Lesson 21

1 Nephi 20–22

“Lesson 21: 1 Nephi 20–22,” 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2017)


Introduction

As Nephi taught members of his family, he read from the brass plates, focusing on Isaiah’s prophecies about the scattering and gathering of Israel. Then he answered the questions his brethren had about those prophecies. He explained that the prophecies applied directly to their family. Echoing the words of Isaiah, Nephi testified that the Lord would gather His covenant people.

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Nephi 20

The Lord chastises His people and invites them to return to Him

Invite students to list in their class notebooks or study journals some circumstances that cause them to feel worried, stressed, or afraid.

  • Do you think it is possible to have peace even if you are experiencing difficulties in your life? Why or why not?

As students study 1 Nephi 20 today, invite them to look for a principle that can help them have greater peace in their lives, even during difficult times.

Explain that 1 Nephi 20 contains the writings of Isaiah, which Nephi quoted to persuade his people to believe in their Redeemer and to help them have hope (see 1 Nephi 19:23–24). The chapter begins with the Lord’s words addressed to Israelites who had rebelled against the Lord and broken their covenants.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 1 Nephi 20:1–5, 8. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words and phrases that show how the house of Israel had rebelled against the Lord.

  • How had the house of Israel rebelled against the Lord?

Point out the phrase “thy neck is an iron sinew” in verse 4. Explain that a sinew is a tendon that connects bone to muscle.

Display a piece of metal that is difficult to bend.

  • What do you think it means for someone’s neck to be “an iron sinew”? (The phrase “iron sinew” indicates that many people in the house of Israel were filled with pride. Just as iron does not bend easily, a prideful person will not bow his or her neck in humility.)

Summarize 1 Nephi 20:9–17 by explaining that the Lord told the people that despite their wickedness He would not abandon them.

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 20:18–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Israelites would have been blessed if they had obeyed the Lord’s commandments.

  • What blessings would the Israelites have received if they had obeyed the Lord’s commandments?

  • How would you state a principle based on verse 18 using the words if and then? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify a principle similar to the following: If we hearken to the Lord’s commandments, then we will have peace.)

Remind students about the circumstances they listed in their class notebooks or study journals that cause them to feel worried, stressed, or afraid. Invite students to ponder how hearkening to the Lord’s commandments has brought peace to them even in the midst of some of the challenges they are facing. Consider inviting a few students to share their experiences with the class.

Invite students to read 1 Nephi 20:22 silently, looking for what this verse teaches about peace.

  • How does Isaiah’s teaching in verse 22 relate to the principle we identified in verse 18?

Ask students to ponder times when they may have lacked peace because of their own disobedience. You may want to testify that the Lord will bless us with peace as we obey His commandments. Invite students to consider one way they can choose to be more obedient to the Lord’s commandments so they can feel greater peace.

1 Nephi 21–22

Nephi explains Isaiah’s prophecy of the scattering and gathering of Israel

Write the word Forgotten on the board. Ask students to think of times when they may have felt forgotten.

Explain that as recorded in 1 Nephi 21, Nephi quoted Isaiah’s prophecy about the gathering of scattered Israel. This was an important subject to Nephi and his family, who had been scattered from Jerusalem, their homeland, because of the wickedness of the people living in the area. Summarize 1 Nephi 21:1–13 by explaining that in these verses the Lord reminded the Israelites that they had been chosen to serve the Lord and bring the message of His salvation “unto the ends of the earth” (1 Nephi 21:6).

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 21:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Israelites (referred to in this verse as “Zion”) would feel in their scattered condition.

  • How would the Israelites feel in their scattered condition?

  • What are some reasons that people today may sometimes feel that the Lord has forgotten them?

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 21:15–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said to reassure the Israelites that He had not forgotten them.

You may want to point out that the phrase “thy walls are continually before me” in verse 16 indicates that the Lord is always watching over and protecting His people.

  • According to verse 16, why will the Savior not forget His people? (Because the Savior has figuratively “graven [them] upon the palms of [His] hands.”)

Explain that to engrave is to cut or carve something into an object so the imprint remains there permanently.

  • In what way have we been graven upon the palms of the Savior’s hands?

  • How does this demonstrate the Savior’s love for us?

  • What can we learn from these verses that can reassure us when we may be tempted to feel that the Lord has forgotten us? (Students may suggest a number of truths, but make sure they identify a truth similar to the following: The Lord loves us, and He will never forget us. Write this truth on the board.)

  • What experiences have helped you know that the Lord loves you and will never forget you?

Summarize 1 Nephi 21:17–22:5 by explaining that Isaiah prophesied that in the latter days the descendants of Israel will be gathered in great numbers. After Nephi read Isaiah’s prophecies, Nephi’s brethren asked him to explain the meaning of those prophecies. Nephi taught his brethren that the house of Israel would “be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations” (1 Nephi 22:3). In the remainder of 1 Nephi 22, Nephi explained how the Lord would gather the house of Israel.

To help students understand the meaning of the phrase “gathering of Israel,” invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“The gathering of Israel consists in believing and accepting and living in harmony with all that the Lord once offered his ancient chosen people. … It consists of believing the gospel, joining the Church, and coming into the kingdom. … It may also consist of assembling to an appointed place or land of worship” (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 515).

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 22:8–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Nephi said the Lord would do to gather Israel in the latter days.

As needed, point out that the marvelous work Nephi spoke of is the Restoration of the gospel and that when the scriptures mention the Lord “mak[ing] bare his arm,” they refer to the Lord showing His power through the Restoration of the gospel.

  • According to verses 9–10, who will be able to be blessed because of the Restoration of the gospel? (After students respond, explain that the phrase “all the kindreds of the earth” in verse 9 refers to all of God’s children everywhere. Write the following truth on the board: Through the Restoration of the gospel, all of God’s children everywhere may be blessed.)

  • In 1 Nephi 22:11, what does Nephi say the Lord will bring unto the house of Israel in the last days? (His covenants and His gospel.)

Invite students to read 1 Nephi 22:12 silently. Encourage them to look for the effect that the Lord’s covenants and gospel will have on the house of Israel.

  • According to verse 12, what will scattered Israel experience and come to know? (Help students identify the following truth: Scattered Israel will be gathered and will come to know that Jesus Christ is their Savior.)

  • In what ways are the prophecies Nephi recorded in verses 9–12 being fulfilled today?

Point out that as we share the gospel with others, we can help them come to know that Jesus Christ is their Savior, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, thereby being gathered spiritually into the Lord’s Church.

Summarize 1 Nephi 22:13–31 by explaining that Nephi continued to write about the prophecies of Isaiah. He explained that in the latter days God would preserve the righteous and destroy the wicked. Nephi concluded by promising that all who repent will dwell safely with the Savior.

Remind students that Nephi quoted Isaiah to help his family members have greater belief and hope in Jesus Christ. Isaiah’s prophecies and Nephi’s testimony can help us in the same way. Testify that Jesus Christ will not forget us and that He is actively seeking to gather us.

Commentary and Background Information

1 Nephi 21:15. “Can a woman forget her sucking child?”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented on Isaiah’s likening of the love a mother has for her child to the love Jesus Christ has for His people:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child. When Isaiah, speaking messianically, wanted to convey Jehovah’s love, he invoked the image of a mother’s devotion. ‘Can a woman forget her sucking child?’ he asks. How absurd, he implies, though not as absurd as thinking Christ will ever forget us” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Behold Thy Mother,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 48).

1 Nephi 22:6–9. “A mighty nation” and “a marvelous work”

Elder Mark E. Petersen (1900–1984) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that in 1 Nephi 22:7, the phrase “mighty nation among the Gentiles” is a reference to the United States of America (see “The Great Prologue” [Brigham Young University fireside, Sept. 29, 1974], 4, speeches.byu.edu).

In 1 Nephi 22:8, Nephi refers to “a marvelous work among the Gentiles” in the latter days. This great work includes the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the priesthood keys necessary to bring the covenants of God to “all the kindreds of the earth” (1 Nephi 22:9).

The events described in 1 Nephi 22:7 had to precede those described in 1 Nephi 22:8–9. In the early 1800s, most countries in the world had forced state religions. The gospel could be restored only in a country where freedom of religion was established by law and freely practiced. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States includes a proclamation of freedom of religion. This amendment and others were ratified on December 15, 1791, allowing freedom of religion to take root in the modern world. Joseph Smith was born in December 1805, just 14 years after the ratification of these amendments to the United States Constitution.

1 Nephi 22:26. “Because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power”

Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy taught that we can overcome Satan’s power in our lives by choosing to live righteously:

Elder Paul V. Johnson

“When we are righteous, Satan has no power over us. A prophecy about the Millennium teaches us that ‘because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness’ (1 Nephi 22:26). This scripture is speaking about the condition that will exist in the world when the people as a whole live in righteousness, but the principle can be true today for us individually. … Individually we can be free from any power the adversary would like to have over us by living righteously. He only gains power as we allow it by our choices” (Paul V. Johnson, “Free to Choose Liberty or Captivity” [Brigham Young University devotional, Nov. 6, 2012], 5–6, speeches.byu.edu).