In this chapter, Nephi discusses faith and belief, something Laman and Lemuel did not have! In verse 4, the Spirit asked Nephi if he believed the things his father saw. Nephi’s response was that he did in fact believe all of his father’s teachings. Contrast this with Laman and Lemuel’s beliefs. In chapter 15 verse 9 they told Nephi that the Lord does not reveal things to them or in other words, they did not believe that the Lord could reveal things unto them. They simply did not believe that it could be done. Nephi, however, believed.
Belief is not only central to understanding the Gospel and the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it is also vital when striving to obtain other desires. As I am typing up my commentary that I wrote as a missionary, I see that many of the things that I desired as a missionary have been fulfilled. I can testify that belief is central to obtaining any blessing that one hopes to receive.
This is what I wrote as a missionary a number of years ago: “Now a little personal commentary. I feel I need to build my faith up as far as baptizing and finding people. I believe that Elder Edwards and I will baptize. Some things are going. We found a lady (Mirium Garcia) the other day and we hope to baptize her in January. But mostly my faith right now is hoping and praying that some inactive members we are working with will come back and be active.
“Last night I talked to my brother Richard on the phone about my housing and schooling. Getting an education and job and doing well puts a lot of stress on me. But I have a lot of faith that I can reach my goals. I believe in myself that I will reach my goals.
“I also have faith that my brother Gary will come back and be with us as a family again. I also believe in my friend Crissy that she will continue to go strong and be faithful in the Church the rest of her life.
Today, as I read this commentary that I wrote as a missionary, I can testify that most of those things have been fulfilled. I graduated from college and got a job with with a large company. Elder Edwards and I did not baptize while together, but one of the people we found, Claudia Leal Garcia, was baptized after I left Coban. The first Christmas I was home from my mission, Gary miraculously and unexpectedly came back into the family. Crissy, the last I heard of her, fulfilled an honorable mission to Germany. I believed that all of those things would happen, and most of them have happened.
Belief is a very strong force.
General Notes Regarding This Chapter
In Lehi’s dream, we read about all the symbolism. Nephi, who sees the same dream as his father, fills in some details. He gives us the meaning of the symbols and he goes into greater detail about the mortal life of Christ.
Nephi sees Mary. He sees Christ’s birth. He sees Christ’s ministry. He sees John the Baptist baptize Jesus. He sees the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. He sees the Twelve Apostles of Christ. He sees angels minister to men. He sees Christ heal many people. He sees the crucifixion. Lastly he sees the world gather together to fight against the apostles of the Lamb as well as the destruction of the world and its pride.
What does each symbol represent?
The Tree of Life = the love of God
The Fountain of Living Waters = the love of God
The Iron Rod = the word of God
The Large and Spacious Building = the world and the wisdom and pride thereof
Verse 35 caused me a little confusion. It says, “behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” When I read that, I was puzzled. Isn’t the house of Israel supposed to defend and help the apostles of the Lamb? I found the following quote that helps explain the verse:
“The world is still fighting the apostles of the Lamb because they represent the truth and the world rejects the truth. Even those of the house of Israel at times will gather to fight against the twelve: ‘And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof; yea, behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb’ (v 35). This verse describes the apostasy following Christ's ministry in Jerusalem. The Apostasy was caused by the pride and wisdom of the world, but it will not stand forever: ‘And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb’ (v 36). The world still fights the Twelve Apostles and their teaching with its own wisdom, but it will eventually fall, and the pride that motivates the fight will be the cause of that fall.” (Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Fourth Nephi through Moroni: From Zion to Destruction [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1995], 210.]
So this verse really foreshadows the Apostasy.