Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Did Frankly Forgive Them 1 Nephi 7

My last post contained a record of my observations regarding Nephi’s character as I have observed it. It was as follows:
"At this point I would like to interject a possible concern. There have been times when I have wondered how the same incidence, if told in the perspective of Laman and Lemuel, might have differed. Since this record is that of Nephi, I have felt at times that he seems to make sure the record is really slanted in his favor. This perspective changed for me when I realized that Nephi had, I believe, already at this point in his history, progressed to the point that he had received the sealing power. The understanding that I have of this power allows me to now view Nephi quite differently. Suddenly every word that Nephi speaks is as if the Lord himself were speaking. No longer do I view Nephi as boastful, but as a representative of God in every word and deed. This exchange between Nephi and his brothers, or the rebellious, has become a way for me to understand the nature and character of the Lord much better, as it is illustrated by Nephi’s very words and actions."
This point of view could not be given better illustration, in my opinion, than what is seen in the closing incidents of 1 Nephi chapter 7.
Nephi, after outlining the consequences of their choice, required that his brothers choose to return to Jerusalem and perish, or return to their father Lehi and live. The information Nephi gave to his brothers regarding the choice they were to make caused them to act violently toward him. They were “exceedingly wroth” which resulted in them “laying hands on him” and “binding him with cords”. They also “sought to take his life” by “leaving him in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts”. An interesting comparison might even be made between Nephi and Joseph of Egypt in this case. Both were treated similarly by their brothers, and ultimately both would act as “saviors” for their entire families. When we observe these similarities we should also remember to look for similarities in priesthood power as well.

As Nephi is bound, he prays for an interesting solution to his problem. Look for exactly what he asks for:
1 Nephi 7: 17 But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound.
Instead of asking for the Lord to jump in and handle the situation, he simply asked for the strength to overcome his enemies himself. He prefaces this request with the declaration of his faith in the Lord, and his reliance on His power to save. Nephi knew that because of the power in the priesthood, which had been given him by the Lord, he could do what was required to progress by simply asking for it. His words would supply the means of deliverance.
Notice what happens when he speaks the words of his prayer, or request:
1 Nephi 7: 18 And it came to pass that when I had said these words, behold, the bands were loosed from off my hands and feet, and I stood before my brethren, and I spake unto them again.
We are shown the power Nephi had just by speaking the words. When he spoke the word the bands were loosed. The confidence that Nephi had in his priesthood power is a lesson for all of us to learn. Nephi did not need an angel to come and loosen the cords; he gained power himself to do it. I marvel at the faith and knowledge that Nephi had to preform that simple act.
Although through the priesthood power Nephi was free from the restraints that bound him, it still took some humbling for his brothers to acknowledge their mistake in acting harshly toward him. After some persuasion, ultimately their hearts were softened and they desired, and asked, Nephi to forgive them for what they had done.
1 Nephi 7: 20 And it came to pass that they were sorrowful, because of their wickedness, insomuch that they did bow down before me, and did plead with me that I would forgive them of the thing that they had done against me.
It is at this point I have always thought of Nephi as somewhat boastful in the manner he responded, but understanding that Nephi is speaking as if the Lord himself were speaking, the perspective changes for me, when he tells us that he “did frankly forgive them all that they had done.” I believe that all that is required of us, for the Lord to forgive us of our sins, is a change of heart, the humble acknowledgment of Him as our Savior and Redeemer, and the request for his grace, which is the application of the Atonement in our lives. When we experience this “mighty change”, He too will “frankly forgive” us of all that we have done. Nephi becomes a beautiful illustration of the Savior himself, allowing us to come to know the Lord better by his example.
Because of the act of forgiveness on the part of Nephi, they were all given the blessing of moving forward on their journey in harmony. Nephi showed us that not only is the Lord quick to forgive, but we should be likewise, quick to forgive.
For me this is a literal teaching of the term, “grace for grace”.

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