Faith, Religion & Scripture, Notes & Essays by David Rodeback

Short Take: Parallel Experiences

In 1 Nephi 1 Lehi’s experience resembles Joseph Smith’s later experience with visions and the gold plates (see Joseph Smith – History), and foretells our own experience with the Book of Mormon.

Troubled by prophets’ warnings that Jerusalem must repent or be destroyed, Lehi prays “with all his heart in behalf of his people” (v. 5). Like Joseph, who prayed with a different question and later in penance for his own sins, Lehi sees a pillar of fire and hears much. Like Joseph, he is physically exhausted afterward (v. 6-7).

Another vision follows. In it a heavenly being (perhaps Christ) descends from heaven with twelve others. As Moroni to Joseph, they bring to Lehi a book. (See vv. 9-12.)

Lehi reads and learns of the imminent Babylonian captivity (v. 13) and other things. The book tells of God’s mercy, and “the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world” (v. 19).

Not coincidentally, this happens in the first chapter of a book we are commanded to read – a testament of Christ, and an account of the scattering and gathering of Israel – which was first delivered to our dispensation by an angel responding to earnest prayer.

Like Lehi and Joseph, we’re to teach what we learn from the book. We hope not to be threatened with death, as they were, but we can expect a common blessing with Lehi and Joseph nonetheless: as we read, we too will be “filled with the spirit of the Lord” (v. 12).

Author's Note
A few neighbors and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter, focusing on the Book of Mormon in 2016. This is my “short take” for January.
Faith, Religion & Scripture, Notes & Essays by David Rodeback

Short Take: A Pattern in 1 Nephi 1

Here’s something in the first chapter of the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 1) which is probably not a coincidence. Lehi’s experience parallels Joseph Smith’s.

In a time of great religious energy in Jerusalem (v. 4), Lehi goes to pray (v. 5). There comes a pillar of fire (v. 6), and he sees and hears much. He is physically exhausted by the experience (v. 7). Then he sees another vision, which includes the delivery of a book by a heavenly messenger (v. 11). The book is about God’s judgments on and the scattering of the House of Israel, and speaks plainly of the coming of a Messiah and the redemption of the world (vv. 13, 18-19).

Best of all, note that the book’s effects are the same as the Book of Mormon’s effects on us: “As he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord” (v. 12). Lehi’s soul rejoices; his heart is full; he praises God (v. 14-15).

Author's Note
My neighbor and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter. We focused on the Book of Mormon in 2013. Here’s one of my “short takes,” as previously published there. A slightly more detailed exposition of  Lehi’s and Joseph Smith’s parallel experiences is here.