1 Nephi 8:24-28 — LeGrand Baker — The Great and Spacious Building.

1 Nephi 8:24-28  

24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.
25 And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.
26. And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.
27 And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.
28 And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.

Later, the angel explained to Nephi,

18 And the large and spacious building, which thy father saw, is vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men. And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even 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, from the beginning of the world until this time, and from this time henceforth and forever (1 Nephi 12:18).

The question might be asked: After tasting the fruit of the tree of life, why would people turn away and take the path that they had earlier chosen not to take? There are as many answers as there are individual choices, but they all fall under two great umbrellas. One is the nature of the persons who choose to leave the tree, and the other is the nature of the persons in the building to whom the drifters look for guidance.

There is an ancient, and very insightful, document that purports to be a description of what happened in the Garden of Eden. It describes this world as a place of “great distractions and pains in life, so that their men should be preoccupied with life, and not have time to attend on the Holy Spirit.”{1}

That is the first umbrella under which so many of the answers can be found: People let themselves get so busy attending to the perceived traumas and advantages of this world that they do “not have time to attend on the Holy Spirit.” Some who are at the tree recognize the weight of this message as it comes from the people in the building, and they become ashamed that they are not spending their time, energy—and their lives—being successful enough that they can also get in the building and wear the beautiful clothes. They do not have enough time to continue to enjoy the fruit of the tree and also achieve the goals that are requisite to becoming a part of the society that the building houses. “They were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.”

The second is the description of the attitudes—but more especially of the clothing—of the people in the building. Again we find that the key may be in the story of Adam and Eve. As we observed above, when God asked, “Who told you, you are naked,” he was not seeking information, he was asking them to consider the source of their nakedness and of the instruction to clothe themselves as they were then dressed.

As there are two paths on which to walk, so there are two ways to dress. One is in the pattern of the garment God gave to Adam and Eve as a temporary representation of their garment of light. The other is in the pattern of worldly prominence—which, like the fig leaf, will eventually dry up and turn to dust. Those folks who are in the building, who are dressed so well in their own sorts of clothes, have accepted the proposition that one ought to be preoccupied with the things of this world, and are laughing because they think the folks at the tree have missed the point and do not know how to find success in this world.


{1} The Hypostasis of the Archons, The Coptic Text with Translation and Commentary by Roger Aubrey Bullard (Berlin, Walter De Gruyter & Co., 1970), 28-29.


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