Sunday School Lesson 5

1 Nephi 16-22 (1 February 2004)

As usual, I’ve not written questions on every chapter or for every verse in the chapters I’ve covered.

Chapter 16

Verses 1-2: Nephi’s brothers tell him that the things he has said are too hard to bear (verse 1). What have they heard that has caused that response? In verse 2 Nephi explains why they find the truth to be hard. Which meaning of “hard” is relevant, “difficult to understand” or “difficult to bear”? What does the fact that the wicked are cut to their center by the truth tell us about wickedness and truth?

Verses 9-10: Why does the Lord wait until only the night before to tell Lehi when they will leave (verse 9)? Why does he deliver the Liahona is such an unusual way (verse 10)?

Verse 11: Why might Laman and Lemuel not complain at this departure, especially given its suddenness?

Verse 20: Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael didn’t murmur when they departed quickly (verses 10-11), but they do murmur now. What does that difference tell us? What does Lehi’s murmuring suggest?

Verse 23: For what kinds of reasons might Nephi have asked his father where he should go to hunt?

Verse 28: It is relatively simple to see the Liahona as a metaphor for other things in our spiritual lives that “work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we [. . .] unto them.” What are some of those things? Why is our spiritual life like that?

Verse 29: Nephi himself draws a lesson from the Liahona: “by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” Why might the Lord choose to work by small means? What are some of the small means in your own life that have brought about great ends?

Verses 34-37: Notice the strangeness of these events: Ishmael dies and his daughters mourn exceedingly (verses 34). Presumably that includes Nephi’s wife. In response, the husband of one of those wives, Laman, urges the husband of another, Lemuel, that they should kill Lehi, their own father. What motivates Laman’s plan? Do you think that when Nephi tells us that the daughters mourned exceedingly he means that they mourned excessively? What might excessive rather than “normal” mourning be? Are there any indicators in these verses that they mourned excessively?

Verses 37-38: Of what do Laman and Lemuel accuse Nephi? What evidence do they have for their accusation?

Chapter 17

Verses 2 and 20-21: Compare and contrast these two perspectives on the same event, asking yourself which things each includes that are the same and which things are different and what those similarities and differences suggest.

Verses 7-10: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?

Verse 14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God”? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?

Verse 15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?

Verses 22-23: In verse 22, Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem? In verse 23, Lehi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is, I believe, one of the major themes of the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?

Verse 31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything save it was by his word”? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?

Verse 35: What does it mean to esteem?to value?all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?

Verse 40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?

Verse 45: What does it mean to be “slow to remember the Lord”? Why is that metaphor appropriate?

Chapter 19

Verse 6: Nephi tells us that he has only written sacred things on the plates. How can that be? How can the material of chapter 16, verses 11-13, where we learn that they took seeds with them and that they went south-southeast and called one of their stopping points “Shazer,” be sacred? What makes a narrative sacred? Why is this sacred when my journal or a history of Vermont is not?

Verse 7: At the end of the verse Nephi says that some people set the Lord “at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.” Is he using parallelism to explain what he means by “setting the Lord at naught”? Why do the scriptures so often use verbs of hearing, such as “hearken” to talk about obedience?

Verse 15: Here Nephi uses a different metaphor, turning away from God. How is this metaphor related to that of verse 7? Could we paraphrase this verse to say, “When Israel remembers its covenant with the Lord, then he will remember his covenant with them”? If so, of what covenant is Nephi speaking? How does Israel remember its covenant? How does the Lord remember his?

Verse 18: Compare this verse to 1 Nephi 1:20 and 6:4. Nephi describes his purposes in writing in three different ways. How are those ways related to each other?

Verse 24: Nephi introduces his readings from Isaiah by telling them to hear those words and to “liken them” to themselves. Given what Nephi has just been talking about, how are Isaiah’s writings relevant to Nephi’s people? How are the particular chapters that Nephi chooses relevant?

Chapter 20

Verses 3-4: Do these verses help us understand why Nephi is reading from Isaiah?

Verse 9: When the Lord says, “for my name’s sake I will defer mine anger,” what is he saying? What does he mean by “my name” in this verse? Is it parallel to “my praise”? If so, what is the point here, and how are we to understand that point? Does verse 11 answer those questions?

Verse 10: In verse 4, the Lord described Israel as obstinate. Here he says they have been refined and were chosen in affliction. How do those go together?

Verse 11: The Lord says that he will save Israel for his own sake. Does this mean that he won’t be doing it for Israel’s sake? Does this contradict Moses 1:39?

Chapter 21

Verse 1: How does this verse explain the scattering of Israel, including the scattering of Lehi’s family? Who were the pastors?shepherds?of the Israelites? (Compare Ezekiel 34:1-10.)

Verse 3: How is the Lord glorified in Israel? Does this help us understand better what Isaiah said in 1 Nephi 20:9?

Verse 14: What is promised here? How does this compare to what Nephi said in 1 Nephi 19:15?

Verses 22-23: What is promised here? To whom? What is the role of the Gentiles? How does this promise compare to the prophecy in Lehi and Nephi’s vision, for example the last part of chapter 13? Are there other parallels between their vision and these parts of Isaiah’s writings? What does the word “wait” mean in “they shall not be ashamed that wait for me”? Does it mean “to await,” “to be quiet” (as in Psalm 62:1), “to serve,” or something else?

Chapter 22

Verses 1-3: In verse 1, the brothers ask Nephi whether what he has read has spiritual meaning rather than meaning that pertains to the flesh. He responds to their question in verse 2, but verse 2 isn’t an answer to their question. Why not? He answers the question in verse 3, but why does he interject the material of verse 2 before he does? Why is it important for Lehi’s people to know that Jerusalem is shortly to fall?

Verses 10-11: In the scriptures, what does it mean for a man to make his arm bare, i.e., to reveal his arm? How does restoring his covenants make his arm bare?

Verse 23: What definition of the devil’s kingdom does Nephi give here? How is it relevant to the vision he had of the abominable church?

Verse 26: What will bind Satan, prevent him from working, during the millennium? Does that suggest anything about our own relation to him? Is James 1:13-15 relevant?

2 comments for “Sunday School Lesson 5

  1. Adam Greenwood
    January 26, 2004 at 2:44 pm

    As always, thank you.

  2. Grasshopper
    January 30, 2004 at 8:09 pm

    “Verse 29: Nephi himself draws a lesson from the Liahona: ‘by small means the Lord can bring about great things.'”

    How many of us would consider a Liahona miraculously appearing on our doorstep in the morning a “small means”? Maybe what Nephi considers “small means” and what I consider “small means” are quite different.

    “Verse 6: Nephi tells us that he has only written sacred things on the plates. How can that be? How can the material of chapter 16, verses 11-13, where we learn that they took seeds with them and that they went south-southeast and called one of their stopping points ‘Shazer,’ be sacred? What makes a narrative sacred? Why is this sacred when my journal or a history of Vermont is not?”

    Maybe they are, or could be, or should be. It seems to me that sacredness is very much in the eye of the beholder. If (heaven forbid!) you were to be killed in an accident tomorrow, I suspect that your family would regard your journal as sacred.

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