Lesson 138: Mormon 3–4

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

After retaking their lands from the Lamanites, the Nephites prepared again for battle. Mormon pleaded with the Nephites to repent. Instead, they boasted in their own strength and swore to avenge their fallen brethren. Because the Lord had forbidden His people to seek revenge, Mormon refused to lead the Nephite army, and they were defeated. As the Nephites persisted in wickedness, God poured out His judgments upon them, and the Lamanites began to sweep them from the earth.

Suggestions for Teaching

Mormon 3:1–8

The Lord spares the Nephites in battle to grant them the opportunity to repent, but they harden their hearts

Before class, write the following question on the board:

When have you felt that the Lord was trying to get your attention and encourage you to change something in your life?

Begin by asking students to ponder the question on the board. (Ensure that they do not feel obligated to share anything.)

Explain that the Lord wanted to get the attention of the Nephites so they would change their wicked ways. However, the Nephites hardened their hearts and failed to realize that the Lord was blessing them. After the Nephites made a treaty with the Lamanites and the Gadianton robbers to divide their lands (see Mormon 2:28), the Lord protected them, allowing them to live for 10 years without conflict. During those years, Mormon helped the Nephites prepare for coming attacks (see Mormon 3:1).

Invite a student to read Mormon 3:2–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord wanted the Nephites to do during the time of peace He had given them.

  • What message did the Lord command Mormon to give the Nephites?

  • How did the Nephites respond to the message?

  • According to Mormon 3:3, why had the Lord spared the Nephites in their recent battles despite their wickedness? (Invite students to consider marking the phrase “the Lord … [had] granted unto them a chance for repentance.”)

Summarize Mormon 3:4–8 by explaining that the Lord spared the Nephites twice more in battle, despite their wickedness and their unwillingness to turn to Him.

  • What truth can you identify from the Lord’s dealings with the Nephites recorded in Mormon 3:3–8? (Students may give different answers. Summarize their answers by writing the following truth on the board: The Lord gives us multiple chances to repent of our sins. Invite students to consider writing this truth in their scriptures.)

  • What does this truth teach us about the Lord’s character? (Answers may include that the Lord is merciful and patient.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement:

“Satan wants you to think that you cannot repent, but that is absolutely not true. The Savior has promised you forgiveness if you will humble yourself and make the effort that repentance requires. If you have sinned, the sooner you repent, the sooner you begin to make your way back and find the peace and joy that come with forgiveness” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 28).

Testify of God’s kindness and patience in giving us opportunities to repent.

Ask students to silently ponder the following questions. (You may want to display the questions.)

  • What are some things in your life that you feel the Lord wants you to repent of or change?

  • How will you begin implementing these changes in your life?

Mormon 3:9–22

The Nephites increase in wickedness, and Mormon refuses to lead their armies

Invite a student to read Mormon 3:9–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Nephites acted in response to their multiple victories over the Lamanites. (You may need to tell students that the word avenge in verse 9 means to seek revenge.)

  • How did the Nephites respond following their victories over the Lamanites?

Invite a student to read Mormon 3:11–13 aloud. Ask the class to look for Mormon’s response when the Nephites swore to seek revenge.

  • What did Mormon do when the Nephites expressed a desire for revenge upon the Lamanites?

  • Despite Mormon’s love for the Nephites, why were his prayers for them “without faith” (verse 12)?

  • What does verse 13 teach us about the hardness of the Nephites’ hearts?

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we choose to not repent, then …

Invite a student to read Mormon 3:14–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said would happen to the Nephites.

  • What did the Lord say would happen to the Nephites?

After students respond, complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following principle: If we choose to not repent, then we will experience the full consequences of our sins.

Explain that the full consequences of our sins ultimately include being cut off from God’s presence, because “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God” (Alma 40:26). To help students understand additional consequences we may experience if we do not repent, ask a student to read aloud the following statement:

“If you delay repentance, you may lose blessings, opportunities, and spiritual guidance. You may also become further entangled in sinful behavior, making it more difficult to find your way back” (For the Strength of Youth, 28).

  • How do the principle on the board and this statement help us understand the importance of choosing to repent?

Summarize Mormon 3:16–19 by explaining that after Mormon refused to lead the Nephite armies, he recorded the consequences of the Nephites’ wicked decisions for the benefit of future generations.

Invite students to read Mormon 3:20–22 with a partner, looking for doctrine Mormon wanted us to know.

  • What doctrine did Mormon want us to know? (Students may identify several truths, including the following: We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged of our works, whether they be good or evil. Write this doctrine on the board. Encourage students to consider marking the phrases in verse 20 that teach this doctrine.)

  • How can understanding this doctrine impact our choices and actions?

  • According to verse 22, what did Mormon invite us to do to act on this truth?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what can help us prepare to stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“If you have made covenants, keep them. If you haven’t made them, make them. If you have made them and broken them, repent and repair them. It is never too late so long as the Master … says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don’t delay. It’s getting late” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Laborers in the Vineyard,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 33).

Share your testimony that we will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ to be judged of our works. Remind students of their responses regarding what they want to change or repent of in their lives. Testify to students that as they act on their commitments to repent, the Lord will forgive them and they will one day stand spotless before Him. Encourage students to follow through with their commitments.

Mormon 4

The Lamanites begin to sweep the Nephites off the earth

Invite students to ponder the following question:

  • Do you ever wonder when the consequences of wrong choices will catch up to someone who is knowingly choosing wrong?

Invite students to read Mormon 4:1–2 silently, looking for what happened to the Nephite army as they sought revenge upon the Lamanites. Then ask students to read Mormon 4:4 silently, looking for why the Nephite armies were unsuccessful. Ask students to report what they find.

Ask a student to read Mormon 4:5 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for truths this verse teaches about the results of persisting in wickedness. As students share what they have found, write on the board the following truth from Mormon 4:5: “The judgments of God will overtake the wicked.” You might suggest that students mark this truth in their scriptures.

Invite students to read Mormon 4:10–12 silently, looking for descriptions of the Nephites’ wickedness. Ask students to report what they find.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Mormon 4:13–14, 18, 21–22. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the judgments of God were poured out on the Nephites.

  • For you, what is the saddest part of this account?

Refer students to the principles you have written on the board. Invite them to ponder how they can apply these truths in their lives. Encourage them to act on the promptings of the Holy Spirit that they receive as they ponder.

Testify of the kindness and love of the Lord in giving us sufficient chances to repent. Also testify that consequences will always come to those who persist in sin.

Commentary and Background Information

Mormon 3:9–10. Swearing an oath

Mormon said that the Nephites swore “by the heavens, and also by the throne of God” that they would seek revenge on the Lamanites (see Mormon 3:9–10). The following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explains the significance of swearing an oath in Book of Mormon times, thus giving us an understanding of the blasphemous nature of the Nephites’ attempt to involve God in their vengeance.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“This matter of swearing with an oath in ancient days was far more significant than many of us have realized.

“For instance: Nephi and his brethren were seeking to obtain the brass plates from Laban. Their lives were in peril. Yet Nephi swore this oath: ‘As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us.’ (1 Ne. 3:15.)

“Thus Nephi made God his partner. If he failed to get the plates, it meant God had failed. And because God does not fail, it was incumbent upon Nephi to get the plates or lay down his life in the attempt” (Bruce R. McConkie, “The Doctrine of the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 1982, 33).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

Mormon 4:5. “The judgments of God will overtake the wicked”

The following story could be used at or near the end of the lesson.

To illustrate that negative consequences will follow those who sin, read or have a student read the following experience shared by President Thomas S. Monson:

President Thomas S. Monson

“In a business law class at the university I attended, I remember that one particular classmate never prepared for the class discussions. I thought to myself, ‘How is he going to pass the final examination?’

“I discovered the answer when he came to the classroom for the final exam on a winter’s day wearing on his bare feet only a pair of sandals. I was surprised and watched him as the class began. All of our books had been placed upon the floor, as per the instruction. He slipped the sandals from his feet; and then, with toes that he had trained and had prepared with glycerin, he skillfully turned the pages of one of the books which he had placed on the floor, thereby viewing the answers to the examination questions.

“He received one of the highest grades in that course on business law. But the day of reckoning came. Later, as he prepared to take his comprehensive exam, for the first time the dean of his particular discipline said, ‘This year I will depart from tradition and will conduct an oral, rather than a written, test.’ Our favorite trained-toe expert found that he had his foot in his mouth on that occasion and failed the exam” (Thomas S. Monson, “Preparation Brings Blessings,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 65).