1 And after Christ shall have risen from the dead he shall show himself unto you, my children, and my beloved brethren; and the words which he shall speak unto you shall be the law which ye shall do.
(2 Nephi 26:1)
For Nephi, obedience was not a static concept. To obey was not simply to learn a set of rules and then follow them forever. Rather, obedience meant following instructions given by God over time.
Think about his history:
- God commanded his family to leave their home and go into the wilderness (1 Nephi 2:2).
- God commanded him and his brothers to go back to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates (1 Nephi 3:2-4).
- God commanded them to go back again to invite Ishmael and his family to join them (1 Nephi 7:1-2).
- God commanded them to continue their journey in the wilderness (1 Nephi 16:9).
- God commanded him to build a ship and to cross the ocean (1 Nephi 17:8).
Partway through that journey, when he said, “Thus far I and my father had kept the commandments wherewith the Lord had commanded us” (1 Nephi 5:20, 1 Nephi 16:8), we get the idea that he believes in continuing revelation. He recognizes that the Lord is guiding his family, and he is willing to follow the Lord’s directions as they come.
In the prior chapter, Nephi emphasizes to his descendants the importance of keeping the law of Moses until “the law is fulfilled in Christ” (2 Nephi 25:23-27). In the passage above, he instructs them to obey the words of the Savior Himself after His death and resurrection. (See also 2 Nephi 32:6.) The main message is clear: you will receive additional instructions/directions/commandments over time. Be prepared to adapt and to obey.
I love President Russell M. Nelson’s example of obedience to new instructions from God. In 1979, he attended a meeting where President Spencer W. Kimball asked the participants to pray for the people of China. President Kimball then said, “We should be of service to the Chinese people. We should learn their language. We should pray for them and help them.” That evening, President Nelson said to his wife, “President Kimball asked us in that meeting to learn Chinese! And I did not hear him say, ‘Everyone except Brother Nelson!’ So, would you be willing to study Mandarin Chinese with me?” That decision led to a number of new opportunities to serve (“Hope of Israel,” Worldwide Youth Devotional, 3 June 2018).
Today, I will follow Nephi’s example of obedience to ongoing direction from God. I will remember that God will guide me through my life experiences if I will listen to His voice and follow His instructions.