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


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.


  1. Ask yourself what would Lehi have to have seen in order to declare, after reading during his vision declarations about the destruction of the city and civilization that was at that moment still his life, that God is Merciful? These are Lehi's words in the very next verse, suggesting that is what he declared during the same experience where he comprehended the destruction of his city.

    I don't fully appreciate what he must have seen to be able to say that, I just take comfort in the fact that he was able to say that right away, and it causes me to always remember that I don't see the whole picture, but those who have are always making such positive comments. I expect I would too, so why not make that part of my personal faith?

  2. Interesting insight. And definitely an important thing to remember. Trust in the Lord, who can see the whole picture, is much wiser than trusting in ourselves. I need to remember that more often as I go stumbling around in my own blindness.