We’re IN It, Up to Our Necks
Nephi’s view of the interpretation of Lehi’s Tree of Life is extremely interesting to me. One aspect struck me this morning in my CFM study.
I’ve always looked at the “great and spacious building” as somewhat inobtrusive in that they pointed, mocked and unless I looked at them, they could not measurably intrude on my journey. Not so. 1 Nephi 11 teaches us that the building is much more combative and intrusive.
Starting in 1 Nephi 11:34 “And after he (the Savior) was slain I saw the multitudes of the earth, that they were gathered together to fight against the apostles of the Lamb; for thus were the twelve called by the angel of the Lord. 35 And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof; yea, behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 36 And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” This is the great and spacious building in New Testament times.
Nephi is then shown a vision of the Americas. 1 Nephi 12:1 “And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Look, and behold thy seed, and also the seed of thy brethren. And I looked and beheld the land of promise; and I beheld multitudes of people, yea, even as it were in number as many as the sand of the sea. 2 And it came to pass that I beheld multitudes gathered together to battle, one against the other; and I beheld wars, and rumors of wars, and great slaughters with the sword among my people. 3 And it came to pass that I beheld many generations pass away, after the manner of wars and contentions in the land; and I beheld many cities, yea, even that I did not number them. 4 And it came to pass that I saw a mist of darkness on the face of the land of promise, and I saw lightnings, and I heard thunderings, and earthquakes, and all manner of tumultuous noises; and I saw the earth and the rocks, that they rent; and I saw mountains tumbling into pieces; and I saw the plains of the earth, that they were broken up; and I saw many cities that they were sunk; and I saw many that they were burned with fire; and I saw many that did tumble to the earth, because of the quaking thereof.” I think it’s safe to assume that the whole land covered with the mist of darkness also describes a ‘great and spacious building’ as those inside fight against God and against each other."
I came to this conclusion because of what Elder Boyd K. Packer had to say about the great and spacious building in our day. He said that we live IN the great and spacious building. “...Lehi saw great multitudes of people “pressing forward” toward the tree (1 Nephi 8:21)."
"The great and spacious building “was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit” (1 Nephi 8:27)."
"One word in this dream or vision should have special meaning to Latter-day Saints. The word is after. It was after the people had found the tree that they became ashamed, and because of the mockery of the world, they fell away. “And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost. …And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also (and they fight against God). That was the test; then Lehi said, “But we heeded them not” (1 Nephi 8:28, 33; emphasis added). And that was the answer."
"Largely because of television (and the internet, computers and smartphones), instead of looking over into that spacious building, we are, in effect, living inside of it. That is your fate in this generation. You are living in that great and spacious building….The mist of darkness will cover you at times so much that you will not be able to see your way even a short distance ahead. You will not be able to see clearly. But with the gift of the Holy Ghost, you can feel your way ahead through life. Grasp the iron rod, and do not let go. (See 3 Nephi 18:25; D&C 9:8.) (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Finding Ourselves in Lehi’s Dream)"
In our day, the tree of life isn’t separated from those of us who have partaken of the fruit, who “continually” hold to the iron rod, by a divide between us. The great and spacious building now hovers over us and threatens to engulf us. In the dream, we know that the building “stood as it were in the air, high above the earth” (1 Nephi 8:26). The building has now spread to cover everything in the vision, including the tree of life. The great and spacious building has infiltrated all of society-even our homes-and now is everywhere.