Lehi is commanded in a dream to have his sons retrieve the brass plates from Laban. Lehi talks to Nephi and tells him that Laman and Lemuel do not want to go back to Jerusalem and fetch the plates, saying it is too hard. Lehi encourages Nephi by stating, “go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou has not murmured” (v. 6 emphasis added). Is there a premium on faithful obedience? The answer is an overwhelmingly yes! As we later read, if it were not for Nephi’s persistence and faith in the Lord, a whole nation might have dwindled in unbelief.
”I will go and do …” Perhaps no other words in all the scriptures are of more use when applying the teachings of the Gospel to our lives. When the Lord commands, we should do and when we do, we will accomplish because the Lord has already provided a way. Why would God command us to repent if he had not provided a Savior? He indeed provided a means for our repentance and every other commandment he has given us.
We can apply this scripture to fulfilling commandments as well as avoiding sin. If we are commanded to be good home teachers or to pay a full tithe, then the Lord will grant us means to do so. If the Lord commands us not to do something, then he will also provide us a way to accomplish it. If we struggle with temptations and if we pray for help, the Lord will deliver us from evil. There are no commandments that the Lord gives “save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
Their first two attempts failed. Laman could not convince Laban to hand over the plates. Nephi’s idea for trading the silver and gold for the plates did not work either. Persistence is the lesson learned. As President Monson loves to quote so often, a line from the musical Shenandoah says, “If we don’t try, then we don’t do; and if we don’t do, then why are we here?” Nephi and his brothers tried. But as we later learn, if we let the Spirit guide us, then our efforts will be much more effective.
Why were retrieving the plates so important? It is obvious that Lehi and his descendants needed to preserve their language and have a written record of the Lord’s commandments so that he could teach the people and so that they would not dwindle in unbelief. Much later in the Book of Mormon, we learn that the descendents of Mulek did not believe in God and they had failed to preserve their language because they did not have the scriptures with them.
If I were in Lehi’s position, I too would do all that I could to have a copy of all the scriptures with me. They would save my sanity and preserve my integrity.
After the 2nd failed attempt, Laman and Lemuel beat Nephi with a rod. An angel appears before them. As soon as the angel leaves, they begin to murmur again, showing their complete lack of faith. They show no innovation. They offer no solutions. They give no hope. They are self-absorbed and fail to see the grander vision. They so much like today’s culture … they want every desire to be handed to them on a plate and upon demand. They are unwilling to lift a finger of effort yet expect to be rewarded. Nephi, on the other hand, demonstrates faith, hope and a willingness to try. We will see in the next chapter Nephi’s unconquerable faith.
I just read a post over at another blog and it concerns 1 Nephi 3:7. You can read the post here. D&C 124:49 seemingly contradicts 1 Nehphi 3:7. I posted a comment in response to the post over at that blog.
Perhaps Nephi’s statement implies “or until the Lord no longer commands.”
In other words, his assumption is that the Lord will provide a way. Nephi will
keep trying until the Lord says “stop.”
After all, when the Lord commands, we should do. And if the Lord commands us to stop something, then we stop. If he commands us to do something, then we do.
I don’t think the two scriptures contradict each other. If anything, the D&C provides us more insight into how the Lord works.