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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Nephi and John the Revelator – 1 Nephi 14:18-30

You can read 1 Nephi 14:18-30 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life and learning its interpretation.
  • The Angel told Nephi to look, and Nephi looked.
  • Nephi saw a man dressed in white. The Angel told Nephi that this man Nephi saw was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. He would see the remainder of the prophecy that Nephi would see and he would write concerning the end of the world.
  • The things that this apostle will write are just and true. They would be written in the book that Nephi saw – the Bible. When he wrote it, they were plain, precious, and easy to the understanding of all men.
  • While Nephi would see the rest of the revelation, he was commanded not to write any more of it. The apostle that Nephi saw was ordained to write it.
  • Others have seen similar visions – of the world – and their records were sealed – to come forth to the House of Israel in their purity in the due time of the Lord.
  • Nephi learned that this apostle’s name was John.
  • Nephi was forbidden to write the remainder of the things that he saw and heard. What did did write is only a small fraction of the things that he saw.
  • Nephi testifies that what he saw in this vision are all true.

Nephi and John the Revelator

A few rambling thoughts…

One – Nephi

This event – seeing the vision of the tree of life – it is really when Nephi receives a witness. Remember what the Angel told Nephi before he showed Nephi the vision:

“And behold this thing shall be given unto thee for a sign, that after thou hast beheld the tree which bore the fruit which thy father tasted, thou shalt also behold a man descending out of heaven, and him shall ye witness; and after ye have witnessed him ye shall bear record that it is the Son of God.” – 1 Nephi 11:7

Nephi knew, even before seeing this vision that this knowledge would come with a responsibility. Nephi would be a witness of Christ. His witness is rather special.

Remember, also, that at the beginning of the vision, the angel asked knowest thou the condescension of God? And Nephi answers that he doesn’t.

Prior to this vision, Nephi had faith in God, yes. He had faith in Jesus Christ. He knew that if we trusted in God, then God would empower us to keep all of the commandments that He has given. Nephi knew some of the testimony of his father, but there was so much that Nephi didn’t know. When Nephi and his family embarked on their trip to the promised land, he was “exceedingly young.”

Nephi hears his father tell about his dream, and then Lehi witnesses of the coming of Christ. These discussions spark something within Nephi – he wants to know and understand what his father is talking about. He wants to understand the vision of the tree of life better. He takes it to the Lord.

Nephi didn’t know, then he prayed – with faith and real intent.

We hear about real intent a lot. What does it mean, exactly? Intention, purpose, resolved to do something… So – when we pray, we need to be resolved to do something. We can’t just idly pray asking God for whatever it is we are asking Him for. That would be a “vain repetition.” Instead, we pray with real intent. To illustrate this idea, I will quote a recent general conference address:

“When I was a young man, my parents joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We knew that the missionaries had been teaching them, but my parents had taken the missionary lessons alone.

After this surprising announcement, my brothers and I began to listen to the missionaries as well, and they each received the message of the Restoration with gladness. Although I was curious, my heart was not into changing my life. I did, however, accept the challenge to pray about whether the Book of Mormon was the word of God, but I did not receive an answer.

You might ask why Heavenly Father did not answer that prayer; I certainly wondered. I have learned since that the promise made by Moroni is accurate. God does answer our prayers about the truthfulness of the gospel, but He answers them when we have “a sincere heart” and “real intent.” He does not answer just to respond to our curiosity.” – James B. Martino

Nephi was more than simply curious about the meaning of his father’s dream. Nephi had an intention – to understand the mysteries of God so that he could be a better disciple; so that he could improve his life and his dedication to the Lord. This is why Nephi saw what he saw.

Now, at the end of chapter 14 in 1 Nephi, Nephi is a changed man. This is a major part of his development. He can’t turn back after this knowledge, either. He is committed to the gospel, to His God, to His covenants. And he stands as a witness – no matter how inconvenient it is – after.

Two – John the Revelator

Just for fun…

Even though Nephi had the intention to do as the Angel told him to do – to witness of the Savior, near the end of the record that we read is a command from the Angel – Nephi will see more, but this part he will not be a witness of. Instead, this will fall to the responsibility of another – John the Revelator.

This is a very comforting thing – that Nephi mentions John here and John’s duty – because John wrote a warning in Revelation that is often used to criticize members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” – Revelation 22:18

Nephi did hear the prophecies that were given to John, and Nephi stopped with his witness – as instructed by the Lord. He didn’t “add unto these things” as John warned. It’s just really interesting to me. The Book of Mormon doesn’t add to John’s revelation. Nephi finished his record at this point. Later records of a vision like this are “sealed,” to come forth in the due time of the Lord.

In no way does the Book of Mormon “add to” or change John’s prophecy. Anyway – I wrote more about it a few years ago on my other blog. You can read about it here if you are interested.

So – if you want to know more about what else Nephi saw, then just check out John’s record as written in the Bible!

They Were Armed with Righteousness – 1 Nephi 14:8-17

You can read 1 Nephi 14:8-17 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life and learning its interpretation.
  • The Angel asks Nephi if he remembers the covenants of Heavenly Father to the House of Israel. Nephi responds that yes, he does.
  • The Angel shows Nephi that the Devil is the founder of the “great and abominable church” – a proverbial church which is literally anything that fights against the Lord and tries to hurt people.
  • The Devil and his “church” has influence all over the earth.
  • The Saints of God are also found on the earth, but their numbers are few.
  • The Devil will inspire those who follow Him to fight against the Lamb of God.
  • The power of the Lamb of God, however, will be with the covenant saints of the Lord. They will be armed with righteousness and the power of God.
  • Nephi witnesses wars and conflicts all over the earth.
  • The Lord would commence in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants – which He made with the House of Israel.

They Were Armed with Righteousness

There is a lot in this scripture block that I’m not one hundred percent sure of. I have my opinions. I don’t think that the “great and abominable church” is a specific church. I just think that it is anything that is actively working against Good.

I also think that that there are a lot of good people in this earth that may not have the gospel in their lives. They may not have covenanted with God. I don’t think that people who haven’t covenanted with God are evil. I think that the Lord looks on our hearts.

All of that being said, I do believe that evil exists. I know that there are true influences trying to coax us into sin, pain, and misery. I also know that we aren’t left alone on this earth.

In 1 Nephi, we read:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.” – 1 Nephi 14:14

I find this so interesting. First of all, we must understand that the Power of the Lamb of God descended on the saints of the church.

If you are not familiar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we consider anyone who covenants with God a saint. You don’t need to be canonized to be a saint. You simply need to be committed to Christ and striving.

Also, according to this scripture, the power of God goes to the Saints – all over the earth. They don’t need to live in Utah or in the U.S. If you have covenanted with the Lord, and if you are living up to your covenants, then you the power of God will descend on you – no matter where you are.

Okay. Anyway – the things I find interesting…

Armed with Righteousness

Armed. The saints of God – their “weapon” is righteousness. I’m reminded of the scripture in Ephesians where Paul teaches to put on the whole armor of God:

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” – Ephesians 6:11-17

This really relates to what we are reading in 1 Nephi. Paul teaches that the whole armor of God will enable to withstand the “wiles of the devil.”

We don’t fight flesh and blood – but against spiritual wickedness – in other words, against “the church of the devil.”

If we will covenant with God, and keep His covenants, then He offers to arm us with righteousness – armor of truth; a breastplate of righteousness; boots of the preparation of the gospel of peace; a shield of faith; a helmet of salvation; and a sword of the Spirit.

With this armor, we cannot fail. We won’t be deceived. We will be destroyed by the enemy of us all (Satan!). The only “issues” with this armor is our agency. Heavenly Father won’t force us to covenant with Him. He won’t force us to become saints.

But if we do, we are armed. And there is no better protection than righteousness.

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PS Didn’t proofread. Please excuse any mistakes.

The Promises of the Covenant of the Lord – 1 Nephi 14:1-7

You can read 1 Nephi 14:1-7 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life and learning its interpretation.
  • The angel teaches that if the Gentiles will hearken unto Christ, then He would manifest Himself to them and take away their stumbling blocks. He would also allow them to be numbered in the House of Israel – extending His covenant to them as well.
  • The great pit that was dug by the great and abominable church to trap people would be filled with those who dug it.
  • According to both the captivity of the devil and the justice of God, those who do wickedly will receive negative consequences.
  • If the Gentiles repent, it will be well with them. If they don’t repent, then wo unto them.
  • The Lord will work a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men. It will be everlasting – either to peace and liberty or misery and captivity. This is dependent on our choices.

The Promises of the Covenant of the Lord

A Little Background
In the last chapter, we read that Nephi saw the Gentiles – after the time of Columbus and the “discovery” of the New World. He saw that they had a book. This book was the Bible. Nephi also saw that this book had originally come from the apostles of God in purity and in fulness of truth; however, over time wicked people had deleted many of the plain and precious parts of the Bible.

These mistranslations and changes to God’s word came at a grave cost. Though the Bible began to gain popularity, it was also incomplete. It caused many people to stumble. They didn’t understand the doctrine correctly.

Nephi also sees that Heavenly Father knew that this would happen, so He prepared a way for us to have the fulness of His truth and gospel. Anciently, Heavenly Father prepared by commanding Nephi and other prophets to write records – containing the covenants of God and witness of His Christ.

These records were kept throughout the Nephite civilization. Shortly before it ended, Mormon was commanded to abridge the records, then hide them up to come forth in due time of the Lord.

The records waited, hiding in the earth, for the Lord to bring them forth. Civilizations in the Americas rose and fell. In Europe, wars raged, and people changed with the wars. Roman and Greek polytheism “died.” And then Christianity was adopted. Additionally, Islam spread, and Judaism continued to have influence.

The world went through medieval “dark ages,” then a renaissance, and then the age of exploration dawned. With advances in technology, Europeans started to explore the earth. Columbus sailed to America. And then things changed in a big way. Over time, large numbers of Europeans started to migrate to these “new lands.”

Still the records, buried in the earth, waited for the due time of the Lord.

More happened, European countries expanded their territories, colonies, and influence throughout the world. In the late 1700s, people living in the Colonies of England were frustrated with their “mother country,” and declared independence.

The U.S. continued to expand. Other countries in the Americas fought for their independence from their “mother countries.” And in the early 1800s, America found itself in a bit of religious fervor – especially where Joseph Smith lived in upstate New York.

Joseph Smith didn’t know which church he should join, so he decided to ask God.

017 the-first-vision-82823-gallery

When Joseph Smith was fourteen years old, he went to a grove of trees near his home in Palmyra, New York. He knelt, prayed, and asked God what church to join. It was a simple question asked by a simple boy. But the result of this would change the world forever.

Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith. They told Joseph not to join any church – that none of them contained the fulness of the gospel. (Remember, the Bible, and therefore the religion of Christ, had been altered by wicked people.) Subsequently, the Lord started His “marvelous work and wonder,” – restoring His gospel.

Joseph Smith, four years after seeing this vision, was entrusted the Golden plates – the record that the Lord had been saving for centuries – the record that would establish the truth of the Bible and then restore the covenants of God to us.

Today, we will study a bit of this covenant. There are promises we make and then promises that the Lord makes to us. There are things we must do, and that God will do in return.

What we must do

  1. Hearken unto the Lamb of God (vs. 1) – We read:

    “1 And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day …” – 1 Nephi 14:1

    Although this verse says, “Gentiles,” for today’s blog post we’ll just extend this to anyone – as all are free to come unto Him.

    So – what we must do: hearken unto the Lamb of God.

    Hearken
    What does it mean to hearken? Well, it means to hear, of course. But it is a little bit more than that. When we hearken we not only listen, but we also heed. We obey. We give consideration or pay attention to what is being said.

    Listening always seems a little bit passive to me. But hearkening is active. It means, that we hear and then we integrate what we hear into our lives.

    So – we hearken…and what do we hearken to???
    The Lamb of God

    The Savior. Jesus Christ. The Son. He is the Creator, the Father of our Salvation. He is our Hope and our Salvation.

    Our part of the deal: give special attention and heed to Christ.

  2. Harden not our Hearts Against the Lamb of God (vs. 2)
    This is actually listed in verse 2. The Savior had manifest Himself unto the Gentiles and had taken away their stumbling blocks through the Book of Mormon. Now they have a choice. We have a choice.

    I think it is interesting because it might be easy to misunderstand. We might think that when we see that the Lord manifest Himself to us. We will get the glimpse of a testimony. And this knowledge will even take away our stumbling blocks! I think that sometimes we may mistakenly think that means that life will be easy and challenge free.

    Not so.

    The Lord will help us to navigate those stumbling blocks or to endure them. But through His power, we won’t be stuck. We will still, however have to endure adversity.

    And in the throes of adversity, we must remember not to harden our hearts against Him. We must trust Him. We must always remember Him. We must learn who He is through prayer, diligently study of the scriptures, and through serving Him and others.

    If we harden our hearts against the Savior, then we also aren’t hearkening unto Him. So we can forget any of the blessings that He has promised us.

  3. Repent (vs. 5)

    The Gentiles must repent. We must repent. There really isn’t much more to say than that right now. I’m sure that we’ll talk about it more as we study the Book of Mormon. But it is a requirement of the Lord.

What the Lord will Do

  1. Number Us Among the House of Israel (vs. 2)
    In other words, the Lord will allow the Gentiles to be numbered among His covenant people. They will be able to make covenants and receive the blessings of the ordinances of the gospel.

    When the Savior was on the earth, a Gentile woman asked Him for a miracle. Her daughter was “vexed with a devil.” She wanted the Savior to heal her daughter. This is what happened next:

    “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

    25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

    26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” – Matthew 15:24-26

    You don’t really think of the Savior denying anyone of blessings. (Spoiler: He ended up healing her daughter, but this was one of the rare times He healed anyone who was not of the House of Israel.) But the Savior explained – He came to Israel, which included Israel’s “lost” tribes. He didn’t come at that time to minister to the Gentiles – those who were not members of covenant Israel.

    He tells the woman that he won’t give the “children’s bread” to the dogs. Pretty strong language.

    In the vision that Nephi is seeing, he witnesses a day and a time – far into the future – over a thousand years after Christ would declare that he wouldn’t take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs. In that future day, Nephi sees that the Savior not only manifests Himself to the Gentiles, but then covenants with them.

    I think that what the Savior taught to the woman is critical to understand. The Savior can’t do His work if we don’t covenant with Him. Yes, he can bless us temporarily, but true healing, true salvation, can only come if we are covenant members of the House of Israel.

    And in this modern time, when the gospel has been restored, becoming a covenant member of the house of Israel is simple. We can make the choice. We can heed His word and keep our hearts softened, and then He will allow us to be numbered among the House of Israel.

  2. They Shall Be a Blessed People Upon the Promised Land Forever (vs. 2) – Remember, this isn’t an unconditional promise. There is a requirement: we must hearken to the Lamb of God, and we must not harden our hearts.

    If we keep our end of the deal, then we are a blessed people here in the promised land forever.

    If we don’t keep our end of the deal…no promises.

    It’s a cool promise, though, and it encourages me to be righteous. I have noticed that blessings make life a lot better. I would like to do what I can to receive them. They bring me joy, bring my family joy, and – Heavenly Father delights in blessing us, so they bring Him joy, too.

  3. They Shall Be no More Brought Down into Captivity (vs. 2) – Also a really cool promise. I think that this one is both temporal and spiritual.

    If we, as a Gentile nation, will choose to hearken unto the Lamb of God and not harden our hearts against Him, we will remain free. It is a blessing beyond understanding – freedom. I have enjoyed it my entire life, and not because I have done anything to deserve it. I have enjoyed liberty just because I was born here.

    Not everyone enjoys this liberty. If we want to continue to have freedom, then we need to protect and guard it. The best way to guard our freedom – choose to be righteous; choose to hearken unto the Lamb of God and harden not your heart.

    Not only is this true on a large, temporal scale, but this is also true individually and spiritually.

    If we do not hearken unto the Lord in our lives, then we will probably fall into temptation, which leads to the captivity of sin. If we harden our hearts against our Savior, again we will quickly and easily be led into temptation and sin…which 100% of the time results in captivity and frustration. Hearken and harden not…and stay liberated, happy, and free!

  4. The House of Israel Shall No More Be Confounded (vs. 2)
    All of the House of Israel will be blessed by the faithful Gentiles. We have seen the truth of this already! The Gentiles who choose to hearken unto the Lord and harden not their hearts have also served missions and have been examples to help bring others to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The scattered and lost tribes of Israel are blessed by the efforts of the Gentiles.

    Think of the scripture:

    “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.

    23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: …” – Isaiah 49:22-23

    The gentiles will nurse the sons and daughters of the House of Israel and restore them to the covenants made anciently by their fathers and mothers.

  5. It Shall Be Well With Them (vs. 5) –
    We read:

    “And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, Nephi, saying: Thou hast beheld that if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them; and thou also knowest concerning the covenants of the Lord unto the house of Israel; and thou also hast heard that whoso repenteth not must perish.” – 1 Nephi 14:5

    It will be well with us if we repent. We won’t die! We will live! Good deal, if you ask me!

So – those are the promises of the covenant. What we promise and what the Lord promises. It isn’t always easy to do – to give heed, not to harden our hearts, and to repent. But the process is really simple. And the “difficulty” of our part is far outweighed by the blessings that we receive.

Establishing Truth – 1 Nephi 13:38-42

You can read 1 Nephi 13:38-42 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life and learning its interpretation.
  • Nephi sees that the Bible came forth to the seed of his brethren through the Gentiles.
  • Nephi then beholds other books that also helped to convince the Gentiles, the remnants of the seed of Nephi’s brethren, and the Jews that were scattered all over the face of the earth – that the Bible is true.
  • The last records that Nephi saw (the Book of Mormon) will help to bring understanding and will establish truth to the first (the Bible). The Book of Mormon does not compete with the Bible, but it compliments it.
  • There is one God and one Shepherd over the earth.
  • The Lord will manifest Himself to the Jews and then the Gentiles. And then again He will manifest Himself first to the Gentiles and then the Jews. The first will be last and the last will be first.

Establishing Truth

Establishing truth. Its an interesting concept. Earlier in 1 Nephi 13, we read that the Gentiles have a “book” – the Bible – that they are carrying with them. Even though this book is good, and it originally contained the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we read that many of the plain and precious parts of this book were taken away. We read why in 1 Nephi:

“And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.” – 1 Nephi 13:27

The Lord always honors our agency – even when that means we do not so good things. He even honored the agency of those who would change His word. Of course, there will be a consequence of this action, but He did allow it to happen. That is because the Lord allows us to make our choices – good our bad.

Why is that? I’m not sure, and that’s not really the point of the post, but we can take some consolation in the following scripture:

“…thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” – 2 Nephi 2:2

Yes, the Lord allows us to experience trials. He allows evil people to hurt good people. He allowed evil people to change His word – the Bible. Of course He didn’t want that – but He honors our agency and allows us to make our decisions.

And sometimes, it could feel a little bit unfair to those who are hurt by the people who are exercising their agency in an evil way. Even though Heavenly Father honors agency – and allows bad things to happen to good people, we don’t need to fear. We can trust Him. He has offered a “fix.” He will consecrate our afflictions for our gain.

The Lord knew that there would be people who would exercise their agency in a way that was destructive to humankind for centuries. He knew that some power hungry people would choose to change His word, and that these changes would cause many to stumble. Though the Lord allowed this to happen, all hope isn’t lost.

The Lord inspired others, Nephi and his posterity, to keep records. Their record – the Book of Mormon – would establish truth. It doesn’t compete with the Bible, but helps to fill in some of the gaps that were deleted centuries before.

We read:

“And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.” – 1 Nephi 13:40

We are so blessed to live now, in these latter days! Even though there are plain and precious truths missing from the Bible, the Lord prepared a way for us to still have access to those truths. He prepared the Book of Mormon for us.

I’m not sure if you can tell by reading this, but I’m actually reticent to write a blog post about the way that the Bible has been changed over time. I don’t want to be misunderstood. I love the Bible. Some of my favorite scriptures are in the Bible. I know that it is the word of God, as long as it is translated correctly. And that’s the thing, though. There are so many translations and interpretations. There are so many disagreements. What are we supposed to think of all of this? Where is the truth?

Elder Callister in a conference talk stated:

“The Bible is one witness of Jesus Christ; the Book of Mormon is another. Why is this second witness so crucial? The following illustration may help: How many straight lines can you draw through a single point on a piece of paper? The answer is infinite. For a moment, suppose that single point represents the Bible and that hundreds of those straight lines drawn through that point represent different interpretations of the Bible and that each of those interpretations represents a different church.

What happens, however, if on that piece of paper there is a second point representing the Book of Mormon? How many straight lines could you draw between these two reference points: the Bible and the Book of Mormon? Only one. Only one interpretation of Christ’s doctrines survives the testimony of these two witnesses.

Again and again the Book of Mormon acts as a confirming, clarifying, unifying witness of the doctrines taught in the Bible so that there is only “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” – Tad R. Callister

The Lord, when He brought forth the Book of Mormon, established His truth. It is another witness, or the “second point” that can give us clarity on what is stated in the Bible.

Just as the scripture in 1 Nephi says – the Book of Mormon will establish the truth of the first record (which is the Bible). So, if you love the Bible, then you will love the Book of Mormon – it testifies of the Bible. It stands next to the Bible as another witness of Christ and His gospel. It supports the Bible. I understand why, if I didn’t have the Book of Mormon, it would be easy to think that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of “stories.” But I have the Book of Mormon, it has helped to enlighten my mind about the doctrines laid out in the Bible. The Book of Mormon has strengthened my faith in Christ, and it has helped me to better understand the Bible.

One final quote from Elder Callister:

“Would you like to have emblazoned on your soul an undeniable witness that the Savior descended beneath your sins and that there is no sin, no mortal plight outside the merciful reach of His Atonement—that for each of your struggles He has a remedy of superior healing power? Then read the Book of Mormon. …

Together with the Bible, the Book of Mormon is an indispensable witness of the doctrines of Christ and His divinity. Together with the Bible, it “teach[es] all men that they should do good” (2 Nephi 33:10). And together with the Bible, it brings us to “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” That is why the Book of Mormon is so crucial in our lives.” – Tad R. Callister

***

I like to consider myself a truth-seeker. I’m always looking for knowledge. In fact, I probably listen to too many podcasts, read too many books, do too much online research. I’m just overwhelmed (in a good way) by the potential that we humans, children of God, have on this earth. There is so much to learn! And every time I find more truth in my life, I feel richer.

The blessing of seeking and finding truth has blessed me abundantly.

While there are many great ways to improve your life – there really are great podcasts, self-help books, etc that will help you to make your life better – these podcasts and self-help books cannot do what the Book of Mormon does.

The Book of Mormon testifies purely, simply, elegantly of the Savior. I have read the Book of Mormon. In fact, I have read it more times than I can even count. I share this because I want to say that I know it is true. I know that it is the word of God. There are a lot of things that I don’t know. There are a lot of things that the Lord is patiently teaching me.

But He doesn’t have to convince me about the Book of Mormon because I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that it was written by Nephi, Jacob, and others – and that it was abridged by the hands of Mormon. I know that this book contains truths, principles, and illustrations that will bring us guidance and peace. The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ – His deliverance, His mercy, and His Atonement. It has brought me peace, enlightenment, guidance, and hope.

I know that the Lord will bless us with truth if we seek truth. In fact, the Lord implores us to come unto Him and receive truth. He created a way for each of us to have truth in our lives. Long before wicked and prideful people changed the Bible – deleting many of its plain and precious truths, the Lord prepared a way for us to have truth. We don’t have to stumble. We don’t need to be confused. The Book of Mormon offers a perspective that will give clarity to the Bible and establish its truth.

How Beautiful Upon the Mountains – 1 Nephi 13:37

You can read 1 Nephi 13:37 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life and learning its interpretation.
  • This is one of my favorite scriptures.

How Beautiful Upon the Mountains

Today’s scripture study is one verse. It’s one of my favorite scriptures, and I’m excited to study it today.

“And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.” – 1 Nephi 13:37

I am not completely sure why it is one of my favorite scriptures. Maybe it’s because I have been seeking Zion and I want to help build it. I want to have the gift of the Holy Ghost in my life. I want to be lifted up and saved. Maybe it’s just because I like the idea of publishing peace. I like sharing my joy. And I really want to be beautiful on the mountains. Oh well…just gonna study it for now.

IMG_4172Heber Valley Golden Hourchurch of dirtimage-44AB1F89AD-31DC-485F-99EA-F952CA2EB34BWasatch Mountain

Hope you liked the mountain top pictures…now to the studying.

And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day

The first part of the scripture tells us about a group of people – those who seek to bring forth Zion.

Who are these people?

Well…When we covenant with God through baptism, I think that we say that we will do this. In Mosiah 18, Alma the elder is explaining the baptismal covenant to the people:

And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” – Mosiah 18:8-10

Bearing one another’s burdens. Mourning with those that mourn. Comforting those that stand in need of comfort. Standing as a witness of God… These are ways that we share the love of God with others. These are ways that we build God’s kingdom – by building up others.

As I write this, it is also not lost on me that I have made sacred covenants in the temple. One of the covenants that I’ve made is that I would use the opportunities and talents that the Lord has given me to build His kingdom. (You can learn more here.)

And why? Why is it so important to seek to build up Zion? Well, maybe it is helpful to remember God’s work and glory – our immortality and eternal life. Heavenly Father’s whole purpose is for us to return to Him and be happy. This is why we are here on earth. He wants to bless us with His greatest blessings. In fact, He delights in it.

So – He has given us a path on how everlasting joy is accomplished. We need a body, first of all – which is why we are all here on earth. And then, He has given us the commandments. They are part of the path back to Him. He has also given us the gift of the Atonement through His Only Begotten Son. He has created a way for us to return to live with Him and have joy. This is only achieved when we actually follow His path.

So – why is it so important to build Zion? Because it is the path to joy! Because it is the purpose of why we are here. Because, if we really believe in our Father in Heaven, and if we really love Him, then we want others to feel this great joy, too.

We have an example of a Zion-state society in the scriptures:

“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.

16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” – 4 Nephi 1:15-16

This is the result of Zion. Happiness. Confidence. Love. Safety. Peace. Trust. Growth. Loyalty.

Yes – blessed are those who seek to bring forth Zion! Imagine what it would look like if we lived in a world where we had that in common – we were all trying to build Zion! It would be pretty amazing. We can make the corners of our own worlds more amazing by seeking to bring forth Zion. Zion building has to start somewhere, it might as well start with us!

for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost;

One of the blessings of seeking to bring forth Zion – is to be able to have both the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. Recall the scripture from above. Alma taught the people:

“Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” – Mosiah 18:10

When we serve God and keep His commandments, then he pours His Spirit upon us.

And what’s the big deal about that? Well…a few things I guess:
One – God’s Nature is the Nature of Happiness
In Alma, we read:

“And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.” – Alma 41:11

Alma taught his son that going against the nature of God is going against a nature of happiness. From this, we learn that God’s nature is a nature of happiness! His Spirit will bring us more happiness because it is His spirit! I really like that. I want to be happy in life. I like happiness!

Of course, it is important to remember what happiness actually is. It’s a deep, abiding peace and joy. It is the kind of happiness that gets us through hard times and easy times. It isn’t fleeting pleasure, but real confidence and purpose.

Mormon taught Moroni about the blessings of the Comforter. (by the way…that name: the Comforter. That title tells you a ton! Who wouldn’t want that as a constant companion. Comfort. Peace. Love. AMAZING!)

“And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.” – Moroni 8:26

The Holy Ghost is a comforter. He fills us with hope and love. When we seek to build Zion – which is the gospel – not only are we filled with the Spirit, we are sharing a gospel that will help the recipient be filled with the Spirit.

It’s an upward cycle. It’s really cool.

and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb

That sounds nice. I’d like to be lifted up. I really would like to be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb.

Not much to say here…well except that – notice: the first two parts of this scripture – seeking to build up zion and then being filled with the Gift and Power of the Holy Ghost – is the secret to enduring to the end!

So, the Lord gives us a commandment – to build Zion. And the blessing of doing this is having the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

Which gift will help us to endure to the end.

Which then will lift us up at the last day.

So often we talk about our lives on earth as a “test.” We are being tested and tried, it is true. But I think that we overlook the fact that this is an open book test! Heavenly Father has given us everything that we need to succeed.

and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.

This is the part that I really like. I love the imagery of it. But what does it mean?

Publish Peace
Publishing peace is a lot more than going around with a sign that says “make love, not war.” In fact, most of our modern “peacemaking” techniques will never work in the long-term. They are like fad-diets. They show promising results, but are impossible to maintain…because they miss the real point.

When I think of “peace” the first scripture I think of was uttered by the very Prince of Peace

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

When we publish peace, we are not just saying “can’t we all just get along?!” We are sharing real Peace, the Peace of Christ. This peace lacks confusion. It passes all understanding. It enlightens and uplifts. It calms our anxiety and fear.

Richard G. Scott described peace as follows:

“God wants each of His children to enjoy the transcendent blessing of peace of conscience. A tranquil conscience invites freedom from anguish, sorrow, guilt, shame, and self-condemnation. It provides a foundation for happiness…

Peace of conscience is the essential ingredient to your peace of mind. Without peace of conscience, you can have no real peace of mind. Peace of conscience relates to your inner self and is controlled by what you personally do. Peace of conscience can come only from God through a righteous, obedient life. It cannot exist otherwise. On the other hand, peace of mind is most often affected by external forces such as concern for a wayward child, economic pressures, real or imagined offenses, deteriorating world conditions, or more to do than sufficient time to do it. An unsettled mind is temporary, transitory. Peace of mind is restored by resolving the external forces that disturb it…

It is well to remember that even with peace of conscience you can have temporary periods when your peace of mind is interrupted by external concerns. Your understanding of the causes can relieve much of the pressure they generate. As your personal life conforms to the teachings of the Lord, you can seek His help in resolving the troubling issues. Thus your faith in the Lord and in His teachings will yield peace of mind. Your efforts will be stepping-stones to greater personal growth as Spirit-guided solutions are found…

In summary, you can regain peace of conscience by repenting of personal transgressions that cause you internal turmoil. Then peace of mind can be secured by resolving the external pressures that cause you temporary anxiety, worry, and distress.” – Richard G. Scott

Peace, on a variety of levels, can come to us – but only through Christ.

Tidings of Great Joy
The tidings of great joy – Christ! Christ came to this earth. He was born in a lowly stable. He descended below all. He lived a life – growing little by little. He served others. He healed the sick. He taught the people. He established His church. He suffered for our sins. He died on the cross. He was resurrected. He overcame death and hell, so that we could overcome death and hell.

There is hope! This life isn’t it. There is so much more than our earthly experiences. Because of the Savior, all will be made right – at one point or another. Because of the Savior we can return to Heavenly Father and live in a state of happiness.

Tidings of great joy!

The people who do all of this – seek to bring forth Zion, are filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost, endure to the end, are raised at the last day and saved in God’s kingdom, who publish peace and tidings of great joy…how beautiful! Can you imagine a more beautiful life? Filled with the Spirit! Filled with hope. Filled with joy. Yes – there are trials. Of course there are trials. You can’t get to the tops of the mountain without climbing a mountain but the Lord comforts us, gives us peace, strengthens us. And it is beautiful.

Mountain Tops

In Them Shall Be Written the Gospel – 1 Nephi 13:20-36

You can read 1 Nephi 13:20-36 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life and learning its interpretation.
  • Nephi witnessed that the Gentiles would come from their Gentile lands to the Promised Land where Nephi’s posterity dwelt.
  • The Gentiles would prosper in the land, and Nephi saw that they had a book that they carried with them.
  • The angel asked Nephi if he knew what the meaning of the book was.
  • Nephi didn’t know. The angel explained that it was a record of the Jews – it was the Bible. It contained the covenants of the Lord which he had made with the House of Israel. The Gentiles, though not of the House of Israel, valued this book greatly.
  • The angel explained that when the book originally proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jews, it was pure and contained the fulness of the Gospel of the Lord. However, over time people with bad intentions took many parts which were plain and precious away from the book.
  • After the plain and precious parts were taken from the book, it went forth among all of the nations of the Gentiles. Even though there was so much good in this book, and even though it was highly valued, because many of the plain and precious things had been taken out of the book, the Gentiles stumbled.
  • On another note, the Lord promised that the Gentiles, though they would come to the promised land and disrupt the lives of the posterity of the Lamanites, the Lord wouldn’t allow the Gentiles to utterly destroy them.
  • Additionally, the Lord wouldn’t allow the Gentiles to remain in a state of blindness – because of the lack of the plain and precious truths of God’s Gospel. The Lord would be merciful to the Gentiles.
  • The Angel then explains that after Christ visits the people in the Americas with judgment – for their rebellion against Him – and after the Gentiles stumble exceedingly (this was the great apostasy – where no full truth could be found). After all of this, the Lord would be merciful and bring His gospel back to the Gentiles. This would happen in a unique way: The Lord would manifest Himself to the Nephites shortly after His resurrection and they would record this event. (See 4 Nephi). Over time, the Nephites would eventually dwindle in unbelief and be destroyed. When this happened, the Lord would have the records that were kept by the prophets hidden up – to come forth to the Gentiles by the gift and power of God and according to His own due time.
  • The record kept by the Nephites would have the gospel.

In Them Shall Be Written the Gospel

So – this section of chapter is pretty interesting – in a historical context. You can read through the list above for information. I will apologize in advance if what I write next is more or less a repeat of what is above. But this is just how I synthesize information. When we synthesize and analyze the scriptures, then we will be able to apply them…that may come today. But it might not come until tomorrow…we’ll see.

Scattering

Nephi had already witnessed the destruction of his seed – The Nephites. And then his brethren’s seed -the Lamanites – became a loathsome people – in that they were no longer keeping the covenants. They lost their culture and religion.

And we know that this happened. Now please don’t misunderstand me. There are many beautiful things about every culture. And often cultures have a lot of the truth in their culture. However, when a culture is without God and Jesus Christ, there are some pretty gaping holes. Even in our culture – one that is primarily Judeo-Christian, there are gaping holes. There is more wickedness and hate than should exist.

This is what happened to the Lamanites. If you study history, you will find that when the Spanish first arrived in what is now Mexico, many native people rejoiced. They thought that these white men would help to protect them from the Aztecs – who regularly gave human sacrifice. It wasn’t an easy or safe culture for a lot of people.

I won’t sit here and say that things were done right or wrong – when they happened 600 years ago. It doesn’t really matter. It’s a moot point to sit and criticize what the early explorers did. Of course, I don’t condone any kind of brutality. But I don’t think that we do anything of value when we sit and criticize them either. We can’t possibly understand the mentality of either the native americans or the Eurpoeans during the late 1400s and early 1500s. It is truly impossible to wrap our heads around. I mean, I can’t even wrap my head around life without a television. How could I possibly understand the time of the discovery of the new world? Things are just so different.

Nephi sees this happen though. I think that it is important to note that Heavenly Father doesn’t condone the destruction of people. He loves His children. That being said, He allows us to live our own lives – both on the micro and macro levels. He allows us to make good decisions and bad ones. He allowed the Gentiles to come to the Americas. And He even allowed them to be a scourge to the Native Americans.

And it might also be good to remember that this happens a lot. Heavenly Father allows things to happen. Heavenly Father allowed Joseph Smith to be martyred. He allowed Abinadi to be burned at the stake. He allowed Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son, to be crucified. He honors our agency completely. And He allowed the history of the Americas – both the good and the bad – to happen.

Even though the Lord allowed the Gentiles to come to the Americas and scatter the seed of the Lamanites, He didn’t allow the Gentiles to obliterate them completely. This is according to the covenants that He made with Lehi and others – thousands of years before.

In fact, this scourge, this scattering – is one of the grandest examples of the scripture:

“…thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” – 2 Nephi 2:2

Even though the Lord allowed this great affliction to happen to the seed of the Lamanites, He would also consecrate that very affliction for their gain…back to that in a second.

A Book

When Nephi sees these Gentiles that come to the promised land and scatter the remnants of his people, he sees that the Gentiles have a book with them. This book is the Bible.

Which is good.

Here’s the thing though… The Bible, originated as a source of wisdom and the gospel – containing the covenants that God made with His people. But, over time, wicked people with wicked intentions took parts of the Bible out. In fact, the most plain and precious truths of the Bible were omitted over time. We learn about the consequences of such omissions:

“And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.” – 1 Nephi 13:29

The Gentiles, though they had the Bible, stumbled because many of the truths were missing. They only had a part of the recipe. They aren’t inherently wicked people, they are just misinformed.

Mercy

God allowed all of these things to happen. He allowed wicked people with wicked intentions to pervert His word. He allowed the Gentiles to stumble because of their misinformed ideas. He allowed the Gentiles to come and scatter and smite the seed of the Lamanites. I don’t think that He is always happy with these things that happen, but He honors our agency, and He allows it.

And then, because we have a loving God, at the right time, he extends mercy – to the Gentiles and to the House of Israel.

Eventually, the Lord would bring forth another record – with His covenant, to the Gentiles. This would be a record written by Nephi and his posterity. This book would not compete with the Bible. Neither would it replace the Bible. It would simply help to clarify and bring to light the plain and precious truths that had been lost. Still – there is so much good in the Bible. I love the Bible. And we believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly.

But the fact of the matter is, the Bible had lost some of its truths over time. So the Lord had prepared another Book to help clarify and restore His gospel. This book is the Book of Mormon. About the Book of Mormon, we read:

“And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation.” – 1 Nephi 13:36

***
It’s amazing. We have the Book of Mormon AND the Bible now – which means we have the Gospel, His rock. His Salvation. We have the covenants. We have the truths that we need in order to receive salvation. Through the coming of the Book of Mormon, the Lord would consecrate the afflictions (of the remnants of the Lamanites) for their gain.

Though Nephi saw the destruction of his people, he had hope. They would one day be able to return to God and to their covenant. This would happen through a series of afflictions – stumbling and scattering. But it is through the stumbling of the Gentiles and the scattering of the House of Israel that either group became humble enough to accept the word of God and His gospel.

The End of the Nephite/Lamanite Civilization and its Connection with Lehi’s Dream – Two: Mists of Darkness – 1 Nephi 12:12-23

Phew…long title.

You can read 1 Nephi 12:12-23 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life and learning its interpretation.
  • Nephi saw many of the fourth generation (from the time of Christ’s coming) of his people pass away in righteousness.
  • Nephi saw the multitudes of the earth gathered together.
  • Nephi saw his the people of his seed gathered together in war against the seed of his brethren.
  • The Angel teaches Nephi the meanings of the fountain of filthy water, the mists of darkness,and the great and spacious building.
  • Nephi saw the seed of his brethren – that they overcame his own seed.
  • Nephi saw wars and rumors of wars among the seed of his brethren. Many generations passed away.
  • Nephi saw the remainder of his civilization dwindle in unbelief. They became a dark, loathsome, and filthy people.

The Mists of Darkness

After showing Nephi the destruction of his people (which wouldn’t happen for hundreds of years), the Angel explains a few of the symbols of Lehi’s dream. Of course, it is always interesting and helpful to examine the meanings of each symbol, but I’m curious – why would the Angel tell Nephi these meanings after showing him the destruction of the Nephite civilization? What do they have to do with one another.

We studied the first symbol – the fountain of filthy water here.

Today, we will investigate the second symbol – the mists of darkness.

We read:

“And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.” – 1 Nephi 12:17

It’s kind of interesting. Right now, where I live, the skies are filled with smoke. Most of this smoke is filling up our valley because the west is on fire. There are fires in California and Utah. Because we are east of California, the jet stream brings all of that smoke into our valley. Here the skies are usually clear. Now, it is getting so smoky, it’s hard to breathe without drying out and coughing a little bit.

016 Smoky Skies

Smoky Skies

I can’t help but think of the smoky air when I read about the mists of darkness. It’s crazy to think about the mists of darkness – obscuring everything from view.

The Nephites literally experienced this after the death of the Savior, and before His visitation to the Americas. First there were fires, earthquakes, and tempests. Then we read:

“And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could feel the vapor of darkness;

21 And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all;

22 And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.

23 And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning and howling and weeping among all the people continually; yea, great were the groanings of the people, because of the darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them.” – 3 Nephi 8:20-23

So much destruction had come to pass that it took three days, essentially, for the dust to settle. Many people were killed during theses seismic and terrible events. Finally, after three days, the darkness lifted. We read:

“And it was the more righteous part of the people who were saved, and it was they who received the prophets and stoned them not; and it was they who had not shed the blood of the saints, who were spared—” – 3 Nephi 10:12

Those who made it through the literal mists of darkness did not let go of the iron rod. They received the prophets and the words of the prophets.

***

Now, the Angel is telling Nephi about the mists of darkness while showing him the final destruction of the Nephite people – which happened about 400 years after Christ came to the Americas.

They didn’t experience a literal mist of darkness. However, the proverbial mists of darkness experienced by the Nephites were far worse. This led to their ultimate extinction.

Let’s look at the scripture in Nephi again:

“And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.” – 1 Nephi 12:17

The Mists of Darkness are the Temptations of the Devil

One thing to understand is that the mists of darkness are temptations of the devil. A mist of darkness is not sin, itself. What I mean by that is – there are times when we must endure a period of darkness – just as the Nephites who lived when the Savior came to the Americas did. We may have to endure periods of “darkness” and temptations in our lives, but we don’t have to give in to them.

Also, just because we endure temptations, doesn’t mean that we are wicked. Remember, the mists of darkness simply appeared while the people traveled towards the tree of life. All of the people who were on the journey were exposed. We read:

“And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.

24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.” – 1 Nephi 8:23-24

How do we endure temptations – we need to catch a hold of the iron rod and press forward confident in God’s Word.

Paul taught:

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Though we will all endure temptation during this life (even the Savior did!) experiencing temptation is not a judgment on us. Being tempted doesn’t mean we are evil – it means that we are on the path to the tree of life. The Lord has given us a way through temptations – and that is His gospel. If we will stay true to our faith and press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, then we will make it safely through the mists of darkness. These experiences will even make us better and stronger.

However, giving into the temptations of the devil come with deleterious consequences.

Two – The Result of Giving into Temptation

From the Angel we learn that if we give into the temptations of the devil – or mists of darkness – then we will become blind, our hearts will be hard, and we will wander off into strange roads and perish.

The Nephites, at the end of the Nephite civilization did give into the temptations of the devil – even though they knew better! Because of their rebellion, because they deliberately let go of God’s Word and they persecuted the faithful, they were blind, their hearts became hard, and they perished. In fact, this was such a wide-scale problem, that every single Nephite besides Moroni, died. An entire group of people became completely extinct – after having a flourishing civilization that lasted about 1,000 years.

***

So…What’s the Point

So – what’s the point of studying this? What’s the point of knowing this about the Nephites, a group of people who all died off about 1,597 years ago? Why did Nephi need to see this? And why do we need to read it?

Well – it’s an extreme but also effective example.

Maybe it will help if I just think about this for myself…Likewise, you can apply this to yourself.

I need to remember that while I’m on the path toward the tree of life – toward eternal salvation and joy – I will experience times when I must travel through mists of darkness. There will be times when life is hard, I experience trials and tribulations. These trials and tribulations may even result in elevated temptations.

While Satan will tempt me in various ways, ultimately, his goal is the same: to get me to let go of the Iron Rod.

When I was a teenager, and I was in high school, I was tempted to drink, party, use drugs, be immoral. Those very real temptations are no longer temptations any more. I passed through that mist of darkness thanks to the Iron Rod – in the form of seminary, mutual, General Conference, and friends who were also navigating this time in their lives with faith.

When I was in my twenties, I experienced the “mists of darkness” in my first marriage and divorce – where I was tempted to give in to the self-loathing that comes when you are married to a serial adulterer. I’ve been tempted while trying to navigate challenges such as the shift into motherhood, I’ve been tempted to give up on myself and even God when I went through my divorce and the most painful time of my life. However, I passed through that mist of darkness with the help of the scriptures, my bishop, hobbies like running, and movies like Napoleon Dynamite.

In my thirties, and happily married, I experienced new types of “mists of darkness.” These were interesting. They weren’t as obviously evil – as drugs or immorality. They weren’t as painful as betrayal and divorce. These mists of darkness were more like the smoke that fills our valley right now. These temptations were the temptations to be overwhelmed – by things that even seem good! Goals, desires for my life, activities and responsibilities for my children, etc. While none of these things are bad, sometimes I have felt so much pressure to be whatever it is I think that I’m supposed to be that I just want to give up. I don’t want to go out and commit some kind of atrocious sin, but the temptations that I have faced in my thirties still have made me want to do the same thing as the temptations I faced in my teens and twenties – let go of that Iron Rod.

But, I have been blessed – again with the scriptures, with prayer, with a loving and supportive husband, and with the gift of the Holy Ghost that helps me to discern between truth and error – especially when the error I’m facing looks like something good (commitments and great expectations) rather than something so obviously bad (drugs).

I’m now about to turn 40. I know that I have not yet made it to the tree of life. Still, there will be times when I have to travel through mists of darkness. Though these mists and temptations may look different, they all are trying to get us to do the same thing – let go of the Iron Rod. Satan wants us to let go of the only sure and good thing in this world.

Though his temptations may be attractive, there is no substance to them, and they will only lead us to blindness, hardness, and eventually death.

Thankfully, the solution is just as simple – hold on. Keep holding on to the Savior. Press forward with steadfastness in Christ. We don’t have to run. We don’t have to be swift. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other. We just keep walking toward that tree, while holding on to The Savior and His Word.

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.

***
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.

Healed by the Power of the Lamb of God – 1 Nephi 11:30-31

You can read 1 Nephi 11:30-31 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life.
  • The Spirit tells Nephi to look. Nephi looks and sees the heavens open and angels ministering to the children of men.
  • Again the Spirit tells Nephi to look. Nephi looks and sees the Savior healing people and performing miracles.

Healed by the Power of the Lamb of God

As a part of the vision of the tree of life that Nephi sees, he also witness of Christ’s life. The Spirit shows Nephi what will happen when Christ lives on the earth among men. Nephi states:

“And he spake unto me again, saying: Look! And I looked, and I beheld the Lamb of God going forth among the children of men. And I beheld multitudes of people who were sick, and who were afflicted with all manner of diseases, and with devils and unclean spirits; and the angel spake and showed all these things unto me. And they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God; and the devils and the unclean spirits were cast out.” – 1 Nephi 11:31

Nephi sees sick people – afflicted with all kinds of diseases. He sees mental illness. And then He sees that all of these people were healed – physically, spiritually, and emotionally by the power of the Savior.

I can’t help but think about healing. Isn’t that really what all of us want – to be healed?

This makes me think of one of my favorite scriptures:

” O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?” – 3 Nephi 9:13

I know that it might seem like a kind of strange scripture to love. But, I think that what I love about it is how Christ is pleading with us – to return to Him, repent, and be converted. And why? So He can heal us.

I remember when my children were toddlers. Each of them went through an insanely independent phase. Often, I heard “No! I do it!” As they tried to do a multitude of things that they absolutely couldn’t do. I would beg them to let me help – even with a chuckle because I could see how impossible their predicament was. Still, No! I DO IT! would follow.

Sometimes I think that we are like toddlers. Instead of trusting the Savior who is ready to heal us, we often turn away from Him, thinking we can do it ourselves or that we know a better way.

It’s so silly.

I’m prone to it.

But I can also see why it happens sometimes. We don’t live in the time of the Savior. There isn’t a man that we can see, receive a blessing from, and then ta-da!!!!! everything is magically better.

Instead, we have to remember that often Christ comes to us line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little there a little. So – first we come unto Christ, then He reveals, but usually what He reveals is exactly what we’ll need to get to the next step. Then the process must be repeated.

Sometimes, I think, this is also how He heals us. Sometimes we heal one part after another – piecemeal – until we can be fully integrated with His healing. I’m not sure if this makes any sense to you, but it makes sense to me. It takes time and effort, faith in Christ, and then patience as He heals us – from our worries, fears, illnesses, and more.

Another thing is patience to accept His will. This is true faith.

Sometimes we aren’t healed the way that we would like. I don’t think that this is always about us lacking faith. Sometimes we are asked to accept God’s will for us – which may include something that stretches us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes, instead of calming the storm, the Lord gives us the strength to weather it. Even though we aren’t healed from the immediate illness, I think that this experience helps us to be healed from the bigger problem – being fallen men and women.

The Savior always has the big picture in mind.

I’m sorry. I’m getting sleepy while I write today. I hope this is coherent.

I’ll give an example. A few years ago, I was having some problems with my skin. I had all of these blisters and rashes on my hands.

dishydrotic eczema, or something…no fun

In this picture, they aren’t even bad! At the worst, my hands were so covered in blisters, they were actually oozing some kind of fluid (gross!) they looked like raw hamburger. And my body was covered with eczema and hives and rashes. I had to go onto Prednisone several times. It wasn’t fun.

Of course, I also asked for blessings. I prayed, pleaded for help. I prayed that I would have the faith I needed to be healed. But I wasn’t healed. Still, my skin is sensitive. Still, I could blow up like this at any time.

So yes – the idea of the Savior coming with healing in His wings was very intriguing to me. I wanted that. I kind of felt like there must have been something I was doing wrong because I wasn’t healed. If only I had more faith…

But it wasn’t faith to be healed that I lacked. Instead, I lacked faith in God’s plan for me – that I needed to weather this storm. That this was a part of my life that I needed to participate in – in order to reach my potential and learn what I need to learn now. I lacked the long-term vision – that we suffer now, but we will not suffer forever. This issue with my skin would really be a small blip in the context of my life.

It was hard to have that kind of faith sometimes – when I was itching beyond belief. (Side note – I heard that they would put itching powder on the prisoners in Guantanamo or other places where they were questioning terrorists. And I guess I get why. Itching is so annoying! I would have given up any state secret to stop itching. Thank goodness I don’t know any state secrets!) I just wanted relief. I just wanted the Son of Righteousness … with healing in his wings;… to heal me so I could stop itching. I couldn’t sleep or think with all of the itching. (See 3 Nephi 25:2.)

Worst of all, I knew that my itching was nothing! I know that there are people who are struggling with real, terminal diseases – diseases that will kill them. I have a friend with M.S., and I’m sure that she wishes her only issue was itching. I knew that I was fine – just inconvenienced. And yet, I longed to be healed. I began to feel a bit of sympathy for people who also seek healing.

Anyway – the Lord didn’t heal me right away. He comforted me. He prompted me to research the causes of the issues I was facing. And this research took time. This research took trial AND ERROR! I was often frustrated when, after a good run of rash-free life, I’d be covered again from head to toe with hives and blisters and itching.

But, over time, with failed trials, I started to discover what doesn’t work. This guided me, eventually, to what does work. I started to see the little causes of these flare-ups, and how to mitigate them.

Though the Lord didn’t immediately heal me, He has taught me a series of bigger lessons. I needed to learn to slow down and listen to my body. I needed to learn to rely on Him. I needed to learn to manage stress. I needed to learn to be my own advocate (with the doctor). I needed to learn how to patiently endure affliction so that I could better help and appreciate others. I wouldn’t have learned any of this if the Savior granted my desire to be healed and absolved of suffering of any kind.

Though the Lord didn’t heal me immediately, He has healed me through this illness. I hope that I have become a better person as I’ve learned to endure the trials that the Lord has trusted me to experience.

Anyway – I’m going to wrap this up.

I can’t imagine the amount of suffering that took place during the time of Christ. If my husband and daughter had been alive at that time, they would be blind beggars. Just imagine that – the people you know who need glasses. There were no corrective lenses back in the Savior’s time. I can’t even imagine it! I can’t imagine the pain and suffering people went through – simple infections killed people. Can you imagine a toothache before dentistry and Novocaine???

The Savior demonstrated His great love and power to the people, directly. He healed the sick, the afflicted. He healed their bodies, their minds, their hearts, their blood, their spirits. He did this out of His love for them.

And this healing that He performed is nothing compared to The Healing that He offers to all of us. He has healed us from the effects of the fall: Death and Sin – if we will simply come unto Him, He will heal us.