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The Lost in Nephi’s Vision

“And I also beheld… a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world. And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree…” (1 Nephi 8:21)

It seems like this represents everyone in the world all searching for “the path” the truth and the meaning of life, a connection with the divine. Nobody begins on the path, they must search for it.

“And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree. And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.” (vs.22-23)

One group of people that found that path went forward and followed it, but then a mist of darkness arose and those that started in the path all lost their way.

“And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree. And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed. […] 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.” (vs.24-25,28)

Another group found the iron rod (the word of God), clung to it (adhered closely), made it through the darkness, and partook of the fruit. But then they felt ashamed because they cast their eyes around and were influenced by the mocking of those in the great and spacious building. These fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.

“…other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.” (vs.30)

Another group caught hold of the rod, held fast continually, and partook of the fruit as well. It appears that these people didn’t fall away because they ignored the people of the great and spacious building. Lehi, who partook of the fruit said, “…we heeded them not. …For as many as heeded them, had fallen away.” (vs.33-34)

“And he also saw other multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building. And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain; and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads.” (vs.31-32)

The final group seemed to ignore the path, the rod, and the tree and make a b-line for the great and spacious building to join the other mockers. Many didn’t make it there, however, and ended up either drowning in the fountain of filthy water or were left wandering in strange roads and were also lost.


There were three groups of people that ended up being lost by “wandering,” falling away into “forbidden paths,” or wandering in “strange roads.”

Wander: To rove; to ramble here and there without any certain course or object in view.

These people found the path but without taking hold of the iron rod they became lost when the darkness came. They could not see or find a destination and without the rod and the path, they became lost.

Shame: …confused by guilt or a conviction of some criminal action or indecorous conduct, or by the exposure of some gross errors or misconduct, which the person is conscious must be wrong, and which tends to impair his honor or reputation.
Fall: To depart from the faith, or from rectitude; to apostatize.
Forbidden: to command to forbear or not to do.
Path: A way beaten or trodden by the feet of man or beast…

Tasting the fruit does not overpower agency. These people had the fruit in their hands, but they heeded the mocking others and valued their honor and reputation more than what was true. They chose to cast aside the fruit and pursue paths trodden by others that were forbidden by God. This could pertain to God’s people that apostatize because they pay more heed to criticism instead of the truth they have in their hands. They fear being wrong and value greatly their reputation and what the world thinks of them.

Drown: To be suffocated in water or other fluid; to perish in water.
Suffocate: To choke or kill by stopping respiration.
Depth: Deepness; the distance or measure of a thing from the surface to the bottom, or to the extreme part downwards or inwards.
Fount: A spring, or source of water; properly, a spring or issuing of water from the earth.
Filthy: Polluted; defiled by sinful practices; morally impure.

Sinful practices that are morally impure suffocate people by overwhelming them and making them unable to take in the breath, the pnumea (Holy Spirit) which gives life. This could pertain to those overwhelmed with sexual addictions.

Wander: To rove; to ramble here and there without any certain course or object in view.
Strange: Foreign; belonging to another country.
Road: An open way or public passage; ground appropriated for travel, forming a communication between one city, town or place and another. The word is generally applied to highways, and as a generic term it includes highway, street and lane.

Those that could not make it to the building sought other well-established highways of mass-travel that could take them to other far away destinations where they hoped to find meaning. This could refer to people who seek after major world religions, perhaps those foreign to their experience in hopes of finding meaning. They prefer something that feels more established rather than a simple path. Or maybe they don’t have any destination but seek to explore the philosophies of men hoping to find something there.

  • Richard J. Nobbe III

    I love some of the definitions you have here. What dictionary did you use?