Lesson 27

2 Nephi 5

“Lesson 27: 2 Nephi 5,” 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2017)


Introduction

Heeding a warning from the Lord, Nephi and his followers separated from Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael. They lived in righteousness and happiness, while the followers of Laman and Lemuel cut themselves off from the Lord.

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Nephi 5:1–8

The Lord separates the followers of Nephi from the followers of Laman and Lemuel

Draw a picture of a warning sign and a compass on the board.

warning sign and compass
  • What do these two pictures represent? (The one on the left is a warning sign, indicating danger. The one on the right is a compass, which may represent guidance.)

  • What are some situations in your life in which you would want to receive a warning or guidance? (Invite students to come to the board and write their answers under the appropriate picture.)

Invite students to explain why they wrote what they did.

  • How can receiving warnings or guidance help in situations like these?

As students study 2 Nephi 5 today, invite them to look for what we can do to receive the warnings and guidance we need.

Remind students that when Lehi died, Nephi was left to be the spiritual leader of the family. Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 5:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a challenge Nephi faced.

  • What challenge did Nephi face?

  • According to 2 Nephi 5:1, what did Nephi do because of his brothers’ anger?

  • Even after Nephi had prayed for help, what did Laman and Lemuel seek to do?

As students report their answers, you may want to point out the following truth: Our prayers may not always be answered immediately or in the way we desire.

  • Why is it important to continue to be faithful when our prayers are not answered immediately or in the way we desire?

Write the following incomplete sentence on the board: If we faithfully seek Heavenly Father in prayer …

Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 5:5–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord did to help Nephi and his followers.

  • What did the Lord do to help Nephi and those who believed in the warnings and revelations of God?

  • How do you think Nephi’s desire to “cry much unto the Lord” (2 Nephi 5:1) may have prepared him to receive warnings and guidance from the Lord?

  • From what we learn in verses 1 and 5, how could you complete the sentence on the board to state a principle? (After students respond, complete the sentence on the board so that it conveys the following principle: If we faithfully seek Heavenly Father in prayer, He will warn and guide us. Invite students to consider marking the phrases in verses 1 and 5 that teach this principle.)

  • In what ways might the Lord give us warnings or guidance?

To help students further understand this principle, read aloud the following scenario:

You have a group of friends that are starting to behave in ways that are not consistent with the standards of the Lord, and you aren’t sure what to do. You would like to continue to spend time with them and do everything you can to help them change. But on the other hand, you also worry about finding yourself in situations where you are uncomfortable and exposed to spiritually degrading or dangerous influences.

  • How can the principle we identified in verses 1 and 5 help you know what to do in this situation? (Help students understand that what is the best choice in one situation may not be in another. By seeking Heavenly Father in prayer, students can be guided on how to act in specific situations.)

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or study journals about a time when they or someone they know was guided or warned by God and the effect it had on them. After a few moments, consider inviting a few students to share with the class what they wrote. (Remind students not to share anything private or too personal.)

To help students identify another principle from 2 Nephi 5:5–8, ask the following questions:

  • According to verse 6, who chose to follow Nephi as he fled into the wilderness? Why did they choose to go with him?

  • What principle can we learn from verse 6 that can help us be led away from danger? (Help students identify the following principle: If we choose to believe in the revelations of God and to hearken to His prophets, we can be led away from danger.)

  • How has hearkening to God’s prophets led you away from danger?

As part of the students’ discussion of 2 Nephi 5:1–8, point out that the separation of the Nephites from the Lamanites was the result of Laman and Lemuel’s hatred for Nephi. This separation continued for centuries, with the descendants of Laman and Lemuel teaching their children to hate the descendants of Nephi (see Mosiah 10:12–17).

2 Nephi 5:9–18, 26–27

The Nephites live after the manner of happiness

Lead students in reading 2 Nephi 5:27 aloud together. You may want to invite students to consider marking this verse. Write the word happiness on the board.

  • What do you think it means to live “after the manner of happiness”?

Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Elder Jensen said he sometimes struggles with.

Elder Marlin K. Jensen

“Certain unchanging principles and truths bring happiness to our lives. This subject has been of interest to me for many years because although I am richly blessed and have every reason to be happy, I sometimes struggle and do not always have the natural inclination toward happiness and a cheerful disposition that some people seem to enjoy.

“For that reason, several years ago a Book of Mormon passage caught my attention. … Nephi established a society founded on gospel truths; and of that society he says, ‘And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness’ (2 Ne. 5:27). The passage deeply impressed me. … I wondered … what the individual elements of a truly happy society and life might be, and I began to search Nephi’s writings for clues. I … invite you to conduct your own personal search. It could be a lifelong and worthwhile pursuit. …

“… The same patterns and elements of daily life that enabled Nephi and his people to be happy 560 years before Christ work equally well today” (Marlin K. Jensen, “Living after the Manner of Happiness,” Ensign, Dec. 2002, 56, 61).

  • What did Elder Jensen say he sometimes struggled with?

Invite students to consider if they sometimes struggle to be happy and cheerful.

  • What did Elder Jensen say could be a “lifelong and worthwhile pursuit”?

Write 2 Nephi 5:6, 10–18, 26–27 on the board. Divide students into groups of two or three and invite them to act on Elder Jensen’s invitation by reading these verses together and looking for “elements of a truly happy society and life.” You may want to invite them to consider marking elements or actions that contributed to the Nephites’ happiness. After a few minutes, invite a few students to write their findings on the board. (Answers might include that Nephi and his followers went with their families [see verse 6]; obeyed the Lord [see verse 10]; worked hard to support themselves [see verses 11, 15–17]; took scriptures with them [see verse 12]; built a temple [see verse 16]; and followed righteous leaders [see verses 18, 26].)

Point out that the actions that allowed Nephi and his people to live after the manner of happiness were based on the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Write the following principle on the board: We can live after the manner of happiness by applying the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Why do you think applying the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ enables us to have happiness?

Invite students to select one or two of the items on the board and explain how these have helped them live “after the manner of happiness.”

Depending on what students emphasize, you may want to follow up with a few questions such as the following:

  • According to 2 Nephi 5:10–11, what blessings did the people receive because they kept the Lord’s commandments? When have you felt that the Lord has been with you? How has the Lord’s influence in your life contributed to your happiness?

  • How might the temple have helped the people live “after the manner of happiness”? How has the temple brought greater happiness to you or someone you know?

  • In what ways does hard work contribute to happiness?

You may want to share an experience that illustrates how applying the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ has allowed you to live after the manner of happiness, as well as your testimony of this principle. Invite students to examine their lives and determine something they will do to live more fully “after the manner of happiness.” Encourage them to write this action in their study journals or class notebooks.

2 Nephi 5:19–25

The Lamanites are cut off from the presence of the Lord because of their disobedience

Invite two students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Nephi 5:19–24. Ask the class to follow along, looking for differences between the way the Lamanites lived and the way the Nephites lived.

  • According to 2 Nephi 5:20, what was the consequence of the Lamanites’ disobedience?

Make sure students understand that the curse mentioned in this chapter was separation from God. The changing of the Lamanites’ skin was only a mark or sign of the curse.

  • How does 2 Nephi 5:21 help you understand why the Lamanites were cut off from the presence of the Lord? (You may want to explain that flint is a hard stone. In saying that the Lamanites “had become like unto a flint,” Nephi emphasized the hardness of the Lamanites’ hearts. To be hard-hearted is to be unresponsive to the promptings of the Spirit of God.)

  • What is a principle we can learn from 2 Nephi 5:20–24 that describes what happens when people harden their hearts against the Lord? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: When people harden their hearts against the Lord, they separate themselves from Him.)

  • What are some reasons why people may choose to harden their hearts against the Lord?

Encourage students to remember what they have determined they will do to live more fully “after the manner of happiness.” Express your confidence that they can follow the Nephites’ example and be truly happy.

Commentary and Background Information

2 Nephi 5:5–9. Separate ourselves from wickedness

There are times when it is necessary to physically flee from evil, as Nephi and his followers did. However, we may not always be able to physically remove ourselves from wickedness. Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how we can protect ourselves in such situations:

Elder Richard G. Scott

“God has provided a way to live in this world and not be contaminated by the degrading pressures evil agents spread throughout it. You can live a virtuous, productive, righteous life by following the plan of protection created by your Father in Heaven: His plan of happiness. It is contained in the scriptures and in the inspired declarations of His prophets. …

“Avoid worldly wickedness. Know that God is in control. In time, Satan will completely fail and be punished for his perverse evil. God has a specific plan for your life. He will reveal parts of that plan to you as you look for it with faith and consistent obedience. His Son has made you free—not from the consequences of your acts, but free to make choices. God’s eternal purpose is for you to be successful in this mortal life. No matter how wicked the world becomes, you can earn that blessing. Seek and be attentive to the personal guidance given to you through the Holy Spirit. Continue to be worthy to receive it. Reach out to others who stumble and are perplexed, not certain of what path to follow” (Richard G. Scott, “How to Live Well amid Increasing Evil,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 100, 102).

2 Nephi 5:11, 13. “We did prosper exceedingly”

In 2 Nephi 5:11, 13, Nephi tells of his people’s prosperity and their success in raising flocks, herds, and crops. Often we associate prosperity with tangible blessings. President Heber J. Grant (1856–1945) taught that true prosperity includes more than wealth or the material things of the world:

President Heber J. Grant

“When I say prosperity I am not thinking of it in terms of dollars and cents alone. … But what I count as real prosperity, as the one thing of all others that is of great value to every man and woman living, is the growth in a knowledge of God, and in a testimony, and in the power to live the gospel and to inspire our families to do the same. That is prosperity of the truest kind” (Heber J. Grant, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant [2002], 124).

2 Nephi 5:10–18, 26–27. “After the manner of happiness”

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) taught:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“Happiness comes of righteousness. ‘Wickedness never was happiness.’ (Alma 41:10.) Sin never was happiness. Selfishness never was happiness. Greed never was happiness. Happiness lies in living the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Gordon B. Hinckley, in “Fast-Paced Schedule for the Prophet: Meets with Young Adults, Youth in Three Meetings in Colorado,” Church News, Apr. 20, 1996, 3).

2 Nephi 5:16. “I, Nephi, did build a temple”

Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy explained how attending the temple leads to happiness:

Elder Marlin K. Jensen

“Nephi writes, ‘And I, Nephi, did build a temple’ (2 Ne. 5:16). Nephi’s temple may have differed in some ways from our latter-day temples, but its central purpose was likely the same: to teach and orient God’s children concerning His plan for their happiness and to provide the ordinances and covenants essential to the attainment of that happiness.

“After living on this good earth for over five decades, I can honestly say that the most spiritually mature and happy people I know are ardent temple goers. There is good reason for that. It is in the temple that the full sweep of God’s program for us is told and retold, each telling bringing greater understanding and commitment to living life His way. …

“A good test of how well we are doing in our quest to come unto Christ may be how we feel about the temple and our experiences there. Temple can be synonymous with happiness and joy. It was for Nephi and his people” (Marlin K. Jensen, “Living after the Manner of Happiness,” Ensign, Dec. 2002, 60).

2 Nephi 5:20–25. The curse on the Lamanites

In 2 Nephi 5:20–25, we find answers to at least four questions about the curse that came to the Lamanites:

  1. What was the curse?

    The curse is clearly defined in 2 Nephi 5:20 as being “cut off from the presence of the Lord.” The dark skin of the Lamanites was not the curse.

  2. What caused the curse?

    According to 2 Nephi 5:21, the curse came to the Lamanites “because of their iniquity” and because “they had hardened their hearts against [the Lord].” Since the Fall of Adam, wickedness has always resulted in being cut off from the presence of the Lord (see 1 Nephi 2:21; 2 Nephi 4:4; 9:6; Alma 9:13; Ether 10:11).

  3. Why was the mark of dark skin set upon the Lamanites?

    This was a specific mark or sign for a specific set of circumstances. Nephi explained, “That they [the Lamanites] might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). Alma gave a similar explanation: “The skins of the Lamanites were dark … that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions” (Alma 3:6, 8). These explanations are consistent with other scriptural warnings that the people of the Lord should not marry unbelievers because the result of doing so was often that the righteous would turn away from the Lord (see Deuteronomy 7:2–4; 1 Kings 11:4; 2 Corinthians 6:14; D&C 74:5).

  4. What was the result of the curse?

    As a result of the curse—being cut off from the presence of the Lord—the Lamanites “did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety” (2 Nephi 5:24).

This curse lasted only as long as the people were wicked. When the Lamanites repented and chose to live the gospel, “the curse of God did no more follow them” (Alma 23:18). The Book of Mormon includes many examples of Lamanites who repented and received the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord. The book of Helaman tells of a time when the Lamanites were more righteous than the Nephites (see Helaman 13:1).