Lehi tells Nephi of his dream and that the Lord wants him and his brothers to go back to Laban’s to “seek the records.”
Do I SEEK after the things of God?
It’s interesting to note that even though God gave Lehi a command, He didn’t give him the answers on how to accomplish the task. He gave Lehi just enough info to get his sons started on their journey–1) Laban’s house; 2) Get the records.
With those two facts, they had to go back to Jerusalem, without knowing how they would get the brass plates Laban had charge of. This is how Heavenly Father stretches us, helping us to grow and develop faith.
Lehi tells his third son, Nephi, that he will be blessed in this endeavor because he has not murmured, like his older brothers.
Though the Lord may give us just a little…it is enough. With the faith of Nephi, we know we won’t fail (even though we might have many setbacks before we’re finished). We just go and do, trusting God to open up the way for us to accomplish His work.
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commanded them.”1 Nephi 3:7 (Book of Mormon)
Laban (not to be confused with Laman, Lehi’s oldest son) accuses the brothers of being robbers and sends guards after them. They barely escape with their lives. In vs. 14, the brothers “began to be exceedingly sorrowful” and wanted to turn back.
Do we do this? Want to turn back when the going gets tough? Want to quit when others make fun of our beliefs?
God may ask the impossible, but He will help us accomplish it. But we can’t give up.
Nephi refused to turn tail and run. I draw strength from his words:
As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us.”1 Nephi 3:15
Am I doing all the things that the Lord hath commanded me? Or do I murmur because the thing God asks is hard (and it usually will be, pushing us out of our comfort zone)?
The trip from Jerusalem to Red Sea is about 180 miles through extremely barren desert. Lehi’s family had made camp when Lehi sends his sons back for the plates.
I’ve often wondered why God let them get so far away before commanding them to go back? Surely, He could have told them before they left Jerusalem to get the plates from Laban.
God doesn’t seem to care though about how straight or efficient our journey is through life. What’s important to Him is our growth--and maybe that means metaphorically going back to Jerusalem again and again to learn new lessons each time.
Maybe God needed Nephi and his brothers to be fully committed to Him, so He made the journey hard, not easy.
Laman and Lemuel did go back with Nephi, even though they complained (which truthfully, it would’ve been so easy to whine about what they had to do).
Do we sometimes do good things, like them, without our hearts truly committed to God?
Laman draws the lot to ask Laban for the plates. Laban gets angry and accuses him of being a robber. He flees, and the group of brothers are sad. Laman and Lemuel want to return. They’ve been obedient. They’ve tried. They failed big time. Time to get back to their life, right?
The pattern I’ve noticed in the Book of Mormon is that when God commands people to do things, He doesn’t make it easy for them to accomplish the command. They usually fail at first (like a toddler learning to walk), or even a few times, before they triumph.
Are we willing to keep all of God’s commandments, even when we try and fail? Do we get back up and try again? And again…however many times it takes?
Nephi is steadfast and immovable. His oath above makes God his partner, and since God does not fail, Nephi keeps trying, willing to give his life in the process, if need be. I think he had such faith because Nephi recognized the why behind the command, to “preserve unto our children the language of our fathers” (19) and so they could teach their children the ways of God.
The brothers try a second time, using their riches they left behind to try to buy the plates from Laban. The jerk keeps their riches and sends his soldiers to kill them. Another huge failure. .
It is how we react to failure that shows the measure of our character.
Laman and Lemuel became angry, yelled, & beat their younger brothers in frustration when they failed. An angel stops them & commands them to return and try again. As soon as he leaves, Laman and Lemuel murmur. Their reactions are always negative. Even an angel didn’t convert them.
When Laman becomes furious after their second failed attempt to get the plates, Lemuel gets angry also, “for he hearkened unto the words of Laman…” (28)
We must be very careful who we hearken to in life.
There are many great people to follow, but it all boils down to following Christ or not. If I hearken to someone who murmurs, I know from earlier study that that person knows not the dealings of God. This type of person (a Laman) doesn’t care about anyone but themselves and their happiness. They are pessimistic and unbelieving, no matter how many miracles they see. Even though an angel had commanded them to go back, Laman still didn’t believe the feat possible. All he could see was that Laban was a mighty man who could command 50 men to slay them. He didn’t trust God to help him.
Choose good friends who see the good and point you to Christ, not away from Him.