February 10, 2008
2 Nephi 1-2
Try to visualize the setting here: Rebellious brothers (& maybe others) getting lectured to by younger brother & then Father. Why are they listening to all this talk? Is there a pattern here? Who are Nephi & Lehi representing here? The others? Do you think they served treats afterwards? 🙂 Kidding.
Let’s now turn to 2 Ne. 2:11 “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass…” Does the family setting the opens the Book of Mormon and continues to the point we’re at in our study bear this truth out? Why? Were Laman and Lemuel simply an object lesson in oppposition meant to contrast with their righteous brothers?
With these thoughts in mind…First question: Why is opposition necessary? Does it exist inherently or is it conjured up by God? (See 2 Ne. 2:12-13, 15-16.) Can you think of a time when opposition didn’t or won’t exist? What do you learn from all these answers, specifically applied to your life?
These two chapters are packed with imagery underscoring Lehi’s above statement. Let’s look at a few of them:
v. 5-12: CAPTIVITY vs. LIBERTY
Just one chapter ahead of us, 2 Ne. 3:5, contains Joseph of Egypt’s prophecy that the Messiah would bring latter-day Lamanites “out of darkness unto light–yea out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom.” This is a link between darkness & light with captivity & deliverance. “Both sets of images communicate to us a process, a movement, a rebirth, through which humans become whole by coming to a physical or spirtual promised land or condition.” [Feasting on the Word, Richard Rust, pg. 176-177]
The chains of hell in v. 13 continue this theme and contrast. Look over in v. 15 and contrast these chains of hell with God’s loving arms.
Other places to find similar contrasts are: 1 Ne. 4:2; Alma 36:28-29; Alma 21:14-17; Mosiah 24:21; Alma 26:15: Alma 5:6, 7, 56.
v. 13-14: SLEEP vs. AWAKE:
Physical sleep can symbolize spiritual darkness, when we’re immobilized in the chains of hell. Rising is like a resurrection and redemption when we shake off the awful chains which bind the children of men.
Other places to find similar contrasts are: Mosiah 24:19; Alma 51:33; Alma 55:16; Alma 5:7; Alma 19:8; Mormon 9:13.
v. 14, 21: DUST vs. WATER/FRUITFULNESS:
We’ve read Lehi’s vision with the “tree whose fruit was desirable to make one happy” (1 Ne. 8:4,10) in previous lessons, linked with water, vineyards, and olive trees. Its fuit stands for God’s love, and faith in Christ as described as “a tree spring up unto everlasting life” ( 1 Ne. 11:22). Approaching the tree is a sacramental experience: “Come unto me,” Alma quotes the Lord as saying, “and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; Yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely; yea, come unto me and bring for works of righteousness” (Alma 5:34-35). Nephi considers the tree synonomous with living waters (1 Ne. 11:25).
The fountain of living waters is contrasted by the river of filthy waters. Though the sea is a place where Lehi and his family come close to being swallowed up, the Lord also makes the sea their path.
Please know that much of the above notes on contrasts is derived from Richard Dilworth Rust’s, Feasting on the Word, the Literary Testimony of the Book of Mormon.
2 Ne. 1:4: If indeed there is opposition in all things, what is the opposition to this verse?
The theme of covenant continues in these chapters leaving off where Nephi spoke in last week’s lesson. Lehi tells his posterity that “God hath covenanted with me [it] should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other contries by the hand of the Lord.” (2 Ne. 1:5) See also verses 6-11.
How does this verse apply to you? Does this impact our current politics?
v. 10: Is this “dwindling” inevitable? How can v. 9 be true is v. 10 is true? Who is it in this verse who has all this “knowledge” and blessings and then rejects God?
v. 11: Is this an adendum to what Nephi (1 Ne. 13-14) taught or a repetition?
v. 13-15: I challenge you to recite these verses, from memory and aloud to yourself in a private place as if you were Lehi. Maybe even record yourself & play it back for yourself. THEN do it for your family during a family devotional or family home evening. I think you and everyone in the room will be struck by the power of Lehi’s imagery, poetry and power. Mind you, you must do it with confidence and no jest. Complete composure is required….I’m trying to think of who could do this in our ward….maybe this is best done in the home.
v. 19: I think it took great courage for Lehi to utter, and Nephi to record, this last line: “But behind, his will be done; for his ways are righteousness forever.”
v. 20: In what ways are “prospering in the land” and “cut off from my presence” opposites and consequences to the opposing related behaviors? If we are not prospering, does this signify (as the NT Jews believed) sin on our part? Is the converse true?
v. 21-22: In what ways is Lehi and other prophets blessed with their foreknowledge of the future? Would you like to know the future of your posterity? In what ways DO you know the future of your posterity? How are you doing at declaring the gospel to them, modeling after Lehi?
v. 24-27: Did Nephi NOT keep the commandements before leaving Jerusalem? What about Laman and Lemuel? Do you think these words were helpful to Nephi’s rebellious brothers? Why are they included in this record?
v. 28-29: What is the FIRST blessing? How can this blessing be divided between so many people or given just to one (Nephi)? Is this the usual Father’s Blessing we see in Old Testament record?
v. 30-32: What does this teach us about inheritance? Posterity? About the people called “Nephites?”
v. 1-3: How old do you think Jacob is? What kind of “rudeness” do you think Jacob’s brothers were guilty of and why did it cause Jacob to suffer and sorrow? How would Jacob “know” the greatness of God? How are our afflictions consecrated? What does it mean to consecrate? How can we gain by affliction? Where else in the scriptures is this principle taught? How does this prove Lehi’s statement in verse 11? Why would Jacob be the recipient of this statement, instead of one of the other sons? (See 2 Ne. 2:30.)
v. 4: What does this verse teach us about Jacob? How does this knowledge influence your reading of Jacob’s words in the Book of Mormon?
v. 5-10: What does “cut off” mean? Does it relate to “cutting a covenant” found in the Old Testament? See Gen. 15:8-18; Jer. 34:15-20. Note the imagery in these verses of flesh, sacrifice, broken heart, layeth down his life, firstfruits… What do these all have in common? How do we see this kind of sacrifice and covenant making in our own times and lives? Why is this so important to Lehi’s descendants? Is it equally important to us? What is Lehi teaching about the way we receive salvation (Celestial Kingdom)? Who comes to God? Without the Savior what would that judgement be like?
v. 11: Why is “firstborn in the wilderness” an appropriate and significant title for Jacob? What does “all things must needs be a compound in one” mean?
v. 17: What does this verse teach about the pre-existence, the devil, the brass plates and our Bible?
v. 18: What does this verse teach about misery and happiness? (See also v. 10, 23, 25, 27.)
v. 17-25: How does this account of the Fall differ from that in our Bible? Why?
v. 21: What does this verse teach us about the purpose of life? How do v. 25 and 23 also teach about the purposes of life?
v. 27: What flesh is it that makes men free? Is this the same flesh as in v. 29? What are the things given man that they need?
v. 28: What does it mean to “look to the great Mediator”? Why the list: Look, Hearken, Faithful, Choose? How does this apply to your life?
v. 30: What prophet is Lehi quoting? (See Luke 10:42; Josh. 24: 15; Alma 30: 8; Moses 6: 33; D&C 37:4; Psalms 47:4).
BTW, v. 25 & 27 are both Seminary Mastery verses. Why might that be?