26 June 2008

His Loving Kindness and His Long-suffering, 1 Nephi 19:6-17

1 Nephi 19:6-17

This is a pivotal prophecy at this point in the Book of Mormon. Nephi's testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ is expressed in here in profound terms. He references ancient prophets of whom we have no record except in the Book of Mormon (Zenock, Zenos, and Naum).

Nephi transitions his discussion from an account of his making records to a discussion on the mission of our Savior by discussing what he esteemed to be that which was sacred. Nephi points out that to some people that which is sacred, some people will esteem as of no worth. Truly, such disregard for sacred things are what causes men to forget the Lord God and His counsels (see vs. 7).

As a result of such apathy, the Lord God was called to suffer in ways unimaginable for the sins and the sufferings of His people. Christ the Lord did so, not casually or apathetically, but fully aware because of His loving kindness and long-suffering.

Then is an interesting statement. Nephi says that the Lord would visit His people. Then it rests with the people how the Lord would visit them. Some receive his voice, and receive him gladly. Others will need the reminder of thunderings and earthquakes to cause them to remember the Lord.

All things are relative to their relationship with the Lord. The earth at His sufferings and death, trembles because of "the God of nature suffereth"-- the very being that holds all creation in His hands. The House of Israel more especially is cursed and blessed according to their relationship with Him. I wish that I could find a better way to express this truth. It is true that what happens to us in this life is relative to our relationship with God.

25 June 2008

Preservation of the Scriptures, Footnote B for 1 Nephi 19:5

Footnote B for 1 Nephi 19:5

Nephi, in this verse, is explaining that this record (remember his comparing the two sets of plates that the Lord had commanded him to make) was kept so that his people would have a knowledge of the sacred.

I've followed the footnote that leads to a discussion on how the Lord has preserved the scriptures over time. Here are some references from that list:

Doctrine and Covenants 3:19 - These verses have particular reference to the promises extended to the children of Lehi through the preservation of the Book of Mormon.

3 Nephi 16:4
- Here the Savior commands the Nephites to make account of His visit and teachings to them that the remnant of the house of Israel may be brought to a knowledge of their Redeemer.

20 June 2008

Making Records, 1 Nephi 19:1-5

1 Nephi 19:1-5

The last verse in chapter 18 tells us how Nephi had found ore in the land. In verse 1 of this chapter, Nephi explains that he made records with the ore that he had found. This gives me pause to think that precious ores have other much more significant purposes than for the vain gratification of man.

Nephi again addresses the two sets of records that were made. The first record being a much more comprehensive history of his people, including a geneology of Lehi's ancestors, many of Lehi's prophecies, more thorough accounts of their time in the wilderness and records of there wars and destructions. Nephi kept this record by way of commandment from God.

In the second commandment from God to create another record, the mysteries of God are more fully understood. In this record, Nephi is commanded to make more particular mention of this prophecies and ministry (or his teachings). And what a dynamic ministry it has been up until this point!

It is interesting that in this second account, the one that was written as a future resource for teaching his people and for the eventual inclusion in a volume of scripture that he was required to be more selective in that which he chose to include. Nephi says that this second record was made that the more sacred parts of their history would be kept for the knowledge of his people (see vs 5).

Here is a mystery of God then. These parts that were selected for inclusion in the books of Nephi consisted of that which was more plain and precious (see vs 3). God likes the plain and precious truths because they are easy to be understood by man. What I find curious is how the plain can also be regarded as precious. It leads me to believe that there is much more value in our daily labors than I can see. Perhaps it is in the simple things of life that our salvation is defined. Indeed, it must be so.

18 June 2008

Arrival at the Promised Land, 1 Nephi 18:22-25

1 Nephi 18:22-25

This modest grouping of verses at the end of this chapter details the conclusion of Lehi's family's journey to the promised land.

Their arrival at the promised land is without fanfare. There is no record of the family's responses to the end of their journey by boat, which marked the end of ten years or more of traveling towards the promised land. It was simply the end of another chapter. There was yet much work of ahead of them once they arrived.

Nephi mentions the abundance which they discovered in the land of promise. They had brought many seeds with them. Nephi says that they did plant them all. After these many years of travailing, here in the promised land begins a life of abundance. In essence, they are starting over from the very beginning, but resources abound and Nephi, at least, has the industry to make good use of that which is given him.

14 June 2008

To Forget the Power of God, 1 Nephi 18:9-21

1 Nephi 18:9-21

Now what happens in these verses doesn't totally surprise me, as far as Laman and Lemuel's human tendencies go, yet their inability to believe in God's influence upon them at all times is amazing.

The great sin that Nephi accuses his brothers of is rudeness. I paused to define rudeness and found it to suggest somewhere between a state of unrefined, uncivilized behavior and disrespectful, irreverent riotousness.

One could hardly blame them if they had been small children, being couped up on a ship for such a long duration, but these were men who had on multiple occasions witnessed the power of God made manifest through their little brother, Nephi. They forgot, and forgetting was as serious an issue as the sin of rudeness which resulted from their thoughtlessness.

Nephi, on the contrary, never forgot that it was the Lord who was behind the wind which blew them toward the promised land. Even when his brothers had bound him with cords, he absolutely knew that they were in the hands of God the whole time. This caused him to, even his bound state, to continually praise God (see vs. 16).

12 June 2008

"Towards the Promised Land", 1 Nephi 18:4-8

1 Nephi 18:4-8

The results of Nephi's ship building was that it caused his brothers to humble themselves again before the Lord. The footnote on this verse reminds us back in Chapter 16, after Nephi had explained to his brothers the meaning of their father's vision, that they humbled themselves so much so that Nephi had great hopes that finally they were changing. This experience again seems to have worked a similar response from his brothers.

Nephi couldn't have hoped for more. Humility is the very essence of righteousness and the proper way to align oneself before the Lord. So at the time that they, as a family, prepared to board the ship, it appears that they were all in the paths of righteousness.

Together they gathered their seeds, meats, and all other provisions that would be necessary for them to make the voyage across the sea.

Its also noteworthy that though Nephi constructed the ship, Lehi was the one, as the family patriarch, that received the directions from the Lord to go down into the ship.

In this final leg of their journey, they are thrust completely into the hands of God as they were "driven forth before the wind towards the promised land," (vs. 8).

08 June 2008

"I Did Pray Oft Unto the Lord", 1 Nephi 18:1-3

1 Nephi 18:1-3

I was reviewing an older post this morning (It had been commented on by someone who didn't leave a name or any scriptural references to the point being made) and was reminded of the relevance of revelation as necessary for salvation. I feel strongly about this point. The first three verses of this new chapter reinforce the point.

Nephi built the ship by revelation. He says that he worked the timbers of the ship after a curious manner as it was show unto him by the Lord. Nephi sought the Lord's help frequently and thus he says, "wherefore, the Lord did show unto me great things," (vs. 3).

Why is it important to know that you are being guided by the Lord, as was Nephi? Why in our developing spirituality does our ability to receive revelation, or, put otherwise, to communicate with God become so important our discipleship?

Joseph Smith once said that in order for a man to be saved he has to know that the path of which he has chosen is pleasing unto God. How could one know this for himself then unless God revealed it unto him? Revelations from heaven, quiet promptings from heaven, are one of the ways that God then shows us that we are on course. (Those quiet promptings are also a good source of course correction.)

Nephi prayed frequently. The more he sought the Lord, the greater the Lord blessed him with wisdom and understanding.

06 June 2008

"Full of the Spirit of God", 1 Nephi 17:44-55

1 Nephi 17:44-55

Now after having shown how the children of Israel were guided by the hand of God to the land of promise, Nephi turns his comments directly to their present situation and in bold terms testifies of truths pertinent to the moment.
  • Lehi was commanded of the Lord to leave Jerusalem.
  • Lehi's life was in danger at Jerusalem.
  • Lehi's own sons had conspired to murder him and Nephi.
  • Laman and Lemuel had seen angels and experienced the Lord's intervention first hand.
It is stark boldness in the presence of his brothers that stands out to me. Nephi is aware of this as well. This is when he explains in verse 47, "Behold, I am full of the Spirit of God, insomuch that my frame hath no strength."

This effect that being full of the Spirit of God has upon Nephi is what most draws my attention this morning. So strong was God's presence, that it almost consumed Nephi in his mortal frame. This consuming of the flesh is yet another way in which the Lord manifests himself unto his children in power. What is man in the presence of God?

03 June 2008

Nephi's Rebuttal: "He That Is Righteous Is Favored of God,"1 Nephi 17: 23-43

1 Nephi 17:23-43

What Nephi does here in repositioning the argument to his favor is miraculous. Nephi draws great strength in assimilating his situation with that of the Children of Israel who were held in bondage in Egypt. I too find great similarities in my situation with theirs, as well.

Drawing upon the experiences of Moses and the deliverance of the children of Israel, Nephi is able to explain how the Lord was able to remove a righteous people out of a harmful situation and then prepare a land for them to receive.

The whole point of his argument is that had the people at Jerusalem been righteous, the Lord would not have required Lehi and his family to leave. A footnote from vs. 35 reads, "For them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed," (1 Samuel 2:30).

God does favor the righteous.