Lesson 6

1 Nephi 1

“Lesson 6: 1 Nephi 1,” 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2017)


Introduction

The Book of Mormon begins with Lehi faithfully fulfilling his role as a prophet. Lehi was one of “many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent” (1 Nephi 1:4). When he prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem and testified of redemption through the Messiah, many people mocked him and wanted to kill him. Nevertheless, Lehi rejoiced in the Lord’s mercy and power of deliverance.

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Nephi 1:1–3

Nephi begins his record

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: God is …

Invite students to come to the board and write words or phrases that complete the statement so that it expresses an attribute or characteristic of God. Select a few statements on the board, and ask the students who wrote them to describe how they have discovered that God possesses that attribute or characteristic.

As students study 1 Nephi 1 today, invite them to look for truths that can help us understand more about some of God’s attributes and how He desires to bless us.

Explain that Nephi wrote the record that we know as the First Book of Nephi on the small plates of Nephi about 30 years after leaving Jerusalem (see 2 Nephi 5:28–33). Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 1:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Nephi described about his life.

  • What can we learn about Nephi’s life from verse 1?

  • What did Nephi’s “knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God” lead him to do?

Direct students’ attention to the first statement in 1 Nephi 1:3. Invite them to consider marking Nephi’s testimony about the truthfulness of his record.

1 Nephi 1:4–15

Lehi receives a vision about the destruction of Jerusalem and learns of God’s mercy

Point out that the remainder of 1 Nephi 1 includes Nephi’s account of experiences that his father Lehi had while dwelling at Jerusalem. These experiences took place during a time of widespread wickedness in Jerusalem. Many people worshipped idols, engaged in immorality, called “evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20), and had forsaken their covenants with the Lord (see Bible Dictionary, “Jeremiah”).

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 1:4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord warned the people in Jerusalem.

  • How did the Lord warn the people in Jerusalem? (Through prophets. Point out that these included the Old Testament prophets Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and others.)

Divide students in pairs and instruct them to take turns reading verses from 1 Nephi 1:5–13, looking for what Lehi saw in vision. After sufficient time, ask one or two students to summarize what Lehi saw.

  • According to verse 13, what did Lehi learn about Jerusalem?

  • How might you have reacted if you had seen and learned what Lehi did?

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 1:14–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Lehi reacted after seeing these visions.

  • Why do you think Lehi rejoiced? (You might point out that in addition to learning of God’s judgments upon the wicked [see verse 13], Lehi learned of the coming of the Messiah and the redemption of the world [see verse 19].)

  • What truth about God can we learn from Lehi’s testimony at the end of verse 14? (Help students identify the following truth: Because God is merciful, He will not allow those who come unto Him to perish. You may want to invite students to consider marking this truth in their scriptures.)

Add merciful to the list of God’s attributes and characteristics on the board if it is not already there.

  • What do you think it means to come unto God?

  • What do you think it means that God will not allow those who come unto Him to perish? (Help students understand that although individuals who come unto God may perish or die physically, God will not allow them to permanently die spiritually—meaning they will be with God in eternity.)

  • Why is it important to understand this truth about God’s nature?

1 Nephi 1:16–20

Lehi warns the people that Jerusalem will be destroyed

Invite students to think about how they would respond in the following scenario:

During general conference, the President of the Church teaches a doctrine that opposes a popular social practice. After the prophet’s talk, a friend sends you a message through social media containing a statement from the talk, along with the following question: “Why do Church leaders say things like this when they know that people are going to get upset or take offense?”

As students continue their study of 1 Nephi 1, invite them to look for a truth that can help answer this question.

Summarize 1 Nephi 1:16–17 by explaining that Nephi indicated he would write an abridgment of his father’s record, in which Lehi included more details of his visions, dreams, and prophecies. Nephi’s abridgment of Lehi’s record comprises much of 1 Nephi 1–8.

Point out that along with giving Lehi revelations, God called him to be a prophet. Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 1:18–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Lehi did after receiving revelations from God. (In verse 20, stop the student before he or she reads the statement, “But behold, I, Nephi …”)

  • What did Lehi do after receiving these revelations?

  • How did people in Jerusalem respond to Lehi’s prophecies and testimony?

  • What truth can we learn from these verses about what God calls prophets to do? (Help students identify the following truth: God calls prophets to denounce sin, warn of its consequences, and testify of Jesus Christ.)

Remind students of the social media message from the friend in the scenario read previously.

  • How can the truth we just identified help answer the friend’s question?

As part of this discussion, consider inviting a student to read aloud the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985):

President Spencer W. Kimball

“Those prophets I have known are the most loving of men. It is because of their love and integrity that they cannot modify the Lord’s message merely to make people feel comfortable. They are too kind to be so cruel” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Listen to the Prophets,” Ensign, May 1978, 77).

handout iconTo help students further understand and feel the truth and importance of the truth they identified in 1 Nephi 1:18–20, divide the class into groups of three or four. Provide each group with a copy of the following handout and instruct them to discuss the questions together.

handout, A Prophet’s Responsibilities

A Prophet’s Responsibilities

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 6

Imagine having the responsibility of a prophet.

  • What do you think it would be like to speak against people’s sins and warn of the consequences of sin?

Read the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, looking for his explanation of what it is like to fulfill the responsibilities of a prophet:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“In addition to teaching, encouraging, and cheering people on (that is the pleasant part of discipleship), from time to time … messengers [of the Lord] are called upon to worry, to warn, and sometimes just to weep (that is the painful part of discipleship). They know full well that the road leading to the promised land ‘flowing with milk and honey’ [Exodus 3:8] of necessity runs by way of Mount Sinai, flowing with ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt nots’ [see Exodus 20:3–17].

“Unfortunately, messengers of divinely mandated commandments are often no more popular today than they were anciently” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 7).

Remember that people in Lehi’s day were angry with him, and they mocked his teachings and ignored his warnings.

  • In what ways do some people in our day show anger toward prophets or mock or ignore their words? Why do you think some people respond this way?

  • How have you or someone you know been blessed by the efforts of modern prophets to denounce sin, warn of its consequences, and testify of Jesus Christ?

After sufficient time, invite several students to report what they discussed in their groups. Encourage students to apply what they learned by obeying the warnings and teachings of prophets.

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 1:20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Nephi intended to show us with the experiences he recorded.

  • What did Nephi intend to show us with the experiences he recorded? (Help students identify the following truth: The Lord, through His tender mercies, will deliver those whom He has chosen, because of their faith.)

Invite students, as they continue to study Nephi’s writings, to look for ways the Lord delivered Lehi and his family from destruction and gave them power to overcome challenges as they exercised faith in Him.

Commentary and Background Information

1 Nephi 1:2. “The language of the Egyptians”

Nephi said that he made his record in “the language of the Egyptians” (1 Nephi 1:2). About 470 years later, King Benjamin taught his sons “in all the language of his fathers” (Mosiah 1:2), which was likely the same “language of the Egyptians” that Lehi taught to his children (see Mosiah 1:4). Moroni indicated that by his day, approximately 1,000 years from the time of Lehi and Nephi, he and other record keepers had written “in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech” (Mormon 9:32).

1 Nephi 1:4. “Many prophets”

Nephi said that “many prophets” came among the people in Jerusalem. We know Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah were all contemporary prophets who testified in the Kingdom of Judah. Jeremiah 35:15 includes a similar comment about numerous prophets being sent by the Lord to warn the people (see also 2 Chronicles 36:15–16).

Jeremiah was a mighty prophet in Lehi and Nephi’s day and is mentioned in 1 Nephi 5:13 and 7:14. He ministered to the Jews from 626 BC to 586 BC. Unlike Lehi, Jeremiah stayed in Jerusalem and continued to call the people to repentance (see Bible Dictionary, “Jeremiah”). After Lehi left Jerusalem, Jeremiah was put in prison. Jeremiah also wrote the book of Lamentations, wherein he lamented the destruction of Jerusalem and the fact that the people did not repent.

1 Nephi 1:14. God is merciful

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about God’s merciful nature:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it.

“… However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Laborers in the Vineyard,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 33).