I have come to realize that the creation account was very important to ancient Israelites, including the Nephites. It only covers the first two chapters of Genesis, but it is often referred to, directly or indirectly, both in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon. A few examples from the Book of Mormon are given here, here and here. As far as I understand, the reason for the frequent references to the creation is that it represented the ultimate demonstration of God's power. He spoke and the world was created. Can there be any greater power? This means that he can control all the elements, because they are all His creation. This is often used as argument that nothing is impossible to God, as we will see soon.
I was thinking about the parting of the Red Sea and how it resembles the division of water on the second and third days of the creation account. In Genesis 1:6-9, we read:
In Exodus 14:21, we read about the parting of the Red Sea.
And Moses stretched out his hand over the ; and the the to by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea and the were .
In both cases the waters are divided and there is a separation of water and dry land. I don't think that's a coincidence. The God of Israel showed his power when he repeated some of the work of creation in front of the eyes of the Israelites.
In recent posts, I have written about the word and its power to bring the invisible into the visible. We don't read about the word taking an active role in our version of Exodus like it does in the creation. But it seems like this is an element that has been part of Israelite tradition, nonetheless, (see this blog post). Also, in Moses 1:25, we read
Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many ; for they shall obey thy as if thou wert .
At the parting of the Red Sea, God is lending his power and word to Moses, so he can speak and use his staff to divide the waters.
With this background, it is interesting to note that the parting of the Red Sea is referenced three times in the Book of Mormon. Each time it is used to argue that God has the power to accomplish whatever is necessary.
Therefore let us go up; let us be like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea. (1 Nephi 4:2)
We see the creation elements repeated: The power, the word/speaking, the division between water and dry land. Why does Nephi mention this? To argue that the Lord has power to deliver them from Laban and help them obtain the brass plates. In 1 Nephi 17, we see the same elements.
Here, another miracle involving water in the Exodus is added too. Again, this is used as to argue that God has power to do anything, in this case instructing Nephi to build a ship. Still in chapter 17:
And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot me, that I should build a ship?
Many centuries later, there was another Nephi who spoke to the wicked inhabitants of Zarahemla.
The same elements are repeated again and used to argue that God can give Nephi power to know of the judgments that shall come upon them.
There seems to be a tradition among both ancient Israelites and Nephites, that God's power is demonstrated in the creation and is connected to "the word". When the Red Sea was parted, it was a redemonstration of those powers, but it also conveys another important message: God can grant his power to man. Whatever he sees fit for us to accomplish or command us to do, we can do it, because he can lend us power like He did to Moses. This power is intimately connected to His word.