Instruction, Symbolism, and a Warning (Part One) – 1 Nephi 20:20-22

You can read 1 Nephi 20:20-22 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is quoting Isaiah. See Isaiah 48.
  • The Lord is speaking to the house of Israel through Isaiah.
  • The children of Israel, God’s covenant children, are exhorted to go forth out of Babylon and to flee from the Chaldeans.
  • Instead of embracing Babylon and the Chaldeans, the house of Israel should sing out and praise God to the ends of the earth, saying that the Lord had redeemed them.
  • They should testify of the experiences their forefathers had in the wilderness as they fled Egypt.
  • They should also remember that the Lord has done even greater things.
  • Finally, the Lord gives a warning: there is no peace unto the wicked.

Instruction, Symbolism, and A Warning

In this post and the next, we will be wrapping up 1 Nephi 20. I think it will be fun and interesting. There are three main concepts that I want to explore: Instruction, Symbolism, and Warning.

One – Instruction from God

First, we read a command that the Lord gave to Israel. They need to flee from Babylon and from the Chaldeans. In other words, the Lord wants them to flee from wickedness and captivity. Instead, the people should “with a voice of singing” testify of the power of God. They are supposed to testify that God delivered them safely from Egypt and through the desert.

I find it interesting that the Lord tells them these two things in connection with one another. Instead of embracing wickedness, they need to bear testimony of God. Why is that???

Well, first of all, bearing testimony of God helps to spread the gospel to others. If we love God, if we love our brothers and sisters, then a natural consequence of this love would be to share it. Remember Lehi, when he partook of the fruit of the tree of life:

“And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.” – 1 Nephi 8:13

When we partake of God’s love, we are filled with His love. This is joyous. Naturally, we then look around because we want to share this joy and love with the people that we love!

So – when we “go forth” from Babylon (worldliness) and flee from the Chaldeans (slavery) – we should not leave a vacuum in our spirits or hearts. It isn’t enough to simply “go forth” or “flee.” Instead, we are filling that part of our heart with the Love of God. And as we do so, we will bear testimony, probably “with a voice of singing,” too.

I also find this commandment – to go forth with a voice of singing, declaring that the Lord had redeemed Jacob – interesting because, in my opinion, it is the secret to going forth out of Babylon and fleeing the Chaldeans.

In order to bear testimony of Christ, we must remember Him. We must turn our thoughts to Him. We must fill up our spirits, minds, and hearts, with Him! This is the way to successfully root out the worldliness and captivity that might be filling up our soul. We fill it up with our testimony of Him!

Two – Symbolism

As mentioned earlier, the covenant children of Israel had been commanded to tell the ends of the earth that the Lord had redeemed Jacob. The declaration that covenant Israel should give continues:

“And they thirsted not; he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also and the waters gushed out.” – 1 Nephi 20:21

Can I interrupt right now to say I love this.

This is the reminder that the Lord is giving to Israel through Isaiah. That He redeemed Jacob. He rescued them from bondage in Egypt. He led them through deserts, but they didn’t thirst. He caused the waters to flow out of the rock. He clave the rock, and the waters gushed out. They lived in the desert and later inherited a promised land because of the Lord their God.

Moses Smites Rock
Moses Smites Rock, Jacob Jordaens

First of all, this is a good thing for Israel to remember. Their forefathers were truly in bondage and then made some major sacrifices for their children to have the gospel and freedom.

It is also good for the children of Israel to remember that God delivered them. Again, remembering this will fill their hearts with charity and godly love, making it easier and more probable that they will go forth from Babylon and flee the Chaldeans.

The Lord really did redeem Jacob.

It also will help to galvanize their own faith when they go through hardship. It is good for us to follow this example. It is good for us to think about the ways that the Lord has worked in our lives and in the lives of our own ancestors. This will galvanize our faith as we experience our own trials. Remembering the Lord will also help us to flee from wickedness and captivity.

This scripture also gives us an amazing type of Christ. Think of the elements of this scripture:

  • They thirsted not (living water)
  • the rock

Both “water” and “the rock” might be familiar symbols of Christ. I love the imagery in this. Not only do we see these symbols of Christ here, but we see something that actually happens. We read that he clave the rock also and the waters gushed out.

The water that would save the lives of the Israelites in the desert wasn’t available to them until Moses smote the rock – splitting it. After smiting the rock, then the waters gushed out and saved the children of Israel in the wilderness.

Likewise, Christ, the rock, could not save us with His living waters without being smitten. He had to suffer in Gethsemane and then die on the cross in order for His living waters to “gush out”—saving us in our own mortal wildernesses. If He had lived His life without going through this ordeal, then He would have been like the rock – full of potential but inert. Being smitten is what released His true powerful potential.

Okay…this might seem weird, but reading things like this makes me just giddy. I love finding these little gems in the scriptures that help us to understand the Savior, His Sacrifice, and His role in our lives.

I have to wrap this up for today, but we will continue next time with the last part – a warning.


3 thoughts on “Instruction, Symbolism, and a Warning (Part One) – 1 Nephi 20:20-22

  1. Oh my gosh! Your last two paragraphs gave me goosebumps! The symbolism of it touches me deeply.

    I’m really enjoying your explaining of Isaiah. Your thoughts give me pause and help me understand better.

  2. Pingback: Instruction, Symbolism, and a Warning (Part Two) – 1 Nephi 20:20-22 – That Good Part

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