What I learned from him: Lehi’s life is now in danger. The Jews had already killed or cast out the other prophets, and they don’t like it that here comes somebody else telling them that they’re wicked and that Jerusalem will be destroyed unless they repent. They want to kill him, too. So, the Lord tells Lehi to take his family and flee into the wilderness. Lehi obeys. And he doesn’t delay or make excuses:
“And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.
“And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.” (v. 3-4)
He knew already what God had done for him so far. If he had delayed, or disobeyed and stayed behind, the Jews would have killed him. Or, if he had somehow managed to survive, there was the eventual destruction of Jerusalem where he would have either been killed or stolen away into captivity.
He is a prime example of the rule that the prophet Joseph Smith set for himself: “When the Lord commands, do it.”
And, when he and his family got to a place of safety, they pitched their tents, Lehi built an altar and offered sacrifices in gratitude to the Lord. God is looking out for us in everything. Through the good and the bad, we need to remember to thank Him.
What I learned from her: I can empathize a bit with Sariah. When her husband was commanded to take his family and flee into the wilderness, she would likely have left friends and family behind (including the family of Ishmael, her future in-laws), along with all of their wealth. When my family had to move from Baltimore to Arkansas thirteen years ago, we left friends and family, and most of our stuff, behind. Unlike Sariah and her family, though, we knew where we were going. Like them, we had “a place prepared”.
It would have taken a lot of faith on Sariah’s part, to leave so much behind and travel with her family into an unknown land, trusting in the Lord to take care of them. If I’m ever asked to go through a similar situation, I hope I can have this same faith.
Laman & Lemuel
What I learned from them: We know almost immediately that these two think their father is crazy. They seem to be more materialistic in nature, grieving that Lehi took them from their home, leaving “the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness. And this they said he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart (v.11).” Lehi tries to encourage them to follow the Lord and obey His commandments, but they won’t do it.
“And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.
Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets. And they were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem, who sought to take away the life of my father.”
They won’t do anything to find out the truth for themselves.
What I learned from him: There’s no record of his reaction to the sudden departure from all they knew. But we know that, when Nephi told him that he had received testimony of what Lehi had seen, taught, and commanded is true, Sam believes. In fact, as we later see, Sam stays faithful his whole life. He appears to be one of those mentioned in Doctrine & Covenants 46:14 – “To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful” (emphasis added).
What I learned from him: He wanted to find out the truth for himself. So, he asked, and was blessed with a softened heart and an answer from the Lord that what Lehi had learned and taught was the truth. Sam believes him, but Laman and Lemuel don’t, which causes Nephi great grief. What does he do? He prays for them. If I want to know something, especially of great spiritual significance like this, I need to follow Nephi’s example and be willing to ask. The Lord is always willing to teach us if we are willing to ask and learn.