Great Were the Covenants of the Lord Which He Made unto Joseph

Lehi teaches his youngest son, Joseph, about the writings and prophesies of their ancestor who was also named Joseph. This ancestor was the same Joseph who was a son of Jacob and was sold into Egypt by his brothers (as recorded in the Old Testament book of Genesis, chapter 37). As described in the verses below, he saw that Lehi’s family would create a branch of the house of Israel in the Americas. This branch would fall into apostasy but would be brought back into the light by the power of the Messiah in the last days.

“…Great were the covenants of the Lord which he made unto Joseph. Wherefore, Joseph truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel…a branch which was to be broken off, nevertheless to be remembered in the covenants of the Lord that the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light—yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom.” (2 Nephi 3:4-5)

He, Joseph the son of Jacob, also prophesied about a seer who would be born within his lineage and would accomplish a great work in the last days according to the will and power of God:

“…Joseph truly said: Thus saith the Lord unto me: A choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins…and unto him will I give commandment that he shall do a work for the fruit of thy loins…which shall be of great worth unto them, even to the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers…[A]nd unto him will I give power to bring forth my work unto the seed of thy loins—and not to the bringing forth my work only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.” (2 Nephi 3:7,11)

This seer of the last days would also be called Joseph:

“And thus prophesied Joseph saying: Behold that seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded…And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation. Yea thus prophesied Joseph: I am sure of this thing…for the Lord hath said unto me, I will preserve thy seed forever.” (2 Nephi 3:14-16)

Questions:

-Has the restorative work which the Lord accomplished through the prophet Joseph Smith been confounded? Or, does it continue to grow and strengthen under the Lord’s continuing guidance?

-Have those who have sought to destroy Joseph Smith, and the work the Lord gave him to do, been confounded? Did those who murdered Joseph think that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would die with him?

-Are those who reject the second witness of Jesus Christ and His gospel, as provided in the Book of Mormon, rejecting an offer of greater spiritual strength and understanding from God?

-How powerful are the covenants made by God with His children?

-Do you believe that God made the covenants with Joseph of Egypt as detailed in the above verses?

Look to the Great Mediator and Choose Eternal Life According to the Will of His Holy Spirit

Lehi, in counseling his sons to choose Christ, also teaches about the most important choices all must make.

“…I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; and not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.” (2 Nephi 2:28-29)

-How can a person look to Jesus Christ in his or her day to day life?

-What does it mean to be faithful to His words?

-How is keeping God’s commandments a path to greater freedom away from captivity?

-What is the will of the Holy Spirit? Can one’s will become one with the Holy Spirit’s will?

They Are Free to Choose Liberty and Eternal Life or Captivity and Death

Lehi teaches his son, Jacob, that the Savior’s redeeming power offers a path of freedom, hope, and eternal life (which otherwise would have been unavailable because of the effects of Adam and Eve’s Fall).

“…The Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given. Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil…” (2 Nephi 2:26-27)

-Has every child inherited inevitable physical death, and separation from God, from their parents (going all the way back to Adam and Eve)?

-Will physical death and physical separation from God be permanent for anyone now that Christ has come and redeemed all from these effects of the Fall?

-Will everyone who is resurrected and brought back to God’s presence be comfortable staying there?

-Will Christ save all from spiritual death? Or, does He protect every soul’s freedom to choose whether to accept and follow Him?

All Things Have Been Done in the Wisdom of Him Who Knoweth All Things

Lehi teaches his son, Jacob, that God was not taken off guard or thwarted in any way by Satan’s successful effort to get Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

“…If Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And [Adam and Eve] would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:22-24)

Questions:

-Why were Adam and Eve unable to have children until after their fall?

-Will the difficulties of mortality help God’s sons and daughters truly appreciate the eternal blessings He has prepared for those who choose the path of joy?

-Can great joy be achieved during mortality as well?

The Lord God Gave Commandment that All Men Must Repent

Lehi teaches his son, Jacob, about the meaning of mortal life and the vital importance of repentance:

“…Adam and Eve…brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth. And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent.” (2 Nephi 2:19-21)

-How do you feel about your life being a time to show who you really are?

-If repentance means turning to God, how can this be accomplished in a person’s life?

-How many people in the world have a sense of the need of repentance? How many know how to turn to God? If they never are taught these things during mortal life, will they have an opportunity to receive this knowledge in the post-mortal spirit world (before the Resurrection and Final Judgment)?

-Is there any way to repent except through the atoning sacrifice of Christ?

-Are there any sins too heinous or evil toward which the healing power of Christ’s Atonement is ineffective?

Being Miserable Forever He Sought Also the Misery of All Mankind

Lehi teaches his son, Jacob, about the origins and motivations of the devil:

“…An angel of God…had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God. And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind.” (2 Nephi 2:17-18)

-How much of the misery in the world has been promoted and sustained by Satan’s influence?

-Is physical misery or spiritual misery more potent and long lasting?

-How can misery by relieved by turning to, and choosing to follow, Jesus Christ?

-Who will triumph in the end? He who is seeking mankind’s bondage and misery? Or, the Savior, who is seeking mankind’s growth and joy?

God Gave unto Man that He Should Act for Himself

Lehi teaches his son, Jacob, about how God structured mortal life so we would be free to choose between the good and the evil.

“…There is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon. And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.” (2 Nephi 2:14-16)

-Do you believe there is a God? If so, why?

-Is there is a Spirit that testifies to the heart and soul that God exists? If so, when and how does this occur?

-Do you have a worldview that allows for good and evil? If so, are those categories of good and evil defined by you or by God?

-Do books such as the Bible and the Book of Mormon help define God’s standards of right and wrong through the commandments and teachings found in them?

-If God has defined good and evil, what happens if men and women create their own separate definitions of what belongs in these categories?

If There Be No Righteousness There Be No Happiness

Lehi teaches his son, Jacob, about the power of God’s law to create meaning through consequence and how all things witness there is a God.

“…If ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” (2 Nephi 2:13)

-Do you believe sin is real?

How meaningful would life be without consequences?

-Do the most lasting consequences occur in this life? Or, do they occur when each individual is brought back to God’s presence to be judged?

-How is righteousness tied to happiness?

There Must Be Opposition in All Things

Lehi teaches his son, Jacob, about how life’s difficulties signify and create meaning in human choice:

“…It must be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.” (2 Nephi 2:11)

-Is it accurate to say that life can be deeply difficult and deeply rewarding?

-Do you believe God has given us a deeply meaningful challenge in giving us mortal life?

-Is it possible to view earthly trials as a means to greater refinement, rather than as arbitrary setbacks?

All Men Come unto God to be Judged of Him

While teaching his son, Jacob, Lehi addresses an important connection between the Atonement and the Final Judgment.

“…Because of the [Holy Messiah’s] intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him.”

-How much more meaningful is a belief in a Day of Judgment if it is coupled with the concept that we lived with God before our mortal lives and, in that premortal realm, agreed to come to earth to be tested?

-Would it be possible for anyone to return to God’s presence without Christ’s intercession?