Nephi Teaches His Brothers – 1 Nephi 7, 15, 17, 20-22

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Setting

On multiple occasions during their journey to the promised land, Nephi taught his brothers.

Purpose

Nephi’s primary purposes in teaching his brothers were (1) to refute their negative perceptions about their journey, (2) to clarify some of their father’s teachings, and (3) to encourage them to turn their hearts to God.

Outline

I.

After recruiting Ishmael and his family to join them in their journey. Laman and Lemuel, as well as two of the daughters of Ishmael and the two sons of Ishmael and their families, wanted to return to Jerusalem (1 Nephi 7:6-7).

  1. Why must I, your younger brother, teach you and set an example for you (1 Nephi 7:8-9)?
  2. How did you forget that: (1) you’ve seen an angel, (2) we were delivered from Laban, and (3) God can do anything for us if we have faith in Him (1 Nephi 7:10-12)?
  3. If we are faithful, we will obtain the promised land (1 Nephi 7:13).
  4. Jerusalem will be destroyed. If you return, you will die (1 Nephi 7:14-15).

II.

After experiencing an expansive vision, Nephi returned to camp to find his brothers arguing about he meaning of their father’s dream. This teaching session unfolded as a series of questions and answers.

Q: What did our father mean when he spoke of the natural branches of an olive tree (1 Nephi 15:7)?
A: If you ask questions to God in faith, He will answer you.  (1 Nephi 15:8-11).
The olive tree represents the house of Israel, including us. After our descendants are scattered by the Gentiles, they will be gathered again by the Gentiles and brought to a knowledge of their Redeemer (1 Nephi 15:12-18).
Isaiah prophesied that after Israel is gathered, they will not be scattered again (1 Nephi 15:19-20).

Q: What does the tree in our father’s dream represent (1 Nephi 15:21)?
A: It is the tree of life (1 Nephi 15:22).

Q: What does the rod of iron represent? (1 Nephi 15:23)
A: It represents the word of God. If you will follow God’s word, you will be protected from temptation (1 Nephi 15:24-25).

Q: What does the river of water represent? (1 Nephi 15:26)
A: It is God’s justice, which divides the wicked from the righteous (1 Nephi 15:27-30).

Q: Are these teachings about this life or are they about the life to come? Are they temporal or spiritual (1 Nephi 15:31)?
A: They are both temporal and spiritual. We will eventually be judged based on our works in this life. If we are filthy, we cannot be with God, and we cannot eat the fruit of the tree of life (1 Nephi 15:32-36).

III.

In the land of Bountiful, Nephi’s brothers refused to help him make a ship. They told him he was just like their father, leading them away from happiness to suffer in the wilderness, because of “the foolish imaginations of his heart” (1 Nephi 17:17-22).

  1. God commanded Moses to lead the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. He continued to lead them, even when they hardened their hearts against Him (1 Nephi 17:23-31).
  2. The children of Israel drove out the former inhabitants of their promised land. God loves all of His children, but these former inhabitants “had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity” (1 Nephi 17:32-35).
  3. God leads the righteous to precious lands, and He destroys the wicked (1 Nephi 17:36-40).
  4. During their journey, God “sent fiery flying serpents among” the children of Israel, and He prepared a simple way for them to be saved. But many died because they refused to look (1 Nephi 17:41).
  5. God led them to the land of promise. Now, they have ripened in iniquity. They are about to be destroyed. That is why God commanded our father to leave. (1 Nephi 17:42-44).
  6. You are like them: swift to do iniquity and slow to remember God. How can you be so hard in your hearts (1 Nephi 17:45-47)?

IV.

After arriving in the promised land, Nephi read from the book of Isaiah and explained to his brothers that these prophecies applied to them and to their descendants (1 Nephi 19:22-24).

  1. The Lord reminds Israel of all He has done for them and wonders why they aren’t more faithful to Him (1 Nephi 20, Isaiah 48).
    1. The audience: hypocritical Israel (people who call themselves Israelites but don’t rely on the Lord) (1 Nephi 20:1-2).
    2. I’ve told you before what would happen. I knew you were stubborn and would need proof that I am the true God. But even after that, you are slow to acknowledge my hand (1 Nephi 20:3-8).
    3. For my own sake I will be patient with you. I chose you in the furnace of affliction and I want you to be my people (1 Nephi 20:9-11).
    4. I am the first and the last. I created the heavens and the earth, and I will fulfill the words of my prophet (1 Nephi 20:12-16).
    5. “O that thou hadst hearkened unto my commandments.” I led you through the desert, and I redeemed you. But in spite of everything I’ve done for you, there is no peace for the wicked (1 Nephi 20:17-22).
  2. You are not forsaken (1 Nephi 21, Isaiah 49).
    1. The audience: scattered Israel (1 Nephi 21:1)
    2. God called me, polished me, and encouraged me (1 Nephi 21:2-7).
    3. I have heard you, and I will gather you (1 Nephi 21:8-13).
    4. You might feel forsaken, but you will learn that you are not (1 Nephi 21:14-20).
    5. Kings and queens among the Gentiles will carry your children in their arms. They will bow down at your feet. Then, you will know that I am your Redeemer (1 Nephi 21:21-26).
  3. Nephi’s explanation: God will redeem the righteous, but the wicked will be cut off (1 Nephi 22)
    1. Question: What do these scriptures mean? Are they purely spiritual or will they happen in real life (1 Nephi 22:1)?
    2. Answer: both. They were revealed to the prophet by the Spirit, and they will happen in real life (1 Nephi 22:2-3).
    3. The house of Israel will be scattered among all nations, but they will later be nourished by the Gentiles (1 Nephi 22:4-9).
    4. The Lord will make bare His arm in the eyes of all nations by gathering His people out of captivity (1 Nephi 22:10-14).
    5. God will destroy the wicked, but He will preserve the righteous (1 Nephi 22:15-19).
    6. Moses prophesied that those who would not hearken to the Holy One of Israel would be cut off. In fulfillment of this prophecy, the kingdom of the devil will fall, and even Satan will have no power for many years. But everyone who repents will be safe (1 Nephi 22:20-28).
    7. These words are true. My father and I aren’t the only ones to teach them: they are written on the brass plates. If you will obey the commandments, you will be saved (1 Nephi 22:29-31).

My Takeaways

It is so easy to harden our hearts and ignore spiritual truths which are right in front of our eyes. Even miracles which we have personally experienced can fade from our memories if we turn away from God. Fortunately for us, God is patient and loving. He wants to save us, and He will continue to work with us even when we are stubborn and rebellious. Unfortunately for us, His patience alone won’t save us. We must choose to turn to Him. We will never find peace in wickedness. We must repent in order to receive eternal life.

I love Nephi’s faith in God’s constancy. He led ancient Israel through the wilderness to the promised land. He was leading Nephi’s family to a new promised land. And He had promised through Isaiah that He would one day gather scattered Israel and lead them to safety. It was all the same. God will always lead those who follow Him to a place of peace and happiness.

I will respond to Nephi’s words by renewing my faith in God’s promises. Whatever difficulties I may face, whatever “wilderness” I may pass through, I am not forsaken. I am never forsaken. If the difficulties I face have dulled my memory or hardened my heart, I will look up. I will turn my heart to God. I will remember Him.

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One Response to Nephi Teaches His Brothers – 1 Nephi 7, 15, 17, 20-22

  1. Pingback: Lessons from Sermons to Family Members | Book of Mormon Study Notes

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