Lehi testified to his son Jacob of the Lord’s ability to consecrate our afflictions for our gain. Speaking to all his sons, he taught about the Fall of Adam—why it was necessary and how it affects mankind—and about the need for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. (Lehi also taught about the doctrine of agency. This doctrine will be addressed in the next lesson.)
Suggestions for Teaching
Lehi speaks to Jacob about trials and blessings
Invite students to think about afflictions that they or their loved ones have experienced. Consider inviting a few students to share these experiences with the class. Remind them to not share anything that is too personal or private.
What questions might people have as they experience afflictions?
Explain that 2 Nephi 2 begins with Lehi talking to his son Jacob about the afflictions Jacob had experienced. Invite students to read 2 Nephi 2:1 silently, looking for the cause of Jacob’s afflictions.
What was the cause of Jacob’s afflictions?
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 2:2–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Lehi taught Jacob about his afflictions.
What truth can we learn from verse 2 about our afflictions? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: The Lord can consecrate our afflictions for our gain.)
What do you think it means that the Lord can consecrate our afflictions for our gain? (You may need to explain that the word consecrate means to dedicate or make holy.)
Remind students of the afflictions that were mentioned at the beginning of class. Ask them to consider how God may consecrate these afflictions for the gain of the person experiencing them.
When have you seen that the Lord can consecrate our afflictions for our gain?
Lehi teaches his sons about the Fall and about the Atonement of Jesus Christ
Point out that some of our afflictions, like Jacob’s, come from other people’s poor choices. However, many afflictions are the result of the Fall of Adam and Eve.
Explain that the phrase “the Fall” refers to the conditions and consequences of mortality that came to Adam and Eve and their descendants because of Adam and Eve’s choice to partake of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. In 2 Nephi 2 we read that Lehi taught Jacob and his other sons about the Fall and how it affected all mankind.
Write the Fall on the board. Invite a student to come to the board and act as a scribe. Ask several students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Nephi 2:19–25. Invite the class to follow along, looking for results or consequences of the Fall.
Ask the class to report the consequences of the Fall they find, and invite the scribe to list students’ responses on the board under the heading the Fall. Make sure the following consequences are listed on the board:
Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden (verse 19).
Adam and Eve had to “till the earth” and work for their food (verse 19).
Adam and Eve were able to have children (verses 20, 23).
All mankind are temporarily lost or separated from God (spiritual death) (verse 21).
Adam and Eve would experience physical death (verse 22).
They were able to experience joy (verse 23).
They were able to experience misery (verse 23).
They were able to do good (verse 23).
They received knowledge of sin (verse 23).
Invite the student who acted as scribe to be seated. Explain that although God does not hold us responsible for Adam and Eve’s decision, we are still subject to the conditions brought about by the Fall.
If there were no resurrection, how would physical death prevent us from becoming like Heavenly Father?
In addition to the physical death and separation from God that we inherited from the Fall, what effect do our own sins have on our relationship with God? (Our own sins also separate us from God. Separation from God is known as spiritual death.)
To help students understand the situation we are in as a result of the Fall, invite a student to read aloud the following summary of an account given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Explain that Elder Holland used this true story as a metaphor to help us understand and appreciate our desperate need to be rescued by the Savior.
While rock climbing without any safety gear in southern Utah, two brothers encountered a protruding ledge that kept them from reaching the top of a canyon wall. They could not get over it, nor could they safely climb back down. The older brother was able to boost the younger brother up and over the ledge to safety, but he knew he could not reach the ledge himself without jumping. He also knew he faced the risk of falling to his death if he tried to jump. Since he did not want his younger brother to see him fall and die, he told his brother to go look for a tree branch. The older brother then leapt as high as he could and grabbed the ledge, but, unable to hold onto it, he started slipping toward his death. (See Jeffrey R. Holland, “Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 104.)
If you had been in the older brother’s situation, what do you think would have been going through your mind?
What similarities do you see between the older brother’s situation and our condition here in mortality? (Help students understand that we have a desperate need to be redeemed or rescued from the spiritual and physical death caused by the Fall and the spiritual death caused by our own sins.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Holland. Ask students to listen for the question Elder Holland asked.
“Because we were then born into that fallen world [that resulted from Adam and Eve’s transgression] and because we too would transgress the laws of God, we also were sentenced to the same penalties that Adam and Eve faced.
“What a plight! The entire human race in free fall—every man, woman, and child in it physically tumbling toward permanent death, spiritually plunging toward eternal anguish. Is that what life was meant to be?” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet,” 105).
What would the future hold for us if there were no way to overcome the negative consequences of the Fall?
Invite a student to read aloud the older brother’s words, as shared by Elder Holland. Ask the class to listen for what happened as the boy was about to fall to his death.
“‘But then suddenly, like a lightning strike in a summer storm, two hands shot out from somewhere above the edge of the cliff, grabbing my wrists with a strength and determination that belied their size. My faithful little brother had not gone looking for any fictitious tree branch. Guessing exactly what I was planning to do, he had never moved an inch. He had simply waited—silently, almost breathlessly—knowing full well I would be foolish enough to try to make that jump. When I did, he grabbed me, held me, and refused to let me fall. Those strong brotherly arms saved my life that day as I dangled helplessly above what would surely have been certain death’” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet,” 104–5).
Alternatively, you may want to show a video clip of Elder Holland relating the rest of the boy’s account (see “Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet,” Apr. 2015 general conference [time code 3:56–5:13]). This video is available on LDS.org.
If you had been in this situation, what feelings might you have had for the person who had saved you from falling?
Invite students to read the first sentence of 2 Nephi 2:26 silently, looking for who has saved us from the Fall. Ask students to report what they find. Explain that in this context, the word redeem means to rescue or deliver from penalty by making a payment.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Nephi 2:6–10. Ask the class to follow along, looking for phrases in these verses that show what the Savior has done to redeem us from the effects of the Fall and from our individual sins. (In connection with verse 9, you may need to explain that the phrase “make intercession” means to plead on behalf of another person or to act in another person’s place.)
Which phrases indicate blessings that come to all people unconditionally? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ unconditionally redeems all mankind from the effects of the Fall of Adam and Eve.)
To help the class understand this doctrine, invite a student to read aloud the following statement from True to the Faith:
“Through the Atonement, Jesus Christ redeems all people from the effects of the Fall. All people who have ever lived on the earth and who ever will live on the earth will be resurrected and brought back into the presence of God to be judged (see 2 Nephi 2:5–10; Helaman 14:15–17). Through the Savior’s gift of mercy and redeeming grace, we will all receive the gift of immortality and live forever in glorified, resurrected bodies.
“Although we are redeemed unconditionally from the universal effects of the Fall, we are accountable for our own sins” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 18).
Explain that because of His Atonement, Jesus Christ also enables us to be forgiven of our individual sins, but this is a conditional gift. Write the following incomplete statement on the board: Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ offers us redemption from our own sins …
Invite students to review 2 Nephi 2:7–9, 21, looking for how we can receive redemption from our own sins.
According to 2 Nephi 2:7–9, 21, what must we do to be redeemed from our sins? (In connection with verse 7, you may need to explain that a person who has “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” is humble and ready to follow the will of God. Such a person feels deep sorrow for sin and sincerely desires to repent.)
Complete the statement on the board so that it reads as follows: Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ offers us redemption from our own sins as we choose to believe in Him and repent.
What thoughts and feelings do you have as you consider the Savior’s sacrifice to redeem you from sin and death?
Invite students to consider any sins they may have committed. Encourage them to repent so they can be forgiven and redeemed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Explain that although the Fall introduced pain, suffering, sin, and death into the world, Elder Holland referred to it as a “fortunate fall” (“Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet,” 105).
Invite students to review the consequences of the Fall listed on the board.
What do you think are some of the fortunate, or positive, consequences of the Fall?
The phrase “till the earth” means that after Adam and Eve were driven from the garden, they and their descendants have had to work to obtain food. How do you think work helps us progress in Heavenly Father’s plan?
How would having children help Adam and Eve become more like Heavenly Father? In what ways are families important in Heavenly Father’s plan?
How can the opportunity to experience joy and misery help us progress in Heavenly Father’s plan?
After discussing these questions, write the following truth on the board: The Fall of Adam and Eve is an essential part of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness.
Invite students to review the truths written on the board and to ponder the following question:
How has your eternal progress been shaped and influenced by both the Fall of Adam and Eve and the Atonement of Jesus Christ? (You may want to give students time to record their thoughts in their class notebooks or study journals and then ask a few of them to share their responses with the class.)
Conclude by testifying of the truths found in 2 Nephi 2.
Commentary and Background Information
2 Nephi 2:15. The forbidden fruit
The Lord honored the agency of Adam and Eve after teaching them the consequences of partaking of the forbidden fruit. God said, “Thou mayest choose for thyself” (Moses 3:17). The plan was designed so that Adam and Eve would need to use their agency to bring about the Fall.
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) helps us understand the Lord’s instructions to Adam and Eve about the forbidden fruit:
“Just why the Lord would say to Adam that he forbade him to partake of the fruit of that tree is not made clear in the Bible account [see Genesis 2:17], but in the original as it comes to us in the Book of Moses [see Moses 3:17] it is made definitely clear. It is that the Lord said to Adam that if he wished to remain as he was in the garden, then he was not to eat the fruit, but if he desired to eat it and partake of death he was at liberty to do so” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. , 4:81).
2 Nephi 2:14, 25–26. The Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“The most important events that ever have or will occur in all eternity … are the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement.
“Before we can even begin to understand the temporal creation of all things, we must know how and in what manner these three eternal verities—the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement—are inseparably woven together to form one plan of salvation. No one of them stands alone; each of them ties into the other two; and without a knowledge of all of them, it is not possible to know the truth about any one of them. …
“… Be it remembered, the Atonement came because of the Fall. Christ paid the ransom for Adam’s transgression. If there had been no Fall, there would be no Atonement with its consequent immortality and eternal life. Thus, just as surely as salvation comes because of the Atonement, so also salvation comes because of the Fall” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Christ and the Creation,” Ensign, June 1982, 9).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about the importance of understanding the Fall:
“The simple truth is that we cannot fully comprehend the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ and we will not adequately appreciate the unique purpose of His birth or His death … without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 105).
2 Nephi 2:24. “In the wisdom of him who knoweth all things”
President Brigham Young (1801–77) taught that the Fall of Adam and Eve was part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation:
“Did [Adam and Eve] come out in direct opposition to God and to his government? No. But they transgressed a command of the Lord, and through that transgression sin came into the world. The Lord knew they would do this, and he had designed that they should” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 103).
Supplemental Teaching Idea
2 Nephi 2:2. “He shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain”
Lehi acknowledged the afflictions Jacob suffered “because of the rudeness of [his] brethren” (2 Nephi 2:1), but he also taught that God could “consecrate [Jacob’s] afflictions for [his] gain” (2 Nephi 2:2). Ask students to reflect on a time when God has turned an affliction into a positive result.
The following experience shared by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency illustrates how the Lord can consecrate our afflictions for our gain:
“When I was 11 years old, my family had to leave East Germany and begin a new life in West Germany overnight. Until my father could get back into his original profession as a government employee, my parents operated a small laundry business in our little town. I became the laundry delivery boy. To be able to do that effectively, I needed a bicycle to pull the heavy laundry cart. I had always dreamed of owning a nice, sleek, shiny, sporty red bicycle. But there had never been enough money to fulfill this dream. What I got instead was a heavy, ugly, black, sturdy workhorse of a bicycle. I delivered laundry on that bike before and after school for quite a few years. Most of the time, I was not overly excited about the bike, the cart, or my job. Sometimes the cart seemed so heavy and the work so tiring that I thought my lungs would burst, and I often had to stop to catch my breath. Nevertheless, I did my part because I knew we desperately needed the income as a family, and it was my way to contribute.
“If I had only known back then what I learned many years later—if I had only been able to see the end from the beginning—I would have had a better appreciation of these experiences, and it would have made my job so much easier.
“Many years later, when I was about to be drafted into the military, I decided to volunteer instead and join the Air Force to become a pilot. I loved flying and thought being a pilot would be my thing.
“To be accepted for the program I had to pass a number of tests, including a strict physical exam. The doctors were slightly concerned by the results and did some additional medical tests. Then they announced, ‘You have scars on your lung which are an indication of a lung disease in your early teenage years, but obviously you are fine now.’ The doctors wondered what kind of treatment I had gone through to heal the disease. Until the day of that examination I had never known that I had any kind of lung disease. Then it became clear to me that my regular exercise in fresh air as a laundry boy had been a key factor in my healing from this illness. Without the extra effort of pedaling that heavy bicycle day in and day out, pulling the laundry cart up and down the streets of our town, I might never have become a jet fighter pilot and later a 747 airline captain” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “See the End from the Beginning,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 42–43).