Monday, September 11, 2017

Lehi's Last Words, Part One -- 2 Nephi 1

What Happens

"Lehi prophesies of a land of liberty—His seed will be scattered and smitten if they reject the Holy One of Israel—He exhorts his sons to put on the armor of righteousness."
2 Nephi 1 Chapter Heading


In our last episode, Nephi was explaining some of Isaiah's prophecies to his family, and although this chapter picks up right after that, it changes to 2 Nephi instead of 1 Nephi.  It's an interesting switch, but I think it makes sense when we realize that the first chapter was basically a summation of Lehi's life, and here, at his death, the whole world cracks (figuratively) for these people.  Lehi's dreams and visions and the fact that he was their prophet and patriarch and spiritual leader had been holding them together.  ... Ah, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Nephi has finished teaching his family, and now his father starts teaching them.  He has some strong things to say as he is leaving his final blessing upon his people.  We learn in verse 14 that he only has a few days to live, so chapters 1-4 essentially comprise Lehi's last words.

Lehi reminds his sons of the amazing things that the Lord has done for them, and tells them that he has seen a vision and knows that Jerusalem has been destroyed (verse 4).  That's a big deal, if they believe him, because it justifies everything that they have done.  The reason they left Jerusalem was because Lehi predicted its destruction, people tried to kill him for saying it, and God told him to save his family.

It's interesting in verse 6 where it talks about no one being able to come to the promised land unless they are brought by the Lord.  I think reading American history with this in mind offers a whole different perspective.  Also, it is very clear through the following verses that everyone in the promised land is blessed if obedient, and will dwell safely with liberty preserved, but if not, then other people will be brought.  We can see that happening to the Jaredites, and the merging of the Mulekites and the Nephites, etc., but perhaps it is something that we should be aware of now.  This isn't something that has changed.  We still need to be obedient to be safe in our promised land... and perhaps all promised lands. :)

Verses 13-27 are kind of sad to me.  We see here that Lehi has no illusions about his often-disobedient sons.  He knows their ways, and unfortunately knows that they likely will slip right back into past behaviors when he is gone.  He asks them repeatedly to awake, and also to arise from the dust.  He's seen their future, and the future of their posterity, and he pleads with them to avert it, and to not cause a curse to come down upon themselves.

In verses 28 and 29, Lehi promises his first blessing to Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and the sons of Ishmael, but only if they will listen to Nephi.  If they do not, then his first blessing goes to Nephi.  This is interesting to me just because I know that (in a few more chapters) Sam, and maybe some of the sons of Ishmael, choose to go with Nephi.  So, did Sam (and anyone else who may have gone along) retain that blessing, or is this kind of a collective promise and if one of them invalidates it, it passes to Nephi anyway?

In the last few verses, Lehi blesses Zoram and his posterity.  I really love this part, because Lehi includes everyone.  He isn't father to this man, or directly related to his posterity in any way, since Zoram married a daughter of Ishmael.  But he is the spiritual father to them all, and he blesses Zoram along with his own son.

Tune in next time as Lehi continues his last words.

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