Saturday, October 24, 2009

1 Nephi - Chapter 8

I love Lehi's Dream.  I think, rather than focus on the symbolism and meaning of the dream's elements, which we'll surely examine in more detail when Nephi receives and interprets the vision, I'd like to think about a couple of other things.

One is that Lehi shared the dream with his family in the tender hope that he could help prepare them for God's great gifts.

The other is the manner in which the dream can do that.  Consider the close parallels between Lehi's Dream and the Savior's Parable of the Sower.  Essentially, they both examine the nature and behavior of four types of people.  No, I don't want to say types.  That would imply that if I were born a "stony ground" person I was doomed to wither and die.  Rather, I'd say four types of preparation to hear the word.  The key to Lehi's Dream and the Parable of the Sower is in preparing the ground to receive the seed.  It is seed sown in our hearts and minds.  The seed or the Word of God, is viable in all cases.  The seed is not in question.  The question is the manner in which we choose to receive it.

Lehi has just immersed himself in the scriptures.  It appears this is probably the first time he's had complete access and opportunity to do so.  Certainly, it was not a one time event and he surely studied the Brass Plates for the rest of his life.  In his dream he learned that his children would benefit from The Word of God in their lives as well.  In fact the Word of God was key to their success in negotiating the challenges presented in this very Telestial world.

Making the Parable of the Sower comparison helped me realize the primary difference between those who partook of the fruit and those who did not, was humility or the manner in which we receive the Word.  This past Summer Sweetie and I created some raised bed gardens in our back yard.  We prepared our own soil of 1/3 Peat Moss, 1/3 Perlite, and 1/3 Compost.  Never in our long lives of gardening have we seen plants flourish as they did this Summer.  The soil was prepared to receive and nurture the seed and the yield surpassed our wildest dreams.  When I harvested the potatoes, planted one hill per square foot, the soil was so soft and loamy that I sifted out the spuds with my fingers.  Each hill yielded 10 pounds of potatoes!  (A parallel to the Parable of the Talents.)

What if we prepared our hearts to receive the Word of God in such a manner.  God can chasten, instruct, bless and even afflict, but it is we who must humble ourselves.  Of late, my heart has been hard and stony. Today's reading has been a wake up call.  I have need of making my heart more like my raised bed gardens.  I have great need of repentance.  My heart needs to be lifted above the hard soil of the world around me by forgiveness and a remission of my sins.  Then if I can mix the peat moss of humility, the Perlite of willingness and the compost of experience in healthy proportions, I might expect a bountiful yield from the seed the Lord sows in my heart.  I must come when I am beckoned, cling when I am darkened, remain when I am scorned and partake when I'm redeemed.

1 comment:

D1Warbler said...

I hadn't realized before that Lehi was given his dream of the Tree of Life after he had immersed himself in the scriptures. Interestingly, concerning this, Nephi speaks in Chapter 5:20-21, of both he and his Father searching those scriptures once they have the opportunity to do so:

20 And it came to pass that thus far I and my father had kept the commandments wherewith the Lord had commanded us.

21 And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children.

Perhaps his personal immersion in these scriptures is one of the reasons that Nephi is eventually so desirous of having his own vision of the Tree of Life, beyond his initial desire to understand his Father’s dream.

Also, interesting is the fact that Lehi doesn’t have his vision of the tree of life, etc., until Ishmael and his family have joined Lehi and his family in the wilderness.

I hadn’t thought of either of these factors during previous readings of the Book of Mormon. The second observation – that Lehi only has the dream after the extended group is present in the valley - brings questions to my mind. The first is – why didn’t the Lord allow Lehi to see what would happen to Ishmael and his family, as well as Zoram, in the dream – especially since we think Lehi’s daughters may have been part of Ishmael’s family through marriage to Ishmael’s sons.

My second question is somewhat similar, and that is, regardless of their tie to Ishmael’s family, if Lehi’s daughters are present, why does Lehi only see what happens to Sariah and his four sons.

A third question concerns Lehi’s future sons (and perhaps two more daughters). I understand that Jacob and Joseph haven’t been born yet, and that there are perhaps two unborn daughters as well, but if Lehi is seeing the future spiritual course followed by his family members, I’m curious as to why the Lord doesn’t include the daughters and the two unborn sons in that, especially since we know that several of the Book of Mormon prophets (including Nephi) eventually see the doings of their posterity down to the end of the Nephite civilization.

Regarding the unborn children, I would imagine the answer as to why he does not mention them to the group is because – even if he has seen them in the dream – he realizes that that is information he is not to share with the group, but I would think that if two living daughters are present, they would wonder why he has not seen them in his dream or why he does not mention them at all. (I know I certainly would!)

In his recitation of the details of the dream, Lehi does say that he saw his family. Perhaps, like many orientals of his time, he then only speaks of his sons, or perhaps Nephi, again like many orientals of his time, only records what happens to the sons. However, since Nephi mentions the daughters of Ishmael in his account of the party’s journey from Jerusalem to the Valley of Lemuel, we do know that he does occasionally mention the women who interact with him when he considers it to be important to the record. (At the very least, both Lehi and Nephi do mention Sariah in their recitations of the dream.)

Perhaps all my questions would have been answered had Nephi recorded all the words of his Father, since he indicates in verse 29 of that Chapter that his Father told them much more than he, Nephi, recorded.

29 And now I, Nephi, do not speak all the words of my father.

Perhaps, too, they were included in Lehi’s own record of the dream, which we do not have access to.

I also think it’s interesting that as Lehi tastes the fruit and finds it is desirable above all other fruit, he wants the rest of his family to partake of it. This reminds me of Eve in the Garden of Eden, to whom that fruit (in that case, the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil) was also delicious and desirable and which she wanted Adam to share. (Patterns?)