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: