21 And it came to pass that they did speak unto me again, saying: What meaneth this thing which our father saw in a dream? What meaneth the tree which he saw?I always thought it was interesting that Nephi explains the tree as a “representation of the tree of life” to his brothers and they seem to accept this immediately and no other explanation was needed. It took me a very long time to realize this tree of life was representing the same tree of life in the Garden of Eden that man was to be kept from by cherubim and a flaming sword, lest they partake of the fruit and live forever in their sins. Seen in this way, Lehi’s dream takes on greater meaning. Now, rather than being kept from the tree of life, Lehi is led to it with the rod of iron. In a way, it foreshadowed how through Christ, the way of eternal life would be open to all who would come.
22 And I said unto them: It was a representation of the tree of life.
23 And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree?
24 And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction. (1 Nephi 15:21-24)
Something else stuck out to me as I read these verses. When Nephi explains the rod of iron to his brothers, he ascribes to it a quality of the tree of life—“whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish” (1 Nephi 15:24, emphasis added).
That is extraordinary. Of course, our bodies must die, but our spirits needn’t. Or if we’ve sinned, we needn’t stay spiritually dead. If we hearken to the word of God (and by this I don’t mean just read the scriptures, but obey every word from God) then we will never perish!
Lest you think I am espousing a gospel of works and leaving out Christ, we can also remember that “the Word” is another name for Christ. Christ’s life was like that rod of iron, taking the undeviating course to eternal life. Grabbing hold of the rod then becomes an act of faith in Christ and repentance of our sins. Then it becomes perfectly obvious that whoever hearkens to the Word will never perish.
It seems the symbolism of that dream has Christ everywhere. Where else do you see Him?
Image: from Rejoice in Christ blog, http://mormonchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/05/lehis-dream-interpretation.html.