Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, LDS Doctrine, Symbolism

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 3 -The Vision of the Tree of Life

1 Nephi 8:1-4 The dark and dreary wilderness Life without God?
1 Nephi 8:5–6 A man in a white robe who invites Lehi to follow him Jesus, the Holy Ghost?
1 Nephi 8:7–8 The dark and dreary waste  
1 Nephi 8:9 The great and spacious field The world. See 1 Nephi 8:20
1Nephi 8:10 The tree Eternal life. The love of God. See 1 Nephi 11:20
1 Nephi 8:11-12 The fruit of the tree The blessings of the atonement See 1 Nephi 15:36

David A. Bednar:The fruit on the tree is a symbol for the blessings of the Atonement.  Partaking of the fruit of the tree represents the receiving of ordinances and covenants whereby the Atonement can become fully efficacious in our lives.  The fruit is described as “desirable to make one happy” (1 Ne 8:10) and produces great joy and the desire to share that joy with others. (Ensign, Oct. 2011, 34)

The fruit of the tree of life is described in the scriptures with 8 different phrases.

8:11 Sweet above all,

8:11 White to exceed all whiteness,

8:12 Desirable above all other fruit,

11:8 Exceeding of all beauty;

11:9 Precious above all,

11:23 Most joyous to the soul,

Alma 32:42 Pure above all that is pure,

1 Nephi 15:36 Greatest of all the gifts of God.

 

Notice what all the phrases have in common – they are all superlatives. They refer to something that is better than anything else.

1 Nephi 8:13 The river of water Depths of hell. See 1 Nephi 12:16

Filthiness.

1 Nephi 8:15–16 The family partaking of the fruit  
1 Nephi 8:17–18 Laman and Lemuel refusing to partake of the fruit  
1 Nephi 8:19 The rod of iron The word of God. See 1 Nephi 15:23-24

Ezra Taft Benson:”We must engage in activities that bring spiritual power. I speak of such activities as immersing ourselves in the scriptures. There is a power that flows into our lives when we read and study the scriptures on a daily basis that cannot be found in any other way.” (1987-1988 BYU Devotional and Fireside Speeches, pp. 53-54, as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.31)

1 Nephi 8:20 The strait and narrow path The way to eternal life. See 2 Nephi 31:18-19

Neal A. Maxwell:”The strait and narrow path, though clearly marked, is a path, not a freeway nor an escalator. Indeed, there are times when the only way the strait and narrow path can be followed is on one’s knees! And we are to help each other along the path.” (Ensign, May 1982, p.38 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.32)

1 Nephi 8:21–22 Numberless concourses of people pressing forward “Lehi beheld ‘numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which [he] stood.’  It is just so today.  Multitudes of the earth’s inhabitants respond regularly to the Light of Christ and seek to know more of the will of him whose they are.  They seek to get on that path which leads directly to peace here and eternal life hereafter.  But navigating the strait and narrow path takes care and caution.  One’s eyes must ever be fixed upon the Lord and his glory, and thus the traveler must be willing to forsake the extraneous and the unnecessary things which the world offers so readily.

“The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in 1839 that ‘there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it’ (D&C 123:12).  In some cases, even those who find the truth are not able to forsake the world and its trappings and thus travel unencumbered down the narrow gospel passageway.  Indeed, it is not difficult to live the principles of the gospel and thus to hold to the iron rod, except where one also attempts to maintain a concurrent grasp on the world.” (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 59)

1 Nephi 8:23 The great mist of darkness that causes some to lose their way Temptations of the devil. See 1 Nephi 12:17

Jeffrey R. Holland: Our times are turbulent and difficult.  We see wars internationally and distress domestically.  Neighbors all around us face personal heartaches and family sorrows.  Legions know fear and troubles of a hundred kinds.  This reminds us that when those mists of darkness enveloped the travelers in Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, it enveloped all of the participants-the righteous as well as the unrighteous, the young along with the elderly, the new convert and seasoned member alike.  In that allegory all face opposition and travail, and only the rod of iron-the declared word of God-can bring them safely through.  We all need that rod.  We all need that word.  No one is safe without it, for in its absence any can “[fall] away into forbidden paths and [be] lost,” as the record says. (“Prophets in the Land Again,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 105)

1 Nephi 8:24–25 Those who reach the tree but are ashamed after they partake  
1 Nephi 8:26–27 The great and spacious building, people mocking, Pride of the world. See 1 Nephi 11:36

Harold B. Lee: “Unfortunately, some are among us who claim to be Church members but are somewhat like the scoffers in Lehi’s vision-standing aloof and seemingly inclined to hold in derision the faithful who choose to accept Church authorities as God’s special witnesses of the gospel and his agents in directing the affairs of the Church.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 91 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.34)

1 Nephi 8:28 People falling away into forbidden paths Neal A. Maxwell: “A few members of the Church, alas, desert the cause; they are like one who abandons an oasis to search for water in the desert. Some of these few will doubtless become critics, and they will be welcomed into the ‘great and spacious building.’ Henceforth, however, so far as their theological accommodations are concerned, they are in a spacious but third-rate hotel. All dressed up, as the Book of Mormon says, ‘exceedingly fine’ (1 Ne 8:27), they have no place to go except-one day, hopefully, home.” (First Nephi, The Doctrinal Foundation, BYU Religious Studies Center, p. 11 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.34)
1 Nephi 8:29–30 Those who “came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree”  
1 Nephi 8:31–33 Multitudes trying to reach the building, those who are “drowned in the depths of the fountain,” those who are “lost from his view, wandering in strange roads”  

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