As Nephi continues to have future events unfolded to him in vision, the angel describes the meaning of what Nephi is seeing. One portion of the vision focuses on the Bible coming to the Americas with the Europeans (Gentiles) who began emigrating from the 16th and 17th century onward.
“…And I beheld a book…carried forth among them. And the angel said unto me: Knowest thou the meaning of the book? And I said unto him: I know not. And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel…wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.” (1 Nephi 13:20-23)
Why did the angel emphasize the covenants made to the house of Israel as being a central aspect of the Bible’s value to the Gentiles? Could this emphasis be based on the fact that the Gentiles would be among (and mix with) many of the house of Israel in the Americas – including Lehi’s descendants – and that the two groups’ spiritual and physical prosperity (or lack thereof) would be closely tied together as the Lord fulfilled his covenants with the house of Israel?
What portion of the Bible, if any, was spoken or recorded by a non-Jew or non-Israelite? Are the most important passages, spoken directly by Jesus Christ himself, also from the mouth of a Man with a Jewish mother?
Does the new covenant which Jesus Christ established with His earthly ministry dissolve the covenants made to those who came before Him in any way (such as the covenants made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)? Or, does the new covenant add to, and strengthen all the covenants that came before?
While teaching Nephi about the meaning of his father’s dream, the Lord’s angel also teaches Nephi about the reality of Satan and his power to deceive.
“…The temptations of the devil…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)
-If you knew there was a being striving to keep all people on the earth in darkness and separated from God, would you be more careful about your thoughts, actions, and any easy acceptance of popular opinions?
-What does it take to rise above having one’s eyes blinded and heart hardened spiritually?
-What is the relationship between having a hardened heart and being spiritually blind?
-How can you keep your heart soft in your relationship with God and those around you?
-Are there thoughts you have empowered that are keeping you from feeling God’s love and kindness toward yourself and those around you?
The angel continues to teach Nephi about the meaning of his father’s dream, which had as one of its main elements a great and spacious building.
“…I saw the multitudes of the earth, that they were gathered together to fight against the apostles of the Lamb; for thus were the twelve called by the angel of the Lord. And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof…And it came to pass that I saw and bear record that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (1 Nephi 10:34-36)
-Who were the twelve apostles who Christ called during his earthly ministry?
-Did the twelve stay the same? Or, where replacements called for those who died?
-Has there been a quorum of twelve apostles on the earth, without interruption since the time of Christ?
-Is there a church which has a quorum of twelve apostles today? If so, by whom were they called and from where do they derive their authority?
-How did those who did not accept or believe in the full gospel of Jesus Christ treat the original apostles?
-Would you expect apostles who were called in our time to be popular and accepted by the majority of people?
-How is pride related to whether a person (or group of people) fight against Christ’s apostles?
-If you came to know that Christ had called twelve apostles in our time, how important would it be for you to align yourself with these apostles rather than resisting their message and efforts?
An angel shows Nephi the future birth of Jesus Christ and a magnificent and beautiful tree, which was a central part of his father’s vision. The angel then teaches Nephi about the meaning of the tree.
“And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? And I answered him saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” (1 Nephi 11:21-23)
-How is Jesus Christ the perfect example of the love of God?
-Why, as the angel testified to Nephi, is the love of God more desirable than anything else and the source of the greatest possible joy?
-How can you increase the love of God in your heart and experience this greatest of joys?
As the Spirit begins to reveal to Nephi what his father, Lehi, had seen in vision, another truth about God is given.
“And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou? And I said: I desire to behold the things which my father saw. And the Spirit said unto me: Believest thou that thy father saw the tree of which he hath spoken? And I said: Yea, thou knowest that I believe all the words of my father. And when I had spoken these words, the Spirit cried with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea even above all.” (1 Nephi 11:6)
-Do you believe there is a God over all the earth?
-Would knowing there is a God with perfect perspective and judgment provide greater comfort and hope in your day-to-day life?
-Can the Spirit, who bore witness of God’s existence and exalted status to Nephi in vision, bear the same witness to you in your heart?
-How much strength to live a better life could be received from developing a greater bond with the Lord who is above all?
After describing God’s perfect and caring consistency in his relationship to mankind (and every individual who ever was and is a part of it), Nephi concludes his message on a cautionary note.
“…For all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment. Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.” (1 Nephi 10:20-21)
-What does it mean to seek after wickedness? Why does participating in wickedness make a person unclean?
-Why is it that nothing unclean (including an unclean soul) can stay in the presence of God?
-Since all of us have been tainted — to some degree or another — by the wickedness of this world, how can we be made clean again and return to live with God? (See: Rely on This Redeemer; Repentance; Atonement)
-Why does Nephi refer to mortality as a time of probation?
-Is there a point where all who are unclean will remain so forever?
-If you believe there will be a day of judgment, how does it affect the way you live your life day to day? If a day of judgment is in the future, how important is it know this and to be prepared?
-Would a perfect God provide anything less than a perfect judgment? Would a God who loves perfectly offer everything He possibly could in terms of eternal blessings?
Nephi knew he could obtain the same revelation and knowledge that his father had received based on the following principles pertaining to God’s character and responsiveness to those who seek Him:
“…He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him. For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (1 Nephi 10:18-19)
-What is the significance of God preparing the way for all mankind “from the foundation of the world” to come unto Him?
-Do you believe He has prepared the way for you? Are you willing to diligently seek Him in order to have the “mysteries of God unfolded” to you? What would it mean for you to repent and come unto Him?
-Is it possible you could see a vision similar to what Lehi saw? (1 Nephi 8). Or, was Lehi’s vision the kind of exceptional experience that few others would ever have?
-Nephi testifies that revelation from God comes by the power of the Holy Ghost. Does the Holy Ghost work with every individual in the same way? Or, do personal differences, gifts, and circumstances make the witness of the Holy Ghost unique to every individual?
-What does it mean that the “course of the Lord is one eternal round”?
After hearing all God had shown to his father, through prophetic revelation, Nephi desired to obtain a deeper knowledge of what he had heard. As he states in the following passage, he knew there was only one reliable way to obtain that deeper knowledge.
“I Nephi was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him.” (1 Nephi 10:17)
How can a person diligently seek God?
Do you believe you have diligently sought a greater understanding of who God is and what His will is for you? If not, would it be worthwhile to make the effort?
How do you expect the Holy Ghost to work with you as you earnestly seek greater knowledge from God?
Do you believe He will work with you?
Why would God require a certain amount of diligence and effort before extending the gift of the Holy Ghost?
Another message from the Book of Mormon comes as Lehi continues to prophesy to his family. He explains that it was part of God’s plan to scatter the people of Israel throughout the earth (including leading Lehi’s family to the Americas) but He would later work to gather them again — physically and spiritually. Lehi foresaw that after the death of Christ a portion of His Gospel would survive among some of the nations of the Gentiles (nations in Europe, portions of northern Africa, and western Asia, for example, whose majority religion became Christian and whose emigrants later established nation states in the Americas). Lehi prophesied to his family that when the fullness of the gospel was again restored to the Gentiles, the regathering of the house of Israel — including Lehi’s descendants in the Americas — would begin.
“And after the house of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again; or in fine, after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel…the remnants of the house of Israel should…come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer.” (1 Nephi 10:14)
-Is there evidence of the people of Israel being gathered spiritually and physically in our time as God has promised they would be?
-If only a portion of Christ’s gospel survived among the Christian nations, has the fullness of that Gospel been restored in our time?
-Is there a church established on the earth today that claims to be carrying out such a restoration and gathering of Israel based on direct authority and instruction from God?
-If, as the scriptures testify, God always keeps His promises, how important is it to be a part of His work in fulfilling promises made to those who went before us? Is it likely a church which does not align itself with the impetus of such powerful promises, as a key element of its teachings and practice, contains the fullness of the Gospel?
As a prophet of God, Lehi had uncommon insight into God’s work and many future events. He shared many of these things with his family including Nephi who recorded some of what he heard, which record became part of the Book of Mormon.
When speaking of the future of Jerusalem, Lehi foresaw the coming of a Messiah and declared that…
“…All mankind were in a lost and fallen state, and ever would be save they…rely on this Redeemer.” (1 Nephi 10:6)
-What signs do you see around you that the inhabitants of the earth are in a lost and fallen state?
-What does it mean to rely on Jesus Christ who is the Redeemer of which Lehi spoke?
-How do you feel about Lehi’s declaration that there is no other way to overcome the lost and fallen state of humanity except through the Redeemer?