Twice in this chapter, Nephi talks about those whose “faith in the Lamb of God” have “their garments…made white in his blood.” (10) Yea, “white even like unto the Lamb of God…These are made white in the blood of the Lamb, because of their faith in him.” (11)
Faith in Christ is vital. It’s a principle of action that calls down mighty power, even the power to cleanse us every whit from sinful stains. We become white—no blemishes, no spiritual scars—just beautiful, because of our Savior.
In vs. 16, the angel gives the symbolism of the fountain and river:
Behold the fountain of filthy water which thy father saw; yea, even the river of which he spake; and the depths thereof are the depths of hell.”
The fountain represents good in some spots and the depths of hell in this one. Earlier, the fountain of living waters represented the love of God along with the tree of Life. I’ve noticed other symbolic objects can represent both good and evil. The serpent is used to represent Satan but is also used by Moses to represent the Savior when he makes one of brass and holds it up for the people to look up to.
Again and again in the scriptures the same symbol can have dual, even opposite, meanings.”Tad R. Callister, The Infinite Atonement
The gulf that divides the wicked from those partaking of the fruit of the tree represents the “word of the justice of the Eternal God, and the Messiah who is the Lamb of God, of whom the Holy Ghost beareth record.” (18) All three of the Godhead are mentioned in this verse. It’s not just the word of God that divides the wicked from the righteous, but the word of the justice of God.
What’s the difference? Maybe it’s the justice in that everyone will hear the word of God and can pick a side.
Which side of the gulf will you pick?
I find it interesting how often the word of the justice of God sends those who have partaken of the fruit (good, active church members) falling into forbidden paths. I’ve seen it with close family members who badmouth prophets for what they say that goes against what they have embraced in the world. I’ve seen good Church members who didn’t like a particular doctrine because of an issue with a family member, and they left the Church and crossed that awful gulf. It’s always heartbreaking, but we can’t take away their free agency.
And the large & spacious building, which thy father saw, is vain imaginations & the pride of the children of men. And a great & a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God, & the Messiah who is the Lamb of God, of whom the Holy Ghost beareth record, from the beginning of the world until this time, & from this time henceforth & forever.”1 Nephi 12:18
The world is all around us
One thing my daughter pointed out when we talked about Lehi’s dream is that she thought in today’s world, the rod of iron leads straight through the great and spacious building, and if you stop holding fast to God’s word, you are instantly bombarded by the world and can be lost super quick on forbidden paths. Think of our phones and all the ways the world is right “with” us at all times.
We must keep our focus on Christ and not let go of the iron rod even for a moment. We must be actively pursuing the fruit of the atonement of Jesus Christ and not get casual in our relationship with Him…or yikes! The world is nipping at our ankles and instantly trying to yank us away from that safety iron.
Also, I’ve come to see the great and spacious building as an illusion. It has no foundation, and those that let go to partake of the “fun” or “glory” they imagine there are always disappointed. It’s like a heroin user who is always “chasing the dragon,” trying to recreate their first high. They never achieve that. And those that chase the world trying to find happiness will never ever find it, no matter how hard they climb, how many people they step over to get there…happiness will always elude them because it’s found in Christ. Nothing else in this life can provide everlasting joy. Only Jesus Christ is able to provide that for us.