Nephi’s Vision of Lehi’s Vision – An Overview – 1 Nephi 11-14

You can read 1 Nephi 11-14 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life and learning its interpretation.

Nephi’s Vision of Lehi’s Vision

For the past MONTH we have been studying Nephi’s vision of Lehi’s vision (of the tree of life). The record of Nephi’s vision comprises chapters 11-14 in the book of Mormon. So, we have taken about a week per chapter.

I love studying the scriptures slowly in depth. You learn a lot. You find connections. You often spend time in other scriptures. You can see how the gospel is radial and elegant.

That being said, there is something I also like about reading the scriptures quickly. I know that it is more popular to say things like, “Don’t try to just read the scriptures.” or “It’s good to spend time even reading one verse in depth. You don’t need to read a chapter a day.” I think that you get the idea. For some reason, we kind of belittle the advantage of reading the scriptures quickly.

I’m not suggesting that when we read the scriptures quickly, we just let our eyes glaze over and we don’t try to take in the scriptures at all. Instead, I think it is okay to read the scriptures like a book – to find the story! Sometimes when we get too slow, we get myopic. We forget the bigger picture.

So – my opinion is – read the scriptures! Read them quickly – hanging on the edge of your seat. Read them slowly – really chewing on every morsel. Read them! Study them! Incorporate them into your life. Let them be your guiding light, your Liahona. Let the Spirit speak to you through the scriptures!

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Soapbox done.

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So, since I just spent a month on four chapters, I now want to spend a day on the same four chapters – an overview. I think that it will just help to “sum up” what is going on.

Background – Nephi Desires to Know

This whole vision started because Nephi wanted to know and understand what his father was talking about! Without this desire, then none of the revelations would have followed. We can desire, and we can ask. The Lord implores us to ask, and He will reveal according to our desires and intentions.

The Symbols and Their Meanings

The Tree of Life = The Love of God

(1 Nephi 11:8-23)

When Nephi was taught the meaning of the tree of life, the Angel didn’t simply say: It’s the Love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts f the children of men; where it is the most desirable above all things. 

In fact, the Angel never said any of that!

He simply showed Nephi the coming of the Savior to the world. He showed Nephi a vision of Mary – and then he showed her holding the baby Jesus in her arms.

After Nephi saw this HE made the statement from above! He understood the meaning of this tree. And the angel added Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.

The Iron Rod = The Word of God

(1 Nephi 11:24-25; 13:12-42; 14:1-8)

In 1 Nephi 24-25, Nephi sees the Savior ministering among the children of men. The Angel then teaches Nephi that the rod of iron is the word of God. He teaches Nephi that this rod of Iron will lead the people to the fountain of living waters (Christ) and to the tree of life (the Love of God).

In chapter 14, Nephi sees that the Lord would manifest Himself to Gentiles through His Holy Ghost.

Now, just as a reminder, in chapter 13, Nephi saw the end of his civilization. His brother’s posterity still lived on, but they didn’t have the gospel and became “dark and loathsome.” Now, in chapter 14, he sees the Gentiles, and they have a “book.”

This book is the Bible – we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. In chapter 14, we learn that wicked people sought to destroy the church of God. They would masquerade as God’s church, but then pervert and change the Bible – leading many to stumble because these plain and precious truths were lost.

The Gentiles ignorantly stumbled because of these lost truths.

If we think of it in terms of the vision of the tree of life – it is as if the iron rod had GAPS MISSING IN IT! How would we make it through the mists of darkness if the iron rod had rusted and rotted away? We wouldn’t know where to go, what step to take. We would stumble.

Heavenly Father, of course, had a plan. In chapter 14 and 15, we read about the marvelous work and wonder that would go forth. We read that God would restore His gospel to the earth. We read of “another book” (the Book of Mormon) that would come forth and establish the truth of the first.

The Book of Mormon fills those gaps that were taken away. We don’t have to wander in the mists of darkness alone. The Lord has established His Word.

Living Waters = The Love of God

(1 Nephi 11:24-31)

The Angel also explained the meaning of the Living waters to Nephi. Then, Nephi saw the Savior among the children of men – teaching them, healing them, casting out evil spirits. The living waters will heal us, too.

Great and Spacious Building = Pride of the World

(1 Nephi 11:32-36; 12:18-23; 13:1-9; 14:3-4)

Some of these scripture references may not be the most accurate, but I’m running out of time.

When the Spirit taught Nephi about the meaning of the great and spacious building, he showed Nephi the judgment and death of Christ. He saw that the devil tricked many into fighting against the Savior and against His twelve apostles.

The Angel explains that the great and spacious building represents the pride of the world.

This is further illustrated with the creation of a “great and abominable church.” Some people speculate that this is a specific church, but the Spirit explains – it is the church of the devil. I suppose that this means anyone who doesn’t worship God. The First commandment is for us to love God – and to have no other Gods before Him. When we keep this commandment, then we belong to “his church.”

The “great and abominable church” fought against the Savior. And why? The angel explains:

“And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church.

9 And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.” – 1 Nephi 13:8-9

For the praise of the world. For money. For shiny stuff. These are the motives of the great and abominable church. Silly. Sometimes we really aren’t much smarter than raccoons.

The root of this – is pride. If we give into pride, if we care more about the praise of the world than God, then we will experience the same end as those in the great and spacious building. They had no foundation. NONE. And it came crashing down to the earth.

Mist of Darkness = Temptations of the Devil That Blind Eyes and Harden Hearts

(1 Nephi 12)

Nephi sees the end of his civilization here. Because of their choice to be proud, they gave into temptation, and then they became extinct.

After seeing this, the Angel explains the mists of darkness.

We don’t need to be captive to these mists. We should choose to humbly press on with a firm grasp of the iron rod.

Filthy Water and River = Depths of Hell

(1 Nephi 12)

Again, the Angel teaches about the meaning of these two symbols, which Lehi didn’t even really notice during his dream. But they were there. They are the depths of hell. This is where the people who let go of the Iron rod end up for the most part.

Which would you prefer? Depths of hell? or Love of God?

Hold to the rod!!!

The Gathering of Israel – Marvelous Work and Wonder

I’m not sure if I stated this clearly above, but there is a strong connection between the gathering of Israel and the Iron Rod.

The Scattering of Israel is a result of pride and temptations. (Mists of darkness, great and spacious building, and the river/fountain of filthy water).

The Gathering of Israel occurs when the Lord restores His gospel and His word. He “patches up” the portions of the rod of Iron that was destroyed by the great and abominable church when they extracted plain and precious truths of the Bible.

There is hope.

We get to live in the time of hope! The Lord has restored His gospel. The Iron Rod is whole and stronger than ever. We have the word of God, and it leads to His Tree – His Love – which is the sweetest and most joyous to the soul.

The End of Nephi’s Record of the Vision

Remember, at the end of 1 Nephi 14, we learn that Nephi sees more, but he can’t relate any more of his vision. Instead, that will be left to John the Revelator to do. You can read John’s revelation to get more information.

Ultimately, though, it is hope. The Lord reigns. This world, this earth, will go through a lot, but the Savior of the World will be the victor.

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I have to end now, but this is what Nephi saw in a really quick nutshell. I mean, really quick. But it is helpful to understand. What Nephi saw in vision changed his life. Really. This opened up a new paradigm for him. After seeing this vision, Nephi can’t ever go back. Now he knows – he knows the condescension of God. He knows the sweetness of the fruit.

I’m so grateful that Nephi sought to understand this dream. I’m grateful that Nephi didn’t shirk at the warning that the Angel gave him – that after seeing this vision, he would need to testify of the Savior. Instead, Nephi took on the responsibility of seeing this dream. I’m grateful that Nephi lived with full intent, and then he did as he intended to do. I’m grateful that Nephi shared with us his vision. Now, we have seen it, too.

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Can’t take the time to proofread today, so please excuse any problems. If there is some glaring mistake, feel free to comment and let me know, and I’ll fix it! Thanks for reading!

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The Pride of the World (Part Two) – 1 Nephi 11:32-36

You can read 1 Nephi 11:32-36 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life.
  • The Spirit tells Nephi to Look! Nephi looks.
  • Nephi sees the Lamb of God judged of the world, lifted up on the cross, and slain for the sins of the world.
  • Nephi saw multitudes of people gathered to fight agains the apostles of Christ.
  • Nephi sees the multitude gathered in the great and spacious building.
  • The Spirit explains to Nephi that the great and spacious building is the world and its wisdom. Nephi then saw that the great and spacious building, which was the pride of the world, fell.

The Pride of the World

If you like, you can read The Pride of the World – Part One here.

I was struck, yesterday, by the following phrases:

“…And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world;…” – 1 Nephi 11:32

I think that I usually read things like “by the people” and “of the world” and I think that this means others. I mean, I tend to think of “worldliness” as a way to describe the outsiders – those who don’t participate in Christianity. Maybe I think of them as secular people. I’m not sure.

I just know that I don’t think of “the world” as being covenant members of the House of Israel.

Yet, if we take a few minutes to ponder this scripture and the circumstances of Christ, then we know that “the people” and “the world” were in fact covenant members of the House of Israel. The Egyptians didn’t come in and kill the Savior. His own people took Him and judged Him.

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Another phrase that stands out to me:

“…behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” – 1 Nephi 11:35

Notice in this verse – it is The House of Israel that has gathered to fight against the twelve apostles. It wasn’t some “other” group – It wasn’t the Romans, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Phoenicians, or any other group that came and fought against the twelve apostles of the lamb and the Savior. It is the House of Israel that fights – against their God, against their apostles. I know that there were times when the apostles and the Christians were persecuted by other faiths. That is to be expected. What is interesting to me, is how the disciples of Christ were persecuted by those of their own faith.

The Problem with Pride

So – I’ve been pondering a lot about pride, but what’s the big deal, really? Maybe it’s annoying, but what’s the problem with it?

Well, first of all, pride can lead us to do some pretty stupid things. For example, it was pride that motivated the Pharisees to have the Savior crucified. Probably one of the dumbest things to happen in history. Pride makes us blind. Jacob taught:

“3 Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ—for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name—should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.

4 For should the mighty miracles be wrought among other nations they would repent, and know that he be their God.

5 But because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified.” – 2 Nephi 10:3-5

The pride of the people in Jerusalem made them blind to the greatest gift our world has ever received. It made them blind to the fact that they lived among the Son of God, the Creator of this world. If the Savior had come to any other nation or group, they would have recognized Him as God, but the pride of the people blinded them to the extent that they killed Him.

It’s funny. They didn’t like Jesus’ message, so they killed Him. But the thing is – killing Christ doesn’t change the truth of the gospel or the precepts He taught.

The Romans could lock up Galileo, but it didn’t change the fact that the earth did indeed revolve around the sun.

If you hated gravity, you could have locked up and killed Newton, but killing Newton wouldn’t keep you from plunging to your death if you stepped off the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Pride is silly, and we see what happens to the pride of the world and the great and spacious building – even after they have “eliminated” their opponents:

“And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof; yea, behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

36 And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” – 1 Nephi 11:35-36

Despite their efforts in fighting against the Lamb of God and His apostles, despite the martyrdoms and wars, truth still stands, and the great and spacious building falls.

The Antidote

So – what’s the point of studying all of this? Is there a solution? YES!

First of all, let’s remember this little fact about the great and spacious building:

“26 And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.” – 1 Nephi 8:26

This great and spacious building had no integrity. It was just standing on…nothing.

Contrast this with what we are taught later in the Book of Mormon:

“And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” – Helaman 5:12

If the wise man built his house upon the rock, and the foolish man built his house upon the sand, what did the prideful man build his house on?…nothing? Silly!!!

We can be wise. Instead of letting pride into our hearts – (and remember WE, covenant members of the house of Israel ARE susceptible to this problem) – we can root out pride and build our foundation on the rock of Christ. Christ is the only sure thing. If we build upon Him, we cannot fall. It is simple. It’s not sexy or exciting like that great and spacious building, but it is sure.

The Great and Spacious Building – 1 Nephi 8:26-27, 31-34

You can read 1 Nephi 8:26-27, 33-34 here.

Context and General Information

  • We are still reading about Lehi’s Dream.
  • Lehi looks around and sees a great and spacious building – it is suspended in the air, high above the earth.
  • The great and spacious building is filled with people. They are dressed well and they are mocking those who were partaking of the fruit.
  • There was a great multitude who entered into the great and spacious building. After they entered, they too pointed a finger of scorn at others.
  • Whoever heeded the people in the great and spacious building fell away.

The Great and Spacious Building

The next group of people we read about in Lehi’s ream are those who are in the great and spacious building.

I think that it is important to note that the great and spacious building is great and spacious. How does that sound? Well, to me it sounds kind of nice. It’s big. It’s high above the air. It isn’t some run-down shack. It is attractive.

In Lehi’s dream, he saw this building, and he saw many, many people who were either inside of it or trying to get to it.

Again – back to the idea of it’s attraction. We read:

“And he also saw other multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building.” – 1 Nephi 8:31

A few days ago, we studied about the fruit of the tree of life (see here). We learned that it was sweet, desirable, and it filled Lehi’s soul with joy.

But since then, we’ve read about people who partook of the fruit and then left it. (See here.)

And now – we are reading about people who don’t even look at the fruit with any kind of desire. They aren’t making a move toward the tree of life. Instead, they are feeling their way towards the building.

It was attractive.

What’s so attractive about it? Well, we read:

“And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine;…” – 1 Nephi 8:27

The people, their manner of dress – it is fine. This appeals to the raccoon in all of us–to the natural man. Who doesn’t like pretty, glittery things?

Then, Nephi continues:

“…and they were in the attitude of mockingand pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.” – 1 Nephi 8:27

I think that this plays to another human foible – our pride. Okay. that might seem obvious, but hopefully we can think about this in a new light.

If you are familiar with the Book of Mormon, then you know that the great and spacious building (and the people inside) represent the pride of the world. But what is interesting to me is that they will employ their pride and ours to beckon others to come to them.

Maybe it would help if we compare the tree of life and the great and spacious building.

Tree of Life

  • Beautiful – natural beauty. I think that most people who would behold it would want it – especially when they are in a dark and dreary world.
  • God-made – this is a tree. It is not a man-made edifice. Not only that, but this is unique. It shines from within. The fruit, themselves, are white. It is celestial in its appearance. This is offered to us by God.
  • Persuasion – Lehi does beckon his family to come. How does he do this? Well, he tells us:

    “And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit.” – 1 Nephi 8:15

    Lehi doesn’t use manipulation or embarrassment to persuade people to come and partake. He simply bears testimony of its desirability. It’s a charitable method of persuasion.

The Great and Spacious Building

  • Attractive – Though it isn’t described exactly in this account, we know that the people inside of the great and spacious building are dressed in a manner that is “exceedingly fine.” They are attractive. Their clothes are attractive. And, in my opinion, the building is also probably attractive. It’s great and spacious. I think that this building would appeal to all of us, most likely.

    That being said, it doesn’t seem to be natural beauty – in contrast with the dark and dreary world. Attractive, yes, but also lackluster. This shouldn’t be hard to imagine. There are so many glittery-shiny-attractive things in this world, but, like the great and spacious building, they have no integrity.

    And speaking of integrity, we know for a fact that the great and spacious building had no integrity:

    “…and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.” – 1 Nephi 8:26

    When you think of a building, with integrity, you think of its infrastructure. If you have been reading this blog, then you will know that one of my favorite scripture study tools is the dictionary. The definitions of integrity:

    1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
    2 : an unimpaired condition : soundness
    3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness

    The earthquake may have damaged the building’s structural integrity.Miriam-Webster.com

    Notice the second and third definitions especially. This great and spacious building – is in the air! It is not on a foundation. Where is its structural support or beams? It has no integrity. It might look nice on the outside, but with even the slightest threat it will fall.

    Would you want to be in a great and spacious building that had no support? The facade is great, talk about curb appeal! Inside there are granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Who cares about the foundation and structure? We figured we’d spend money on an indoor pool instead.

    Yeah, I’d pass on that, too.

    So – even though the building is highly attractive – people want to get in – it has no integrity. It’s shiny but without any actual value.

  • Man-Made – This isn’t a tree. It isn’t living. It is a man-made structure, and poorly made, too – since it has no foundation or support.

    Don’t get me wrong. I live in a man-made house. I am using man-made technology to write this blog post. I think that there are some pretty cool man-made things; however, they pale in comparison to the things that God has made – the sun, moon, stars, earth animals, plants, flowers, trees, humans…I mean, really there is no comparison.

    Yet – we do get a little distracted by the shiny man-made stuff, right? We walk right past the roses, the colts, the clouds – with our heads down staring at screens. (Maybe not all of us, I realized. I’m just talking about the human condition – to ignore the mundane no matter how miraculous it is.)

    Anyway – the building, as great as it might be, doesn’t compare to the simplest creature – let’s take the earthworm as an example – that God has created. Even though earthworms are simple, they are alive. It’s amazing.

  • Manipulation and Shame
  • This difference is striking to me. We already studied how Lehi inspired the people to come and partake of the fruit of the tree of life. Now notice, in stark contrast, how the people in the great and spacious building call out to people:

    “And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.”

    “And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.” – 1 Nephi 8:27, 32

    The people of the great and spacious building – who hadn’t partaken of the fruit of the tree of life, so they had no idea what they were talking about appealed to the pride of the people to scorn them into coming to the great and spacious building.

    The people in the great and spacious building don’t have anything to offer. They aren’t promising desirable fruit – that would fill a soul with joy. No, instead, they are just spending their time tearing down the truth.

    It’s so silly. If they were really happy with their great and spacious building, then why do they worry so much about the tree of life?

    But I think that this comparison is telling. God beckons us just as Lehi did – with gentleness and testimony. Satan, on the other hands, calls out to us using tactics of fear, embarrassment and shame.

There is so much more that could be said about the Great and Spacious building and those who lived within. But for now, I’m going to end this blog post. I’m thankful for the scriptures – what they remind me and what they teach me. This example – of the tree of life in contrast to the great and spacious building – can help us to learn to see with discernment in our lives. Just because something is attractive does not mean that it is right! Through the scriptures, we learn better how to discern and how to teach our children to discern, too.

Don’t Confuse Pleasure with Joy (1 Nephi 11:36)

“And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof; yea, behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

36 And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” – 1 Nephi 11:35-36

So – in this verse, Nephi is learning about the interpretation of his father, Lehi’s dream. Lehi had seen a great and spacious building. This building is full of people. It sounds like a pretty good time:

“And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.” – 1 Nephi 8:27

The people are looking good. They’re having a good laugh at the expense of those who are on the “strait and narrow.” I don’t know, but I’ve always imagined this great and spacious building as a giant party or something. The people are dressed very nicely, and I’m guessing that they are doing all of the things that will give them pleasure and satisfaction.

I mean, the great and spacious building – not the building itself, but the people inside it and its representation – is extremely alluring. Even after partaking of the fruit of the tree of life, some people are ashamed and want to go to the great and spacious building. Many people wander off and become lost – all so they can get into this elusive, beautiful, magnificent building – with its beautiful, magnificent and posh people.

Now, though things seem to be going great for the people in the great and spacious building, it is floating in the air, and soon enough it crashes to the ground. And, as the angel states, “the fall thereof was exceedingly great.”

So – let’s read between the lines. What would happen if a great and spacious building, full of reveling people – dressed nicely and having a good laugh – falls? What would happen to those people? Yikes. It all becomes a little less alluring.

Satan’s way, though glittering and attractive, is ultimately death and misery.

Joy is simple. It is steadfast. It is comfort during trial. It is not glittering or sexy. It is pure. It is sweet. And it is enduring. The joy that comes from God is His pure love, and it endures forever.

It’s easy to be confused. We are natural beings and therefore have natural desires. But Satan’s way, no matter how it is packaged, no matter how much pleasure you can take in the moment, always ends the same way – shattered, a puff of smoke, and illusion that leaves you with misery and pain.