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!
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
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
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.
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.
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!