Today, we begin our study of the book, Second Nephi with 2 Nephi 1.
In this chapter, Nephi tells that, as he was finishing explaining the scriptures to his brothers, his father took up the thread of conversation, “rehearsing” to them the miraculous circumstances that brought them to the place they are in now. Merriam-Webster tells us, among other definitions, that “rehearse” can mean “to present an account of” or relate. But it can also mean, “to say again (repeat)” or “to recount in order (enumerate)”. I won’t go into everything Lehi repeats to them. Suffice it to say that he goes over both the good and the bad that happened and that they did together during their journey to the promised land.
From there, Lehi begins to prophesy, telling his family that he has obtained a promise from the Lord that this land, on which they stand, is one that has been set apart and consecrated for those whom the Lord choses to bring. As long as they obey his commandments and serve Him they will prosper and be protected. No one will be able to hurt them. When, (you’ll note he doesn’t say “if” here) they dwindle in unbelief, if they choose to reject the Savior (especially after all the Lord has done for them by bringing them to this glorious land of promise), the land will be cursed and other nations will be given power to take their land and their possessions and scatter them. He says, “…as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds and great visitations among them (v12).”
Having said all this, Lehi then begins, with all the passion of a loving and, no doubt, worried father, to implore his sons to repent and live close to the commandments of the Lord. He tells them to Awake.
It’s interesting to me that he should choose to use this particular word. Awake. “Awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell (v13).” Think about it. Sometimes, when you’re deeply involved in sin and you’re brought to a knowledge that what you’re doing is fundamentally wrong, for whatever reason, doesn’t it feel sometimes like you’re waking up from a deep sleep? To me, it’s the kind of sleep I get after eating too much junk food. It’s not often a restful sleep and I wake from it feeling more tired than I would have had I eaten something healthy. Or imagine that you are in a coma and you awake. I’m told that people in comas often can hear the voice of those who love them pleading with them to awake, but find themselves unable to respond.
Given the knowledge that the land will be cursed if the people living on it are unrighteous, Lehi begs his sons to be righteous, shrug off the coma of sin and emerge to a real, waking, joyful life; a life filled with light and truth.
Lehi also suggests that they stop rebelling against their brother, whom they have often accused of seeking power over them. Lehi tells them he knows Nephi has never sought power over them at all. I can think of a number of times when I have rebelled against people who had authority over me. Perversely, even though intellectually I knew they didn’t mean me any harm and weren’t trying to control me, even though I knew they were right, I became too easily irritated by them, which attitude made it difficult for the spirit to speak to me.
I’m reminded of a story I was once told about Joseph Smith. He said that he was often criticized by people and he had a way of handling it that I found to be insightful. He would listen to them and try to figure out if what they were saying about him was true, putting his feelings, his emotional self aside for the moment. If what they said was true, assuming that it was something bad, he would endeavor to change it. If what they said wasn’t true, he would ignore them.
If we are careful and allow the Spirit to work in us, when people say things to us that seem controlling or critical, we can seek the Lord’s help in handling it. We can make that situation into one of learning and repentance, instead of wasting our emotions being angry with the people who spoke to us. As God is my witness, I know this is possible. I leave this testimony with you in the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.