President Howard W. Hunter reminded us that “life has a fair number of challenges” (“An Anchor to the Souls of Men,” Ensign, Oct. 1993, 70). Some of the greatest challenges in life, as well as the greatest joys, come from our families. In 2 Nephi 4–5 we read about how Lehi’s family dealt with extraordinary challenges—some family members made wise decisions that led to joy, while others continued down the path to sorrow. We read the heartfelt “psalm of Nephi,” in which we see how the Lord can help us overcome personal weaknesses and disappointments (see 2 Nephi 4:15–35). We also see what Nephi and his people did to live “after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27). As we apply the principles in these chapters, we too can live so that our efforts lead us to happiness. In 2 Nephi 6–8 we read part of a sermon by Nephi’s brother Jacob, testifying of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the gathering of Israel.
Display a multigenerational picture from your family (with at least a child, a parent, and a grandparent). Ask students about the influence loving parents, grandparents, and other family members can have on children. Ask questions such as the following:
How can parents influence children for good? How can grandparents influence children for good?
How have your family members influenced your life for good?
What does Lehi teach his grandchildren in verse 4?
What principle of parenting does Lehi teach in verse 5? What are some things parents can do to bring up their children in the way they should go?
Ask students to briefly talk about someone they trust and explain why they trust that person.
What are some of the results of this trust?
Show the students an object that you treasure. Briefly tell them about the object.
How can you tell that I treasure this object? (They might mention the words you used to describe it, the way you handle it, or the way you look at it.)
Ask students to read 2 Nephi 4:15–16. Invite them to look for what Nephi treasured. Then conduct a discussion, asking some or all of the following questions:
What did Nephi treasure? (The scriptures and “the things of the Lord.”) How can you tell that he treasured these things? (Answers may include that he delighted in them, pondered them continually, and wrote them for this children.)
What can we do to treasure the scriptures and the things of the Lord?
How do you think Nephi’s love of the scriptures influenced his trust in God?
In what ways has your love of the scriptures influenced your trust in God?
2 Nephi 4:15–35 is sometimes called the psalm of Nephi. You may want to invite students to turn to page 59 in the student manual to learn the definition of the word psalm and then to share what they have learned.
Explain that through a careful reading of the psalm of Nephi, we can see what Nephi did to deal with his weaknesses and disappointments. Nephi’s words can guide us as we work through our own weaknesses and disappointments.
Write the following on the board, leaving off the statements in parentheses:
In verses 15–27, Nephi expresses highs and lows in his spiritual feelings. Have students take turns reading from these verses. For each set of verses, ask students to suggest statements that summarize Nephi’s feelings. Possible statements are included above in parentheses.
Ask students to read 2 Nephi 4:29–35 to discover how Nephi found the strength to face his difficulties.
Nephi stated that he had trusted in the Lord and that he would trust in the Lord forever (see verse 34). How can learning to trust in the Lord now help us develop greater faith?
Invite students to share how they have trusted in the Lord in the past and how they have been blessed as a result.
If the picture Lehi’s Family Leaving Jerusalem (item number 62238; Gospel Art Picture Kit 301) is available, show it to your students. Explain what is happening in the picture.
Why did Lehi’s family need to leave Jerusalem?
Ask students to name other individuals or groups of people in the scriptures whom the Lord commanded to leave places of wickedness. Students might name some of the following: Abraham (see Abraham 1–2), Moses (see Exodus 3), and the first King Mosiah (see Omni 1:12).
Explain that soon after Lehi died, the Lord commanded Nephi and his people to separate themselves again—this time from the wicked members of their group. Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 5:1–7.
As we read these verses, what details do we learn about Nephi’s departure?
Ask a student to write the other students’ responses on the board. Answers might be similar to the following list:
Explain that Nephi’s life would have been in danger if he had not heeded the Lord’s warning to flee. If we do not heed the Lord’s warnings, our mortal lives may not be threatened, but our spiritual lives will be in danger.
Ask students to look at the statements on the board.
How might these statements relate to our efforts to flee from wickedness?
You may want to list answers on the board. Some possible answers are shown below:
Ask students to consider challenges they may face with one or more of the following: friends, parties, free time, work, school, television, movies, the Internet, music, books, and magazines.
How can the principle of fleeing wickedness apply to these challenges?
What did the followers of Laman and Lemuel lose when Nephi separated himself from them? (Answers may include priesthood, saving ordinances, revelation, scriptures, and a prophet.)
What do people today lose when they separate themselves from the prophet?
According to Helaman 13:14, what would be another disadvantage for the wicked when all of the righteous leave a community?
As a summary, you may want to have the students refer to the statement by Elder Richard G. Scott on pages 60–61 in the student manual.
Invite students to read 2 Nephi 5:7–18, 26–27. Ask them to look for things the Nephites did or had that contributed to their happiness. After giving the students a few minutes to read, ask them to share what they have found.
Ask a student to read the statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley on pages 61–62 in the student manual.
What principles of happiness do you see in this statement?
What application can you see in your life?
These chapters contain part of a sermon by Nephi’s brother Jacob, including some prophecies of Isaiah. Help students understand that these teachings apply to “all the house of Israel” (2 Nephi 6:5).
Show students a set of bookends. Ask what purpose bookends serve. (They support books and other items placed between them.) Explain that teachers often use “bookends” to teach a lesson. These bookends are the lesson’s introduction and summary. In 2 Nephi 6–8, Jacob teaches from the writings of Isaiah. He includes bookends for these teachings, helping us understand what he wants us to learn.
What periods of time did Jacob say he would teach about?
According to Jacob, why were the teachings of Isaiah important for the people?
Jacob’s summary bookend is in 2 Nephi 9:1–3. Read these verses with students. Invite students to look for reasons why Jacob shared the writings of Isaiah.
How might an understanding of these bookends help us as we read 2 Nephi 6–8?
On the board, write Jewish History and Destiny and Principles of the Gathering of Israel. Explain that Jacob’s teachings can be organized into these two categories.
Write the following dates and events, some of which are taken from the chronology on pages 635–45 in the Bible Dictionary, on the board under the heading Jewish History and Destiny. (You may want to write these on the board or on a poster before class.) Do not write the Book of Mormon references in the parentheses yet.
Invite students to read 2 Nephi 6:6–11 and identify which verses go with which event. Some verses may be used with more than one statement. As students suggest references, ask one of the students to add them to the list.
Ask students to look at 2 Nephi 6:11 again. What will lead to the gathering of the house of Israel? (When they come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, they will be gathered to the lands of their inheritance. For explanations on what it means for members of the house of Israel to come to a knowledge of their Redeemer, see 1 Nephi 15:14–16; 2 Nephi 30:7.)
Have a student read the chapter heading for 2 Nephi 7. Point out that this chapter contains Isaiah’s prophecy about the mortal ministry and Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Invite students to read 2 Nephi 7:2, 4–8 silently. Ask them to look for phrases in this prophecy that foreshadowed what the Messiah would say, do, or experience. Discuss how this prophecy was fulfilled during the Savior’s ministry.
Invite students to express their feelings about what these verses teach about the Savior.
Read 2 Nephi 8:17–23 with students. Explain that these verses talk about future events.
To help students see that 2 Nephi 8 is about the gathering of Israel, invite them to read the chapter heading. Then divide them into two groups. Assign one group to read 2 Nephi 8:1–2, 7–8, 12, 24–25, looking for answers to this question:
How can the Lord’s counsel in these verses help us be among those who are gathered in the last days?
Assign the other group to read 2 Nephi 8:3–6, 11, looking for answers to this question:
How can remembering these promised blessings help us remain faithful during times of temptation?
After four or five minutes, ask students what they have learned.
What is the relationship between missionary work and the gathering of Israel? (Help students understand that they are part of the gathering of Israel as they invite their friends and loved ones to learn more about the gospel.)
Share the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Why was Israel scattered? … Our Israelite forebears were scattered because they rejected the gospel, defiled the priesthood, forsook the church, and departed from the kingdom. They were scattered because they turned from the Lord, worshipped false gods, and walked in all the ways of the heathen nations. They were scattered because they forsook the Abrahamic covenant, trampled under their feet the holy ordinances, and rejected the Lord Jehovah, who is the Lord Jesus, of whom all their prophets testified. Israel was scattered for apostasy. The Lord in his wrath, because of their wickedness and rebellion, scattered them among the heathen in all the nations of the earth.
“What, then, is involved in the gathering of Israel? The gathering of Israel consists in believing and accepting and living in harmony with all that the Lord once offered his ancient chosen people. It consists of having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, of repenting, of being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and of keeping the commandments of God. It consists of believing the gospel, joining the Church, and coming into the kingdom. It consists of receiving the holy priesthood, being endowed in holy places with power from on high, and receiving all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, through the ordinance of celestial marriage” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 515).
Bear testimony of the gathering of Israel, of our opportunity to be gathered to the Savior as members of His Church, and of our opportunity to help others gather as well.