Sunday, November 1, 2009

1 Nephi - Chapter 16

I think it is quite obvious that Nephi and Lehi, didn't need a Liahona, as the curious ball later comes to be known by.  The two of the them seem far more capable than I to be directed by the Spirit as you and I seem to be expected to be.  So, I must conclude that it was given to them, to comfort and school those who were less inclined to seek and heed the promptings of the Spirit.  I suspect that much of the time this was quite comforting and persuasive in coaxing the reluctant travelers along their difficult journey.

If you've ever tried Geocaching, you might have a feeling for what Laman and Lemuel might have thought about the Liahona.  Someone told me that if I took a GPSr instrument and entered some pre-determined coordinates that the unit would lead me to a Cache full of treasure.  When it's arrow literally took me to the very spot, I was astonished.  How could this little gadget retrieve and calculate information from several satellites in space and take me so accurately to a location that to my mind only amounted to meaningless numbers?  Add to that occasional 'text messages' from God and the fact that the daily coordinates were also installed by God and you have the Liahona.  Even in an age where modern gadgetry is all around us, I was amazed at the capabilities of the GPSr.  Imagine how impressive the Liahona must have been to the family of Lehi!

It clearly was no different than heeding the promptings of the Spirit, except that it was plain and visible.  I have often thought it would be nice to give one to each child on the day the receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, so they could have something tangible to practice with.  In away, parents are their children's Liahona.  How important it is, to help our children understand that the spiritual feelings they get are gifts of the Spirit.  I saw a young girl stand one day and bear her testimony.  She had done so since she was a Sunbeam in primary.  Only this time was different.  This time the Spirit confirmed the truth of what she'd been saying, in such a poignant way, that she wept.  The tears came as such an embarrassing surprise that she fled to the arms of her mother, mortified.  When the Bishop stood to close the meeting, he taught her and the rest of us a very important lesson.  He spoke directly to the girl calling her by name.  He explained to her something Elder Boyd K. Packer has taught, that the connection between our body and our spirit is manifest in our emotions.  He then kindly explained to her that the reason she had cried was because she had felt the Spirit, confirm to her soul (body and spirit) that what she was saying was true and pleasing to God.  He commended her for being so sensitive to the Spirit and praised her for her courage in sharing her testimony.  In essence, he taught her what her experience meant.  He was training her to understand, seek and maintain that connection.  We don't necessarily, automatically, understand what it is we are experiencing when we feel the Spirit.  Blessed are parents and teachers who sense when this is happening to others and help them recognize and appreciate it.

Another example:  I was conducting a baptismal service for some new converts in our Stake.  One of the converts was a young lady.  Her parents, members of another church and not all that happy about her choice, never-the-less had elected to attend her baptism.  During one of the talks, the missionary seated next to her father whispered to him, "Can you feel that?"  The man replied, "Yes, what is it?"

"The is the Holy Ghost, confirming to you that what is being said is true."

Two weeks later, that man and his wife also entered the waters of baptism.  The man later remarked about that experience, "If Brother Reynolds had not pointed out what I was feeling that day, I might never have understood, that God was speaking to my heart.  Thank you, dear dear Brother Reynolds!"

I am so much like the murmuring Lehites.  I am given the Promised Land and I want it now!  It is very interesting that every Promised Land story in the scriptures includes a long arduous, testing, winnowing journey.  Lehi, Moses, Jared, Brigham Young, and their followers all experienced it, why would I suppose I might be exempt.  Clearly, I am not.


D1Warbler said...

There is so much in this chapter. First we have Nephi’s continuing admonition to Laman and Lemuel, which, in verse 2, gives us one of the great truths in the record: “the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.” Unfortunately, we see this all around us today!

Also mentioned in this chapter are the marriages of the sons of Lehi and of Zoram to the daughters of Ishmael. When we think what even one marriage entails during our time, and probably entailed during that time period, we can appreciate what a busy season this was for the two extended families. (Merely weaving and sewing together tents for the new couples would have taken months, and I do believe they would have tried to have some kind of a marriage feast for each of the five couples!)

I think it is most revealing that only after the marriages are completed does Nephi record the following in verse 8:
“…and thus my father had fulfilled all the commandments of the Lord which had been given unto him.” Perhaps we can understand from that just how important to Lehi and to the Lord these unions were, and, by extension, how important the marriages of our children should be to us.
It is also only after these marriages are completed that Lehi is told to take up his tents and continue on his journey to the Promised Land. The priceless gift of the Liahona gives the family greater confidence as they proceed on their journey and also allows them to quickly determine when they have gone astray.

The next great trial they face comes when Nephi breaks his bow. I found it interesting here that only Nephi is blamed for their misfortune, even though the brother’s bows have “lost their spring, ” which, to me, indicates possible carelessness on their part.

(Unfortunately, Laman and Lemuel and company so seem to have a chronic case of “beam in the eye” syndrome!)

It is startling to see that, during this time of hunger and distress for the family, even Lehi begins to murmur. After witnessing the heretofore faithful Lehi succumb to such behavior, Nephi’s eventual request that his father tell him where to go to find meat for the family tells us much about Nephi’s feelings of charity and respect for his Father. (What an example that is for all of us.)

The Lord then speaks to Lehi, chastens him, and directs him to the message on the Liahona. (I believe it is at this time that the Lehi and his family truly begin to comprehend the value and power of the Liahona.) It is also at this time that Nephi writes another timeless message in his record: “And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.”

Still more trials, however, are to beset the family as Ishmael dies and is buried at Nahom. The mention of Nahom gives an internal witness of the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon since there is an actual place on the Saudi Arabian Peninsula called Nahom – which means a place of mourning – which is certainly what the families do while they are in this area. (Nahom was a known place, as well as a defined place of mourning, at the time of Lehi and still exists as a place name today, but was not a place that would have been known to Joseph Smith, Jr. during his translation of the Book of Mormon.)

Unfortunately, the other thing that occurs at Nahom is a very serious rebellion on the part of the daughters of Ishmael once they bury their father. Laman and Lemuel soon add to that and threaten to slay both Lehi and Nephi. Only the voice of the Lord – once again – is able to restore order and calm. Repentance restores their ability to obtain food, and they do not perish.

Fortunately, for these brothers and their families, at least at this point in time they are able to repent of their sins and go forward as an extended family once more. Once they reach the Promised Land and Lehi dies, that capacity will greatly diminish.

di said...

39 And it came to pass that the Lord was with us, yea, even the voice of the Lord came and did speak many words unto them, and did chasten them exceedingly; and after they were chastened by the voice of the Lord they did turn away their anger, and did repent of their sins, insomuch that the Lord did bless us again with food, that we did not perish.

I thought about the extraordinary power of Satan. He was able to convince most of this people to distrust His leaders and His words, and even their own memories and experiences of Him. Then God actually speaks to them and turns them around. This work was not to be thwarted by Satan. I liken this to my life. When I get discouraged, jaded, and rebellious, I am reminded by the spirit that my work is vital and important. I cannot know the purposes, but I can feel them in my heart as prompted by the spirit