The experience of Nephi and his brothers getting the plates of brass teaches an interesting lesson. Not only does it demonstrate that the Lord provides a way, but it also teaches us a little about the kinds of “ways” the Lord provides.
Nephi and His brothers were commanded to get the plates, and Nephi knew there would be a way to make it work.
Attempt Number 1: Reliance on themselves
First they sent in big brother, the one with all the persuasive abilities (as evidenced by Lemuel’s persuadability mentioned in 1 Nephi 3:28)
How’d that work out?
Laban: “Behold thou art a robber, and I will slay thee.”
Yeah, not so good.
Attempt Number 2: Reliance on Riches and Power
Lehi must have been quite influential to have such prosperity in a wicked community. His position probably gave him voice in a lot of things. Of course, Laban didn’t care about that. But riches, surely, would bend the will of a wicked man. Actually, I think they did. He went from simply wanting to kill them to lusting after their property, “insomuch that he thrust us out, and sent his servants to slay us, that he might obtain our property.” He went from accusing them of robbery to becoming a robber. Not the kind of change of heart the brothers were hoping for.
Attempt Number 3: Reliance on the Lord
Ah! Now we’re getting somewhere. Without weapons, without riches, without even a rehearsal of any kind, Nephi went in with the express intent of being led by the Spirit.
We often think of reliance on the Spirit as the scary way. “But I don’t even know what I’m going to say!” or “But what if I need a visual aid, or money, or reputation, or whatever. I can’t just go in dry!”
I’d hardly call the Spirit dry. There’s a reason we call it a fire, and there’s a reason we sometimes call such improvisational faith, “baptism of fire.”
But is it really the scary way? Laman went in prepared with words and charm, and it nearly got him killed. All four brothers went in with riches and influence, and it got them robbed and nearly all killed. Only when Nephi put his entire trust in the Lord, essentially saying, “Okay, Lord, I’ll go in, and you tell me what to do when I get there,” did he have success.
That’s not to say it was easy the third time. I suspect this was Nephi’s Abrahamic test. Would he be willing to kill a man in order to prove his absolute faith, trust, and reliance on the Lord?
Well, he did it. Maybe if he hadn’t had the trials from the first two attempts, he wouldn’t have had the determination and “fire” sufficient to obey at such a cost. And while the Lord knew all along that Nephi could do it, it was probably after this point that Nephi realized that Nephi would obey at all costs.
And what a revelation that must have been.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Chas Hathaway is the author of the books Scripture Study Made Awesome, Marriage is Ordained of God, but WHO Came Up with Dating? and Giraffe Tracks. Learn more at chashathaway.com. Please participate in the conversation by adding comments and sharing with friends on the web!
Gospel Living Made Awesome is not an official work of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If Chas says something stupid, it's his own fault.