Friday, June 6, 2014

Lehi Was Brought to the Land of Promise Through Natural Means

To those who might feel we have been beating a dead horse on our continuing comments about the eastern rivers, the inland water way system and the Great Lakes, I have found over the years that no matter how many facts are presented to Great Lakes Theorists to show how their theory is in total conflict with the scriptural record, they keep throwing out alternate avenues they consider possible answers. So in this extended, and repetitive series, began five posts ago, we are providing unarguable answers to show those die-hard Theorists that Lehi could not have reached their area of the Land of Promise by ship as they claim.
As an example, after a lengthy discussion with one Great Lakes Theorist in which he went over all his approaches to the Great Lakes and I showed where the facts of winds, currents, river depth, rapids, falls, etc., would keep Lehi’s ship “driven forth before the wind” from negotiating, he calmly replied, “Then the Lord simply picked up his ship and set it down on Lake Erie.”
    Obviously, the Lord could have done that; however, the truth of the matter is that such an act has never been recorded in the scriptural record or anything near it.
    It is just as obviously that the Lord could have removed the walls of Jericho with a simple act, but he had Israel march around the city not once, but seven times, then blow trumpets and give a loud shout. The Saints could have been picked up in Nauvoo and set down in the Salt Lake Valley, but they trudged over 1250 very difficult miles that took many lives in the process.
    When the Lord leads people from one place to another, he has always done so by means of natural laws and involved the people in the process: “for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:17).
The way the Lord prepared for Lehi to reach the Land of Promise was to show Nephi how to build a ship that could withstand deep-ocean pounding of waves and weather--something that was unknown at the time--and for him to take the sea currents and winds that would bring him to the landing site--something else that was unknown at the time. He provided Nephi with the Liahona so they could follow its directions--since compasses of any kind were unknown at the time.
    The trouble is, man, with is limited knowledge and understanding, often tries to determine what the Lord did, but seldom seems to grasp the method, means, or import of the process. Lehi did not go to sleep one night along the Arabian coast and wake up the next morning in the Land of Promise. Nor did he board Nephi’s ship and sail where the winds and currents did not go. It was not “climb aboard and let the Lord do all the work.” This has never been the Lord’s method.
    “And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led” (1 Nephi 17:13). The Lord commanded Nephi to build a ship (1 Nephi 17:49). The lord showed him how to [make] timbers of curious workmanship” (1 Nephi 18:1), and not to build a ship “after the manner of men” but he built it “after the manner which the Lord had shown” (1 Nephi 18:2). And in this process, Nephi went to the mount often and prayed often, and the “Lord showed unto [him] great things” (1 Nephi 18:3).
Since the issue at hand during this time was getting to the Land of Promise and in the building of a ship, it is likely that these “great things” were related to that task. The Lord told him, “Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters” (1 Nephi 17:8). In a similar comment much earlier in history, the Lord told the Brother of Jared much the same thing, then added, “And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come” (Ether 2:25).
    Whether the Lord said something like this to Nephi, we are not told, but certainly he and especially his doubting brothers, looked out from the coast where they camped at Bountiful and across the Irreantum Sea, and were struck with the task before them—that is, building a ship that could carry them across the “great waters” they saw. Obviously, they scoffed and were doubtful (1 Nephi 17:17), and one can only wonder what their wives, now mothers of children, thought looking out into this great ocean and wondering to their safety and fate.
    It seems Nephi was especially aware that the types of boats and ships he had seen on his journey from Jerusalem down along the Red Sea could not possibly carry them safely out into and across these great waters, for he continually tells us that he did not build his ship “after the manner of men,” but along a pattern the Lord showed him.
    So Nephi bent to the task and, reluctantly, his wayward brothers and the sons of Ishmael assisted. We are not told how they built the ship other than it was not after the manner of men, but according to the Lord’s plan and directions. But it was obviously a sea-worthy vessel the Lord showed Nephi how to build, far more advanced than anything known at the time. Evidently, the women made sails, since the ship was “wind driven” (1 Nephi 18:8-9), and it also had some type of oar-rudder system, for it could be steered (1 Nephi 18:13).
In fact, in recent years, the shape of the sail and the hull of the boat (left) are the major factors that have allowed sailboats to more closely approach the ability of sailing upwind. While the Lord knows how to build any kind of ship he chooses, it is doubtful that Nephi’s ship could be guided by tacking (moving the yards so the sails could catch cross winds), simply because those involved were not seamen and knew nothing about such matters and under normal circumstances would take a long time "before the mast" to acquire such abilities. This is why in the early years of sailing ships (12th thru 15th centuries), the European ships had a square sail design, which only allowed for sailing with a favorable wind (“before the wind, or wind on the quarter”—what Nephi describes as “driven forth before the wind”), and “were dead in the water without a favorable wind.”
    Thus we might conclude that, as Nephi tells us, in his being driven forth before the wind, his vessel required a favorable wind to move the ship forward. Nor could the ship have had much success sailing into a current, since the speed of the current can offset the speed of the wind, thus causing limited or negative forward movement.
    Ether tells us the Jaredite barges, which had no sails, were driven by the force of the current, which was driven by the force of the wind: ”And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind” (Ether 6:5). Now since the Lord operates through normal and natural principles (known to him, but not always to us), we need to know where those winds blow—which today is a well-known understanding of the principles of winds and their directions. In Ether’s day, there would have been very little or no understanding of such matters, and his description “for the winds have gone forth out of my [Lord’s] mouth” (Ether 2:24) is an apt description, but can be misunderstood by unknowing readers.
In the past 100 years, the winds and sea currents of the Earth have been well mapped and understood; before that time, various sea captains and pilots knew certain areas, but little of the overall planet
In the following verse, the Lord further states: “And the winds which have gone forth” (Ether 2:25), is a little more clear that these winds are not fickle, nor subject to capricious changes, but are constant in their known patterns and have, in our age, been clearly understood and mapped so that every sea captain, pilot and master is well aware of their direction, general force, and strength.
    When Nephi had been sailing his ship “for the space of many days” after leaving Bountiful, he spoke sharply to his partying brothers who became angry and tied him up, thus causing their compass (Liahona) to stop working (1 Nephi 18:10-12). This resulted in the unskilled brothers Laban and Lemuel to allow the ship to move into an area of the current and winds that took them into a “great storm” that threatened during the following four days to swamp and capsize their ship (1 Nephi 18:20). When Nephi was finally freed, the compass began working again and showed him where to steer the vessel into calmer waters and to where the storm abated (1 Nephi 18:21).
    This event suggests several things, among them that the winds and currents were constant and known (to the Lord) and the directions of the Liahona showed Nephi where to steer his ship to regain control and send the vessel back on course and toward the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 18:22).
All of this should show each of us that not only is the Lord in charge, but that he uses known and natural means to bring about his purposes. Lehi sailed along winds and currents to the Land of Promise. Such winds and currents are found in the seas (oceans), but not up rivers. To be “driven forth before the wind” requires winds and currents to be moving in the direction the ship wants to go on its course to the Land of Promise. As stated, this would not include sailing up rivers, nor in opposition to the winds and sea currents, but only in the direction the winds and currents moved. Thus, they set forth into the sea, crossed the sea, and landed on the coast of the sea—otherwise, Nephi’s statements would not be accurate and make little sense.
    As Jacob said, “for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20). Lehi crossed the great sea, Irreantum, and landed upon the shores of that sea, upon an island, and there they set up camp and lived until Nephi was told to flee with those who would follow him (2 Nephi 5:5). Mormon verifies this coastal landing and settlement when he described the land “on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28).
    They sailed up no river. They never trekked hundreds of miles inland to settle. They remained on the seashore, where they landed, after crossing the great sea from Bountiful.
    This should be and must be the beginning of any Land of Promise location of any theory.

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