So in this last week we, that is me and the 17-18 year old gentlemen I teach, were looking at the Tree of Life vision and Nephi’s interpretation. As you know, our goal is to read the BoM and look for foundational Christian doctrine – hence the title “Christianity 101: BoM Style.” This time we started with that mysterious man who pops up in front of Lehi and declares his intent to lead Lehi to the Tree of Life (1 Ne 8:5-7).
Who is that guy and what is the Bat Signal that brings him out? I vaguely remember reading that someone thought he might be the Holy Spirit, although I can’t remember who or why. Myself, I thought it might be the Spirit because the whole scene reminds me of this passage (Rom 5:3-5 NRS):
And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
In Lehi’s vision, the Tree of Life and the Water of Life both represent the love of God. And in fact, so important is this symbol that when Nephi’s interlocutor wants to test Nephi’s response to his father’s narrative, he asks Nephi whether or not he believes that his father saw this tree! (1 Ne 11:4) So the man in Lehi’s vision is responsible for linking Lehi to the love of God, which is precisely what Paul suggests is the role of the Holy Spirit.