Lehi’s Dream – A Recap – 1 Nephi 8:1-35

You can read 1 Nephi 8:1-15 here.

Context and General Information

  • While in the wilderness, Lehi has a dream.
  • Based on this dream, Lehi rejoiced because of Nephi and Sam, but he also feared for the fate of Laman and Lemuel.
  • Lehi saw a man dressed in a white robe – who asked Lehi to follow Him.
  • Lehi followed and found himself in a dark and dreary waste. After wandering for a while, Lehi prayed.
  • Lehi then saw a large and spacious field. Then, he looked on and beheld a tree with desirable fruit.
  • Lehi went forth and partook of the fruit of the tree. It filled his soul with joy, and he was then desirous that his loved ones would also partake.
  • Lehi looked around and saw Sariah, Nephi, and Sam. He beckoned unto them, and they came and partook of the fruit also.
  • Lehi also wanted Laman and Lemuel to partake of the fruit. H looked and saw them by the head of a river. He beckoned to them, too, but they would not come and partake of the fruit.
  • Lehi saw a rod of iron and a strait and narrow path that led to the tree.
  • Lehi saw numberless concourses of people that were trying to obtain the path.
  • A mist of darkness arose. Those who had started on the path but didn’t hold to the rod were lost in the mists.
  • A group of people caught a hold of the iron rod and clung to it. They did go forth even until they partook of the tree. However, after partaking, they looked around and they were ashamed.
  • Lehi looked around to see why they might be ashamed, and he saw a great and spacious building high in the air above the earth.
  • The building was filled with people – who were all mocking those who were partaking of the fruit. These people were well dressed and worldly.
  • Those people who had partaken of the fruit were ashamed because of the scoffing. They felt so much shame that they rejected the fruit that they had just eaten, left the tree of life, then fell into forbidden paths and were lost.
  • Lehi saw that some people were completely uninterested in the tree of life but were feeling their way towards the great and spacious building. Many of the people who were trying to get to the great and spacious building fell into the depths of the river, others were just lost and wandering on strange roads. Others entered int the building and then pointed the finger of scorn at Lehi and those partaking of the fruit.
  • Anyone who heeded those in the great and spacious building fell away.
  • Some people pressed forward, holding fast to the iron rod, until they came to the tree – they fell down and partook of the fruit. When they heard the jeering of the people in the great and spacious building, they didn’t listen.
  • Laman and Lemuel did not choose to partake of the fruit.

Lehi’s Dream – a Recap

I know that we have been studying Lehi’s dream for a few days, and I like to get into the weeds. However, it is always good – after having been in the weeds for a while – to get up and look at the big picture.

What is this dream all about? Why would Heavenly Father show Lehi this dream right now while in the wilderness? Heavenly Father isn’t arbitrary, and His timing is always perfect and purposeful.

I suppose that there could be many answers to this question, and if you have some insights, comment below because I’d love to hear what you think.

But my mind is going to Lehi’s situation. He is in the wilderness. He is embarking on a journey that (unbeknownst to him) will last 8 years. He will endure trials like severe hunger and he will endure the mocking of his own loved ones. He will work, and work, and work, and then when his family arrives at the land Bountiful, He will not be done but will have to board a boat (made by his son who is not a boatmaker, and then sail to the other side of the world.

When we read about the people who partook of the tree of life, it says:

But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.” – 1 Nephi 8:30, emphasis added

They came forth and fell down. The path was difficult to the tree of life, the path would be difficult to the promised land.

I think that this dream probably served as a comfort during those hard times. Even though the path would be difficult and riddled with obstacles, there would always be an iron rod, and it would surely lead to the goal – the tree of life – the promised land.

Conversely, if his family ever tried to veer and let go of the iron rod, they might travel down roads, but none would lead to the goal of the tree of life.

I think that this dream probably helped him to have scope and trust in the Lord.

***
I’ll share a personal example.

Several years ago, my husband and I started our own business. We have lofty goals, and we knew that it would not come easily.

After about a year and a half into the experience, I got this crazy idea. I needed to walk up a mountain near my house. It sounds crazy, I know, and it was, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Wasatch Mountain

The Mountain Tops I needed to Climb

There was a road near my house that was closed from November-June (no snow removal – small, steep mountain road). It was early June, and finally this road was open. My family and I drove up it into Park City. After driving up it, I knew I needed to walk it. I couldn’t put my finger on it, I just had to do it. So, one Saturday morning, I woke up early for a walk.

Morning Walk

Time for a Morning Walk in Midway

I packed a light pack with water, and started walking. I figured that I didn’t need to walk the whole way, I would just go for as long as I wanted. I knew that it would be steep. The walk would be 14 miles and gain about 4,000 feet of elevation.

I walked and I walked.

Engleman Aster and Aspen

Aster and Aspen

As I walked up the mountain road, I was greeted with cute wildflowers, bluebirds, and hawks. Every once in a while I’d see a cyclist. No one else was walking up this mountain with me. Which was perfect, actually.

It was really hard. It was so steep at times. Then, I’d be gifted with a view like this:

Mid Walk View

The Heber Valley from Pine Canyon Road

After walking for about 2.5 hours, I came to the conclusion that I had nothing else to do that day, so I texted home and said, “I’m walking to Park City. I’ll call you when I need a ride home.” Might as well spend the day walking!

Aspen on Pine Canyon Road

Aspen Forest

Even though I had packed a small backpack, I didn’t pack it with food. But I had already committed to walking, that I didn’t have any choice but to keep walking. So, up the mountain I went. Up, up, up. My thighs and lungs were burning. So, periodically, I stopped, caught my breath, took a sip of water, and looked at the views.

Bare Aspen in High Elevation

Higher Elevation Aspen Forest

Soon, I was getting into an elevation that was high enough for some snow. The aspen didn’t have leaves anymore. I was in the sun, and I was walking up hill, but there was a chill in the air. Up. Up. Up. It was still hard, and getting harder. The air was thinner. I was tired and hungry, but I still had a ways to go.

Midway Brighton Park City

I realize that this pic has leaves. I took this picture on a later hike…But it is still nice.

Finally, I made it to the end of Pine Canyon Road. I still wasn’t to the top of the mountain, but I was getting much closer. I had walked about 8 miles now. I had climbed probably 3,000 feet. It had been hard. But I still had more elevation and about 6 more miles. Yet the checkpoint of the street signs to Park City/Brighton/Midway was a welcome sight. I caught my breath, then kept on going.

It was about two more miles until I was at the top of Empire Pass. I don’t think that I have a picture of this, but the views were literally 360 degree views. I was so tired, but felt a surge of energy to be at this mountain top. I sat down for a while, smiling. I wasn’t smiling before that. I was tired! But now, I knew the hardest was behind me. It was amazing to stand on the top of a mountain that I just climbed.

Honestly, this part of the mountains – Bonanza Flats, Empire Pass – felt a little bit holy to me. In fact, there is a “church” there…

church of dirt

Church of Dirt

The thing is – I had just driven up to this point a few days before, and it was nice. But the rush I felt after spending four hours walking was unparalleled. You would have to do it yourself to understand.

After a little rest, I kept walking – for another two hours – until I got to a point in Park City where my family could pick me up. It was quite the walk.

***

And how does this relate? It has been a help to me ever since that day. My husband and I are still working on our business. I understood while I was hiking and ever since that this difficult experience served as a good metaphor. The Lord was taking me to the top of the mountain, but there would be a mountain to climb! 

It would not be easy, but it would be amazing.

I learned that gratitude and wishing that you could be done with the hike are not mutually exclusive. I was grateful for the flowers, the views, the green leaves and the blue sky. But my thighs were also burning! I looked forward to getting to the peak, but could continue to endure one step at a time until I got there.

This has been a touchstone experience for me – that has brought me hope, tenacity, and perspective while I have also been on my own personal journey in life.

***

So – maybe that is one reason that Lehi had his dream. He had a long road ahead of him. The Lord intended for him to succeed, but the Lord knew it would be hard. He would give Lehi the capability to accomplish this journey – not only physically with things like food and the Liahona (we’ll read about that soon). But the Lord also blessed Lehi mentally – with perspective to  boost his morale when things were tough.

I love the story of Lehi’s dream. I know that there are a million more things we can learn from it. I hope that it has been helpful for you, too.

***

Here are the other “Lehi’s Dream” posts:

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Facing Adversity: Lehi, Laman/Lemuel, and Nephi (1 Nephi 2:7,12,16)

I’m reading the Book of Mormon again. This time, as I read, I’ll be studying it with an emphasis on overcoming obstacles. (I recently read The Obstacle is the Way, by Ryan Holiday, and Im pretty fascinated by what I learned there.

As I read The Obstacle is the Way, I saw many gospel parallels, and thought I should read the Book of Mormon with this framework. So – here we go. Starting straightaway – with Lehi, Nephi, Laman, and Lemuel.

Lehi: Gratitude

” And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water.

And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.” – 1 Nephi 2:6-7

Some background. Lehi, the patriarch of his family, had been a prophet (contemporary with Jeremiah) in Israel. He prophesied of Jerusalem’s destruction – unless they would repent. The people didn’t particularly care for this message. They wanted to kill Lehi.

It wasn’t Lehi’s lot in life to stay in Jerusalem as Jeremiah did. Instead, he was directed, by God, to flee Jerusalem, and that God would guide him to a promised land.

Three days into his journey he has not arrived into the promised land. He really has no idea what he is about to face. He is in the wilderness and has left everything behind. (Oh – and Lehi was rich, so he left a lot behind). Jerusalem has not been destroyed. It would be easy to complain, to think I must be crazy. To second guess yourself and God.

Instead Lehi is grateful. He prays to God. I think that this is a key to successfully navigating difficulty and adversity in life. Instead of choosing the easy option (which is impatience and complaining), when we take the time to be grateful, we open our hearts to opportunity, and above all we broaden our perspective. A broad perspective is key to navigating obstacles and adversities well.

Laman and Lemuel: Lack of Perspective

“And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.” – 1 Nephi 2:12

Laman and Lemuel instantly react with complaint and murmuring. They don’t want to leave the comforts of their home – even though a promised land awaits them. They think that their dad is crazy. They want to go back to a comfortable life.

Keep in mind, there is no such thing as a comfortable life! Their lives were in danger – if not from the Jews in Jerusalem who wanted to kill Laban – then, by the coming Babylonians who would destroy Jerusalem later. They were destined, as we all are, for some kind of adversity or another. The journey to the promised land, though arduous, could be argued as “easier” than an alternative.

Yet, Laman and Lemuel react – they complain and murmur. And Nephi explains why – because they did not know the dealings of that God who had created them. They didn’t understand the purpose or role of adversity in life. They didn’t have any perspective. They were selfish and prideful.

Nephi: Not Perfect, but Humble

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.” – 1 Nephi 2:16

I love this example of Nephi here. We often think of Nephi as the culmination of what he is. We think of all that he did – from the outset. Many people who grow up as Mormons know about Nephi and sing songs about him. He is courageous. He is strong (large in stature!). He helps his family cross a sea. He is nearly mythical.

But if we take a second to really read, we see that Nephi is ordinary. He trusts his old man. But going out into the wilderness is still a real challenge – and who knows how long they will be in the wilderness. Nephi trusts his dad, but also wants to know for himself.

This desire is the first part of humility. Having a desire to obtain knowledge is an important admission: you don’t know it all. This kind of humility is the only way to actually gain knowledge. We won’t seek for that we aren’t even aware that we lack.

So – Nephi is humble enough to ask the Lord. And when he does, the Lord proceeds to soften his heart. I don’t know how the Lord did this, but the result is even more trust in the revelation that his father had.

And this process is the foundation on which Nephi will build – it will give him strength to carry on through the deserts of the middle east, through the threat of death by Laban, through starvation, through the task of building a boat, through sailing across the world, through building up a new society.

***
We learn a bit by these examples. Be grateful, Be humble, Get a perspective. When we do these things, we will be given a better capacity to overcome any obstacle that the Lord sees fit for us to face in our lives.

The Joy of Hope

This is just one of my favorite scriptures.

“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

This scripture brings me joy.

This scripture was given to us by Ether, but recorded for us by Moroni. Moroni- who had just witnessed the complete extinction of a civilization – his civilization. AND he had just abridged the records of another civilization that went extinct based on their wicked choices.

Ether also witnessed the destruction of his civilization.

These men witnessed an event that most of us will never really see – and yet they tell us – during such hopeless times that if we believe in God, we can have hope.

A belief in God gives us hope for a better world (which means a lot when you just witnessed the end of your civilization!). This hope for a better world anchors our soul to Christ. We understand that He is the author of such a world. Then, our hearts are turned to Him and filled with His love. We do good works for others because of the Love of God that we have obtained.

Is this not joyful?!

It’s possible to have joy in any circumstance when we have the perspective and hope of God.