I love Lehi’s dream. It is one of my favorite portions of scripture, because of how the themes and images in the dream are applicable in so many different circumstances. Lehi interprets the vision in a wholly familial way, while focusing on his own children and their needs. Nephi receives an interpretation of the dream that instead places against the vast backdrop of human history. This is a rich and multifaceted account that deserves serious study.
One of my favorite observations about Lehi’s dream is how well it parallels or syncs up with the Savior’s parable of the sower. Just as there were four types of soil in the parable, there are likewise four groups and they are closely parallel. This is a chart I made for my Sunday School class in order to illustrate the comparison. I’ve seen different pairings between the groups in other sources, but this is the pairing that I believe is best. (Reversing the thorns and stony places would also make sense but I prefer this arrangement for reasons that I describe below).
|Group||Comparison to the parable of the sower.|
|Those who never start on the path but instead go directly toward the great and spacious building.
1 Nephi 8: 31-33
|Seeds that fell by the wayside
Matthew 13:4, 19
|Those who start on the path but then become lost in the mist of darkness
1 Nephi 8: 21-23
|Seeds that fell among the thorns
Matthew 13: 7, 22
|Those who hold to the rod of iron until they reach the tree and partake of the fruit, but then become ashamed and fall away.
1 Nephi 8:24-28, 34
|Seeds that fell in stony places
Matthew 13:56, 2021
|Those who hold to the rod of iron until they reach the tree and partake of the fruit, and who then remain faithful.
1 Nephi 8:30
|Seeds that fell into good ground
Matthew 13:8, 23
Group #1- Those who feel their way to the great and spacious building
I believe that this group most closely fits in with the seeds that fall by the wayside. For this group, the tree of life simply has no allure. They feel their way immediately towards the great and spacious building. Unlike all of the other groups, they never even commence on the journey towards the tree. Likewise, the seeds that fall by the wayside never even land on soil capable of growth. Instead, they are immediately snatched away.
Group #2- Those who start on the path but become lost in the mist of darkness
The mist of darkness symbolically seems to me to sync up quite well with the temptations and cares of the world. Those who start on the path lose sight of the tree because they are more attracted to the things that the building has to offer. They do not continue as they commence and thus the thorns grow and prevent their faith from growing and bringing forth seed.
Group #3- Those who fall away back because of the mocking of those in the great and spacious building
Those who reach the tree were able to endure all kinds of darkness and opposition until they reached the tree by clinging to the iron rod. Yet, once they take of the fruit of the tree they become ashamed because of the mocking, scorn and, persecution. They are in other words ashamed “because of the word.” Thus, even though they have been able to partake of the fruit, the word is not able to take root within them and blossom.
Group #4- Those who remain by the tree
I love how considering these two accounts together and along with Alma’s parable of the seed enriches our appreciation for this fourth group. These individuals not only partake of the fruit and hear the word of God, but they understand it. They therefore are able to cultivate their faith and heed not the mocking and scorn from those in the great and spacious building. And ultimately, due to their faith and diligence and patience, they are able to bring forth thirty or sixty, or hundred times the fruit. Thus, these individuals are not merely passive partakers of the fruit of the tree but they also bring forth their own fruit as a result of their faith and perseverance. This is seen in the missionary efforts of Lehi as he attempts to reach out to his family and invite them to partake.