The Most Desirable – 1 Nephi 11:21-23

You can read 1 Nephi 11:21-23 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life.
  • The Angel witnesses of Christ, and then asks if Nephi understands the meaning of the tree that he saw.
  • Nephi understands – it is the love of God. It is the most desirable above all things.
  • The angel teaches – it is also the most joyous.

The Most Desirable

If you have read any of the past blog posts, then you know that the idea of “desire” has been on my mind a lot lately. (You can read the posts here, and here…and even a little bit here.)

It’s interesting – the Spirit asked Nephi what he desired, and Nephi answered, to see what his father saw. When Nephi saw the tree that his father saw, the Spirit again asked Nephi what he desired. This time, Nephi responded that he wanted to know the meaning of the tree.

The Spirit answered Nephi by showing him a vision – of the coming of Christ. Nephi saw the virgin Mary. He saw Mary holding a baby in her arms. Then the Spirit asked Nephi:

“And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” – 1 Nephi 11:21

I know that I have been writing about this a lot, and it might seem redundant, but follow me for a second because it will help me to get pretty clear:
One – Nephi sees the tree of life.
Then, to help Nephi understand what the tree of life means, Nephi sees:

  1. The city of Jerusalem.
  2. The city of Nazareth.
  3. A fair virgin. (When Nephi sees the angel, the Spirit asks Nephi if he knows the condescension of God. Nephi does not. The angel doesn’t really explain the condescension of God yet, but the angel does explain to Nephi that this virgin is the mother of the son of God.)
  4. The virgin is holding a baby in her arms.

After this, the angel asks:

“Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?” – 1 Nephi 11:21

From this little series of things that Nephi sees, somehow he is able to understand. He answers the Spirit:

“And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.1 Nephi 11:22, emphasis added

The tree of life represents the love of God. This love sheds itself abroad in the hearts of all of us. And it is the most desirable above all things.

This is really standing out to me. The love of God is the most desirable above all things.

***
Things I desire:

  • happiness
  • Home
  • to be in shape
  • to go to the beach
  • pie
  • a romantic getaway with my husband
  • success and happiness for my children
  • to show my gratitude for the people that have been such a major support to me in my life
  • to learn to speak Italian fluently
  • etc.

I hate to admit this, but the love of God wasn’t on my short list. Yet it is the most desirable above all things.

After Nephi stated the meaning of the tree of life, the Spirit adds:

“And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” – 1 Nephi 11:23

Not only is the love of God the most desirable above all things, it is also the most joyous.

I need to amend my list. When asked, what do you desire? I want my answer to be “the love of God.”

What is the Love of God

Well, I guess I could sit here and try to write something about “the Love of God” and what I think it is, but I’m not going to. Instead, let’s study a short scripture chain.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

When I think of God’s love for us, I can’t help but think of John 3:16. It’s really a beautiful scripture and a beautiful truth. God sent us His only Son to be a sacrifice for sin and death because He loves us. That is the only motive of our Heavenly Father. His work and His glory is our immortality and eternal life. This work stems out of His love. In order to accomplish His work (which comes from His love), He has given His Son to perform an Atonement for us.

This is our ultimate hope. Do we really understand the plight we would be in without a Savior? Do we understand that without the Savior there is no hope for light or life? Without a Savior, every single day would be a day closer to never-ending death.

All of those things on my list would be meaningless if after this world, I was just miserable and dead anyway. I would gladly give up any of my other desires for a way back to Heavenly Father and eternal life and joy.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35-39

Another thing about the Love of God – nothing can separate us from this love! It has conquered all. It never fails. The Lord can’t force His love on us. He does give it to us, but we have to receive it.

If we remember Lehi’s dream, that tree – the love of God – was available to all, but they had to choose to partake.

It is a nice reminder – this love will overcome tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, death, life, angels, principalities, powers, height, depth, or any creature.

I don’t think that this means if we have the love of God in our lives, then life will be hunky dory. It doesn’t mean that with Christ, we will not experience tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, death, life, angels, principalities, powers, height, depth, or any creature. No – we still may have to experience some of these challenges in life.

But we can have hope because these challenges don’t have the power to separate us from the love of God. Truly it is the most desirable.

I have often heard people say that they want “stability” in their lives. I kind of understand this – we have been on the move a lot lately, and I don’t think that many people would describe our lives as particularly stable. However, this scripture helps to remind me that the only stable thing in this world is the Love of God. As long as we have this, then our lives have “stability” even if we move around often!

“But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” – 2 Nephi 1:15

This scripture is Lehi’s testimony. I love it because of the phrase, “I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” It sounds like a hug to me.

When we choose the Lord, we choose to feel his love. This is the first part of obtaining God’s Love.

“…wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing….” – 2 nephi 26:30

Notice, we have been commanded to have charity. Charity is love. It is God’s love. When we choose the Lord, and we choose His love, then we, like Lehi – will feel encircled about eternally in the arms of His love.

After this experience, we need to share that exact same love. We can’t share God’s love, charity, without first experiencing it ourselves. Lehi couldn’t share the fruit of the tree of life until after He partook.

Additionally, we won’t continue to experience God’s love unless we share it!

“Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.” – Alma 13:29

Faith, hope, and charity.

Here, Alma teaches us that we need to have the love of God always in our hearts. How do we do this? Well, we live worthy of His Spirit (we always remember Him, and do our best to keep the commandments that He has given us). Additionally, we express this same love to others.

In other words, we love others as the Lord has loved us!

One final scripture:

“And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” – 4 Nephi 1:15

This is what happens when we have the love of God in our hearts – both through experiencing it ourselves and through expressing it with others. The love of God will overcome differences. It will lead to peace and joy. The Nephites who dwelt in the Americas and met the Savior lived in a peaceful Zion state – without contention – because they chose the Savior, felt His love for them, and chose to cultivate this love and extend it to others.

It sounds pretty desirable. Pretty joyful.

***
So – what does this mean for me and my desires?

Well, maybe I can be sure that my overarching desire is the love of God. Charity. That I can be made whole through Christ.

That is my greatest desire. I work for that each day. I have felt God’s love and mercy in my life. I haven’t done anything to deserve His love, yet He loves me. I’m not always the best at being a conduit of this love for others, but I do desire to be that.

So – let’s look at the rest of the list. I think that it’s okay to have other “desires” – especially if they fit into the main framework of the desire to have the love of God in my heart.

Things I desire:

  • happiness – a good desire and I understand happiness is only possible through Christ. So, if I want joy, then I’m especially motivated to obtain the love of God, too.
  • Home – I think that this is a righteous desire that really fits in with the Love of God. Home is a great place to feel His love. Home is a place where I can nurture others and also be nurtured. I also feel like this is part of my purpose in life – to be a mother. To raise my children to also desire God’s love; To teach them to come unto Christ and be perfected. Home is the place, actually, that God designated for these things to happen!
  • to be in shape – A good desire as well. I’ve been blessed with this physical body by my creator. I fought for this body, inherited it, and Christ died so that we can be resurrected. I need a body (in the first place) in order to be resurrected. I believe that I need to be a good steward of this blessing. So, it fits into the larger picture.
  • to go to the beach – not important, but it is a good thing. It will bring me peace and joy. And when I’m at the beach, I feel closer and more connected to my Savior. Nature testifies of Christ.
  • pie – haha.
  • a romantic getaway with my husband – I think this is also a righteous deire that builds on the ultimate desire of the Love of God. Marriage is ordained of God. Nurturing my marriage is one of the most important things I can do on this earth.
  • success and happiness for my children – good desire.
  • to show my gratitude for the people that have been such a major support to me in my life – good desire. I owe so much to so many who have helped to bear my burdens and have comforted me when I’ve been in need of comfort. This is actually working with the most desirable thing – God’s love. Because if I want to have God’s love, then I need to be sharing it with others.
  • to learn to speak Italian fluently – just a cool thing, but it is also a righteous desire.
  • etc.

None of these things rate higher than the most desirable of all things (God’s Love), but I can see that many of them will help me to obtain it. Many of these desires are part of my obtaining this great desire. I also know that if I follow the Spirit – even in regards to my desires, then I will ultimately be able to “partake of the tree of life” – that I will obtain God’s love in my heart and experience the joy that God has in store for each of us.

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What Desirest Thou? – 1 Nephi 11:1-7

You can read 1 Nephi 11:1-7 here.

Context and General Information

  • After both desiring to see the things that his father saw, and then believing that he could Nephi sat pondering.
  • While pondering, Nephi was “caught away” in the Spirit of the Lord – to a high mountain.
  • The Spirit asked him, “What desirest thou?”
  • Nephi told the Spirit that he wanted to see what his father saw.
  • Nephi believed what his father saw.
  • The Spirit was joyous to know that Nephi was faithful, and Nephi would be blessed to see what his father saw.

What Desirest Thou?

I really believe that we can get exactly what we need from the scriptures every single day. No, I don’t believe that. I know it. I have experienced in my life.

I don’t want to be a scriptorian. I don’t care about “knowing” the scriptures. I know that the Pharisees “knew” the scriptures. In fact, they used the scriptures against the Savior. It is an irony that also serves as a warning to me. I don’t want to get caught up in the facts of the scriptures. I don’t want to study the scriptures so that people will say to me, Wow. You really know the scriptures.

However.

I do love the scriptures! I want to know them, not to show others that I know them, but so that they can be a source of strength in my life. I want to be close to the Spirit and to God on a daily basis. I know that a good way to do this is through prayerfully studying the scriptures. I have experienced this in my life. I know that if we open our scriptures, our minds, and our hearts, then we will be instructed in a way that is 100% relevant to our lives every single day.

If you are reading this blog, and feeling overwhelmed by the scriptures or if you feel like you’ve read them and they are boring, then I’ll share something that I try to do when I read the scriptures. I try to keep my mind open to those little nudges. Maybe something stands out to you and makes you feel good. Maybe something makes you pause and say, huh. Maybe you get stuck on an idea and then go off on a tangent that seems unrelated to what you are studying.

In my experiences – those little nudges are often the Spirit – speaking to me and helping me to know the answers to my questions, give me comfort, or help to calm my concerns.

Remember – if you want better answers, then ask better questions. …And it doesn’t hurt to be like a four year old – keep asking why (and finding an answer) until you can’t go any further.

OKAY

Sorry – to put all of that in here, but I hope it helps you in your personal study, and I hope it helps you to see why I’m about to dig into this one concept.

***

There are a lot of interesting things happening here in 1 Nephi 11 so far. First of all – Nephi is desiring to know what his father had seen. We talked about this a bit in this post and this post.

Nephi is also pondering in his heart. Man we could get into that…I’d love to write more about that, but that’s not the nudge for today.

As Nephi ponders, he is caught away in the Spirit – to a high mountain. This is another idea that I’d love to study further. Maybe one day in the future. For now, though, this isn’t the nudge that I’m feeling I really need to address today. But it is worth noting. Nephi is desiring, pondering, and then the Spirit responds. But the Spirit takes him to a holy place before showing him the vision.

After being brought to a mountain top, the Spirit asks Nephi, What desirest thou?

This is my nudge for today. I don’t really know why. But it has caught my eye and now my curiosity.

Nephi’s Desire

After being asked this question of the Spirit, Nephi answered him:

“And I said: I desire to behold the things which my father saw.” – 1 Nephi 11:3

What does Nephi want? Vision. He wants to see what his father saw. He wants to understand the vision of the tree of life. He recognizes that there is more than what his father simply related to them, and Nephi wants to know it.

Nephi is feeling a nudge! This isn’t a scripture or something that Nephi could really study. He did ponder it. Why was he so interested in pondering it and knowing it? I’m not sure – other than he had a desire.

I would venture to guess that Nephi was feeling drawn to this vision. He was having a nudge. Feeling an impression. It didn’t really “stand out” to him in a way that he could understand it immediately. Instead, I think that he was probably puzzled by the whole thing, and it wouldn’t leave him alone. This nudge turned into a full-fledged desire – Nephi needed to know what that dream meant!

After expressing his desire to the Spirit, the Spirit then asks Nephi if he believes his father. Nephi responds:

“And I said: Yea, thou knowest that I believe all the words of my father.” – 1 Nephi 11:5

Isn’t that interesting. Nephi didn’t want to know Lehi’s dream so that he would believe it. Nephi already believed his father and what his father said about the dream. His belief in what his father said is what is nudging Nephi to find a deeper understanding of what his father had taught.

When Nephi gave this response, the Spirit rejoiced:

“And when I had spoken these words, the Spirit cried with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea, even above all. And blessed art thou, Nephi, because thou believest in the Son of the most high God; wherefore, thou shalt behold the things which thou hast desired.” – 1 Nephi 11:6, emphasis added

Nephi hasn’t yet received what he desires, but he will. And why will he receive? Because of his faith. Because he followed this nudging, had faith that the Lord would answer his prayer, and did the work (praying, pondering, and believing) required to receive.

My Desire (Personal Application Time!)

I just got stuck on that question today:

What desirest thou?

Even though this question was asked to Nephi, as I read it today, it felt so personal to me. What do I desire???

Going to my favorite scripture study tool (the dictionary):

Desire: (verb)

  1. Strongly wish for or want (something) “he never achieved the status he so desired.”synonyms:

    want, wish for, long for, yearn for, crave, be desperate for, be bent on, covet, aspire to, fancy; Informalhave a yen for, have a jones for, yen for, hanker after/for

I think that I know why this is standing out to me right now. I know exactly what I desire.

Home

(When I say home – I mean a place to call home. I don’t mean “a house.” I just mean one consistent place for my family to feel at home.)

Four years ago, my husband and I started our own business. At the time, we were living in the Phoenix area. If you are familiar with Phoenix, then you know that in the summer time it gets pretty warm…

Giant Saguaro

Does this picture look hot to you?

Hiking in North Phoenix

How about this one???

Now, we really loved living in Arizona, but it is easy to talk yourself into moving when July comes around. My husband and I started toying with the idea. Finally, the next year, we decided it was the right thing to do. We sold our house. We sold most of our possessions. We made the move – to Hawai’i.

Sunrise

From sunup

Hanging in Hawaii

all the day long

Hawaii Sunset

to sundown.

We really loved it there. We made the move. Shipped our car, sold a ton of our stuff, and found a little three month rental. We figured we’d find something permanent when we got there and then we’d ship our stuff.

A few months later, when the rental was about to expire, we hadn’t found anything, and my husband had a strong impression move to Utah… So we did.

We moved to Utah, and then we moved again. And then we moved across the country to Massachusetts. Then back to the west. And now we are hanging out at my in-laws house getting things in order to move again. I’m hoping one final time.

Midway

Midway

Swiss Oaks

Swiss Oaks

Pine Canyon Road

Pine Canyon – Another move in Midway

Wompatuck

Wompatuck, Mass.

Nantasket in January

The Frozen Atlantic…a little different than tropical Pacific

Heber Valley

Heber Valley in late spring.

We’ve been here for a few months now – we only anticipated a few weeks. But that’s how life goes sometimes. In the past few months i’ve found myself:

  • wanting…
  • wishing for…
  • longing for…
  • yearning for…
  • craving…
  • desperate for…
  • bent on…
  • coveting… (okay, not coveting, I promise)
  • aspring to…
  • hankering for…
  • jonesing for…

HOME!!!!!!!

I promise you that it isn’t a complaint. It isn’t me feeling sorry for myself. I’m actually not coveting. I feel satisfied with the decisions I’ve made. I have been grateful to live in every place we’ve lived. You saw the pictures. AMAZING. There is nothing that I will change about the last four years.

Despite my satisfaction with life, I have recently felt a longing, a desire. In church the other week, we sang “Love at Home,” and I just felt how deeply I want home. I have loved our adventures, but I’m ready to settle down for a while.

What desirest thou? for me – it’s home…I’ve gone on about this too long. If this is nudging, it’s not so that I can talk about how much I long for home…

One – The Desire

As I mentioned earlier, I kind of think that Nephi had a nudge – to desire to know more. I believe that his desire wasn’t unrighteous, but that it was a good, spiritual desire.

Additionally, I truly believe that my desire for home is a good, spiritual desire. It is righteous. It is a nudge.

Two – Go to the Lord

Ask. Seek. Knock. And we will find. After Nephi realized what his desire was, he went to the Lord. He pondered on the words of his father. He tried to do what he could to obtain his desire.

Prayer is such a crucial part of this process. In the Bible Dictionary we learn:

“The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.” – Bible Dictionary: Prayer

I don’t want to get prescriptive here because I think that the work we need to do largely depends on what we desire. However, I know that prayer is a form of work, and as we pray we will be guided on the work that we need to do in order to receive that which we desire.

Three – Believe

After Nephi told the Spirit his desire, the Spirit asks:

“…Believest thou that thy father saw the tree of which he hath spoken?” – 1 Nephi 11:4

This is not really the response I would have expected. I mean, Nephi has the desire, then he is asking God. Doesn’t it seem like he believes? Then, the Spirit asks, “What do you desire?” Nephi tells him what he desires, and then this?

So, why does the Spirit ask him this?

I’m not completely sure, but think about it. What if Nephi said, “I want to see what my father saw,” but then – at his core he didn’t believe it in the first place? It wouldn’t have done Nephi any good to know it. The Lord wasn’t going to answer Nephi of a little curiosity, he was only going to fulfill his desire and that desire had to be backed by real faith.

So – what about my situation?

Well – first of all – without getting too personal (it’s probably already too late for that!!! haha!), I will state that there have been times when I have received priesthood blessings recently when I have been told that soon I will be settled. We will have a place to call home.

So – the thought that comes to me is, “Do I believe?” Do I believe what the Lord has said in the past? Do I believe that the Lord will grant my desire? Do I believe that there really is a home for me and my family?

In a way, it probably seems like I’m cheating because I have Nephi’s example. But YES! Yes I do believe! I believe the promptings of the Spirit. I believe that my desire is righteous and that it isn’t just some little flirtation or curiosity. I believe that the Lord is capable and that He will do as He has already indicated and promised in blessings and other spiritual impressions.

Four – Thou Shalt Behold the Things which Thou Hast Desired

Nephi’s desire was granted after he told the Spirit of his faith. I don’t know how long Nephi was pondering and desiring. It doesn’t really matter. It’s just important to know that Nephi desired, sought, believed, and then received.

And this is the hope that I have. I believe that the Lord will fulfill His promises. Not only do I believe the words of the blessings  and spiritual blessings I have received, but also because of this experience of Nephi’s.

***

So – the nudge. I don’t know how much I really “learned” about the scriptures, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be a scriptorian. The nudge I felt was about this phrase – What do I desire? And I know that this nudge was a way for the Spirit to comfort me as I continue on in my own little journey.

Following this nudge may not tell me more about this scripture story, but it did help me to better understand how the Lord works sometimes – at least how he worked with Nephi. Following this nudge helped me to see that the Lord’s promises are sure. This nudge helped me to really determine if my desires are righteous. It reminded me that prayer really is work. The nudge made me realize that not only should I desire and pray, but I must believe. Faith comes first here – it is what will power the miracle. And the nudge helped to increase my hope in the Lord’s willingness to grant us according to our righteous desires.

Thanks for reading this. I hope it wasn’t too personal or needy. I hope that it helps you to listen to your little nudges and pauses and “huhs” as you study the scriptures.

Lehi Prophesies of John the Baptist – 1 Nephi 10:7-10

You can read 1 Nephi 10:7-10.

Context and General Information

  • After Lehi prophesied of the coming of the Savior, he prophesied of the prophet that would come to prepare the way of the Savior.
  • Lehi prophesied that this man would go forth and cry in the wilderness. He would also baptize Jesus Christ.
  • Lehi prophesied that after baptizing the Messiah, he would then testify that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who should take away the sins of the world.
John the Baptist

John Preaching in the Widlerness, by Del Parson

John the Baptist

I find the prophecies about John the Baptist really fascinating. All of the prophets testify and prophesy of Christ. However, it isn’t very often that there is a prophecy about a prophet.

And I wonder why that is. Right now, off the top of my head, the only prophecies of prophets I can think of is this – John the Baptist and Joseph Smith (See 2 Nephi 3.)

I can’t say that I’m exactly sure why there are prophecies of John the Baptist, so let’s go ahead and look him up in the Bible Dictionary.

“Son of Zacharias and Elisabeth, being of priestly descent through both parents. This lineage was essential, since John was the embodiment of the law of Moses, designed to prepare the way for the Messiah and make ready a people to receive Him. He was the outstanding bearer of the Aaronic Priesthood in all history and was entrusted with its most noble mission.” – Bible Dictionary: John the Baptist

Okay. So I didn’t really know this. The embodiment of the law of Moses. That is interesting. Preparing the way for the Savior.

FYI, I haven’t thought this through. I’ve had a busy day, and am getting to my scripture study kind of late, so today is a bit more “stream of consciousness” than usual. Welcome to my brain. Please don’t judge me. 🙂

Back to what we were saying before. Here are the thoughts I’m having in regards to “preparing” and “embodiment of the Law of Moses.”

The Law of Moses was a preparatory gospel paving the way for the higher law that the Lord would give in His ministry.

The Aaronich Priesthood is a preparatory priesthood which leads to the Melchizedek Preisthood.

John the Baptist is kind of a signpost for this change – from the lower law to the higher law. He prepared the way for Christ.

There is so much more in the Bible Dictionary about John the Baptist, but I think that we will study it later. For now, I want to focus on the tenth verse:

“And after he had baptized the Messiah with water, he should behold and bear record that he had baptized the Lamb of God, who should take away the sins of the world.”- 1 Nephi 10:7-10

I just love this scripture because it makes me think of the fulfillment of this prophecy. In the New Testament, we read:

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” – John 1:29

This is the very moment that is prophesied of by Lehi – this is the moment where the lesser priesthood makes way for the higher priesthood; where the lesser law of Moses makes way for the higher law of Christ.

John the Baptist has a large following. Instead of trying to nurture his own numbers and ego, he turns them over to the Savior. That’s what the lesser law is all about, after all – preparing for the Messiah. And here, John the Baptist – who was testified to precede Christ, did precede the Christ. John the Baptist was a humble prophet who fulfilled his mission on this earth.

By the way – one of the reasons why I love that scripture from John so much is because it is one of the scriptures included in Handel’s Messiah.

Can you imagine it? Can you imagine being there, listening to the John the Baptist utter those words, “Behold the Lamb of God.???

***
The prophets knew that the Savior would come. That this gospel is real. That there is a purpose to our lives here on earth, and that purpose is possible because of the Messiah. And because of the testimonies of the prophets, we too can know that the gospel is real, that there is a purpose to our lives on earth, and that purpose is possible because of the Messiah.

The Lord Will Raise Up a Messiah Part Two – 1 Nephi 10:1-6

You can read 1 Nephi 10:1-6 here.

Read The Lord Will Raise Up a Messiah Part One here.

Context and General Information

(Same as last time…)

  • Lehi and his family are still dwelling in the valley of Lemuel – in the wilderness.
  • After Lehi told his family about his dream he told them about the Jews.
  • Jerusalem would be destroyed. Many of the Jews dwelling there would be carried away captive into Babylon.
  • After some time (according to the will of God), the Jews would be able to return to Jerusalem again.
  • Lehi prophesies that 600 years from the time that they left Jerusalem, the Lord would raise up a Messiah – or, in other words, a Savior of the World.
  • All of us are in a lost and fallen state, and we will remain so unless we rely on this Messiah.

Jesus Christ Christus

The Lord Will Raise Up a Messiah

On Saturday, we studied verses 2-3 in depth – about the destruction of Jerusalem, and then about the time when they would return from Babylon and how this related to the Messiah.

So – let’s continue on!

“Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews—even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world.”

And he also spake concerning the prophets, how great a number had testified of these things, concerning this Messiah, of whom he had spoken, or this Redeemer of the world.

Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer.” – 1 Nephi 10:4-6

You know…I think that it was important for Lehi to know that the people would go back to Jerusalem. He knew it would be destroyed, and at first – before studying the words of Isaiah and receiving more wisdom from the Lord, it might be easy to think that Jerusalem would have remained destroyed.

But Lehi is taught that the Jews would return to Jerusalem – and they would remain there for centuries. In fact, Lehi learned and then prophesied to his family (and also us!) that six hundred years after leaving Jerusalem, the Savior would come. In this verse, and in the following verses, there are 4 titles given for Jesus Christ, of whom Lehi is prophesying.

Prophet, Messiah, Savior, Redeemer

Prophet

The title of “Prophet” is somewhat interesting when it comes to the Savior. Mostly because I usually tend to think of a prophet as someone who testifies of Christ. Well, in the Bible Dictionary, we learn:

“The work of a Hebrew prophet was to act as God’s messenger and make known God’s will.” –  Bible Dictionary: Prophet

The Savior certainly performed this function of a prophet. While He ministered on the earth, The Savior Himself stated:

“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” – John 6:38-40

Christ was the Messenger of God – as a member of the Godhead, Himself. He was a messenger of His Father. He taught the people the higher law, He testified of His divine mission and God’s will – that we can all receive salvation through Christ.

The Bible Dictionary continues:

“It was also the prophet’s duty to denounce sin and foretell its punishment and to redress, so far as he could, both public and private wrongs. He was to be, above all, a preacher of righteousness. When the people had fallen away from a true faith in Jehovah, the prophets had to try to restore that faith and remove false views about the character of God and the nature of the divine requirement. In certain cases prophets predicted future events, such as the very important prophecies announcing the coming of Messiah’s kingdom; but as a rule a prophet was a forthteller rather than a foreteller. In a general sense a prophet is anyone who has a testimony of Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost.” – Bible Dictionary: Prophet

Christ fulfilled all of the duties of a prophet. He denounced sin. he taught the disciples a higher law, he cleaned the temple, he constantly corrected the pharisees.

Christ was a preacher of righteousness – giving the beatitudes, and telling parables.

Christ worked to restore faith and remove false views about God – he gave a higher law, he taught about service on the Sabbath day. He healed people and performed miracle after miracle – according to the faith of many, and to help the faith of many more.

The Savior had a testimony of His role and duty. He didn’t let anything get in the way of what He knew He had come here to do. He was the Prophet prophesied of by Lehi.

Messiah

Again, the Bible Dictionary can help us to understand the title of Messiah and how it applies to Christ:

“An Aramaic word meaning “the anointed.” It occurs only in Dan. 9:25–26 and John 1:41; 4:25 (Messias). Used as the title of an office, it denotes the King and Deliverer whose coming the Jews were eagerly expecting. In the New Testament the deliverer is called the Christ, which is the Greek equivalent of Messiah, and Jesus the Messiah is called Jesus the Christ, Jesus Christ, or Christ Jesus.” – Bible Dictionary: Messiah

Christ was anointed – from the pre-mortal realm, to come to earth, make an sacrifice for sin so that we could be atoned. He was anointed – from the pre-mortal realm – to take on death and then overcome it – so that we could then live forever. Christ was anointed to atone for us – overcoming both death and hell. He is the promised Messiah.

The following titles seem similar, but it might be helpful to study each of them individually to see the nuanced differences. In this case, the title of Messiah tells us that He was anointed. This was His duty, his role, his responsibility. It was also His gift. He’d be given the capacity to do what He had been set apart to do.

So – Jesus wasn’t just some random good guy. He wasn’t just some wise rabbi. He was anointed. He was called of God and set apart to do the work that He came to earth to do.

Savior

In the Guide to the Scriptures, we read:

“One who saves. Jesus Christ, through His Atonement, offered redemption and salvation to all mankind. “Savior” is a name and title of Jesus Christ.” – Guide to the Scriptures: Savior

Christ was anointed to save us. So, He is our Savior.

I know that this is a common name for Jesus Christ. I often call Him, The Savior. But take a second to think about it. Jesus is called the Savior…because we need one.

We will learn more about this concept later, for sure. But it is critical for us to remember: WE NEED A SAVIOR. Without Him, we are consigned to an endless state of misery and woe. Without Jesus Christ, this world is the best it gets. Without Jesus Christ we wouldn’t be saved from death. So the grave would have been the victor. Without Jesus Christ, we wouldn’t be saved from spiritual death – which is an eternal separation from God (who is life).

We would be forever miserable. Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father are the source of everything and anything good in this world. Without the Savior, we wouldn’t experience so many blessings.

We need a Savior, and Jesus Christ is it.

Redeemer

Thus far, we have learned that Jesus Christ is a Prophet – as He testifies of God’s will; the Messiah – he is anointed to do His work; The Savior – as He saves us from the fall – both death and sin. Now, we are learning that He is also the Redeemer.

It kind of sounds the same as Savior, but we learn from D. Todd Christofferson:

“Among the most significant of Jesus Christ’s descriptive titles is Redeemer. As indicated in my brief account of immigrant “redemptioners,” the word redeem means to pay off an obligation or a debt. Redeem can also mean to rescue or set free as by paying a ransom. If someone commits a mistake and then corrects it or makes amends, we say he has redeemed himself. Each of these meanings suggests different facets of the great Redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ through His Atonement, which includes, in the words of the dictionary, “to deliver from sin and its penalties, as by a sacrifice made for the sinner.” – D. Todd Christofferson

This explanation by Elder Christofferson suggests another nuance to Christ’s roles – he pays off an obligation, or a debt. We are in debt to God – who grants us daily breath, blessings, and so much more. Christ also sets us free by paying ransom.

Christ didn’t just “save” us – the way a firefighter might rush in and save a baby in a burning building. Yes, that firefighter is heroic and is even taking a big risk. He might be a Savior.

But Jesus Christ – as the redeemer set us free by paying a ransom. The Salvation He offers came at a cost – His blood, His body. He didn’t merely risk his life He gave it.

***

This is a beautiful prophecy from Lehi, and the prophecies of Christ will only get better as we continue to read the Book of Mormon. We need the Savior. We Need Him. We need to be saved. We need our debts to be paid. And we can’t just have any old joe-schmoe save us. In order to find salvation, we need one who is anointed and empowered to perform this work. It is Jesus Christ – the prophet who tells us the will of the Father:

“Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.” – 3 Nephi 27:13-16

These titles: Prophet, Messiah, Savior, and Redeemer – are inspiration to us to do as He instructs: come unto Him, repent, be baptized in His name, and endure to the end. Because of Him we have hope. Truly, the Gospel is Good News.

 

 

The Lord Will Raise Up a Messiah Part One – 1 Nephi 10:1-6

You can read 1 Nephi 10:1-6 here.

Context and General Information

  • Lehi and his family are still dwelling in the valley of Lemuel – in the wilderness.
  • After Lehi told his family about his dream he told them about the Jews.
  • Jerusalem would be destroyed. Many of the Jews dwelling there would be carried away captive into Babylon.
  • After some time (according to the will of God), the Jews would be able to return to Jerusalem again.
  • Lehi prophesies that 600 years from the time that they left Jerusalem, the Lord would raise up a Messiah – or, in other words, a Savior of the World.
  • All of us are in a lost and fallen state, and we will remain so unless we rely on this Messiah.

The Lord Will Raise up a Messiah

Today’s reading is exciting. Several weeks ago, we studied the title page of the Book of Mormon here. We learned that the subtitle of the Book of Mormon: another Testament of Jesus Christ was added officially in 1982.

And why was this subtitle added? Because the Book of Mormon IS another testament of Jesus Christ!

Now, we’ve been studying the Book of Mormon for a few weeks now. And, sure, we have discussed Christ, but this is the first time that we get to read Lehi really prophesying of Christ. So – let’s take it a verse at a time and see what we learn today.

“For behold, it came to pass after my father had made an end of speaking the words of his dream, and also of exhorting them to all diligence, he spake unto them concerning the Jews—

That after they should be destroyed, even that great city Jerusalem, and many be carried away captive into Babylon, according to the own due time of the Lord, they should return again, yea, even be brought back out of captivity; and after they should be brought back out of captivity they should possess again the land of their inheritance.” – 1 Nephi 10:2-3

First of all, we need to understand that Jerusalem will indeed be destroyed. Actually, we have hindsight. Jerusalem WAS, INDEED, destroyed. Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. Many of the Jews were killed. Some were taken as captives to Babylon. It was not an easy time for Israel.

However, this wouldn’t last forever. The Lord also promised that in His due time, the Jews would return to Jerusalem. So – the Babylonians conquered Judah and then started deporting Jews form Jerusalem in 598 BC. It continued until 587 BC. The Jews remained captives for a few decades.

Finally, around 538 BC, the Persians conquered Babylon. Cyrus the Great, king of the Persians, gave the Jews permission to return to their homeland. All of this was prophesied of by Isaiah and here, Lehi is also reiterating the prophecy. The Jews would again possess the land of their inheritance.

This is an important set-up and a part of the prophecy of Christ. If the Jews didn’t return to Jerusalem, then who knows where Christ would have been born! It wouldn’t have worked as it did, and obviously these details were important.

I think that it is also important – for the coming of Christ, that Jerusalem had been destroyed. Even though they were allowed to return to Palestine, things were never really the same for the Jews. They were no longer ruled by kings – as had been instituted by God. They still worshipped their God, but there was always a bit of unrest.

In fact, not long before Christ was born, Israel had a new group that called themselves Kings (of the Maccabees), but they didn’t come from true royal heritage (They weren’t of King David’s line).

prophet-isaiah-foretells-christs-birth-39469-gallery

When we think about the political and religious climate of Jerusalem after their destruction and even after their reinstitution, the prophecy given by Isaiah takes on more meaning:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

The Jews would be taken from their land of inheritance and then returned to it. This would all set up for the coming of a Messiah – or a Savior of the World.

 

Desirable Fruit – 1 Nephi 8:10-12

You can read 1 Nephi 8:10-12 here.

Context and General Information

  • Lehi is having his Vision
  • Lehi sees a tree with fruit that is desirable to make one happy.
  • Lehi partook of the fruit. It was sweet above all that he had before tasted and white above all whiteness he had ever seen.
  • When Lehi partook of the fruit, it filled his soul with joy.
  • Lehi was desirous that his family should also partake of the fruit.

lehi-dream-1132729-gallery

Desirable Fruit

If you remember from yesterday’s reading, Lehi had been in a dark and dreary waste. He saw a man who bid Lehi to come and follow Him. Lehi did.

After following Him, Lehi found himself in the dark and dreary waste again. This time, he prayed, and then saw a spacious field and a tree.

Even from afar off, he saw that the tree had desirable fruit.

What made the fruit so desirable? Why did he want it so bad?

Seeing a Tree of Life After Traveling in a Dark and Dreary Waste

Well – first of all, I suppose that seeing this tree with white fruit was a stark contrast from the dark and dreary world that he had been in prior to seeing the tree. He described it as a “dark and dreary waste.” After being in such a dark and dreary waste, the glowing tree would seem quite desirable.

Desirable to Make One Happy

Again, I think that it is helpful to think of the Fruit in contrast to the “dark and dreary waste.”

Even though I can understand what “dreary” means, I thought that I’d look it up in the dictionary:

“Dull, bleak, and lifeless; depressing.”

Imagine the joy to see a tree – wait, not just any tree – the Tree of Life after being lost in a dark and dreary world … a dark, dull, bleak, lifeless, and depressing world. Imagine that joy.

The idea that is coming to me is that it would be like “seeing light at the end of the tunnel.”

Lehi wandered in darkness, lifelessness. It was discouraging and depressing. I’m willing to guess that maybe Lehi even felt hopeless. In fact, we know that after a while, he finally prayed to God for help.

And after that prayer, things opened up for him. He saw a large field. And then, a tree – full of life. The antithesis of that dark and dreary waste in which he had spent hours wandering.

Sweet

We read:

“And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted.” – 1 Nephi 8:11

I’ve got a sweet tooth, so I don’t need any more convincing on why this fruit was great.

White Fruit

Again, we read:

“Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.” – 1 Nephi 8:11

Not only was the fruit sweet, but Lehi describes it as “white” – to exceed all of the whiteness he had ever seen.

I think that this is symbolic of Lehi’s understanding that it is not just any old fruit. This fruit is special. It is heavenly. The fruit of this tree is not like an apple, pear, or even a mango. It has a quality – perhaps it’s even shining out because it is so white.

And we have to remember that this was a dream. Everything Lehi is experiencing is within his dream. Which means that everything is symbolic of something else.

I suppose if I was having a dream, and there was a tree with white, glowing fruit – in stark contrast to the dark and dreary world where I had just been – I think that I would recognize this tree as celestial.

So – that’s my best guess on the “whiteness” of this tree.

“It Filled My Soul with Exceedingly Great Joy”

Lehi’s determination to partake of this fruit is good. His instincts – that this fruit was desirable to make one happy – were right. He proceeds to the tree, partakes, and then we read:

“And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy;” – 1 Nephi 8:12

Even though so much has changed in the last 2600 years, there are some things that are still the exact same. We want to be happy. Isn’t that so much of what motivates us, for better or for worse?

What I mean is, often we make decisions – even if they are bad decisions – because on some level we think that the decision will result in happiness.

Lehi was in a dark and dreary waste. He was feeling depressed and discouraged. Then, he saw a tree with bright fruit. A beacon of hope in a dark world. This fruit, he came to find, brought him exceedingly great joy.

Personal Application

There are times when the world we live in may seem like a “dark and dreary waste.” It can be easy to keep wandering around aimlessly, depressed in the gloom.

But we don’t have to be. There is hope. We can follow Lehi’s example. We can pray. Then, when we do, we can look around and notice the joy that the Savior is offering to us. We can take time to notice the tree of life, and then change the bearings and courses of our lives so that we will be able to partake of it.

Of course, in discussing this metaphor, obtaining the fruit of the tree might be a “life-time quest.” But I think that if we will open our hearts and eyes to it, we have more of it in our lives right now than we realize.

Even now, on a daily basis, how do we invite love, warmth, joy, and light into our lives? We call upon the Lord. We recognize Him. We look forward with hope. Instead of focusing on the dark and dreary waste, we can look to the tree of life with hope in our hearts – knowing that soon we’ll be able to partake of it and experience “exceedingly great joy.”

Sacrifice is Hard, but Nothing is Too Hard for God – 1 Nephi 3:1-7

Context and General Information

  • After his experience with the Lord, Nephi goes to his father’s tent.
  • Lehi tells Nephi of a dream that he had – that he needs to send his sons to Jerusalem to get the Plates of Brass from Laban.
  • The Plates of Brass have the genealogy of Lehi’s family and the commandments of the Lord.
  • Laman and Lemuel murmur.
  • Nephi trusts that he will be able to do as the Lord commanded.
  • Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, and Sam go down to Jerusalem. They cast lots to see who will approach Laban for the Brass Plates.
  • Laman is chosen to ask. He goes to Laban to ask for the plates, and his life is threatened by Laban. Laman fled to his brothers in safety.

Sometimes Sacrifice is Hard

When Lehi tells Nephi that the Lord has commanded them to go back to Jerusalem to get the brass plates, Lehi shares his brothers’ feeling about the assignment:

“And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.” –1 Nephi 3:5

I think that it is important to understand this situation as well as we can:

Several nights before, during the night Lehi had a dream and was told to take his family and leave Jerusalem. He obeyed. Lehi packed up his family and only a few provisions. They seemed to have lived a good, abundant life in Jerusalem, and now they are leaving the safety of the city and venturing into a hot and dangerous desert.

As far as I can tell, the only person who received the message – that the family needed to flee Jerusalem – was Lehi. This vision doesn’t come to Sariah or any of the children. In fact, it isn’t until they have journeyed for three days that they even stop to set up a camp. There, Nephi goes to the Lord. Nephi receives his own witness that this is truly a commandment from God, but Laman and Lemuel don’t know, and thy continue to murmur.

We need to understand the situation: the terrain is difficult and dangerous. Sometimes we think of wilderness as something that looks like this:

008 Woods at Huber Grove

This seems wild, but it is probably not an accurate idea of “the wilderness.”

Instead, what Lehi and his family experienced was something that looked a little bit more like this:

007 Wilderness

This doesn’t look like a fun family camping trip.

When we do our best to put ourselves there – in the heat, little water, little shade, etc. It gets a lot easier to see why Laman and Lemuel murmured. In fact, the more I try to think of the conditions of Lehi’s flight from Jerusalem, it is harder to imagine why Nephi didn’t murmur!

This is not an easy sacrifice! This is no promised land. Now that Lehi has escaped Jerusalem, he is being told to send his sons back to get the plates of Brass. It could be a temptation – to give up and go back. But Lehi remains faithful.

The thing that is really impressed on my mind is what Laman and Lemuel said “It is a hard thing…” Lehi doesn’t deny that it is a hard thing. But he says that he didn’t command it, God did.

Lehi doesn’t try to gloss over the challenging nature of this sacrifice. Instead, he reminds Laman and Lemuel that the sacrifice and command came from God.

It’s good for me to remember – sometimes sacrifice is hard! Sometimes we are asked to do hard things. But we can remember that it came from God.

Nothing is Too Hard

Even though we might be asked to do things or make sacrifices that are hard, we can remember that nothing is too hard for the Lord.

This, of course, requires a basic understanding of our God (which basic knowledge is the antidote to murmuring).

We then read Nephi’s classic, famous response:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. ” – 1 Nephi 3:7

Nephi isn’t being a goody-two-shoes here. This isn’t some kind of positivity practice or hopeful thinking. Nephi knows that he can trust God.

Nephi knows that our Heavenly Father isn’t Lucy. (from Charlie Brown!) Heavenly Father won’t set us up to kick the ball, then take it away at the last second, leaving us flat on our backs.

Heavenly Father didn’t command Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem just as some kind of arbitrary test to see if they would be faithful. The Lord isn’t power hungry or bored. The Lord knows what Lehi and his family will need in order for them to successfully set up their own civilization. The Lord knows that Lehi and his family needs the Plates of Brass, so the Lord will help them to do it.

We can also trust the Lord. We can remember that he isn’t Lucy. He isn’t entertained by our efforts, failures, difficulties or trials. He wants us to succeed. He wants us to be happy.

So he gives us commandments – which will bring us more joy and closer to the true goal of our lives.

***

Tomorrow’s Assignment: 1 Nephi 3:8-14.