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

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The burden of providing

First Nephi 16

The event of the broken bow as detailed in chapter 16 shows yet another example of a trial that was impossible, except someone should have faith.  Just like with the brass plates, they were unobtainable without the actions of faith.  In this case, the entire camp might have died of hunger if it weren't for Nephi's faith.  Nephi was the last one standing.  And what could be more stressful than being depended on to provide food to a hungry extended family, because if you don't, no one else will.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Text messages from God

First Nephi 16:9-10, 16, 26-29

After gathering seeds and getting married, it was finally time to leave the valley of Lemuel.  When Lehi is told to leave the valley, he wakes up to find "a round ball of curious workmanship".  Interestingly, Nephi never actually calls it the Liahona in his writings, but it's name is later revealed by Alma in Alma 37:38.
Nephi says that this is an example of how "small means the Lord can bring about great things"

We can speculate where it came from, or who made it, but that's not it's most interesting aspect.  Even if it was hand made by some wise man traveling from far, or delivered from the courts on high by an angel, the most interesting aspect is not it's physical qualities, or mode of arrival.  Those are the "small means".  The most interesting part is that  it receives communications from God.  The spindles aren't a traditional compass - they point the way this particular company should travel.  In addition, God's words are physically written on the ball, and changed from time to time.  Even our most sophisticated smart phones don't have that app.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Eternal Marriage

First Nephi 16:7-8

I have a feeling that, in addition to the amazing visions, Nephi was talking about his marriage when he said he had been blessed exceedingly.  It is also interesting that the marriage ceremonies took place before they began their journey into the wilderness.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ask me in Faith

First Nephi 15:1-11

Nephi returned from his vision to find his brethren disputing about the things Lehi had said.
The dialog between Laman and Lemuel and Nephi here can teach us lessons about ourselves as well.  They said "We cannot understand" to which Nephi could have done one of two things, he could continue their disputations by offering his own opinion, or he could show deference to the One who could help them all understand.  "Have ye inquired of the Lord?" was his response.  What a novel idea it must have been to them, to actually see the Lord as the source of knowledge, and as an entity that could join their conversation and end their disputes.  But isn't it also the most natural reaction?  When we are confused, who do we ask?  Why not ask God - about anything?  Shouldn't He know?  If anybody knows, it's Him, right?  Of course.  Yet it requires faith, and diligence.  Ask as though you will get and answer - "believing you will receive"

Nephi says these words came from the Lord - perhaps Lehi relayed them to his sons during their discussion on his vision of the tree of life.  Laman and Lemuel should have known them already.  It is apparent that Nephi knew these words, and was probably thinking about them when he desired to receive the same revelation as his father.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Nephi faints

First Nephi 15:1-6

It seems that visions are physically draining - After Nephi witnesses such an amazing vision, he is brought sharply back to earth when he sees the same old contention, disputing, and lack of faith of his brethren.  Perhaps after witnessing the destruction of his seed, and the forever division his children will have from the children of his brothers, he is reminded that he is in the presence of the begining of it all: Laman and Lemuel.  His description of being "overcome" is similar to what Moses experienced on the mount, when he fell to the earth for many hours (Moses 1:9-10) and what Joseph Smith experienced when he fainted while crossing the field fence after a night of visits from the Angel Moroni.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Easy to the understanding of all men

First Nephi 14:18-27

More than 600 years before the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation, Nephi saw him, and what we would write about.  Nephi wasn't the only one to see the things that he saw in his vision.  But he was only allowed to write a "small part" of the things that he saw (v.28).  Others have seen them as well, and written them (v.26).  But their accounts are not available to us, they are sealed up for now.  The only surviving account we have a copy of is that of the apostle John as he wrote it in the book of Revelation in the Bible.  But this account might still remain fragmentary and lacking it's original clarity after his words were sifted and changed by unholy people (13:26).  Note how the angel says when they were written, they "were plain and pure, and most precious and easy to the understanding of all men".  This sounds like what Nephi wrote in the four previous chapters (11-14) - plain, pure, precious, easy to understand.  But it doesn't sound like what "all men" would say concerning our present day Book of Revelation.  Maybe the plain and precious parts haven't been restored yet so that we can use faith, prayer, work, and personal revelation to demonstrate to God our desire to understand, which demonstration will earn those most precious things.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The immediate future - wars and rumors of wars

Parts 1-3 are posted separately below

First Nephi 14 part 4


To recap: the saints of God are scattered upon all the face of the earth, the great mother of abominations gathers together multitudes to fight against the Lamb of God, the power of the Lamb of God descends to arm the saints.  So first there was an offensive, initiated by the church of the devil.  Then defensive measures provided to the saints by God.  Now there is a counter-offensive - a terrible reckoning for the great and abominable church.  Earlier in Nephi's vision, he witnessed the scattering and smiting of the seed of his brethren by the Gentiles.  The angel described it as the wrath of God (13:11,14).  The above verse indicates that the wrath of God will be poured out in these last days.  As could be said about each item in these few verses, these wars and rumors of wars may be in progress; however, note that it says "among all nations and kindreds of the earth".  The day this happens is the day that preparing for the fulfillment of the covenants commences.  The rest of Nephi's vision, (he says he only wrote a small part) is written by John the Apostle in the book of Revelation.