1 Nephi 12:4-5 — LeGrand Baker — “vapor of darkness”

1 Nephi 12:4-5 

4 And it came to pass that I saw a mist of darkness on the face of the land of promise; and I saw lightnings, and I heard thunderings, and earthquakes, and all manner of tumultuous noises; and I saw the earth and the rocks, that they rent; and I saw mountains tumbling into pieces; and I saw the plains of the earth, that they were broken up; and I saw many cities that they were sunk; and I saw many that they were burned with fire; and I saw many that did tumble to the earth, because of the quaking thereof.
5 And it came to pass after I saw these things, I saw the vapor of darkness, that it passed from off the face of the earth; and behold, I saw multitudes who had not fallen because of the great and terrible judgments of the Lord.

The mist of darkness Lehi described in chapter 8 symbolized the difficulty through which one must walk in this life in order to reach the tree of life. However, the one Nephi describes here is the real physical darkness that enveloped the Nephites just prior to the Savior’s coming to visit them. That prophecy was literally fulfilled. He also mentions “great and terrible judgments” associated with this “vapor of darkness.” Those judgements are physical, but there is no suggestion that they are temporary. Peter uses the same imagery to describe the final situation of the people who have fought against the purposes of God in this life, and describes them as unreal as the pride that sustains them: “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever” (2 Peter 2:17).

When one reads the catalogue of indictments against those who died in the catastrophe that occurred while their world was black ( 3 Nephi 9), it becomes apparent that the vapor of darkness that obscured the immediate intensity of their destruction may well be thought of as symbolic of the darkness of the place that awaited their spirits after they died and left this world, when the darkness may be only their individual and collective refusal to see the light.

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