1 Nephi 10 tweet: Lh prophesies Jews 2 return, JB 2 baptise Messiah, Israel 2b scattered + gathered + Gentiles grafted in. N seeks his own experience.
1 Nephi 10 marks the start of the original chapter III (which comprises 1 Ne 10–14). As I indicated last week, with this chapter we shift from Lehi’s prophetic experience to Nephi’s. But in order to do so, Nephi speaks of Lehi’s prophesying.
From these early Book of Mormon chapters, we typically focus on Lehi’s and Nephi’s vision of the tree of life, i.e. Lehi’s vision in 1 Nephi 8 and Nephi’s interpretation in 1 Nephi 11 and 15. However, the main thrust of Nephi’s visionary experience concerns the ministry of Christ and how the Abrahamic covenant will play out in the latter days. And the trigger for this seems to be Lehi’s prophecy recorded in 1 Nephi 10. So while we tend to gravitate towards the imagery of the tree of life and the great and spacious building, I actually think this vision functioned as more of a gateway revelation for both Lehi and Nephi. Over the course of chapter III (i.e. 1 Ne 10–14), we will see the unfolding of a much greater revelation. We start in chapter 10 with Lehi’s prophecy, which prompted Nephi’s own experience (see v 17).
v2: This verse seems to indicate that the primary audience for Lehi’s vision and subsequent prophesying was Laman and Lemuel. Does this change the way we read Lehi’s vision at all? And why do you think that his vision would prompt Lehi to speak to Laman and Lemuel about the Jews? Reading between the lines, it’s as if Laman and Lemuel are still living with this longing to return to Jerusalem and their old way of life and that Lehi (and Nephi) are constantly having to persuade them out of that course of action.
v4: The ‘yea’ of this verse seems to link the return from captivity to Jerusalem with the coming of the Messiah. But that’s not right in a temporal sense, i.e. Christ didn’t come to deliver the Jews from Babylon. Why do you think Lehi makes this connection? Is it these kinds of prophecies that led to the Jews misunderstanding the nature of the Messiah when he came?
v5: Over the course of this chapter Nephi uses several different titles for the Lord. Julie Smith suggested one possible reason:
This time “Redeemer” instead of “Savior” is added to “Messiah.” Why? In OT usage, all of these words have different nuances; why do they get amalgamated here? On idea that seems plausible to me is that in the OT, there are various expectations (suffering servant, anointed one, etc.) that the majority of people do not expect to be fulfilled in one person, but in a variety of figures and that this is why many have a hard time recognizing who Jesus is. If that reading is correct (and I grant that it may not be), it would seem very significant that pretty much as soon as Lehi & Co. detach from the main body of the covenant people, he begins to preach to them in a way that would help them understand the unity in fulfilment of these various OT images.1
What do you think of this idea? Why else might Nephi use multiple titles for the Lord when describing his father’s prophecy?
v6: Do you think there is a connection between the ‘lost and fallen state’ in this verse and those that were lost and fell away in Lehi’s vision (e.g. 1 Ne 8:23,28)?
v7–10: It is interesting to me that John the Baptist and the baptism of Christ would feature so prominently in this prophecy (and it’s something that Nephi returns to in the concluding chapters of his record [see 2 Ne 31]). Why do you think John the Baptist is such a significant figure and the baptism of Christ such a significant event?
v10: In the Book of Mormon, the title ‘Lamb of God’ is used almost exclusively by Nephi and primarily in chapters 10–14, but also at the end of his record. Is there anything in particular about Nephi’s vision that would make this title particularly apt?
v12–14: The olive tree and the olive branch make several prominent appearances in the scriptures, e.g. the dove and the olive branch post flood; Jacob 5; Gethsemane; D&C 88 section heading. Do you think there is any connection between the olive tree spoken of here and the tree of life in Lehi’s vision?
v17–19: There is way more to unpack here than I have time right now. I’ll just pick out a couple of key phrases and connecting scriptures. Firstly, Nephi seems to be suggesting that his experience – hearing the words of the prophet and then diligently seeking for his own experience – is what we should all be seeking after. For God is the same yesterday, today and forever and he that diligently seeketh shall find and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them. That is a pretty serious challenge that I think he is presenting us with.
What does it suggest to say the mysteries of God will be unfolded? In D&C 63:23 it says that to those who receive them, the mysteries of God will be a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life. That is identical language to that used in Alma 32:41, where Alma says that to those who nourish the tree of life with faith and diligence (cf. 1 Ne 10:17,19), it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. And in the next chapter, Nephi will imply that the fountain of living waters and the tree of life are synonymous. So there is a connection between the tree of life/living waters of Lehi’s and Nephi’s vision and the mysteries of God that can be unfolded to us by the power of the Holy Ghost if we will diligently seek after them with faith in Christ. Is there anything you would add to this scripture chain? See also John 4:14 and 7:38.
Next week’s reading: 1 Nephi 11