1 Nephi 15:16-18 — LeGrand Baker — The Abrahamic Covenant of Posterity

1 Nephi 15:16-18  

16 Behold, I say unto you, Yea; they shall be remembered again among the house of Israel; they shall be grafted in, being a natural branch of the olive-tree, into the true olive-tree.
17 And this is what our father meaneth; and he meaneth that it will not come to pass until after they are scattered by the Gentiles; and he meaneth that it shall come by way of the Gentiles, that the Lord may show his power unto the Gentiles, for the very cause that he shall be rejected of the Jews, or of the house of Israel.
18 Wherefore, our father hath not spoken of our seed alone, but also of all the house of Israel, pointing to the covenant which should be fulfilled in the latter days; which covenant the Lord made to our father Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

Nephi’s response came from the very core of Israelite theology. It focused on the meaning of the Abrahamic covenant as it extended to themselves. The covenant is the promise of land as an inheritance, of family, priesthood, invulnerability, and ultimately of eternal life (Abraham 2:6-12).{1} Lehi’s sons were aware of how important it was to have a self-perpetuating family. In their Feast of Tabernacles temple drama, they had sung,

1 Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.
2 His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed (Psalm 112:1-2).

Nephi explained to them that the Olive tree was a representation of the fulfilment of the Lord’s promise of family—both in time and in eternity. Nephi’s explanation to them was more complete than he gives us, for he writes,

19 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, spake much unto them concerning these things; yea, I spake unto them concerning the restoration of the Jews in the latter days.
20 And I did rehearse unto them the words of Isaiah, who spake concerning the restoration of the Jews, or of the house of Israel; and after they were restored they should no more be confounded, neither should they be scattered again. And it came to pass that I did speak many words unto my brethren, that they were pacified and did humble themselves before the Lord (1 Nephi 15:19-20).

It is significant that Nephi’s explanation of his father’s words should begin with the subject that was most meaningful to his brothers, the Lord’s promise to them of their family heritage. A related issue, the question of who should have the family birthright, was eventually what caused a split among Lehi’s sons and caused Nephi and those who followed him to flee from those same brothers and their original home in the new world. But for the present, the brothers wanted to pursue the questions of their father’s vision.



{1} For a discussion of the Abrahamic covenant see Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, First edition, p. 359-64; Second edition, p. 258-62.


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