You can read 1 Nephi 13:1-19 here.
Context and General Information
- Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life and learning its interpretation.
- The Angel told Nephi to look.
- Nephi looked and he saw the many nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles.
- Nephi saw the formation of a great church.
- Corruption was rampant.
- Nephi saw that a man – of the Gentile nations – was “wrought” upon him by the Spirit, and he went forth on the ocean – to the promised land.
- Many of the Gentiles then came to the promised land. The seed of Nephi’s brethren were scattered and smitten by the Gentiles.
- The Gentiles prospered in the land.
- The Gentiles who had gone out of their mother countries humbled themselves. They battled against their mother countries, and they won. These poor settlers of the Americas (the promised land) were no longer captives of their “mother countries” (European countries).
The Power of the Lord Was with Them
This section of scripture is an interesting prophecy that Nephi receives – of what will happen in relatively modern times – the “discovery” of the Americas and then the migration of people from Europe (and other continents) to the American continents.
This is an interesting part of the vision that Nephi is having, and it is worth investigating, but that really isn’t my focus for today. There is no way for me to do a comprehensive study of the Book of Mormon here on this blog. Instead, I’m simply sharing insights and impressions that I feel as I study. So thanks for reading along with me.
So – here’s what I’m interested in today:
“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.” – 1 Nephi 13:16
So – back to the context for a minute, then I think we can learn more.
The Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity – the people who came to the Americas from Europe – did humble themselves before the Lord. After doing this, the power of the Lord was with them. How was this manifest? Well, let’s just think about it for a minute.
The scriptures then teach:
“And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.
18 And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.
19 And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.” – 1 Nephi 13:17-19
In case you didn’t already know, I’m an American. So, I can’t help but read this with the framework of being from the U.S. I can’t help but think of the Redcoats, the Patriots, and the Revolutionary War. I can’t help but think of a world-class navy that was defeated by a rag-tag but blessed group of men who wanted freedom from taxation and control by a faraway land. I can’t help but think of 1776, the Declaration of Independence, and then the following Revolutionary War.
I mean, I used to live in the Philadephia area. I used to live in Boston. I still have family in both cities. When I read these scriptures, I can’t help but think of the absolutely miraculous history of our country, and I can echo what was taught to Nephi – The gentiles who had come to the Americas humbled themselves before the Lord, and the power of the Lord was with them.
I believe that every country has a great history. I know that there are heroes, patriots, and even villains in every nation and in all of history. I don’t think that the history of the U.S. is more special than any other history. I know that the only reason that it is being shown to Nephi is because it will impact his future generations.
Humbled Before the Lord
So, we learn that the Gentiles humbled themselves before the Lord. What does this mean, exactly?
The first thing that comes to my mind is that they were prayerful. I can’t think of anything that shows more humility than true, honest, faithful, meaningful, intentional prayer. (I know – there were a lot of adjectives there!) But really, I mean it! I don’t want to be mistaken. I’m not talking about the things that we sometimes “say” and then call a prayer. I’m talking about true communion with God.
And I want to openly admit, right here, that I’m no where near as consistent as I’d like to be when it comes to communion with God through prayer. My prayers are not great right now. I say them, yes, but I know that I can improve on how I communicate with the Lord. I’m working on it.
Anyway – another thing that comes to mind is the following scripture:
“19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” – Mosiah 3:19
When we humble ourselves to the Lord, we will put off the natural man. When we humble ourselves, we become as a child (which, by the way WE ARE!) We are His children, and when we take the time to remember that, it becomes more natural to accept, love, and trust our Father in Heaven as a Father in Heaven!
The Power of the Lord
When we humble ourselves to the Lord, then we become open to having His power with us. (WE MUST BE HUMBLE!) Humility isn’t a hack. So you can’t “act” humble and then expect His power.
It’s interesting, too. I don’t know how to say it, so hopefully my train of thought will be easy enough to follow. I’ve had the following scripture on my mind for the past few days:
“Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—” – Doctrine and Covenants 45:3
In this scripture, we learn that the Savior is our advocate with the Father and that He is pleading our cause.
An advocate is someone who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. In this case, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, the Redeemer, the Creator is our Advocate. Which means that we are His cause. And He is publicly supporting our Cause – to His Father.
The Gentiles, or European settlers humbled themselves to the Lord, the Advocate, and He pleaded their cause – freedom from their “mother countries” – to His Father in Heaven.
And, we have hindsight. We know it worked. We know that against all odds, The United States defeated the British. This led to nearly every other country in the Americas eventually winning their freedom from the European countries that had colonized them. We know that the power of the Lord was with them! They succeeded!
I’m so grateful for this example. I’m not trying to be so US-centric here, but it is just the history that I am the most familiar with since it is my country. If I was from another country, I’m sure I would have another story to share here. And I do know that all of these stories matter.
In any case, for today, the lesson isn’t so much about U.S. history, but it is that we can trust that God will answer our prayers.
I’m so grateful for this example because I have my own prayers that need to be answered. There are miracles that I’m praying for. I think that we all have them. If we want them, we need to follow the examples given in the scriptures. We need to be humble, and we need to back up our desires with our actions.—We can’t think that we can just say “I’m humble…now give me what I want.” We have to show our humility through our words (prayers) and our deeds (an extension of our prayers).
And when we do, we can rest assured that our Advocate will plead our cause, and that His power will be with us. We will succeed.