In these pages we find Nephi receiving the command to build a ship and his efforts mocked by his brothers, Laman and Lemuel (the infamous naysayers), whose rant against Nephi consists of several “we knew” and “we know” statements (1 Nephi 17:19-22). However, Nephi is quick to point out to them the truth about what they really know (1 Nephi 17:25-29,42,46). He reminds them of something similar to a bumper sticker I remember seeing: “Jesus loves you, but I’m His favorite!” (1 Nephi 17:35,40; 1:20. More on this concept can be studied by reading Elder Russell M. Nelson’s article entitled, Divine Love. You must read the footnoted references in the talk for it to make sense–very insightful!).
Nephi is the perfect example of “likening” scriptures. It seems that almost every time that he is trying to persuade someone to follow God he uses an experience from what we now consider the Old Testament (their Brass Plates). In just this one instance he refers to the liberating of the Israelites from bondage, the crossing of the Red Sea and destruction of Pharaoh and his army, the manna, water from the rock, the pillar of light and a cloud by day that led and protected them, their subsequent wondering and regeneration before entering the Promised Land, and even the reason for the current residents being expelled from the land. He caps it all off by reminding them that one can either become RIGHTEOUS or RIPE (1 Nephi 17:35).
This is the perfect likening because like the children of Israel, Lehi’s family is also going to cross the water to enter a Promised Land. But Nephi is not done yet.
In verse 41 he likens his brothers to the faithless and fearful Israelites who had to be chastened and “straitened”. Nephi seems surprised that, after all that the Lord has done, those at Jerusalem are “nearly unto ripeness” (1 Nephi 17:43). He continues to liken Laman and Lemuel to those who are ripening and points out that they are “swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord” (1 Nephi 17:44-45).
Nephi’s words seem to infuriate the already agitated brothers, but the Spirit of God protects Nephi much the way it will when Abinadi testifies before the evil king Noah. Unlike Abinadi’s situation however, Nephi is commanded to “shock” his brethren with a bit of God’s power. It makes sense that the Lord would do this. Being so hard of heart, and so focused on the physical, it seems that the physical is all they will respond to (1 Nephi 17:53-55; 18:20). Interestingly enough, the chapter ends in a very different, yet similar way to its beginning. Laman and Lemuel once again exclaim, “we know“, but this time they are correct in their statements.
Nephi is then instructed by the Lord on how exactly to go about building the ship (1 Nephi 18:1-4), which will become the stage for the next dramatic episode of the “wavering” Laman and Lemuel (1 Nephi 18:9-20). I guess it is not enough to “know”, we must always act on what we “know” to be right, but first we must make sure that what we “know” IS right.
So what do you “KNOW”, and how does that affect your ATTITUDE and ACTIONS? Are you becoming RIGHT or RIPE before God? Remember what Joseph Smith taught the brethren about The Book of Mormon: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
Happy sailing on your personal journey toward God’s Promised Land–The Celestial Kingdom!
- KnoWhy: 1 Nephi 17:5, Why Would Nephi Call the Ocean Irreantum?
- KnoWhy: 1 Nephi 18:8, Did Ancient People Sail the Seas?
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