BOOK OF MORMON - LESSON 5
1 Nephi 16-22
"Hearken To The Truth And Give Heed Unto It"
A study of this lesson will inspire us to follow Nephi's example of faith
and willing obedience..
The Lord guides the families of Lehi and Ishmael according to their faith.
Nephi demonstrates unwavering faith by fulfilling the Lord's command to
build a ship.
Laman and Lemuel bind Nephi, who shows courage and gratitude despite this
trial. After they free him, he guides the ship to the promised land.
Nephi & His Brothers - A Comparison
Nephi says: "We had suffered many afflictions
and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all"
(1 Nephi 17:6).
As you review 1 Nephi 16-18 consider where you would place yourself on
the following scale. More importantly, which direction are you moving
on the scale?
The Nephi/Laman Scale
Praises the Lord during
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Complains and murmurs
Talks against parents
and spiritual leaders
Complains and no action
Does not seek the Lord
Angry and murmurs
Nephi/Laman Scale Handout: Click here for a page formatted for
printing 3 to 4 Scales per page.
Consider the contrast:
The murmurers allowed their circumstances to rule over them.
Nephi was strengthened by the experiences.
We pick up the Lehi family story after Nephi has explained his father's
dream to his brothers. The family remains in the wilderness after
having gone back for the family of Ishmael.
1 Nephi 16:9-10: "And it came to pass that
the voice of the Lord spake unto my father by night, and commanded him
that on the morrow he should take his journey into the wilderness."
Even after Nephi's inspired explanation his brothers said, "Thou
hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear"
(1 Nephi 16:1).
Nephi didn't beat around the bush. He gave it to his brothers straight:
it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard
things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have
I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day;
wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them
to the very center.
"And now my brethren, if
ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed
unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur
because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.
"And it came to pass that
I, Nephi, did exhort my brethren, with all diligence, to keep the commandments
of the Lord."
(1 Nephi 16:2-4)
Apparently Nephi's powerful teaching had some effect for "...it
came to pass that they did humble themselves before the Lord; insomuch
that I had joy and great hopes of them, that they would walk in the paths
of righteousness" (1 Nephi 16:5).
"And it came to pass that
as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to
his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious
workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two
spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness."
Throughout the scriptures we find incidents or items that are a type or
representation of things.
WHAT IS THIS BALL FOUND BY LEHI?
The Liahona. The single mention in the scriptures of the ball as
the Liahona is found Alma 37:38: "And now,
my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call
a ball, or director--or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being
interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it."
As Nephi wrote about the Liahona he said in v29: "And
thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things"
(1 Nephi 16:29).
WHAT MIGHT THE LIAHONA BE A TYPE OF?
A symbol of Christ and his teachings.
Alma 37:44-45: "For behold, it is as easy to give
heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to
eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass,
which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.
"And now I say, is there
not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did
bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall
the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale
of sorrow into a far better land of promise."
Nephi said that he "...beheld the pointers which
were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence
and heed which we did give unto them" (1 Nephi 16:28).
Isn’t this how the gospel works in our lives? When we are diligent
in living the gospel and heed the commandments, we find purpose and direction
in our lives.
On the other hand, we can have the gospel, but unless we are faithful we
will not be blessed with its guidance any more than Lehi and his family
were blessed by the Liahona when they were not faithful.
ISN’T THIS A WONDERFUL OBSERVATION? HOW HAVE YOU SEEN IN YOUR LIFE
THE LORD BRING ABOUT GREAT THINGS BY SMALL MEANS?
Consider the latter-day restoration. A young, inquiring boy reads
a brief passage of scripture in James. As a consequence of his acting
on that scripture, a revolution in truth is brought about that has affected
millions and will continue to affect many more.
Consider the mission of Samuel Smith (the first mission of the church).
Samuel came back from his short mission frustrated and feeling that he
had accomplished little. He had left a Book of Mormon with a man
by the name of John P. Greene, who was not interested. Later Greene
read the book and was convinced of its truthfulness. He left the
book at the home of John Young. The Young family read the book, including
John's son Brigham. This same Book of Mormon was shared with Brigham's
closest friend, Heber C. Kimball. These two men were instrumental
in opening up the missionary work in England. How many lives have
been affected by that one small act of Samuel Smith? (story related
by Joseph Fielding Smith in Doctrines of Salvation, 3:220-221)
The Broken Bow Incident
Nephi says (16:18) that as he "went forth to slay food" he broke
his bow made from "fine steel". As a consequence, things became
"exceedingly difficult" (16:21) and they were unable to obtain food.
As the Lehi family continued on their journey, Ishmael died. He daughters
sorely grieved his loss and murmured against Lehi (16:34-35).
HOW DID NEPHI’S BRETHREN REACT?
His brethren were angry (16:18). Why? Because their weapon
for obtaining food was broken.
Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael began to "murmur exceedingly" because
of their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness (16:20).
Even Lehi began to "murmur against the Lord his God" (16:20).
They had hardened their hearts and were "complaining against the Lord"
Consider the circumstances. Clearly their very lives were being threatened
without the ability to obtain food. Even Lehi, that faithful prophet,
had his faith stretched to the limit.
WHERE WOULD YOU PLACE YOURSELF ON THE NEPHI/LAMAN SCALE?
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THAT EVEN LEHI MURMURED ON THIS OCCASION?
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF EXPECTING PARENTS OR LEADERS TO BE PERFECT?
HOW DID NEPHI REACT?
Instead of sitting around the campfire, moaning and complaining (murmuring),
he got up and took action. Although inferior to his steel
bow, he made a bow out of wood and an arrow with a straight stick.
He also armed himself with a sling and stones (16:23).
He respected authority. In spite of the fact that his father had
murmured against the Lord, Nephi showed his obedience to the patriarchal
order and asked his father where he should obtain food (16:23).
He was obedient. He followed the directions he received from
his father which he had received from the Liahona.
Lehi’s family continues in the wilderness.
HOW DID NEPHI’S BRETHREN REACT?
They got caught up in the murmuring of Ishmael’s daughters.
They even considered the murder of Lehi and Nephi (16:37).
HOW WOULD WE REACT?
This incident clearly illustrates the danger in murmuring. There
was no sin in grieving the loss of Ishmael, but when it turned to murmuring
against the Lord's annointed they had crossed into dangerous territory.
Murmuring is like a highly infectious disease. Not only are you afflicted,
but it spreads to others and feeds upon itself. If it is not stopped
and steps of repentance invoked, it is as gas being poured on a fire.
In this incident, the sin of murmuring almost led to the horrible sin of
READ 1 NEPHI 17:1-3. The children of men blessed
for keeping commandments.
Nephi testifies that men will be blessed in their efforts to accomplish
that which the Lord has commanded, if they pursue the course he has set
W.H. Murray made the following statement that reflects the words of Nephi:
"Until one is committed
there is a hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary
truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
"All sorts of things occur
to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream
of events issues forth from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner
of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no
man could have dreamt would have come his way." (Everest—The
West Ridge, p100)
Building A Ship
Nephi wrote, "And it came to pass that the Lord
spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which
I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters."
(1 Nephi 17:8)
1 NEPHI 17:45: "Ye are swift to do iniquity but
slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he
spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he
hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling,
that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like
unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it
were to divide asunder."
HOW DID LAMAN AND LEMUEL REACT TOWARDS THIS COMMANDMENT?
They murmured against Nephi and this commandment and called him a fool
They lacked faith in the Lord, that he would command such a thing and make
such a thing possible (17:18).
Complained against Lehi and "his foolish imaginations" (17:20).
They complained about their time in the wilderness and missing their home
and possessions in Jerusalem (17:21).
They complained against Nephi "and were desirous that they might not labor"
HOW DID NEPHI REACT?
Prayerful: He obeyed the voice of the Lord and "arose and went up into
the mountain, and cried unto the Lord" (17:7). Here he received
the commandment to build the ship.
Obedient: When he received this commandment, did he murmur or question
No. He immediately started to formulate ideas for carrying out this
command. He asked the Lord where he might find ore to "molten" to
make tools for the construction of the ship.
He began the process by making "tools of the ore" (17:16).
He "did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord" (17:15).
He "did exhort" his "brethren to faithfulness and diligence" (17:15).
Consider faith and power in his words to his brethren as contained in verses
50 & 51: "And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all
things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say
unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say
it, it would be done.
"And now, if the Lord has such great power, and
has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that
he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?" (17:50-51)
WHY COULDN'T THE LORD COMMUNICATE WITH LAMAN AND LEMUEL THROUGH THE "STILL
They were "past feeling" that they "could not feel his words".
HOW DID THEY COME TO THE POINT THAT THEY WERE PAST FEELING?
Disobedience and turning away from the commandments.
HOW DO WE ENSURE THAT WE DO NOT BECOME "PAST FEELING" LIKE LAMAN AND LEMUEL?
The Sea Journey
1. After completing the ship, filling it with supplies, the Lehi clan went
into the ship and "did put forth into the sea
and were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land"
This was a long journey and the more rebellious became bored and "began
to make themselves merry" by dancing, and singing, and speaking "with much
Note: In an interesting article entitled Lehi and El Niño: A
Method of Migration, David L. Clark discusses how Lehi and his family
would have been able to travel cross the Indian and Pacific Oceans in a
direction that is directly opposed by the wind patterns and the surface
currents of those oceans. It can be found in BYU Studies, Summer
Nephi was concerned with their irreverent attitude and spoke to them “with
much soberness” (18:10).
This rudeness caused them to forget the power of God which had led them
this far. They became "past feeling".
HOW DID NEPHI REACT TO ALL OF THIS ADVERSITY?
Laman and Lemuel bound Nephi with cords and treated him "with much harshness"
After binding Nephi, the Liahona ceased to work and a great storm arose
Nephi said that the bands on his wrist and ankles caused swelling and as
a consequence "great was the soreness thereof" (18:15).
The rebellious brothers threatened anyone who spoke out for Nephi, including
Lehi and Sariah, causing them to be brought down "upon their sick beds"
WHERE DO WE STAND ON THE NEPHI/LAMAN SCALE?
Did he condemn God? Wrote Nephi: "I did
look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not
murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions" (18:16).
When the storm became too strong, his brothers released him. Did
Nephi spend time in retribution against his brethren? No. He
exercised his faith in the use of the “compass” and prayed to the Lord
for their deliverance (18:21).
HOW DO WE REACT TO CHALLENGES AND ADVERSITY?
It seems that whenever the Lord has a work to be done, the Adversary cranks
up his opposition several notches, as in the story of Lehi’s family and
their important immigration to America.
Consider the plight of the Twelve prior to their departure on their mission
to England in 1839. They had made their official start to this mission
in Far West on April 26, 1839.
They had then returned to Illinois and their families where they remained
until the latter part of the summer.
As you may recall, the Saints had been driven from Missouri in the winter
of 1838-39. The Twelve were attempting to get their families established.
They were also plagued with sickness that summer, as were many of the Saints.
In this adversity, the Twelve began their missions to England.
Wilford Woodruff and John Taylor were the first to leave Nauvoo.
Wilford was so weak that Brigham Young had to row him across the river
from Iowa. Once in Nauvoo, Wilford laid down to rest.
The Prophet came along and said: "Well, Brother
Woodruff, you have started on your mission?"
"Yes, but I feel and look
more like a subject for the dissecting room than a missionary," was the
reply. "What did you say that for?" asked Joseph. "Get up and go
along, all will be well with you." (CHC, 2:23)
A short time later, Brigham left his home in Montrose and crossed the river
to the home of his friend Heber Kimball. All his children were sick,
and he left his wife with a babe but ten days old, and in the poorest circumstances,
for the mobs of Missouri had robbed him of all he had.
Once in Nauvoo, his strength failed him and he remained at Heber’s for
several days. His wife heard of his plight and crossed the river
to nurse him.
A few days later Brigham and Heber determined to start their mission.
Heber was so weak, that some of the brethren had to assist him in climbing
into the wagon. He left his wife in bed shaking with ague, and all
his children sick. Said Heber, "It seemed
to me as though my very inmost parts would melt within me at the thought
of leaving my family in such a condition, as it were, almost in the arms
of death. I felt as though I could scarcely endure it."
"Hold up!" said he to the teamster, who had just started. "Brother
Brigham, this is pretty tough, but let us rise and give them a cheer."
Brigham, with much difficulty, rose to his feet, and joined Elder Kimball
in swinging his hat and shouting, "Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah for Israel!"
Sisters Young and Kimball, hearing the cheer came to the door--Sister Kimball
with great difficulty--and waved a farewell; and the two apostles continued
their journey without purse, without script, for England. (CHC, 2:24)
The departure of Elders George A. Smith, Reuben Hedlock, and Theodore Turley,
the last two not of the twelve, but of the seventy, was but little less
remarkable. They were feeble in health, in fact, down with
the ague. Before they were out of sight of Nauvoo their wagon upset
and spilled them down the bank of the river. Elders Smith and Turley
were unable to get up, not because of any injuries they had received, but
because of their weakened condition from illness. Elder Hedlock helped
them into the wagon and they resumed their journey. They had not
proceeded far when they met some gentleman who stopped their team and said
to the driver: "Mr., what graveyard have you been robbing?" The
remark being elicited by the ghostly appearance of the elders en route
for England. (CHC, 2:25)
WHAT KIND OF SAINTS ARE WE?
Nephi Teaches From Isaiah
In Chapter 19 Nephi writes of prophets who prophesied regarding the Savior.
Nephi & Isaiah.
Most of these prophets that he mentions are unknown in the Bible: Zenock,
1 Nephi 20-22.
As we know, Nephi quotes extensively from Isaiah.
READ 1 NEPHI 19:23-24. Liken the scripture unto us
for our profit and learning.
WHY DID NEPHI TEACH FROM ISAIAH?
To more fully persuade mankind to believe in Christ.
For our profit and learning.
Written to all of the House of Israel to give them hope.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIKEN THE SCRIPTURES UNTO OURSELVES?
As we "liken the scriptures unto ourselves" here are some questions we
might ask as we consider the story of Lehi’s family. We might ask
similar questions as we read other scripture stories.
What significance does this particular event or principle have for me today?
What does the rebellion of Laman and Lemuel teach me?
What can I learn about faithfulness from Nephi's obedience?
If I were in this particular situation or faced with this challenge or
question, how would I react? What flaws or strengths would I find
in my own character?
Am I like Lehi's family in the wilderness, or am I like Nephi?
Do I complain when things get difficult, or do I trust in God no matter
what the circumstances?
What do I learn about God and his dealings with his children from this
Why does God put his children through the trials of the "wilderness"?
Why did he send Lehi and his family to a whole new land?
As I study the lives of men and women in the scriptures, what do I learn
about the things that please or displease God?
Why was this particular concept, principle, or event included in the scriptures?
WHAT DID ISAIAH TEACH IN CHAPTERS 20 AND 21 (ISAIAH 48 &49)?
The four prophetic periods as discussed in the Old Testament:
The period surrounding the removal of Israel by Assyria.
The period surrounding the Babylonian captivity of Judah.
The coming of the Savior.
The last days.
The Isaiah chapters in 1 Nephi.
Chapter 20 - Judah, Babylon, and the Captivity.
Chapter 21 - The Last Days.
Isaiah had a panoramic perspective of the destiny of Israel:
His was the vision that despite Israel's immaturity and wicked wanderings,
infidelity to Jehovah, and disloyalty to the principles of the everlasting
covenant, the hand of the Israel's God was extended still and that divine
assistance was ever available to his chosen people.
READ 1 NEPHI 20:4,8-11. In spire of the wickedness
of Israel, they are still the Lord's chosen.
In verse 20 the Lord says to Israel to come forth out of Babylon.
READ 1 NEPHI 21:8. This appears to be talking about
Joseph Smith and the gathering of Israel.
READ 1 NEPHI 21:22-23.
See Nephi's commentary in 22:6-14.
Speaking of the restoration of the gospel in the last days.
Occur following the persecution and scattering of the Lamanites.
Take place in a great gentile nation - United States.
1 Nephi 22:8-9 speaks of the missionary effort.
Jacob says (2 Nephi 6:12-13) that the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy
is millennial and pertains to the final destruction of the enemies of the
covenant people of God.
READ 22:1-3. Nephi comments on the teachings of Isaiah
and the prophets.
By the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets.
These things pertain to both the temporal and spiritual.
READ 22:26. Satan to be bound by righteousness.
IS THERE ANY REASON WE CANNOT DO THAT IN OUR OWN LIVES AND HOMES TODAY?
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Changes last made on: Jan 16 2000