The Book of Mormon begins with Nephi’s account of his father, Lehi, faithfully fulfilling his roles as a prophet and as the priesthood leader of his family. Understanding Lehi’s ministry can help you better understand the role of prophets in our day. He was one of “many prophets, prophesying unto the [Jews] that they must repent” (1 Nephi 1:4). Because Lehi was obedient to God and prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem, the people mocked him and sought to kill him. Nevertheless, Lehi rejoiced in the Lord’s mercy and power of deliverance. As you study 1 Nephi 1, think about how God’s mercy and personal involvement are shown in your own life.
Nephi begins his record
Read 1 Nephi 1:1, and identify key words and phrases that reveal what Nephi’s life was like.
From what you read in verse 1, write in your scripture study journal about at least one way you feel your life is similar to Nephi’s life.
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How do you think Nephi could have “seen many afflictions” yet also be “highly favored of the Lord in all [his] days”?
Lehi receives a vision and warns the people of the destruction of Jerusalem
Think of a time when your parents or Church leaders warned you about something dangerous. What was their motive in warning you?
Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to be safe from sin, which harms us. One of the ways God warns His children is through prophets. Prophets warn against sin and teach salvation through Jesus Christ. As you study 1 Nephi 1, look for evidence of this principle. Nephi began his record by telling us that many prophets preached and warned the people about what would happen if they didn’t repent (see 1 Nephi 1:4). Read 1 Nephi 1:5–7, and mark in your scriptures how Lehi prayed and what he prayed about. Lehi’s prayer to the Lord shows that he believed what the prophets were saying.
Read 1 Nephi 1:11–12, and notice what happened to Lehi as he read the book he was given. Through this vision the Lord further prepared Lehi to minister among the people of Jerusalem. Read 1 Nephi 1:13, and note what Lehi was taught concerning Jerusalem. As you read, put yourself in Lehi’s place and imagine how you would feel if the Lord told you that these things would happen to your home and city.
Being warned about the destruction of his people and city would obviously have been very difficult for Lehi. Yet, read 1 Nephi 1:14–15, and discover why Lehi rejoiced even though he saw that Jerusalem would be destroyed.
Write your thoughts about the following question in your scripture study journal: How might Lehi’s experience in 1 Nephi 1:5–15 influence his desire to teach the people and invite them to repent?
After being warned about the destruction of Jerusalem, Lehi shared with the people of Jerusalem what he had learned. He warned them that they would be destroyed if they did not repent. Read 1 Nephi 1:18–20, and identify how the people of Jerusalem reacted. Imagine you were an editor for a newspaper and you had to write a headline for 1 Nephi 1:18–20. What would be your headline? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Ponder the following statement:
“Like the prophets of old, prophets today testify of Jesus Christ and teach His gospel. They make known God’s will and true character. They speak boldly and clearly, denouncing sin and warning of its consequences. At times, they may be inspired to prophesy of future events for our benefit” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 129).
In your own words, write a sentence in your scripture study journal describing the responsibility of a prophet regardless of the opposition he might face.
As Nephi wrote about his father’s experiences in Jerusalem, he added a message to the reader partway through 1 Nephi 1:20, starting with the phrase “But behold, I, Nephi will show unto you …” This verse introduces a theme Nephi emphasized throughout his writing. Underline this theme in 1 Nephi 1:20, and then read Moroni 10:3 looking for a similar theme. (Moroni was the last of the Book of Mormon prophets. The time between Nephi and Moroni was about 1,000 years.)
Notice that Nephi declared in the first chapter of the Book of Mormon that he would show us “the tender mercies of the Lord” in his writings (1 Nephi 1:20). In the last chapter of the Book of Mormon, Moroni told us to remember “how merciful the Lord hath been” (Moroni 10:3).
Nephi wanted us to understand right from the beginning of his record that the Lord’s tender mercies are extended to those who exercise faith in Him. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what the Lord’s tender mercies are in our life. Circle words and phrases Elder Bednar used to describe what the “tender mercies of the Lord” are as you read his explanation:
“The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. …
“… The Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness, obedience, and humility invite tender mercies into our lives, and it is often the Lord’s timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings” (“The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 99–100).
In your scripture study journal, answer the following question: What example have you seen of the Lord’s extending His tender mercies in your life or in the life of someone you know?
Begin or continue to look for and record in your personal journal the tender mercies the Lord has extended to you. As you do, you will more readily see the blessings God has extended to you.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 1 Nephi 1 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: