In this lesson, students will review the destruction of the Nephites and learn about Mormon’s desire for his people to be “clasped in the arms of Jesus” (Mormon 5:11). Students will learn how to invite the Lord’s embrace in their own lives. From the Nephites’ refusal to repent, students will understand the sad consequences people experience when they do not repent.
Ask students to determine how many years of Nephite history they studied this week. Help them use the dates in the chapter summaries or at the bottom of the page in 4 Nephi 1 and Mormon 8 of their scriptures to figure this out. (These chapters cover almost 400 years, or over one third of the history of the Nephites.)
Ask half of the class to use their scriptures and study journals to review what they have learned about the Nephites’ happiness in 4 Nephi 1. Have the other half of the class use Mormon 1–2 and their study journals to review who Mormon was and why he was so admirable. Ask each group to present a summary of what they have learned. Then ask:
What is one truth you learned from studying these chapters, and why is it important to you?
Explain that despite Mormon’s efforts to help the Nephites spiritually prepare themselves for battle, they refused to repent and turn to the Lord. As a result of their wickedness, they were left to their own strength, and the Lamanites began to overpower them (see Mormon 3–4).
Ask students if they have ever felt sad for someone who had to endure the consequences of a wrong choice. You might share an appropriate (and nonjudgmental) example of sorrow you have felt for someone who had to suffer negative consequences for a choice he or she made. Explain that Mormon wrote that the people in the last days would sorrow as they read about the destruction of the Nephites.
Invite students to read Mormon 5:10–11 silently, looking for what Mormon said the Nephites could have enjoyed. After students respond, ask the following questions:
What do you think it means to be “clasped in the arms of Jesus”? (The word clasped means to be held tightly or securely or to be embraced, which is a gesture of protection and affection.)
According to Mormon 5:11, what can we do to receive this kind of embrace? (Through repentance we can be “clasped in the arms of Jesus.” Write this principle on the board.)
Read or invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy. Ask the class to listen for what it means to be “clasped in the arms of Jesus.”
“All that will come may be ‘clasped in the arms of Jesus’ [Mormon 5:11]. All souls can be healed by His power. All pain can be soothed. In Him, we can ‘find rest unto [our] souls’ [Matthew 11:29]. Our mortal circumstances may not immediately change, but our pain, worry, suffering, and fear can be swallowed up in His peace and healing balm” (Kent F. Richards, “The Atonement Covers All Pain,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 16).
Invite students to think about times when they have felt “clasped in the arms of Jesus” as a result of repentance. Also ask them to ponder what they may need to do in order to be clasped in His arms now. Testify of the comforting and protective results of repentance.
To illustrate another principle in Mormon 5, place a cork or another floating object in a pan of water. Have two or three students blow it in different directions. Ask how much influence the cork has on where it is going. Encourage students, as they continue to study, to watch for how this cork might be like the Nephites.
Write on the board: When we refuse to repent … Then invite a student to read Mormon 5:2, 16–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for results of the Nephites’ refusal to repent.
Ask students to use what they find in these verses to complete the sentence on the board. As they respond, you might ask some of the following questions to help students understand some of the words and phrases in the verses:
In verse 16, what do you think it means to be “without Christ and God in the world”? (To live without faith in Jesus Christ or Heavenly Father and without Their influence and guidance.)
What do you think it means to be “driven about as chaff before the wind” (Mormon 5:16)? (You might explain that chaff refers to the grasses and outer covering of grains that are blown away in the wind during threshing.)
How do you think you would feel if you were on an anchorless boat in the ocean, with no way to sail or steer? How is this situation similar to the Nephites’ condition?
Explain that Mormon 5 teaches that when we refuse to repent, the Spirit withdraws and we lose guidance from the Lord. Write this principle on the board to complete the statement you started writing earlier. Ask students to ponder times in their lives when they may have experienced this principle.
You may want to have students contrast the two principles written on the board by asking the following question:
From the two truths written on the board, how is the outcome of repenting different from the outcome of refusing to repent?
Invite students to read Mormon 5:22–24 silently, looking for what Mormon invited all of us to do so that we will not become like the Nephites of his time. You might encourage students to mark what they find.
Testify of the truth of the two principles written on the board.
Invite students to summarize the final destruction of the Nephites, using the chapter headings for Mormon 6–8 if necessary.
Invite students to silently read and ponder Mormon 7:10, the last words Mormon wrote before he died.
Share the following information with students, and ask them to look for answers to the questions as they study the next unit: Moroni spoke with Jesus Christ and was shown our day. What did Moroni warn us about? The brother of Jared also had great faith. He saw Jesus Christ and spoke with Him face to face. How does knowing that both Moroni and the brother of Jared saw and spoke to Christ help you trust their words?