Lehi: A Great Family Patriarch

For those of you who follow me on my WBMW Facebook Page, you might recall that I shared my decision to participate in the BYU-Idaho Pathway Program this year. I’m happy to report that so far (about two weeks in), it’s been a very positive experience. In my religion course, by assignment, I prayerfully read the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes each day and record personal insights. I also have the opportunity of attending weekly “Gatherings” with other Pathway students in my area to discuss course material where we both teach and learn from each other. I can’t tell you how wonderful it has been to be immersed in the scriptures, once again, similar to when I was teaching seminary a few years ago. I love it!

Now, what I didn’t tell you (because I had no idea) was that as part of the Learning Model used in Pathway we are to find a creative way to teach what we have learned outside of class (I think weekly). Blogging is on the approved list of how to accomplish this assignment. Can you believe that? Now I don’t know if my instructor will allow me to use this platform on a regular basis but I really hope so. I can’t think of anything more awesome than to bring two things I love together (learning the gospel and writing), and by assignment get to share with all of you. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

This week’s reading assignment was 1st Nephi Chapters 1-5:

I’ve read this portion of the Book of Mormon more times than I can count, as I’m sure many of you have. I’ve also studied many commentaries over the years and accessed various online resources for background information, etc. I point that out because I’m sure than some of my insights are drawn from past study. However, I do know that some are completely new and I own them – personal revelation.

In particular, this week, I want to share some insights about, mainly, Lehi (chapter one). How Nephi writes the account of what prompted his father, Lehi, to abruptly take his family into the wilderness leads me to believe that Lehi was not yet a prophet (for the people).

It appears that Lehi went to the Lord (because of a great concern he had for the welfare of his people – I believe his family and friends) to receive a personal confirmation about what “many prophets” at the time were going about prophesying: that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed due to the wickedness of the Jews.

Lehi was clearly one who “followed the prophet(s)” and understood that whatever message they delivered was to be taken seriously -- in this case, a message that was being rejected by most and apparently controversial. And so, he sought personal revelation on behalf of his family.

 Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.  And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly.

Lehi now knew, for himself, that what the prophets’ were testifying was true and would surely come to pass. Note: he was not currently among the prophets warning the people, as he was not yet called as a “Prophet of God."

 And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen.  And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.  And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.

The “One” that Lehi saw was the Lord (see vs. 14). Lehi had set before him the entire Plan of Salvation and received a special witness of Jesus Christ, with instructions to call the people to repent and return to God. His call was to echo the same message other prophets of God (at all times) are called to proclaim.

Nephi tells us that as his father was obedient to the Lord, the Jews sought to take his life. Therefore, the Lord instructed Lehi to take his family and flee into the wilderness (out of the world).

There are so many things to learn about faith and obedience, for all of us, in just the first few verses of the Book of Mormon. But what stood out to me, in the account of Lehi being called as a “Prophet of God” was that initially Lehi went to the Lord on behalf of his family and close friends. He took his responsibility as the patriarch of his family seriously and sought revelation for their spiritual and physical welfare.

Though today we are all beneficiaries of Lehi’s prophetic legacy, during his own life as a “Prophet of God” his stewardship (if you will) was to only a handful of family members and close friends. His first calling, as the family patriarch, is what led him to the Lord to inquire about their safety and wellbeing in relation to what prophets of God were preaching. In the Family Proclamation we read:

“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”

Surely, Lehi is among the greatest examples of how this is to be exemplified within the family, as God has ordained. He was first and foremost a prophet unto his own.

One last thought about Lehi... Though he led his family into the wilderness to obtain a "land of promise" (symbolizing the Celestial Kingdom) and experienced many trials throughout his life, he considered it the present

"But behold, I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice..."  (1st Nephi Chpt 5:5)

To Lehi, it appears that the knowledge God provided him (plan of salvation) was/is the "land of promise." Having the gospel in our lives brings immediate blessings and joy. Each one of us who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and made sacred covenants can essentially live daily in the "land of promise" because we can be assured of every blessing the Lord has in store for those who love Him and keep His commandments.

Kathryn Skaggs


  1. Great insight, I never thought of that phrase used in that way, or the meaning. I always considered it to be more literal. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I am so so so proud of you. My husband just started Pathways too and he loves it. The changes it brings are amazing and I know it is a decision you will never regret.

    1. Ah, thank you! Give your husband a "high-five" from me!