Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nephi's descendants are alive

Were all of Nephi's descendants destroyed?

2 Nephi 3:23

In blessing his son Joseph, Lehi cites words from Joseph of old, who was sold into Egypt.  Afterwards he adds this insight:

Although this pertains to Nephi's brother Joseph and his seed, it got me thinking about Nephi's descendants.  When we talk about how the Lamanites ultimately destroyed the Nephites, are we talking about one bloodline destroying another, or are we talking about cultural, civilization, or religious lines? After so many years, could the term Nephite and Lamanite have little to do with ancestry?

When Nephi had his vision of the tree of life, he saw his seed being wiped out, but the angel says this about the gentiles:

And in the Doctrine and Covenants section 3, the Lord declares this:

It seems clear to me that Nephi's descendants are among us, as well descendants of his brothers Jacob, Joseph, and his friend Zoram.  Through hundreds of years of cycles of righteousness and wickedness, desertions, missionary work, correspondence, and intermarrying, the descendants of Nephi are alive.

Monday, February 25, 2013

This land is consecrated to more than Lehi's seed

Second Nephi 1:5-8

The covenant that the Lord made with Lehi concerning this land is also covenanted to everyone who lives here... for none have come unless they were brought by the Lord.  This land is covenanted and consecrated not just to Lehi and his seed, but unto me and my children forever.  (see also v. 32)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A prophecy fulfilled

Second Nephi 1:4

When returning from Jerusalem with Ishmael and his household, Nephi speaks to Laman and Lemuel in their rebellion: (First Nephi 7)

The explicit fulfilment of this prophecy that "ye shall know at some future period ... concerning the destruction of Jerusalem" occurs in Second Nephi 1:4, through a vision of Lehi:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cut off

First Nephi 22:19-21

Nephi pauses his prophecies of the latter days to quote Moses:

Not only is this a prophecy about the coming of the Savior in mortality, but it is also a prophecy of events to occur prior to the second coming.

It is unclear exactly how this "cut off" will be fulfilled, but it doesn't sound good for those affected, those "who fight against Zion".  Verse 23 identifies them as "all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil", and that they will "be brought low in the dust; they...must be consumed as stubble".

When the Savior visits the Nephites, he also quotes this writing and sheds more light on how it will be accomplished. (3 Nephi 21:11-22)

The angel Moroni also quoted Moses's prophecy when he visited Joseph Smith. (JSH 1:40)

Monday, January 14, 2013

As stubble

First Nephi 22:15

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word stubble is facial hair.  As with many things in the scriptures, this word has an entirely different meaning.  

In agriculture, stubble what is left in the field after the harvest.  It is the short, hard, stalky part that is left behind after the crop has been cut close to the ground.  Apparently, it is easily burned.  The gospel symbolism here runs deep.  Let's make sure we are gathered with the harvest, not left behind as stubble to be burned.  

Other prophets have similarly written:

Isaiah 5:24 - Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Malachi 4:1 - For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yeah, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shill leave them neither root nor branch. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Righteous Need Not Fear

First Nephi 22

Discussing the second coming and the events leading up to it can sound dreadful at times.  Nephi makes repeated statements that offer some comfort:

 16: For the time soon cometh that the fulness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.

 17: Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire.  Wherefore the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire.
... 19: For behold, the righteous shall not perish; for the time surely must come that all they who fight against Zion shall be cut off.
 22-23: And the righteous need not fear, for they are those who shall not be confounded.  But it is the kingdom of the devil, which shall be built up among the children of men, which kingdom is established among them which are in the flesh...all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.

 24 And the time cometh speedily that the righteous must be led up as calves of the stall, and the Holy One of Israel must reign in dominion, and might, and power, and great glory.
 26 And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth.

 27 And now behold, I, Nephi, say unto you that all these things must come according to the flesh.

 28 But, behold, all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent.

This last verse, 28, encapsulates the overall message of these thoughts, not just for the latter days, but for all time.  Perilous times are ahead of us, and we don't know how far ahead.  If we want to "dwell safely", the condition is repentance.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Among All Nations

First Nephi 22:4-5

The current gathering of Israel gains importance as we understand the previous scattering.  Several pieces of information can be gleaned about the gathering from these verses.  

Nephi lived at the time of the scattering, and his father's family played a large role in it.  Understandably, they would be anxious to know the effects of it, and the ultimate fate of their scattered descendants.  These prophecies and teachings about the gathering of Israel are part of why the Book of Mormon is so important for us today.  They lived at the time of the scattering, we live at the time of the gathering.  Their writings are for us.

Note the  number of people who were scattered according to Nephi: "The more part of ALL the tribes have been led away"  Where are these lost tribes?  According to these verses, they are "scattered among all nations".  Thus the gathering must also take place among all nations. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Both temporal and spiritual

First Nephi 22:1-3

Laman and Lemuel ask Nephi an odd question after he concludes his reading of Isaiah.  It echos a previous question they asked him as he taught them about their father's vision of the tree of life - note that we don't have many of Laman and Lemuel's words to provide an insight into their logic, so any repetition is revealing - besides the usual anger, murmuring, and attempted murdering.

And here is the previous question from First Nephi 15: 30-32

It is safe to say Laman and Lemuel had a tendency want to separate the temporal from the spiritual.  Whether this is a personal predilection or a doctrine commonly taught among those at Jerusalem, it doesn't really matter, it is incorrect.  Not only do their questions miss the point, in someway they seem to reveal a method of justification Laman and Lemuel might have employed: if spiritual and temporal are separate, perhaps what we do temporally is less important.  

Nephi teaches that the gospel, the plan of salvation, and God's commandments encompass things both temporal and spiritual.  This would be further clarified by the Lord centuries later in D&C 29:34-35: 

Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created ... My commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.

Both of these examples are also occurrences of Nephi being a teacher to his brethren, in fulfillment of the Lord's promise to him in First Nephi 2:22.

Monday, October 29, 2012

All ye that are broken off

First Nephi 21:1

Nephi said that he would "liken the scriptures" as he taught his brothers, certainly as he taught the whole company.  By now they were half a world away from their homes in Jerusalem.  He must have paid close attention to this verse from Isaiah, and felt it was speaking particularly to them, for they were "broken off and are driven out" and "scattered abroad".  Yet they were still the Lord's people, still of the House of Israel.  It is amazing that they had Isaiah's words and that Isaiah knew that many would be scattered.  Many were scattered and we have no record of them.  How fortunate we are to have the record of one of those groups.

Interestingly, the verse also speaks of the isles, and Nephi's brother Jacob thought they were upon an isle of the sea. (Second Nephi 10:20)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The furnace of affliction

First Nephi 20:10
This verse from Isaiah stands alone as a sermon

The vivid imagery is of precious metals in a furnace, waiting to be chosen and taken out. The intense heat required for refining in this furnace, adds a new meaning to the word affliction.  So we pass through this furnace, knowing that it will refine and purify us, knowing that we can no longer let the impurities stick to us, also knowing that these necessary afflictions are temporary: when we have spent sufficient time in the fire, we will be taken out.  Let us not try to withstand the heat, but rather let it penetrate us.  Let us not anger at the Refiner, whose purposes are for our good, and let us not get burned by clinging to our impurities.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I will save thy children

These verses ring with the doctrine of temple work.  The original children, who were "lost", or dead, in verse 20 and 21 are brought back in the arms of the Gentiles, through the ordinances of the temple.  Pay attention to the title these Gentiles receive in verse 23. The Lord says he will "save thy children" in verse 25 by the prey being taken from the mighty, and the captives being delivered.  In other words, the dead in spirit prison, and lawfully so, will be delivered through the work of temple ordinances.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More fully persuaded

Nephi makes his intentions clear: he wants those whom he teaches to be more fully persuaded to believe in Christ, whether he teaches them personally, like Laman and Lemuel, or whether he teaches them through his writings, like us, like his posterity, or like the whole house of Israel.  Nephi understood that this persuading was the key to the redemption of his beloved Jerusalem, and it's inhabitants.  He was a witness of their decline and depredation, and through a vision, their destruction and deportation into Babylon.  He knew that they would ultimately reject their Savior and would be hated among all nations.  (First Nephi 19:13-15)  And he knew that in the latter days, they would need to turn their hearts, as do all of us.  He understood that being persuaded to believe in Christ would be the solution to our global problems today, and the global problems of the past that still persist.

First Nephi 6:4

First Nephi 19:18

First Nephi 19:23

 Second Nephi 15:16

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Selections from the Plates of Brass

In addition to a deeply ingrained influence, the Book of Mormon itself contains several direct quotations from the plates of brass, most of them quoted by Nephi.  Of the 6,604 verses in the Book of Mormon, 540 (8%) contain quotations from the plates of brass.  Some are from prophets lost to the Old Testament, such as Zenos, Zenock, and Neum.  Another prophet mentioned but not quoted is Ezias. Several are from the prophet Isaiah.  One series of verses is a prophecy from Joseph who was sold into Egypt.  These quotations are electrifying as we realize they are precious, few, and these words would not exist for us to read without the Book of Mormon.

Here is a compilation of writings that are from the brass plates, as quoted in the Book of Mormon, listed according to prophet:
* not in the Old Testament)


Alma 46:24-25*. Jacob saw that a remnant of Joseph's coat had not decayed and likened it unto a remnant of Joseph's seed that would be taken unto God.  Moroni quoted this as he rallied the people to the Title of Liberty. 

Second Nephi 3:6-21*.  Joseph who was sold into Egypt prophesies of Joseph Smith, the Restoration, and the blessing of his seed in the latter days.  Lehi quotes it to his son Joseph as part of a farewell blessing.

First Nephi 22:20.  Moses spake of a prophet (Jesus Christ) who would come.  Nephi expounds on this.  Similar to Deuteronomy 18:15-19, and Acts 3:22-23.

Second Nephi 2:18. The words of Satan to Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Presumably from the writings of Moses concerning the creation and fall.  Genesis 3:4-5.

Mosiah 12:34-36, 13:12-24.  The Ten Commandments.  Abinidi quotes them to the wicked priests of King Noah.  Exodus 20:1-17.

Alma 12:21. God placed cherubim to guard Eden.  Antionah referenced this in his question to Alma regarding immortality.  Genesis 3:24; Moses 4:21.

Third Nephi 20:3.  The Savior quotes Moses and proclaims that he is the prophet whom Moses spoke of.  First Nephi 22:20 (above), Deuteronomy 18:15-19, and Acts 3:22-23.

Third Nephi 20:25.  The Savior teaches the Nephites that they are the children of Abraham.  These words to Abraham are in the first book of Moses.  Genesis 12:3, and 22:18.

Numerous references are made to the Law of Moses, Moses raising the brazen serpent, and other events in Moses's life.


First Nephi 20-21. Nephi quotes Isaiah while teaching his brethren.  Isaiah 48-49.

Second Nephi 6:6-7, 16-18.  Jacob quotes Isaiah while teaching the Nephites.  Isaiah 49:22-26.

Second Nephi 7-8.  Jacob quotes Isaiah while teaching the Nephites.  Isaiah 50-51:2.

Second Nephi 12-24.  Nephi's writes the words of Isaiah.  Isaiah 2-14.

Second Nephi 27:2-6, 15, 19, 13-35.  Nephi quotes Isaiah during his discourse on the restoration and the last days.  Isaiah 29.  It is less explicit, and never says "according to the words of Isaiah" or something to that effect.  The middle verses, approximately 6-24, which discuss the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the witnesses to it, and the learned man's rejection, don't duplicate Isaiah 29 as it stands in the Bible.  This could be lost portions of Isaiah that Nephi is quoting from the plates of brass, or Nephi's own inspired additions.  

Mosiah 12:21-24.  Noah's wicked priests quote Isaiah to accuse Abanidi of prophesying evil.  Isaiah 52:7-10.

Mosiah 14.  Abanidi teaches about the atonement of Jesus Christ while quoting Isaiah.  Isaiah 53.

Third Nephi 16:18-20.  The Savior quotes Isaiah while teaching the Nephites.  Isaiah 52:8-10.

Third Nephi 20:36-45.  The Savior quotes Isaiah while teaching the Nephites.  Isaiah 52:1-3, 6-7, 11-15.

Third Nephi 22. The Savior quotes Isaiah while teaching the Nephites.  Isaiah 54. 


First Nephi 19:10-17*.  Zenos prophesies the burial of Christ and three days of darkness, the fate of those at Jerusalem, and the gathering of the House of Israel.  The phrase "thus saith the prophet" or something similar is used by Nephi in verses 11-17, presumably attributing Zenos, who is mentioned by name in verse 10,12, and 16.

Jacob 5*.  Zenos compares the House of Israel to an olive tree.  

Alma 33:4-11*.  Zenos speaks of prayer, and mercy, because of the Son.  

He was slain for his bold testimony: Helaman 8:19.

He spoke of the restoration of the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth in Helaman 15:11.  

Zenos and Zenock are ancestors of Lehi and his posterity, Third Nephi 10:15-16.


First Nephi 19:10*.  Zenock said that Christ would be lifted up. 

Alma 33:16*.  Zenock speaks of mercies bestowed because of the Son.

Lehi's posterity are descendants of Zenos and Zenock, Third Nephi 10:15-16.


First Nephi 19:10*.  Neum said that Christ would be crucified.  


First Nephi 22:15,17, 23*.  Presumably this could be Zenos as the phrase "thus saith the prophet" is used in similar fashion to First Nephi 19:11-17.  

Second Nephi 2:17. Lehi refrences "that which is written" about an angel who fell from heaven.  This could be a reference to Isaiah 14:12

Second Nephi 2:30*.  Lehi says he has "chosen the good part, according to the words of the prophet".  Since this phrase or its variations are not found in the Old Testament, it was probably Zenos or another prophet.

Second Nephi 6:14*.  Jacob mentions "according to the words of the prophet" the Messiah will come again.  Could be a reference to the writings of Zenos.

In summary, Mormon encapsulates the message of the plates of brass in 3 Nephi 10:15-17:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No more turn aside their hearts

First Nephi 19:14-15

The day that The Holy One of Israel will remember the covenants he made to the fathers, and the day the gathering begins, won't happen because of his imposition on us, but rather, the turning of our hearts.  The event that triggers the gathering isn't some political event, war, natural occurrence, or even specific date.  It will only happen based on the turning of hearts to him.  This spiritual gathering must occur before the physical gathering, the former to enable the latter.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The God of nature suffers

First Nephi 19:10-14

The rending of the rocks and groanings of the earth didn't just happen to the people in the Book of Mormon.  As verse 11 says, when Jesus was crucified, he visited all the house of Israel - some with his voice if they were righteous, some with natural disasters if they weren't.  This verse adds "many kings", specifically of the isles of the sea, who also witness the calamities that happen when Christ dies.  I fully expect archeology to unearth one of these records, and read word for word that the God of nature suffers.  It would be some obscure island nation that made an account of this great destruction.  Perhaps many accounts in many different nations will be discovered.  Notice how the kings knew from the Spirit, exactly what was the cause of the earth's distress.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

They crucified the God of Israel

First Nephi 19:8-17
These verses reveal an important doctrine that is made plain in The Book of Mormon: Jesus Christ is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - the God of Israel.  The one who came down to suffer and die for us was God himself.  Who else knows this doctrine?  Ask any religion: who was it that was crucified?  If it is a Christian faith, they may say they crucified the Son of God, which is true.  However, there is another significant title that he holds.  No religion would answer that they crucified the God of Israel.  They crucified the one who led them out of Egypt, who gave the law of Moses.  

The God of the Old Testament is not some distant figure who leaves us mortals to fend for ourselves and figure out how to live on earth on our own.  He actually became a man himself and showed us how to live in this existence by example.  Not only that, but He, himself, suffered for our sins and sacrificed his life to conquer death.  This doctrine, that He was a God before birth, only enhances the significance of His relationship with us; it emphasizes his love and humility.  It also confirms the doctrine of pre-existence, a pre-mortal life.  Like all of Heavenly Father’s children, Jesus existed as a spirit before He came into mortality.  As a pre-mortal spirit, He was given the power to represent the Father as a member of the Godhead.  He created the earth with the Father, and many earths like this.  They are one in every sense of the word, except physically.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Great worth to the body

First Nephi 19:7

What are some things that Nephi esteemed to be of great worth - especially to the body?  He must have taken good care of his physical health, he certainly ate healthy - fruits, grains, honey, meat.  What do you esteem to be of great worth to the body?  Following the word of wisdom (D&C 89) is of great worth.  Avoidance of addictions, eating healthy foods, regular fasting, plenty of sleep - retiring and arising early, and regular exercise is of great worth to the body. Let's not be guilty of setting these things at naught and trampling them under our feet.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Our sacred writings

First Nephi 19:1-7

Using metal plates as a record probably took a lot of work and a lot of time.  It also implies that your writings are going to last far longer than you are.  This would instinctively color your words.  Certainly one would be more mindful when writing something assumed to be permanently available to future generations.  You would want to write your valuable lessons and sacred experiences, as Nephi did.  Lets follow Nephi's example and write sacred things for the knowledge of those who come after us, and let's make it widely known while we still live.

Murmuring is easy

First Nephi 18:15-16

If I were to ask what words come to mind when you think of Laman and Lemuel, I bet the word "murmur" would be one of the first.  Although their common lot as a family group was to be subjected to similar trials and afflictions throughout their journey, Laman and Lemuel were always quick to murmur.  Even Lehi gave in to murmuring when starvation was on the horizon.  Nephi never gave in.  

Now here is a trial that was given only to Nephi - being tied to a seasick ship for 4 days, rocking back and forth in the terrible storm.  His vivid description of his exceedingly swollen wrists and ankles is painful to even imagine, and the ties probably left permanent scars.  I imagine he would have a difficult time even walking for a period of time.  If anyone had reason to murmur among that group, it was him.  Surely if the roles had been reversed, and it was Laman and Lemuel with the exceeding swelling and soreness, they wouldn't hesitate to murmur.  Nephi exerts incredible mental discipline and not only refrains from murmuring, but does the opposite, and praises God all the day long.  

Murmuring is easy, praising God in our afflictions is difficult, and requires putting things into perspective.  Lets remember verse 16, and apply it to any affliction we feel we are facing.  Let us not murmur because of our afflictions, whatever they may be, but let us look unto our God and praise him all the day long.  

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A great calm

First Nephi 18:21-22
The great and terrible tempest didn't stop when Laman and Lemuel untied Nephi, although that was certainly necessary. It stopped after Nephi prayed unto the Lord:

In the New Testament, there is an account of the Savior arising and calming the wind and the sea that sounds very similar.  Mark 4:39

In one instance, Nephi prayed to the Lord, Jehovah, the premortal Jesus Christ, to stop the tempest.  In the other instance, the mortal Jesus Christ rebuked the tempest directly.  In both cases, it was the same person, the same power, that controlled the elements: the Creator of the earth, the God of nature. 

Friday, June 29, 2012


First Nephi 18:23-25 Nephi mentions the seeds they had brought with them in 4 different places. Why does he find them so important? - Perhaps as one of their plans for survival. 8:1 He first mentions the seeds after Ishmael's family joins them - they had gathered together all manner of seeds of every kind - both every kind of grain and every kind of fruit. 16:11 He mentions seeds as they ready themselves to depart the valley of Lemuel after they receive the Liahona 18:6 He mentions the seeds as they load the ship with provisions 18:24 -
It would be interesting as a botanist or a geneticist to find links between grains and fruits in Jerusalem and the same species / DNA in the new world. I'm sure a study like this could be carried out. It would also be humbling to be one of Nephi's descendants a few dozen years later and realize that the fruits and grains your family is harvesting and eating each year were brought over from Jerusalem. It exists for you to eat only because your ancestors brought it with them. It was a perpetual gift for their descendants.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nothing save it were the power of God

First Nephi 18:8-23
Tying Nephi to the ship is the latest in a pattern of the murderous violence of Laman and Lemuel. They had been plotting to kill their father from the time they left Jerusalem, but as Nephi grew in status among the group, their anger grew toward him. Various events had softened Laman and Lemuel's hearts in the past. First, their father spake to them as he was filled with the spirit, which caused them to shake before him. An angel compelled them to stop beating Nephi and Sam. Ishmael's family persuaded them to stop trying to kill Nephi by tying him up and leaving him in the wilderness. The very voice of the Lord spoke to them "like unto the voice of thunder" and prevented them from killing their father and brother after Ishmael's death. Now Nephi was tied to the ship, a ship he built well enough to not only sail with the wind many days, but withstand four days of a great and terrible tempest. The pleading of his wife, children, and parents wouldn't soften Laman and Lemuel's hearts. As the verse above says, the only thing that could soften their hearts was their own imminent destruction by the power of God, another expression of their utter, consuming selfishness. This is the last significant effort to kill Nephi that ends in their repentance. The next one will end with Nephi leaving his brothers forever.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things

First Nephi 18:3

This verse is a cause-and-effect phrase - The Lord showed him great things because he went to the mount often, and he prayed often. The mount could also symbolize the temple. It is notable that Nephi continued to seek the Lord and His knowledge - the "great things" that Nephi was shown was surely included more than how to build the ship. The Lord wouldn't have shown Nephi great things unless Nephi had returned to the mount oft, and prayed oft unto the Lord.

Wine? How about the miracle of turning water into earth

First Nephi 17:50
Nephi is teaching Laman and Lemuel - and uses this as an example. In the next verse he explains that if the Lord has such great power, why can't he command Nephi to build a ship? Here is echoed one of the great themes of First Nephi - initially stated in 3:7 - the Lord won't command it unless it is possible, and unless he has prepared the way. Therefore, if the Lord commands Nephi to turn the ocean into earth, it is possible, it is the Lord's will, and He has prepared the way. Simply knowing the Lord has commanded it provides us with faith that it can, and should, be done - otherwise the Lord wouldn't command it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Feel His words

First Nephi 17:45

How often are we swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord?  This is such an apt description of how our we can have an attitude of annoyance, procrastination, laziness, and avoidance toward the things of God, even without intending to.  Rather we should be swift to remember the Lord, and slow to do iniquity (or just not do iniquity at all).

Another important part of this scripture is the description of communication from the Lord - a still small voice.  Laman and Lemuel could not "feel his words" because they were past feeling.  They had ignored the still small voice long enough that they no longer heard it, or rather, felt it.  That is an important verb in this context - A voice that you feel.  We would usually think of hearing a voice, not feeling it.  Are you feeling it?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

He that is righteous is favored of God

Nephi counters his brother's persecution by reminding them about Moses and the children of Israel.  When they got to the promised land, the drove out the people who were there, then discusses an important point: 

So when the children of Israel drove them out, nationality had nothing to do with it, culture had nothing to do with it, race had nothing to do with it.  The Lord esteemeth all flesh in one - he that is righteous is favored of God.  Note verse 34 - the children of Israel would not have been more choice.  The only requirement to receive God's favor is righteousness - not lineage, not heritage, not bloodline.  Each individual and nation rises or falls based on the condition of righteousness.  
     This pattern of God leading a group to a promised land, preparing the way before them has a few examples: Moses and the children of Israel, Lehi and Nephi's journey, the discovery of America, the westward migration of the Saints in the 1840's.  Each one fulfills the Lord's purposes is some way:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Contrasting perspectives on the wilderness maternity ward

First Nephi 17: 1-3, 20

It is easy to wonder why their journey in the wilderness took 8 years.  Then we learn from Nephi that their wives had children in the wilderness and it makes more sense.  I'm sure that each third trimester and each newborn babe meant that they were camped for several months.  Nephi's perspective is ultimately positive, without glossing over the tough parts.  He says:
Giving birth in the wilderness, eating raw meat, wading through much affliction, and his perspective is "So great were the blessings of the Lord upon us".  Compare that to Laman and Lemuel on the same topic of childbirth:

Keep in mind they went through the same experience as Nephi - and their perspective on their wives is "It would have been better that they had died".

Is it better to die than to suffer?  That seems to be the wrong focus.  Nephi focuses on keeping the commandments, and in that light, suffering is just part of the Lord making you stronger.  Jesus Christ suffered more than anyone else.  Perhaps our own suffering can bring us closer to Him.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Nephi and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat

First Nephi 16:38

There are parallels between Nephi's story and the story of his ancestor, Joseph of Egypt.  Similar to Joseph, Nephi was the youngest of his brothers and was told early on that he would be a "ruler and a teacher over (his) brethren". (2:22)  Coming from Nephi, this must have sounded quite egotistical to his brothers Laman and Lemuel, but actually, it seems an angel was the first to tell the brothers about Nephi's eventual reign.  "Know ye knot that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities?" the angel declared. (3:29)  Even so, Laman and Lemuel were not convinced!  Like Joseph's brothers, they plotted Nephi's death, even discounting the angel and Liahona - saying it was "cunning arts".  Their thinking on this whole matter is revealed in their plot to kill Nephi after Ishamel's death.  You can almost hear Joseph's brothers:

Nephi must have felt a kinship to Joseph after all this.  And like Joseph, the Lord preserved Nephi's life so he could eventually preserve theirs.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chasten them exceedingly

First Nephi 16:34-39

The death of Ishmael caused his daughters to "mourn exceedingly".  Unfortunately, it went beyond morning and became murmuring.  Laman took it from murmuring to murdering, or at least planning to murder his father and brother.  However this was not the first time, and would not be the last.   Previously they were prevented from killing their father or their brother by

1. Being confounded and shaken by the Spirit (2:14)
2. An angel (3:28-30)
3. Pleading of Ishmaels wife, a daughter, and a son (7:16-21)

This time, it was the very voice of the Lord, an amazing event:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Exodus of Lehi and Ishmael: Places and directions

The path Lehi's group travels is well documented by Nephi.  As they journey, they give unique names to places the camp.  Here is a summary of the names, directions, and events that decorate their journey to the promised land.

       Events: Lehi dwells all his days, departs
Traveled 3 days in wilderness near the borders by the Red Sea
The Valley of Lemuel and River of Laman
       Events: Retrieve brass plates, Zoram, and Ishmael's family, vision of tree of life, marriage, Liahona
Travel 4 days in a south-southeast direction
Traveled many days in the more fertile parts of the wilderness
Unnamed location
        Events: Nephi's Broken bow
Traveled many days nearly the same course as in the beginning
        Events: Ishmael is burried, voice of the Lord
Traveled nearly eastward from that time forth
Bountiful - they called the sea Irreantum
        Events: Nephi builds a ship

Nephi says the journey took 8 years.
One interesting note is Nahom.  It almost sounds as though Ishmael dies in an unnamed location and is carried to Nahom for burial.  Nephi says Ishmael was burried "in the place which was called Nahom".  Which suggests that it's name already existed before they arrived there.  Click here for archeological info on Nahom