Thursday, October 27, 2011

Uh oh, Dad’s dreaming again... (1st Nephi 3)

Chapter 3 of 1st Nephi is home to one of the most beloved verses of scripture in all Latter-day Saintdom.  It is spoken about, taught about and sung about in thousands of LDS chapels around the world, in hundreds of languages.  Ask any member of the church anywhere in the world, “What is a good scripture about having faith to be obedient?”  9.4087 times out of 10 the answer will probably be 1st Nephi 3: 7.  Before we read it, I’d like to talk about principles.

You can find 3 basic things in the scriptures:  Facts, truths and principles.  All three are important, but of those things that we can apply to our lives, these are listed in ascending order of importance.
A fact is a detail in the storyline that adds to our understanding, but is not essential to know. 
Example:  1st Nephi 3: 1 
1.  And it came to pass that I, Nephi, returned from speaking with The Lord, to the tent of my father.


A statement of truth about something of eternal significance, which, for one thing, allows the Spirit of the Lord to testify to us of the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This verse helps the story flow, gives context to what follows, and is even spiritually edifying, but isn't as necessary to know as other things.
Example:  1st Nephi 3: 20

19.  And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers;
20.  And also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time.
These verses teach us that the words uttered by the prophets from the beginning even down to now has been given to them by the Spirit of The Lord, and by His power.  The Holy Ghost is able to bear witness to us that this is true, that the scriptures are the Word of God, thus deepening our faith and our testimonies.

A formula from The Lord, which, if applied, will result in a promised blessing.
And the scripture we've all been waiting for:  1st Nephi 3: 6-7

6.  Therefore, go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured.
7.  And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father:  I will go and do the things which The Lord hath commanded, for I know that The Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
A principle is a very important part of scripture.  They are recipes for blessings and true happiness.  The Prophet Joseph Smith said about the BOM, "...a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book." The Lord’s message to us in these verses, or one of His messages at least, is that if we are willing to obey His commandments without bellyaching about it, He will favor us, and provide the means to obey, even if we don’t know what we’re doing.

Well, what does it mean to be ‘favored’?

Verse 1 of 1st Nephi says, “…having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of The Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God…”  What a great promise for being willing to obey.  It doesn’t matter how many afflictions you may have in the course of your life, when all is done, you will feel and know that you were blessed.

(not actual photo)
Anywayz, back along the borders of the Red Sea, Lehi had a dream in which he is told that he needs to send his boys back to Jerusalem to get some plates made of brass that are currently in the possession of a fellow named Laban.  Laban is probably Lehi’s cousin, or at least a relative.  Laman thinks it sounds like a real drag, man, and Lemuel always thinks what his mentor Laman thinks, but Nephi and Sam believe that this task was given to them, not by their dad, but by The Lord.  And, whatever The Lord asks Nephi to do, he will, come heck or high water, do. 

That's me dreaming, not Lehi.  Now this is camping.
Turns out Laban doesn’t want to give the brass plates up.  Laman and Lemuel immediately throw in the towel and start back toward the campsite at the Red Sea, but Nephi suggests that they go to their old house and gather up their gold and silver and stuff, and make a trade for the plates.  This idea didn’t pan out either.  When Laban saw their property he saw nothing wrong with taking it and keeping the brass plates too, so he sent his servants after the Lehi brothers to kill them and steal their property. 

1st Nephi 3: 26

25.  And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceedingly great, he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out, and sent his servants to slay us, that he might obtain our property.
26.  And it came to pass that we did flee before the servants of Laban, and we were obliged to leave behind our property, and it fell into the hands of Laban.
Ain’t that Laban a stinker?  Well, don’t worry; he gets his in the next chapter.  I would like to point out a lesson we could all learn from these guys.  Sometimes you need to let go of your hold on the world in order to save yourself.  How’s that for a gleaned profundity, you like it?  I knew you would.

Well, of course, ol’ Laman and Lemuel are more than ready to, again, book it for home at this point.  Nephi lectures them again, & tells them they ain’t goin’ back without the plates.  So, of course, they try to wack him (and I do mean wack).  They get a stick and beat him with intent to kill.  

There are some terrible acts of violence committed in this world of ours.  People do actually hurt others, even their own brother.  The Lord gave us, in the beginning, the choice of whether or not to follow him, and whether or not to sin.  He said to Adam, “…nevertheless thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee, but remember that I forbid it…” (Genesis 2: 16-17, or Moses 3: 16-17).  In some cases, however, there are events that are of such high importance, He must intervene.  The Lord had a work for Nephi to do, therefore he must live.  And, the descendants of Lehi and others that will join the story later must have those brass plates.  It was vital that these records were kept and preserved and used for the benefit of the peoples of the BOM, and, in turn, us.  The Lord sent his messenger to stop Laman and Lemuel from beating Nephi and Sam to death, and to help them know that The Lord will help them get the plates from Laban. 

1 Nephi 3: 28-31

28.  And it came to pass that Laman was angry with me, and also with my father; and also was Lemuel, for he hearkened unto the words of Laman.  Wherefore Laman and Lemuel did speak many hard words unto us, their younger brothers, and they did smite us even with a rod.
29.  And it came to pass as they smote us with a rod, behold, an angel of The Lord came and stood before them, and he spake unto them, saying:  Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod?  Know ye not that The Lord has chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquitities?  Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and The Lord will deliver Laban into your hands.
30.  And after the angel had spoken unto us, he departed.
And the Pièce de résistance

31.  And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying:  How is it possible that The Lord will deliver Laban into our hands?  Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?

And that’s chapter 3 of 1st Nephi.  I must apologize for being so long winded.  I love the BOM.  I do.  Several years ago this fellow in my ward in Ohio was speaking in church when he referenced me while talking about the BOM.  It was such high praise.  He said, “That’s one of the reasons I love it when John Barney teaches about the Book of Mormon, because he’s been there.”  I hesitate to write that, because it sounds like I’m tooting my own horn, but that made me feel so good when he said that.  The Book of Mormon has given me a closeness to and an understanding of The Savior Jesus Christ that I would never have known without it.  When I say I love the BOM, I’m really saying I love my Savior, because that is what the BOM has done for me, and that is why I love it.  I just hope that when I am told to do something by The Lord (or His servants), and given the assurance that I can do it even when I’m not sure how, that I can be a Nephi and not a Laman.  I can think of way too many examples of when I was a Laman. 


Don’t be a Laman.  Be a Nephi.  Go and do the things which The Lord has commanded you, for He gives no commandment unto you that he does not provide a way for you to do it.

Peace be with you…


  1. Wow, the images in this post are really fantastic, but the concepts are riveting!:)

    1. Because he's been there...That is so cool! And so true. I know you have visited every site and circumstance as you read.

      P.S.I loved the "this is me dreaming not Lehi" Cute.