Chapter Twenty

Lehi’s Sacrifices Would Have Been Wasted Effort
God refused to receive any sacrifices from every Jerusalem resident.

     At the beginning of chapter nineteen we saw that Lehi allegedly offered sacrifices and burnt offerings three times in the wilderness. Many questions arise about where Lehi obtained the animals he supposedly offered, what kind of animals he offered, and what kind of physical health those animals would have been in. Those questions will be considered, but they matter little in view of God’s rejection of all sacrifices by the Jerusalem residents from years before Lehi allegedly offered them:

Jer. 6:20 To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country?   your burnt offerings   are   not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.

Jer. 7:21 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh.
Jer. 7:22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices:
Jer. 7:23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.
Jer. 7:24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels   and   in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

(The apparent error above is that the people chose to sacrifice rather than obey God’s commandments. Consider this against Hebrews 10:3-6 in the Bible. God takes no pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices. He desires that people do not sin and therefore will not need to sacrifice. Above in the verses referenced, it appears that God told the people to eat the animals they were sacrificing rather than offer them to him.)

Jer. 14:10 Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.
Jer. 14:11 Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for   their   good.
Jer. 14:12 When they fast, I will not hear their cry;   and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.

Admittedly this last rejection by God in chapter fourteen may have been a number of years before Lehi entered the picture. One might suppose that God had changed his mind by the time Lehi offered sacrifices. This is very unlikely due to the drought that produced grassless pastures and sickly animals rather than the unblemished specimens that God’s Levitical law required:

Jer. 9:10 For the mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing, and for   the habitations of the wilderness   a lamentation,   because they are burned up, so that none can pass through   them; neither can   men   hear the voice of the cattle; both the fowl of the heavens and the beast are fled; they are gone.

Jer. 9:12 Who   is   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   and   is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through?

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. 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,   and   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   there was   no grass.

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! . . .”

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   is   not right.

Famine is a result of the lack of food, and zero rain fall was not the only cause for the food shortage. Readers should realize that God had given the herds and flocks to Nebuchadnezzar’s armies who had laid siege against the city only about a year before Lehi had allegedly fled from Jerusalem:

Jer. 5:15 Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it   is   a mighty nation, it   is   an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say.
Jer. 5:16 Their quiver   is   as an open sepulchre, they   are   all mighty men.

Jer. 5:17 And   they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread,   which   thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities,   wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.

After Nebuchadnezzar’s armies besieged the city it is doubtful that there were very many herds or flocks remaining from which Lehi might have taken animals to sacrifice. Removing any from the Jerusalem area that might have remained would have brought the entire hungry population of the impoverished city against Lehi and his family. Even if there had been any to take, they would not have been very healthy, and God’s Levitical law required unblemished animals from the herds or flocks.

“And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle,   even   of the herd, and of the flock.
If his offering   be   a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male   without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.
And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”98  

“And if his offering   be   of the flocks,   namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a male   without blemish.”99

“AND if his oblation   be   a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer   it   of the herd; whether   it be   a male or female, he shall offer it   without blemish   before the LORD.”100

“And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering unto the LORD   be   of the flock; male or female, he shall offer it   without blemish.”101

Every offering pictured God’s perfect sacrifice, Jesus, the Lamb of God:

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith,   Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”102 

Jesus was without sin in every manner. He was unblemished!

“And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and   in him is no sin.”103
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us,   leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:”104

     In one manner or another, every sacrifice or burnt offering pictured our Savior who would eventually be offered upon the cross at Calvary. For this reason God would not have accepted blemished sacrifices under any circumstances. Weak sickly animals would have been an abomination because they did not properly portray Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God who would eventually take away all of the world’s sin. Every sacrifice had to be perfect.
     It is doubtful that Lehi could have taken any large number of animals from the Jerusalem area because the family is recorded as having fled secretly for their lives, and a large caravan would have attracted unwanted attention.

“And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. . . . and   took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.”105

“ . . . that the Jews might not know concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue us and destroy us.”106   

     As unlikely as it is that Lehi could have taken sacrificial animals with him when fleeing from Jerusalem, for the sake of argument, let’s suppose he did.  Had Lehi taken animals with him from the Jerusalem area, by the time they arrived at the Red Sea those animals would definitely not have been in any condition to be the unblemished sacrifices required by Levitical law. The trek of at least 150 miles across the impassible wilderness barren of water and grass, part of which would have been the Sinai Desert, would only have made the animals more weak and sickly.  
     Some might claim that Lehi found animals in the wilderness to sacrifice, but God had already said there were no animals, including birds, in the wilderness, (See Jer. 9:10 & 12:4 above). Beside that, the law called for animals that were to be of the flocks and herds:

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering   of the cattle,   even   of the herd, and of the flock.
If his offering   be   a burnt sacrifice   of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.”107  

     The truth of the matter is that Joseph Smith did not know the Bible or the events surrounding the time frame when Zedekiah was appointed king as well as he thought he did. Joseph Smith placed Lehi into a setting that was neither actual nor realistic. Lehi was merely a fictional character invented by Joseph Smith improperly placed into an ancient time frame in an impossible situation.  
     Joseph Smith revealed his ignorance of Biblical history through the manuscript he penned called the BkM. In chapter twenty-one we will discover that this ignorance was evident as well in a vision from God he claimed to have had. The errors within will reveal that his visions were no more real than Lehi’s.

#98  Leviticus 1:1-4, KJV Bible
#99  Leviticus 1:10, KJV Bible
#100  Leviticus 3:1, KJV Bible
#101  Leviticus 3:6, KJV bible
#102  John 1:29, KJV Bible
#103  1 John 3:5, KJV Bible
#104  1 Peter 2:21-22, KJV bible
#105  1 Nephi 2:4, BkM
#106  1 Nephi 4:36, BkM
#107  Leviticus 1:2-3, KJV Bible