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).
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.