January 8–14: “I Will Go and Do” 1 Nephi 1–5

January 8–14: “I Will Go and Do” 1 Nephi 1–5
Lehi at his stone altar.

1 Nephi 1-5               

This is the story of Lehi leaving Jerusalem with his family at the behest of the Lord. Lehi is a restoration prophet, called to bring a restoration of the apostatized Jews. When they do not listen, he is driven from the land and brought to the Americas to bring God’s Word there. The Book of Mormon is reverse Old Testament text, meaning the general narrative mirrors the OT, but reveresed. And it starts with a reverse Exodus.

1 Nephi 1:1-5              

What can we learn about Lehi and his family given Nephi’s description of them?

1 Nephi 1: 6-15

This is Lehi having a temple experience. These types of temple texts are plain throughout the Book of Mormon. Notice the similarities between the endowment ceremony and the experience of Lehi. Many think that Joseph Smith adapted the endowment from Masonic rituals, but that is not true. When you read Joseph’s writings and the BoM you can see that the endowment is there from the beginning, starting with the First Vision and up to this first chapter of the Book of Mormon. What other temple teachings can you find in the text?

1 Nephi 1:16-20                      

Lehi’s willingness to follow God gets him cast out of his home town. The people revile him and even would go so far as to kill him. Do not expect following God to be easy, nor to be free from hardship. No, often our immediate happiness can be negatively affected or our stress levels can drastically rise as we act in conflict with the world. But, as we see in the text, those suffering for the Lord’s sake will be answered to us and the Lord will bless those who endure for him.

1 Nephi 2:1-7

The first thing Lehi does after being driven from Jerusalem is build an altar of stones to communicate with the Lord. This parallels with Adam building an altar right after he is driven from the Garden of Eden.

1 Nephi 2:8-14           

 What qualities do Laman and Lemuel posses that we can recognize in ourselves? Why do they hold onto the things and cultures of the world when the Lord is asking them to let go?

1 Nephi 2:15              

How can this possibly be important to know? Think about why it is significant enough for Nephi to tell us.

1 Nephi 2:16-24 

Nephi has the Lord speak directly to him, preparing him for his own temple experience later in the text. Nephi is prepared to follow the Lord because he not beholden to culture, but to God.

1 Nephi 3:1-31            

Reading the Book of Mormon as a culturally subversive text, this story is striking in a similar way to the stories of the family of Jacob. Jacob, and his son Joseph, are two other figures that subverted cultural practices by receiving birthright blessings over their older brothers. This is establishing that this text is a true Old Testament text and is telling a story that is continuing the story of the people of Abraham. This also establishes how important the scriptures are and the lengths with which God requires his people to go to preserver them. (God also required Joseph Smith to go to great lengths to protect and preserve the Gold Plates.)

1 Nephi 4:1-38            

After establishing how important the scriptures are, the Book of Mormon does something strange. It then tells a story that defies the scriptures. By that I mean Nephi is commanded to kill Laban, in defiance to the laws in scriptures. Laban is a drunk and defenseless man, yet the Spirit tells him to kill Laban. This story is setting a direct hierarchy of God’s will. It is first and foremost in the scriptures, but when circumstances require he will call prophets to subvert the written laws and bring to pass a restoration of what was lost. This echoes Joseph Smith’s calling. He brings forth the BoM and many new revelations that defy the scriptural and cultural teachings of his time. This isn’t to say that individual people will receive promptings to disobey the law, but it is to say that prophets of God and those that are called directly by him will be guided directly by him to show them the way so that they can lead the people to Him.

1 Nephi 5:1-22

This chapter is the conclusion of the story that began in chapter 2, but also one of the first proofs of Nephi’s “thesis” that he writes in 1 Nephi 1:20.  Nephi and his brothers return safely after having accomplished the Lord’s will, also assuaging Sariah’s fears. The rest of the chapter is Nephi showing how his family is blessed by the brass plates. How does scripture bless your life? How does knowing family history bless our lives?