Unit 3: Day 2, 1 Nephi 8

Book of Mormon Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, (2012), 24–26


Introduction

In 1 Nephi 8 we read about Lehi’s vision of the tree of life. He felt great joy as he partook of the fruit of the tree, which symbolizes the blessings of the Atonement. He then saw various groups of people who responded differently to the tree and its fruit. To help you prepare for this lesson, you may want to sing or read the words to “The Iron Rod” (Hymns, no. 274). As you study this chapter, ponder how the Atonement has brought you great joy and what you must do now and in the future to receive all of its blessings. Reflect upon what obstacles you may need to overcome to claim these blessings.

1 Nephi 8:1–18

Lehi partakes of the fruit of the tree of life and invites his family to do the same

Think about a time in your life when you felt the Lord’s love for you personally. Consider how the choices you make affect your closeness to the Lord and your ability to feel His love. As you study 1 Nephi 8, look for what it teaches you to do and what you should avoid to come closer to the Lord and feel His love more powerfully in your life.

Read 1 Nephi 8:2, and identify what Lehi experienced while in the wilderness. Read 1 Nephi 8:5–12, looking for what appears to be the central image or focal point of Lehi’s dream.

Lehe’s Dream of the Tree of Life

After identifying the central image, list some of the words and phrases Lehi used to describe the fruit in 1 Nephi 8:10–11. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Lord often uses objects we are familiar with as symbols to help us understand eternal truths. To help you identify what the tree and fruit in Lehi’s dream represent, read the following statement from Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “The tree of life … is the love of God (see 1 Ne. 11:25). The love of God for His children is most profoundly expressed in His gift of Jesus as our Redeemer: ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son’ (John 3:16). To partake of the love of God is to partake of Jesus’ Atonement and the emancipations [freedom from restraint or sin] and joys which it can bring” (“Lessons from Laman and Lemuel,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 8).

To help you identify a gospel principle being illustrated in 1 Nephi 8:10–12, underline in your scriptures what Lehi did with the fruit in 1 Nephi 8:11, and underline the results in 1 Nephi 8:12. Think about ways you could “partake” of the Atonement like Lehi “partook” of the fruit.

Lehi’s experience shows that coming to Jesus Christ and partaking of His Atonement brings happiness and joy.

  1. journal icon1.

    Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: When has the Savior’s Atonement brought happiness and joy into your life?

Ponder why we, like Lehi, should desire that our family and friends experience the blessings of the Atonement after we have experienced them. Read 1 Nephi 8:3–4, 13–18, and look for how members of Lehi’s family reacted to Lehi’s invitation to partake of the fruit of the tree of life.

We cannot decide whether others will choose to partake of the love of God. However, like Lehi, we can invite and encourage them. Consider how you could invite and encourage someone you know to come unto Christ and receive the blessings of His Atonement.

1 Nephi 8:19–35

Lehi sees the success of some and the failure of others as they move toward the tree of life and partake of the fruit

Later in 1 Nephi you will read about how Nephi was also shown the vision of the tree of life. He recorded what the various symbols and images in the vision mean. Use the following chart to identify the symbols and their interpretations. Search your scriptures to complete the following exercise. You have already studied and learned the interpretation of the first two symbols.

Symbol from Lehi’s Dream

The Interpretation of the Symbol Given to Nephi

The tree (see 1 Nephi 8:10; it is called the tree of life in 1 Nephi 15:22)

The love of God (see 1 Nephi 11:25)

The fruit of the tree (see 1 Nephi 8:10–12)

The greatest of God’s gifts—the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see 1 Nephi 15:36)

The river of (filthy) water (see 1 Nephi 8:13)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________ (see 1 Nephi 12:16; 15:27)

The rod of iron (see 1 Nephi 8:19)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________ (see 1 Nephi 11:25; 15:23–24)

The mist of darkness (see 1 Nephi 8:23)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________ (see 1 Nephi 12:17)

The great and spacious building (see 1 Nephi 8:26)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________ (see 1 Nephi 11:36; 12:18)

It may be helpful to mark your scriptures by writing the interpretation of each symbol (the answers in the second column of the chart above) next to the verse or verses where the symbol is mentioned (the verses in the first column of the chart).

As you read the following quotation from President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, underline what he said about why it is important for us to study Lehi’s dream:

“You may think that Lehi’s dream or vision has no special meaning for you, but it does. You are in it; all of us are in it. …

“Lehi’s dream or vision of the iron rod has in it everything a Latter-day Saint needs to understand the test of life” (“Finding Ourselves in Lehi’s Dream,” Ensign, Aug. 2010, 22).

As you study the remainder of 1 Nephi 8, consider how what you are learning can help you “understand the test of life.” Read 1 Nephi 8:21–33 looking for how the river, the mist of darkness, and the great and spacious building prevented the people in Lehi’s dream from eating or enjoying the fruit of the tree of life. You might consider marking in your scriptures key words and phrases that refer to these obstacles and the effect they had on people.

What might those obstacles Lehi saw be in our lives today? Underline any of the following obstacles you have seen prevent someone from coming to the Savior and feeling joy: pornography, seeking the acceptance or praise of others, addictions, selfishness, greed, being envious of others, failing to pray and study the scriptures, excessive use of electronic entertainment, excessive participation in any activity or sport, dishonesty, and following what everyone else does. Think of some other modern-day examples of these obstacles.

The following gospel principle is one way of summarizing what you can learn from studying the obstacles in 1 Nephi 8:21–33: Pride, worldliness, and submitting to temptations can keep you from receiving the blessings of the Atonement.

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    In your scripture study journal, write the above summary and your feelings about its truthfulness and ways it can be applied in your life.

Ponder how the filthiness of the world, Satan’s temptations, and the pride of the world may be preventing or slowing your spiritual progress.

Search 1 Nephi 8:21–33 again. This time look for answers to the following questions:

  • How was the iron rod (the word of God—which includes the scriptures, the inspired words of prophets and other Church leaders, and personal revelation) essential to those who successfully partook of the fruit?

  • What phrase in 1 Nephi 8:30 describes what we must do in order for the word of God to safely lead us to the tree of life?

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    Write in your scripture study journal how the word of God can guide and keep us safe from temptation.

These verses teach the following gospel principles: If we hold fast to the word of God, it will help us overcome temptation and worldly influences. Holding fast to the word of God helps us grow closer to the Lord and receive the blessings of the Atonement.

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    To help you see evidence of these principles in your life, answer one or both of the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      When has the word of God guided you and kept you safe from temptation, pride, or worldliness?

    2. b.

      When has the word of God helped you come closer to the Savior?

Lehi urged his family “with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words” (1 Nephi 8:37). He wanted them to experience the joy and blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ as he did.

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    In your scripture study journal, write a goal for improving your study of God’s word.

As you follow and hold fast to the word of God, you can overcome obstacles that would prevent you from partaking of the Atonement and receiving true joy.

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    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied 1 Nephi 8 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: