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

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Pride and Temptation – 1 Nephi 12:12-23

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.

Temptation

We’ve been studying about the destruction of the Nephites in the past few blog posts. The Savior, after being resurrected, visited and ministered to the people of the Americas. As a result of the visitation from the Savior, the Nephites became one people. They lived in peace. There were no classes, no wars, no wickedness. They were very happy.

This joyful society lasted for about four generations, but then pride crept into the hearts of the people. Soon, they no longer had things in common. Class was reintroduced. Then, it wasn’t long before all manner of evils started to become commonplace again. Sin, wickedness, and pride spread through the people like a wildfire – with devastating effects.

Nephi sees some of this – one thousand years before it will happen. We read:

“And while the angel spake these words, I beheld and saw that the seed of my brethren did contend against my seed, according to the word of the angel; and because of the pride of my seed, and the temptations of the devil, I beheld that the seed of my brethren did overpower the people of my seed.” – 1 Nephi 12:19

The self-destruction of the Nephites

  1. They became proud.
  2. This pride set them against God, and they gave into the temptations of the devil.

As I read this verse, I am kind of fixated on that word: Temptations. It has a footnote – to the Topical Guide. I think that I will study a few of the entries here today.

Temptation is a Part of Mortal Life

Even before the foundation of this world, the Lord had a plan – we would come to the earth to be tried and tested.

“And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;” – Abraham 3:25

God created the world and then created Adam and Eve. He set them in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve dwelt in His presence, but there was a condition – they could not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and then remain in His presence.

The Lord then allowed them to be tempted.

Temptation has been a part of our experience always. It is something we should simply accept. When we understand that temptation is a part of our experience, then we can have power over it.

We know that Adam and Eve were tempted, and they fell. This fall introduced death and sin into the world. But it had a positive effect, too – they were able to have children. The plan of salvation would move forward. We could all come to the earth to be tested and tried.

Pride and Temptation

We read in 1 Nephi 12 that because of the pride of the Nephites, they entered into temptation, and then they were overpowered by their enemies. In the Doctrine and Covenants a similar warning is given to Oliver Cowdery:

“1 Behold, I speak unto you, Oliver, a few words. Behold, thou art blessed, and art under no condemnation. But beware of pride, lest thou shouldst enter into temptation.” – Doctrine and Covenants 23:1

Why does pride lead us into temptation? I mean, really – I want to search that. Why does pride lead us into temptation?  Because, obviously it does. And, honestly, we don’t even need to know why in order to understand the pattern that when we have pride, we are more easily beset by sin and temptation. However, maybe if we understand the mechanics of it – maybe if we deconstruct it – then we will fight and rage against pride – so that we aren’t led into temptation – so that we don’t wander off, get lost, and become miserable.

I suppose that we first need to understand, really, what pride is. And I know that I’ve already studied this before, but it’s fine. I am feeling that I need to study this, so here we go. I love President Ezra Taft Benson’s explanation of pride:

Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us. – Ezra Taft Benson

I love this explanation because I think that we often do get stuck on the first paragraph – we think of pride as being some kind of braggart-ly jerk. We think of someone who is conceited and cocky. We might think of an arrogant loud mouth boaster. We may even think of it more subtly – the “rat race” or someone who needs to “keep up with Joneses” by wearing a fancy watch and driving a nice car.

Even in the Book of Mormon, when we read that pride is creeping into the hearts of the people, they are described as wearing fine clothing. And yes – this is a part of pride.

But the jerkiness, the haughtiness, the boastful dude who talks trash to others, the subtle passive aggressive lady who gives back-handed complements, the name dropping, the nice cars, the peer pressure, the politics, the condescension and judgment of others – those are all symptoms. They are correlations, but not the causation of pride.

President Benson teaches more than the little outward symptoms of pride. He gets to the heart of the matter – which happens to be the heart. Pride is enmity toward God. And enmity toward God is anything that causes us to hate Him, have hostility toward Him, or put us in opposition against Him. When we really think of it that way, then we will begin to see that even if driving a supercar isn’t important to us, we may still be suffering from pride.

President Benson also explains:

“Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s.” – Ezra Taft Benson

It’s starting to get easy to see why giving into pride will then lead to giving in to other temptations. What chance do we even have to ward off temptation if we already have our wills pitted against God’s?

The first great commandment is to love God. The second is love others. When we allow pride into our hearts – our enmity may be directed toward God, which, of course, is breaking that first commandment. It is also possible to have our enmity directed to others. President Benson taught:

“Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen. We are tempted daily to elevate ourselves above others and diminish them. (See Hel. 6:17; D&C 58:41.)

The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109–10.)” – Ezra Taft Benson

Does this sound familiar? I wish it didn’t to me. I have often found myself frustrated by the success and joy of others – rather than also joyful for them. This is a form of pride. Left untamed, it can lead to giving into more serious temptations – I mean, really, what is at the root of coveting? Pride. Adultery? Pride. Murder? Pride.

If you keep your hearts pure and full of charity, then you probably won’t go out and commit a gross sin against others. It just won’t be a temptation anymore. Well, actually maybe it will be a temptation. There are always temptations in life. But when we learn to get a handle on pride, then we also won’t succumb so much to temptation.

One more thing about pride. Not only is pride related to enmity, it is also very intimately related with fear. President Benson said:

” The proud stand more in fear of men’s judgment than of God’s judgment. (See D&C 3:6–7; D&C 30:1–2; D&C 60:2.) “What will men think of me?” weighs heavier than “What will God think of me?”

“Fear of men’s judgment manifests itself in competition for men’s approval. The proud love “the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:42–43.) Our motives for the things we do are where the sin is manifest. Jesus said He did “always those things” that pleased God. (John 8:29.) Would we not do well to have the pleasing of God as our motive rather than to try to elevate ourselves above our brother and outdo another?” – Ezra Taft Benson

Sometimes we become at odds against God because we worry more about what others think than what He thinks. When we start worrying about others, we then might be led into temptation – we might say yes when the right thing is to say no, we may think that we need to live outside of our means, we might even be willing to hurt others if that pleases those we fear.

Pride just leads to temptation -plain and simple. If we want to have strength against temptation, then we need to attack it at the root – pride.

Prayer Wards of Pride

Both pride and temptation are thwarted by true prayer. Remember what we learned about pride – it is enmity against God. We have pitted our will against His.

Instead, prayer is an exercise where we align our wills with Gods. In the Bible Dictionary we learn about prayer.

“As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship.” – Bible Dictionary: Prayer

First of all – prayer becomes more natural when we learn the true relationship. Think about pride right now – when we have pride in our hearts, are we remembering that we are children speaking to our loving Father in Heaven. When we understand the being that created us, prayer becomes more instinctive.

“Difficulties” about prayer arise from our own silliness – in forgetting that our Father in Heaven is our Father in Heaven!

Pride – plain and simple. So – when I pray, I need to remember that I am a daughter of God. Which means, He is my Father. Which means that He may have just a little bit more knowledge than I do.

The Bible Dictionary continues:

“Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them.” – Bible Dictionary: Prayer

When we try to pit our will against God’s – this is pride. When we try to change the will of God – this is pride! We have forgotten who we are and who He is. We have forgotten that He created this world! We have forgotten that His ways are higher than our ways, and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. We have become so puffed up and sure of ourselves that we foolishly believe that our knowledge and will to be better than God’s.

Prayer – real prayer – is a way that we can remember our relationship with God and realign our wills with His. It is a way that we can discover His will. (I don’t want to get into this now, but often I think that His will isn’t some specific point by point plan for our lives. We are co-creators. Yet, there is an ideal, and if we seek to understand His will, then we will be much better off!) Prayer can help to ward off pride.

Prayer Helps us Overcome Temptation

This post is rather long, but I want to finish with a few scriptures about the connection between prayer and temptation

One – Matthew 6:13

The Lord’s prayer is a pattern for us to follow. He specifically asks for help – not to be lead into temptation but delivered from evil.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” – Matthew 6:13 

I ask for a lot of blessings, and I do plead that the Spirit can be with me, but I’m not sure that I always ask for protection against evil and temptation.

Two – Alma 34:39

Amulek taught:

“Yea, and I also exhort you, my brethren, that ye be watchful unto prayer continually, that ye may not be led away by the temptations of the devil, that he may not overpower you, that ye may not become his subjects at the last day; for behold, he rewardeth you no good thing.” – Alma 34:39

Not only do we need to pray that we won’t be led into temptation, but we need to pray continually!

I love the phrase, that he may not overpower you. I have to admit, yesterday I was feeling a little overpowered. Overwhelmed. Things go great for a while, and then it’s just hard. And what is the problem – most likely my lack of prayer. I try to pray, really pray, each day. Usually, I’m pretty okay at it. Right now, I’m not living in my own house, I don’t have my own space, so sometimes it is hard for me to find the right time or place to pray in a way that I would really like.

So I get a little casual.

And then, it just adds up and I feel overpowered and overwhelmed. So….PRAY! The Lord will give us the strength or insight that we need so we don’t feel overpowered or overwhelmed. We will be guided on what we need to do to stay the course and be happy.

Three – Matthew 26:41

The Savior spoke the following words to Peter, James, and John after he found them asleep while He suffered in Gethsemane:

“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41

At first glance, this seems like pretty pointed advice to the three apostles that were accompanying the Savior. Not only that, I kind of understand the plight of Peter, James, and John. Every single night, my husband and I try to watch a little episode of Psych or some other fun TV show. And every single night I fall asleep. Usually, I can’t even make it to the OPENING credits before falling asleep! I can get how it would have been hard for Peter, James, John to stay awake – because my flesh is weak.

And that’s the thing, though. This scripture probably applies to all of us in most situations. My flesh is weak. I need the Lord. I need His help. I am willing, but my flesh is so weak. This isn’t an excuse. It is actually meant as a motivation: PRAY! We can’t do it on our own.

When we pray, we are strengthened by the Lord and His spirit. We calm and clear our minds in thoughtful, humble prayer. We align our wills with His. We can feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost – to know what actions we should and maybe even should not take in life.

Our flesh is weak – and on our own, it is way too susceptible to temptation. But we haven’t been left alone. We have a loving Advocate who pleads our cause for us. However, He can’t plead our cause if we aren’t pleading it, too – in His name. The Lord will make us strong. He wants to make us strong. We just need to humble ourselves and pray.

***

I needed to read this today and to be reminded. I can see why the word “temptation” was standing out to me. I can see why I needed to study temptation, pride, and prayer. I need to remember to really pray and to really believe that Heavenly Father answers our prayers.

I needed to remember that Heavenly Father does allow us to be exposed to challenges and trials in our lives, but that we aren’t alone. We have His help, His constant companionship.

I needed to remember that His help doesn’t mean that He will navigate rough waters for me, but that He will enable me to do it, and that a big part of this is through prayer. Through prayer I will be able to come off conquer and not be overcome by temptation.

I’m so grateful for the scriptures. I know that they will help us every single day if we will just crack them open and listen to what the Lord wants to teach us. I also know that the Lord is guiding us. Every time I learn something in my personal scripture study, I realize that the Lord truly knows me, is mindful of me, and wants to answer my prayers – but He will not rob me of experience and growth when He does answer them. Understanding this helps to strengthen my faith and trust in Him.

I’m so grateful to know we have a loving Father in Heaven. I’m so grateful to know that we have a Savior who is also pleading our cause for us. I am so grateful to know that we don’t have to travel through our lives alone. I’m grateful to know that there is a way out of temptation. We have One we can turn to, and He’s only a prayer away.

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 End of the Nephite/Lamanite Civilization and its Connection with Lehi’s Dream – One: Filthy Water – 1 Nephi 12:12-23

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 End of the Nephite/Lamanite Civilization and Its Connection with Lehi’s Dream

In these verses, Nephi witnesses the collapse of his civilization. I really can’t imagine it. After all of the hard work, effort, and sacrifices that he made to get to the promised land, after obtaining the brass plates – so that his nation wouldn’t “dwindle and perish in unbelief,” after all of this – his people will simply choose not to have faith. They will choose worldliness and sin. They will choose to dwindle in unbelief.

This wouldn’t happen for many centuries after the life of Nephi, but it would still be a pretty sad thing to see. And Nephi witnesses that this will occur.

It is in this context that the Angel teaches Nephi about a few of the symbols in Lehi’s dream.

One – The Fountain of Filthy Water

We read:

“Behold the fountain of filthy water which thy father saw; yea, even the river of which he spake; and the depths thereof are the depths of hell.” – 1 Nephi 12:16

What’s interesting to me about this symbol is that in Lehi’s dream, there are two fountains of water. One is the fountain of water that sustains the tree of life. It is the living water. And it represents the Son of God. You can read more about it here. The other is the fountain of filthy water.

So you have these two fountains of water. They look alike. They probably sound alike. They feel alike. The difference between the two – the filthy and the living water – is probably noticeable on a micro-level.

Well, perhaps there are other clues, too.

The filthy water isn’t just “dirty” with mud and silt. I would imagine that it is polluted. That anything swimming in it would come up dead. Have you seen bodies of water like this? The first thing I think of is the Ala Wai Canal in Waikiki, Hawaii. I’m not sure if you are familiar with it, but this canal was created to drain Waikiki.

Waikiki really is a series of wetlands, but this canal was built, the wetlands drained, and now we have the booming tourist spot known as Waikiki. If you have been there, I’m sure you’v seen this canal.

So – it’s just a canal with water. Innocent enough, right?

Well, there are major concerns regarding the canal. First of all, with all of the growth of Waikiki, the waters of the canal have become heavily polluted. Even though you may see some people using this canal – on boats and such – it is generally understood that you want to stay out of that water!

Sometimes, when the rains are really heavy the sewers around the Ala Wai Canal become a little overwhelmed and may even break. This happened years ago – so thousands and thousands of gallons of raw sewage were diverted into the canal and then eventually dumped into the ocean from there. As far as I understand, someone fell into these waters and died from a gross bacteria that was in the water. The Filthy Water.

The interesting thing about water is that it is the universal solvent. So, if the water is pure, then it offers us what we need – the minerals and benefits of the life-giving molecule. However, because water is such a great solvent, it can easily become polluted. And then, when we subject ourselves to polluted waters, we are poisoned. What once gave life will be the vehicle to our death.

Anyway – I’ve thought about this long enough. I just think that it is an interesting contrast – between the living waters and the filthy water. We have to have discernment to know which type of water we are drinking. And the discernment is critical – it is a difference of life or death.

***
So…what does this have to do with what Nephi is seeing – the eventual wickedness and death of his posterity?

Well…As I think about it, I suppose that we could make at least one conclusion. The people of Nephi did have the gospel. They had felt the Love of God – when they had experienced the visitation of Christ. In fact, we learn about the Nephites following the coming of the Savior:

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

At this point, every single person in the Nephite/Lamanite civilization were partaking of the living waters and the fruit of the tree of life. They were righteous. They were happy. We read:

“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.

17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.” – 4 Nephi 1:16-17

The lives of the people reflected that which they were partaking of – the clean, living waters. This is what Christ offers to us. It nourished and sustained them. (Of course, I should mention, this is all symbolic).

But, within only a few generations, pride starts to seep in. The living waters aren’t totally polluted, but there are some pollutants that have dissolved into that water and are starting to have an impact on the people. They begin to form classes of people. Contentions start to arise. The Love of God is not dwelling in their hearts.

We read:

“And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world.

25 And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.” – 4 Nephi 1:24-25

And then, in only a few more generations after that, the people have become completely wicked. Instead of partaking of the waters of life – the waters have become utterly polluted. I would imagine bilge, sludge, microbial bacteria, toxic waste. I would imagine a stream of water – with dead fish floating in it, maybe the water even has a tinge of mutant-green to it. Absolutely nothing can live in this environment.

The pollutants of the spiritual “waters” were pride, hatred, contention, whoredoms, and secret combinations. Nothing can live in this environment.

We read of the extreme toxicity:

“And now I write somewhat concerning the sufferings of this people. For according to the knowledge which I have received from Amoron, behold, the Lamanites have many prisoners, which they took from the tower of Sherrizah; and there were men, women, and children.

8 And the husbands and fathers of those women and children they have slain; and they feed the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers; and no water, save a little, do they give unto them.

9 And notwithstanding this great abomination of the Lamanites, it doth not exceed that of our people in Moriantum. For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue—

10 And after they had done this thing, they did murder them in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodies even unto death; and after they have done this, they devour their flesh like unto wild beasts, because of the hardness of their hearts; and they do it for a token of bravery.” – Moroni 9:7-10

As Mormon described, the Nephites had become without civility.

***
So – this is getting depressing, I realize. But I just thought it might be interesting to understand the connection between the filthy waters and the destruction of the Nephite civilization. At first, I can’t say that I totally understood why Nephi saw the destruction of his civilization with this interjection of the meaning of the symbols of Lehi’s dream. But when we really study it out, the connection becomes clear.

The living water is what fills our souls with joy, with the Love of God. The living water, just as physical pure, good water sustains life. We need it to stay healthy and alive. And it is good, even necessary that water is the universal solvent. Because of this property of water, we can gain the minerals and nutrients we need in order to perform and function well.

But, we must remember that because of the nature of water – because it is the universal solvent, if we start to introduce things that aren’t good, then the water will break that down, and we will start to ingest pollutants. Little by little, we will die. If the water becomes more and more polluted, then death may happen more dramatically and quickly. Filthy water is just a big fat lie! We thirst for water, because we need it. Filthy water looks like what we want, but instead of offering us life, it quenches our thirst as it kills us.

We can learn from the Nephites that little things – like just a little bit of pride – may not kill us immediately, but they start to introduce toxicity into that water. Then, it begins to poison us. If we aren’t careful, and we let our spiritual water become more and more toxic, then the effect is also more dramatic and deadly.

I’m grateful for the teachings of the Book of Mormon. I know that it is good and true. I know that if we will take time to ponder its words, then we will learn how to live with civility and joy. We will learn how to keep our living waters clean and pure. If we apply the words of the scriptures, then we will have the love of God in our hearts.

They are Righteous Forever – 1 Nephi 12:1-11

You can read 1 Nephi 12:1-11 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life and learning its interpretation.
  • The Spirit tells Nephi to look, and he looks.
  • Nephi sees his posterity. They have multiplied exceedingly. They have had wars and contentions. They have built so many cities, Nephi doesn’t even number them. Many generations have passed away.
  • Nephi saw a mist of darkness cover the earth. He also saw various natural disasters. Many people died, but those were more righteous were spared.
  • Nephi saw the Savior come and show himself to the people.
  • Nephi saw twelve among his people who were ordained of God and chosen.
  • The Angel explains to Nephi that those 12 of his seed will be judged later by the apostles. He also tells that these will be righteous forever because of their faith in Christ.
  • Nephi also saw three more generations pass away (after the visitation by Christ) who were righteous because of their faith in Christ and His Atonement.

They Are Righteous Forever

I truly can’t imagine having the vision that Nephi is having right now. I can’t imagine seeing my posterity – years, decades, even centuries from now. The people that Nephi sees in vision are his posterity – either his directly or the posterity of his brothers. We will talk more about this in a later blog post, but I just want to say that I truly can’t imagine it.

As Nephi sees the distant future of the civilization that he started, he sees that the Savior will visit his people. The Savior will bless the Nephites with apostles – ordained and chosen to minister to the people. About these disciples we learn:

” And these twelve ministers whom thou beholdest shall judge thy seed. And, behold, they are righteous forever; for because of their faith in the Lamb of God their garments are made white in his blood.” – 1 Nephi 12:10

Not only that, but the remainder of the people were also righteous. We read:

“And the angel said unto me: Look! And I looked, and beheld three generations pass away in righteousness; and their garments were white even like unto the Lamb of God. And the angel said unto me: These are made white in the blood of the Lamb, because of their faith in him.” – 1 Nephi 12:11

Don’t you love that phrase: they are righteous forever?! It is my desire – to be able to achieve righteousness that lasts forever. Unfortunately, my righteousness usually lasts until about 15 minutes after I’ve partaken of the sacrament. By then, I’ve usually had some kind of judgmental thought that makes me need the ordinance again. Not to mention the ways that I stray from righteousness throughout the week.

But, interestingly enough, these disciples and Nephites aren’t righteous forever because of their own willpower and brute strength. It is through their faith in the Lamb of God. The idea of reaching some pinnacle of personal perfect righteousness kind of seems impossible.

Of course, it is.

And I often misunderstand. That isn’t what God expects in order for us to qualify for the blessings of salvation made possible through Christ’s sacrifice. Instead, the Lord asks us to have a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.” And, as we have read in this scripture today, we simply need to have faith in Christ – this faith will help to qualify us so that our “garments are made white” in the blood of the Lamb.

The Savior explained:

“And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.” – 3 Nephi 27:19-20

One – Faith

First, and foremost, we need to have faith. We need to believe in Christ – that He truly did come to the earth in the meridian of time. We need to believe that He lived a perfect life. We need to believe that He ministered to the poor, needy, sick, blind, and hungry. We need to believe that He taught by precept and example. We need to believe that He went into the Garden of Gethsemane and took on the sins of the world – so we could be provided a way to be saved. We need to believe that He willingly went on the cross and gave up His life so that He could take it up again – overcoming the sting of death and hell.

Not only do we need to believe in Christ, but we also need to have enough faith in Him to practice what He has taught.

Two – Repentance

Faith in Christ helps us to understand why we need Him. As our faith in Him grows, we become capable of seeing the need we have for a Savior. We then will heed His word:

“15 Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.

16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” – Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-19

Three – Baptism in Christ Name

After cultivating faith and then repenting, we will then be led to baptism – a covenant that has been made available through Christ. In baptism, we will receive a remission of our sins. This principle was taught in the Doctrine and Covenants:

“…and after thou hast been baptized by water, which if you do with an eye single to my glory, you shall have a remission of your sins and a reception of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands;” – Doctrine and Covenants 55:1

And baptism, then, leads us to…

Four – The Gift of the Holy Ghost

Often, when I think of the gift of the Holy Ghost, I think of the constant companionship of the Comforter. And, of course it is that. But think about that phrase – constant companionship. And think about the fact that the Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead.

We won’t just get the constant companionship of a member of the Godhead just because. We know that no unclean thing can dwell with God. And yes, we have been baptized by the time we have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, but another important facet of this gift is that the Holy Ghost sanctifies us. He makes us holy. We learn:

“Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.” – Alma 13:12

Now – notice this scripture, how it comes full circle with where we started. Just so you know, the context of Alma 13 is Alma teaching about the priesthood and those called to it (just like the disciples that the Angel showed to Nephi).

They had covenanted with God in the waters of baptism, and they had been sanctified through by Holy Ghost. These people were purified and sanctified which happens to each of us when we covenant with God and then live worthy of our covenants.

Such purification and sanctification then results in our desire to remain righteous – because then we remain both pure and holy.

I realize that there are many who misunderstand what it means to be pure and holy. Perhaps the important thing to emphasize here is that the apostles were made pure and holy through the blood of Christ. He doesn’t expect us to be some kind of extra-terrestrial being that is innately “pure.” Purity doesn’t mean prudishness or puritanism. Instead, we become pure as we go to the Lord with fulness of heart and real intent.

And then He makes us pure. We, then are made clean through His blood, and can be – if we will continually choose Him – righteous and happy forever.

***
Thanks for reading today. This was probably a boring post, but I really like understanding what I believe in. The doctrine of Christ really is beautiful. There is so much mercy and love in it. There is sacrifice, yes – which leads to hope and joy.

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.

The Condescension of God – 1 Nephi 11:26-29

You can read 1 Nephi 11:26-29 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life.
  • The Spirit tells Nephi to behold the condescension of God.
  • Nephi sees the Redeemer and John the Baptist. He sees the Savior get baptized then He watches the Savior go forth in power and glory.
  • Nephi sees that twelve are following the Savior, but Nephi can’t actually see them

The Condescension of God

If we back up a few verses, the Spirit and Nephi have the following exchange:

“And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?

17 And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” – 1 Nephi 11:16-17

I have always loved this scripture. I love that Nephi admits that he doesn’t know. When the Spirit asks him a question, Nephi doesn’t pretend to know. Instead, Nephi explains that he knows that God loves his children, but he doesn’t know everything.

It is such a simple example of Nephi’s humility. So the Spirit teaches Nephi about the condescension of God.

So – let’s ask ourselves that question: Knowest thou the meaning of the condescension of God?

Maybe you can say yes. Maybe you know exactly what that means. But let’s do a little digging.

To the dictionary:

“Definition of condescension

1 : patronizing attitude or behavior

2 : voluntary descent from one’s rank or dignity in relations with an inferior” – Merriam Webster.com

In this case, the second definition will help us to understand what the Spirit means. The Savior voluntarily descended from His rank – as a member of the Godhead and dwelt among humankind in the meridian of time. He was born in a stable. I don’t know if you can get much lower than that. He didn’t live in a time with technology or luxury. I don’t really want to imagine what it was like to live in Jerusalem in Christ’s day.

Surely, he condescended and then dealt with us mere humans!

What’s interesting to me, though – as I study today – is how Christ condescended without being condescending (see the first definition).

One – He Was Baptized

We read:

“And I looked and beheld the Redeemer of the world, of whom my father had spoken; and I also beheld the prophet who should prepare the way before him. And the Lamb of God went forth and was baptized of him; and after he was baptized, I beheld the heavens open, and the Holy Ghost come down out of heaven and abide upon him in the form of a dove.” – 1 Nephi 11:27

As a part of Christ’s condescension, He was baptized. He did this to be obedient, show us the way to follow Him, and to fulfill all righteousness. Nephi explained it best:

“And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!” – 2 Nephi 31:5

Even though Christ was Holy, He was the literal Son of God. He was part God! Let’s think about holiness:

“Definition of holy

holier; holiest
1 : exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness
2 : divine
for the Lord our God is holy —Psalms 99:9 (King James Version)
3 : devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity a holy temple holy prophets
4 a : having a divine quality holy love
b : venerated as or as if sacred holy scripture a holy relic” – Merriam Webster.com

The Savior wasn’t just some good guy. He was holy – he was exalted, worthy of complete devotion, divine, devoted entirely to deity.

He didn’t need to be baptized for the remission of sins.

Yet, He condescended below all, and He was baptized – simply to fulfill all righteousness and do the will of His Father.

Two – He Ministered Among the People.

The Savior, the King, went out among the people and used His glory and power, to serve them.

He healed the sick, He gave sight to the blind, He brought people back to life from death. He taught multitudes and fed multitudes. Even though He was the King, the literal Son of God – He went and dwelt among the masses. His life was not His own.

It’s hard to imagine any person with great power – a king or president – behaving in such a way. His choice to teach and serve the people was another way He condescended.

Three – He Was Cast Out

Despite the Lord’s expression of love through service and ministry, the people cast Him out.

So, put another way – he was an outcast.

The Son of God, the Highest of High, the King of Kings, chose to come to the earth, be born in a lowly stable, raised by a poor young carpenter and his wife in the middle east during ancient times, and to serve and teach and love others. Despite all of this, He was cast out.

In fact, He was an outcast on the day of His birth.

His family had to flee Israel and go to Egypt until the edict to kill all children of the age of two had been lifted (at the death of Herod). He was a refugee. An outcast.

We don’t know much about Christ’s young life, but we know that when it was rumored that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the Pharisees sought to trap him, and people, offended, responded with the question:

“Is not this the carpenter’s son?…” – Matthew 13:55

He was a social outcast.

And then, even when the people began to experience the Savior – when they heard His teachings and experienced His miracles, still He was cast out.

Conclusion

Truly, the Lord condescended. He, the Son of God, the Creator of this world, the Prince of Peace, the Author of our Salvation, Alpha and Omega, and every other title we could name – He chose to come to this earth and descend below His ranks and His abilities – so that He could offer us Redemption. He condescended below all of us because, as Nephi stated: He loveth His children.

I’m so grateful for the Savior.

***
There are times in my life when I don’t understand a lot of what is going on around me. I see people in pain, I see suffering, injustice, and problems, problems, problems. I sometimes find myself shaking my head thinking, there’s no solution. When will Jesus come again?

In situations like this, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all that is wrong, and forget that Christ did condescend. That He came to this earth to offer us hope:

” Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” – Ether 12:4

It is because of the condescension of Christ that this hope is available to us. I’m so thankful for Him.