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.

Summary of 1 Nephi

Summary of 1 Nephi

                The First Book of Nephi can be broken down into six sections (below). The book was written around 600 B.C. and is an account of; “…Lehi and his wife Sariah, and his four sons, being called, (beginning at the eldest) Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi. The Lord warns Lehi to depart out of the land of Jerusalem, because he prophesieth unto the people concerning their iniquity and they seek to destroy his life… The account of their sufferings… [crossing of] large waters into the promised land…” (1 Nephi Introduction)

At Jerusalem:

The book begins in Jerusalem at the time of King Zedekiah (roughly 600 B.C.), where Nephi’s father, Lehi, has a vision, wherein he sees God the Father, Christ, and the twelve apostles. Lehi is told by the Lord that Jerusalem shall be destroyed and that he was to warn the people. Lehi follows this commandment of the Lord and begins to preach repentance to his people. They reject his teachings and attempt to kill him by stoning him, like other prophets of this time.

In a dream, God commands Lehi to leave Jerusalem with his family, again he follow the command of the Lord. However, almost immediately on the start of their journey, God commands him to return to Jerusalem to obtain ‘Brass Plates’ which were held in the possession of a man named Laban, who was very powerful in Jerusalem. Nephi and his brothers return and become frustrated after several failed attempts of obtaining the Brass Plates. Eventually they are successful and obtain the Brass Plates, which are later discovered by Lehi to contain a genealogy of himself, and that he is a descendant of Joseph, the son of Jacob. It also contains the five books of Moses and even some writings by the prophet Jeremiah.

Lehi, in another dream is commanded to send his sons back to Jerusalem a second time to retrieve the family of Ishmael and his daughters. Ishmael agrees to come with Nephi and his family into the wilderness. However, on the journey back to camp, Laman and Lemuel and some members of Ishmael’s family rebel. They explain to Nephi that they want to return to Jerusalem. However, Nephi explains to them harshly that the Lord has commanded them to leave, for Jerusalem shall be destroyed. This angers them, and they tie Nephi up and leave him to die in the desert. However, their hearts are softened by the daughters of Ishmael and ask for forgiveness from Nephi.

Visions of Lehi and Nephi:

                Upon returning to camp, Lehi is taken away into a vision of the Tree of Life. In this vision, Lehi sees a Tree, which contains a fruit that can make one happy. Across from the tree, he sees a river and across the river a Great and Spacious Building. Later Nephi desires to see the same vision that his father had, and is granted this ability. Nephi is swept away by the spirit and sees the vision his father had described. He is also given an explanation about its symbolism: the tree and its fruit represent the love of God, a “rod of iron” represents the word of God, and a “great and spacious building” represents the pride and mocking attitude of the world.

Nephi is then shown a number of past and future events:

  • The Birth, Ministry and Death of Jesus Christ (See 1 Nephi 11)
  • Christopher Columbus Traveling across the Atlantic Ocean (See 1 Nephi 13:12)
  • The American Revolutionary War (See 1 Nephi 13:17-19)
  • The coming forth of the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 13:34-36)
  • The Coming forth of ‘other books’ beyond the Book of Mormon and the Bible (1 Nephi 13:39; 1 Nephi 13:20-24)
  • Nephi also sees many of the wars in the future, but is commanded to not write of these things, for John the Apostle shall write them. (See 1 Nephi 14:15-23)

Most importantly, Nephi sees the future of his generations and the generations of Laman and Lemuel. He sees that even though his seed has the gospel of Jesus Christ, they will be ultimately wiped out and destroyed for their wickedness. The see of Laman and Lemuel will eventually come to a knowledge of the gospel through the writings of the Book of Mormon and the future Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ, known today as: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”.

Traveling in the Wilderness/Dessert:

                After the sons of Lehi marry the daughters of Ishmael a ‘ball of curious workmanship’ appears one morning outside of Lehi’s tent. Later it is revealed to be the Liahona. Using the directions on the ball, they begin journeying eastward along the Red Sea. As they travel along the banks of the Red Sea, Nephi’s steel bow breaks while hunting. Now, tired and hungry many begin to complain against Nephi, Lehi and the Lord. Nephi builds a new bow and arrows out of wood, and then enquires of the Lord where to hunt. He is led to the top of a nearby mountain, where he obtains meat from him and his family. They learn that as long as they are faithful, the Liahona will lead them to the Promised Land.

Ishmael dies on their journey near a place called “Nahum”. This is one of the few places listed in the Book of Mormon that relates to the Old World and to the Bible. In mourning, Ishmael’s daughters complain against Lehi and Nephi, and desire to return to Jerusalem. Laman and Lemuel decide to kill Lehi and Nephi, but the voice of the Lord speaks to them and they humble themselves.

Building the Ship:

                Upon arriving in a Place called Bountiful, near the borders of the Red Sea… Nephi climbs a mountain and speaks with the Lord. The Lord commands Nephi to build a ship, that would carry them across the Atlantic Ocean to the Promised Land (America). Laman and Lemuel see Nephi constructing a ship and mock him for trying to achieve an impossible task. Nephi instructs them about the strength of the Lord and how impossible things are possible when the Lord commands it. Laman and Lemuel again attempt to kill Nephi, but being filled with the Spirit, he commands Laman and Lemuel not to touch him or they would die instantly. He also commands them to assist in building the ship. In order to show Laman and Lemuel that the Lord was in control, the Lord commands Nephi to touch them. He touches them, causing a shock which causes Laman and Lemuel to repent before the Lord and begin to assist Nephi in the construction of a ship.

After completing the ship, the voice of the Lord commands Lehi to load his family and supplies on the ship. They depart on the ocean. Many days later, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael begin partying, dancing, singing, and being rude. Nephi, fearing that the Lord would be angry with them, speaks to them. They get upset with Nephi and tie him up. Because of their wickedness, the Liahona ceases to work and they are pushed back into a terrible storm. Nephi, who was at this point tied up by his brothers is finally let down at the pleading of his mother, and others on the ship. Nephi prays, and the storm stops, leaving a great calm. Many days later, they arrive in the promised land, on the American continent.

The Promised Lands:

Once in the Promised Land, Nephi and his families begin building farms, raising livestock and discovering the land. Nephi is commanded by the Lord to create the ‘small plates’ and ‘large plates’ of Nephi.

Prophecies:

                To end the Book of 1st Nephi… Nephi teaches his family and people from the Brass Plates (that were obtained in Jerusalem from Laban), which contain the Books of Moses. Nephi quotes from Isaiah 48-49 which speak of the scattering and restoration of Israel in the Last Days. He also testifies that the Churches of Satan that were raised for gain, power and popularity will be destroyed by the Lord. Nephi exclaims that all prophets have testified of Jesus Christ, and that he is no different. Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, we are only saved through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

1 Nephi 19

1 Nephi 19: Nephi makes History of People on Plates

                Nephi makes plates of ore, one which would include their journey and the teachings of his father Lehi, and the other would include the contentions and wars of his people. Nephi explains that he does this for a wise purpose in the Lord that these records be passed down from one generation to another throughout time. Nephi explains that he is human; “…if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself. For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.” (1 Nephi 19:6-7) Nephi explains that he makes mistakes and his writings (just like prophets of old) will contain these mistakes. He explains that his record will be as preserved as possible, and not like other records which would be ‘esteemed as naught’ and trampled under the feet of men. In other words, some records do not contain all the words of God, because wicked men, thinking it is of no worth, will eliminate things from records to suite their own agenda. These men doe no hearken unto the voice of God’s command and counsel.

Nephi explains that roughly 600 years from the time of this writing the Lord Jesus Christ will come among the children of men, but because of their iniquity, they; “…shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.” (1 Nephi 19:9)

                Nephi explains that after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Jews will be hated, scattered and despised among all nations throughout time, until the time when Jesus Christ comes again and shall restore them among and preserve them. Nephi read a lot of these things from the Books of Moses; “…that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” (1 Nephi 19:25) Because Nephi had the Books of Moses [the first five books of the Bible], Nephi was able to teach his brethren and family many things of ‘profit and learning’. This emphasizes the fact that the Book of Mormon and Bible go hand in hand.

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 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 12

1 Nephi 12: The Loathsome and Filthy

                Nephi sees another vision;

“…I looked and beheld the land of promise; and I beheld multitudes of people, yea, even as it were in number as many as the sand of the sea… I beheld multitudes gathered together to battle, one against the other; and I beheld wars, and rumors of wars, and great slaughters with the sword among my people.” (1 Nephi 12:2)

Nephi saw many generations pass away because of these wars, he also saw a mist of darkness upon the face of the land of promise. Nephi explains; “…I saw lightnings, and I heard thunderings, and earthquakes, and all manner of tumultuous noises; and I saw the earth and the rocks, that they rent; and I saw mountains tumbling into pieces; and I saw the plains of the earth, that they were broken up; and I saw many cities that they were sunk; and I saw many that they were burned with fire; and I saw many that did tumble to the earth, because of the quaking thereof.” (1 Nephi 12:4) After seeing this great destruction, Nephi beheld a vapor of darkness go before the world which was like unto a mist that was a representation of the; “…temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.” (1 Nephi 12:17)

The Angel explains that the Large and Spacious building which Lehi and Nephi had now both seen in visions was the; “…vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men. And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them…” (1 Nephi 12:18) However, the Love of God is strong, because he sent his Only Begotten Son to Atone for the sins of the world, Nephi saw; “…the heavens open, and the Lamb of God descending out of heaven; and he came down and showed himself unto them… I also saw and bear record that the Holy Ghost fell upon twelve others; and they were ordained of God, and chosen.” (1 Nephi 12:6-7) The Angel then explains to Nephi that Jesus Christ ordained Twelve Apostles to minister when he was gone and that those Twelve Apostles; “…shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel… And these twelve ministers whom thou beholdest shall judge thy seed [the seed of Nephi]…” (1 Nephi 12:9-10)

The Angel then shows Nephi how many of his seeds generation would pass away, and how eventually they would be overcome by the seed of his brothers and because of great wars and temptations the seed of Nephi would “…dwindle in unbelief.” (1 Nephi 12:22) Because of this unbelief they would become; “…a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.” (1 Nephi 12:23)

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)