Posted by: isaiahsfan | January 18, 2008

What Brian Said

An excellent summary of what is available around the net on the subject of 1 Ne 8, 11, 15 (SS Lesson 3) is found at Feast on the Word blog.  BrianJ has done a fabulous job of summarizing the different posts on the Vision of the Tree of Life.  One could scarcely improve upon it, and you’ll be able to spend the whole weekend perusing the sources he mentions! 

There are a few questions Brian has written which deserve further inquiry, and I have chosen to post on one of these today.

Who Leads us to the Tree?

Recent consensus has shown that the Tree of Life is a representation of Jesus Christ.  So we’re really talking about who leads us to the Savior.  I’ll start with a scripture in 3 Nephi where Jesus explains to the Nephites that he has been lifted up upon the cross “that I might draw all men unto me.”  (vv. 14-15)  This is echoed in John 12:32 where Christ explains, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”  Finally, we find the same concept beautifully expressed in Jeremiah 31.  This is a lyrical chapter in which the Lord describes the covenant he has made with the House of Israel:

“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (v. 3)

In this chapter the Lord describes himself as a father who leads his children in a straight way (v. 9) and as a shepherd who gathers his scattered flock (v. 10). 

The personage who led Lehi to the tree was described as a man dressed in a white robe who came and stood before him.  This man spoke and told Lehi to follow him.  Thus described, the personage seems to be Christ, or at least a representative of Christ.  Similarly, a personage in the form of a man showed Nephi the meaning of Lehi’s dream.  Nephi names him variously as “the Spirit,” “the Spirit of the Lord,” “the angel,” and “the angel of the Lord.”  In the Church there has been some controversy as to whether this personage was the preexistent Christ, the Holy Ghost, or an angel.  

For more insight on the “angel of the Lord,” we might look to the Old Testament.   When given a heavenly message, the Patriarchs were contacted by a figure usually referred to as the “Spirit of the Lord” (malak YHWH).  This is often translated as the Spirit of the Lord, or the Angel of the Lord, but could also be rendered the “Messenger YHWH,” or the “Sent Jehovah.”  Some biblical scholars recognize the “Sent Jehovah” as Christ himself, and I agree with this interpretation.  Thus we see that it is Christ who is responsible for leading us to himself.  It makes sense, doesn’t it?  He is constantly exhorting, “Come Unto Me!” 

This is not to say that His representatives do not assist in the work of bringing souls to Christ.  Case in point: After Lehi is shown his vision of the Tree of Life, he beckons for his wife and children to come and partake also.  Members of our families, priesthood leaders, Prophets, Visiting Teachers–all can act as representatives of the Savior and beckon for us to come to the Tree.  But to me it is comforting that in all these voices it is the power of Jesus himself who is drawing us where we need to go.

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