Nephi prophesied that his descendants would someday be visited by the resurrected Jesus Christ and that after this experience they would live for three generations in righteousness. However, Nephi was grieved that among the fourth generation of his descendants, some would fall from righteousness, reject the Messiah, and eventually be destroyed. Nephi warned those living in the last days against pride, secret combinations, and priestcraft. He taught that the Lord loves all people and invites them to come unto Him.
Ask students to ponder why they think God might ever allow a group of people to be destroyed. After sufficient time, invite several students to share their thoughts with the class.
As students study 2 Nephi 26 today, invite them to look for truths that can help us understand why God would allow certain groups of people to be destroyed.
Divide students into pairs. Write 2 Nephi 26:3, 5–6 and 2 Nephi 26:10–11 on the board. Instruct one student in each pair to read 2 Nephi 26:3, 5–6, looking for what Nephi foresaw would happen to some of his descendants at the time of the Savior’s death and Resurrection and why. Instruct the other student in each pair to read 2 Nephi 26:10–11, looking for what Nephi foresaw would happen to some of his descendants among the fourth generation after the Savior appeared to them and why. Ask students to discuss in their pairs what they find.
What do you think the phrase “the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man” in verse 11 means? (The Spirit of the Lord withdraws from individuals because of their unrighteousness.)
What principles can we learn from these verses about what can lead people to perish or be destroyed? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but be sure they identify the following truths: Those who reject the prophets and persecute the Savior’s followers will perish. Those who are prideful and choose works of darkness rather than light will lose the Spirit and be destroyed. Write these two truths on the board.)
Ask students what thoughts or feelings they might have had if they had been in Nephi’s situation and had foreseen the destruction of many of their descendants.
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 26:7 aloud. Ask the class to look for Nephi’s reaction to the vision of the people’s destruction. Invite students to report what they find. You may want to invite them to consider marking Nephi’s declaration at the end of the verse: “Thy ways are just.”
What does the statement “Thy ways are just” mean to you? (You may need to explain that someone who is just will always treat people fairly.)
Point out that the justice of God requires that the wicked be punished for their actions and that the righteous be rewarded for their actions. Invite students to read 2 Nephi 26:8–9, 13 in their pairs, searching for blessings that Nephi said would come to his righteous descendants.
What blessings did Nephi say would come to the righteous?
Invite students to search 2 Nephi 26:20–21 silently, looking for obstacles people may stumble over in the last days.
According to 2 Nephi 26:20–21, what are some obstacles Nephi saw that would cause the Gentiles to stumble?
To help students understand another way that the devil seeks to impede our efforts to follow God, hold up a piece of thread. Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 26:22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Nephi wrote about a similar object. Explain that flax is the material used to make linen.
What is significant about the phrase “until he bindeth them” in 2 Nephi 26:22? What does this verse teach you about how Satan works? (Help students identify the following truth: The devil subtly leads people into the bondage of sin. Invite students to consider marking the phrase in this verse that teaches this truth.)
To help students understand this truth, invite a student to come to the front of the class. Bind the student’s wrists together loosely with a single strand of thread. As you do so, explain that this represents committing a sin, such as being unkind to a family member (you might want to give an example, such as speaking harshly to a sibling). Ask the student to break the thread. Repeat the process, this time wrapping the thread around his or her wrists several times, each time naming another sin that could be committed or naming further examples of unkind acts toward family members. Continue doing this until the student cannot break the thread. (Warn the student to be careful not to hurt himself or herself.)
How have you seen Satan leading people with “flaxen cord[s]”?
Which of these sins (flaxen cords) do you think are most dangerous for people your age?
Why do you think some people do not remove Satan’s flaxen cords before they become “strong cords”?
Point out that when people are bound by the devil’s “strong cords” in this life, they still have their agency. However, their desire and ability to withstand and overcome temptation have been weakened. Nevertheless, the Savior can help them to become free from the bondage of sin as they exercise faith in Him and repent.
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 26:23–24 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord’s ways differ from the devil’s ways.
According to these verses, how does the Lord work? What is the purpose of everything the Lord does? (You may want to invite students to consider marking the portion of 2 Nephi 26:24 that teaches that because the Lord loves all people, everything He does is for their benefit.)
What evidence of the Lord’s love for and effort to benefit His children did Nephi refer to in verse 24?
Remind students of the principles they learned earlier in the lesson about the consequences that come to those who are prideful and who reject the prophets and persecute the Savior’s followers. Also, point out that some people may feel that if God loved His children, He would not allow them to suffer the negative consequences of their choices.
How is allowing His children to experience the consequences of their choices a manifestation of God’s love for both the wicked and the righteous?
You might remind students that the Nephites who were destroyed a few generations after the Savior’s visit were in a deep state of wickedness and corruption. Point out that the destruction of these people prevented them from committing additional acts of wickedness, and, like those destroyed in the Flood during the time of Noah, the wicked Nephites were brought into the spirit world where they could eventually be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and have opportunities to repent (see 1 Peter 3:18–20; Moses 7:39).
Why do you think it is important to understand that the Lord loves all people and that everything He does is for their benefit?
How can understanding this truth help someone who questions one of the Lord’s teachings, laws, or standards?
Ask students to reflect for a moment on a time when they felt distanced from the Lord. Invite them to search 2 Nephi 26:25–28, 33, looking for what Nephi taught about the Lord.
What truth can we learn about the Lord from these verses? (Be sure students identify the following truth: The Lord invites all people to come unto Him and partake of His salvation. Write this truth on the board.)
Invite students to write answers to the following questions in their class notebooks or study journals:
How can it help you to know that the Lord invites all to come unto Him?
How have you felt the Lord inviting you to come unto Him?
After sufficient time, invite several willing students to share with the class what they wrote.
To help students apply this truth, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency:
“I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters in the Church a special measure of humanity, compassion, and charity so that they feel, at long last, they have finally found home. …
“It seems only right and proper that we extend to others that which we so earnestly desire for ourselves.
“I am not suggesting that we accept sin or overlook evil, in our personal life or in the world. Nevertheless, in our zeal, we sometimes confuse sin with sinner, and we condemn too quickly and with too little compassion. …
“… Let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “You Are My Hands,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 68–69).
Invite students to consider what they might do to invite others to come to the Lord and partake of His salvation. Encourage students to act on any promptings they receive.