Sunday, April 30, 2017

Future-proofing the Scriptures -- 1 Nephi Chapter 9

What Happens

"Nephi makes two sets of records—Each is called the plates of Nephi—The larger plates contain a secular history; the smaller ones deal primarily with sacred things."
1 Nephi 9 Chapter Heading


Commentary

Here we have another aside from Nephi, explaining that these plates that he is writing (and we are reading) are not the original record that he wrote.  That record is more complete, and it has an account of the wars and and the reign of the kings, but God commanded him to make these plates as a record of the ministry.  This is similar to the aside that Nephi wrote in Chapter 6, where Nephi mentions other plates that were kept by his father, and that he isn't going to write everything here because he wants to save the space for the things of God.

Significantly, in this chapter in verse 5, Nephi mentions that he doesn't know why God has commanded him to make these particular plates.  I feel like the not knowing might have bothered Nephi a little bit, which is why he writes these asides, trying to explain to us why he isn't giving us more information.  But I love that even though he didn't know why, he is still certain that God has it under control, and that he always prepares a way for his works to be accomplished.

And of course, looking back at history, we know the reason: the 116 lost manuscript pages and the need for a different version of what had been lost (D&C 10:40-42).  God's foresight/omniscience preserved his work, and answered the prayers of both the people writing the record and the people, hundreds of years later, who needed another chance and a way to repent of something that couldn't be undone or salvaged.

I think maybe this is also why God didn't tell Nephi why.  Telling us too much maybe sometimes could interfere with our agency, or instill in us a desire to change things, which just gets us into lots of time travel paradox plots.  If we could send a message back in time and warn ourselves of something, would we want to?  Sure.  In fact, that possibility might become the central desire and obsession of our lives and distract us from focusing on things NOW.  In addition, those warnings could change our pasts, and thus who we are now, therefore changing our need to issue a warning, etc.   If Nephi warned Joseph Smith and then the whole thing 116 pages incident never happened, no need for the warning anymore, but something else probably would have happened that needed some extra planning.  We know that "all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men" (Alma 40:8-9), so he probably has to be pretty careful not to break our minds. :)

Tune in next time as we read some more cool prophecies of Lehi.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Lehi's Dream of the Tree of Happiness -- 1 Nephi Chapter 8

What Happens

"Lehi sees a vision of the tree of life—He partakes of its fruit and desires his family to do likewise—He sees a rod of iron, a strait and narrow path, and the mists of darkness that enshroud men—Sariah, Nephi, and Sam partake of the fruit, but Laman and Lemuel refuse."
1 Nephi 8 Chapter Heading


Commentary

The first verse isn't part of the vision, but it is interesting, telling us that Lehi's family had collected seeds of every kind--definitely preparing for a new land by bringing along familiar crops and other foods. It doesn't mention non-food seeds, so I'm guessing that God had that part covered.

Lehi's dream is always great, but I noticed something this time that I didn't remember from previous times. I had always remembered it starting out in a dark and dreary waste... and yet it does not. :) According to Lehi, this is how it starts: "And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. / And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him."

I guess I thought that it started out with him lost in the dark (and dreary) because I feel like that is how life is sometimes... we are lost, and things just don't really make sense, and we finally reach out and learn to find our way out of meaninglessness by reaching out to God.  The way it actually starts makes much more sense (of course), because whether it represents the premortal existence or is symbolic of the spirit of Christ that is "given to every man" (Moroni 7:16), it shows us clearly that God doesn't just stick us in the middle of dark and dreary alone with no idea what to do.  We have that previous experience or latent knowledge of some sort to draw upon, so we know where to turn when we are lost.

As the story goes, as he is following the man, Lehi finds himself in the dark and dreary waste, and then after praying for mercy (<--Note important concept), he sees a large and spacious field and finds the tree "whose fruit was desirable to make one happy."  I love that idea of a happiness tree, where we could just eat and be filled with joy as Lehi was.  ... I also wonder how close to that reality we often already are, and yet we refuse to partake... letting so many other things get in the way of the simple joy that can be found in our relationship with God.

Lehi sees some of his family beside the river, and they are willing to join him.  Others are not.  He sees the path, the rod of iron, and lots of people.  Some of them are headed to the tree, and then the mist of darkness comes, which causes many to lose their way.

I like the mist of darkness part not because I like darkness or feeling lost, but because it is clear that the mist of darkness happens to everyone.  Even people who are clearly trying to do the right thing, and are going in the right direction.  We all have to experience that sort of thing in life.

Some people in the dream make it through the mist of darkness by taking advantage of the rod of iron and make it to the tree... which is also cool, because it reminds us that we can't always rely only on what we observe around us.  Sometimes we have to feel our way in the dark, and that requires the word of God, which can get us through the darker times.

Unfortunately, some of the people in the dream, even after enduring all of that--finally making it to the tree and partaking of the fruit and *knowing* that joy--even then, they leave because they are ashamed by the mockery of those in the great and specious building, and fall into "forbidden paths."

Nephi truncates the dream, but indicates that it went on with people moving toward the tree and towards the building filled with mockers.  He emphasizes that in the dream Laman and Lamuel didn't partake of the fruit. I wonder sometimes how hearing that made them feel.  I know it would likely have a lot of bitterness, but I almost want to read the Book of Lemuel or something and hear it from a different perspective... not to embrace the idea of ignoring angels or beating brothers or leaving them for dead, but because I wonder how much of me I would be able to see in them, and maybe it would show me how careful I need to be to avoid whatever justifications they were using to end up the way they did.

Tune in next time when Nephi tells us why he is writing this story. :)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Retrieving Ishmael's Family -- 1 Nephi Chapter 7

What Happens

"Lehi’s sons return to Jerusalem and invite Ishmael and his household to join them in their journey—Laman and others rebel—Nephi exhorts his brethren to have faith in the Lord—They bind him with cords and plan his destruction—He is freed by the power of faith—His brethren ask forgiveness—Lehi and his company offer sacrifice and burnt offerings."
1 Nephi 7 Chapter Heading


Commentary

After the brothers get back with the plates, God tells Lehi that his sons need to go retrieve Ishmael and his family, because his sons need wives.  After the trials of retrieving the plates, this trip, at least at first, seems easy.  We learn in verse 5 that "the Lord did soften the heart of Ishmael, and also his household, insomuch that they took their journey with us."  Wow.  Convincing a whole other family to abandon the city and strike out on their own seems on the whole a bigger challenge than retrieving some records, but on this one, God takes care of it for them... at least the impetus to leave.

Of course, in the very next verse we have a rebellion.  We knew it was coming, but it still seems somewhat mistimed.  Perhaps Laman and Lemuel never really believed in the journey in the first place, and have finally had a chance to convince some of their fellow travelers how crazy this is.  We don't know for sure.  What Nephi does make clear though is the division of teams, which quite possibly is the beginning of the later, much more permanent division of Lamanites and Nephites:

Return to Jerusalem

  • Laman and Lemuel (Team L)
  • 2 daughters of Ishmael (presumably the future wives of Team L?)
  • 2 sons of Ishmael "and their families" (sounds like these guys are already married, possibly with children)


Join Lehi in the Wilderness

  • Nephi and Sam (Team N)
  • Ishmael and his wife
  • 3 daughters of Ishmael (including the future wives of Team N?)

Team L wants to go back to Jerusalem and since the whole purpose of this trip was to get some wives, you have to think that people are already pairing off, or at least thinking about how that pairing off is going to work, which could have had some bearing on who chose to follow Team L and who chose to follow Team N.  But there is definitely more going on here than sibling rivalry.

Nephi gives a speech, perhaps trying to stop people from leaving, or perhaps just to warn them about what will happen if they do.  There are parts of it that seem kind of insulting, but under the circumstances perhaps that is what was needed, not necessarily to wake his brothers up, but to inform the other listeners of some important facts: they had seen an angel, they had seen miracles, and the direct message from the Spirit that if they return to Jerusalem they will die.

Nephi's brothers get mad and tie Nephi up and Nephi asks the Lord for the power to burst his bands. Interestingly, God doesn't give him the power he asked for, but instead his ropes are loosened, and he gets up to give his second round speech.  Again, interestingly, we have no idea what this speech contained because what stops Nephi from just being tied up again, and presumably the whole rebel group returning to Jerusalem, are three people standing up to Team L:

  • 1 daughter of Ishmael (We aren't sure which one this is, or whether she switched sides.)
  • Ishmael's wife (referred to here as "her mother" which seems to me kind of a clue that they were in this together, and she was the influence that helped her take a stand.)
  • 1 son of Ishmael (both sons and their families were on the bad guy team before this, so this is clearly someone who has switched sides.)

My question is why after all this do these particular people cause Team L to back down, to become sorrowful, and to even apologize to Nephi and pray for forgiveness?  Part of it certainly could just be that the balance of power has shifted.  Before it was 6 (and families) against 7, and even just that one son of Ishmael (with his family) switching sides could have made the difference, and shown Team L that they weren't going to win this one.  But it could also have been more than that.  You have to wonder if Nephi's speech, or the Spirit, or the reluctance to go as far as Team L did and threaten to leave Nephi behind to die, or perhaps all of the above, caused *everyone* except Team L to switch sides, or maybe just someone significant, like the girl that Laman had chosen for himself (although it is of course romantic to think that it was Nephi's future wife).  In any case, it doesn't seem like *everyone* was apologizing, and no one else argued to turn back, so in the end (apparently) it was only Team L that bowed down and asked for forgiveness.

This isn't, of course, the end of the clashes between Team L and Team N, or of choosing sides, but it is the end of this chapter.  Tune in next time for a discussion of one of my favorites: Lehi's Dream.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Nephi Interrupts the Story -- 1 Nephi Chapter 6

What Happens

"Nephi writes of the things of God--Nephi’s purpose is to persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham and be saved."
1 Nephi 6 Chapter Heading


Commentary

Nephi doesn't really seem that into genealogy, and he stops here in this chapter to explain why.  It seems sort of abrupt to us on the surface, but I think, considering the difficulty of etching words into metal, this was probably an important reminder to people who came later.  Stick to the things of God... remember the whole reason we are writing this.  It isn't just a story; it is evidence of God's hand in our lives.

I also like this mention of the difference between the world and God.  In order to please God, we have to separate ourselves from the world, which we are also told elsewhere in verses like "be ye separate" (2 Corinthians 6:17; Alma 5:57) and "go ye out" (Isaiah 52:11 and several other places).  With Nephi's family having had to very literally separate themselves and go out of contact with all the rest of the world, I imagine that this was a hugely important principle for Nephi... as it likely should be for us as well.  We aren't all asked to jump ship, but we all have to find ways to avoid the coming iceberg.

My favorite part of this chapter is verse 4: "For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved."  Since he mentions that they are descendants of Joseph, that is a pretty good genealogy right there, but it is much more than that.  It is a reminder of all that God did through and for those men and the rest of the people in their stories, and the miraculous power of God in preserving his people.  And his people are *all* of us, if we choose to be.

Tune in next time when the story picks back up and Nephi and his brothers go back to Jerusalem for the second time.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Preservation of Sons and Plates -- 1 Nephi Chapter 5

What Happens

"Sariah complains against Lehi—Both rejoice over the return of their sons—They offer sacrifices—The plates of brass contain writings of Moses and the prophets—The plates identify Lehi as a descendant of Joseph—Lehi prophesies concerning his seed and the preservation of the plates."
1 Nephi 5 Chapter Heading


Commentary

This is the third chapter that begins "And it came to pass" that the parents are joyful and exceedingly glad that the sons have returned. It's kind of fun that we know that this starts with a happy ending. The success of mission to go and get the plates is because of the Lord's guiding hand over them.

Problem: Sariah mourns for the loss of their sons. In her worry she supposes the worst and then decides to mourn over them. It is eating at her and she opens up her mouth to share her concerns, or in other words to complain to her husband who by the way is a prophet. How often have we discovered that our hasty conclusions are incorrect?

What she did right: she loves and cares about her family. She shares her concerns with her spouse, not gossiping with others. What a good husband to listen as she shares her "It ticketh me off..." list. He listens and does not condemn her for a lack of faith or her feelings. He addresses her first four concerns. He willingly acknowledges that he is a visionary man.

Lehi comforts and reassures Sariah with his testimony. The brothers joyfully return their home even though they are still sleeping in a tent. And then we read Sariah's beautiful sure language of testimony. This experience strengthens her trust in the Lord and in the prophetic call of her husband Lehi.

 As a family they rejoiced and remembered to thank the Lord through sacrifice and burnt offerings.

They gave thanks even before Lehi started searching them.Verses 15-18 tell us why the knowledge in the plates are of such great worth.

  1. The records contained the five books of Moses. It is necessary to know what the law is in order to keep the commandments. (1 Nephi 4:15)
  2. They contain history through the reign of Zedekiah (Jeremiah 52)
  3. Prophecies of the prophets including Jeremiah who lived in Jerusalem in the time that Lehi was there.
  4. Lehi's family are descendants of the same Joseph who was sold into Egypt. Little did Lehi's family know how much they would have in common with the children of Israel as they begin their journey in the wilderness to a land of promise. God prepares and preserves his people.

Verse 17: And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and  began to prophesy concerning his seed... this is an important principle for us.  Revelation comes from searching the scriptures.

Verse 18: The future of the plates of brass is foretold. They should go to all nations and never perish.

These plates were found to be desirable (like delicious fruit) and of great worth because with them the Lord's commandments could be preserved for their children. I have gratitude for those who have preserved the scriptures so that I can enjoy them. I also must ask myself, what am I  doing to preserve the scriptures, promises, and testimonies for my children?

The last verse says it all: "we should carry them with us in our journey through the wilderness towards the land of promise."  As we carry them our burden is made lighter and the Lord carries us. The Lord delivers us out of the hands of our enemies, brings us forth through the wilderness, preserves us through obedience to the commandments, and final home to the land of promise.

Moroni 10:5 The promise works if we are clean, virtuous, and uncluttered with sin. The Lord keeps his promises.


Tune in next time for the continuing adventures of this real family of God that has real concerns.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Nephi's Test -- 1 Nephi Chapter 4

What Happens

"Nephi slays Laban at the Lord’s command and then secures the plates of brass by stratagem—Zoram chooses to join Lehi’s family in the wilderness."
1 Nephi 4 Chapter Heading


Commentary

So, building up to this chapter, Nephi really lays his faith on the line.  He tells his father that God will make a way, and he convinces his brothers twice to stay instead of fleeing, even though someone is trying to kill them.  Until now, his faith has kept them here, but he still doesn't know how he is going to do what God asks.  And then, here in this chapter, he finds out what the Lord requires of him in order to fulfill his task.  And he finds out that the Lord wants him to kill someone.

That's not an easy thing.  Times were different, given, but that's one of the basics: "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13).  His whole family is running from Jerusalem because people are trying to kill their father, Laban has just tried to kill them... some of this had to pass through Nephi's mind.  God is asking him to do a really, really hard thing, with a lot of scary consequences.  In our lives, as we are learning to recognize the spirit, if we got a message like that we would instantly think it *wasn't* from God, right?  We try to learn the difference between our internal voice and God's voice to some extent by the fact that God never tells us to do anything crazy or stupid.  And yet, here Nephi is, being "led by the Spirit," according to his faith and his prayers, and everything he has committed to thus far, and he is tested by this gigantic choice.

The parallel that comes to mind as I read about Nephi in this chapter is the life of Christ, leading up to the Garden of Gethsemane.  Just as Christ says that he "would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink," Nephi also states "And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him."  I'm not saying that Nephi suffered as Christ did... just that God seems to stretch us all to do things that we don't want to do.  ... Not because he enjoys torturing us like bugs on the sidewalk, but because it teaches us what really matters, and shows us that our commitment to God is deeper than anything else... and even though it isn't fun at all, we need that, and need to know that, in order to become truly converted on the deepest level.

So, Nephi struggles with the choice, but in the end, he does kill Laban, and through his disguise is able to obtain the plates.  Now, of course, boys and girls, please don't try this at home.  Nephi's experience was unique, and like Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, or Christ sacrificing his own life, or even Jonah being swallowed by a great fish, there are things that have been done by others that we don't need to emulate exactly in our own lives.  The idea here is faith, trust, truly listening to and understanding the spirit, commitment to the Lord, etc.--not cutting people's heads off.  I always thought that this was an interesting story to have so early in the Book of Mormon as well.  It wasn't only a test for Nephi, but it is also a test for the reader in a way.  Can we accept that the Lord asks hard, even seemingly impossible things?  Can we begin to see God's perspective in the story?

I'm impressed with Nephi that he talks rather than kills Zoram in a situation that could have been devastating to his whole family... that what the spirit asked him to do didn't make him into someone who would also kill Zoram.  Zoram impresses me as well.  We have Nephi's words to explain to us what was going on in his head as he made his hard choice, but we can only imagine what Zoram was thinking.  We know he was about to flee when Nephi grabbed him.  And we know that he agreed to go with them and stay with them, but how scary would that have been?  Someone kills your boss and then just casually asks you to cover it up and go along with them?  But Zoram, listening to the Spirit, believes Nephi and he gives his word, and keeps it, and that alone is pretty miraculous, under the circumstances.

Lehi's boys have been gone quite a while accomplishing their task.  Tune in next time as we read about what happens when they get back to camp.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Nephi Takes a Stand -- 1 Nephi Chapter 3

What Happens

"Lehi’s sons return to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass—Laban refuses to give the plates up—Nephi exhorts and encourages his brethren—Laban steals their property and attempts to slay them—Laman and Lemuel smite Nephi and Sam and are reproved by an angel."
1 Nephi 1 Chapter Heading


Commentary

The task to get the brass plates is important just because God asks it, of course, but later in the Book of Mormon we see the difference between Lehi's descendants and the people of Zarahemla, who were also led to the promised land from the same area.  The Plates of Brass play a huge part in that meeting, because the other group hadn't retained their language or their culture or religion, and had to be taught all over again, even though they came originally from the same place.  So we, knowing the whole story of why the plates proved so important can mostly see why God made this a priority, but the people living the story probably less so... and really, it's a hard thing to grasp without the perspective of hindsight.  If we were getting ready to colonize Mars, maybe we would plan that far ahead, but so far all Lehi and his family know is that they need to leave Jerusalem.  I don't think that the rest of it has set in yet.

After Lehi has a dream where God asks him to obtain the plates, his older sons complain.  Nephi tells his father that he knows that God will prepare a way.  And it turns out that Nephi's faith is going to be well-tested.

On the first try for the plates, they send Laman in.  He fails, and now Laban is angry and trying to kill him.  Not good.  Since we've read the story before, this seems like a small setback, but I think for them it was huge.  For Nephi perhaps even more so, because his big brothers were scared and they wanted to go back.  They tried, they failed, done.  But he felt compelled to try again.  He made his stand earlier with his father, offering his famous line in verse 7: "I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."  Here, he has to make his stand without his father to back him up, and I imagine it is a touch harder.  In verse 15 he says "As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us."  He convinces his brothers to stick it out, and comes up with an idea for a second try.

Nephi's idea to get all of their wealth and trade it to Laban for the plates deserves an A+ for being a creative solution, but unfortunately it also fails (possibly this is also important later in the story as an additional disincentive for the doubters to turn back).  After this try, they lose all of their wealth that they gathered, and they have to run for their lives.  They hide out in a cave and the older brothers take their fear out on the younger brothers, until an angel comes.

The angel part is where I kind of lose Laman and Lemuel.  I mean, up to this point in the story I kind of get them, you know?  They are in part understandably skeptical, concerned about the complete upheaval of their lives, and their little brother is always taking dad's side and kind of rubbing their noses in it.  I imagine I would have murmured a little too, even though the beating is taking it too far. But this one is hard to take their side on.  Not only are they beating their brothers, which is why the angel has to step in, but this is *exactly* the confirmation of their father's prophetic powers that they needed, and they seem to barely blink at his words, and go back to resisting God.  *Absolutely* true that Laban is still there, and still likely determined to kill them all.  Calls for some serious problem solving, but doesn't seeing an angel have to trump fear on some level?

Anyway, this isn't the end of Nephi having his faith tested, but luckily the Angel buys them a third chance at the plates.  Tune in next time for our further discussion.  And, as always, feel free to add your ideas or insights about chapter in the comments section.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

We Meet the Rest of the Family -- 1 Nephi Chapter 2

What Happens:

"Lehi takes his family into the wilderness by the Red Sea--They leave their property--Lehi offers a sacrifice to the Lord and teaches his sons to keep the commandments--Laman and Lemuel murmur against their father--Nephi is obedient and prays in faith; the Lord speaks to him, and he is chosen to rule over his brethren."
1 Nephi 2 Chapter Heading


Commentary:

I make no secret of the fact that I kind of hero worship Lehi... he does some cool stuff in this chapter that I admire. First: The Lord says go and he goes... he doesn't even ask "how high" when told to jump, he just does. No time to pack up the family valuables, just the 72 hour kits (or the 600 BC equivalent) and they are out the door.

We are introduced to the family here... last chapter we heard a lot about Lehi, and learned that Nephi was a pretty good kid... but here we meet Laman and Lemuel and their doubting ways. Being a sometimes doubter myself, I feel for these guys--hey, I even feel bad that they are always grouped together "Laman and Lemuel" and pretty much have one personality in the narrative. I sometimes wonder if they were equally rebellious or maybe Laman was the punk and Lemuel was the eager toadie?  Regardless, Lehi knows that they are less than happy with this whole dwelling in a tent gig and he talks to them, encouraging them to be better... and not saying "hey, fine - get thee hence already if you don't want to be on board with what the family is doing."

We also get to meet Sam - dear Sam...  I realized recently as we were studying later in the Book (spoiler alert!) that when they mention all the Nephites, Ishmaelites, Lemuelites and many "manner of ites" that there were no "Sam-ites"... I like to think that this is because Sam's desires were SO in line with the desires of Nephi (and of God) that they were indistinguishable.  Or maybe Sam just didn't have kids... either way, he is cool.

Nephi tells a lot about how he taught his brethren here, and for a long time I thought of him as a little snotty, but hey--the Lord commanded that this be written, and Nephi was just reporting what was done. Just because MY brain interprets things in a snotty attitude doesn't mean that it was there. One thing I have learned studying the scriptures is to not interpret 600 BC happenings by 2017 standards (you wouldn't think that would be so difficult).

Verses 21 to the end deserve a few words: cautioning against rebellion, how bad it is for us, how we are protected unless we rebel, etc...  and since we already know the sad and tragic end of this tale, I think it is a little sad that this warning is here. But hey, maybe (okay definitely) the warning is there for ME as much as it was there for them.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lehi's First Vision -- 1 Nephi Chapter 1

What Happens

"Nephi begins the record of his people—Lehi sees in vision a pillar of fire and reads from a book of prophecy—He praises God, foretells the coming of the Messiah, and prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem—He is persecuted by the Jews."
1 Nephi 1 Chapter Heading


Commentary

In the first chapter of the Book of Mormon we know that Nephi is speaking, but the storyline here is mainly about Lehi.

We learn in verse 4 that Lehi had dwelt at Jerusalem "all his days."  That's interesting because it tells us that he was very invested in the city.  He knew people.  He cared very much about what was going on.  This same verse tells us that many prophets came, predicting that Jerusalem would be destroyed. I imagine that Lehi, who had lived there all his life, was concerned by these predictions, because it tells us that in response to this, he prayed "with all his heart, in behalf of his people."  Both of these things give us insights that we might not get otherwise, since Lehi's story is told from the perspective of Nephi.  In later chapters, when their family has to leave the city, we can imagine how hard it was for Lehi himself to go, and thereby abandon his people, even though he had been personally told to go by God.

As Lehi is praying he sees a pillar of fire (similar to the pillar of light that Joseph Smith saw?) and he sees and hears much, and then goes home to rest, which seems similar to the weakness that overcame Joseph Smith when the angel Moroni appeared to him several times in a single day (Joseph Smith History 1:48).  As he is resting, he is overtaken by another vision and in the vision, given a book to read.  The book is an interesting, probably symbolic representation that reminds us that our actions are recorded in heaven, which is backed up in Revelation 20:12 and D&C 128:7.  Lehi learns for himself that the prophets are right (similar to what Nephi later does to get a testimony that his father is truly a prophet), and he endeavors to go out and preach as well.

He is rejected and mocked as he tries to explain things to his people.  That had to be incredibly hard for him.  He found out the truth for himself... he knows that anyone can, and he knows these people. He loves this city.  He wants to help, but they refuse to listen, and they try to kill him.  There are similarities to Joseph Smith's story here as well, which is interesting from Joseph's perspective as well.  I imagine Joseph could relate pretty well to what Lehi was going through as he translated these pages.

Nephi reassures us at the end of the chapter that God is merciful even unto deliverance... so don't worry.  Lehi doesn't die yet.  Tune in next time as we reread 1 Nephi Chapter 2.