the Bible and the Book of Mormon as sacred writings of God. The Angel of the Lord explains to Nephi that both books must come forth to reveal the truths that had been lost and to help guide people to their Savior Jesus Christ;

“…These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.” (1 Nephi 13:40) Both the Book of Mormon and the Bible will help people come unto their Savior. The Angel explains to Nephi that in the Last Days the Book of Mormon and the Bible shall be established as one;

 “…wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.” (1 Nephi 13:41)