1 Nephi 8:3-4, 36-38 — LeGrand Baker — Context of Lehi’s Vision

1 Nephi 8:3-4, 36-38 

The striking thing about the way Nephi describes his father’s vision is that it is bracketed between two almost identical statements:

3 And behold, because of the thing which I have seen, I have reason to rejoice in the Lord because of Nephi and also of Sam; for I have reason to suppose that they, and also many of their seed, will be saved.
4 But behold, Laman and Lemuel, I fear exceedingly because of you; for behold, methought I saw in my dream, a dark and dreary wilderness.
….
36 And it came to pass after my father had spoken all the words of his dream or vision, which were many, he said unto us, because of these things which he saw in a vision, he exceedingly feared for Laman and Lemuel; yea, he feared lest they should be cast off from the presence of the Lord.
37 And he did exhort them then with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words, that perhaps the Lord would be merciful to them, and not cast them off; yea, my father did preach unto them.
38 And after he had preached unto them, and also prophesied unto them of many things, he bade them to keep the commandments of the Lord; and he did cease speaking unto them.

Since Lehi’s telling about his vision was an attempt to teach his wayward sons, it would be profitable for us to examine the vision in that light.

The account of the vision is divided into three parts. The first is Lehi’s personal struggle to get to the tree of life.{1} The second is his desire to have his family join him there. The third is a kind of cosmic overview of human experience and of the consequences of right and wrong choices.

Judging from Nephi’s words, Lehi was relating his vision to what was happening just then in the lives of Laman and Lemuel. He saw them struggling in their own dark and dreary wilderness, and was saying to them. “I understand. I have been there. There are as many roads that wind through that wilderness as there are options that confront us. Let me tell you where they go.” He gives an overview of what he sees, but he is primarily focused on two groups of people who get to the tree life. One group stays, the other turns and walks away. Lehi warns Laman and Lemuel not to be among those who turn away.
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FOOTNOTE

{1} See: 1 Nephi 8:10-12, Lehi’s description of the tree, the water, and the fruit.

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