Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NEPHI'S MELTDOWN? 2Nephi 4

Cody F Miller
In my Book of Mormon study group last week, we were discussing 2 Nephi 4; specifically verses 17-19. I was trying very hard to make cohesive commentary. (I am usually heading to class after work, so I am pretty bleary when I get there, trying hard to make sense). In Chapter 4 we are “mourning” with Nephi, his father Lehi has died, and now it seems that after all of their shared experiences, good and bad, the brothers Laman & Lemuel and even the brothers Ishmael are up to their old tricks again.
2 Nephi: 4:12-13
12 And it came to pass after my father, Lehi, had spoken unto his household, according to the feelings of his heart and the Spirit of the Lord which was in him, he waxed old. And it came to pass that he died, and was buried.
13 And it came to pass that not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord.
Do you have family members like this? It’s pretty stressful after funeral of a parent, especially if it involves a conflict with siblings. Families have been known to split because of disputes concerning the will or bequeathed properties, real or imagined offenses. In this instance we can all sympathize and even identify with Nephi.
We have to give Nephi credit because of, or in spite of his own grief at the loss of his father and the overwhelming responsibility of now being the Prophet and leader of the tribe, he still tries to reach out to his brothers with reason and loving words.
2 Nephi 4: 14 For I, Nephi, was constrained to speak unto them, according to his word; for I had spoken many things unto them, and also my father, before his death; many of which sayings are written upon mine other plates; for a more history part are written upon mine other plates.
Something transpires in “real life” after Nephi tells us that he was constrained to speak unto them? What did he mean by “constrain”?
  • To constrain is to impose limitations or restrictions on someone or something, or to force yourself or someone else to act in a certain way.
It seems that Nephi and his brothers and brother’s in-law got into a serious confrontation, maybe to the point of violence. It could happen. At my own father’s funeral, my brother was acting really rude and obnoxious. At one point after the graveside service, he made an uncalled for remark to me (which was the last straw in a series of rude remarks), so I was constrained to pick up a chair and confront him with it. Luckily there were some nice people there who decided that we should all leave, in separate cars. So it could happen. So this “explains” to me the meaning of these next verses:
2 Nephi: 4:17 nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimed: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorrowed because of my flesh; my soul grieved because of mine iniquities
Up unto this point in our study of Nephi, I don’t think we have read where Nephi had “reacted” in a physical way against his brothers…“for I had spoken many things unto them, and also my father, before his death: many of which sayings are written upon mine other plates;

We know that he was “seriously grieved” concerning their behavior, to the point where he was probably in tears of frustration. He would always take the “high road”. But then he had his father Lehi to go to for guidance and comfort. Now his first “trial” as the Leader and Prophet and he ends up in a confrontation that has left him really disturbed and questioning himself. My thoughts were that if anyone deserved to have a much needed meltdown, it was Nephi, and I would not blame him for it. But then it is the next verse where I felt that I had heard this before, and of course my mind was searching for who else has spoken words similar to these, I felt the spirit surrounding me in this. I raised my hand to try and comment on this verse and the words out of my mouth were less than cohesive, and again my classmates staring at me with funny looks.
2 Nephi 4:18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me
I mentioned that the Apostle Paul had made a discourse on this very subject in Romans 7. I was fascinated since Nephi spoke along the same lines six or more hundreds of years earlier. I realized that Paul and Nephi have a great deal in common, so much so, that I would ask the question had Paul been given a vision of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Did Paul “see” Nephi? I have no doubts that Nephi was allowed to “see” Paul. So I read Romans 7:18-25 and I compared them with 2 Nephi 4:
Here it is:
2 Nephi 4: 16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.
Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

2 Nephi: 4:17 nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorrowed because of my flesh; my soul grieved because of mine iniquities.
Romans 7:23-24
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

2 Nephi 4:18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
Romans 7:18-21
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelled in me.
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
2Nephi 4:27-29
27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions 
2 Nephi 4: 19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groans because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind, I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
It is hard to picture that Paul and Nephi had a lot in common, besides the obvious. Paul had a lot of baggage to travel around with during his ministry. In his former life he persecuted the church and its members. But after his conversion:
Acts 9:3-5
3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a alight from heaven:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks
Paul had a hard time convincing other apostles that he had changed for the better.He had an "in your face" type of personality and some of the other apostles refused to work with him or even be in the same room with him. He was grieved because of this, and some of the resulting arguments.  I believe that this was his "thorn in the side". Paul was probably the Church's best missionary, but he struggled with himself. He worked hard to not "lapse" back into old habits. What was Nephi's baggage? In my own opinion it seems that Nephi would always be the "little brother", the "know it all brother" who did not seem to give his big brother's their "respect". They accused him of lying all the time. The normal reaction to this sibling jealousy is fighting back,petty arguement's,insecurity and even  forcing family members to take sides. I suppose that if we had an opportunity to read from the large plates we would find out more about Nephi's conflicts with his brothers in detail.
Do you love this, ain't it cool!!! I have struggled with the old self and the new self. I feel like Nephi at times. Haven't you felt so light and so good, in becoming the person that Heavenly Father wants you to be only to have to come down to deal with the "mundane" details of life. I find that these details usually involve others who may not want to live their best lives. Maybe we live with them, worship with them or visit them. How do we help them? How do we keep ourselves "holy" and not yield into the conflicts that are always present? We remember all that Heavenly Father has done for us and will continue to do for us as long as we continue to love and serve and obey Him. This is Nephi's Psalm 23
2 Nephi 4:20-22
20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.
22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
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