Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Journeyings without murmurings (1 Nephi 17)

How do you like your steak?

I guess a lot of people like their steak rare.  Me, I can maybe do a medium, but prefer medium well.  Just a slight touch of pink.

Lehi's family didn't eat their meat rare, they ate it raw.  Can you imagine?  I'd rather not, it grosses me out.  They did this for the same reason Nephi had to kill Laban and Zoram had to come with them into the wilderness:  Nobody's supposed to know where they went.  Eating cooked meat requires fire, and fire attracts attention. Eating raw meat requires Faith in God.

1 Nephi17: 1-4
1.  And it came to pass that we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth. And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness.

2.  And so great were the blessings of The Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.

3.  And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness.

4.  And we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness.

Journeyings without murmurings. I'm so proud of Laman and Lemuel; they've come such a long way.  I mean look at this:

1 Nephi 17: 5-6
5.  And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of The Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters.

6.  And it came to pass that we did pitch our tents by the seashore; and notwithstanding we had suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all, we were exceedingly rejoiced when we came to the seashore; and we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit.

Yup, no more trouble from Mr. Lame, er.. Laman.


This map does NOT represent any position The LDS Church has taken on the actual path Lehi took through Saudi Arabia, Yemen or Oman, and is NOT doctrine.  It is merely the educated guessings of people who like to spend time doing such things.  All we know is that Lehi's family went south by southeast for a while, and then East for a while, and the whole thing took 8 years, and they arrived at a seashore.  Since it matters NOT, this map suits me just fine.

1 Nephi 17: 8-9
8.  And it came to pass that The Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters.

9.  And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown me?
My level of Faith:
The Lord:  John Barney, thou shalt construct a ship.
John Barney:  What?  I can't do that; I don't know how.

Nephi's level of Faith:

The Lord:  Nephi, thou shalt construct a ship
Nephi:  OK, but where can I find the materials I need?

Replace "construct a ship" with pretty much anything and there's your lesson. "Teach a class", "give a talk", "be Elders' Quorum President", "pay your tithing"...etc. 

The good news is, Nephi has lots of willing helpers to aid him in this daunting task.  Well, I'm sure Zoram and brother Sam were willing to help.  Laman & Lemuel, and probably the Ishmael brothers too, refused to help, and ridiculed Nephi for even thinking that he could do it. 

Well, Nephi knows he can do it (faith), and I know he can do it (I've read it), and you know he can do it (testimony), and, interestingly enough, Laman and Lemuel know he can do it (experience)...

1 Nephi 17: 19
19.  And now it came to pass that I, Nephi, was exceedingly sorrowful because of the hardness of their hearts; and now when they saw that I began to be sorrowful they were glad in their hearts, insomuch that they did rejoice over me, saying: We knew that ye could not construct a ship for we knew that ye were lacking in judgment; wherefore, thou canst not accomplish so great a work.

This reminds me of that song in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" when the brothers, referring to Joseph's dreams that he will one day rule over them, sing:
His dreams of course will not come true
That is we think they won't come true
That is we hope they won't come true
What if he's right all along?
Anywayz, to enlist their help, Nephi gets on a soapbox for a couple of pages here, bearing a powerful testimony of The Lord's dealings with the House of Israel.  Always a favorite reference is the story of how The Lord parted the Red Sea hither and thither (I love that!! "Hither and Thither") and the children of Israel passed through on dry ground (they always mention the dry ground part).  Nephi also reminds Laman & Lemuel that they themselves have seen miracles:

1 Nephi 17: 45
45.  Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember The Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard His voice from time to time; and He hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel His words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder.
Notice the lesson on how The Lord often communicates with us: A still, small voice that we feel, as opposed to hear. Would you rather have that one or the thunder?

As Nephi speaks, the Spirit of The Lord comes upon him and he becomes a lion.  Have you ever seen someone become a righteous lion? I saw the bishop of my ward become a lion once. There's a huge difference between The Spirit transforming someone into a lion for a righteous purpose and a person getting worked up and yelling stuff. I would have loved to see this in person.

1 Nephi 17: 47-48
47.  Behold, my soul is rent with anguish because of you, and my heart is pained; I fear lest ye shall be cast off forever. Behold, I am full of the Spirit of God, insomuch that my frame has no strength.

48.  And now it came to pass that when I had spoken these words they were angry with me, and were desirous to throw me into the depths of the sea; and as they came forth to lay their hands upon me I spake unto them, saying: In the name of The Almighty God, I command you that ye touch me not, for I am filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh; and whoso shall lay his hands upon me shall wither even as a dried reed; and he shall be as naught before the power of God, for God shall smite him.
Let's keep going.  I really love this part of the BOM

49.  And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto them that they should murmur no more against their father; neither should they withhold their labor from me, for God had commanded me that I should build a ship.

50.  And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.

51.  And now, if The Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?
And...1 Nephi 17: 54-55
54.  And it came to pass that I stretched forth my hand unto my brethren, and they did not wither before me; but The Lord did shake them, even according to the word which he had spoken.

55.  And now, they said: We know of a surety that The Lord is with thee, for we know that it is the power of The Lord that has shaken us. And they fell down before me, and were about to worship me, but I would not suffer them, saying: I am thy brother, yeah, even thy younger brother; wherefore, worship The Lord thy God, and honor they father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which The Lord thy God shall give thee.

One last strain of praise:  It must have been awesome to have to build a fire to make the tools to make the ship.  The Lord didn't want them building fires too much; that's why they had to eat their meat without cooking it.

1 Nephi 17: 12-13
12.  ...I will make they food become sweet, that ye cook it not;
That's pretty cool.  Still, I bet they took advantage of this fire to roast a hot dog or two, & maybe make s'mores. 

And one of my faves:
13.  And I will be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by Me that ye are led.
Having traversed a small part of my journey through the wilderness that is my life, and having experienced what I have experienced, and being where I am now, I know that it has been by Him that I have been led.  There may have been questions, doubtings and seeming coincidences along the way, but now I see the view more clearly, and it's beautiful.  I really like the idea that, when we get there, we will know that it was He who led (or was trying to lead) us. I'll hit this again in Ether 6: 12. 

Em's brother Parker took this at Cedar Breaks
Peace be with you...


  1. Loved it!!! Love that photo of you and Em looking at the view. Loved the perspective of viewing life and seeing the hand of god in your life. You say it so well. I love your perspectives and all of your illustrations.
    Hugh Nibley says that as they traversed part of the wilderness whereThey couldn't build fores it was because in that part of the world even back the was filled with mauraders and thieves. And that was why they couldn't attract bad guys with a fires through that area. Is that your understanding.?

    1. I'm ashamed to say I've never read Nibley, but I think that is an entirely plausible and possible explanation. There's this verse later on in the BOM that tells us that nobody else knew they left Jerusalem other than themselves. I've always thought that, if someone figured out where they went, Columbus may have run into a much different scenario later on. Killing Laban, Zoram having to come with them, not having fires, etc. Must have been important.