We interrupt this dream to interject some personal commentary. That is exactly what Chapter 9 of 1 Nephi is. It is the personal touch Nephi adds to his record to make sure we understand that it is HIS record, and that he was commanded to make the account according to HIS perspective. I know that I keep hammering that idea home, but it is a very important one to understand. Just like Mormon interjects his own personal commentary in the parts of The Book of Mormon he abridged, in chapter 9 Nephi has done the same.
Then beginning in Chapter 10, as Nephi continues recording what his father saw in his vision, Nephi makes sure we understand that the need for relating the dream to us is because it effects the details of his own account which is to follow.
Part of Lehi’s visionary history that is often overlooked is the fact that he probably saw everything from the “beginning to the end” concerning his posterity, much like the other prophets of old which we study in the scriptures. This is subtly told to us as through Nephi’s account of his father’s teachings. He begins by giving Lehi’s account of what will happen to the Jews who were left behind in Jerusalem.
Lehi told them that the Jews would be scattered, and then gathered again.
1 Nephi 10:3 That after they should be destroyed, even that great city Jerusalem, and many be carried away captive into Babylon, according to the own due time of the Lord, they should return again, yea, even be brought back out of captivity; and after they should be brought back out of captivity they should possess again the land of their inheritance.
Lehi explained that the Messiah would come, and when.
4 Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews—even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world.
Lehi explained the NEED for the Messiah, which was not truly understood by the people of Jerusalem.
6 Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer.
Lehi prophesied about John the Baptist and his ministry. (vs. 7-10)
Lehi explained that the Jews would not understand the gospel which the Messiah would preach and because of their unbelief they would kill the Messiah. (vs. 11)
Lehi then taught that the Messiah would rise from the dead, at which time he would manifest himself to the Gentiles by the Holy Ghost. (vs.11)
Lehi then quite possibly related the “Allegory of the Olive Tree”, which was recorded by the prophet Zenos, to his sons in an attempt to help them understand their place in all that was happening. The language is too similar to ignore. (vs. 12-15) I believe he wanted them to understand the reason that they were brought to this “land of promise” was so that they could help the House of Israel not only come to a knowledge of the Redeemer, but to help them understand their personal need for one. He wanted them to know what role their posterity would play as the “righteous branch” or the remnant that would save the world in the last days.
Did they all fully understand exactly what Lehi was trying to teach to them about their calling in the Lord’s work? Do we understand what ours is today? We have been given the same information as they were given through this account which was recorded by Nephi. What must we do to understand? Is it any different for us then it was for them?
I love Nephi because he knew the process of enlightenment is the same for everybody. He works very hard to help us come to understand our “calling” in the same way he came to understand his.
As we continue to study The Book of Mormon we need to be aware of what Nephi is really trying to help us understand, the process of knowing.