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Lehi was a prophet who lived in Jerusalem about 600 years before Jesus Christ was born. He was only one of many prophets who warned the people of this time that they must repent or Jerusalem would be destroyed. The people were very wicked and very proud. They and their king, Zedekiah, believed that they were God's chosen people and that their city and surrounding country would never be destroyed or conquered. There were also many false prophets who soothed the people by telling them that all was well.
The people would not listen to God's prophets. The prophets warned the people at the risk of their own lives. Lehi's life was in great danger. God told Lehi that he had been faithful and that now it was time for him to gather his family and leave Jerusalem to go into the wilderness.
Lehi had a wife, Sariah, and four sons, Laman, the oldest, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi, the youngest. Lehi did his best to teach his family about God. His two older sons hardened their hearts against everything he said. His two younger sons listened to him and his youngest son Nephi yearned to know the truth about God for himself.
God was leading Lehi and his family to a new land where they could worship Him and follow His teachings. Also traveling with them was a man named Zoram and also Ishmael and his family. They had many adventures and hard times along the way. As they traveled Lehi always tried to teach all his companions of God and God's plan for them. In the wilderness, at the beginning of their journeys, Lehi had a vision which he told to them.
"I have had a dream or a vision," said Lehi. "Because of the vision which I have seen I have reason to be very happy for Sam and for Nephi. But I am worried about Laman and Lemuel." >p>"I found myself in a dark and dreary wilderness. A man in a white robe came and talked to me and told me to follow him. I followed him and as I did I looked all around me. It was dark and dreary. We traveled for hours and hours and there was no end to the darkness and the dreariness. I felt I could hardly stand it. I prayed to the Lord to have mercy on me and deliver me from this awful place."
"Finally after having prayed to God to be merciful to me we arrived in a very large field. I saw a beautiful tree in the field. I knew that the fruit of this tree would make me very happy so I went and ate some of the fruit. It was the sweetest fruit I have ever eaten and it was whiter than anything I have ever seen. After I ate of the fruit I was filled with great happiness or joy."
"I wanted my family to eat this fruit also so I began to look about for them. I saw a river of water close to the tree and I saw the head, or beginning of the river, not too far away from me. Sariah, Sam and Nephi were standing at the head of the river and looked as if they were lost. I called in a loud voice for them to come to the tree and eat the fruit, which was the very best fruit. They came and ate the fruit also."
"Then I looked for Laman and Lemuel at the head of the river. I finally saw them and called to them also to come and eat the fruit. They saw and heard me but they would not come."
"Then I saw a rod of iron, or an iron railing, which ran along the river and led to the tree where we stood. There was a straight and narrow path running right by the rod of iron. The path came from a fountain of water, which was the head of the river, and led all the way to the tree. From the fountain the path continued farther away into a very large field which reminded me of the world."
"There were great crowds of people in the large field. Many of them were coming forward trying to find the path which led to the tree. They found the path and began to follow it. But then it became very dark from a strong mist. The people on the path could not see where they were going and left the path and became lost. Other people found the path and also discovered the iron rod, or railing, which ran beside the path and the river. They grabbed hold of the rod and even though it was dark and they could not see they used the rod to find their way to the tree. They ate the fruit which was from the tree. After they had eaten the fruit they looked around them as if they were ashamed that they had eaten it."
"I looked around to see why they were so ashamed. Across the river there was a large building. It didn't sit on the ground, but it floated high above the ground. There were many people in it. The people were all kinds of people, men, women, old and young. They were all dressed in very fine clothing. They looked toward the tree and pointed and laughed at the people who had eaten the fruit from the tree. Because the people in the building were laughing at them, the people with us who had tasted the fruit became very ashamed and left and became lost."
"Some of the people caught hold of the rod of iron and followed it all the way to the tree and fell down and ate the fruit. They didn't pay any attention to the people in the building who were laughing at them."
"Many people went toward the large building feeling their way in the dark so that they could get there."
"Many people stumbled into the river and were drowned and many other people went into strange paths or roads and were lost from our sight. Many, many people went into the building and then laughed at those of us who stood by the tree and ate the fruit. We didn't pay any attention to them."
"This is the vision which I saw. Because you, Laman and Lemuel, would not eat the fruit I am very afraid for you. I am very afraid that you will be cast away from God and will not be able to be with Him."
Lehi then tried to speak with his two older sons and tried to make them understand what God wanted them to do.
Lehi's youngest son, Nephi, believed all the things which his father taught his sons. Not only did Nephi believe his father, but he also wanted to know about all these things for himself. Nephi sat thinking seriously of all the things which he wanted to know. Suddenly he found himself on a high mountain that he had never seen before. The Spirit of God had taken Nephi's spirit to the mountain to show Nephi many things. It may be hard to understand, but even though we may be in our own room or place God can take our spirit to another place. Nephi was not afraid because he was with the Spirit of God which only wants to help and teach us.
"Look about you, what is it that you wish, Nephi?" said the Spirit.
"I wish to see all the things which my father has seen," replied Nephi.
"Do you believe the things which your father has taught you?" asked the Spirit.
"You know that I believe all he has said."
"Hosanna to the Lord," cried the Spirit in a loud voice. "He is the most high God, the Lord of the earth and even of all."
"You are blessed, Nephi. You believe in the Son of God and you will be shown the things which you wish to see. You will also see the Son of God and be a witness. You shall tell others that you have seen Him." The Spirit then began to show Nephi many things.
Now we know that the Son of God is Jesus Christ. Nephi was shown how Jesus would be born to Mary. He was also shown Jesus' life and how he was judged by evil men and made to die on a cross.
Nephi was also shown the vision which his father, Lehi, saw. Not only was it shown to him but he was also taught what it meant.
Nephi saw a beautiful tree. Nephi called it the tree of life. It was whiter than new, clean snow. Nephi came to understand that the tree stood for the love of God. The love of God is the most precious thing that anyone can have. It is the most important thing we have in our lives.
The rod of iron, or the iron railing which ran along the river and the path, is the word of God. If the people would grab it and hold onto it they would not get lost when the dark mist came. The mist is the temptations of the devil. Satan tries to blind us from the word of God and from God's love. When we do bad things it takes us away from God. Also, if the people didn't hold onto the rod they could very easily fall into the river, which was filthy, dirty, and drown. The dirty river is the depths of hell where people suffer because they chose to do evil in their lives instead of worshipping God and following His teachings. Or they would fall off of the narrow path which led to the tree and end up lost on strange paths.
The large building which floated above the ground had many people in it. They were dressed in very fine clothes and laughed and made fun of the people who ate the fruit on the beautiful tree. The building meant the pride of the world. The people in the building thought that they were wise. They thought they were wiser than God and that they did not need Him. The teachings of the world and beautiful clothing and large, handsome buildings were more important to them than God's love. They laughed at the people who valued God's love. Nephi saw the building crash to the ground in great destruction.
The head of the river, which is like a fountain, is also the love of God. We need clean water to live just as we need God's love.
Nephi believed in the things which his father taught him. He also wanted to be able to know these things for himself. God was pleased with Nephi because of Nephi's faith. Because of this Nephi was taught many things concerning Jesus Christ and was taught the meaning of Lehi's vision of the tree of life. Nephi was faithful in teaching his family and also in writing his experiences on plates of gold so that we would be able to know also.
adapted by Lois M. Anderson
from the Book of Mormon, I Nephi Chapters 1-3
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Copyright 2001 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: August 7, 2001