CLICK HERE to read 1 Nephi 11.
So Nephi, now understanding more and more about the dream his father had – and the message his father and other prophets have always given – wants to understand more.
There is always more.
Nephi believes his father, that the Lord really made these things known unto Lehi, and Nephi wants to know for himself.
So he ponders.
Pondering leads to inspiration and revelation, which leads to testify for the benefit of others.
“Pondering” always makes me think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, “pondering these things in her heart”. Her testimony came when a certain doctor named Luke came by to interview her about the life of her son. This is why we have the book of Luke: it is the interview of Mary. It is Mary’s perspective. This is why the Christmas story we all read is from Luke’s version: because it is the mother’s story.
So Nephi is pondering these things in his heart, “believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me” (verse 1).
Then we get the pattern of the revelation, the pattern of the Testing, the pattern of the teaching and proving of faith.
This is the pattern of at-one-ment, of the embrace, of the seeing clearly, of the welcome-home.
The Spirit says, “What do you want?”
Nephi says what he wants: “I desire to behold the things which my father saw.”
The Spirit says, “Do you believe?”
Nephi says, “Yea, thou knowest that I believe all the words of my father.”
The the Spirit gives more words, many words, more than the simple answers after the first few questions. He blesses Nephi for believing “in the Son of the most high God” (verse 6).
And then, because Nephi has passed the test, he gets what he wants, what he asked for in the first place: to see the things he has most desired, which is the presence of God as symbolized by the tree from Lehi’s dream.
And so, as is the pattern anytime the Lord establishes a covenant, Nephi is given a sign that represents what that covenant is about or symbolizes it in some way. This is the pattern as it has always been, such as the rainbow when the Lord covenants with Noah that He will not ever again destroy the earth by water. And so Nephi sees.
Nephi sees the tree as his father Lehi saw it, and it is beautiful and whiter than white.
Then the Spirit repeats the instructional pattern. Just like our physical muscles in our bodies, our spiritual muscles develop and grow through repetition and focused use, regularly and often. So Nephi goes another round with the Spirit, who is training Nephi according to a specific pattern.
First, the Spirit asks what Nephi wants.
Then the Spirit shows Nephi more (the city of Jerusalem, the city of Nazarath, the mother of the Savior), and asks what that is.
Nephi names it.
Then the Spirit asks about “the condescension of God”, which refers to the atonement. That the Lord would deign to come down to Earth, and be pierced – killed – with nails in His hands – all to rescue us and to bring us home again.
Nephi cannot answer the full question directly because he does not yet have the information.
So the Spirit does teach him and explains to Him that the mother is the mother of the Son of God.
Now that Nephi knows the full answer, the Spirit asks him again, “What is it?”
Nephi this time is able to give the meaning, which does unite him with the Savior, and does make him at-one with the love of God.
That is the pattern.
“It is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable of all things… the most joyous to the soul” (verse 22 and 23).
So now the tree with the fruit represents this love of God, and partaking of the fruit represents entering back into the presence of our Heavenly Father and the joy we have in His presence.
In verse 25, we get another interpretation: “I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God…” So the rod of iron represents the Scriptures and the words of prophets, for it is by Scriptures that we are able to find our way home again to our Heavenly Father. Psalms 119:105 says “thy word is a light unto my path and a lamp unto my feet”. So we know that prophets are the “flaming sword” of Genesis 3:24 that guard the way back to Heavenly Father’s presence.
Nephi continues his learning in verse 27, when he sees “the Redeemer of the world” and “the prophet who should prepare the way before him”. Nephi sees the Messiah being baptized, and the the Holy Ghost coming down in the form of a dove. This is a prophetic vision, as it is still about 600 years before Jesus was born. Nephi also sees the multitudes of people gathered to him him teach, and then he sees the people cast him out. Nephi even sees the twelve disciples, and he sees Jesus and the disciples healing many. He sees that Jesus is “lifted up on the cross and slain for the sins of the world” (verse 33).
Then comes Nephi’s understanding of the “large and spacious building” from his father Lehi’s dream, and that this represents the wisdom of the world that fights against the apostles of the Savior. It is “the pride of the world”, and Nephi saw the building “fall”. He understands this represents “the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people that shall fight against” the Savior and His apostles (verse 36).
But still, there is more… more of Nephi’s receiving of the interpretation of Lehi’s dream in the next chapter!