Lesson 7: 1 Nephi 2

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

The account in 1 Nephi 2 shows different responses to commandments from the Lord. Lehi obeyed the Lord’s command to lead his family into the wilderness. Faced with the difficulty of this command, Laman and Lemuel rebelled. In contrast, Nephi sought a confirming witness.

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Nephi 2:1–7

God commands Lehi to depart into the wilderness

Read aloud the following scenario, or create a different one that is more relevant to your students. Invite students to consider how they would respond in this situation.

A young man has invested a lot of time and money in acquiring a large music collection. A large portion of his music contains inappropriate messages. One Sunday, his priesthood quorum discusses the Lord’s standards for entertainment and media. He feels a prompting to dispose of his music that does not align with the Lord’s standards, but he struggles with following this prompting.

Ask students to think about possible reasons why this young man may be struggling with choosing to obey the Lord’s standards regarding music.

As students study 1 Nephi 2 today, invite them to look for truths that can help us choose to obey the Lord.

Remind students of how the Jews reacted to Lehi’s preaching about their wickedness and his prophecy that Jerusalem would be destroyed. Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from 1 Nephi 2:1–4. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord commanded Lehi to do with his family.

  • According to verse 2, what commandment did Lehi receive from the Lord?

  • According to verse 4, what did Lehi’s family have to give up in order to obey this commandment? Why might this have been difficult?

  • What truth about obedience is illustrated in this experience? (Help students identify the following truth: Obedience to the Lord’s commandments can require sacrifice. You may want to invite students to consider writing this truth in the margin next to 1 Nephi 2:1–4.)

  • Why do you think Lehi was willing to leave behind his home, his land, and his possessions in order to obey this commandment?

Remind students of the scenario you presented at the beginning of the lesson.

  • What would the young man in this situation need to sacrifice in order to keep the Lord’s standards regarding music?

On the board write two additional commandments or gospel standards, such as keeping the Sabbath day holy and dressing modestly. Ask students what a person might need to give up or go without in order to keep these commandments.

Invite students to think about a commandment that they might be struggling with because of the sacrifice required to obey it.

  • Why is it ultimately worth any sacrifice we make in order to keep the Lord’s commandments?

  • How can we develop the willingness to sacrifice in order to obey the Lord’s commandments?

Summarize 1 Nephi 2:5–7 by explaining that Lehi’s family traveled from Jerusalem to a river valley near the Red Sea, a possible distance of 260 miles (420 kilometers). (To create a perspective of this distance for your students, you might point out a place that is approximately 260 miles from where you are located.) Their trek likely went through a hot and barren country, known for thieves who waited to rob unprepared travelers, and may have taken 12 to 14 days. After arriving in the river valley, Lehi built an altar, made a sacrificial offering, and gave thanks to the Lord.

1 Nephi 2:8–15

Laman and Lemuel murmur against their father

Ask students to ponder whether they have ever complained, either vocally or inwardly, about a commandment or counsel from the Lord given through His prophets.

Invite students to look for truths in the remainder of 1 Nephi 2 that can help us overcome the temptation to complain when we are given counsel from prophets.

Invite a student to create a simple drawing of a river and a valley on the board (or you could draw the river and valley on the board before class). Ask another student to read 1 Nephi 2:8–10 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Lehi desired for Laman and Lemuel.

  • In what way did Lehi want Laman to be like a river? In what way did he want Lemuel to be like a valley? (Write students’ responses on the board near the image of the river and valley.)

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from 1 Nephi 2:11–14. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why Lehi specifically encouraged Laman and Lemuel to be faithful and obedient.

  • Why did Lehi encourage Laman and Lemuel to be faithful and obedient?

  • What do you think it means to be stiff-necked (see verse 11)? (To be prideful or stubborn.)

  • What does it mean to “murmur” (verses 11, 12)? (To complain.)

  • According to verses 12–13, what are some reasons why Laman and Lemuel murmured against their father?

  • What principle can we learn from these verses about what can lead to murmuring against God’s prophets? (Using students’ words, write on the board a principle similar to the following: If we do not understand God’s dealings with His children and if we disbelieve His prophets, then we can be led to murmur against them.)

Point out that the commandment to leave Jerusalem demonstrated God’s mercy and love for Laman and Lemuel by keeping them safe from Jerusalem’s pending destruction. However, they did not appreciate what God had done for them because they did not believe that God had revealed this commandment to their father or that Jerusalem could be destroyed.

  • Why do you think murmuring sometimes results when people do not understand God’s dealings with His children and disbelieve His prophets?

1 Nephi 2:16–24

Nephi seeks understanding from the Lord and is promised blessings for his obedience

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 2:16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Nephi responded to the commandment to leave Jerusalem.

  • How did Nephi respond to the commandment to leave Jerusalem?

  • What phrases in verse 16 indicate that this commandment may not have been easy for Nephi to obey? (Nephi “did cry unto the Lord,” and the Lord “did soften [Nephi’s] heart.”)

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: When we earnestly desire and pray, … Ask students how they would complete this statement based on what they learned from Nephi’s experience recorded in verse 16. Using students’ responses, complete the statement on the board so that it reflects the following principle: When we earnestly desire and pray, the Lord can soften our hearts to help us believe and obey His words.

  • What are some situations in our day in which people might need to have their hearts softened to help them believe and obey the Lord’s words?

  • How would you explain what it means to earnestly desire and pray?

  • Why do you think earnest desire and prayer can allow the Lord to soften our hearts?

Invite students to read 1 Nephi 2:17–19 silently, looking for the way Nephi’s brothers responded to his words and the qualities the Lord commended Nephi for. Ask students to report what they find.

To help students further understand the relationship between the condition of our hearts and our ability to believe and obey the Lord’s words, display two objects—one that is soft and absorbent (such as a piece of cloth or a sponge) and one that is hard (such as a stone). Hold up the soft object.

  • In what ways were Nephi and Sam’s hearts like this object?

Hold up the hard object.

  • In what ways were Laman and Lemuel’s hearts like this object?

  • How does the spiritual condition of our hearts influence our ability to believe and obey the Lord’s words?

  • When have you or someone you know earnestly sought and received the Lord’s help to believe and obey His words? (Remind students not to share experiences that are too personal or private. You may also want to tell them about a time when the Lord softened your heart.)

Invite students to apply the principle they identified in 1 Nephi 2:16 if they are struggling to believe and obey any commandments, standards, or words of counsel from the Lord. You might also invite students to consider sharing this principle with someone they know who may be experiencing this challenge.

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 2:20–21 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord promised Nephi.

  • What principles about obedience and disobedience can we learn from these verses? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principles: If we keep the Lord’s commandments, He will prosper us and bless us. If we rebel against the Lord and His servants, we will be separated from His influence.)

Explain to students that as they study the Book of Mormon, they will read about many instances of these promises being fulfilled.

Conclude by testifying of the truths students identified in 1 Nephi 2. Encourage students to live according to these truths.

Commentary and Background Information

1 Nephi 2:2–6. Possible route taken by Lehi’s family

Lehi may have led his family to the Red Sea near the Gulf of Aqaba, about 180 miles (290 kilometers) from Jerusalem. This would require traveling through a hot and barren country, known for thieves who waited to rob unprepared travelers. After reaching the Red Sea, the family traveled three more days before camping in a river valley. The journey from Jerusalem to the river valley may have taken about 14 days. You may want to remind students of these distances and times when they read about Nephi and his brothers journeying back to Jerusalem.

1 Nephi 2:7. Showing gratitude to the Lord

Lehi’s appreciation for the Lord’s guidance and protection is demonstrated in 1 Nephi 2:7: “He built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.” This is the first of several instances in the Book of Mormon when faithful followers of Christ offered sacrifices and burnt offerings to express thanks to God (see, for example, 1 Nephi 7:22; Mosiah 2:3–4). Sincere expressions of gratitude and obedience to Heavenly Father are necessary for all His children if they are to please Him (see D&C 59:21).

1 Nephi 2:20. Keeping God’s commandments

Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the importance of obedience:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“Obedience is the first law of heaven. All progression, all perfection, all salvation, all godliness, all that is right and just and true, all good things come to those who live the laws of Him who is Eternal. There is nothing in all eternity more important than to keep the commandments of God” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [1978], 126).