God is Above All

As the Spirit begins to reveal to Nephi what his father, Lehi, had seen in vision, another truth about God is given.

“And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou? And I said: I desire to behold the things which my father saw. And the Spirit said unto me: Believest thou that thy father saw the tree of which he hath spoken? And I said: Yea, thou knowest that I believe all the words of my father. And when I had spoken these words, the Spirit cried with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea even above all.” (1 Nephi 11:6)

Questions:

-Do you believe there is a God over all the earth?

-Would knowing there is a God with perfect perspective and judgment provide greater comfort and hope in your day-to-day life?

-Can the Spirit, who bore witness of God’s existence and exalted status to Nephi in vision, bear the same witness to you in your heart?

-How much strength to live a better life could be received from developing a greater bond with the Lord who is above all?

The House of Israel Should Come to a Knowledge of Their Redeemer

Another message from the Book of Mormon comes as Lehi continues to prophesy to his family. He explains that it was part of God’s plan to scatter the people of Israel throughout the earth (including leading Lehi’s family to the Americas) but He would later work to gather them again — physically and spiritually. Lehi foresaw that after the death of Christ a portion of His Gospel would survive among some of the nations of the Gentiles (nations in Europe, portions of northern Africa, and western Asia, for example, whose majority religion became Christian and whose emigrants later established nation states in the Americas). Lehi prophesied to his family that when the fullness of the gospel was again restored to the Gentiles, the regathering of the house of Israel — including Lehi’s descendants in the Americas — would begin.

And after the house of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again; or in fine, after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel…the remnants of the house of Israel should…come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer.” (1 Nephi 10:14)

Questions:

-Is there evidence of the people of Israel being gathered spiritually and physically in our time as God has promised they would be?

-If only a portion of Christ’s gospel survived among the Christian nations, has the fullness of that Gospel been restored in our time?

-Is there a church established on the earth today that claims to be carrying out such a restoration and gathering of Israel based on direct authority and instruction from God?

-If, as the scriptures testify, God always keeps His promises, how important is it to be a part of His work in fulfilling promises made to those who went before us? Is it likely a church which does not align itself with the impetus of such powerful promises, as a key element of its teachings and practice, contains the fullness of the Gospel?

Rely on This Redeemer

As a prophet of God, Lehi had uncommon insight into God’s work and many future events. He shared many of these things with his family including Nephi who recorded some of what he heard, which record became part of the Book of Mormon.

When speaking of the future of Jerusalem, Lehi foresaw the coming of a Messiah and declared that…

“…All mankind were in a lost and fallen state, and ever would be save they…rely on this Redeemer.” (1 Nephi 10:6)

Questions

-What signs do you see around you that the inhabitants of the earth are in a lost and fallen state?

-What does it mean to rely on Jesus Christ who is the Redeemer of which Lehi spoke?

-How do you feel about Lehi’s declaration that there is no other way to overcome the lost and fallen state of humanity except through the Redeemer?

The Lord is Able to Do All Things According to His Will

After the brothers returned to their father’s camp with the Brass Plates, Lehi, their father, received additional revelation that the young men were to go to Jerusalem once again and bring back the family of a man named Ishmael. The brothers are successful in convincing Ishmael and his family to join the divinely mandated exodus to a new land but on the way back to Lehi’s camp Laman, Lemuel, and some of Ishmael’s family had second thoughts and wanted to return to Jerusalem.

As part of his effort to keep them from doubting and rebelling against specific direction given by God to leave Jerusalem, Nephi asks the following:

“…How is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him?” (1 Nephi 7:12)

Questions:

-How can you know God’s will?

-How do you know when your will and God’s will are aligned?

-Is there any limit to what God can provide by way of help and guidance when your will is aligned with His?

-How important is faith as a catalyst for allowing God’s strength into your life?

The Lord Prepares the Way

Another direct teaching comes from Nephi while giving the account of his family’s journey to the Americas. After leaving Jerusalem, Lehi (Nephi’s father) receives direction from God to have Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem and obtain a historical record contained on brass plates. Two of Nephi’s brothers complained and resisted, but Nephi declared his willingness to go and do what was required. In his record, as contained in third chapter of the Book of Mormon, he shares the principle of truth on which his willingness was based:

“…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.” (1 Nephi 3:7)

Questions:

-Have you received commandments from God? If so, what commandments have you received? Are you conscientious about following through based on any direction you have received?

-Are God’s commandments applicable to everyone? Where can these commandments be found?

-Are some commandments more foundational or important than others? (see Mark 12:30-31)

-How sure can you be, based on Nephi’s statement, that it is possible to accomplish what you have been commanded to do?

Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…

“Obedience is the first law of heaven. All progression, all perfection, all salvation, all godliness, all that is right and just and true, all good things come to those who live the laws of Him who is Eternal. There is nothing in all eternity more important than to keep the commandments of God” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [1978], 126).

“The Lord is intent on your personal growth and development. That progress is accelerated when you willingly allow Him to lead you through every growth experience you encounter, whether initially it be to your individual liking or not. When you trust in the Lord, when you are willing to let your heart and your mind be centered in His will, when you ask to be led by the Spirit to do His will, you are assured of the greatest happiness along the way and the most fulfilling attainment from this mortal experience. If you question everything you are asked to do, or dig in your heels at every unpleasant challenge, you make it harder for the Lord to bless you. [See 1 Nephi 3:7.]

“Your agency, the right to make choices, is not given so that you can get what you want. This divine gift is provided so that you will choose what your Father in Heaven wants for you. That way He can lead you to become all that He intends you to be. [See D&C 58:26–32.]” (“Finding Joy in Life,” Ensign, May 1996, 25).

Mighty Even unto the Power of Deliverance

Another of the earliest direct messages in the Book of Mormon comes from the writings of Nephi. This Nephi was raised in Jerusalem at the heart of the Jewish nation. His father, Lehi, was one who earnestly sought the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who the people of the Jewish nation professed to worship).

In the act of solemn prayer, seeking for the welfare of his people, he received revelation from God, which included a warning of the impending destruction of Jerusalem. In hopes that they would repent and be spared, Lehi began communicating what he had seen to the inhabitants of his city and soon received further revelation to leave Jerusalem because some in the city, unhappy with Lehi’s warnings, were plotting to take his life. Lehi and his family did as they were directed and (in 600 B.C.) were led by God away from the darkening prospects of Jerusalem across long stretches of land and sea to the Americas.

After witnessing and participating in this extraordinary deliverance, Nephi declares the following truths for those who would later read his account:

“…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 Nephi 1:20)

Questions:

-Who is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? (see quote from Ezra Taft Benson below)

-What is revelation? How and when does God reveal himself to those living on the earth?

-How important is it to have the power of deliverance in your life and your family members’ lives?

-Is physical deliverance or spiritual deliverance more important? How, if at all, are both types of deliverance related?

-Are the tender mercies of the Lord extended to everyone on the earth? Or, just to those whom He has chosen because of their faith?

-What is faith? And, what kind and intensity of faith do you need to be made mighty through God’s direct participation in your life?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…

“The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. …

“… The Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness and obedience enable us to receive these important gifts and, frequently, the Lord’s timing helps us to recognize them.

“We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies” (David A. Bednar, “The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 99–100).

“We must keep in mind who Jesus was before He was born. He was the Creator of all things, the great Jehovah, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was and is the Holy One of Israel” (President Ezra Taft Benson, “Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Dec. 2001, 10).

“I wish to bear witness of God’s power of deliverance. At some point in our lives we will all need that power. Every person living is in the midst of a test. … Two things will be the same for all of us. They are part of the design for mortal life.

“First, the tests at times will stretch us enough for us to feel the need for help beyond our own. And, second, God in His kindness and wisdom has made the power of deliverance available to us” (“The Power of Deliverance” [Brigham Young University devotional, Jan. 15, 2008], 1; speeches.byu.edu).

“The Lord always wants to lead us to deliverance through our becoming more righteous. That requires repentance. And that takes humility. So the way to deliverance always requires humility in order for the Lord to be able to lead us by the hand where He wants to take us through our troubles and on to sanctification” (“The Power of Deliverance” [Brigham Young University devotional, Jan. 15, 2008], 4; speeches.byu.edu).

The Words of Your Seed Should Proceed Forth Out of My Mouth unto Your Seed

The Lord speaks to Nephi about the great work He will do to recover the house of Israel (including Nephi’s and Nephi’s father’s descendants) in the last days.

“…I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel. And also, that I may remember the promises which I have made unto thee, Nephi, and also unto thy father, that I would remember your seed; and that the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed…” (2 Nephi 29:1-2)

Questions:

-When the Lord speaks of His “mouth” is He referring figuratively to Joseph Smith who translated the Book of Mormon?

-Are Lehi’s descendant’s hearing the words of their ancestors through the Book of Mormon?

The Gentiles Preach up unto Themselves Their Own Wisdom and Their Own Learning

Seeing our time, the prophet Nephi touches on some of the spiritual and organizational characteristics troubling the people (Gentiles) who would largely displace the remnants of his and his father Lehi’s descendants.

“…The Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor. And there are many churches built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice. And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things…” (2 Nephi 26:20-22)

Questions:

-When seeing the weaknesses of the Gentiles, is Nephi focused more on the people of the United States and Canada? Does his critique also refer to the Latin American countries south of the United States? Is there also some reference to all nations throughout this fallen world?

-Are the churches Nephi is referring to Christian places of worship? Or, is his meaning more generalized to refer to all organizations that developed from the Christian churches and the related Enlightenment culture of Europe?

-What stumbling block is Nephi referring to in this passage? And, why does he refer to it as a great stumbling block? Is this a reference to the absence of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (because of apostasy) as these organizations formed?

-What are the organizations that have been “built up” to have the most power and influence in the United States in our time? Have similar organizations been built up in other countries in the Americas and throughout the world?

-Do these organizations focus on the power and miracles of God? Or, do they put greater emphasis on — and give greater credit to — what they perceive to be human power and human wisdom? Do many of these organizations take advantage of the poor?

-Are their many institutions and organizations that (inadvertently or intentionally) cause envying and strife?

-What are secret combinations? What are the consequences of having oath-bound groups in our society that do evil for their own worldly gain?

Great Are the Promises of the Lord unto Them Who Are upon the Isles of the Sea

After recognizing the Lord’s hand in bringing his father’s family across the ocean to their promised land in the Americas, Jacob teaches his people that the Lord had (and would) scatter many others from the house of Israel across the seas and oceans to new lands. Many of the promises of restoration extended to Lehi’s family in the last days are also extended to these people who have been scattered upon the “isles of the sea.”

“…Great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea.” (2 Nephi 10:21)

“For behold, the Lord God has led away from time to time from the house of Israel, according to his will and pleasure. And now behold, the Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off…” (2 Nephi 10:22)

Questions:

-Does “isles of the sea” refer only to islands? Or, does it also refer to lands that would have been reached by sea or ocean travel (in relation to the ancient kingdom of Israel)?

I Will Have All Men That Dwell Thereon That They Shall Worship Me

In his role as a prophet, Jacob reveals the Lord’s mind and will. In the passage below, Jacob teaches his people about how, in the last days, God will bless their descendants (and those who are numbered among their descendants) in the American promised land.

“…My beloved brethren, thus saith our God: I will afflict thy seed by the hand of the Gentiles, nevertheless, I will soften the hearts of the Gentiles, that they shall be like unto a father to them; wherefore, the Gentiles shall be blessed and numbered among the house of Israel. Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land…above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God.” (2 Nephi 10:18-19)

Questions:

-Are the Gentiles, referred to in the passage above, those who live in the American promised land but are not descendants of Jacob’s parents (Lehi and Sariah)?

-Given their unique blessings upon the land, will any group ultimately prosper in the American promised land without serving hand in hand with those of Lehi’s descendants who come to worship the true and living God?

-What does it mean to be numbered among the house of Israel? Does it matter if you have Israelite heritage going back to ancient Israel or not?

-Who among the Gentiles will be numbered among the house of Israel in the last days (whether they have Israelite heritage or not)?

-Is true worship of the true and living God tied to helping fulfill His covenants with the house of Israel?

-Is there a church to which the covenants and priesthood of the house of Israel have been restored?

Video:
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