Unit 5: Day 1, 1 Nephi 20–22

Book of Mormon Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, (2012), 41–43


Introduction

In 1 Nephi 20–21, Nephi quoted prophecies of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, whose writings were contained on the brass plates Nephi and his brothers had been sent back to Jerusalem to obtain from Laban. Isaiah taught that even when ancient Israel did not keep their covenants, the Lord still loved them and invited them to repent and come unto Him. As you study these chapters, focus on what Isaiah taught about Jesus Christ and His desire to redeem His people.

Isaiah Writes of Christ’s Birth

1 Nephi 20

The Lord chastises Israel and invites them to return to Him

Can you think of a time when you did something that was not consistent with the covenants you have made or with the standards of the Church? How did you feel about your decision? Read 1 Nephi 20:1–2 (to “stay” in verse 2 means to rely upon). Who was Isaiah speaking to? Who is the “house of Jacob”?

In the Old Testament, Jacob was the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham. He was given the name Israel by the Lord (see Genesis 32:28). “The house of Israel” refers to his descendants and is sometimes called the “house of Jacob.” It also refers to any true believers in Jesus Christ. (See Bible Dictionary, “Israel”; see also Bible Dictionary, “Israel, Kingdom of.”) Just as in ancient times, those who make covenants (such as baptism) with God today are considered covenant members of the house of Israel.

Search 1 Nephi 20:3–4, 8, 18, and underline words or phrases that indicate the house of Israel had not been faithful to the Lord. The phrase “thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass” (1 Nephi 20:4) symbolically represents a condition the scriptures repeatedly call “stiffneckedness.” One possible explanation of this phrase is that animals such as oxen and donkeys stiffen their necks so that they cannot be guided or led by their masters. Another explanation is that people who are not willing to bow their heads are stiffnecked. Similarly, the house of Israel stiffened their necks through pride and wickedness and refused to be guided by the Lord.

To better understand these verses and liken them to our day, think about how these descriptions of the house of Israel describe the actions of some people today.

As you read 1 Nephi 20:9–14, 16, ponder what these verses teach about the Lord and what He is like.

  1. journal icon1.

    Write short answers to the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      Though the people had been rebellious in the past, how did the Lord respond to them? Why? (See 1 Nephi 20:9–11, 14.)

    2. b.

      What did the Lord want His covenant people to do? (See 1 Nephi 20:12, 16.)

From these verses we learn that the Lord invites those who have been disobedient to repent and return to Him. As you read the following statement from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, underline one or more phrases that confirm this truth:

“[Satan] wants us to feel that we are beyond forgiveness (see Revelation 12:10). Satan wants us to think that when we have sinned we have gone past a ‘point of no return’—that it is too late to change our course. …

“Christ came to save us. If we have taken a wrong course, the Atonement of Jesus Christ can give us the assurance that sin is not a point of no return. A safe return is possible if we will follow God’s plan for our salvation” (“Point of Safe Return,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 99).

1 Nephi 21:1–17

Isaiah prophesies that the Messiah will not forget His covenant people

In 1 Nephi 21:1–13, Nephi recorded one of Isaiah’s prophecies about Jesus Christ, who would be the Messiah. Christ (a Greek word) and Messiah (a Hebrew word) both mean “the Anointed” or “the Chosen One.” Jesus Christ was chosen to be the Redeemer of both Israel and the Gentiles.

As you read 1 Nephi 21:6–13, mark in your scriptures those phrases that describe Jesus Christ and what He would do as the Redeemer of Israel.

As a consequence of their sins, the children of Israel had distanced themselves from the Lord and felt forgotten and forsaken by Him (see 1 Nephi 21:14). Although they felt forsaken by the Lord, search 1 Nephi 21:14–16 for evidence that the Lord loves us, and He will never forget us. You may want to mark any phrases in these verses that are meaningful to you.

Jesus Shows His Wounds

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how the Savior retained the wounds of His crucifixion as evidence that He would never forget us: “Christ will not forget the children he has redeemed or the covenant he has made with them for salvation in Zion. The painful reminders of [His] watch care and covenant are the marks of the Roman nails graven upon the palms of his hands” (Christ and the New Covenant [1997], 84).

  1. journal icon2.

    Write short answers to the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      Why do you think people sometimes feel that the Lord has forgotten them?

    2. b.

      What do you think it means to be graven upon the palms of the Savior’s hands? How does this help you appreciate the Savior’s suffering on the cross?

    3. c.

      What experiences have helped you know that the Lord has not forgotten you?

  2. journal icon3.

    Imagine that you have a friend who said that he or she no longer feels worthy to attend church because of past sins. In your scripture study journal, write a short letter of encouragement to the friend, using what you have learned from 1 Nephi 20–21 and President Uchtdorf’s statement in the study section for 1 Nephi 20.

1 Nephi 21:18–22:22

Nephi explains Isaiah’s prophecy of the scattering and gathering of Israel

Nephi included one of Isaiah’s prophecies about the gathering of Israel in his record. It is found in 1 Nephi 21:18–26. In 1 Nephi 22, Nephi provided his own explanation and commentary on Isaiah’s prophecy. As you read 1 Nephi 22:4–12, look for Nephi’s explanation of how Israel will be gathered in the last days.

It may help to know that in the Book of Mormon the term “Gentiles” often refers to people who are not descendants of Judah. The phrase “a marvelous work” refers to the latter-day Restoration of the gospel. Also notice how often Nephi mentions covenants—you may want to mark these in your scriptures.

The Lord promised to restore the gospel and gather Israel in the last days. Mark in your scriptures what will happen to Satan because of the righteousness of the people as you study 1 Nephi 22:17, 19–22, 25–28.

  1. journal icon4.

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

    I have studied 1 Nephi 20–22 and completed this lesson on (date).

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