Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What Did Jacob Mean “For the Lord has Made the Sea our Path”

Quite often when theorists, whose model is not an island, read Jacob’s statement (2 Nephi 10:20), they bypass the first part and then try to alter or minimize the importance of the second part, i.e., that of being on an island. However, we need to concentrate on the first part to make sure we understand the second part. 
    Jacob, talking about their leaving their homeland at Jerusalem and traveling by ship across the sea to the Land of Promise, draws attention to the fact that the sea, itself, was the issue of his comment—that is, they were a long way from Jerusalem, separated by a large ocean.
Jacob preaching to the Nephites in the Temple during an important two-day conference, which Nephi dutifully recorded on the plates
    The Nephites, at this point in time, evidently were complaining that they were cut off from the Lord and could no longer enjoy the fruits of the faith at Jerusalem. Jacob, in this second day of a two-day conference at the Temple, is trying to alleviate the Nephite’s concerns about no longer being at Jerusalem, or the importance of Jerusalem overall to their faith and salvation.
    He points out to his congregation:
1. Their children would be restored in the gospel (2 Nephi 10:2);
2. Jerusalem would reject Christ and be destroyed or scattered about (2 Nephi 10:5,6)
3. This new land they were upon was consecrated by the Lord to the Nephites and their seed;
4. This consecration was a promise forever for their inheritance (see a further note about inheritance below);
5. Their new land (not Jerusalem) “is a choice land…above all other lands” (2 Nephi 10:19);
6. They should not hang down their heads about not being in Jerusalem because the Lord consecrated this land they were upon to them and their descendants;
7. The Lord remembers all those who have been “broken off” from the Jerusalem lineage (2 Nephi 10:22);
    He then goes on to tell them that the Lord had made the sea their path, that they were on an isle of the sea, and that this isle (island) was a better land (2 Nephi 10:20). Jacob well knew and understood that the Lord, indeed had made the sea and its paths (currents) to enable shipping to move in various paths across the globe. This particular path, south through the Indian Ocean on the monsoon winds and currents, to the east-flowing Southern Ocean on the West Wind Drift and Prevailing Westerlies, and up the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current along the west coast of South America to where the currents and winds die down (30º South Latitude) to allow for a landing at the Bay of Coquimbo—what Jacob meant was the Lord prepared this path for their ship and brought them that great distance to the Land he had prepared for themthe Land of Promise.
    A word about inheritance. It is easy to lose track of what the Lord’s promises to us are all about. He, of course, sees things in a forever time frame while we see things in a very temporal, short-term time frame. When he promises an inheritance, it is forever (if we live up to our part of the bargain), and after this life and our placement in the Lord’s kingdom, we live within that inheritance. That is, Lehi’s seed, who qualify, will inherit the land for their eternal abode that is promised to them—the Land of Promise, or that part of it in which they lived and to which they were promised. The Gentiles, also mentioned in this promise (2 Nephi 10:19), will also be part of this inheritance within the Land of Promise.
    Just as the Lord had Joshua divide up the Land of Promise in the Old World, with each of the 12 tribes receiving their portion, or allotment within certain boundaries, so is the Land of Promise of the Book of Mormon so divided, with Lehi and his seed receiving a certain portion, the Gentiles “who are numbered among the House of Israel” (2 Nephi 10:18), will also be part of this inheritance within the Land of Promise.
    Regarding the sea being their path, what does it mean for the sea to be a path? First of all, ”path” means a way or passage, a course. Consequently, over the sea they took their course, and upon that sea they reached an island and that this island was their home—the Land of Promise.
The oceans are bound by currents and winds that drive them; these currents in the days of Lehi drove their ship across the sea; later, during the Age of Sail, those winds and currents drove ships across the seas with great regularity
    Of course, their path on the sea was set—set by winds and currents. Those winds and currents blew their vessel, or drove it forward, until they reached the place where the Liahona told them to set into land—a place where it just so happened that the winds and currents died down, allowing their steerage into land. A place where the land was a large bay of quiet or calm water where the vessel was protected while they unloaded and set up their tents, tilled the ground, planted their seeds, and made certain discoveries on that land (1 Nephi 18:24-25).
    This was the location of the Land of Promise.
    When all is said and done, then, all that is needed to find the Land of Promise, is to follow the sea currents and winds off the coast of southern Arabia, which lead southward, then southeast, then eastward and finally turn northward up the coast of South America and die down around 30º south latitude, allowing a steerage into land.
When the winds and currents carried Lehi’s ship across the sea, they did so on set patterns and when the winds and currents died down, a landing was achieved around 30º south latitude on the coast of Chile
    The other part of this meaning, is: ”and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20).
    It is amazing to me how many theorists downplay this point, even to saying that Jacob didn’t know what he was talking about, that he had not seen enough of his land to know it was an island, etc. It is understandable why they would do so, since their models do not match this island requirement. However, they and the rest of us would be better served if they would reject that which does not meet the scriptural record and follow what Nephi wrote.
    We have written many times on these pages about this island and how Jacob’s speaking and Nephi’s writing validates that very point. In fact, a moment later, Nephi writes: “And now, Jacob spake many more things to my people at that time; nevertheless only these things have I caused to be written, for the things which I have written sufficeth me” (2 Nephi 11:1). Certainly, when two prophets acknowledge a writing, one might want to take their understanding into serious account.
    We also have written here that in the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, espousing a New England language that would have been known to Joseph Smith, that the word “isle” means “island,” and in fact, the word “island” did not exist in proper English at the time of Joseph Smith.
    We have also written about the issue that these Nephites knew where they were, knew they were on an island, had been living there for at least a generation or two (2 Nephi 5:28), and evidently the fact that Jacob said they were on an island did not surprise any of them for there is no reaction to that comment at all.
    Lastly, we can look at Nephi’s final verse: “And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days…”
    They were “driven forth before the wind, i.e., they were following the “path” of the sea, i.e., the sea currents…
    we did arrive at the promised land;”
    They reached land, brought their Provisions ashore.
    and we went forth upon the land,”
    Found fresh water, decided where to settle…
    “and did pitch our tents;”
    Settled down, each family marking off their location and pitching their tent, probably in a type of square, each tent facing into the center, which was common for the Beduin arrangement.
    They then tilled the ground, planted their seeds brought from Jerusalem, and set about the process of living.

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