Monday, March 12, 2012

The heart of Father Lehi (2 Nephi 1)

I started this blog 5 months ago, on October 14th.  When I had the idea of blogging the BOM from start to finish, I knew it would take some time, but I had no idea.  5 months just for the first book, and many to go.  Alma is going to take me a year by itself.  I'm committed, though, so if you feel like continuing with me, please do.  When I get this thing finished, it will be one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.  Hopefully, it will be a legacy I can be proud to leave behind. 

At the beginning of 2nd Nephi there is a short summary written by the prophet Mormon.  It says,

An account of the death of Lehi.  Nephi's brethren rebel against him. The Lord warns Nephi to depart into the wilderness. His journeyings in the wilderness, and so forth.

Lehi doesn't die until chapter 4, but he knows  it's coming.  He takes this opportunity to gather his children together and give them his last lecture.  It's one of my mostest favoritest parts of the BOM, especially chapter 2.  So, let's light this candle...

A Choice Land Above All Others

Lehi said in 2 Nephi 1: 5-6
5.  But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which The Lord God had covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, The Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of The Lord.

6.  Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of The Lord.

I says back in Journeyings without murmurings that one of the big reasons Lehi had to leave Jerusalem so secretively, and why Laban couldn't be kept alive, and why Zoram had to go with them, and why they couldn't have any cooking fires while they traveled was because it was vital that nobody followed them or knew where they were going.  I offer this next verse as exhibit Gamma Charlie:

2 Nephi 1: 8
8.  And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would over-run the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.
Later on in Alma or somewheres it says something like: "And no one knew it [that they left Jerusalem and where they went] save themselves only."  I'll bring it up again when I get to it.  I'm forgetting more than I'm remembering not to forget anymore.

On my Dad's side, my family came over from Ireland, Scotland and England in the early 1600's.  My great great whatever Jacob Barney was born in Bradenham, England in 1607 and was a Baptist Minister in the mid 1600's in or around Salem, Massachusetts.  I don't know how or when he actually came over, but may have even been on the Mayflower, which is really cool.   

I do feel that he was, like verse 6 says, "brought by the hand of the Lord." 

And though it was Uncle Jacob and his buddies, and lots of others from other lands just like him, who kicked the crap out of the indigenous peoples of the Americas (It's been estimated that there were 14 million American Indians along the eastern coast of North America before Columbus, and only about 2 million after the American Revolution), these things were prophesied by Lehi way back then.

2 Nephi 1: 10-12
10.  But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of The Lord -having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of The Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise -behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of Him that is just shall rest upon them.

11.  Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten.

12.  Yea, as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds, and great visitations among them; wherefore, my sons, I would that ye would remember; yea, I would that ye would hearken unto my words.
Can you hear the pleading love in his words?  I just love Lehi.  He continues...

2 Nephi 1: 13
13.  O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.

Why are "waking up" and "breaking chains" metaphors for repentance and obedience?  What does Lehi mean by "Sleep of hell?"  I have thought that this kind of sleep means procrastination.  Later in the BOM the words "slumber of death" are used.  Or, maybe sleeping means a failure to do what you know you oughtta be doing.

For Laman:  You know the gospel; you know it is true.  Live it, NOW!

For John Barney:  You know what you should be doing and what you shouldn't be doing.  Live and love the whole Gospel; NOW!  If not now, then when?
And what if you have developed some bad habits while you were sleeping?  What if your sleepiness weakened your resolve to follow The Savior, so that you soon lack the strength to stop sinning?  If someone threatened to chain us down we would fight like mad wolves, but so often we lock those chains around us our own selves.

BREAK THEM!!  HOW?  Lehi is a mortal man, subject to the same temptations as Laman, Lemuel, Nephi or John Barney.  What makes him the kind of man who is awake enough to stay away from those chains, and be the kind of man who is able to warn others about them?

2 Nephi 1: 15
15.  But behold, The Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld His glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of His love.
Lehi understands the gospel and his dependence on his Savior.

2 Nephi 1: 14, 16-21

14.  Awake! and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return; a few more days and I go the way of all the earth.
16.  And I desire that ye should remember to observe the statutes and the judgments of The Lord; behold, this hath been the anxiety of my soul from the beginning.

17.  My heart hath been weighed down with sorrow from time to time, for I have feared, lest for the hardness of your hearts The Lord your God should come out in the fulness of His wrath upon you, that ye be cut off and destroyed forever;

19.  O my sons, that these things might not come upon you, but that ye might be a choice and favored people of The Lord.  But behold, His will be done; for His ways are righteousness forever.
Lehi loves his kids.  His understanding of the gospel gives him so much worry for his stubborn kids.  What can he do?  He lectures them, prays for them, and, because he is a man of God and holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, he can offer each of them a father's blessing.

I find these verses so moving.  I can just feel Lehi's love, and his heart breaking.  As a parent, he can't help but hope.  As a prophet, he knows what's coming.

I know you can read these verses for yourself, but I just want to write a couple more down...

2 Nephi 1: 21 & 23
21.  And now that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you, that I might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave, arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity.

23.  Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness.  Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity and arise from the dust.

I love my own Dad dearly, but there was always a part of me that wished that he was the kind of Dad that Lehi was, and could have told me to get out of the dirt and be a man when I needed it.  I guess that's what the scriptures are for, huh?  Dad had a few chains on him in mortality, put there by his own self.  He knew they were there, and he knew what they were doing to him, but chose to remain asleep.

Big Finish

Lehi blessed all of his sons, and also Ishmael's sons and Zoram, and their posterity.  To each he exhorted to obey The Lord, lean on The Savior, be faithful.  And, he gave them this promise, which is a principle repeated so many times in the BOM:

2 Nephi 1: 20
20.  And he hath said that:  Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.

I know that was true for the peoples of the BOM because we can read it right in the narrative of the book.  I also know that it's true for me.  I know that, if I am faithful and obedient, I will prosper in the land.  I'll be ok.  I will always have The Lord with me. 

Same goes for you.  I know it.

Peace be with you...


  1. When our family read these verses last week I saw something I never had before: Keep the commandments and you'll prosper, (knew that already), don't keep the commandments and you'll BE CUT OFF. Wow, I realized it doesn't say you won't prosper, which is why wicked people have lots of money inspite of their wickedness; but the punishment for disobedience is being cut off from the Lord. I guess being poorer but with the Lord is better than being richer and without him. Love all your insights. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

    1. Great insight. Thanks for the encouragement, Rozy Lass.

  2. I just love 2 Nephi 1:15 - I swear I can feel the loving arms of my Savior wrapped around me every time I read it. (I love the feeling so much I re-read it three times). Thanks for sharing and all the hard work that goes into this blog.

    1. I thought I'd replied to you already Stephanie. Thanks for popping in, and for the encouragement. And especially for your testimony.