Lesson 12

1 Nephi 8

“Lesson 12: 1 Nephi 8,” 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2017)


Introduction

Lehi recounted his vision of the tree of life. In vision, Lehi partook of the fruit of the tree, which represents the love of God and the blessings we can receive through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Lehi was shown various groups of people and their success or failure in reaching the tree of life and remaining there.

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Nephi 8:1–18

Lehi experiences a vision in which he partakes of the fruit of the tree of life and invites his family to do the same

To help prepare students for this lesson, you may want to invite them to sing “The Iron Rod” (Hymns, no. 274) at the beginning of class.

Write the following questions on the board. Ask a student to read the questions aloud, and invite the class to consider if they have ever wondered about the answers to these questions.

What are some reasons why people turn away from the gospel of Jesus Christ even if they know it is true and have received great blessings from it?

How can I remain faithful to the Lord and His gospel when I am surrounded by temptations and individuals who try to persuade me to make poor choices?

Invite students to choose one of the questions on the board and to look for answers to that question as they study Lehi’s dream, or vision, recorded in 1 Nephi 8. Explain that they will have an opportunity toward the end of the lesson to share with the rest of the class the answers they discover.

Divide students into pairs and invite them to take turns reading aloud from 1 Nephi 8:5–12. Ask them to look for what Lehi saw in his vision.

  • What objects were the focus of Lehi’s vision? (The tree of life and its fruit.)

  • According to verses 10–12, what words and phrases did Lehi use to describe the fruit? (You may want to invite students to consider marking these phrases in their scriptures.)

  • If you were offered some of the fruit that Lehi tasted, would you partake of it? Why?

Explain that the Lord often uses familiar objects as symbols to help us understand eternal truths. In 1 Nephi 1112, and 15, we find Nephi’s record of the meanings of various symbols that he and Lehi saw in vision. Invite students to read 1 Nephi 11:21–23 silently, looking for what the tree represents.

  • According to 1 Nephi 11:22, what does the tree in Lehi’s dream represent?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what the fruit on the tree represents.

Elder David A. Bednar

“The greatest manifestation of God’s love for His children is the mortal ministry, atoning sacrifice, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The fruit on the tree can be considered a symbol for the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement” (David A. Bednar, “Come and See,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 109).

  • According to Elder Bednar, what does the fruit of the tree of life represent?

After students respond, write the following incomplete statement on the board: As we partake of the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement, we are filled with …

Invite students to review 1 Nephi 8:12, looking for what Lehi felt as he partook of the fruit.

  • Based on how Lehi felt after partaking of the fruit, how would you complete the principle on the board? (After students respond, complete the principle on the board so that it reads as follows: As we partake of the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement, we are filled with joy and a desire to help others come unto Him.)

  • What are some of the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

  • What are some ways we can partake of the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement? (Answers may include exercising faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, praying, repenting of our sins, receiving gospel ordinances, and keeping covenants.)

  • When have you partaken of the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement and been filled with joy and a desire to bring others to the Savior? (You may want to give students a moment to ponder this question before inviting them to respond. Remind students not to share anything that is too personal or private. Consider sharing one of your own experiences as well.)

Summarize 1 Nephi 8:13–18 by explaining that in Lehi’s vision, after Lehi partook of the fruit of the tree of life, he invited his family to partake. Sariah, Sam, and Nephi partook of the fruit, but Laman and Lemuel refused.

1 Nephi 8:19–38

In his vision, Lehi sees various groups of people succeed or fail in reaching the tree of life

Lehi’s Dream

Display the picture Lehi’s Dream (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 69) or another picture depicting Lehi’s dream (see LDS.org). Point out the symbols the class has already discussed: the tree and the fruit. Explain that in this vision, the Lord also used other symbols to teach Lehi how to come unto Jesus Christ and partake of His Atonement. Ask students what other symbols they see in the picture and what those symbols may represent.

handout iconPrepare the following chart as a handout, or display it on the board. You may want to invite students to consider writing the interpretations of the symbols in their scriptures next to the corresponding verses in 1 Nephi 8.

handout, Symbols in Lehi’s Vision

Symbols in Lehi’s Vision

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 12

Symbol in Lehi’s Vision

Interpretation Recorded by Nephi

1 Nephi 8:10–12—The tree with white fruit

1 Nephi 11:21–24—The love of God; the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ

1 Nephi 8:13—The river of filthy water

1 Nephi 12:16; 15:26–29—Filthiness; the depths of hell

1 Nephi 8:19—The rod of iron

1 Nephi 11:25—The word of God

1 Nephi 8:23—The mists of darkness

1 Nephi 12:17—The temptations of the devil

1 Nephi 8:26—The great and spacious building

1 Nephi 11:35–36; 12:18—The pride and vain imaginations of the world

Point out that Lehi was shown many people who were trying to get to the tree and partake of the fruit, as well as other people who wandered away from the tree.

Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

President Boyd K. Packer

“You may think that Lehi’s dream or vision has no special meaning for you, but it does. You are in it; all of us are in it” (Boyd K. Packer, “Finding Ourselves in Lehi’s Dream,” Ensign or Liahona, Aug. 2010, 22).

As students study the remainder of the vision, encourage them to look for people in the vision who might represent themselves.

Divide students into four groups and assign one of the following scripture passages to each group: 1 Nephi 8:21–23; 1 Nephi 8:24–28; 1 Nephi 8:30; and 1 Nephi 8:31–34. Ask the members of each group to study their assigned passage together and prepare to answer the following questions:

  • What did the people do? Why did they do it?

  • What do their actions represent?

  • What principle can we learn from their actions?

After sufficient time, ask a member of each group to report his or her group’s answers to the questions. Write on the board the principles that students identify. These may include the following:

If we yield to the temptations of the devil, we will be led away from the path of righteousness and from the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement. (See 1 Nephi 8:21–23.)

If we are ashamed of Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can fall away into forbidden paths and become lost. (See 1 Nephi 8:24–28.)

If we continually hold fast to the word of God, we can overcome temptation and partake of the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. (See 1 Nephi 8:30.)

We can remain faithful by choosing not to heed those who mock us as we partake of the blessings of the gospel. (See 1 Nephi 8:31–34.)

Refer to the questions you introduced at the beginning of class. Invite students to explain how one or more of the principles they identified in 1 Nephi 8 may be used to answer the question they chose to focus on. For example, you could discuss how becoming ashamed of Jesus Christ and His gospel may lead some people to turn away from the gospel even if they know it is true and have received great blessings from it.

To enhance the discussion, consider asking questions such as the following:

  • What causes some people today to be ashamed of Jesus Christ and of living His gospel?

  • Think of someone you know who has remained faithful to the gospel by choosing not to heed the mocking of the world. What have you learned from that person’s example?

  • How can we continually hold fast to the word of God? How does this help us to overcome temptation?

Summarize 1 Nephi 8:35–38 by explaining that after recounting his vision, Lehi exhorted Laman and Lemuel to hearken to his words and keep the commandments of the Lord.

Testify of the principles students identified in 1 Nephi 8, and invite students to share their testimonies of these principles as well. Refer back to the picture Lehi’s Dream, and ask students to silently consider where they would currently locate themselves in the vision. Assure them that no matter where they see themselves in the vision, they each have the ability to choose to qualify for the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement.

Invite students to answer the following questions in their class notebooks or study journals:

  • Why would you like to arrive and remain at the tree Lehi saw in his vision?

  • What will you do in order to arrive or remain there?

To conclude, invite students to apply the principles they learned while studying 1 Nephi 8.

Commentary and Background Information

1 Nephi 8:19. Blessings of holding fast to the word of God

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) taught of the blessings that come from holding fast to the word of God:

President Ezra Taft Benson

“[Lehi] saw that if people would hold fast to that rod, they could avoid the rivers of filthiness, stay away from the forbidden paths, stop from wandering in the strange roads that lead to destruction. … Not only will the word of God lead us to the fruit which is desirable above all others, but in the word of God and through it we can find the power to resist temptation, the power to thwart the work of Satan and his emissaries. …

“… The word of God, as found in the scriptures, in the words of living prophets, and in personal revelation, has the power to fortify the Saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 80).

1 Nephi 8:26–27. “Great and spacious building”

The great and spacious building stands in opposition to the tree of life, which represents the love of God and the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Glenn L. Pace, who served as a member of the Seventy, contrasted the standards of God with the behaviors of the people in the great and spacious building:

Elder Glenn L. Pace

“To those of you who are inching your way closer and closer to that great and spacious building, let me make it completely clear that the people in that building have absolutely nothing to offer except instant, short-term gratification inescapably connected to long-term sorrow and suffering. The commandments you observe were not given by a dispassionate God to prevent you from having fun, but by a loving Father in Heaven who wants you to be happy while you are living on this earth as well as in the hereafter” (Glenn L. Pace, “They’re Not Really Happy,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 40).