Where your treasure is, your be
We read in 1 Nephi 2:6, an interesting sidenote, detail that Nephi includes in his account just after returning from Jerusalem unto the tent of their father Lehi, bringing with him his brothers and the house of Ishmael.
Then Nephi recounts a dream Lehi's was given, directly quoting his father in the 1st person, including many details and symbols. There is another reference to fruit. I think this is intriguing.
What does gathering all manner of seeds of grains and seeds of fruits of every kind, have to do with Lehi's vision? Maybe it is just a random thought Nephi is including to remind us to have a physical seed bank and provisions for a future sowing in a promised land that God will someday give His people. Maybe it is so they can have delicious fruit trees and grains to make bread, toast and cakes so to fill their bellies?
Perhaps there is a duality in Nephi's language (knowledge and wisdom) and if so, what could be the meaning of the wisdom aspect?
Going back to the beginning setting in Jerusalem, here is what the Lord told Lehi concerning his family;
"...commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness. And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord; wherefore, he did as the Lord commanded him."
"And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and he departed into the wilderness." (1 Nephi 1:6-7)
Here is where I hope to paint a picture of their humanity. Imagine for a moment if you will, that you are in Lehi's shoes. Lehi and Sariah are the Father and Mother type to a certain group called his people. God has called them to minister to this group who are given opportunity to hear and hearken. These are not overnight quick events but probably spanned out through years of deep contemplation, testing and trials. Lehi was called of God and qualified of God.
So lets imagine we are Lehi and Sariah. You have been 'awakened' of sorts to your awful situation. You have heard the voice of the Lord through his prophets, so you are repenting and not only that... you are going forward in faith, attempting to teach others the truth of a coming Messiah, prophesying and preaching by the Spirit of Truth and now the people seek your blood. If that wasn't difficult enough, in order to honour God so more will be given you need to act on the personal revelation you have already been given. You will need to leave your home, your city and all the family associations your children have known. Where will you go? All you know at this point are the essential first steps. I doubt Lehi knew the whole picture of how their journey would look nor that God would take them through many waters. It is step by step, here a little and there a little, else it would be overwhelming.
What provisions and valuables would you take? How much supply should you prepare for or even need? How long is the journey? How much wealth will you need to possibly trade with others along your path, to replenish ongoing family needs?
Would everything you need for the whole "family" fit on the multi camel transportation; including the tents, food, water, clothing? What is the new climate like? What would you need to take to prepare for the ongoing or unexpected medical and health needs of your companions? How will you even get supplies if you run out or if one member is unexpectedly injured? What will you bring for the education of your children? What family heirlooms or mementos could you take if you only had 1 bag each in order to travel light?
How can you have foresight in preparation if you don't know the specific details of where you are going or how long it will take or what you should do, where you will live with your family once you arrive at this place?
Lets also consider the emotional challenge of leaving extended family and friends in the community. Grandparents, cousins, uncles, friends...people you worshiped with and have a connection to. You would have to settle all your accounts with people, and they would ask questions. How would you answer them?
It would have been hard for others to understand the actions Lehi was taking and he probably could only tell them but little information. Perhaps people would have been hurt or offended at his lack of forthrightness. He was probably misjudged in his intent. Also consider the people Lehi was possibly teaching who believed in his words (his people) and came under Lehi's family "tent" of covenant...how would you prepare for their needs too if they also wanted to come out of Jerusalem and abide with you?
There are too many situations and physical items to list, but you get my idea... it is overwhelming! There are many moments during the day you might even question your sanity or if you were deceived. You search your heart and cry out, pleading for the Lord to correct your understanding before it is too late. Then softly there comes a return to reason, light and truth, recollecting in a flash, all the brokenness and touchpoints through the veil and manifestations, evidences that God is with you...that brought you to this moment.
Such a command from the Lord most likely would have come during a time of profound struggle, personal failing or tragedy and as a result of seeking the Lord for comfort, guidance, healing and pleadings in behalf of his family and people. Faith always begins small and simple and aligns with scripture. Then as it takes root and begins to expand in the heart and more is required of a person, direction will come with the highest degree of intelligence and evidence coming through the words of God, sometimes only 1 step at a time. This a prophetic relationship.
I imagine after severe trials, there was much hope for a new life and the expectancy of Gods blessing upon them which must have filled this family of God with excitement as they began their preparations.
I doubt they left overnight. It may have taken several weeks or several months to prepare and look over each item and ponder if it was needed and purchase items they thought they would need. How Sariah must have shed tears over her babies keepsakes in deciding which ones to take and what to leave behind. Holding each precious object, recollecting smells and the dreams of a young woman becoming a mother and her future hope for each one's life path. I suppose she would have engraved those keepsakes into her memory, because a mother never forgets.
I see Lehi going through his tools, the camping gear, using foresight and his travelling/merchant experience to prepare for the comfort, safety and wellbeing of his family. He too, imaging up scenarios where items may be needed. What future ponderings they must have contemplated! Leaving for a new land of promise, finally a place to set down roots and worship God and raise their children in righteousness. A place of belonging and safety. They probably gave away most of their possessions, sold some and left behind the rest. The time had come... at last!
I am going to throw this idea into the mix and propose that Gods purposes are not necessarily only about physical valuables and possessions at all. As mortals we go straight to the temporal, which IS needleful and necessary, but what if that is the least of the Lords concerns because He knows exactly what we stand in need of for our bodies, and what He cares more about is our hearts and our intent and willingness to set aside everything we want and our false traditions and just be Fathered by Him? What if the Lord wholly intends to show forth miracles of provision and protection as we prepare what we can on our end and go forward in faith not knowing the outcome but trusting Him one day at a time?
It feels like there may have been an initial innocence and naivety over this family. Not in the direction coming from the Lord, but in their own expectations of Gods work and how things were going to play out.
I imagine that after initially setting off into the wilderness, after a "few days" they may have even wondered what the hell they were doing and questioned their intent and hearts. I believe Sariah worried greatly for her children's emotional health, would they survive this, would she have to bury some?
Perhaps it was like a waking dream to them, was all this really happening? I think Sariah and Lehi would have had unspoken words between them, because there are things that cant be said in words that can only be conveyed in glance of mutual knowing. I know they would have held each other at night and cried and prayed for forgiveness, interceded and cried some more. During the day finding things to distract their sadness and occupy their children, all these activities mingled with hope...and sadness...but great hope and expectancy.
I highly doubt that Sariah or Lehi anticipated that it would evolve into an eight year journey in the wilderness. They might not have had the courage to leave so soon had they known this. Nor do I believe that they brought enough temporal supplies for eight years, that would have been so daunting a task to consider!
How soon the clothing they brought would have turned to rags. How quick did they eat up all their food and use up their supplies? What about hygiene and birthing? How many wild desert beasts and robbers came down to contend against them? It wouldn't surprise me if they contemplated that they might indeed die alone out there. Their view of Gods plan playing out just as they supposed and had prepared for, was basically shattered with the realization that God is in control not man and His work always is the unexpected. Most times it takes longer than we foresee, due to the amount of dross inside and His careful cleaning us up.
So things happen, a few very important diversions are made and at some point...Nephi randomly mentions all those seeds they brought as I discussed earlier. So now after setting the scene, here comes my understanding according to my own lenses and path. Take it for what its worth.
The provisions and seeds I believe Nephi is referencing (after he views them from the vantage point of years of contemplation on events that took place) are the seeds of their belief, truths and hope. It was their level of understanding of themselves at that point in time and their interpretation or lenses of the word of God in scripture and visions. Seeds are how they lived these teachings in their daily lives, how they thought everything would play out, their world view, their values and customs.
The eight year wilderness journey was the soil of tribulation and refinement they needed to plant those seeds and experiment upon them. Initially they went forward probably in zeal doing things according to their beliefs and ways, only to fail, go through sufferings and repent and petition God for his patience and grace. As we read, there were cycles of repentance while they learned to endure it well.
The more they trusted and were faithful to the Lord, He did indeed show them a better way and guide them. When you have nothing left, no rights, no land, no home and no way to support your family, and feeble efforts fall short, He will show us how to endure it well if we learn to rely on His mercy despite the unknown future. Let us rely on His pure word and we can learn trust Him!
There were no doubt complaints against God for the hardships, for bringing them out of their land to die of sufferings, as strangers in a unknown and sometimes harsh wilderness. When everything was stripped from them, and they had no more strength in their own arms, the family grew to realize that it is in the quiet endurance, and gratitude for the blessing of provision that come each day, which truly reveals the hand of God. The wilderness begins to blossom as a rose and the dry places, begin to flow with waters and beauty begins to be seen past, present and everywhere as well as gifts and miracles. This type of wilderness journey is underway right now. We can be feeding on Manna if we have the eyes to see it.
As God reordered Lehi's family by bringing in Zoram and the house of Ishmael, they had further seeds and their own new provisions brought in among them, ideas and understandings that they had to plant and tend to see if they would grow and what type of plant it would become. Each time a new family or person is added the soil is tilled again.
I notice how the material possessions in the narrative begin to slip away in significance and are hardly mentioned and they start to reap provision and blessings along their walk. It doesn't mean they didn't suffer. Suffering, afflictions and trials are life's lessons needed for refinement and show Gods favor on a person/group. But they begin to have a sure hope that God would bring them out of those depths again and they start to see patterns. They probably see signs in nature too. Their faith and endurance is strengthened and they begin to murmur less.
At some point more is required of them and from the initial seeds of faith and hope, we move onto grains, many different kind of grains. Different varieties of grains grow in each season, and so we must turn, turn, turn, turn and refresh ourselves often to obtain the knowledge that will be given in each 'season' and then we must walk in it and proven before we cycle back around to another season of tuition and instruction.
Notice how in the Word of Wisdom also mentions certain herbs and grains at certain spiritual developmental stages in becoming a "man and woman" that can stand on her own two feet. Notice how in the stories of the Creation and Noah and in other scriptures, there are symbolic references to the creative periods, "creatures or animals" and certain foods for these creatures in their varying seasons? All very interesting if you want to take the time to study a matter.
Take a look also in Teachings and Commandments, 26:11 it mentions in order to have faith to be 'healed' a person needs to be "nourished in all tenderness with herbs and mild food, and that, not of the world."
This is also in connection with the many seeds of faith Nephi is talking about, and how the correct ones that grew provided them spiritual healing, so they could go onto grains, or the more weighty matters of the gospel, doctrine, gifts of the spirit, etc and further their refinement.
The fruits of the seeds of grains and seeds of fruit reaching into maturity are evidenced by when the Lord requires a task of Nephi, though he has no prior skills, equipment, tools, preparations or knowledge of how to accomplish the task, he is mature in his faith so that he can ask a thing like "how shall I build a ship? Where should I go to find resources to make tools?" and God gives him 5 minutes in heaven so that Nephi knows all things about the subject and so he can go forward and "work timbers of curious workmanship..."
I think this could play out in a modern day setting too. Gods ways are always better and higher than mans ways. And He is the same yesterday, today and forever, He is no respecter of persons and if we bring forth the same works, the same faith, the same diligence that Lehi and his people showed...God will work the same with us, today. Perhaps we have already begun our journey, maybe this type is already underway among us? Maybe the Promised Land is just on the horizon if we can get our hearts right.
Nephi and his people were able to accomplish the things the Lord had required of them because they had been nourished by the tender herbs, mild food and now are able to taste the various fruits. Although some among them are not as faithful or obedient and continue to struggle in their own walk, the whole community in general is blessed by those who are "becoming the salt that preserves" because they kneel to serve and evidence priesthood.
"only by , by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned, by and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul; without hypocrisy and without guile; reproving betimes with sharpness when moved upon by the holy ghost, and then showing forth afterward an increase of love toward him whom you have reproved (lest he esteem you to be his enemy), that he may know that your faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death; your bowels also being full of charity toward all men, and to the household of faith; and virtue garnish your thoughts unceasingly." (T&C 139:6)
Now lets read these next verses with the lenses that not only are these actual physical things, but they are the weightier matters written in spiritual types. Each reference has a significant meaning.
"And it came to pass that on the morrow, after we had prepared all things, much fruits and meat from the wilderness, and honey in abundance, and provisions, according to that which the Lord had commanded us, we did go down into the ship with all our loading, and our seeds, and whatsoever things we had brought with us, every one according to his age. Wherefore, we did all go down into the ship with our wives and our children. And now my father had begat two sons in the wilderness; the elder was called Jacob, and the younger, Joseph.
After more tribulations and refinement and many months upon the waters, this little family eventually reach land and Nephi recounts:
"And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance."
After their long and arduous 9+ year refinement in the wilderness and waters, after their sorting through of seeds that were good and true and seeds of unbelief, they were, for the most part able to learn valuable lessons that enabled them to immediately sow good seeds (the truths of the gospel in every aspect) into the soil of the Promised Land.
Through their mighty faith, and accompanying works, their understanding of Gods many mighty miracles grew in their own lives. They understood more mysteries, grew exceedingly in their faith which became form and strong and the community was blessed in abundance by knowledge and wisdom for a time.
So it is not just preparations akin to Bear Grylls survival and diplomas, trades and certifications that are key for Zion. Skills are good of course, but there are so many among us that are weak, poor, afflicted and sick. At this point many wont physically be able to make such a journey unless of course, there is a higher understanding in these scriptures and they are indeed repeating right now.
Learning is awesome and every skill and talent contributed to the community and laid on the alter is welcomed and it does not matter if there are multiple of the same skill!
I know it is within our hearts, correcting our understanding, keeping pure the Doctrine and Ordinances. Uncovering hidden things and being added upon in Light and Truth. It is how we take that knowledge and kneel to serve and take care of the Lords' 'creatures' or in other words, those who have not learned to become 'man' and stand on their own two feet but their hearts are right and willing to learn. It is about Fathering. It is how we walk with each other... that is the true labor and preparation.
Perhaps this is the meaning of the seeds that Nephi is talking about. Maybe this is the role of a Husbandman in keeping and tending the garden which will nourish the animals and man alike, which faith and works develop into the full ears of grains, which provides a sufficient foundation of knowledge enabling us to pluck of The Fruit from Her Tree of Life.
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