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Showing posts from February, 2008

Vain Imaginations and a Gulf of Misery, 1 Nephi 12:16-19

1 Nephi 12:16-19

In chapter 12, Nephi is permitted to view the future generation of his posterity in the promised land. When I visualize the great and spacious building that is upheld by the vain imaginations of the world, I note that there is no foundation, or that "it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth," (1 Nephi 8:26). A classic depiction of this illustrates this very well. I don't know that the scriptures mention anything about the lack of a foundation, but that it is upheld by vain imaginations suggest that these intangible nothings are the foundation of this very large building. Or in other words, there is no foundation.

Then it is also interesting to note that there is no easy road between this great edifice of nothingness and the strait and narrow path of righteousness. The two are separated by a gulf of misery which consumes many.

Angels and Devils, 1 Nephi 11:30-31

1 Nephi 11:30-31

In a vision where its central theme is to depict the mortal ministry of the Savior, I've noticed the inclusion of the mission of angels and the counter-mission of devils. Nephi saw angels descend from heaven and minister unto the people (vs. 30). The highlights of the Savior's personal ministry included healing those who were afflicted with devils and unclean spirits. They were cast out by His power (vs. 31).

There are these two forces at work in the world. All are in subjection to Christ, but are permitted to exist to test me to see what I will permit. When I cleave unto Christ, the devil and his devils have no power.

This most frequently occurs in the quite chambers of the heart and mind, when I invite the Spirit of God to be with me through silent prayer or repeating the words of a favorite hymn. This always works when I remember to do it. Then the angels have room to work with me-- ground to plant seeds and to nourish them.

Indeed, there are angels and devils…

Healed by the Power of the Lamb of God, 1 Nephi 11:31

1 Nephi 11:31

I've followed the footnote at the end of the verse this evening for the word "healed".
But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
(Malachi 4:2)
This is the reason why we need not be subjected to crass media or any form of objectionable content. Because we can be healed by the power of the Lamb of God, why should we create new wounds?

Jesus said to the woman with an issue of blood, "Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole,"(Matt 9:22).
And when the men of that place had a knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;

And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole, (Matt 14:35-36).He healed the ruler's daughter (see Mark 5:35-43). He healed the two blind men in their home as he was passing…

A Testimony of the Lamb of God

It impresses me that so early in the Book of Mormon and at the beginning of Nephi's personal ministry and journey, he is endowed with this significant vision of the Savior's life and ministry.

[Angels declare] the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.

And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ...
Moroni 7:31-32

Perhaps it is not surprising considering these verses from Moroni that because of Nephi's position literally at the beginning of a civilization, he was permitted to have seen in vision the Savior and his ministry. The very purpose for which the Lord was removing Lehi and his family from Jerusalem to a promised land was so that the Lord might raise up onto him a righteous posterity. This vision enabled Nephi and his posterity to exercise faith in the Lamb of God, to receive the salvation that had been prepared for them.

Representations, 1 Nephi 11

1 Nephi 11

I'm still in chapter 11 of First Nephi this morning. The more I review the sequence of events that transpires in this first part of Nephi's vision, the more layers I uncover. The use of juxtaposed images to convey meaning allows me as a reader to visually develop intangible concepts. In his vision, he goes back and forth between discussions with the angel, viewing the life of the Savior, and seeing symbolic representations. These representations allows me to further comprehend abstract concepts with everyday objects, such as trees and water.

At the same time, I pause to think that everything around us God has placed here. The very existence of such things are yet further witnesses of Jesus Christ. It seems that it was part of God's plan to place us in an environment where all that was created was designed to point to God and His Son. This is what Alma meant when he declared to Korihor the Anti-Christ, "All things denote there is a God," (Alma 30:44). A…

"Behold the Condescension of God", 1 Nephi 11:24-36

1 Nephi 11:24-36

The angel who is directing Nephi through this singular experience declares in verse 26, "Look and behold the condescension of God!" So it doesn't stop in verse 23 with the declarations that the meaning of the tree is the love of God, which is "most joyous to the soul". It goes on.

This idea of condescension is an important one. It is the idea that God being God came down to dwell among man as one of us. Apparently, Nephi, prior to this point, is not aware of the mortal mission of the Savior. Indeed, from a worldly perspective, a Savior who is also called a King or a Deliverer depicts in my mind more of a warrior-leader, someone who is coming to conquer in the sense of war. So when the angel's asking Nephi if he understands how God will come down among his people, Nephi's only response is that he knows (from experience) that God loves his children.

What the angel then shows Nephi, and I suspect it is in more detail than what he was able t…

"The Condensension of God", 1 Nephi 11:8-23

1 Nephi 11:8-23

In verse 8, Nephi sees the tree of life which his father saw. The following verses describe what he sees as the interpretation of the tree. It's in Nephi's dialog with the angel in verse 9 and verse 22 that helps me to understand what he is feeling.

These feelings are pivotal to his discussion with the angel. In verse 16, the angel asks him if he understands the condescension of God. Nephi responds ambiguously, confessing his lack of knowledge on this point. He is then shown the Savior as a child in the arms of his virgin mother.

"Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?"(vs. 21) the angel asks. Nephi had just seen the Son of God as a representation of the tree which was "precious above all" (vs. 9). What he feels is "the Love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men"(vs. 22). Nephi further declares, "it is the most desirable above all things." Then the angel adds, " …

"What Desirest Thou?" 1 Nephi 11:2-5

1 Nephi 11:2-5

The Spirit asks Nephi what his desires are. That is a probing question that reveals Nephi's personal objective. Of course, it does.

After he states that he wants to see the things which his father taught, the Spirit asks him if he believed that his father actually saw what he said he saw. This is akin to a personal testimony interview -- similar to the temple recommend questions. Do I really believe that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, as he said he did?

Nephi's response does two things: confirms his belief in his father's words or testimony and acknowledges the omnipotence of the Being with whom his is conversing. "Thou knowest that I believe" (vs. 5)

The Power of Pondering- Part 2, 1 Nephi 11:1

Today I am following the footnotes under "Pondering", which actually are a listing a scriptures under the heading of "Meditation" in the Topical Guide.

Joshua 1:8 is a jewel in that it has a promise attached to the principle. Here the Lord gives Joshua a commandment to meditate on the scriptures day and night that our actions may be in conformance with what is written. Then the promise is this: "for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." Prosperity and success are the promises (and I rather suspect that it is in matters of eternal weight and importance).

Doctrine and Covenants 84:85 addresses meditation as treasuring in my mind the words of life. This is the value of the Word of God, that it merits my attention as a treasure.

The Power of Pondering, 1 Nephi 11:1

1 Nephi 11:1

I suppose that I had always assumed that Nephi was praying when he has his vision of the tree of life when in fact he was pondering.

How to define pondering? The footnote is a cross reference to the topic of meditation and to a verse of scripture where Joseph Smith describes a similar process before he received the vision of the degrees of glory (see D&C 76:19).

Pondering is a thought process where I dedicate my entire mental capacity to the topic at hand. Doing so successfully allows for spiritual promptings, and, as in the case of Nephi and Joseph Smith, prepared them for heavenly visions.

"He That Dilligently Seeketh", 1 Nephi 10:17-22

1 Nephi 10:17-22

This is the doctrine that is "no respecter of persons" (see Acts 10:34). And it seems that Nephi feels this same way as he describes his desires to know what his father knew.

Nephi explains that his father spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, and that that power was received because of his faith on Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Then in his youth, Nephi already had a foundation to understand how God communicates with his children-- through the power of the Holy Ghost.

This scripture then broadens our perspective on the purposes and mission of the Holy Ghost. While His presence is evident throughout the Old Testament, I'm not aware of any direct references to the workings of the Holy Ghost in it. As He is introduced in the New Testament through the Savior, the Holy Ghost's mission is to comfort in the absence of the Savior's personal ministry. But thankfully, the pattern of revelation that comes via the Holy Ghost is set up early in the Book of Mormon (…

"Rely On This Redeemer", 1 Nephi 10:1-15

1 Nephi 10:1-15

This is the first prophecy specifically about the coming of the Savior.

Sequentially speaking, Nephi seems to now be adding additional insights from his father's vision. At the end of chapter 8, he says that his father also prophesied many things unto them and then ceased speaking (see 1 Nephi 8:38). Now having emphasized again the purpose for the record, he notes the details of these prophecies.

This first prophecy of the Savior seems pivotal in establishing the tapestry of prophecies about the Savior that are woven throughout the Book of Mormon. It allows me as a reader to understand the global scope of the gospel of Christ.

"Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer." (vs. 6)

As one of the first explanations which specifically outlines these core teachings, it is interesting to note the context in which it is given. The universality of this prophecy and the historical scope of the it--L…

"The Lord Knoweth All Things," 1 Nephi 9

1 Nephi 9

I am reminded this morning of the time frame of the Lord.

In this chapter, Nephi again breaks the narrative to explain the purpose of this record. Similar to chapter 6 where he explained that he is writing the things that are pleasing unto the Lord, here he goes a little further to explain that he is fact keeping two records. One which is serving as a full historical account of his people. The other, these records, are an account of his ministry.

Nephi kept this record primarily because it came as a commandment to do so. Beyond that, it was not shown to him the full purpose of these plates. But he trusted the Lord knew it.

"My Father Did Preach Unto Them", 1 Nephi 8:35-38

1 Nephi 8:35-38

Coming back to a point that I've already addressed, at the end of recounting his vision to his family, Lehi feared exceedingly because of Laman and Lemuel. The thought that perhaps his oldest sons would not partake of the fruit of the tree which brought him so much joy, caused him to fear.

I am impressed with the earnestness of Lehi as a father in his response to Laman and Lemuel. He encouraged them to listen to his words, that perhaps they might gain access to the Lord's mercy. This is what Lehi feared, that they would not access this mercy and consequently be cast out of the presence of the Lord.