As a result of the things he has seen in his dreams, Lehi says that he has reason to believe that his sons Nephi and Sam and many others will be “saved.” Let us look at why he has come to this conclusion. In verse 16, Sariah, Sam and Nephi hearken to Lehi’s exhortation and partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life. Lehi describes many qualities of this fruit. He says that it was sweet, white, desirable to make one happy, and that it filled his soul with joy. But in order to find out why those who partook were “saved,” we must rely upon Nephi’s interpretation of Lehi’s dream.
In chapter 11, Nephi asks his spirit guide to tell him the meaning of the dream that his father had. Apparently he wants to know what he must do to be saved. Now, when Nephi asks to know the interpretation of Lehi’s dream, he is first shown a vision of the birth of Christ. (1 Ne 11:13-20) One might wonder what this vision has to do with Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life. To make sure that Nephi understands the message he has been given, the angel says to Nephi: “Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?” Nephi answers this question by saying, “Yea, it is the love of God…” A careful reading of the chapter makes plain that the love of God or the condescension of God is the Father showing his love for the world by sending his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. (John 3:16) In other words, the Tree of Life is symbolically representative of Jesus Christ himself. We will discuss this further when we cover 1 Nephi 11. Suffice it to say that when Sariah, Sam, and Nephi partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life and become saved, they are partakers of the Atonement of Christ.
Lehi’s dream symbolically instructs the reader what one must do in order to gain salvation, and aligns remarkably with the teachings of many mainstream Christian churches!
Laman and Lemuel refuse to accept Christ, thus Lehi fears that they might be cast off from the presence of the Lord. But he does not cease to exhort them by his preaching and with love.
Now, read aloud 1 Nephi 8 while substituting the words “Jesus Christ” for “tree of life,” and “atonement” for “fruit.” You will read such marvelous passages as these:
And it came to pass that I beheld Jesus Christ, whose atonement was desirable to make one happy… And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the atonement of Christ; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted… And as I partook of the atonement of Christ it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also.
You will see numberless councourses of people pressing forward to obtain the path which leads to Jesus Christ. You will see people who become ashamed of partaking of the atonement of Christ, and the proud who mock them until they fall away. You will see multitudes who hold fast to the iron rod until they fall down in front of their Savior (the tree) and partake of his atoning sacrifice.
May we join those in Lehi’s company, come unto Christ, and be saved!