As we dive back into the Book of Mormon this year let us take a look at what I would consider Nephi’s thesis statement of the Book of Mormon.
*But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.* (1 Nephi 1:20)
Nephi then shows us within the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon how God’s tender mercies have worked in his family and how they apply to all of God’s children collectively. As we study the initial words and experiences of Nephi and his family this week, let us pay close attention to how they are continually delivered and what it takes for them to be delivered. Then, let us apply these learnings to our own lives.
Within the initial chapter of the Book of 1 Nephi, we are introduced to Nephi as he shares with us his identity. The chapter begins with a sense of belonging from a mortal perspective and concludes with a glimpse into how we can each be brought into the belonging of God in an eternal sense. As we journey with Lehi and his family, we will begin to see the pains that are taken along the process of learning and growing. There will be successes, and there will be failures. We learn quickly that there are ways to deal with both of them, whether it is the pride of success or the despondency of failure.
As Nephi leads out in the book, we are able to see his loving devotion to his father. He is committed to following him no matter where he leads. However, this devotion does not equate to blind faith. Nephi wants further understanding of the task that he is asked to carry out. As the family takes their three-day journey out into the wilderness, Nephi is given time to ponder on his place in this journey and its greater purpose. He turns to the Lord in deep supplication and prayer.
”I, Nephi, …having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.” (1 Nephi 2:16)
It was through this interaction with the Lord that Nephi was taught his role in leading his brothers in the wilderness and being an example to them even though he was the youngest. It was here that he gained a sweet testimony of the tender mercies of God. He chose to not rebel and murmur like his older brothers had done but to seek truth from a Divine Source and then act on whatever response he would receive. This sets the stage for everything else that we see Nephi accomplish over the course of his life, especially the next eight years.
It can sometimes be easy to deify Nephi, as we might do with other prophets, ancient and modern. However, as we look deeper into what Nephi is relating to us in his narrative we see his missteps, his struggles, his humility, his accountability, his eagerness to learn, and his devotion to following the Lord. We can replicate these actions in our own lives. Let’s not think that being like Nephi is unattainable. I am grateful for his example, but I am also grateful for his failures and struggles to show that he is mortal, just as I am. Nephi needed God’s enabling and delivering power just as much as any of us do.
As we have studied 1 Nephi again, hopefully, we have seen the faith of Nephi but also his humanity. There has only ever been one perfect individual to walk the earth and that is our Master, Jesus Christ. He alone has lived perfectly. However, He is not the only one to become perfect. As we learn to grow grace to grace, applying His atoning sacrifice and enabling power then we are able to experience the tender mercies of the Lord and find deliverance in our own lives. This deliverance will bring us unto perfection. The Book of Mormon begins talking of deliverance and ends by speaking of becoming perfect in Christ. Nephi shows us his experiences that set the stage for so many more experiences of deliverance in the Book of Mormon.
Here are a few to look forward to in the rest of our Book of Mormon study this year.
– King Benjamin’s people delivered from sin
– Alma delivered from King Noah
– Alma and his people delivered from Amulon
– King Lamoni delivered from sin by accepting the teachings of Ammon
– Alma & Amulek delivered from prison
– Hellman & the Two Thousand delivered from battle
– The righteous Nephites delivered from the destruction prior to the coming of Christ
– The Brother of Jared & his family delivered from confused languages and sent to a new land of promise
– Moroni delivered from the Lamanites to be able to preserve the record
What other ones have you seen?