Monday, November 30, 2009

1 Nephi Chapter 2

Sometimes the Lord asks you to do funny things. Sometimes the Lord asks you to bath in the river seven times to cure leprosy. The Lord has asked others to blow trumpets and scream to knock down city walls. Today he asks people to go to church, pay tithing and do home/visiting teaching. In 1 Nephi Chapter 2 he told Lehi in a vision to leave Jerusalem in the night, leave behind his belongings and take his family in the wilderness. Where would the Gold Plates be if he had been sleeping during this vision? Certainly not upstate New York.

Nephi says in verse 3, "And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him."

Thank goodness he did.

This chapter has lots of things going on. I'll focus on two: 1. The departure 2. The Promise.

1. The departure.

Lehi left. He picked up his things and took off. This is one of the most common stories in literature. For every departure there is a return. Lehi physically left Jerusalem, and although he would never physically return, he would be reconnected with his Jerusalem roots when his sons bring back his genealogy in the brass plates. Every story has a departure, a trial or seemingly impossible task, triumph, and a return (and/or an understanding where you came from). My favorite story is the Lion King. Many others include Hamlet, Hercules, Where the Wild Things Are, Star Wars: New Hope, and David and Goliath.

Lehi was probably a very rich man. He left his goods and lived in a tent with his mostly unbelieving children. Nephi stayed faithful. He used the ideal formula for conversion. I'd recommend it to anyone. Many people go to Moroni for a great theocommunicative formula. For any interested, here is another great example.

16. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

1. Desire to know God
2. Cry unto the Lord i.e. pray
3. soften heart to hear the Lord
4. Believe
5. Act

2. The Promise

20. And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a band of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.
21. And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.

This is the most repeated promise throughout the Book of Mormon, and this is the first mention of it.

Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land, and Inasmuch as ye keep not my commandments, ye shall be cut off from my presence.

This promise is a premise for the pride cycle, and the ultimate destruction of the Nephites. There are two ways to think about prosperity. The first is the gain of physical possessions, and the other is spiritual gain, or entering a covenant relationship. According to BYU professor Cory Crawford, "ye shall prosper in the land" suggests that prosperity is more about entering the presence of God since "not prospering" is equated with being cut off from his presence.

Crawford reminds us that although prosperity is often thought of as physical wealth, perhaps, as supported by the Old Testament, it means to be more about the establishment of a covenant of a community and peace rather than people getting rich.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Introduction & 1 Nephi Chapter 1

The Introduction to the Book of Mormon is comprised of the Title Page, Introduction, Testimony of Three Witnesses, Testimony of Eight Witnesses, Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and a Brief Explanation about the Book of Mormon. All of which are wonderful. I will not publicly examine them in this project.

Being an Old Testament Prophet must have been a hard job. I am pretty thankful that I was not assigned the task in the Pre-mortal Life. The Book of Mormon takes place in Jerusalem about 600 B.C. Lehi, a prophet at the time, saw his first recorded vision. Nephi wrote down the visions that he felt were necessary to include in his record, which is the record that we have in our possession.

Old Testament Prophets were stoned, mocked, cast-out of cities, burnt, eaten by whales, and killed in other interesting ways. New Testament Prophets were probably treated even worse! It would be great job to be a prophet in a city where everyone listened to you, but since Enoch took his people up in a chariot of fire, I think prophets have had it pretty rough. Lehi was no exception.

The upside to being a prophet is that you receive awesome visions. The vision in the first chapter of 1 Nephi I believe is the most overlooked vision in the Book of Mormon.

Lehi prayed and saw a "Pillar of Fire". Fire is a key indicator of a visit from the Lord. In Joseph Smith's First vision he saw fire, as did Moses when he saw the Burning Bush. Lehi had a similar experience. "there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him"

He saw the heavens open, and who he thought was God sitting on a throne with concourses of angels singing and praising God. One descended out of the midst brighter than noon-day sun (I've heard that one before too). Twelve others followed him.

They gave Lehi a book which was filled with abominations. It said the Jerusalem would be destroyed. If it were not for what he read in this book, Lehi may not have taken his family out of Jerusalem, and we would not have the Book of Mormon.

Lehi told his family about his vision, and then preached to Jerusalem. The people did not accept that Jerusalem would be destroyed very easily. Lehi was lucky. He was given some time before the people came to destroy him. Lehi would eventually leave in the night with his family.

I left out lots of insight from this chapter including interpretations of symbols and visions. I do not completely know what was going on in this vision, but I believe it was very important to Lehi as an individual, and to his family.

The Book of Mormon Project

My name is Brian King. I live in Madison, WI. I am a jack of many trades. I am engaged in many projects, the most recent of which I call the "Book of Mormon Project." I borrowed the idea from a friend of mine Legrand Baker. He has a Book of Mormon Project that he organizes weekly. One difference between mine and his is that he studies one chapter in two months, and I will read and examine one chapter per day. I want to clarify that Legrand is one of the most scholarly people I have ever met in regards to the Book of Mormon. He is a scholarly gold miner who searches in the deepest of caves for precious gems that are found in the Book of Mormon. I read his email updates weekly. Rather than attempting to recreate what he has already put together I decided to start this blog in order to take readers on the Luray Caverns tour of the Book of Mormon. I will read one chapter everyday from August 29, 2009, to July 25, 2010, and then write a daily summary of my findings. Feel free to join me in my exploration of the Book of Mormon.

Brian King