1 Nephi 9 tweet: N makes 2 sets of plates: 1. full history; 2. ministry. Ministry plates R4 a wise purpose that N knows not. God prepares 2 accomplish all.

Before wrapping up the original chapter II with a review of 1 Nephi 9, I want to share a couple of final thoughts about Lehi’s vision (I know, it’s hard for me to leave it alone).

Firstly, I want to give a little bit more thought to something I touched on in last week’s post. I mentioned that Lehi sees two different groups who partake of the fruit, one group who partake and are then ashamed and fall away, and a second group who partake and remain. I highlighted that of the two groups, the group who remain held fast to the rod rather than clung to it, and also they fell down at the tree before partaking. I’d like to pause for a moment to consider one of these differences.

How do you think clinging is different from holding fast? An old stake president of mine suggested clinging connotes a sense of desperation. He also said that you can only cling to something for so long before your hand cramps and you reflexively have to let go. But what does it mean to hold fast? The dictionary definition (we Mormons love our dictionary definitions) says that to make something fast is to make it sure or secure and that fast is the root word of fasten. What other words might we use instead of fasten? Perhaps bind, or maybe seal? This suggests that to hold fast is a more permanent or enduring relationship with the rod (i.e. the word) than clinging is. With these words in mind – sure, fasten, bind, seal – I wonder if this has anything to do with receiving the more sure word of prophecy (see 2 Peter 1:19 and D&C 131:5)? Does this add anything to your understanding of the group described in 1 Ne 8:30?

The second thing I briefly want to mention is the final couple of verses of 1 Nephi 8 in which Nephi tells us that after relaying his vision, Lehi preached and prophesied, primarily unto Laman and Lemuel it seems. This suggests that Lehi’s vision was a trigger for prophecy. But what did he prophesy? Chapter 9 (which we’ll come to in a moment) gets in the way a bit so we perhaps miss the link, but in chapter 10 we pick up Lehi’s prophesying. I won’t go into that now; this is just a note to draw a link between Lehi’s vision and the prophesying in 1 Nephi 10 that we’ll look at next week.

Finally, on to chapter 9. As discussed previously, 1 Nephi 6–9 was the original Book of Mormon chapter II. In 1 Nephi 6 (i.e. the beginning of chapter II), Nephi outlines the purposes for making his plates and now in 1 Nephi 9, he rounds out chapter II with a further discussion of his different plates and their different purposes. 1 Nephi 9 also serves as a bridge. The beginning of 1 Nephi 10 makes it clear that from that point on what we’re reading is an account of Nephi’s proceedings. Therefore, we might think of 1 Nephi 1–9 (i.e. the original first two chapters) as Lehi’s story and everything after as Nephi’s story. 1 Nephi 9 is the transition between the two accounts.

I think something else is also happening as we shift our attention from Lehi to Nephi. In the comments section of an earlier post I wrote:

I think Lehi will have been keeping a record with a familial focus, i.e. he didn’t have ambitions beyond preserving family history for his posterity. I think Nephi will have gone along with that idea as he kept the large plates. But by the time he came around to making the small plates – 30 years after these early events – I think he realised the purpose of the book he was writing had a far greater scope than he initially appreciated in a way that I don’t think Lehi ever really appreciated, i.e. that what he was writing would have global reach…To sum up, Lehi’s vision was familial, Nephi’s was global, and that’s what governs what he writes and what he will command his posterity to write.

In conclusion, a couple of questions to consider:

In verse 3, Nephi says he makes the plates for the special purpose of engraving an account of the ministry of his people. But in verse 5 he says he’s making them for a wise purpose, which purpose he doesn’t know. Why the difference between these two verses?

We are quick to assume that the ‘wise purpose’ of verse 5 is due to the loss of the 116 pages. But I think the writings of Nephi and Jacob stand alone as scripture of great worth without having to consider them as a handy back up plan. What else about Nephi’s small plates record might add to this concept of a wise purpose that the Lord spoke of?

v6: “…he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works…” draws our minds back to Nephi’s famous statement of intent in 1 Nephi 3:7. In that verse his confidence is that the Lord prepares a way for us to accomplish His commandments. In this verse it is that He prepares a way to accomplish His own works? What is the connection between these two ideas?

Next week’s reading: 1 Nephi 10