Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Lessons of Eternity -- 1 Nephi Chapter 11

What Happens

"Nephi sees the Spirit of the Lord and is shown in vision the tree of life—He sees the mother of the Son of God and learns of the condescension of God—He sees the baptism, ministry, and crucifixion of the Lamb of God—He sees also the call and ministry of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb."
1 Nephi 11 Chapter Heading


Commentary

This chapter hits home from the very beginning.  In the first verse Nephi mentions three things that were important to his vision:

  • He desired to know the things that his father had seen.
  • He believed that the Lord could show him and help him know.
  • He pondered about these things in his heart.


I'm going to call these things Desire, Faith, and Prayer.  The spirit walks him through these things as well as soon as the vision starts.  He is already praying... communing with God, just visually now instead of only in his heart, and the Spirit asks him what he desires, and whether he believes what his father has seen.  This is a different belief than the one that led him to the vision, but it is still faith.  All of these things seem to be prerequisites to his experience.

Another thing that strikes me in this chapter is the way that the Lord teaches.  Nephi sees what his father saw, and asks for the interpretation.  As with the Brother of Jared, the Spirit doesn't just spoon-feed Nephi the answer so he can memorize it for the test.  He shows him something seemingly unrelated, and then he asks... do you understand now?  God makes Nephi do the mental work of connecting the two things symbolically.  And Nephi gets it, and says the tree is the love of God, most desirable above all things (verse 22), and then Spirit helps him understand a little more and adds that it is also the most joyous to the soul (verse 23). :)

Nephi is shown more of the life of Christ, and as he sees his life, he understands what the symbolism of the dream is, more and more.  Including the rod of iron being the word of God (verse 25) and the great and spacious building being the pride of the world (verse 36).

The coolest thing about this chapter perhaps is that Nephi sees the life of Christ before it happens in "real" life.  The atonement was as real to them, hundreds of years before it happened, as it is to us, hundreds of years afterward.  It is an eternal event that transcends our mortal sense of time and space, because it saves even people like Nephi, who lived before it happened, and us, who are living very much later.  That's something that is hard for us to imagine, since we are so tied to our ideas of needing someone physically close to us to save us or help us... but it is also good for us to learn these eternal things, so that we can feel God close to us every moment of the day, and his power through the atonement and the gospel not just in the moment, but reaching everywhere and everywhen. :)  Cool of Nephi to share his lessons about eternity with us.

Tune in next time as Nephi's vision continues.