Mosiah 1

Mosiah 1

               The Book of Mosiah is the eighth book in the Book of Mormon…

Mosiah is most likely linked to the Hebrew term; “Moshia”, which represents a Champion of Justice against oppression, appointed by God, whose Mission is to liberate a chosen people from oppression, especially by non-violent means.

“And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla…” (Mosiah 1:1), King Benjamin was the ruler during this time and he had three sons; “…Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman. And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding…” (Mosiah 1:2) This would give King Benjamin’s sons the ability to know of the prophecies of the prophets that had come before them.

Because Lehi had preserved the records and the language (Egyptian), they now benefit of these things and understand the mysteries of God. We too in our modern age benefit from the preservation of these records from Lehi, to King Benjamin, to his sons, etc. King Benjamin speaks to his sons, but also to us the reader, when he testifies that the words that have been written as part of the plates he know holds are true. Not only that, but King Benjamin testifies that if we “…search them [the scriptures] diligently… ye may profit…” (Mosiah 1:7) We must not only read, but study the scriptures. If we do this and follow God’s commandments we will prosper!

King Benjamin sees that his days are numbered and that he soon will pass on. He decides to choose one of his sons to become King. He chooses Mosiah and confers the power of the kingdom to him. He commands Mosiah to make a proclamation through the land that he is “…king and a ruler over this people…” (Mosiah 1:10) He also explains to his sons that because the records have been preserved throughout time, God has had mercy on them. The chapter ends with Mosiah commanding the people to come to the temple to hear the words of his father, King Benjamin.

Jacob 1

Jacob 1: Wickedness Prevails Among the Nephites

                Jacob picks up the story of the Nephites nearly 55 years after Lehi had left Jerusalem with his family to travel to the Promised Land (America). Nephi gives command to his brother Jacob to continue the history of the people, known as the People of Nephi, or, the Nephites.

Jacob explains that he and his people; “…labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest…” (Jacob 1:7) Jacob explains that his brother Nephi was growing old and because his people loved him as a king, they were desirous that future kings be called after him in the manner of 1st, 2nd, 3rd Nephi and so forth. Jacob explains that Nephi did grow old, and did die.

We learn from Jacob that there were many groups; Lamanites, Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Leumeulites and Ishmaelites. However, Jacob chose to categorize the people who were against the Nephites as “Lamanites” and those people for the Nephites as “Nephites”.

“It came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices… they also began to search much gold and silver, and began to be lifted up somewhat in pride.” (Jacob 1:15-16)

                Jacob, seeing this great wickedness went to the Temple to teach the people, explaining that he and his priests would take; “…upon [themselves] the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon [their] own heads if [they] did not teach them the word of God with all diligence…” (Jacob 1:19)

Jacob begins his Seven Chapter section of the Book of Mormon…

2 Nephi 4

2 Nephi 4: Lehi Dies

                Lehi calls all of the sons of Laman, Lemuel and Nephi and all their families to give them a blessing before he departs (for Lehi must have known that his death was approaching).

“…it came to pass my father, Lehi, had spoken unto all his household, according to the feelings of his heard and the Spirit of the Lord which was in him, he waxed old…” (2 Nephi 4:12)

After Lehi died and was buried, Laman and Lemuel and their offspring were angered unto Nephi for he spoke many things of the Lord unto them. Nephi explains the purpose of his writings;

“…upon these [the plates] I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children. Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and myheart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.” (2 Nephi 4:15-16)

Nephi knows that the scriptures are important for man to ponder and learn from. Nephi knows that he is not perfect, but he knows that when he his encircled in temptations the Lord will deliver him.

“…when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted… God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh. He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me… he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.” (2 Nephi 4:19-23)

Nephi praises the Lord for being with him through all the hard times, and he puts his trust in the Lord. Nephi then explains how sin can come upon anyone, but how we should overcome our sin and lean on the Lord for strength.

“…why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy? Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul. Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions. Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.” (2 Nephi 4:27-30)

Nephi asks why he should yield to sin and let the enemy encircle him. Nephi leans of the Lord, the Rock of his salvation to help him overcome the sins and temptations of the world.

“May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walkin the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

…Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.” (2 Nephi 4:32;35)

Nephi explains that the temptations of the world and the evil are shut off from him because he has a broken heart and a contrite spirit and leans on the Lord, his Redeemer and Savior! Nephi exclaims that the Lord will answer to anyone who asks.

2 Nephi 3

2 Nephi 3: Joseph Smith

                Lehi speaks to Joseph, his last born in the wilderness and proclaims unto him that he [Lehi] was a descendent of Joseph (who was sold into Egypt). Lehi also explains that Joseph of Egypt saw the day when the Lord would bring his people into a land of promise (see: Genesis 50:24-38).

“…Joseph truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel; not the Messiah, but a branch which was to be broken off, nevertheless, to be remembered in the covenants of the Lord that the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light—yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom.” (2 Nephi 3:7) Lehi is speaking of Joseph Smith, who would be the instrument in the hands of the Lord to RESTORE His Church!

Lehi explains that the Lord will command the fruit of the loins of Judah and Joseph to write what we know today as the Bible and the Book of Mormon; “Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.” (2 Nephi 3:12)

The Book of Mormon would come forth among the world and shall become a companion to the Bible to help confound false doctrines and contentions amongst the many churches and religions of the world. Joseph [the son of Lehi] explains that the seer who the Lord would raise up would be named after him [Joseph] and that the Seer would be named after his father. Joseph Smith, Jr. was named after his father; Joseph Smith Senior. The Prophecy of Joseph [Lehi’s Son] came to be; “…his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me…” (2 Nephi 3:15)

2 Nephi 2

2 Nephi 2: Agency is Important

                Lehi speaks to Jacob and promises him that God; “…shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” (2 Nephi 2:2) Jacob shall find comfort and shall dwell in safety with his brother Nephi. Lehi explains that; “…the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.” (2 Nephi 2:4) Lehi goes on to explain that men are instructed to know good from evil and by the laws that are given unto mankind, we shall be justified. Lehi then explains that NO man can return to the presence of God without the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ. Even though Salvation if FREE, one has to have a broken heart and contrite spirit in order to accept this free gift.

“…redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth… he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah…” (2 Nephi 2:6-8)

Why does God permit suffering?

Lehi goes on to explain that there needs to be opposition in all things! He answers the grand old question; why does God permit suffering?

“…it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.” (2 Nephi 2:11)

But why is this? For if there was no opposition in all things, there would have been no reason for our creation, for our very being! All things would; “…have been created for… naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.” (2 Nephi 2:12)

Atheists claim that there is no God, others who believe in God claim no need to follow God’s commandments, because salvation is free and no works are required for entering the Kingdom of God.

Lehi explains that this is not so;

“…if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” (2 Nephi 2:13)

Science explains that every action, has an equal and opposite reaction. Here we see that there must be opposition in all things. We also see that without anything to be acted upon, all things would have vanished. Who or What acted first in the creation of all things? Science explains that everything was created from the Big Bang. We do not have to discredit science, for the universe most likely was created by something similar to what science has explained as the Big Bang. But what caused that? One could easily argue that science, as we know it, was created by a higher power. God must exist, or we would not exist.

Everything has its opposite

                From the very beginning, God has given us the ability to CHOOSE for ourselves. This choice is known as agency. We have been given the gift of agency, to ACT on our own accord, to be our own AGENTS. Go has given us this agency, and the ability to act as our own agents so that we could exist and have a reason for existence. After God had created the earth, the fowls of the air and the fields, God created our first parents [Adam and Eve] and gave the opposition; “…it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.” (2 Nephi 2:15)

The Fall of Mankind: The Purpose of Mankind

                After rebelling against God in the pre-mortal existence, Satan was cast out of heaven and became a fallen angel. He was there [because God permitted him to be there] when Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden. God did this, so that man could be their own agents. In order to choose for themselves, God needed to place opposition to the good. After being tempted by the devil to partake of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve were cast out into the world so that men might be.

“And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.” (2 Nephi 2:21)

God gave the children of men [all mankind] a time of probation [their lives] to repent and follow the commandments of God that they might one day return to live with their Heavenly Father. Nevertheless, we were given the ability to choose to return to our Father in Heaven.

What if Adam did not Fall?

                Some look at the Fall of Adam as the ‘Original Sin’ that prevents us from having a paradise in this life. These same people claim that if Adam and Eve would not have partaken of the fruit, that we would be living in paradise in the Garden of Eden. All of the world’s problems today, would not exist. But, we too would not exist!

“…if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end… they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:22-25)

                ADAM FELL, THAT MEN MIGHT BE! Without the fall of Adam and Eve, WE WOULD NOT EXIST! God is all knowing, the opposition in the Garden of Eden was all part of the plan, He had for His children! Because Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, men were destined to be apart from God. But, God had this in mind, when he called a Savior for mankind!

“…the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.” (2 Nephi 2:26)

God made it possible for Jesus Christ to come and die for all our sins! Through His Atonement and Sacrifice we ARE ALL SAVED from the Original Sin. Jesus Christ RESTORED our ability to return to God! This ability to return to God, is FREE. Salvation is FREE. But, we are all FREE to choose good from evil. Therefore it is our choice to accept Salvation.

“…men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2:27)

Satan chose not to follow the Plan of Salvation, and because of His rebellion he was cast out of the presence of God. We, being FREE agents, have the ability to choose to follow God. If we choose to follow God, we must follow His commandments. Only then, can we accept His free gift of Salvation.

2 Nephi 1

2 Nephi 1: Prophecies of a Land of Liberty

                Lehi instructs his children that he had received a vision and in this vision he saw the destruction of Jerusalem and prophesied unto them that if they had stayed in Jerusalem, they too would have perished because of the destruction.

Lehi goes on to explain that he saw a “Land of Liberty” in his dream; this Land of Liberty is present day United States of America. Lehi explains that many will flock to this land and that; “…none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.” (2 Nephi 1:6) This means that many great men and women throughout history have been led to the United States by the hand of God. The forefathers of the United States established the first Free Nation of the World, and we led by God to establish a nation with religious liberties.

One might question how throughout ALL time and History; why was the North American Continent NEVER discovered… until much later in the history of mankind? Lehi explains; “…it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.” (2 Nephi 1:8) The Lord had a purpose for the future “America” the world knows today, to be a safe haven and inheritance for His believers. Lehi exclaims that those who follow God will prosper in the Land of Liberty, but those who chose the path of wickedness shall be judged accordingly.

Lehi prophesied of a day when “…they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord—having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise…” (2 Nephi 1:10) Because of their wickedness they shall be led captive by other nations and shall be led down a path to hell.

Because of this great judgment that will fall upon those who fall captivity to the devil, Lehi exhorts [urges] all to “…observe the statutes and the judgments of the Lord; behold, this hath been the anxiety of my soul from the beginning.” (2 Nephi 1:16) He reminds us that: “…Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments [God’s Commandments] ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.” (2 Nephi 1:20) Lehi invites his family and the reader to “…be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity;” (2 Nephi 1:21)

Lehi explains to his family that his time is limited upon the earth, but urges his sons and the sons of Ishmael to take heed to the words of Nephi and follow his counsel as they have followed his own counsel.

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 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 11

1 Nephi 11: Nephi’s Vision of the Tree of Life

                Nephi , believing on the words of his father Lehi desired to see for himself the things which is father was able to behold he prayed to the Lord and; “…was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord… into an exceedingly high mountain, which I [Nehpi] never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.” (1 Nephi 11:1) Nephi is then asked by an angel of the Lord if he truly believed on the words of his father, and Nephi responded that he believed all the words. Because Nephi believed the words (had faith without seeing) he was then granted the ability to see what his father had seen in visions and dreams.

The Angel then shouts for Joy that Nephi believed, and told him to LOOK. Nephi looked and asked the Angel to give him an interpretation of the Tree which his father Lehi had seen. Nephi is then left by the Angel to see a vision;

“…it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.” (1 Nephi 11:13) The heavens then open and the angel comes down and asks Nephi; “…what beholdest thou?” (1 Nephi 11:14) Nephi responds; “…A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.” (1 Nephi 11:15) The Angel then asks; “…Knowest thou the condescension of God?” (1 Nephi 11:16)

What is the Condescension of God?

Condescension: the act of descending to a lower and less dignified state; of waiving the privileges of one’s rank and status; of bestowing honors and favors upon one of lesser stature or status.

The Angel asks Nephi if he understood what the condescension of God was, to which Nephi responded; “…I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” (1 Nepi 11:17)

The Angel explains that the virgin he had seen is; “…the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh…. [the Angel then carries Nephi into another vision and commands him to look] …I [Nephi]  looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” (1 Nephi 11:18;20-21)

So what is the Condescension of God? Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained it better than I could;

“When we think of him, we think of the most noble and exalted being there is. Then we read this question, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” and discover that somehow it is associated with his love for us, his children, his spirit children who are now dwelling as mortals here on earth. We discover in our text that he shall be the Father of a Son born “after the manner of the flesh”; that is, he condescends, in his infinite wisdom, to be the Father of a holy being who shall be born into mortality…

So when we think of Christ’s condescension in this matter, we must think of the glory and dominion and exaltation that he possessed. We read in the revelations that he was ‘like unto God’ (Abraham  3:24). We read the language of the Father where he says, ‘worlds without number have I created; … and by the Son I created them, which is mine only Begotten’ (Moses 1:33). We discover that Christ was like the Father; that he was co-creator, that he had the might and power and dominion and omnipotence of the Father and that he acted under his direction in the regulating and the creating of the universe.

We read the words which an angel spake to King Benjamin, in which the angel described him as “the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity,” and then said that he would come down and tabernacle in a body of clay and minister among men; that he would be the Son of God and that Mary would be his mother (see Mosiah 3:5, 8).

Here we have a glorious thing. Here we have exalted, noble beings on a plane and status so far above our present circumstance that we have no way of comprehending their dominion and glory, and we have one of them, God our Eternal Father, through the condescension and infinite love and mercy that he has for us, stepping down from his noble status and becoming the Father of a Son after the manner of the flesh. We have that Son being born, that Son who was his firstborn in the spirit, who had like power and omnipotence with the Father. We have each of them performing a work that there is no way for us to understand as far as magnitude and glory and importance is concerned.” (Bruce R. McConkie – Behold the Condescension of God; December 1984)

Nephi, after seeing the virgin and the Lamb of God being born explains to the Angel that the Tree is; “…the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.” (1 Nephi 11:22) The Angel confirms that this is true and proceeds to show Nephi more visions of the Lamb of God and his ministry upon the earth. Nephi is commanded to look, and he looks; “….I [Nephi] beheld the Lamb of God going forth among the children of men. And I beheld multitudes of people who were sick, and who were afflicted with all manner of diseases, and with devils and unclean spirits; and the angel spake and showed all these things unto me. And they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God; and the devils and the unclean spirits were cast out.” (1 Nephi 11:31)

Nephi is commanded again to look, and he beholds the Lamb of God being judged before the world, lifted upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world. Nephi is then shown the vision of the Tree of Life, which his father Lehi had seen. In the vision, there was a great and spacious building which Nephi declared; “….was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (1 Nephi 11:36)

1 Nephi 8

1 Nephi 8: The Tree of Life

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                Nephi and his brethren gathered all manner of seeds; grains and fruits. While they were in the wilderness, Lehi (the father), spoke unto his children and the family of Ishmael saying that he had dreamed and dream, in other words he had seen a vision. In this vision he sees a man dressed in a white robe, who commanded that Lehi should follow him. After a while of following this man, Lehi explains that he was in a ‘dark and dreary state.’ He continues; “…after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies. And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field. And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy… I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen… as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.” (1 Nephi 8:8-12)

Nephi saw a tree, whose fruit was the whitest and sweetest he had ever seen and tasted! He explained that the fruit filled his souls ‘with exceedingly great joy’. It was so desirable that he desired that all his family would partake of this fruit as well; “…as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit. And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off; and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go… it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit.” (1 Nephi 8:13-15) Lehi was able to find Sariah, Sam and Nephi through the dark and dreary state. They followed the sound of Lehi’s voice so that they might also partake of the fruit of the tree. Lehi was also desirous that Laman and Lemuel would also partake of the fruit of this tree; however Laman and Lemuel did not hearken unto the voice of their father.

Lehi goes onto explain more of his vision; “…I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood… I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world. And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.” (1 Nephi 8:19-21) Lehi see a ‘Rod of Iron’ that led from a strait and narrow path to the tree that produced this wonderful fruit. Lehi saw many people pressing forward to obtain this fruit!

Lehi explains that there arose a mist of darkness that caused many to be led off the path and be lost. However, there were others who were determined that they might obtain the fruit of the tree; “…I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.” (1 Nephi 8:24) Many made it through the darkness, and obtained the fruit of the tree. However, some of those who partook of the tree looked around and did cast their eyes as if they were ashamed.

Lehi explains that he looked across the river and beheld; “… a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth. And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit. And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.” (1 Nephi 8:26-28)

This is an example of the path we take to follow Jesus Christ, it is long and arduous, mists of darkness will overcome us… but if we hold to the word of God [The Iron Rod] we can make it to the Tree of Life. Many of those partake of the fruit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will sadly fall away and are led to the ‘Great and Spacious Building’ that is the world and its worldly desires and passions!

Nephi explains that Lehi had a vision of many people who did make it to the Tree of Life and many who fell away into forbidden paths to either be drowned in the river or to boast themselves in the Great and Spacious building of Sin. Lehi feared for Laman and Lemuel, because he desired that they should be more life their younger brothers Nephi and Sam. Lehi pleads with Laman and Lemuel to follow the commandments of the Lord that perhaps the Lord would be merciful unto them.