Although Mormon grew up in a time of great wickedness, he chose to be faithful. Because of his faithfulness, he was told that he would be entrusted with the people’s sacred records later in his life. At age 15, he was “visited of the Lord” (Mormon 1:15). He desired to help the Nephites repent, but because of their willful rebellion he was forbidden by the Lord to preach to them. At this young age, he was appointed to lead the Nephite army. Because many of the Nephites had lost the Holy Ghost and other gifts of God, they were left to their own strength as they battled the Lamanites.
Write the following question on the board before class so students can think about it as they arrive: How do you feel when people call you a Mormon?
At the beginning of class, invite students to respond to the question on the board. After they have discussed the question, ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008):
“While I sometimes regret that people do not call this church by its proper name, I am happy that the nickname they use is one of great honor made so by a remarkable man and a book which gives an unmatched testimony concerning the Redeemer of the world.
“Anyone who comes to know the man Mormon, through the reading and pondering of his words, … will come to know that Mormon is not a word of disrepute, but that it represents the greatest good—that good which is of God” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Mormon Should Mean ‘More Good,’” Ensign, Nov. 1990, 52–53).
As students study Mormon 1–2 today, invite them to look for principles they can learn from the record Mormon kept and from his righteous example.
To help students understand the context of Mormon 1–2, explain that almost 300 years after the Savior appeared to the Nephites, almost everyone in the land was living in wickedness. At this time Ammaron, a righteous man who had served as a record keeper, was “constrained by the Holy Ghost [to] hide up the records which were sacred” (see 4 Nephi 1:47–49). About this same time, Ammaron visited Mormon and instructed him concerning his future responsibility for the records.
Write the name Mormon on the board. Ask a student to read Mormon 1:2 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for words and phrases Ammaron used to describe Mormon. Ask them to report what they find, and list their responses on the board below “Mormon.” You may need to explain that the word sober means calm, serious, and thoughtful.
What do you think it means to be “quick to observe”?
As part of this discussion, invite a student to read the following explanation by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“When we are quick to observe, we promptly look or notice and obey. Both of these fundamental elements—looking and obeying—are essential to being quick to observe. And the prophet Mormon is an impressive example of this gift in action” (David A. Bednar, “Quick to Observe,” Ensign, Dec. 2006, 32).
Invite a student to read Mormon 1:3–5 aloud, and ask the class to identify Ammaron’s instructions to Mormon.
What did Ammaron ask Mormon to do?
Why do you think Mormon needed to be sober and quick to observe in order to fulfill these responsibilities?
Summarize Mormon 1:6–12 by explaining that while Mormon was in his youth, there were a number of battles between the Nephites and the Lamanites.
Explain that during this time the Nephites lost precious gifts from the Lord. Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Mormon 1:13–19. Before the verses are read, assign one half of the class to look for gifts that the Lord began to take away from the Nephites. Assign the other half to look for reasons why the Lord took these gifts away from the Nephites. Invite students from each group to share their findings with the class.
According to Mormon 1:13–14, what happens when people rebel and turn away from the Lord? (Students may give varied responses. Consider summarizing their responses by writing the following truth on the board: When people are wicked and unbelieving, they lose spiritual gifts from the Lord and the influence of the Holy Ghost.)
Point out that the Nephites’ rebellion was extreme. However, this principle applies to us individually when we disobey God’s commandments.
Which of the gifts listed in Mormon 1:13–14 would be most difficult for you to lose? Why?
According to verse 15, what was Mormon experiencing while many of the Nephites were losing the gifts of God and the influence of the Holy Ghost? (Add the phrases “visited of the Lord” and “tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus” to the list of Mormon’s attributes on the board.)
Why do you think Mormon was able to have spiritual experiences even though he was in the midst of great wickedness?
Ask a student who is 15 years old (or close to age 15) to read Mormon 2:1–2 aloud. Invite the class to look for additional attributes of the prophet Mormon. Ask them to report what they find, and add their responses to the list on the board.
In what ways might the attributes listed on the board have helped Mormon as a leader of an army?
Summarize Mormon 2:3–9 by telling students that the Lamanites attacked the Nephite armies with such force that the Nephites were frightened and retreated. The Lamanites drove them from one place to another until the Nephites gathered in one place. Eventually, Mormon’s army withstood the Lamanites and caused them to flee.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Mormon 2:10–15. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the spiritual condition of the Nephites after these battles.
Why were the Nephites sorrowing? (See Mormon 2:10–13. They sorrowed only because of the consequences of their sins, not because they regretted their actions.)
What do you think it means that “the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin” (verse 13)?
Write the following on the board:
Ask students to review Mormon 2:14, looking for what the Nephites did not do, because they were sorrowing only for the consequences of sin. Invite them to report what they find. Complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following truth: Sorrowing only because of the consequences of sin can prevent us from coming unto Jesus Christ with broken hearts and contrite spirits.
How might sorrowing only because of the consequences of sin prevent us from coming unto Jesus Christ and repenting?
What should we feel sorrow for when we sin?
What do you think it means to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit? (To be humble and repentant [see Guide to the Scriptures, “Broken Heart,” scriptures.lds.org].)
Invite students to ponder how they respond when they realize they have sinned. Encourage them to come unto the Savior with a humble heart so they can be forgiven and experience peace.
Summarize Mormon 2:16–18 by explaining that as battles with the Lamanites continued, Mormon found himself near a hill called Shim, where Ammaron had hidden the Nephite records. He removed the plates of Nephi and began to record what he had observed among the people since the time he was a child.
Invite a student to read Mormon 2:18–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Mormon’s description of the spiritual conditions of the people in his day. Also ask them to look for his personal expression of hope.
How did Mormon describe the spiritual conditions in his day? (“A continual scene of wickedness and abominations.”)
From what you have learned about Mormon, why do you think he could be confident that he would “be lifted up at the last day”? (You may want to help students understand that when Mormon spoke of being “lifted up at the last day,” he referred to being resurrected and brought into the presence of God to remain with Him forever.)
What principle can we learn from Mormon’s example? (Students may share many different responses. Their responses should express the following principle: We can choose to live righteously, even in a wicked society. Write this truth on the board, and invite students to consider writing this truth in their scriptures.)
In what ways are we surrounded by wickedness today?
What blessings do we receive as we choose to live righteously, even when we are surrounded by wickedness? (You may also want to refer students to the blessings Mormon received as recorded in Mormon 1:15 and Mormon 2:19.)
When have you seen friends or family members stand firm in obeying God’s will even when those around them did not?
Encourage students to think of a specific area of their lives in which they can do more to stand for what is right. Invite them to write in notebooks or study journals about how they would like to respond the next time they are challenged in that specific area. Testify that, like Mormon, we can choose to live righteously and that the Lord will help us stand firmly for what is right, even when others around us do not.
Summarize Mormon 2:20–29 by explaining that the Nephites defeated the Lamanites in battle again. However, the Nephites did not have the Spirit of the Lord with them.