As Nephi recorded the ministry of his people, he included a two-day sermon by his younger brother Jacob. The sermon is found in 2 Nephi 6–10, and this is the first of three lessons about it. At the beginning of the sermon, Jacob read prophecies of Isaiah concerning the scattering and gathering of Israel, showing that “the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children” (2 Nephi 6:12).
Before class, draw the accompanying diagram on the board:
Begin class by starting to draw a line from the stick figure along the path toward the celestial kingdom. Explain that when we are baptized and receive the Holy Ghost, we enter the path that leads back to Heavenly Father and eternal life.
What happens when we sin or turn away from God? (Draw a line curving off the path.)
What does God want us to do when we turn off the path? (He wants us to repent. Explain that to repent means to turn from sin and turn back to God.)
What do you think Satan wants us to believe when we sin and step off the path?
Explain that in 2 Nephi 6–8, which contains the teachings of Nephi’s brother Jacob, we see how the Lord responds to those who have turned away from Him. As students study these chapters today, invite them to look for truths that reflect the Lord’s feelings and efforts toward those who turn away from Him.
Summarize 2 Nephi 6:1–7 by explaining that Jacob told his people that he would liken Isaiah’s teachings about the scattering and gathering of Israel unto them.
Place a sign labeled “Jerusalem” on one side of the room and another sign labeled “Babylon” on the other side. Explain that the students will represent the ancient Jewish people.
Invite students to take their scriptures and stand near the sign labeled “Jerusalem.” Once students are gathered there, invite a student to read 2 Nephi 6:8 aloud. After the verse has been read, explain that in 587 BC, shortly after Lehi left Jerusalem, the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and deported many of the Jews to Babylon. Prophets had repeatedly warned the Jews that this would happen if they did not repent of their wickedness (see 2 Kings 17:13; Jeremiah 26:18; 1 Nephi 1:4; Helaman 8:20). Invite the students to move to the sign labeled “Babylon.”
Invite a student to read the first sentence of 2 Nephi 6:9 aloud. After the sentence has been read, explain that this prophecy was fulfilled around 537 BC when King Cyrus of Persia, who had conquered the Babylonians, allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem. Invite the students to return to the sign labeled “Jerusalem,” and ask the same student to read the rest of verse 9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what would happen after the Jews returned to Jerusalem.
Who would come among the Jews after they returned to Jerusalem? (You may want to point out that “the Holy One of Israel” refers to Jesus Christ.)
How would the Savior be treated among the Jews?
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 6:10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what would happen to the Jews after the Savior’s Crucifixion.
What did Jacob say would happen to the Jews after the Savior’s Crucifixion?
Explain that this prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70 when a Roman army besieged Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Many Jews were killed and others were driven and scattered throughout the world. Invite students to scatter themselves around the room.
Point out that in 2 Nephi 6, Jacob explained that the Jews repeatedly chose (or would choose) to turn away from the Lord.
How might you expect the Lord to respond to the Jews’ choices to repeatedly turn away from Him?
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 6:11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord will respond to the Jewish people.
How will the Lord respond to the Jewish people?
What truth does this teach us about the Lord? (Students should identify the following truth: The Lord is merciful. You may want to invite students to consider writing this truth next to verse 11.)
According to verse 11, what is one way the Lord will show mercy to the Jewish people? (By gathering them back together to the lands of their inheritance.)
Invite the students to gather again around the sign labeled “Jerusalem.”
How can knowing that the Lord is merciful help us when we step off the path and turn away from Him?
Invite students to return to their seats.
Point out that Jacob’s teachings in 2 Nephi 6 show the Lord being merciful to His covenant people even after they have been very wicked. This does not mean that there are not consequences for our decisions and actions. However, it does indicate that if the Lord would be merciful to these people, He will surely be merciful to us individually as we repent and come unto Him.
Invite students to ponder the ways the Lord has been merciful to them. Invite them to write the following phrase in their study journals or class notebooks: I know the Lord is merciful because … Then invite them to write their thoughts and feelings to complete the statement. After they have had sufficient time to write, you may want to invite a few to share what they have written. (Caution students not to share anything that is too personal or private.)
Invite students to consider whether there are any sins they need to repent of. Testify that as they do repent, they will receive the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness.
Summarize the rest of 2 Nephi 6 by explaining that Jacob also prophesied of the Gentiles, who would be saved if they would repent and not fight against Zion. He further explained that God would contend against the enemies of the house of Israel and deliver His covenant people.
Invite the class to consider if they have ever sold something to another person and later regretted their decision (perhaps because they missed the item they sold or felt they had not charged enough for it). Consider asking one or two students to share their experience with the class.
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 7:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said the Israelites had sold.
What did the Lord say the Israelites had sold?
What do you think the Lord meant when He said, “For your iniquities have ye sold yourselves”? (The Lord had not sold or forsaken His chosen people; they had sold themselves into the captivity of sin.)
Once we have sinned and sold ourselves into captivity, what needs to happen in order for us to regain our freedom?
Write the word redeem on the board, and ask students to explain what they think it means. As needed, help students understand that, in this context, to redeem means to buy back, deliver, or rescue from captivity.
Invite students to read 2 Nephi 7:2 silently and look for what the Savior said about His power to redeem us, or buy us back, from the captivity of sin.
What do you think the Savior meant when He asked, “Is my hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem, or have I no power to deliver?” (After students respond, explain that the hand and arm of the Lord are symbols of His power. He who has a “shortened hand” is weak and powerless. Write the following truth on the board: The Savior has the power to redeem us because of His Atonement.)
Explain that in 2 Nephi 7:5–7 we read the Lord’s explanation of some of the things that would happen to Him as part of His Atonement. Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 7:5–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words and phrases that describe what would happen to the Savior. Explain that the phrase “Lord God” in these verses refers to God the Father, and the words “mine,” “I,” “my,” and “me” refer to Jesus Christ.
What words or phrases in these verses describe what the Savior experienced as part of His Atonement?
What do you think it means in verse 7 that the Savior “set [His] face like a flint”? (Consider holding up a rock. You may want to explain that flint is a very hard stone. This phrase refers to the Savior’s firm and unbendable resolve to endure all of the suffering associated with the Atonement.)
What does the Savior’s willingness to endure the suffering involved with the Atonement indicate about His commitment to us?
To help students discover evidence that the Savior has the power to redeem us because of His Atonement, divide the following six scripture passages from 2 Nephi 8 among groups of students: verses 1–3, 4–6, 7–8, 10–11, 12–13, and 14–16. Ask each group to find a phrase in their assigned passage or passages that shows the Lord’s desire to redeem us and His power to do so. After sufficient time, invite each group to read the phrase they have chosen to the class. Ask them to share what they have learned from the passage. You may want to invite students to consider marking the phrases that their classmates share.
To conclude, share your testimony of the Savior’s power and desire to redeem each one of us.