January 29–February 4: “I Will Prepare the Way before You” 1 Nephi 16–22

January 29–February 4: “I Will Prepare the Way before You” 1 Nephi 16–22


Our pride causes us to be critical of God’s commandments. How do you humble yourself and accept God knows best?


Sometimes the burdens of life are so great that even the most faithful among us will cry out, “Why God?” Though Lehi had murmured, Nephi still defers to his father as the Priesthood authority when Nephi needs answers. We may sometimes find fault in our leaders, but even then we should respect that God has called them to lead in the Church. Not always will they be the righteous examples that we would like, but they still act under the keys of the priesthood within their callings. Poor behavior of church leaders is not an indictment of God and His church, but rather a reflection of the leader and his/her personal choices that are misaligned with God’s desires.


After the daughters of Ishmael lose their father, the solution that Laman and Lemuel present is to then kill their own father, Lehi. When we are suffering trials and afflictions we will often respond with irrational ideas and lash out against the wrong people, and even begin to doubt factual, personal experiences as deceptions. We look for reasons why things are going wrong and seek to put blame on someone or something and then try to destroy that person or thing in a futile attempt to regain a semblance of control over our lives. Laman and Lemuel felt that they had lost control and were deceived into following their father into the wilderness. They took no responsibility for their own actions and set the blame on someone else. Often we experience ill circumstances that our actions are not to blame for, we might even find a way to look at the plight of Laman, Lemuel, and their wives with sympathy and see the circumstances that pushed them into making decisions they did not want to make. However, we have a two stark examples of how to react to such circumstances. Regardless of who is to blame or who is at fault, when we take responsibility for our circumstances and look to God for support and sustenance He will provide and we will be able to move forward with faith, hope, and full bellies.


Though Lehi’s family faced trials and starvation in the wilderness, they are still blessed by the Lord. Through their trials and difficult times, Nephi is able to see the tender mercies that God has blessed his family with. It’s not a comfortable bed and large house and money, like they had in Jerusalem, but it is an abundance of family, love, enough food to live, and the constant companionship of God. All of which Nephi is thankful for above all else.


Mountains in the scriptures are often synonymous with temples. Nephi is prompted by the Spirit to go to the mountain which is the closest thing to a temple while prophets wander in the wilderness. This happens to Abraham, Moses, the Brother of Jared, and in this verse Nephi. When you are stuck for “the space of many days” and needing help from the Lord do you go to the temple to receive revelation?"


Nephi is explicitly comparing his family’s journey to the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Nephi makes it clear that regardless of the magnitude of spiritual experiences one may have, if he/she does not follow the voice of the Lord or commands he gives through those experiences that he/she will fall away and see those experiences as naught. Laman and Lemuel had undeniable experiences, yet, over time they cast them aside as deceptions from Nephi and Lehi. If we do not stay diligent we are in danger of setting aside our own experiences as mere constructs of our mind, or deceptions of those who seek power over us. Spiritual experiences are real and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no desire, but to bring all to Jesus Christ.


Nephi and his brothers build a ship as directed by the Lord. Since it is a ship designed by God Nephi must receive the design through revelation. Where does he go to get revelation on the ship? To the mountain. Mountains are symbolic of temples. We must retreat to the temple to receive the godly designs for our life.


Interestingly Nephi is worried for the fate of the entire voyage because of the actions of only part of the voyagers. He does not excuse himself from the sin when he says “our iniquity” not “their iniquity”. Nephi takes responsibility for the actions of his brothers and is willing to accept the consequences despite himself being righteous enough to recognize the errors they committed. It is important to note the the evil actions of some can condemn even the righteous to storms, turbulence, and ill fates. This is not God punishing the righteous, but it is Him“showing His power that he might fulfill his words to the wicked.


We learn something interesting about the brass plates in this chapter. It contained writings from three prophets, Zenock, Zenos, and Neum. Later in the Book of Mormon we learn that Zenos and Zenock are ancestors to the Nephites (3 Nephi 10:16). We can then infer that the brass plates were not the same scriptures held by the tribe of Judah, but instead were likely remnants of prophets and teachings held by the tribes of Joseph (Manasseh specifically). These scriptures and traditions would have been lost completely because of the scattering of Israel. It’s possible one reason the people of Jerusalem despised Lehi so much was because he preached the gospel from the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Lehi and his family were likely refugees or descendants of refugees that escaped the Northern Kingdom before its fall). That gospel had not yet been corrupted by reformers among the Kingdom Judah. These reformations removed prophecies and teachings of those like Zenos, Zenock, and Neum where they explicitly foretell the coming of Christ with such specificity.


Just before quoting Isaiah for 3 chapters Nephi tells his brothers they should liken the scriptures to themselves. So we can read through these chapters understanding that Nephi is putting his family as the focus of Isaiah’s writing. He is teaching his brothers, and us, that scripture is prophetic for all people, individually, and that you can find in the words of Isaiah a story that is God speaking of your life and your afflictions. Chapter 22 is Nephi’s commentary on the Isaiah chapters. Read through chapters 20-21 and then, using the spirit, find out how those chapters speak to you. It might even be beneficial to write a commentary in much the same way Nephi does in chapter 22.