You can read 1 Nephi 1:8-15 here.
Context and General Information
- Lehi is carried away in a vision. In this vision, he saw:
- The Heavens open and God sitting on his throne surrounded by the hosts of heaven.
- One descending out of Heaven whose brightness was as the noon-day sun.
- 12 others following the One who were as bright as the stars.
- In the dream, Lehi was given a book and was bidden to read it.
- Lehi read the book. It filled him with the spirit of God.
- After reading the book, Lehi praised God and rejoiced.
Lehi’s Visionary Experience
Earlier in 1 Nephi 1, Nephi records his father’s experience praying for the people. He saw a pillar of fire, trembled and quaked, then went home to rest.
I have to admit that as I study today, I’m not all that sure what I need to find. However, I feel that if I start digging a bit, I’ll be sure to have some kind of experience that will help me and hopefully help you, too. So – we will just look at the elements of this dream to see what we can learn from it. Admittedly, I’m not a professional. I’m not a scholar. I’m not a scriptorian. I’m sure that you can find many websites or resources that will help you in a more scholarly endeavor.
One – Overcome with the Spirit
The first thing to note, I suppose, is that Lehi was “overcome with the Spirit.” This is a very sacred spiritual experience. And this came from a spiritual openness, and maybe even searching. As Paul taught:
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14
Lehi had to be spiritually attuned in order to have this spiritual experience.
Two – Lehi Saw the Heavens Open Where He saw God on His Throne
That’s all I can say. I don’t seek a prophetic calling or responsibility, of course. But I share in Alma’s desire:
“Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.” – Alma 36:22
I believe that our God is loving. That where He abides is home. I believe that God’s nature is a nature of happiness. Yes. this is where I long to be.
We have another experience where someone saw the heavens part. This is one of my favorite stories:
“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” – Acts 7:55-56
Now, the “he” in this scripture is St. Stephen – who was martyred, which is not something I am really interested in having happen to me. But we learn from him, and I’m grateful for his example and experience.
I love the phrase, he being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven… As I read this, I realize that Stephen wasn’t “looking up steadfastly into heaven” only in that moment, but that his gaze had been fixed on the Lord for some time. He was a true disciple. He lived worthy of the Spirit and kept his gaze on the Lord – just as the Savior taught:
“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” – Matthew 6:22
Note – that “if therefore thine eye be single” is in reference to laying up our treasures in heaven. So our eye needs to be single to heaven or to God.
Surrounded by Angels Singing and Praising God
I have been really fortunate to sing in various choirs. I’m not all that great of a singer, but I really like singing in choirs because I love music – especially the kind of music that praises God.
And yes, I would like to be in that choir.
I suppose it is because I have felt God’s love. I feel it all around me.
Recently, I have felt God’s love most poignantly through friends who have charitable hearts and follow the Spirit. Even when our faith is being tested, I have found that God will send us angels – for me – in the form of friends.
And what does God have to do with it you may wonder…
Well, simple. Last night, I was having a pretty tough day. Everything is okay by the way…it was just one of those days…We all have them – you know – the kind that has you wondering: Heavenly Father, are you really there?…And do you hear and answer every child’s prayer?
And then, I get a random text from a friend that I adore. I don’t text her all the time. Things come and go. I hadn’t talked to her in a while. But she texted and knew just what to say at just the right time.
I told her so.
She divulged: I felt like I should text you, so I did.
A reminder that Heavenly Father is intimately involved in the details of our lives, and that often we are each others’ angels.
So – yeah – I want to be in that cool choir that is praising God.
Lehi Sees “One” Descending out of the Midst of Heaven, followed by 12 Others
This “One” descending Heaven is brighter than the mid-day sun. He is the Savior and member of the Godhead.
Interesting – descending. It is always in that motion that we receive anything from God. He truly descends to our level when dealing with us. This is probably good to remember – on both the micro (personal) and macro (general – like church and world-wide) levels.
Lehi Gets a Book and Reads It
I don’t really know what to make of this when I sit and really think about it. I have just generally accepted this detail as a part of Lehi’s vision.
There is an interesting blog here that shows the various other prophets that had a vision where they read or even “ate” a book (John the Beloved and Ezekiel, for example). In any case, this blog suggests that Lehi’s reading of the book was essentially his “call” to be a prophet. We don’t know all of the details of what was written in that book, so who knows. This may be a good guess.
As Lehi read this book, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.
As I think about it, what really strikes me is what Lehi does. What would you do if the Lord gave you a book and “bade” you read it.
Interestingly enough, we have been given a book and bidden to read it! The scriptures! Though the books we have may be obtained in a different way than Lehi’s book, they are given to us. They are from the Lord. And they will also fill us with His Spirit.
After Reading the Book, Lehi Pronounces Woes on Jerusalem
Here, Lehi reads in the book exactly what the many prophets in the land had been prophesying – that Jerusalem would be destroyed because of the wickedness of her inhabitants.
Also – it’s pretty interesting to consider that Lehi had been praying for the people of Jerusalem, with all of his heart, before all of these visions had begun.
After Great and Marvelous things, Lehi Rejoiced
This isn’t something that I’ve always paid attention to. Often, I notice the terrible part of what Lehi read – that Jerusalem would be destroyed. And then I skip over the following phrase:
“And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things,…” – 1 Nephi 1:14
I forget that there was a lot more that Lehi read and saw. Perhaps he saw the destruction of Jerusalem, which would be hard, but then other events – the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the coming of the Savior, maybe even his own posterity. Who knows…other than it was “great and marvelous.”
Lehi Rejoiced at what the Lord Showed Him
The gospel is “good news.” It fills us with joy, hope, rejoicing. Whatever Lehi saw and read left him with a full heart.
And compare that to Lehi’s earlier experience – when he was trembling and quaking…what a difference!
There is so much that we don’t know about Lehi’s vision. Nephi tell us all of the details. As he stated:
“And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams; and he also hath written many things which he prophesied and spake unto his children, of which I shall not make a full account.” – 1 Nephi 1:16
No, there isn’t a full account of what Lehi experienced, but we know what we need to know. This experience shaped all of the decisions that Lehi will make in the future. Because of this vision, Lehi risked his entire life to go and call the Jews to repentance. Because of this vision, Lehi left his land that he loved and the people for whom he had fervently prayed. Because of this vision, Lehi made choices that would test his faith and then eventually lead him to a promised land.
Though we don’t know every detail of Lehi’s experience, we know enough to know that Lehi was a true prophet of God.