During this last fireside in Lindon I said something I had never before considered, but which, when I said it, I knew it was true. It answered a long-standing question I have had about why Nephi killed Laban without being guilty of murder.
The discussion we were having was on the Law of the Celestial Kingdom. I have written about this quite a few times, so I will condense the conversation to this: Jesus Christ governs all of His creations via the “light of Christ”, which is His voice. In mankind, this Light of Christ begins as our conscience, and quickly matures and grows into a voice of great revelatory truth. The 88th section of the D&C teach us, among many other things, that this is the “Law of the Celestial Kingdom” and whosoever abides the law, qualifies for the kingdom. Almost all of the Un-Blog is aimed at teaching this one thing – that we must identify the voice of Christ, and obey it, because it is the Law of the Celestial Kingdom, and the highest law of mortality.
Lehi’s commandment to go back to retrieve the Brass Plates was a horrendous challenge for Nephi and his brethren. They tried everything, including buying the plates. When that failed, and they were turning back in defeat, Nephi declared that he would return to Jerusalem and obtain the plates.
Nephi records “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.” (1 Nephi 4:6) “And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban.” (4:10) He didn’t want to and reasoned with the Lord against killing Laban. “The Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands.” (4:11) “And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again; Slay him! . . . It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.” (4:12-13)
Finally, after all this conversation with Jesus Christ, whose voice is the “Holy Spirit”, Nephi obeyed God. “Therefore I obeyed the voice of the Spirit and . . . smote off his head.” (4:18)
“Thou Shalt Not Kill: is a Telestial law, and the command to slay Laban was the Celestial Law, because it came from the voice of God. Nephi would have been condemned had he yielded to his fear and obeyed the lesser law.
I believe it was this supreme act of obedience which was Nephi’s “Abrahamic Trial”. These great and exalting trials are always a paradox of some type. Nephi’s paradox was that he knew the telestial law, and did not want to slay Laban. I dare say that he also knew Laban, who was his relative and likely a familiar part of his life. Still, the Celestial law was through obedience, and Nephi triumphed in a way that few mortals do.
© September 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.