Book of Mormon Lesson 07 (2 Nephi 3–5)
LEHI BLESSES HIS POSTERITY
● Joseph: Lehi blesses his “last born in the wilderness” that his seed will not be utterly destroyed (2 Nephi 3:1–3, 25).
● The Children of Laman and Lemuel: Lehi acknowledges they have not been raised in righteousness but says they will be blessed or cursed according to their own choices (2 Nephi 4:1–9).
● The Sons of Ishmael and Their Families: The precise words of his blessing are not preserved, but since they have aligned themselves with Laman and Lemuel, we can imagine that it was similar to theirs (2 Nephi 4:10).
● Sam: This faithful son is promised the same blessings as Nephi (2 Nephi 4:11).
● As part of his final blessings to his posterity, Lehi taught important doctrines:
— Jacob’s blessing (2 Nephi 1): The atonement of Jesus Christ, the fall of Adam and Eve, agency, and the need for opposition in all things
— Joseph’s blessing (2 Nephi 3): Joseph in Egypt, Moses, the Prophet Joseph Smith in the latter days, and the Book of Mormon.
THE PLAN OF SALVATION
The Need for the Atonement
● We are not saved by the law, but through the atonement of Jesus Christ (2 Nephi 2:5–7).
● How the Savior answered the ends of the law (Alma 34:13–16). The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Man was not able himself to erect a system, or plan with power sufficient to free him from a destruction which awaited him . . . [This] is evident from the fact that God . . . prepared a sacrifice in the gift of His own Son who should be sent in due time, to prepare a way, or open a door through which man might enter into the Lord’s presence, whence he had been cast out for disobedience.”1
● Because of the atonement, we can repent and be forgiven of our sins (2 Nephi 2:8–10).
Agency and the Fall
● In order for there to be agency there must be choices, and choices become possible only through opposition (2 Nephi 2:11–13). And there are consequences of the choices we make.
● There is a God who is the creator of all things—including things with agency to act (like us) and things that are merely “acted upon” (2 Nephi 2:14).
● How Satan became the source of all evil and misery for mankind (2 Nephi 2:17–18).
● Conditions Before the Fall:
— Adam and Eve were our “first parents”. There is much speculation among Church members about how Adam and Eve came to be. The representation in our temples is simply figurative, and nowhere in all of scripture does God explain it. Adam is simply declared to be the “father of all” (D&C 138:38). He was the first true man and was made in the image of God.
— They could act for themselves, but “they knew no sin” (2 Nephi 2:15–16).
— They did not have to till the ground for food (Moses 2:29; 2 Nephi 2:19).
— They could not have children (2 Nephi 2:23).
— They were innocent—knowing neither misery nor joy.
— They could do no good or evil—they were incapable of sin.
— They would have remained “in the same state . . . forever, and had no end” (2 Nephi 2:22).
● Conditions after the Fall:
— They entered a state of probation where they could choose good or evil (2 Nephi 2:20–21). They were commanded to repent of their sins. Their days were “prolonged” to give them time to repent.
— They had to work to obtain food (2 Nephi 2:19).
— They could have children (2 Nephi 2:20). Bruce R. McConkie said: “Eve was the first woman; she became the mother of the whole human race, her very name signifying ‘mother of all living.’ (Moses 4:26; 1 Ne. 5:11.) Strictly speaking it was she who first partook of the forbidden fruit, with the resultant change in the physical body from a state of immortality to mortality. Adam thereafter partook in order to comply with the command to multiply and fill the earth with posterity. ‘Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.’ (1 Tim. 2:14.)”2
— They became fallen and subject to physical death (Moses 6:48) (2 Nephi 2:22).
— They could do good and could also commit sin. They experienced misery and joy (2 Nephi 2:23).
— God planned all things from the beginning, including the fall of Adam and Eve (2 Nephi 2:24–25; Moses 5:10–12). The purpose of the plan was to bring us eternal joy.
Bruce R. McConkie said: “One of the most perfect summaries of the plan of salvation ever given fell from the lips of Eve: ‘Were it not for our transgression,’ she said, ‘we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.’ (Moses 5:11). Indeed, Eve is a joint-participant with Adam in all his ministry, and will inherit jointly with him all the blessings appertaining to his high state of exaltation.”3
● The atonement of Jesus Christ makes us free to choose, to learn by experience, and yet to still to be able to obtain exaltation (2 Nephi 2:26–30).
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said: “The Lord has given you the gift of agency (Moses 7:32) and instructed you sufficiently to know good from evil (2 Nephi 2:5). You are free to choose (2 Nephi 2:27) and are permitted to act (2 Nephi 10:23; Helaman 14:30), but you are not free to choose the consequences. With absolute certainty, choices of good and right lead to happiness and peace, while choices of sin and evil eventually lead to unhappiness, sorrow, and misery.”4
Lehi Counters Worldly Teachings
● False Teachings of the World
—There is no good or evil.
—There is no law.
—There is no Christ.
—There is no existence after this life.
—There is no God.
—Life has no purpose.
—Our actions are determined by genetics and environment.
● Lehi’s Teachings (2 Nephi 2).
—”Men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil.” (v. 5)
—”The law is given unto men.” (v. 5)
—”Redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah.” (v. 6)
—”All men [will] stand in the presence of [God], to be judged of him.”(v. 10)
—”There is a God.”(v. 14)
—”Men are, that they might have joy.”(v. 25)
—We are free “to act for [our]selves and not to be acted upon.”(v. 26–27).
JOSEPH AND THE RESTORATION
● The Four Josephs. Lehi taught concerning four persons named Joseph:
● Lehi taught his son Joseph about Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel who was “carried captive into Egypt, and also about a great latter-day prophet who would be named Joseph (2 Nephi 3:3–5; Jacob 2:25; Genesis 49:22–26).
● Joseph of Egypt saw a “choice seer” in vision—the Prophet Joseph Smith (2 Nephi 3:6–15).
● Lehi spoke of the greatness of the Prophet Joseph Smith (2 Nephi 3:22–24).
Elder LeGrand Richards said: “The Prophet Joseph Smith brought us the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and many other writings. As far as our records show, he has given us more revealed truth than any prophet who has ever lived upon the face of the earth.”5
President Brigham Young said: “It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fulness of the keys and power of the priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eyes upon him, and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back to Abraham, and from Abraham to the flood, from the flood to Enoch, and from Enoch to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was fore-ordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation.”6
● The prophecies of Joseph were on the brass plates (2 Nephi 4:1–2).
● Where are these great prophecies of Joseph today? The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies, is beautifully written on papyrus, with black, and a small part red, ink or paint, in perfect preservation.”7
The Prophet next describes how the mummies and the record came into his possession and then concludes: “Thus I have given a brief history of the manner in which the writings of the fathers, Abraham and Joseph, have been preserved, and how I came in possession of the same—a correct translation of which I shall give in its proper place.”8
The record of Abraham translated by the Prophet was subsequently printed, and it is now known as the book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. However, the translation of the book of Joseph has not yet been published.
EVENTS FOLLOWING LEHI’S DEATH
The Psalm of Nephi
● Soon after Lehi’s death, “Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with [Nephi] because of the admonitions of the Lord (2 Nephi 4:12–14).”
● The Psalm of Nephi: His strength and character are revealed in this soliloquy he recorded just after his father’s death (2 Nephi 4:15–35).
— Nephi loved the scriptures and pondered them continually (2 Nephi 4:15–16).
— Nephi was righteous, obedient, and humble, yet he says that he is a “wretched man” whose “soul grieveth because of [his] iniquities (2 Nephi 4:17–19).”
President Ezra Taft Benson said: “Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ. No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind.”9
— Nephi found hope because the Lord had helped him in the past (2 Nephi 4:19–25).
The Lord had:
— Been Nephi’s support (v. 20).
— Led Nephi through afflictions in the wilderness (v. 20).
— Filled him with His love (v. 21).
— Confounded his enemies (v. 22).
— Heard his cry (v. 23).
— Given him knowledge by visions (v. 23).
● This passage reveals the “sin” that plagued Nephi—anger toward his enemies (his brothers and those that followed them) (2 Nephi 4:26–27). It also reveals the results of harboring anger—sorrow, weakness and loss of peace.
President Ezra Taft Benson said: “We need a more peaceful world, growing out of more peaceful families and neighborhoods and communities. To secure and cultivate such peace, we must love others, even our enemies as well as our friends . . . We need to extend the hand of friendship. We need to be kinder, more gentle, more forgiving, and slower to anger. We need to love one another with the pure love of Christ. May this be our course and our desire.”In Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 87; or Ensign, May 1992, 63
● Nephi resolved to do better and to rejoice in God’s love for him (2 Nephi 4:28–30).
● The conclusion of Nephi’s psalm is a prayer for the following blessings: (2 Nephi 4:30–35).
— “Deliver [him] out of the hands of [his] enemies” (vv. 31, 33).
— Make him “shake at the appearance of sin” (v. 31).
— Help him “walk in the path of the low valley” & “be strict in the plain road” (v. 32).
— “Encircle [him] around in the robe of [His] righteousness” (v. 33).
The Nephites and Lamanites Separate
● Nephi’s brothers were angry. Nephi prayed for help and the Lord answered that he and his followers should flee into the wilderness (2 Nephi 5:1–5).
● Those who followed Nephi lived in peace and prospered: (2 Nephi 5:6–19).
— They believed the revelations of God (v. 6).
— They kept the law of Moses (v. 10).
— They were industrious and learned skills (v. 15, 17).
— They built a temple (v. 16).
● Those who followed Laman: (2 Nephi 5:20–25).
— Were cut off from the presence of the Lord (experienced “spiritual death”) (v. 20).
— Received a mark (a dark skin) to distinguish them from the righteous (vv. 21–23).
— Became idle and full of mischief (v. 24).
● The Nephites enjoyed the blessings of the priesthood and “lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:26–27).
● It was at this time that Nephi created and wrote on the small plates (2 Nephi 5:28–34).
1. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith , 58.
2. Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 242, EVE.
3. Mormon Doctrine, 242, EVE.
4. In Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 94; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 75.
5. In Conference Report, Apr. 1981, 43; or Ensign, May 1981, 33.
6. Discourses of President Brigham Young, sel. Elder John A. Widtsoe , 108.
7. History of the Church, 2:348.
8. History of the Church, 2:351.
9. In Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 106; or Ensign, May 1987, 85.