This chapter discusses the prophecies of Lehi to his children.
In verse 3, he foresees the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jews being carried away captive into Babylon.
In verse 4, he sees the coming of Christ. In verse 7, he sees the coming of John the Baptist. He sees Jesus get baptized by John the Baptist and he sees John testify that Jesus is the Messiah. Next he sees Christ slain and resurrected.
In verse 13, he sees his posterity inherit the Promised Land as well as their scattering at the hand of the Gentiles.
Nephi Desires to Know Too
After Lehi tells his family of his vision and all the things he sees therein, Nephi desires to see and know for himself. He teaches us that the power of the Holy Ghost is a gift from God. God is the same yesterday, today and forever … he is unchanging.
Nephi truly believes that “he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them.” How many times have we been taught that if we desire to know something from God that all we need to do is ask in faith? Of all the lessons the Gospel of Christ teaches, this one is one of the most taught. “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9). As we later read, the Lord did indeed enlighten Nephi with regards to Lehi’s dream.
How can we apply this scripture to our lives? Simply put, exercise our faith and experiment on Nephi’s words. If these words are true, then we can petition the Lord in faith and in turn receive from his hand. Obviously God is not a genie and we cannot ask him to make us rich or request some other ridiculous favor. Our desires must be aligned with the Lord’s will. If we ask amiss (James 4:3), then we will not receive what we desire. We must know the will of the Lord and then seek to follow it. Only then, when we ask, will we receive what we desire.
Recently my wife and I were confronted with a question. Since leaving college, we both know that we would like to return to the place where we grew up. Right now, we live over 1000 miles from our hometowns. But we know that jobs are somewhat scarce there and that the cost of living is much more compared to where we live right now. I’m almost finished with graduate school and we are at a crossroads in our life. Should we remain where we are and continue our career with the current company or should we attempt to move back to our hometown? Faced with this question, we really wanted to know the will of the Lord in the matter. If the Lord wanted us to stay, then we would be content with what we have. But if the Lord’s will is that we move back to our native state where we’d be much closer to family, then we’d gladly accept that and we’d do all that we could to move back there. We prayed, attended the temple and fasted about the matter … to know if it is the Lord’s will that we move back. We received an answer and we strongly feel that we should move back. So now we offer multiple petitions a day to the Lord asking his help in our quest to move back to our home state.
No Unclean Thing
Perhaps one of the defining doctrines of “Mormonism” is that we believe that men will be punished for their own sins if they do not repent of them. It is not enough to declare Jesus as our savior and then proceed to live a life of sin. Rather, we believe that everyone must repent of their sins and live a Christ-like life in order to live with God again.
About four years ago, a co-worker approached me one morning and invited me to join him at lunch the next day. We went to lunch and chatted a bit about work before he launched into his “first discussion” about his religion. Basically he wanted me to recite a prayer saying that I declare Jesus as my savior and that after I recite this prayer, I’d be saved. After reciting that prayer, I could then live a life of horrible sin and still be saved. His logic was that if I really believed, then my life would naturally reflect Christ’s life, but if it didn’t, I would still be saved.
Our church, on the other hand, believes that we must “prove” to God and Christ that we are willing to change. Once we truly repent, are baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and all the other ordinance of the Gospel and then endure to the end, we will be saved. Else, if we simply pay lip service and go through the actions but truly don’t repent and live a life of wickedness, then we will not live with God again.
As Nephi states, “Therefore remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment” (v. 20). He also teaches that “no unclean thing can dwell with God” (v. 21). If we have sought to do wickedly all the days of our probation, then we will be unclean and consequently cannot live with God.