And I, Nephi, and my brethren took our journey in the wilderness, with our tents, to go up to the land of Jerusalem.1 Nephi 3:9
I want to relate this again to our own personal Jerusalem. In 1 Nephi 2 Lehi and his family departs from Jerusalem into the wilderness. Now in 1 Nephi 3 Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates from Laban.
The first thing is that Nephi points out that they took their tents, at this point they must already be a few days into the wilderness, so of course it’ll take them a few days to get back to Jerusalem.
And we cast lots—who of us should go in unto the house of Laban. And it came to pass that the lot fell upon Laman; and Laman went in unto the house of Laban, and he talked with him as he sat in his house.1 Nephi 3:11
When they arrived back in Jerusalem they consulted with one another and decided to cast lots to see who would go speak with Laban first.
I’d like to try out this analogy. Consider that Jerusalem represents our personal Jerusalem. It is the place that we be comfortable in but have been instructed to leave. It’s the habit or behavior that we desire to leave behind.
Also consider that Laban represents our fears, doubts, challenges, and insecurities. Then we will use Laman, Lamuel, Sam, and Nephi as metaphors for how we handle the situation placed before us. Just as they cast lots, we often find ourselves in random situations where our actions and attitude will determine the outcome.
Let’s say we have overcome the trial when we’ve obtained the plates of brass.
And he desired of Laban the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, which contained the genealogy of my father.1 Nephi 3:12
Our first challenge arrives and we find ourselves in a new situation. We have good intentions, to obtain the plates of brass, to overcome our trial. We had predetermined that we would obtain the plates, we knew what we were here for, that we’d get in and out. So that trial presents itself to us and we know that we want to overcome it.
And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry, and thrust him out from his presence; and he would not that he should have the records. Wherefore, he said unto him: Behold thou art a robber, and I will slay thee.1 Nephi 3:13
Unfortunately this trial was difficult. Perhaps something we haven’t encountered, perhaps we were already vulnerable from something else going on in our day. So, like Laban we made up excuses, fell back into the habit, or were impatient and angry. Like Laman, we fled from obtaining the brass plates.
But Laman fled out of his presence, and told the things which Laban had done, unto us. And we began to be exceedingly sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return unto my father in the wilderness.1 Nephi 3:14
Laman returns to his brothers and tells them what happened, and they were exceedingly sorrowful, and about to give up and return into the wilderness.
Having been unsuccessful in overcoming our trial, we tell that person about our downfall. We confide in our parents, or our spouse, or our bishop, or a close friend. Someone who knows our situation, or perhaps this is the first time you’ve made this kind of mistake and are just now opening up.
Like Laman telling his brothers, those who we confided in may be exceedingly sorrowful for you. In relation to addiction, or habits, or anger, that person may be exceedingly sorrowful because they feel betrayed, or hurt in some way. Like Laman and Lamuel, we may feel like we want to give up, or this person may feel like they have to give up on us.
But behold I said unto them that: As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us.1 Nephi 3:15
Fortunately, there is hope. Like Nephi, someone points out that the job is not done. The trial is yet to be overcome.
For he knew that Jerusalem must be destroyed, because of the wickedness of the people.1 Nephi 3:17
We know that our personal Jerusalem must be destroyed. That the wickedness, the sin, the habits, and anger must be destroyed. We know that if we rejected the prophets, if we stayed that we too would be destroyed along with Jerusalem. However before we could entirely abandon Jerusalem, there was something precious we needed to obtain. In God’s wisdom, before our personal Jerusalem could be destroyed, we had to learn something, we had to endure through trial before we could obtain those precious brass plates.
I know it’s hard, and like Nephi and his brothers, we may not get it right the first time.
And it came to pass that after this manner of language did I persuade my brethren, that they might be faithful in keeping the commandments of God.1 Nephi 3:21
So, having fallen, and after some time beginning to feel inspired- we try again.
And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things.1 Nephi 3:22
Like Nephi and his brothers gathering their gold, silver, and precious things, this time we have a plan. We’ve installed the content blocker, we’ve decided beforehand that we’d have patience, we strategized and came up with some sort of elaborate plan to get ourselves out of a situation should it arise. Time goes by, but soon enough we find ourselves again at Laban’s doors.
And it came to pass that we went in unto Laban, and desired him that he would give unto us the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, for which we would give unto him our gold, and our silver, and all our precious things.1 Nephi 3:24
The trial is presented, and we throw everything we’ve got at it. Our plan kicks in, and we are going to take those plates of brass. We are going to overcome that challenge.
And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceedingly great, he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out, and sent his servants to slay us, that he might obtain our property.1 Nephi 3:25
At first it might seem like our plan is working. Oh but the more prepared we are, and the stronger we are, the harder that adversary is going to work against us. Like Nephi and his brothers, Laban sees that our property is exceedingly great. The adversary knows that what we have is precious. He wants our treasures, our happiness, our families, our hopes and dreams, he lusts after everything that we have because he does not, and cannot have it.
Even worse is that he thrusts us out, and sends his servants to slay us. The adversary doesn’t work alone, he’s going to use everything he has to bring us down.
And it came to pass that we fled into the wilderness, and the servants of Laban did not overtake us, and we hid ourselves in the cavity of a rock.1 Nephi 3:27
Like Nephi and his brothers, we flee. Having again failed to obtain the plates of brass, we leave behind our property, our happiness, our hope, our love, and our precious things. We flee into the wilderness, we hide within the cavity of a rock.
And it came to pass that Laman was angry with me, and also with my father; and also was Lemuel, for he hearkened unto the words of Laman. Wherefore Laman and Lemuel did speak many hard words unto us, their younger brothers, and they did smite us even with a rod.1 Nephi 3:28
Within the cavity of a rock, within our mind, we withdraw, distancing ourselves from others, doubting, self loathing, guilt, having all the negative emotions that the adversary would want us to feel. Angry with ourselves, angry with those around us. We are smitten with a rod.
And it came to pass as they smote us with a rod, behold, an angel of the Lord came and stood before them, and he spake unto them, saying: Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod? Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities? Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands.1 Nephi 3:29
Perhaps some time passes. For some of us it’s days or weeks, for others it’s years. Some of us lose track of how long we were smitten with a rod.
Eventually though an angel of the Lord stands before us. Sometimes that angel is a whisper, or a friend, family member, or a bishop. This angel tells you not to be so hard on yourself. They say things like, “you’ve got so much potential,” or “don’t beat yourself up because you’ve failed a few times.”
And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?1 Nephi 3:31
We might think to ourselves, “how can I ever overcome this?” Thinking that the affliction is just too difficult. We might think about all the other people who suffer from something similar, if they can’t overcome it then how can we expect to?
To be continued . . .