Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Thursday, January 16, 2020

“Come and Partake of the Fruit”





Scripture links are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org
Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blo

It’s natural to share things we love with people we love, but sometimes we find it hard to share the gospel. We have fear of being mocked, laughed at, condemned, rejection and a host of other fears that Satan puts out there to help us NOT share the gospel. Interestingly enough Lehi in the Book of Mormon, had the same fears, particularly with members of his own family, yet he overcame, faced the fear and pressed forward with the message of our Savior. We too can do the same and 1 Nephi 8–10 will help us do so. As you read 1 Nephi 8–10, consider what messages from Lehi’s vision apply to you personally.  Think about the challenges and opportunities facing you and the people you know.

History and Background 
Many symbolic dreams and visions are recorded in the scriptures. King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a large image, or statue, of a man. Each part of the man’s body was made of a different material. A stone destroyed the image and became a mountain, filling the whole earth. Daniel 2:31–45; see also D&C 65:2. The various parts of the image represented kingdoms that have reigned on the earth. The stone represented the kingdom of God, which would consume all other kingdoms in the latter days.

Pharaoh dreamed of seven lean and ill cattle devouring seven fat and healthy cattle and seven poor ears of corn devouring seven good ears of corn. Genesis 41:17–31. The seven healthy cattle and seven good ears of corn represented seven years of prosperity that would come to Egypt. The seven ill cattle and seven poor ears of corn represented seven years of famine that would follow the years of plenty.

In a vision, the Apostle Peter saw unclean animals lowered from heaven in a great sheet, and he was commanded to kill and eat these animals.  Acts 10:9–16, 28, 34–35. The unclean animals represented the Gentiles, who were now to be taught the gospel.

This week's lesson discusses another symbolic dream described in the scriptures: the vision of the tree of life received by Lehi. Unlike the many dreams or visions that have application only to specific people or at a specific time (like Pharaoh’s dream of the cattle and corn), the vision of the tree of life applies to each of God’s children.

In these chapters Lehi recounted his vision of the tree of life. In vision, Lehi partook of the fruit of the tree, which represents the love of God and the blessings we can receive through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Lehi was shown various groups of people and their success or failure in reaching the tree of life and remaining there.  After hearing his father Lehi’s account of his vision, Nephi desired to see, hear, and know for himself the things Lehi had seen and heard.  

Chapter Summaries

Chapter 8
Lehi sees a vision of the tree of life.  He partakes of its fruit and desires his family to do likewise.  He sees a rod of iron, a strait and narrow path, and the mists of darkness that enshroud men.  Sariah, Nephi, and Sam partake of the fruit, but Laman and Lemuel refuse. About 600–592 B.C.

Chapter 9
Nephi makes two sets of records.  Each is called the plates of Nephi.  The larger plates contain a secular history; the smaller ones deal primarily with sacred things. About 600–592 B.C.

Chapter 10
Lehi predicts that the Jews will be taken captive by the Babylonians.  He tells of the coming among the Jews of a Messiah, a Savior, a Redeemer.  Lehi tells also of the coming of the one who should baptize the Lamb of God.  Lehi tells of the death and resurrection of the Messiah.  He compares the scattering and gathering of Israel to an olive tree.  Nephi speaks of the Son of God, of the gift of the Holy Ghost, and of the need for righteousness. About 600–592 B.C.

Part 1: 1 Nephi 8:10–16 When we experience God’s love, we desire to help others experience it.
Lehi received a vision and told his family about it.  After Nephi heard his father speak about the things in the vision, he also wanted to “see, and hear, and know of [those] things” 
Because of Nephi’s belief in Jesus Christ, his request was granted. It is through Nephi’s record of his experience that we know the interpretation of the vision.

10 And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
11 And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.
12 And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.
13 And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit.
14 And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off; and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go.
15 And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit.
16 And it came to pass that they did come unto me and partake of the fruit also.


President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) taught of the blessings that come from holding fast to the word of God:  “[Lehi] saw that if people would hold fast to that rod, they could avoid the rivers of filthiness, stay away from the forbidden paths, stop from wandering in the strange roads that lead to destruction. … Not only will the word of God lead us to the fruit which is desirable above all others, but in the word of God and through it we can find the power to resist temptation, the power to thwart the work of Satan and his emissaries. …

“… The word of God, as found in the scriptures, in the words of living prophets, and in personal revelation, has the power to fortify the Saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life”
(Ezra Taft Benson, “The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 80).

What do we learn from Lehi’s experience that will help us as we share the gospel?  

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught that the tree of life represents the Savior and His Atonement: “The Spirit made explicit that the Tree of Life and its precious fruit are symbols of Christ’s redemption” (Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 160).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell further emphasized that partaking of the love of God means partaking of the blessings of the Atonement. The tree of life is a symbol of God’s love and Christ’s Atonement: “The tree of life … is the love of God (see 1 Nephi 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 and joys which it can bring” (Conference Report, Oct. 1999, 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1999, 8).

In your opinion, why is the fruit an appropriate symbol for the blessings of the Atonement?

Reflecting on 1 Nephi 8:11–16  how would you describe the sweetness that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has brought into your life? 

11 And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.
12 And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.
13 And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit.
14 And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off; and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go.
15 And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit.

16 And it came to pass that they did come unto me and partake of the fruit also.

How did Lehi describe the tree of life and its fruit? 
“Most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted” 1 Nephi 8:11
“White, to exceed all … whiteness” 1 Nephi 8:11
“Desirable above all other fruit” 1 Nephi 8:12
   
 Eternal life is the “most sweet” and “most precious” blessing we can receive. Because of God’s love for us, this blessing is available to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

In the vision, what did Lehi desire once he had partaken of the fruit of the tree?  1 Nephi 8:12.
How have you beckoned to others to taste its sweetness?  verse 15

How have others invited you to seek the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement? 

What are you inspired to do as you read 1 Nephi 8:11–16 I hope that As you partake of the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement, you will be filled with joy and a desire to help others come unto Him.

Part 2: 1 Nephi 8:19–38 The word of God leads us to the Savior and helps us feel His love. 

Continuing in this vision, we see how the Lord also used other symbols to teach Lehi how to come unto Jesus Christ and partake of His Atonement.

20 And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.
21 And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.
22 And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
23 And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.
24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.
25 And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.
26 And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.
27 And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.
28 And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.
29 And now I, Nephi, do not speak all the words of my father.
30 But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.
31 And he also saw other multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building.
32 And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain; and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads.
33 And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.
34 These are the words of my father: For as many as heeded them, had fallen away.
35 And Laman and Lemuel partook not of the fruit, said my father.
36 And it came to pass after my father had spoken all the words of his dream or vision, which were many, he said unto us, because of these things which he saw in a vision, he exceedingly feared for Laman and Lemuel; yea, he feared lest they should be cast off from the presence of the Lord.
37 And he did exhort them then with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words, that perhaps the Lord would be merciful to them, and not cast them off; yea, my father did preach unto them.
38 And after he had preached unto them, and also prophesied unto them of many things, he bade them to keep the commandments of the Lord; and he did cease speaking unto them.


What did the rod of iron represent? 1 Nephi 11:25  The word of God

Where can we find the word of God? In the scriptures, the teachings of latter-day prophets, and the promptings of the Holy Ghost. 

How does the word of God help us come unto Christ? How does it keep us on the path to eternal life?

What did the river of filthy water represent? 1 Nephi 12:16
16 And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the fountain of filthy water which thy father saw; yea, even the river of which he spake; and the depths thereof are the depths of hell.

What did the mist of darkness represent? 1 Nephi 12:17.
17 And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.

What are the effects of the mist of darkness?  1 Nephi 8:23
23 And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.

Why might Satan want our eyes to be blinded to the love of God? to the Atonement of Jesus Christ? to the word of God? In what ways does Satan try to blind our eyes?

The rod of iron “extended along the bank of the river” serving as a protection between the strait and narrow path and the filthy water. It also gave the people in the vision something to cling to when they were in the mist of darkness 

What does this teach about how the word of God can help us? 

What did the great and spacious building represent? 1 Nephi 12:18
18 And the large and spacious building, which thy father saw, is vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men. And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God, and the Messiah who is the Lamb of God, of whom the Holy Ghost beareth record, from the beginning of the world until this time, and from this time henceforth and forever.

Why is it significant that the building “stood … in the air”?  1 Nephi 8:26.  The building did not have a solid foundation.

How can pride keep a person from receiving eternal life?

Some people in the vision tasted of the fruit but were ashamed because the people in the great and spacious building mocked them.

How can we receive strength to withstand persecution?


In the vision, Lehi saw “numberless concourses of people”. These people can be divided into four categories based on their actions in seeking the tree and the fruit.  

1 Nephi 8:21–23. Those who start on the path but then become lost in the mist of darkness.

1 Nephi 8:24–28. Those who hold to the rod of iron until they reach the tree and partake of the fruit, but then become ashamed and fall away.

1 Nephi 8:30. Those who hold to the rod of iron until they reach the tree and partake of the fruit, and who then remain faithful.

1 Nephi 8:31–33. Those who never start on the path but instead go directly toward the great and spacious building.

How are these categories manifest in the world today?   People who say that they want eternal life but are distracted by other things, such as material wealth or worldly pleasures, are like those who start on the path but then become lost.

In the vision, what kinds of roads did people travel when they let go of the iron rod or left the tree of life? 

What happens to those who follow such roads? 

If we are moving toward “forbidden,” “strange,” or “broad” roads, how can we return to the strait and narrow path?

One prominent message in Lehi’s vision is the importance of the word of God, symbolized by the iron rod.

What do you feel impressed to do to ensure that you are “holding fast to the rod of iron” (1 Nephi 8:30).


Part 3: 1 Nephi 10:17–19 God will reveal truth to us if we diligently seek it.
Mists of darkness that obscure our path and mocking voices from the great and spacious building can make it hard for us to find the truth. Reading about Nephi’s example as a seeker of truth could help us get into a better place and be ready for the conformation from the spirit. 

17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.

19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.

Three young men attend the same Church meeting. After returning home, one young man feels that the meeting was boring and a waste of his time. Another thinks the meeting was nice but is unaffected by it. The third returns home uplifted by the Holy Ghost and receives inspiration and direction for his life, even beyond what was taught in the meeting.

How is it possible that the three young men could attend the same meeting but have such different experiences?

What are some of the confusing messages the world is sending out that confuse us?

What worldly ideas did prophets and apostles warn us about in the most recent general conference?

This situation is similar to the experience of Laman, Lemuel, and Nephi when they heard their father’s prophecies and the account of his vision. Laman and Lemuel did not understand their father’s words and disputed about what they heard 1 Nephi 15:2. Nephi, on the other hand, turned to the Lord for understanding. He provided an excellent example of how to seek and receive revelation.

After relating his vision of the tree of life, Lehi also gave a series of prophecies. These included details of the coming of Jesus Christ to earth 600 years after Lehi left Jerusalem  1 Nephi 10:4, His baptism by John the Baptist 1 Nephi 10:7–10, His Crucifixion and Resurrection  1 Nephi 10:11, and the impending scattering and gathering of Israel  1 Nephi 10:12–14.  These are the things Laman and Lemuel could not comprehend, they couldn't accept them.

Why could they not accept them, why didn't they belive?

On the other hand, what did Nephi desire to see, hear, and know? The things that his father had seen by the power of the Holy Ghost. k He knew they were true but he desired a conformation, that he might KNOW. 

The phrase “mysteries of God” in verse 19,  refers to “spiritual truths known only by revelation” Guide to the Scriptures, “Mysteries of God,” scriptures.lds.or).

What principle can we learn from verse 19 about how we can learn truth by the power of the Holy Ghost?  If we diligently seek truth, then God will reveal it to us by the power of the Holy Ghost.

What did Nephi do to diligently seek truth?  Desired, believe, and ponder.

How do our desires affect our ability to receive revelation?

How might believing that God can reveal truth to us influence our ability to receive revelation?

What is pondering and how can pondering help us receive revelation?  Elder Gerald N. Lund, who served as a member of the Seventy, taught the importance of meditation in the process of seeking revelation:

“Take time to ponder and reflect. Get away from the bustle of life. Find a quiet place and take time to simply sit and think, to listen to your thoughts and feelings, to open yourself to the promptings of the Spirit. Note what the following prophets said they were doing prior to receiving important revelations. Nephi: ‘I sat pondering in my heart’ (1 Nephi 11:1). Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon: ‘While we meditated upon these things’ (D&C 76:19). Joseph F. Smith: ‘I sat in my room pondering over the scriptures; and reflecting’ (D&C 138:1–2). Joseph Smith: ‘My mind was called up to serious reflection. … I reflected … again and again [upon the words of James]’ (JS—H 1:8, 12).
“Sometimes we must deliberately put aside the cares of the world, put aside the rush of our daily lives, and find a quiet place and a quiet time where we can sit and ponder and reflect and meditate—and listen for that still small voice that whispers”
(Gerald N. Lund, “The Voice of the Lord” [Brigham Young University devotional, Dec. 2, 1997], 9–10, speeches.byu.edu).

Think of a time when you diligently were seeking truth, did it led you to receive revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost? Remember that revelation can include receiving guidance when making a decision, gaining increased understanding, receiving comfort, or receiving an assurance that something is true. 

Read the steps that Nephi took to gain his own witness of the truth of his father’s vision  1 Nephi 10:17–19; 11:1. How can we follow his example as we seek truth?

Conclusion
Like Nephi, we too can have spiritual experiences in which divine truths are revealed to us. These sacred experiences will be unique and specific to our personal circumstances. The Prophet Joseph Smith said: 

“No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator”
“Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach Him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer when we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us” (History of the Church, 6:58, 6:308).I invite all of you to listen for answers to the questions that circulate in your mind. We can better experience God's love and grow a desire and strength to share it, we can belive in Lehi's vision and find our own confirmation of its truths, through the word of God and particularly through Lehi's vison and the Book of Mormon. As Elder Boyd K Packer stated: “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” (Boyd K. Packer, “Finding Ourselves in Lehi’s Dream,” Ensign Aug. 2010, 22).

Resources 
Book of Mormon Student Manual 
Conference Reports
Ensign
History of the Church
BYU speeches
Guide to the Scriptures
Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon


Sunday, January 12, 2020

“I Will Go and Do”



Scripture links are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org
Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog

Each time we read the scriptures we can learn truths that apply to our current circumstances. Every time you prayerfully begin again, a chapter, you find something new that you didn't have before, and that is why we continue each year to carry on with the standard works as our Sunday school study guide. This year for 2020, we will study the book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Through this book we have to opportunity to fill in gaps missing from other scripture and come closer to Christ than we have ever been. (For more information on the Book of Mormon click here An Introduction ) As we undertake this study I invite you to pay attention to and record the spiritual promptings you receive.

Most of you are probably familiar with 1 Nephi 1–7, but as stated each time we read the scriptures, we can learn truths that apply to our current circumstances. If you are not familiar, this is the first book of the Book of Mormon and so we begin at the beginning. 

History and Background

What is the Book of Mormon?
The Book of Mormon is another witness of Jesus Christ and confirms the truths found in the Holy Bible. Far from undermining the Bible, the Book of Mormon supports its testimony of Jesus Christ. One passage says that the Book of Mormon “shall establish the truth” of the Bible “and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved” (1 Nephi 13:40).

In its more than 6,000 verses, the Book of Mormon refers to Jesus Christ almost 4,000 times and by 100 different names: “Jehovah,” “Immanuel,” “Holy Messiah,” “Lamb of God,” “Redeemer of Israel,” and so on.

Both volumes of scripture are a compilation of teachings as recorded by ancient prophets. While the Bible details events in the eastern hemisphere, the Book of Mormon documents the lives of the inhabitants of the ancient Americas.

The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. “Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon.

“The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.

“In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God. The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto him and obey the laws and ordinances of his gospel may be saved.

“We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)

“Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah” (from the Introduction of the Book of Mormon).  (Gospel Topics ChurchofJesusChrist.org)

What is the purpose of the book of Mormon? The Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit, is your most powerful resource in conversion. It provides powerful evidence for the divinity of Christ. It is also proof of the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith. An essential part of conversion is receiving a witness from the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true.

A central purpose of the Book of Mormon is to convince all people that Jesus is the Christ.  It testifies of Christ by affirming the reality of His life, mission, and power. It teaches true doctrine concerning Christ’s Atonement, the foundation for the plan of salvation. Several of those whose writings are preserved in the Book of Mormon saw Christ personally. The brother of Jared, Nephi, and Jacob saw the premortal Christ. Mormon and Moroni saw the risen Christ. In addition, multitudes were present during the Savior’s brief but powerful ministry among the Nephites  3 Nephi 11–28). Those who know little or nothing about the Savior will come to know Him by reading, pondering, and praying about the Book of Mormon.

The testimony of the Book of Mormon confirms the testimony of the Bible that Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God and the Savior of the world.  

The Book of Mormon Is the Keystone of Our Religion
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Book of Mormon is “the keystone of our religion”  On another occasion he stated: “Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none” (Minutes and Discourse, 21 April 1834, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City).

An arch is a strong architectural structure made from wedge-shaped pieces that lean against each other. The middle piece, or keystone, is usually larger than the other wedges and locks the other stones in place. When Joseph Smith called the Book of Mormon “the keystone of our religion,” he taught that the Book of Mormon holds our religion together. President Ezra Taft Benson said that the Book of Mormon is the keystone in at least three ways:

Witness of Christ. “The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. It bears witness of His reality with power and clarity.”

Fulness of doctrine. “The Lord Himself has stated that the Book of Mormon contains the ‘fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.’ (Doctrine and Covenants 20:9[; 27:5].) In the Book of Mormon we will find the fulness of the doctrine required for our salvation. And it is taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn the ways of salvation and exaltation.”

Foundation of testimony. “Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church. But in like manner, if the Book of Mormon be true; and millions have now testified that they have the witness of the Spirit that it is indeed true, then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it”
(A Witness and a Warning [1988], 18–19).

In 1995 the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the family as “central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” They declared that “happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). Nephi wrote about the family of Lehi and Sariah, his parents. These “goodly parents” (1 Nephi 1:1) sought to raise and guide their family with the Lord’s teachings, even during challenging times. Father Lehi experienced visions of heaven as well as attempts on his life. Family members found safety in fleeing from Jerusalem, only to be sent back on the dangerous and difficult assignment to retrieve the brass plates. Faithful sons supported their parents and followed the Lord while other sons rebelled. As you read these early Book of Mormon chapters, observe this family’s efforts to follow the Lord and see how their example can direct you to do the same.

Chapter Summaries
The Book of Mormon begins with an account of a real family experiencing real struggles. It happened in 600 BC, but there are things about this account that might sound familiar to families today. This family was living in a world of increasing wickedness, but the Lord promised them that if they would follow Him, He would lead them to safety. Along the way they had good moments and bad moments; they experienced great blessings and miracles, but they also had their fair share of arguments and contention. Rarely in scripture is there such a lengthy account of a family trying to live the gospel: a father struggling to inspire faith in his family, sons deciding whether they will believe him, a mother fearing for the safety of her children, and brothers dealing with jealousy and contention; and sometimes forgiving each other. Overall, there is real power in following the examples of faith that this family, despite their imperfections, demonstrated.  These chapters are about Lehi and his family, who left their home in Jerusalem because the city was soon to be destroyed. The lesson will discuss where they went and what they did after departing from Jerusalem.

1 Nephi 1–2. Lehi learns in a vision that Jerusalem will be destroyed. He warns the people to repent, but they reject him and seek his life. The Lord tells Lehi to take his family and leave Jerusalem. Lehi and his family depart into the wilderness.

1 Nephi 3–4. Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass from Laban.

1 Nephi 5. Nephi and his brothers bring the plates back to their family. These plates enable Lehi’s family to preserve for their descendants their language, their genealogy, and the teachings and commandments of God.

1 Nephi 7. Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem to persuade Ishmael and his family to join them in the wilderness.

Part:1 1 Nephi 1; 3–6 The scriptures are of great worth.
One prominent message in the Book of Mormon is the great value of the word of God.  These chapters discuss the word of God as it came to the Prophet Lehi and his experience in bearing testimony of it. Nephi, his son recorded those“things of God” 1 Nephi 6:3. As you study Nephi’s record, pay attention to the things of God you find, especially impressions from the Spirit.

One of the first events described in the Book of Mormon is the departure from Jerusalem of Lehi and his family. 

4 For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.
5 Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.
6 And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly.
7 And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen.
8 And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.
9 And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.
10 And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament.
11 And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read.
12 And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.
13 And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem—that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.
14 And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!

15 And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him.

18 Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard.
19 And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.
20 And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.


1 For behold, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto my father, yea, even in a dream, and said unto him: Blessed art thou Lehi, because of the things which thou hast done; and because thou hast been faithful and declared unto this people the things which I commanded thee, behold, they seek to take away thy life.
2 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.
3 And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.


What circumstances led to this departure? 

Why did the people of Jerusalem reject the message of Lehi and other prophets? 1 Nephi 1:19–20; 2:12–13

12 And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.
13 Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets. And they were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem, who sought to take away the life of my father.

Why do some people today rebel against the Lord and His servants?

How did Nephi respond to his father’s message? 1 Nephi 2:16, 19.
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.
17 And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. And it came to pass that he believed in my words.
18 But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them.
19 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.


What can we learn from Nephi about how to make our hearts more receptive to the teachings of the prophets?

What did the Lord promise Nephi if he would obey the commandments?  1 Nephi 2:19–20, 22.  
19 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.
20 And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.
21 And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.

22 And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments, thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren.

What did the Lord promise would happen to Laman and Lemuel if they rebelled? 1 Nephi 2:21, 23–24.)  

21 And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.
22 And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments, thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren.
23 For behold, in that day that they shall rebel against me, I will curse them even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also.
24 And if it so be that they rebel against me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance.
How does each of these promises apply to us?

How do you think Lehi’s family felt having to leave their home, possessions, and friends? 
What sacrifices have you made to be obedient to the Lord? How have you been blessed as you have made such sacrifices?

What important blessings resulted from Lehi’s obeying the Lord and leaving Jerusalem? Lehi’s and Ishmael’s families were saved from destruction; a branch of Israel was guided to the promised land; and the Book of Mormon, another witness of Jesus Christ, was provided.

Why did Lehi send his sons back to Jerusalem?  1 Nephi 3:1–4.
2 And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem.
3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.
4 Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness.


How did Laman and Lemuel respond to being sent back?  1 Nephi 3:5.
5 And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.

 How did Nephi respond? 1 Nephi 3:7.
7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

 If you had been asked to make this trip, how do you think you might have responded? 

What difference would it have made to know that the Lord had asked it of you? 

What does this account teach us about the importance of the scriptures?  The scriptures have potent power.  Elder Richard G. Scott testified of the value of the scriptures:

“Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high. They can become the key to open the channel to communion with our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

“The scriptures … can become stalwart friends that are not limited by geography or calendar. They are always available when needed. Their use provides a foundation of truth that can be awakened by the Holy Ghost. Learning, pondering, searching, and memorizing scriptures is like filling a filing cabinet with friends, values, and truths that can be called upon anytime, anywhere in the world. …

“Pondering a passage of scripture can be a key to unlock revelation and the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior. They can accelerate physical healing”
(“The Power of Scripture,” Ensign Nov. 2011, 6).

Part 2: 1 Nephi 2:11–19; 3:28–31We can gain our own testimonies as we soften our hearts.
Nephi is known for his powerful faith in the Lord, but it may be helpful for you to realize that he had to work to gain his testimony; just as we all do.  

11 Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness. And this they said he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.
12 And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.
13 Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets. And they were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem, who sought to take away the life of my father.
14 And it came to pass that my father did speak unto them in the valley of Lemuel, with power, being filled with the Spirit, until their frames did shake before him. And he did confound them, that they durst not utter against him; wherefore, they did as he commanded them.
15 And my father dwelt in a tent.
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.
17 And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. And it came to pass that he believed in my words.
18 But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them.
19 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.

28 And it came to pass that Laman was angry with me, and also with my father; and also was Lemuel, for he hearkened unto the words of Laman. Wherefore Laman and Lemuel did speak many hard words unto us, their younger brothers, and they did smite us even with a rod.
29 And it came to pass as they smote us with a rod, behold, an angel of the Lord came and stood before them, and he spake unto them, saying: Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod? Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities? Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands.
30 And after the angel had spoken unto us, he departed.
31 And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?

Can you identify in 1 Nephi 2:16–19 what made it possible for Nephi to gain his witness?  
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.
17 And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. And it came to pass that he believed in my words.
18 But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them.
19 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.

Review verses 11–14.  Why didn't Laman and Lemuel gain a witness? 
11 Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness. And this they said he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.
12 And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.

Sometimes we might want to have a miraculous experience in order to gain or strengthen our testimonies. But Laman and Lemuel encountered an angel, and yet their faith seemed minimally affected.

What do we learn from the experience, described in 1 Nephi 3:28–31, about what strengthens our own testimonies?
29 And it came to pass as they smote us with a rod, behold, an angel of the Lord came and stood before them, and he spake unto them, saying: Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod? Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities? Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands.
30 And after the angel had spoken unto us, he departed.
31 And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?

President Harold B. Lee taught, “That which you possess today in testimony will not be yours tomorrow unless you do something about it” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee [2000], 43).

Part 3: 1 Nephi 3–4 God will prepare a way for us to do His will.
In these chapters the Lord commanded Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass from Laban. Laman and Lemuel did not see how they could fulfill this commandment, but Nephi had faith that the Lord would provide a way for them to accomplish what He required. Despite encountering repeated difficulties, Nephi faithfully persisted in doing what the Lord asked of him. As a result, he was led by the Holy Spirit and successfully obtained the plates.

The experience of Lehi’s sons in 1 Nephi 3–4 may seem exceptional, but many of us have had experiences where we followed God’s will even though it seemed difficult. As we study let us look for truths that can help us choose to obey the Lord’s commandments even when it may be difficult.

1 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, returned from speaking with the Lord, to the tent of my father.
2 And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem.
3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.
4 Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness.
5 And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.
6 Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured.
7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
8 And it came to pass that when my father had heard these words he was exceedingly glad, for he knew that I had been blessed of the Lord.
9 And I, Nephi, and my brethren took our journey in the wilderness, with our tents, to go up to the land of Jerusalem.
10 And it came to pass that when we had gone up to the land of Jerusalem, I and my brethren did consult one with another.
11 And we cast lots—who of us should go in unto the house of Laban. And it came to pass that the lot fell upon Laman; and Laman went in unto the house of Laban, and he talked with him as he sat in his house.
12 And he desired of Laban the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, which contained the genealogy of my father.
13 And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry, and thrust him out from his presence; and he would not that he should have the records. Wherefore, he said unto him: Behold thou art a robber, and I will slay thee.
14 But Laman fled out of his presence, and told the things which Laban had done, unto us. And we began to be exceedingly sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return unto my father in the wilderness.
15 But behold I said unto them that: As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us.
16 Wherefore, let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; therefore let us go down to the land of our father’s inheritance, for behold he left gold and silver, and all manner of riches. And all this he hath done because of the commandments of the Lord.
17 For he knew that Jerusalem must be destroyed, because of the wickedness of the people.
18 For behold, they have rejected the words of the prophets. Wherefore, if my father should dwell in the land after he hath been commanded to flee out of the land, behold, he would also perish. Wherefore, it must needs be that he flee out of the land.
19 And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers;
20 And also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time.
21 And it came to pass that after this manner of language did I persuade my brethren, that they might be faithful in keeping the commandments of God.
22 And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things.
23 And after we had gathered these things together, we went up again unto the house of Laban.
24 And it came to pass that we went in unto Laban, and desired him that he would give unto us the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, for which we would give unto him our gold, and our silver, and all our precious things.
25 And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceedingly great, he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out, and sent his servants to slay us, that he might obtain our property.
26 And it came to pass that we did flee before the servants of Laban, and we were obliged to leave behind our property, and it fell into the hands of Laban.
27 And it came to pass that we fled into the wilderness, and the servants of Laban did not overtake us, and we hid ourselves in the cavity of a rock.
28 And it came to pass that Laman was angry with me, and also with my father; and also was Lemuel, for he hearkened unto the words of Laman. Wherefore Laman and Lemuel did speak many hard words unto us, their younger brothers, and they did smite us even with a rod.
29 And it came to pass as they smote us with a rod, behold, an angel of the Lord came and stood before them, and he spake unto them, saying: Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod? Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities? Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands.
30 And after the angel had spoken unto us, he departed.
31 And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?

1 And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?
2 Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea.
3 Now behold ye know that this is true; and ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you; wherefore can ye doubt? Let us go up; the Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.
4 Now when I had spoken these words, they were yet wroth, and did still continue to murmur; nevertheless they did follow me up until we came without the walls of Jerusalem.
5 And it was by night; and I caused that they should hide themselves without the walls. And after they had hid themselves, I, Nephi, crept into the city and went forth towards the house of Laban.
6 And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.
7 Nevertheless I went forth, and as I came near unto the house of Laban I beheld a man, and he had fallen to the earth before me, for he was drunken with wine.
8 And when I came to him I found that it was Laban.
9 and I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel.
10 And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.
11 And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.
12 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands;
13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.
14 And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise.
15 Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.
16 And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass.
17 And again, I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands for this cause—that I might obtain the records according to his commandments.
18 Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.
19 And after I had smitten off his head with his own sword, I took the garments of Laban and put them upon mine own body; yea, even every whit; and I did gird on his armor about my loins.
20 And after I had done this, I went forth unto the treasury of Laban. And as I went forth towards the treasury of Laban, behold, I saw the servant of Laban who had the keys of the treasury. And I commanded him in the voice of Laban, that he should go with me into the treasury.
21 And he supposed me to be his master, Laban, for he beheld the garments and also the sword girded about my loins.
22 And he spake unto me concerning the elders of the Jews, he knowing that his master, Laban, had been out by night among them.
23 And I spake unto him as if it had been Laban.
24 And I also spake unto him that I should carry the engravings, which were upon the plates of brass, to my elder brethren, who were without the walls.
25 And I also bade him that he should follow me.
26 And he, supposing that I spake of the brethren of the church, and that I was truly that Laban whom I had slain, wherefore he did follow me.
27 And he spake unto me many times concerning the elders of the Jews, as I went forth unto my brethren, who were without the walls.
28 And it came to pass that when Laman saw me he was exceedingly frightened, and also Lemuel and Sam. And they fled from before my presence; for they supposed it was Laban, and that he had slain me and had sought to take away their lives also.
29 And it came to pass that I called after them, and they did hear me; wherefore they did cease to flee from my presence.
30 And it came to pass that when the servant of Laban beheld my brethren he began to tremble, and was about to flee from before me and return to the city of Jerusalem.
31 And now I, Nephi, being a man large in stature, and also having received much strength of the Lord, therefore I did seize upon the servant of Laban, and held him, that he should not flee.
32 And it came to pass that I spake with him, that if he would hearken unto my words, as the Lord liveth, and as I live, even so that if he would hearken unto our words, we would spare his life.
33 And I spake unto him, even with an oath, that he need not fear; that he should be a free man like unto us if he would go down in the wilderness with us.
34 And I also spake unto him, saying: Surely the Lord hath commanded us to do this thing; and shall we not be diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord? Therefore, if thou wilt go down into the wilderness to my father thou shalt have place with us.
35 And it came to pass that Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake. Now Zoram was the name of the servant; and he promised that he would go down into the wilderness unto our father. Yea, and he also made an oath unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth.
36 Now we were desirous that he should tarry with us for this cause, that the Jews might not know concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue us and destroy us.
37 And it came to pass that when Zoram had made an oath unto us, our fears did cease concerning him.
38 And it came to pass that we took the plates of brass and the servant of Laban, and departed into the wilderness, and journeyed unto the tent of our father.

What truths in these chapters reminded you of a personal experience?

Lehi’s family was likely about 260 miles (420 kilometers) from Jerusalem at this time. Returning would require approximately 14 days of traveling through unsafe territory. In addition, records such as the brass plates were apparently rare and extremely valuable, and the man who possessed the plates would need to be persuaded to give them up.

What thoughts and feelings do you think you might have had if you had been one of the sons of Lehi and had been told of the command to get the brass plates?

What do you think would be the hardest part about acting on impression?

Who did Nephi’s brothers assume this command came from? Why might that have affected their response?

Who did Nephi believe this command came from? How did that affect his response?


What truths can we learn from verses 5–7?   The Lord will bless us if we obey His commands without murmuring. The Lord will not give us a commandment without preparing a way for us to accomplish it.

How did Nephi answer his brothers’ questions in 1 Nephi 4:1–3
1 And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?
2 Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea.
3 Now behold ye know that this is true; and ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you; wherefore can ye doubt? Let us go up; the Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.

In 1 Nephi 4:7, what is important about the phrase “nevertheless I went forth”?

How was Nephi blessed as he went forth with faith?

What principle does Nephi’s experience teach about the relationship between acting in faith and our ability to be led by the Lord?  In times of uncertainty, we can receive guidance from the Spirit if we go forth with faith.

Think of a situation you are currently facing, or may face in the future, in which you could benefit from receiving the Lord’s guidance.

In the situation you thought of, how can a person go forth with faith?
How can we recognize when the Spirit is guiding us?

“In its more familiar forms, revelation or inspiration comes by means of words or thoughts communicated to the mind (see Enos 1:10; D&C 8:2–3), by sudden enlightenment (see D&C 6:14–15), [or] by positive or negative feelings about proposed courses of action” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Eight Ways God Can Speak to You,” New Era, Sept. 2004, 4).


How did the Spirit guide Nephi?  1 Nephi 4:8–18
Nephi dressed in Laban’s clothes and went to Laban’s treasury to obtain the brass plates. Acting as Laban, Nephi commanded Zoram, Laban’s servant, to join him in retrieving the plates and taking them to his brothers outside the walls of the city. When Nephi’s brothers saw Nephi, they thought he was Laban and began to flee. They stopped after Nephi called out to them.

What reasons did the Spirit give Nephi for the Lord’s command to slay Laban?  To better understand the Lord’s command to slay Laban, it may help to remember the following:  The Lord gave Laban at least two chances to part with the brass plates before requiring his life. Laban was a liar and a robber, and he had at least twice sought to murder. Under the law of Moses, stealing and attempted murder could both be punishable by death  Exodus 21:14; 22:2; Deuteronomy 24:7

The Lord wanted Lehi and his descendants to have the scriptural record contained in the brass plates, even if “one man should perish” 1 Nephi 4:13 for it to happen. The brass plates not only blessed the Nephite and Mulekite nations, but they also provided some of the content of the golden plates (such as the quotations from Isaiah and from Zenos’s allegory of the tame and wild olive trees). The Book of Mormon has blessed millions of people and will bless millions more. Ultimately, all of this was at stake when Nephi stood over Laban and followed the Spirit’s direction.

Some people have incorrectly felt that the Spirit of the Lord has prompted them to do something contrary to what the Lord has previously commanded. The following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson provides three short tests we can use to avoid being deceived and to confidently know when spiritual impressions are from the Lord:

“1. What do the standard works have to say about it? ‘To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them,’ said Isaiah. (Isa. 8:20.) …

“We must diligently study the scriptures. Of special importance to us are the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. …

“2. The second guide is: what do the latter-day Presidents of the Church have to say on the subject—particularly the living President? …

“There is only one man on the earth today who speaks for the Church. (See D&C 132:7; 21:4.) That man is [the] President [of the Church]. Because he gives the word of the Lord for us today, his words have an even more immediate importance than those of the dead prophets. When speaking under the influence of the Holy Ghost his words are scripture. (See D&C 68:4.) …

“3. The third and final test is the Holy Ghost—the test of the Spirit. By that Spirit we ‘… may know the truth of all things.’ (Moroni 10:5.) This test can only be fully effective if one’s channels of communication with God are clean and virtuous and uncluttered with sin”
(Ezra Taft Benson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 16–17).

How did the Lord continue to help Nephi?

How would you complete this principle based on what we have learned from Nephi’s experience with obtaining the brass plates?  As we act with faith in the Lord and diligently strive to obey Him …As we act with faith in the Lord and diligently strive to obey Him, we can accomplish what He commands.
Based on what we’ve learned from the examples of Nephi what are some ways we can choose to act with faith in the Lord and diligently strive to obey Him even when it may seem difficult?

President Harold B. Lee observed that we often want to see “the end from the beginning,” or the outcome, before we will follow the Lord’s direction. He gave the following counsel: You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and perhaps a few steps into the darkness [the unknown], and you will find that the light will appear and move ahead of you” (Harold B. Lee, in Lucile C. Tate, Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower [1995], 137–38).

Conclusion
When the Lord commanded Lehi and his family to obtain the plates of brass from Laban, He did not give specific instructions on how to accomplish this commandment. This is often true of other commandments or personal revelations we receive from God, and this might lead us to feel like He has required “a hard thing” But what we learn from Nephi is that when He does require of us a hard thing, he never leaves us and provides away, always.  Likewise as we soften our hearts and follow his will our testimonies and hearts will be strengthened.  By using the scriptures with daily prayerful study we can change, we can evolve, we can do hard things, and this I testify of personally, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  

Resources 
Book of Mormon Student Manual
Conference Reports
Ensign
A Watchman on the Tower
Teachings of the Presidents of the Church
Gospel Topics ChurchofJesusChrist.org
A Witness and a Warning
History of the Church






The Fall of Adam and Eve

  Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end...