CLICK HERE to read 1 Nephi 19.
Now that Nephi’s family is settled a little bit, and because in the new land he has access to ore, he is able to keep the commandment the Lord gave him to make metal plates and engrave the record of his family upon them.
“And after I had made these plates by way of commandment, I, Nephi, received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these plates; and that the things which were written should be kept for the instruction of my people, who should possess the land, and also for other wise purposes, which purposes are known unto the Lord” (verse 3).
And so he did, and he did it for the purpose of passing down the records of his family one generation after another.
But then Nephi clarifies something interesting: He doesn’t engrave anything on the plates that he doesn’t consider sacred (verse 6). This is fascinating because it is not just the story of his family, but the story of the Lord working in His people; it is not just advice to be handed down, but is is the words and commandments and teachings of the Lord through His prophets. Nephi doesn’t write what he wants, but what the Lord wants. He doesn’t tell everything, but just the sacred pieces that are most needed to be passed down. He writes in a way very much like the way the Savior taught, where all things have both a temporal (here and now and physical) meaning, as well as a spiritual meaning. He also teaches the way the Savior taught, in that there is one meaning on the surface, but layers and layers of deeper meaning for those who truly seek it, who truly prepare to actually receive real revelation about what it really means.
Then Nephi prophesies, very much like Isaiah did, about when the Lord – the very Messiah – would be born, saying that it will happen about six hundred years after he left Jerusalem with his father Lehi.
Nephi continues the prophesying, describing what the Savior will experience: “And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men” (verse 9).
Then we get to one of those moments that blew my mind as a convert, one of the defining moments that better helped me understand the Bible I had loved and studied my whole life.
Nephi keeps going, identifying the Jehovah of the Old Testament as being the pre-mortal Jesus, the same being, so that “the Lord” in the Old Testament is Christ Himself, before He was born. Nephi says, “And the God of our fathers, who were led out of Egypt, out of bondage, and also were preserved in the wilderness by him, yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up… and to be crucified… and buried in a sepulchure…” (verse 10).
Jesus is real, and He loves us, and He loved the people of the Old Testament, and those people knew Him and loved Him and worshiped in full knowledge of the Savior. They were not kept in the dark. They were not clueless about Heavenly Father’s plan. They knew. I love this so much.
Then, we get a small insight into what it is like for a Prophet, or for anyone speaking the things of God or delivering His message to any of His people:
“For behold, I have workings in the spirit, which doth weary me even that all my joints are weak…” (verse 20).
It is not an easy thing to testify, whether you are the Prophet for the whole people or a prophet for your own family or the friends down the street. It is not an easy thing to live in such a way as to be worthy of the Spirit and prepared for that kind of revelation, or to be so bold in delivering the message given regardless of its popularity with those who hear you, or to persevere when people will not listen. It is exhausting to the physical body to be so filled with light and spirit, but still be squeezed into a very mortal frame.
This chapter also talks about Nephi teaching his brothers and their families. He taught them from the books of Moses (as much of the Old Testament as had been compiled thus far, as all this story is happening at the same time as the prophets in the Old Testament like Isaiah and Jeremiah, etc. Nephi also teaches them what he had of Isaiah’s teachings, and he did “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (verse 23).
Likening Scriptures to ourselves is a huge and important process of revelation. It is when we read the scriptures as if they are written just to us, about us, or directly talking to us. It shifts perspective from the historical account to what we are to learn in the here-and-now and how we should apply these learnings in our everyday real life.
For a very good (and short!) article about how to “liken the scriptures” to yourself, SEE HERE.