1 Nephi 16-22

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 38–46


Lehi’s family was of the house of Israel. Like Israel during the Exodus, they faced hardships and trials as they traveled in the wilderness. Also like Israel, different members of Lehi’s family had different responses to the ordeals they faced. Laman and Lemuel murmured and contended, while Nephi used the same difficulties to build character and increase faith in the Lord. Nephi studied the scriptures, particularly Isaiah, and likened them to himself and his family. As you study these chapters, look for ways their experiences and teachings can be likened to you.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • Humility and willing obedience to God’s commandments determine how people respond to the truth (see 1 Nephi 16:1–3; see also 1 Nephi 2:12, 16).

  • The Lord expects us to do what we can for ourselves (see 1 Nephi 16:17–32; see also Ether 2:22–3:1, 4–6).

  • The Lord provides many sources of guidance and nourishment for the faithful (see 1 Nephi 16:10, 16–32; 17:7–10; see also Alma 37:38–41).

  • God blesses and sustains those who learn to listen to the Spirit and are faithful in keeping His commandments (see 1 Nephi 17:1–18:15).

  • People trample the Lord under their feet when they reject the counsel He gives through His prophets and the scriptures (see 1 Nephi 19:7; see also D&C 1:38).

  • The Jews were scourged and scattered because they rejected Jesus Christ. Many Jews still wander from the truth but will be gathered again when they accept the Savior (see 1 Nephi 19:8–17; 22:3–8).

  • The scriptures are of greater value to those who liken them to their own lives (see 1 Nephi 19:23–24).

  • As long as Israel strays from her covenants with the Lord, she will be punished and scattered. When she remembers her covenants, she will be gathered and restored with great power (see 1 Nephi 20–21).

  • We can understand the writings and prophecies of Isaiah, like all scripture, by the Spirit (see 1 Nephi 22:1–2; see also 2 Nephi 25:1–6).

  • At the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the wicked will be destroyed and the righteous will be saved (see 1 Nephi 22:15–22, 24, 26; see also Malachi 4:1).

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 16–21.

Suggestions for Teaching

video iconBook of Mormon Video presentation 3, “I Will Prepare the Way” (13:27), can be used in teaching 1 Nephi 17 (see Book of Mormon Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

1 Nephi 16:1–3. Humility and willing obedience to God’s commandments determine how people respond to the truth. (10–15 minutes)

Sing or read “Oh Say, What Is Truth?” (Hymns, no. 272). Have students read 1 Nephi 16:1–2 looking for Laman and Lemuel’s reaction to Nephi’s words.

  • Why do people react so differently to prophets teaching the truth?

  • Who decides how one will react to the truth?

Ask students to search the Book of Mormon for other accounts that show how people react to the teachings of the prophets. (See for example the people of Ammonihah in Alma 8:9–13; Amulek in Alma 10:6–9; and Zeezrom in Alma 11–12; 15:3–12.) Discuss the students’ findings and list them on the board.

Read 1 Nephi 16:3–5 and ask:

  • What counsel did Nephi give his brothers to help them be more receptive to the truth?

  • How can this counsel help you?

  • What scriptural examples do you know in which someone received the truth with gladness? (One example is Lamoni in Alma 18:21–23, 40–42.)

  • What do you think are the keys to being able to respond positively to the truth?

1 Nephi 16:10, 16–32; 17:7–10. The Lord provides many sources of guidance and nourishment for the faithful. (20–25 minutes)

Show the class a compass (or draw one on the board). Ask a student who knows how to use a compass to explain how it is used. Have a few students find various directions using the compass (for example, have a student find the northwest corner of the classroom). Discuss how a compass could be helpful in finding a destination.

Read 1 Nephi 16:9–10 and ask:

  • How did the Lord direct Lehi and his family while they were in the wilderness?

  • How did the Liahona differ from a modern compass?

Have students read the verses in the accompanying chart, looking for three important differences.




2 Nephi 5:12

A compass is man-made.

“The ball, or compass, … was prepared for my father by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 5:12).

1 Nephi 16:29–31

A compass helps travelers use a map to navigate.

The writing on the Liahona “did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it” (1 Nephi 16:29).

1 Nephi 16:28; Alma 37:38–42

A compass works by allowing a magnetized needle to align itself with the earth’s magnetic field.

The Liahona worked “according to their faith in God” (Alma 37:40).

Ask: What has the Lord provided that can give direction in our lives today? Have students read Alma 37:44–45 looking for what Alma compared to the Liahona. Ask: Where might you obtain the word of Christ? Explain that the words of Christ can come from several sources, including the scriptures (see J. Richard Clarke, in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 16–20; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 13–15); living prophets (see D&C 68:3–4); patriarchal blessings (see Thomas S. Monson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 81–83; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 65–67); and the Holy Ghost speaking to our conscience (see Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 114–17; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 77–79).

Read from one of the sources given above or use the following paragraphs from the talk by President Spencer W. Kimball:

“The ball, or Liahona—which is interpreted to mean a compass—was prepared by the Lord especially to show unto [Lehi] the course which he should travel in the wilderness. Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of a ball—each one of you—so that whenever you were in error it would point the right way and write messages to you? …

“That … you all have. The Lord gave to every boy, every man, every person, a conscience which tells him every time he starts to go on the wrong path. He is always told if he is listening; but people can, of course, become so used to hearing the messages that they ignore them until finally they do not register anymore.

“You must realize that you have something like the compass, like the Liahona, in your own system. Every child is given it. When he is eight years of age, he knows good from evil, if his parents have been teaching him well. If he ignores the Liahona that he has in his own makeup, he eventually may not have it whispering to him. But if we will remember that every one of us has the thing that will direct him aright, our ship will not get on the wrong course and suffering will not happen and bows will not break and families will not cry for food—if we listen to the dictates of our own Liahona, which we call the conscience” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 116–17; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 79).

Bear your testimony of the importance of heeding the words of Christ.

1 Nephi 16:17–32. The Lord expects us to do what we can for ourselves. (20–25 minutes)

Before class assign each of three students one of the examples below. Ask them to read them and thoughtfully consider ways to resolve the dilemmas presented. In class, have them read or tell their examples and offer their solutions. Give the class time to discuss their solutions and to offer alternate ones.

  • You have just been called to serve in the presidency of the priests quorum. Your family is excited about your new responsibilities, but a disagreement emerges when they learn that you now have meetings on Sunday mornings. Your parents also have Sunday morning meetings, and your family has depended on you to get your two little brothers ready and then drive all of your brothers and sisters to church.

  • For years your whole family has enjoyed cheering for you at your soccer games. Changes in the league schedule have placed some games on Sunday. When you talk to your family, they are surprised that you are worried about playing on Sunday. All are in favor of continuing the family outings to the games. You decide to keep the Sabbath but now don’t know how to tell your family.

  • Times have been difficult for your family. Not only is your dad working two jobs, but your mother, your older brothers and sisters, and you have all been forced to take jobs too. On the way to your late-night job, a drunk driver speeds through a red light and hits your car. You survive without injuries, but your car is totaled. Even though the accident was not your fault, your entire family is upset at you because they depended on the car. Even your dad loses his temper.

Explain that Nephi also faced difficult situations while traveling with his family in the wilderness. Ask: Why would it be helpful to know how Nephi solved his family’s problems?

Have students read 1 Nephi 16:17–21 and look for Nephi’s problem. Invite a student to summarize Nephi’s predicament and explain it to the class. Ask: What could Nephi have done? List responses on the board and discuss them.

Read 1 Nephi 16:22–32 looking for Nephi’s response to the problem. Ask:

  • What did Nephi do instead of complain like the rest of his family? (see v. 23).

  • How does hard work and taking positive action help resolve your problems?

  • Why did Nephi approach his father for help? (see vv. 23–26).

  • What did the Lord tell Lehi to do? (see v. 26).

  • How did the Liahona function? (see vv. 27–29).

  • How was the family crisis resolved? (see vv. 30–32).

  • Read Alma 37:44–46. According to these verses, what was the Liahona a type of (what did it represent)?

  • What can we learn from Nephi’s experience about handling life’s challenges?

Read the statement by Elder Marion D. Hanks, a member of the Seventy, in the commentary for 1 Nephi 16:18–32 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122 (p. 16).

weekly icon1 Nephi 17. God blesses and sustains those who learn to listen to the Spirit and are faithful in keeping His commandments. (40–50 minutes)

Ask students to imagine being forced to go on a long, hot trip with their family. Nine people are packed into a small car. The air-conditioning is broken, and three of the four windows will not roll down. There is a new infant on board, and you have no food or money. Discuss the following questions:

  • How do you think everyone will get along with each other?

  • What are likely areas of contention?

  • What could you personally do to improve the situation?

Have students read 1 Nephi 17:1–6. Ask some or all of the following questions:

  • How long had Lehi’s family been traveling in the wilderness? (Eight years; see v. 4.)

  • What do you suppose were a few of their afflictions? (The Arabian Peninsula is a hot, desolate area. It was difficult to obtain food. The family didn’t always get along. Children were born during their travels.)

  • How did the Lord bless them during their journey?

  • How would you relate the lesson in verse 3 to what you have learned in your own life?

Divide the class into groups, and invite them to imagine the following situation: You are a space crew originally scheduled to rendezvous with a mother ship at a set location on the surface of the moon. Due to mechanical difficulties, your ship has been forced to land some 300 kilometers from the rendezvous point. Much of your equipment was damaged. The only way to survive is to travel the 300 kilometers to the mother ship. You can take with you only what is absolutely necessary.

Give each student a copy of the accompanying chart. Invite them to rank the items according to their importance for the journey. Have them place a number 1 by the most important item, number 2 by the second most important, and so on through number 15. Have them write their personal rankings first and then rank the items as a group. Give them fifteen minutes to make their decisions.

Personal Decision

Group Decision

Box of matches

Food concentrate

Length of nylon rope

Parachute silk

Portable heating unit

Two 45-caliber pistols

Case of dehydrated milk

Two 50-kilogram tanks of oxygen

Map of the moon

Life raft

Magnetic compass

Five jugs of water

Signal flares

First-aid kit with hypodermic needles

Solar-powered radio transmitter-receiver

At the conclusion of the exercise, ask:

  • When you were ranking the items as a group, did someone take charge? Who?

  • Did some participate in the process more than others? In what ways?

  • What motivated the group to succeed?

  • What attitudes helped the group succeed?

  • How did the group discussion help you understand any errors in your own thinking?

  • What attitudes led to disorganization?

  • What can you learn about yourself by working with a group to solve a difficult problem?

Invite students to read 1 Nephi 17:7–18, and then discuss the following questions:

  • Why did the Lord command Nephi to go to the mountain?

  • Once Nephi went to the mountain, what did the Lord command him to do?

  • How would you respond if you were commanded to build a ship capable of carrying your family across the ocean?

  • How did Nephi respond to the commandment?

  • What was the first problem Nephi faced in building the ship?

  • What did Nephi do to solve the problem?

  • How did the Lord help him?

  • Why did Laman and Lemuel become so upset when they learned that Nephi was planning to build a ship and leave the land of Bountiful?

Read 1 Nephi 17:19–22 and list on the board all of the incorrect statements made by Nephi’s brothers in these verses. Ask:

  • Have you ever made reckless statements toward someone?

  • How can we avoid this?

  • Read James 1:19. How does James’s advice relate to what we just read in 1 Nephi?

Have students scan 1 Nephi 17:23–34 to find the historic event that Nephi recited to his brothers. Ask:

  • Why do you think Nephi would recite the account of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt?

  • How can the Exodus build your trust in the Lord?

Ask students whether they think the Lord honors or loves some more than others. Have a student read 1 Nephi 17:35 to find the answer. Ask: How might one be favored of the Lord?

Have students scan 1 Nephi 17:36–44 looking for why Israel was scattered and destroyed. Ask: How were Laman and Lemuel like the people in Jerusalem?

Before class set up a radio tuned to play nothing but static. Turn it on and read 1 Nephi 17:45. Tune the radio to a clear station. Discuss the following questions:

  • How is the poor reception on the radio like the inability of some to understand the things of the Lord?

  • What do the wicked do to desensitize themselves to the Spirit?

  • How is a righteous person’s ability to feel the Spirit like a properly tuned radio?

  • What role does distance play in radio reception? (A radio must be within range of the transmitter to get clear reception.)

  • How is that like prayer and receiving revelation?

  • What role does having batteries or an electrical outlet play in radio reception? (A radio won’t work without a source of power.)

  • How is that like prayer and revelation?

Read 1 Nephi 17:45–55 looking for a situation that was similar to the static on a radio.

  • How is static on a radio like the inability of Laman and Lemuel to “tune” themselves to the will of the Lord?

  • What had they done to put themselves out of tune?

  • How does the Lord speak to us today?

  • How can we avoid being “past feeling”? (v. 45).

Invite students to look for the word listen as you read the following statements by Elder Boyd K. Packer, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Many years ago John Burroughs, a naturalist, one summer evening was walking through a crowded park. Above the sounds of city life he heard the song of a bird.

“He stopped and listened! Those with him had not heard it. He looked around. No one else had noticed it.

“It bothered him that everyone should miss something so beautiful.

“He took a coin from his pocket and flipped it into the air. It struck the pavement with a ring, no louder than the song of the bird. Everyone turned; they could hear that!

“It is difficult to separate from all the sounds of city traffic the song of a bird. But you can hear it. You can hear it plainly if you train yourself to listen for it.

“One of our sons has always been interested in radio. When he was a little fellow, his Christmas present was a very elementary radio construction set.

“As he grew, and as we could afford it, and as he could earn it, he received more sophisticated equipment.

“There have been many times over the years, some very recently, when I have sat with him as he talked with someone in a distant part of the world.

“I could hear static and interference and catch a word or two, or sometimes several voices at once.

“Yet he can understand, for he has trained himself to tune out the interference.

“It is difficult to separate from the confusion of life that quiet voice of inspiration. Unless you attune yourself, you will miss it.

“Answers to prayers come in a quiet way. The scriptures describe that voice of inspiration as a still, small voice.

“If you really try, you can learn to respond to that voice” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 27–28; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 19–20).

“That voice of inspiration is so quiet and so still, that it can easily be explained away. It is easy to be disobedient to that voice. It often takes very great courage to follow it. It is a clear signal to Latter-day Saints” (in Conference Report, Stockholm Sweden Area Conference 1974, 20).

Testify that we must learn to listen to and feel the Spirit.

1 Nephi 19:7–10. People trample the Lord under their feet when they reject His counsels given through His prophets or the scriptures. (20–25 minutes)

Ask students: What do you consider most sacred in your life? List responses on the board (these might include family, mother, church, flag, chastity, their testimony of Jesus Christ, knowing they have a Heavenly Father who loves them). Refer to a few of the responses and ask: How do you feel when people ignore, mock, or belittle these?

Read 1 Nephi 19:7 and ask:

  • What does it mean to set something “at naught”? (To consider something worthless.)

  • How is it possible to “trample” the Savior under one’s feet?

  • What does “hearken” mean? (To listen to and obey.)

In other words, Nephi is saying that if we do not listen to and obey the Lord’s counsel, we trample God under our feet. Ask:

  • How did those who lived anciently ignore the counsel of the Lord?

  • Read 1 Nephi 19:8–9. According to these verses, how did those at the time of Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry “set him at naught”?

Have students read Helaman 12:2–6, and ask some of the following questions:

  • According to this prophetic warning, what can lead people to “trample under their feet the Holy One”?

  • How and why do people today ignore the counsels of the Lord?

  • How can you and I ensure that we do not ignore His counsel?

Read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“We speak with wonder and horror, and properly we should, of the fact that the Jews, with the scriptures, the miracles, and the mighty works before them, yet rejected their God, and did it so violently and with such a fixed determination that they brought about his death by Roman hands. To enable us to keep our perspective, however, we need to view with fairness and dispassion how and in what manner he was rejected and ask whether he would be so treated today. As Jacob said, only the Jews, among all the then existing nations, seeing the miracles he did and being aware of the wonders he performed, would have crucified him. (1 Ne. 19:7–9.) But would others among men have rejected him, and how and in what manner do men reject so great a thing as the ministry of a God among them?” (The Promised Messiah, 494–95).

1 Nephi 19:8–17; 22:3–8. The Jews were scourged and scattered because they rejected Jesus Christ. Many Jews still wander from the truth but will be gathered again when they accept the Savior. (20–30 minutes)

Write these sentences on the board:

Don’t run in the street!

Don’t play with fire!

Don’t take candy from a stranger!


  • Where have you heard these before?

  • Why would someone give such warnings?

  • What is the danger of ignoring these warnings?

  • If you warned your friend and the friend ignored your warning, how would you feel if something bad then happened to your friend?

  • Would you try to help your friend? Why?

Explain that prophets warn us of the dire consequences of dangerous and sinful actions. They feel no joy over the pain and difficulty we suffer when we ignore them. Instead they continue to love us and strive to lead us to safety and peace. Encourage students to keep these truths in mind as they study the scattering of the Jews.

Have students read the second paragraph of the title page of the Book of Mormon, and ask:

  • In the Book of Mormon, who are the Gentiles? (see Bible Dictionary, “Gentile,” p. 679).

  • How does the Lord feel about the Jews and the Gentiles?

  • What great things can you think of that the Lord has done for the Jews and the Gentiles?

  • What caused those living at the time of the Savior’s mortal ministry to “judge him to be a thing of naught”? (1 Nephi 19:9).

  • How did they treat Him?

  • Why was the Lord willing to submit to them?

Read 1 Nephi 19:10–12 looking for the prophecies recorded in these verses, and discuss how they were fulfilled. Read 2 Nephi 10:3–6; 25:12–15 looking for what led people to mock and crucify the Lord. Read 1 Nephi 19:13–14 and ask:

  • What would happen to the Jews who were at Jerusalem during the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Why? (see v. 13).

  • Were the descendants of the Jews at Jerusalem punished by God for the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ? (No; see Articles of Faith 1:2.)

  • Why would the Jews wander in the flesh for centuries, perish, and become “a hiss and a byword, … hated among all nations”? (Because of their ongoing rejection of Jesus Christ and His gospel; see v. 14. Stress that the scriptures do not in any way encourage or excuse the persecution and hatred that others have heaped on the Jews.)

Read 1 Nephi 22:5, and then read and discuss the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“Why was Israel scattered? The answer is clear; it is plain; of it there is no doubt. 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” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 515).

  • Read 1 Nephi 19:15–16. At what point will Israel be gathered by the Lord? (As soon as they repent and turn back to their God, the Lord will gather them.)

  • Read 1 Nephi 22:6–9. What role will the Gentiles have in bringing Israel back to the Lord?

scripture mastery icon1 Nephi 19:23–24 (Scripture Mastery, 1 Nephi 19:23). We should liken the scriptures to ourselves for our profit and learning. (20–25 minutes)

Ask students if they have ever heard the prophet give a conference talk without referring to the scriptures or statements from other prophets. Ask: Why do you suppose that is the case? Have students read 1 Nephi 19:23–24. Ask: Why do prophets spend so much time reading and citing from the scriptures?

Write the word liken on the board and the following definition: “To compare; to represent as resembling or similar” (Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language [1828]). Ask students to list the benefits of comparing scriptural accounts to their own lives.

Write the accompanying chart on the board, leaving the “Meaning” column blank. Discuss the phrases as a class, and write your students’ conclusions about their meanings and modern applications in the “Meaning” column. (The words in parentheses are for your reference. The objective of this exercise is not to provide definitive answers but to help students see that they can already “liken” some words and phrases of Isaiah to themselves.)




1 Nephi 20:1

“waters of Judah”

(waters of baptism)

1 Nephi 20:4

“thy neck is an iron sinew”

(you are stiff-necked or proud)

1 Nephi 20:10

“furnace of affliction”

(tests or trials)

1 Nephi 20:14, 20


(the world, wickedness)

1 Nephi 20:18

“righteousness as the waves of the sea”

(continual or everlasting righteousness)

1 Nephi 21:1

“the pastors of my people”


1 Nephi 21:1

“called me from the womb”

(foreordained me in the premortal life)

1 Nephi 21:6

“light to the Gentiles”

(example to the Gentiles)

Help students understand that we must liken, or apply, the scriptures to ourselves.

Have a student read the following statement by Elder Carlos E. Asay, who was a member of the Seventy:

“How many times have parents heard a son or daughter complain, ‘Let’s not read the scriptures. They deal with people of an ancient day and are boring.’ When complaints of this nature are voiced, it is likely that the parents have failed to do what Nephi did. Said he: ‘I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning’ (1 Nephi 19:23)” (Family Pecan Trees: Planting a Legacy of Faith at Home [1992], 39).

Invite students to mark the word that each time it appears in 1 Nephi 19:22–24. Explain that, following the word that, Nephi told what he did and why he did it. List the phrases that describe why Nephi quoted from Isaiah, and discuss them as a class.

  • “That they might know concerning the doings of the Lord in other lands, among people of old” (v. 22).

  • “That I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer” (v. 23).

  • “That it might be for our profit and learning” (v. 23).

  • “That ye may have hope as well as your brethren from whom ye have been broken off” (v. 24).

Ask: Which of these statements describe the purpose of the Book of Mormon? Compare the statements with the second paragraph of the title page of the Book of Mormon. Testify that Nephi’s use of Isaiah fits well within the purpose given there:

“Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations” (title page).

Spend some time going over the scripture mastery scripture (1 Nephi 19:23) to help students remember it. Have them mark the verse in their scriptures.

1 Nephi 20–21. As long as Israel strays from her covenants with the Lord, she will be punished and scattered. When she remembers her covenants, she will be gathered and restored with great power. (40–50 minutes)

Tell students that Old Testament prophets sometimes used the language of legal contracts or treaties to talk about sacred covenants. The material in 1 Nephi 20–21 can be compared to a lawsuit brought against Israel for breaking her covenant with the Lord. Write on the board the following outline of 1 Nephi 20, which essentially follows the pattern of the contract between the Lord and Israel.

The Contract

1. Preamble (1 Nephi 20:1–2). Hearken, O Israel, to the Lord.

2.Historical Review (1 Nephi 20:3–8). The Lord predicted Israel’s current problems.

3. Conditions of the Contract (1 Nephi 20:9–11, 14–15). The Lord promises to defer His anger and redeem Israel from Babylon.

4. Witnesses (1 Nephi 20:12–14, 16). The earth, the heavens, and Israel are called to witness what God has done and will do.

5. Curses and Blessings (1 Nephi 20:17–22). The Lord contrasts the results of Israel’s wicked and righteous acts.

Ask students if they understand what a covenant is and how it compares to a contract (see Bible Dictionary, “covenant,” p. 651).

Assign students to five “fact-finding committees.” Give each group one of the five parts of the contract as outlined on the board. Allow the groups five to ten minutes to read and summarize the verses of scripture relating to their part of the contract. Invite each group to choose a spokesperson to report their findings, and discuss them as a class.

Write on the board the following outline of 1 Nephi 21, which follows the pattern of a contract lawsuit.

The Trial

1. The Summons (1 Nephi 21:1–6). God’s servant says, “My judgment is with the Lord.”

2. The Plaintiff’s Charge (1 Nephi 21:7–13). The Lord declares that (unlike Israel) He has kept and will keep His promises.

3. The Defendant’s Plea (1 Nephi 21:14, 21, 24). Israel offers excuses for her lack of faith in the Lord’s promises.

. The Judge’s Verdict (1 Nephi 21:15–20, 22–23, 25–26). The Lord assures Israel she will be redeemed.

Ask for volunteers for the following roles: court recorder, plaintiff, defendant, and judge. Have the defendant rise, and explain to the class that the defendant represents Israel. Ask: Who do we mean when we say “Israel”? (see Bible Dictionary, “Israel,” p. 708).

Strike a table with a gavel and declare that court is now in session. Have the court recorder read the summons (1 Nephi 21:1–6). Ask students:

  • Why, according to verse 1, has Israel been scattered?

  • What do the words of the servant in verse 4 mean? (The servant has tried to get Israel to repent, but his efforts have been in vain, so he has brought his “case” before the Lord for judgment.)

  • Who is the servant referred to in verses 1–6?

Note that Isaiah sometimes speaks for himself, sometimes for Israel, and sometimes for the Lord in the first person. Because the speaker can change without warning, it is sometimes not immediately clear to modern readers who is speaking. The servant in these verses may refer to Israel or to Isaiah. However, both Israel and Isaiah serve also as types of Jesus Christ, and these verses are clearly Messianic (see v. 6; Luke 2:25–32). Ultimately it is the Lord who issues the summons.

Ask the plaintiff to read the charge against the defendant (1 Nephi 21:7–13). Remind students that Israel was scattered and brought into bondage because she had not kept her covenants with the Lord. In these verses the Lord reminds Israel that He fulfills all His promises. Ask:

  • In verse 9, who are the prisoners who sit in darkness? (One answer is Israel without the light of the gospel; see D&C 45:28. Another is those who have died and are in spirit prison; see 1 Peter 3:18–19; D&C 138:57.)

  • How are these prisoners freed?

Israel, the defendant, lodges three “objections” to the Lord’s charge. Have the defendant read 1 Nephi 21:14, 21, 24.

Ask the defendant to summarize Israel’s objections, inviting other students to help if necessary. (The Lord has forsaken and forgotten her [see v. 14]; her children are lost [see v. 21]; her captors are too strong for her to be freed [see v. 24].) Ask students:

  • What brought about the problems Israel refers to in these objections?

  • What would it take to solve these problems? (Point out that trust in the Lord’s ability to save us is a necessary part of repentance.)

Invite your judge to read the verdict (1 Nephi 21:15–20, 22–23, 25–26). Ask students:

  • When is the Lord willing to forgive and restore Israel?

  • How does the phrase “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” (v. 16) show the Lord’s love for Israel?

  • What does the Lord vow to do to those who have harmed and oppressed Israel? (see vv. 25–26).

Have students review the second paragraph of the title page of the Book of Mormon looking for what it teaches about Israel. Testify that God has an abiding love for all His children. He wants us all to repent and return to Him.

1 Nephi 22. We can understand the writings and prophecies of Isaiah, like all scripture, by the Spirit. (15–25 minutes)

Write the following questions on the board:

Who would you go to for a better understanding of how a car works?

Who would you go to for a better understanding of Isaiah?

Discuss with students their responses to the questions on the board. Ask:

  • Why would it be important to gain insights and understanding on Isaiah’s prophecies from a prophet? (see 2 Peter 1:20–21).

  • Where would you search for such insights?

Explain that 1 Nephi 22 is Nephi’s commentary on the words of Isaiah found in 1 Nephi 20–21. Ask: Why would Nephi’s insights be of more value than other sources?

Write the following questions on the board or give them to students as a handout. Do not include the references unless you are short on time. Have students answer the questions by searching 1 Nephi 22. Have them work individually or in small groups, or complete the exercise as a class. Discuss their answers.

1. How can we understand the words of Isaiah? (see 1 Nephi 22:1–2).

2. Should Isaiah’s prophecies be considered temporal or spiritual? (see v. 3).

3. How, when, and where will Israel be scattered? (see vv. 3–4).

4. Why will Israel be scattered? (see v. 5).

5. What does Isaiah mean when he prophesies that Israel will someday be nursed by the Gentiles? (see vv. 6–12).

6. What will happen to those who fight against Israel? (see vv. 13–16).

7. How will the great and abominable church be destroyed? (see vv. 13, 16).

8. How will the Lord ensure that the righteous do not perish because of the wicked? (see vv. 16–22).

9. Who is the prophet like unto Moses who would be raised up by the Lord? (see vv. 20–21).

10. How will Satan be bound during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ? (see vv. 24–26).

Emphasize that the most helpful commentary on Isaiah and other scripture is the commentary that comes from prophets, such as that found in the Book of Mormon.