For behold, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto my father, yea, even in a dream, and said unto him: Blessed art thou Lehi, because of the things which thou hast done; and because thou hast been faithful and declared unto this people the things which I commanded thee, behold, they seek to take away thy life.
And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.
Lehi saw a vision of the destruction of Jerusalem and tried to tell the Jews of their need to repent, but they laughed at him and some even plotted to kill him. Verses one and two of the second chapter of 1 Nephi tell what happened next, and I’m fascinated by the content of these verses.
First, the Lord tells Lehi in a dream that he is blessed because of the things which he has done. Lehi was not successful in his quest—no one listened to him at all. But that doesn’t stop the Lord from being pleased. He knows Lehi did the best he could, and he intents to reward Lehi for that faithfulness.
Next, the Lord tells Lehi that because of his faithfulness, the people want to take away Lehi’s life. We see this pattern over and over in the scriptures – someone speaks up for truth and righteousness, and the wicked, who don’t like hearing how wicked they are, try to stop the uncomplimentary truth-spreading by violent means.
Then the Lord presents His plan for saving Lehi’s life – he wants Lehi to take his family and leave everything he owns and go into the wilderness.
Now, at the time, it must have appeared like this was the Lord’s only intent. We know later that He intends to give Lehi a land of his own inheritance, but right now, He’s asking Lehi to exercise his faith.
Verse three: And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.
Of course he did as the Lord commanded him, and we knew he would. He has a long track record of obedience behind him—that’s how the Lord knows He can trust him.
Verse four: And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.
This verse is pretty straightforward, but we know there must have been a lot of disagreement amongst Lehi’s family members. Lehi was a fairly wealthy man. It must have been hard to leave behind all the things he’d worked for and go head off into the wilderness with just enough to survive. But for Lehi, there was no other choice. The Lord had commanded, and he would obey.
From these verses – would we be willing to just pack up everything we needed to survive and leave the rest as we headed out into the wilderness? What likenesses do we find between Lehi’s story and that of the early Mormon Saints? In what ways do we find ourselves willing to be obedient, and in what ways is it more difficult?