1 Nephi 1
[v. 1, 4]. Nephi knew his father already made a record. Why would he take the trouble to include his fathers account, or why would he choose what he did to repeat? Nephi carefully selected what he wrote for two reasons. First engraving was not an easy medium with which to write. Second the plates are small and necessitate including only those things that are most important. We can see how small they are when the record ends at Words of Mormon. Third, he commands those that will come after him to not occupy the plates except that which is of worth to men's souls.
As prophet, Nephi was not jealous. He wanted to show us types. He wanted to show us how to receive the things of God. He showed us an overview of how Lehi came to know what he did, and later gives a more detailed account of how he came to know. Verse 16 shows that there is a lot Nephi could have included about his father's revelations, but what he did choose to write should inform us.
What Nephi did not write is also important. He did not write "My father, being a chief priest..." or "My father having no position of authority..." None of that was important. Position or lack thereof was not important to include, though we place great importance upon it, even so much to as to force our own faulty understanding into the reading. What was important, and what was included is how Lehi responded to the Spirit of God speaking through "many prophets" which came. They came because they were not there before. The Jews did not hold the Melchizedek Priesthood3 and Joseph taught that "All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself."1 Thus in order for these prophets to "come" among the people, they must have been ordained by heaven itself, just as Lehi would be, and would naturally be out of the established religious order and hierarchy.
[v 2]. I think it is worth asking what influence the Egyptians had on the Jews. If they used thier writing, then they must have been more than a little familiar with their culture.
[v 3]. Why does Nephi have to qualify his record? Why is writing it in his own hand supplement that qualification?
When he says he makes it according to his knowledge, he is stating more than his eyewitness accounts of historical events, but he is speaking of "faith no longer" (see Ether 3:19). In other words he knows that which he first beheld with an eye of faith.
[v. 4]. begins Lehi's type.
[v. 5]. what type of prayer did Lehi offer? Self? Own family? His people, though he auspected they were wicked. Lehi seemingly not already aware of wickedness. prays because of what is revealed by prophets.
[v. 6]. Moses, know man is nothing. JSH 1:20 Joseph had no strength.
[v. 9]. Why are accounts similar? Repetable.
[v. 10-11]. Joseph saw many angels.
[v. 4]. Many prophets. many had the kind of vision as Lehi. the way is open, though everyone around us are wicked.
[v. 13]. Abominations are hidden.
[v. 14]. great mercy over all: knows us, puts us in circumstances so we can gain knowledge (JS). even though Jerusalem would still be destroyed. How can this show mercy over all? job: didn't value it until I lost it.
[v. 19]. Who is Lehi? Who is Lehi to tell us we are wicked? Who is Lehi to have received a vision? This exact same attitude would become evident in Laman and Lemuel. The Jews had an established order. mocking and shame come from saying or doing things different from our socialization, tradition or established order. surely the Jews had phony religious leaders that believed all was well. Jews mocked Moses, religionists mocked Joseph, leaders mocked Jesus, had a devil.
[v. 20]. mocking turned to anger as it always does. anger has as it's root, pride of self, fear of a faulty foundation and us the seed of murder. Nephi calls his brothers murderers in their hearts because, for one, they could not believe Lehi to be a prophet, and especially not their younger, unaccredited brother Nephi. their pride of self-righteousness was too much to overcome, so the truly righteous must either be cast out, exiled, or they must be killed. this is the course of all prophets, Joseph said we easily uphold pretenders as prophets, yet cast out those who really are. those who say all is not well in Zion and go contrary to Satan's carefully laid plan to deceive those who believe themselves to be righteous.
The Lord protects those whom he calls "promise of God for it"
Joseph's exp not unique. what is unique is his charges, keys.
"...whom he hath chosen, because of their faith..."
"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44)
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." (John 15:16)
Though the scriptures make it clear God chooses us, yet we self-select or qualify by our exercize of faith. "Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:29)
Faith is not something that just feels good, it is something that has evidence. Faith begins by hearing the word of God, it is evidenced by the fruit of faith produced, that fruit are the miraculous.
"Verily, I say unto you, there are those among you who seek signs, and there have been such even from the beginning; But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe." (D&C 63:8-9) This scripture refers to the many who will not believe until they see a sign. There are many examples, a prototypical one is shown in Korihor who said "I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God; and except ye show me a sign, I will not believe." This does not talk about those who already believe and who are "seeking earnestly the best gifts." We focus on the first half of that verse but ignore the second at our peril.
"Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain." (Moroni, Moroni 7:37)
Without faith it is impossible to please God, yet he that dilligently seeketh will find himelf chosen.2 This is the untold story of the prophets who "came", but it is the told story of Lehi and Nephi.
1. TPJS Section Four 1839-42, p.180
2. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)
3. Moses sought to bring the children of Jacob into the actual presence of God. This they refused, but wanted instead a strong-man leader. As a result they were cursed and received not the higher priesthood, but a lesser version endured. See D&C 84:21-28 for a fuller discussion. Joseph sought the same for the Saints in Kirtland, Missouri and finally in Nauvoo (see D&C 124:28, 31, 44-48 esp.) until the saints were once again driven out.