Lesson 31: 2 Nephi 11 and 16

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2012


Introduction

In 2 Nephi 11, Nephi expressed his love for the words of Isaiah. He also testified that Jacob and Isaiah had seen the “Redeemer, even as I have seen him” (2 Nephi 11:2). 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, 5–8). Both Nephi and Jacob taught the value of likening Isaiah’s writings to ourselves (see 1 Nephi 19:23; 2 Nephi 6:5; 11:2), and the Lord declared, “great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1). 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 25 serves as a conclusion to these chapters, containing Nephi’s counsel on how to understand Isaiah’s words (see lesson 35 in this manual).

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 the first student reads his or her sentence, ask the class if it is a complete representation of what happened in their last class. Then have the second student share his or her sentence, and ask if it is a complete representation of their last class. After the third student reads, ask the same question.

  • What advantages are there to having multiple witnesses?

Explain that the Lord calls prophets to be His witnesses to the world. Encourage students to ponder what it has meant to them to hear prophets testify of Jesus Christ.

Write the following statement on the board: By studying prophets’ testimonies of Jesus Christ, we can strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and rejoice in Him.

Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 11:2–3.

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

  • Why do you think it is important to have a witness of Jesus Christ from multiple prophets? (See also Mosiah 13:33–35.)

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.)

Have students read 2 Nephi 11:4–7 silently, identifying things that delighted Nephi. Then divide the class into pairs. Ask students to share the phrases that most impress them and why. Also invite them to share what delights them or leads them to rejoice about Jesus Christ.

Read 2 Nephi 11:8 aloud, and have students look for a reason why Nephi included the writings of Isaiah 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?

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 related to the covenants of the Lord. For example, he prophesied of latter-day temple work (see 2 Nephi 12:1–3).

Explain that in this lesson and the next three, 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. Invite students to share some of their favorite verses from these chapters with their family members and friends.

2 Nephi 16

Isaiah is called to serve as a prophet

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. To help students prepare to understand this vision, explain that Isaiah’s writings include symbolic language. The scriptures are rich in symbols, types, and figurative expressions. Point out that in one of the verses they read earlier, Nephi stated, “All things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of [Jesus Christ]” (2 Nephi 11:4). The use of symbols and types is one way the scriptures teach us of the Lord’s saving mission.

Write the following words and phrases on the board: train, seraphim (angels) with six wings each, smoke, live coal.

Ask students what thoughts come to their minds when they see or hear these words. After a brief discussion, explain that Isaiah used these words in his account of his call to be a prophet of God. (Try to help students understand the meanings Isaiah intended. Be careful not to overanalyze the meanings of symbolic language. Instead, help students see how Isaiah’s message applies in their lives.)

Ask a student to read 2 Nephi 16:1. (If students have access to the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible, you may want to have them turn to Isaiah 6, which contains footnotes and study helps that will enhance understanding of the scripture passages covered in this lesson.)

Explain that in this verse, the word train refers to the hem or skirts of a robe.

Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 16:2–3 aloud. Explain that “seraphim” are angels who reside in the presence of God (see Bible Dictionary, “Seraphim”).

  • What might the six wings of the seraphim represent? (You might suggest that students read Doctrine and Covenants 77:4 for a clue. The image of wings is symbolic of power to move and act.)

  • What words indicate the seraphim’s attitude toward the Lord?

  • When have you felt a similar attitude toward God?

Have a student read 2 Nephi 16:4 and Revelation 15:8 aloud. Ask the class to look for the meaning of the phrase “filled with smoke.” (You may need to help students understand that the smoke represents the presence, power, and glory of the Lord.) Consider suggesting that students write Revelation 15:8 in the margin of their scriptures next to 2 Nephi 16:4.

Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 16:5 aloud. Ask the class to look for phrases that express how Isaiah felt in the presence of the Lord. (If the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible is available, have students look up Isaiah 6:5, footnotes a and b.)

  • What do you think Isaiah meant when he said, “I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips”? (You may need to explain that in Isaiah 6:5, the word undone was translated from a Hebrew word that means “cut off,” and the phrase unclean lips refers to Isaiah’s consciousness of his sins and the sins of his people. Isaiah was expressing that he felt unworthy to be in the presence of the Lord.)

Give students a moment to ponder why Isaiah may have felt this way. Explain that several prophets have expressed how inadequate they felt when they received their calls. President Spencer W. Kimball described the telephone call in which President J. Reuben Clark Jr. of the First Presidency informed him that he had been called to the Quorum of the Twelve:

“‘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’” (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).

Help students understand that Isaiah, a righteous man, felt “undone” and “unclean” in the presence of the Lord. Who among us would not feel unworthy standing before God?

Write the following truth on the board: We can be cleansed of our unworthiness through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

If possible, show students a piece of charcoal or a burned piece of wood. Ask them what it would look like if it had just been taken out of a fire.

  • What would happen to someone who touched a hot coal?

Read 2 Nephi 16:6–7 aloud. Ask students to read along silently, looking for Isaiah’s experience involving a live coal. (If a Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible is available, have students look up Isaiah 6:6, footnote a, and Isaiah 6:7, footnotes a and b.)

  • According to 2 Nephi 16:7, what did it mean when the angel symbolically touched Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal? (You may need to explain that the live coal is a symbol of cleansing. When the angel in Isaiah’s vision touched his lips with the coal, it represented the Lord cleansing Isaiah of his unworthiness and forgiving him of his sins.)

Give students a few moments to think about times when they have felt the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Invite students to read 2 Nephi 16:8–13 silently. Invite a student to summarize what the Lord said about Isaiah’s ministry among the people. (You may need to explain that the Lord advised Isaiah that his preaching to the rebellious Israelites would be largely ignored but that he should continue to preach until “the land be utterly desolate.” In other words, the Lord will graciously continue His mission of salvation through His servants “so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved” [Moroni 7:36].)

Explain that Isaiah became a powerful witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. Testify that the Savior is real and can forgive us of our sins, and that as we experience the power of the Atonement in our lives, we too can be witnesses of the Savior.

Commentary and Background Information

2 Nephi 16:2–3. Do angels have wings?

“An angel of God never has wings” (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 3:392). Then why did Isaiah describe angels as having wings? Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that the description is symbolic: “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.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 703).