22 Now it came to pass that I, Nephi, did teach my brethren these things; and it came to pass that I did read many things to them, which were engraven upon the plates of brass, that they might know concerning the doings of the Lord in other lands, among people of old.
23 And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.
24 Wherefore I spake unto them, saying: Hear ye the words of the prophet, ye who are a remnant of the house of Israel, a branch who have been broken off; hear ye the words of the prophet, which were written unto all the house of Israel, and liken them unto yourselves, that ye may have hope as well as your brethren from whom ye have been broken off; for after this manner has the prophet written.
(1 Nephi 19:22-24)
Near the end of Nephi’s first book, he tells us that he read many scriptural passages to his brothers, including passages from the Five Books of Moses and from the prophet Isaiah. And he didn’t just read the words; he explained how those words related to the lives of his brothers. In other words, he helped his brothers translate the meaning of those ancient documents into language they could relate to, and he helped them see how the promises in those scriptures related to them, not just to the ancient authors.
What did he hope to gain from this activity? He wanted his brothers to believe in their Redeemer so that they could have hope.
Moroni would later explain that the opposite of hope is despair. As we’ve seen the past few days, Nephi had to encourage his brothers on several occasions when they wanted to give up. His approach was to appeal to the scriptures to show them that God would bless them just as He had blessed people anciently. The scriptures fulfilled a very practical purpose for Nephi: helping him to maintain faith during difficult and uncertain times, and helping him to bolster the faith of others as well.
Today, I will follow Nephi’s pattern in my individual and family scripture study: I will read the words of ancient prophets. I will ponder how their words apply to me today. And I will act in faith, relying on the promises God has made to me through the scriptures.