Ready for Sunday School? Here’s a few thoughts from my book Finding Your Path in Lehi’s Dream which you might find interesting as you study 1 Nephi 8 – 15.
1 Nephi 8:4–6, 9
- We must go through the wilderness to get to the promised land.
- An angel leads Lehi through darkness, perhaps symbolic of the Fall.
- Prayer delivers us from darkness.
1 Nephi 8:10–12
- The fruit of the tree of life is better than anything else life can offer. There are other enjoyments in the world, but they are temporary. Nothing comes close to the lasting joy the Savior offers.
1 Nephi 8:13–14
- Lehi encountered the tree before noticing anything else. Not everyone encounters the elements of the dream in the same order, however.
- Sariah, Sam, and Nephi didn’t know where to go. Many are “kept from the truth only because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12–13).
1 Nephi 8:15–16
- Lehi and the Savior both used the phrase “Come unto me.”
1 Nephi 8:18–19
- Laman and Lemuel “would not come” when invited. It was a personal choice on their part. Agency can be painful for loved ones.
- Our first impulse after experiencing something wonderful is to share, which is perhaps the highest motive for missionary work (see Alma 36:24).
1 Nephi 8:19–21
- Lehi makes it clear that he has found where he wants to stay by mentioning the tree “by which I stood” three times.
- Lehi’s dream adds an interesting element to the biblical metaphor of the “strait and narrow path,” with the introduction of the rod of iron.
- The iron rod is a guide-rail which leads to the tree, and a guard-rail which protects us from falling into the river or the depths of hell.
- The path is strait (restricted and narrow) and also straight (undeviating).
- Mists of darkness were a nightmare symbol to ancient Arab poets.
- Lehi describes not just a mist in the darkness, but a mist of darkness.
- A thick darkness creates a sort of “blindness,” not only making it difficult to see, but isolating travelers from others on the path. The effect is loneliness, and the decision to continue or give up becomes an individual one.
- Before the mist of darkness arose, the rod of iron was an unused benefit—with the mist, it becomes the only way to make progress.
- The words commencing, clinging, and continuing may indicate different levels of utilizing the rod of iron. See this article by Elder David A. Bednar.
1 Nephi 8:25–26
- The building is “in the air.” Any structure which is “in the air” has no foundation and will eventually fall. In addition, Satan is called “the prince of the power of the air” (see footnote to Ephesians 2:2), because his influence is “in the very air around us.”
- Since the building is up high “in the air,” it is the only thing the mists of darkness allow us to see—Satan wants to hide everything else, especially the tree and the rod of iron; he wants us to see only the building and notice the mocking and scoffing.
- Satan often makes his appearance after great spiritual experiences.
1 Nephi 8:27–28
- Occupants of the building were adorned in costly apparel, implying a worship of wealth over the worship of God.
- While the mists of darkness made it difficult to see, there is nothing in the dream which impaired the travelers’ ability to hear. The nearer they came to the tree of life, the more mocking they heard from the great and spacious building.
1 Nephi 8:29–30
- Falling down to partake may indicate both exhaustion and worship.
- Christ is the tree, or the Love of God; evidence that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16).
- “Multitudes” partook, implying that multitudes will be saved.
1 Nephi 8:31–35
- The activity of choice for occupants of the building is to point and mock, although the building is “great and spacious,” implying there would be other things to do inside.
- What we “heed” is what separates those who remain at the tree and those who are affected by the lures of the building.
Seeing It All at Once
- All of us are in the dream.
- The entire dream is a grand illustration of Agency. Each chooses their own path.
- The Tree of Life vision is sometimes called “the Parable of the Paths.” Jesus’ parable of the sower, or the four kinds of soil (see Matthew 13:3–9; Mark 4:3–9; Luke 8:5–8), parallel exactly the four groups described in Lehi’s Dream.
- The tree of life is an eternal symbol, since we can’t find its beginning (it grew from a seed, which came from a tree, which grew from a seed, and on and on). The building is temporary and man-made, while the tree is something eternal which God grew.
- The tree can be “in us” while we live and work in the world.
- The fountain of living water and the fountain of filthy water illustrate “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11).
- The dream is a battle of feelings. Some feel joy at the tree, others feel their way towards the great and spacious building
(Adapted from John Bytheway, Finding Your Path in Lehi’s Dream,(Deseret Book, 2013), used by permission).
For a lengthier discussion get Finding Your Path in Lehi’s Dream
David H says
Another thing about the great and spacious building being in the air is that it allows it to move or change positions and perspectives. One day the world believes or values one thing, the next it’s something else, whether physical, political, spiritual, etc. It’s the same thing with the filthy water, rivers change course, flow faster at times and slower others. Everything that represents the world’s way of things is represented by something that can move or change easily, mists of darkness included. The iron rod and the tree of life represent the immovable. Like you said in one of your talks, “the tree has roots,” it’s not going anywhere. But also, it’s not coming to us, unlike the world who’s more than willing to bring their ideals to us, we need to make the conscious effort to use our agency to come to Christ.
Michael R. Loveridge, J.D. says
Susan Kendrick says
Thanks for this!! I just finished listening to your “Forward Pressing Forward” talk and this helps me even more! Maybe I will be able to contribute to today’s lesson…
Terri Bell says
Thank you, this brought a new image of Lehi’s dream. In my mind I have always seen the river then the path then the rid of iron, this morning I saw the rod between the path and the river. We have to consciously step over or under the rod in order to end up in the river of filth, it is a choice
Chris Kelley says
I love this analysis! Will there be more and where can I find them?