The truths in 2 Nephi 1 were spoken by a loving parent and leader who was about to die. Lehi pled with his sons, the sons of Ishmael, and Zoram to obey the commandments of God. He promised them that if they would keep the commandments of God, they would prosper in the land. He also exhorted them to follow Nephi’s prophetic leadership.
Ask students to imagine that they suddenly have to leave their family members and might never see them again.
If you were to leave some final words of counsel with your family, what would you say? Why?
After hearing from a few students, explain that chapters 1–4 of 2 Nephi contain Nephi’s record of his father’s final counsel.
Why might a parent’s or a prophet’s final counsel be particularly significant?
As students study 2 Nephi 1 today, invite them to look for truths that Lehi wanted his children to understand.
Explain that in 2 Nephi 1:1, we read that Nephi said his father listed the “great things the Lord had done for them.” Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Nephi 1:2–5. Ask the class to follow along, looking for some of the “great things” the Lord had done for Lehi’s family.
What are some of the great things the Lord had done for Lehi’s family?
Why do you think it would be important for Lehi’s loved ones to remember what the Lord had done for them?
On one side of the board, write Actions. On the other side of the board, write Consequences. Divide the class into two groups. Invite the first group to read 2 Nephi 1:6–9 and the second group to read 2 Nephi 1:10–12. Ask both groups to find actions that Lehi said his descendants might take. Also ask them to look for the consequences of those actions. As students report their answers, invite a student to write them on the board.
Explain that Lehi referred to the various consequences that come to us when we sin as the Lord’s “judgments” (verse 10).
As you examine the answers on the board, how would you summarize the principles Lehi taught to his family? (Students should identify principles similar to the following: The Lord blesses us when we keep His commandments. If we reject our Redeemer, then His judgments will rest upon us.)
Point out that Lehi encouraged his sons to keep the Lord’s commandments so that they would not bring the Lord’s judgments upon themselves and their posterity. To help students understand the meaning of the metaphors Lehi used to encourage his sons to keep the Lord’s commandments, display or draw on the board an alarm clock, a chain, and something with dust on it (be sure to emphasize the dust, not the object).
Assign students to work in pairs. Invite one student in each pair to read 2 Nephi 1:13–14 silently and the other student to read 2 Nephi 1:21–23 silently, looking for words and phrases that relate to these three objects. Invite students in each pair to teach one another what they found. (Answers may include “awake,” “sleep of hell,” “shake off the awful chains,” “chains which bind,” and “arise from the dust.”)
After students have discussed their findings, hold up each object (or point out illustrations of the objects) and ask the class to explain what it might mean to be in a “deep sleep,” to be bound with “awful chains,” or to need to “arise from the dust.”
What did Lehi warn would happen if his sons did not repent and “shake off [their] chains” (2 Nephi 1:13)?
What are some ways that captivity and misery can come upon those who choose not to repent?
Ask students to read 2 Nephi 1:15 silently, looking for the blessing Lehi had received for being faithful to the Lord.
What blessing had Lehi received because of his faithfulness? (As students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we are faithful to the Lord, He will redeem us and encircle us eternally in the arms of His love.)
What do you think it means to be encircled in the arms of the Lord’s love?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“We have each felt to some extent these spiritual arms around us. We have felt His forgiveness, His love and comfort. The Lord has said, ‘I am he [who] comforteth you’” (Neil L. Andersen, “Repent … That I May Heal You,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 40).
Invite students to think about a time when they have felt encircled in the arms of the Lord’s love. Invite a few students to share their experiences with the class. Remind students not to share anything that is too personal.
Point out that in telling his sons to “awake” and “shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound” (2 Nephi 1:13), Lehi was encouraging his sons to repent and be faithful to the Lord so that they, too, might be encircled in the arms of the Lord’s love forever. Invite students to think of one thing that they will do to be more faithful to the Lord and that will allow them to feel His love more consistently.
Summarize 2 Nephi 1:16–23 by explaining that Lehi continued to express his great desire for Laman and Lemuel to keep the commandments and experience God’s love, but he worried that the Lord’s judgments would come upon them.
Invite students to think of various leaders they have had in their lives.
Who is an example of a leader you willingly chose to follow? Why did you want to follow this person?
Explain that Lehi taught about a leader whom the Lord had provided for his family to follow. Invite students to read 2 Nephi 1:24 silently, looking for the leader Lehi spoke of.
Who was the leader Lehi spoke of? (Nephi, who would serve as the prophet after Lehi died.)
Ask a student to read 2 Nephi 1:25–28 aloud. Ask the class to look for reasons Lehi gave for the people to follow Nephi.
What qualities did Lehi emphasize when he spoke of Nephi’s leadership? Why would you trust a leader with these qualities?
Invite students to read 2 Nephi 1:30–32 silently. Ask them to look for promises Lehi gave to Zoram.
What promises did you find?
Point out that Zoram was told that his posterity would be given these blessings because he had been faithful in following Lehi and Nephi.
What principle can we learn from these verses about the blessings that come from following those whom God has called to lead us? (Help students identify the following principle: As we follow those whom God has called to lead us, we can be blessed with prosperity and security.)
To help students understand this principle, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The Lord’s servants are inspired to help us avoid obstacles that are spiritually life threatening and to help us pass safely through mortality to our final, ultimate, heavenly destination” (M. Russell Ballard, “God Is at the Helm,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 24).
According to Elder Ballard, what are some ways in which we may be blessed with prosperity and security (or safety) as we follow those whom God has called to lead us?
To conclude, consider reviewing and testifying of the truths students identified in 2 Nephi 1. Encourage students to apply these truths in their lives.