Lehi’s Family Did Not Flee From Jerusalem into the Wilderness
God cannot lie!
“ . . . the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.”69
“ . . . he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.”70
Joseph Smith’s story placed Lehi and his family allegedly fleeing from Jerusalem about one year after Zedekiah’s appointment as king. Having fled into the wilderness they ultimately found themselves near the banks of the Red Sea much like the children of Israel had done when God delivered them by the hand of Moses.
The possibility of survival in the wilderness by the hand of God is never in question. God had already proven his abilities for forty years in the wilderness with the Israelites after delivering them from Egypt. Let it be understood that this writer believes in the miraculous abilities of the Almighty Holy Jehovah. Nothing is impossible with God -- except lying. Consider the following verses:
“That by two immutable things, in which
impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:”71
“In hope of eternal life, which
God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”72
the Strength of Israel will not lie
nor repent: for he
not a man, that he should repent.”73
not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do
it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”74
Because God cannot lie, Lehi and his family did not flee from Jerusalem into the wilderness for their safety. Had God sent them away as the book of I Nephi states, God would have been sparing them from the punishments already appointed them. God had long before declared that he would not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy upon any of the inhabitants of the land, and it is impossible for God to lie!
Jer. 13:13 Then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Behold,
I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings that sit upon David's throne, and the priests, and the prophets,
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
Jer. 13:14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD:
I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.
Jer. 15:1 Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me,
toward this people: cast
out of my sight, and let them go forth.
Jer. 15:2 And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD;
for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as
for the famine, to the famine; and such as
for the captivity, to the captivity.
In chapter four we considered God’s thoughts and intentions toward those who were deported to Babylon and those who remained in Jerusalem. Had God intended to save Lehi and his family, he would have sent them into captivity in Babylon with the rest of those spoken of in Jeremiah chapter twenty-four:
“ . . . whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.
For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.
And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.”75
It is evident from the above verses that God had plans of fellowship again with those who he sent away to Babylon, or at least with their descendants, but not for those who remained in Jerusalem. If God had sent Lehi and his family into the wilderness it would have been for their destruction according to Jeremiah 24:8-10:
“ . . . and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land . . .”
“And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth
for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and
a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them.
And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers.”
Had Joseph Smith slanted his story to indicate they were being sent out into the wilderness for their destruction, the story would have better agreed with the Bible. The wilderness was at that time a place of death for everything and everybody. The birds had even flown the coop, so to speak, as we shall see.
From somewhere near the beginning of Jeremiah’s ministry that spanned thirty years prior to Zedekiah’s reign God had turned off the rainfall from heaven across the lands of Israel and Judah. All the evidence this writer can glean from the book of Jeremiah indicates that the drought endured from chapter three in the book of Jeremiah throughout the rest of the prophet’s forty-one year ministry. By the time Joseph Smith’s story places Lehi fleeing Jerusalem, the entire lands of Judah and Israel as well as the surrounding wilderness areas must have been parched bare ground.
Jer. 3:3 Therefore
the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.
Jer. 5:23 But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.
Jer. 5:24 Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear
the LORD our God, that giveth
rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.
Jer. 5:25 Your iniquities have turned away
things, [The former and latter rains]
and your sins have withholden good
Jer. 9:9 Shall I not visit them for these
saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?
Jer. 9:10 For the mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing, and for
the habitations of the wilderness
because they are burned up, so that none can pass through
them; neither can
hear the voice of the cattle; both the fowl of the heavens and the beast are fled; they are gone.
Jer. 9:11 And I will make Jerusalem heaps,
a den of dragons; and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant.
Jer. 9:12 Who
the wise man, that may understand this? and
who is he
to whom the mouth of the LORD hath spoken, that he may declare it, for what
the land perisheth
is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through?
Jer. 9:15 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them,
this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.
(A picture of starvation and thirst)
Jer. 12:4 How long shall the land mourn, and
the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein?
the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.
Jer. 12:11 They have made it desolate,
desolate it mourneth unto me;
the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth
Jer. 14:1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning
Jer. 14:2 Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.
Jer. 14:3 And
their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters: they came to the pits,
found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads.
Jer. 14:4 Because
the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth,
the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.
Jer. 14:5 Yea,
the hind also calved in the field, and forsook
it, because there was no grass.
Jer. 14:6 And the wild asses did stand
in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because
Jer. 14:15 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and
shall those prophets be consumed.
Jer. 14:16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the
and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.
Jer. 14:18 If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and
if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine!
yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not.
Jer. 14:22 Are there
among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers?
Jer. 23:10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth;
the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force
Notice above in Jeremiah 9:9-12, that God said the habitations of the wilderness were impassable. Not even the wild animals of the wilderness were able to survive. To send the family out into the wilderness as Joseph Smith claimed would have meant their death of thirst or starvation. Had Joseph Smith known the Bible better when he penned the BkM he might have started his story just thirty years earlier. It might have been believable then. When he tells us that Lehi’s family passed through the wilderness that God said was impassable, we must either believe God or him. The following verses teach us to believe God’s record above men’s:
“ . . . he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his son.”76
“For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar . . .”77
There is no doubt in this writer’s mind that God would have been able to sustain Lehi and his family through the impassible wilderness had he so desired. God’s abilities are miraculous above and beyond anything humans can imagine. The same God who created the water on this earth in Genesis chapter one is still able to create water and food anywhere he desires. God’s abilities are not the issue, but just because God was able to sustain the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years does not prove that he did the same for Lehi and his family. Jeremiah’s record indicates that he did not!
Upon their arrival near the borders of the Red Sea, Joseph Smith recorded that Lehi offered sacrifice and burnt offerings unto God three different times. Having allegedly traveled over 150 miles across the Sinai Desert through impassible wilderness areas, Lehi’s sacrifices could not have been the perfect unblemished sacrifices commanded by God. Let’s consider the illegality of those alleged wilderness sacrifices next.
#69 1 Nephi 2:2, BkM
#70 1 Nephi 2:2 & 4, Bkm
#71 Hebrews 6:18, KJV Bible
#72 Titus 1:2, KJV Bible
#73 1 Samuel 15:29, KJV Bible
#74 Numbers 23:19, KJV Bible
#75 Jeremiah 24:5-7, KJV Bible
#76 1 John 5:10, KJV Bible
#77 Romans 3:3-4, KJV Bible