This post covers verses 7 through the rest of the chapter.
Last time, we ended where the angel rejoices because of Nephi’s belief and says God will grant his desire, because of that belief. That shows how important desire and belief are.
The angel tells Nephi to look. Nephi does and he sees what his father saw. The tree that is beautiful and white beyond anything he has ever imagined.
Do we look up to God in our lives—to things that are eternal and unchanging? Or is our focus on the ground (world)? Are we distracted by temporary stresses, worries, pleasures, or appearances?
Nephi sees the tree and the angel asks again: “What desirest thou?”
He didn’t get upset that Nephi wanted more. Wanting more of the things of God pleases God. That’s what He wants for us. But God won’t EVER force us to desire more for ourselves.
Nephi wants to know the interpretation of the tree. Instead of just giving him the answer, the Spirit shows him other scenes and has Nephi figure out the interpretation for himself.
God usually won’t just tell us what to do when we ask for help. He wants us to figure out the answer, because it means more when we do.
I have observed a common characteristic among the instructors who have had the greatest influence in my life. They have helped me to seek learning by faith. They refused to give me easy answers to hard questions. In fact, they did not give me any answers at all. Rather, they pointed the way and helped me take the steps to find my own answers. I certainly did not always appreciate this approach, but experience has enabled me to understand that an answer given by another person usually is not remembered for very long, if remembered at all. But an answer we discover or obtain through the exercise of faith, typically, is retained for a lifetime. The most important learnings of life are caught—not taught.”David A. Bednar – Seek Learning by Faith
The Spirit personage goes on to tell Nephi to LOOK 7 more times. That makes 8 times in this chapter he tells Nephi to LOOK.
Are we looking to God, not the world, for our direction and guidance?
An angel asks Nephi: “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” (16)
What does this mean exactly, and why did the angel ask it?
Merriam-Webster defines condescension as “voluntary descent from one’s rank or dignity in relations with an inferior.”
Christ voluntarily descended from His throne above to rescue us, His inferiors in every way. Why would He do this? I love Nephi’s answer.
I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”1 Nephi 11:17
Christ descended below all things because He loved us. Because He loved His Father and wanted to do His will. Nephi’s reply also shows humility. He admits he doesn’t know the answer to everything, but he knows the most important truth. God love us.
After the angel has Nephi look at three different scenes (one of which is the birth of the Lamb of God), he asks if Nephi knows what the tree represents.
And I answered him, saying, Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore it is the most desirable above all things.”1 Nephi11:22
The angel adds that it is also the “most joyous to the soul.” (23)
The 4th time he LOOKS, Nephi sees Christ’s ministry—the Savior going about among men, “and I saw many fall down at his feet and worship him.” (24)
What did these people do different in their lives that they were able to recognize their Savior when others didn’t?
The scriptures say Jesus was not comely that men should want Him. I take that to mean He wasn’t dynamic in appearance, like a movie star would be. I picture Him condescending to come to earth in maybe a mediocre or even subpar body. Maybe He had a plain face, one that blended in with everyone else. He could’ve even had acne or some other physical defect that would make others critical or judgmental.
But I also believe the Holy Ghost has power to enhance physical features, making one more beautiful. Since Christ was perfect, He would’ve had that beautifying influence in countenance, if not in form. I picture Him with a light in His eyes. But maybe one had to LOOK closer to see it. A passing glance wouldn’t have drawn one to Him. You would have had to take the time to get to know who He was as a person.
- Do I LOOK close enough or deep enough at others to see their goodness?
- Do I see with spiritual eyes past the physical shell?
- If I had lived back then, would I have LOOKED close enough to recognize my Savior?
- Will I recognize my Savior when He comes again, because I will see Him as He truly is?
Nephi realizes the “rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life…” (25)
To me, this shows that reading the scriptures and heeding the words of living prophets help us feel God’s love, which makes us love Him in return.
But just feeling His love isn’t enough. Many partook of the fruit but still fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.
We must partake of His love daily so we aren’t frightened or confused by the mists of darkness or distracted or ashamed by the mockers in the world.
The 5th LOOK allows Nephi to see the condescension of God!
And I looked and beheld the Redeemer of the world, of whom my father had spoken; and I also beheld the prophet who should prepare the way before him. And the Lamb of God went forth and was baptized of him…
“And I beheld that he went forth ministering unto the people, in power and great glory; and the multitudes were gathered together to hear him; and I beheld that they cast him out from among them.”1 Nephi 11:27-28
The 7th LOOK lets Nephi see all the sick and afflicted following Jesus and “they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God; and the devils and the unclean spirits were cast out.” (31)
Look up and live
The 8th LOOK from the angel lets Nephi see the Savior’s last earthly moments.
And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record.
And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.”1 Nephi 11:32-33
This scene is the ultimate heartbreaking irony. The Son of the everlasting God—the same One who created worlds without numbers…even the very Earth the people who condemn Him live upon—is judged and killed by them.
Christ was their Creator, the One whom they depended on for their very lives, yet He was taken and judged of that world He created.
The world loves to set themselves up as judges. They will mock, scorn, and judge us for our choices. They will judge us for our beliefs and desires. They will judge us as evil if we do not fall into line behind them.
We will always be judged by those who have absolute no jurisdiction in our lives. So, remember…give them NO heed.
Look up to God and live!!!
Christ is a sure foundation upon which if we build, we can never fall. So LOOK to Him—not anyone else—and live.