Lesson 31: 2 Nephi 11; 16

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

2 Nephi 11 contains some of Nephi’s explanation for his inclusion of the prophecies of Isaiah in his record, thus serving as an introduction to the words of Isaiah in 2 Nephi 12–24. 2 Nephi 16 contains Isaiah’s account of being cleansed of his sins and called as a prophet when he “saw … the Lord sitting upon a throne” (see 2 Nephi 16:1; see also verses 5–8).

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Nephi 11

Nephi expresses his delight in testifying that salvation comes through Jesus Christ

Invite three students to silently write one sentence each about what happened the last time the class met. Do not allow them to compare or discuss what they are writing. To illustrate the advantages of having more than one witness, have the three students read their sentences aloud. After each student reads his or her sentence, ask the class if it is a complete representation of what happened in their last class.

  • What advantages are there to having multiple witnesses?

Explain that the Lord calls prophets to be His special witnesses to the world. As students study 2 Nephi 11 today, invite them to look for how studying multiple prophets’ testimonies can be a blessing to us.

Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 11:2–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for three different prophets and what each experienced.

  • According to these verses, what did Nephi, Isaiah, and Jacob experience that enabled them to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ?

  • According to verse 3, why was Nephi going to send the words of Isaiah and Jacob to his children?

  • What principle can we learn from these verses concerning how we can strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ? (Help students identify the following principle: By studying prophets’ testimonies of Jesus Christ, we can strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ. You may want to invite students to consider writing this principle in their scriptures near 2 Nephi 11:2–3.)

  • In addition to the Book of Mormon, where can we find the prophets’ testimonies? (Answers might include in the scriptures, the Ensign or Liahona, the New Era, and general conference talks.)

Invite students to ponder how prophets’ testimonies have strengthened their faith in Jesus Christ. After sufficient time, consider inviting a few students to share their thoughts with the class.

Invite students to scan the first lines of each verse in 2 Nephi 11:4–6, looking for a phrase Nephi repeated in each verse.

  • What does it mean to “delight in” something? (You might explain that the word delight suggests a feeling that is deeper than just liking or being interested in something. It implies an experience of joy and satisfaction.)

Invite students to read 2 Nephi 11:4–7 silently, looking for things that delighted Nephi. Then divide the class into pairs. Ask the students in each pair to share with each other the phrases that most impress them and why.

Point out that in 2 Nephi 11:2 we read that Nephi said he delighted in the words of Isaiah. Explain that some people struggle to understand the prophecies of Isaiah because of his poetic writing style and frequent use of imagery. Although Nephi understood this would be the case, he still included many of Isaiah’s words in the Book of Mormon.

Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 11:8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why Nephi delighted in the writings of Isaiah and included them in his record.

  • What did Nephi hope his people and future readers of the Book of Mormon would experience when they read the words of Isaiah? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Studying the words of Isaiah can help us lift up our hearts and rejoice. You may want to invite students to consider marking the words in verse 8 that teach this truth.)

Explain that in this lesson and in the next three lessons, students will study and discuss Isaiah’s words in 2 Nephi 12–24. Encourage them to look for truths in these chapters that strengthen their testimonies of the Savior and help them to rejoice in Him.

2 Nephi 16

Isaiah is called to serve as a prophet

Draw the accompanying diagram on the board:

  • What are “before” and “after” photographs effective at doing? (Point out that they show the effect that a product, process, or event has on a person, object, or place.)

Write the following words on the board in between the two boxes, and ask students to explain what the before-and-after effect could be for each one: window cleaner, yeast, and fire.)

Next, place a picture of the Savior (such as Jesus Praying in Gethsemane [Gospel Art Book (2009), no. 56; see also lds.org/media-library]) in between the two boxes.

  • What kind of before-and-after effect do you think the Savior could have on a person?

Explain that the class will study 2 Nephi 16 next because it contains Isaiah’s account of a vision in which he received the call to be a prophet and become a witness of Jesus Christ. As students study 2 Nephi 16 today, invite them to look for the effect that this vision had on Isaiah.

To help students prepare to understand this vision, explain that Isaiah’s writings include symbolic language. The use of symbols and types is one way the scriptures teach us of the Lord’s saving mission.

Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 16:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what Isaiah saw in this vision.

  • According to verse 1, whom did Isaiah see?

  • What else did Isaiah see in this vision?

You may want to explain that seraphim are angelic beings that minister in the courts of God (see Bible Dictionary, “Seraphim”). The wings of the seraphim are symbolic of their power to move or to act (see D&C 77:4).

Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 16:5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for how Isaiah felt in the presence of the Lord.

  • How did Isaiah feel in the Lord’s presence? Why? (You might explain that the phrase “Wo is unto me! for I am undone” indicates Isaiah felt unworthy to be in the Lord’s presence. The phrase “unclean lips” indicates he was aware of his sins and the sins of his people.)

Invite students to ponder how they might feel if they experienced what Isaiah did and why they would feel that way.

Ask a student to read 2 Nephi 16:6–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what happened to Isaiah in his vision. Invite students to report what they find. Explain that the hot coal taken from the altar was a symbol of cleansing (see Isaiah 6:6, footnote a).

  • According to verse 7, what did the seraphim say had happened to Isaiah’s sins? (They had been purged, or removed, from him.)

You may need to explain that when the angel in Isaiah’s vision touched his lips with the hot coal, it represented the Lord cleansing Isaiah of his unworthiness and forgiving him of his sins.

  • What feelings might you have if a messenger from the Lord pronounced you clean from your sins? Why might you have those feelings?

Ask a student to read 2 Nephi 16:8 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord asked and how Isaiah responded.

  • How did Isaiah respond to the Lord’s invitation to serve? (Explain that this invitation was Isaiah’s call to be a prophet.)

  • How might the knowledge that he was clean from sin affect Isaiah’s willingness to serve the Lord?

  • From what you learned about Isaiah in this account, how can being cleansed from our sins affect our desire to serve the Lord? (Help students identify the following principle: As we are forgiven of our sins, we become more willing to do what God asks of us.)

  • Why do you think that our willingness to do what God asks of us increases as we are forgiven of our sins?

Invite students to evaluate their willingness to do what God asks of them by silently rating themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being very willing and 1 being not willing at all). Then ask them to ponder how any sin in their lives might be holding them back from being more willing to do what God asks of them.

Testify that as we are forgiven of our sins, we have a greater desire to serve the Lord and to help others draw closer to Him and become clean as well. Encourage students to pray to Heavenly Father, and if necessary talk with parents or priesthood leaders, so that they can repent and have their sins purged through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Explain that 2 Nephi 16:9–10 describes the people to whom Isaiah was called to preach. Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 16:9–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord said about how the people would respond to Isaiah’s message.

  • What did the Lord tell Isaiah about how the people would respond to his message? (The Lord explained that the message would not be easily understood or accepted by the spiritually unprepared. Many people would hear and see the Lord’s message through Isaiah but would reject it.)

Conclude by reviewing the truths students identified today and inviting them to act on those truths.

Commentary and Background Information

2 Nephi 11:8. “And now I write some of the words of Isaiah”

The following list provides some examples of why Nephi included the writings of Isaiah in his record:

  1. 1.

    Isaiah had seen the Savior, as Nephi and Jacob had (see 2 Nephi 11:2–3; see also 2 Nephi 16:1–5, which includes Isaiah’s description of a vision in which he saw the Savior).

  2. 2.

    Nephi delighted in testifying of Christ, and Isaiah also testified of Christ (see 2 Nephi 11:4, 6; see also 2 Nephi 17:14 and 19:6–7, two examples of Isaiah’s prophecies of the Savior).

  3. 3.

    Nephi delighted in the covenants of the Lord (see 2 Nephi 11:5). Isaiah’s prophecies were related to the covenants of the Lord. For example, he prophesied of latter-day temple work (see 2 Nephi 12:1–3).

2 Nephi 16:2–3. Do angels have wings?

The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) taught that “an angel of God never has wings” (in History of the Church, 3:392). Then why did Isaiah describe angels as having wings? Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that the description is symbolic:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“The fact that these holy beings were shown to him as having wings was simply to symbolize their ‘power, to move, to act, etc.’ as was the case also in visions others had received. (D. & C. 77:4.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 703).

2 Nephi 16:5. “I am undone”

When Isaiah received his call from the Lord, he expressed his feelings of inadequacy by saying that he was “undone,” or unqualified. People today, including prophets, may feel the same sense of inadequacy. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) described the telephone call in which President J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961) of the First Presidency informed him that he had been called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

President Spencer W. Kimball

“‘Oh, Brother Clark! Not me? You don’t mean me? There must be some mistake. I surely couldn’t have heard you right.’ This as I sank past the chair to the floor. …

“‘Oh, Brother Clark! It seems so impossible. I am so weak and small and limited and incapable’” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball Jr., Spencer W. Kimball: Twelfth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [1977], 189).