There is frequent contact between heaven and earth.  The Lord makes this contact in a variety of ways, principally through His prophets.  The connection is made also by us when we pray.  The Lord promised Nephi and his family that He would be their "light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments..." (17:13)  He also "leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth and curseth the land unto them for their sakes." (17:38)  Again there is the idea of perspective and attitude when comparing the attitudes of Nephi and Laman and Lemuel.  Even after they had seen an Angel, heard the voice of the Lord, been shocked by the Lord, Laman and Lemuel still were given to rebellion and bound Nephi on the ship and were driven back by the storm sent by God for four days before they could be persuaded to release him.  17:45 says " have heard his voice from time to thim; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder."  Oftentimes on my mission people asked for signs.  If they could just see a sign from God, they would believe.  I have learned, though, that a testimony is made out of the stuff it was born on.  If your testimony came from a sign from God, you will need continuous signs from God to maintain that testimony.  If it came from a spiritual confirmation through prayer, then you must simply continue praying and being worthy to feel the spirit.  Which do you suppose is easier to maintain?
    In 17:42 Nephi, referring to the children of Israel, says, "And they did harden their hearts from time to time, and they did revile against Moses, and also against God; nevertheless, ye know they were led forth by his matchless power into the land of promise."  In the 'nevertheless' statement I can see the tender mercies of the Lord.  He must have had great hope for the potential of the children of Israel.  I think many times I have been led by the Lord even when I was rebelling against him because He knew of my potential and what I could eventually become if He would just give me a little direction.

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