2 Nephi 1 Lehi’s Last Words to Laman and Lemuel
What last words would a righteous father want to say to his recalcitrant sons? 2 Nephi 1 relates Lehi’s words to Laman and Lemuel (verse 1). He spoke to them of their great blessings from God, including being spared despite their rebellions (verses 1-2); the Lord’s mercy in bringing them out of wicked Jerusalem and to the land of promise (verses 3-5); and the distinction of their new land of promise (the Americas) as a covenant and consecrated land (verses 5-9). Also, Lehi extended a lengthy, forthright, yet loving charge to his sons to awake from a deep sleep; arise from the dust (verses 13-14); to remember; observe the statutes and the judgments of the Lord (verse 16); be a choice and a favored people of the Lord (verse 19); be men; be determined (verse 21); put on the armor of righteousness; shake off the chains; rebel no more (verse 23); and follow the leadership of Nephi (verses 24-29).
Lehi—who knew that his eternal reward would be with the Lord (verse 15)—loved and labored with his children to the end (see 2:30; 4:3-10), just as our Heavenly Father and His Son love and labor with us, never giving up.
2 Nephi 2:1-4 Lehi’s Words to Jacob: Consecrating our Afflictions
Lehi promises Jacob that he will be “redeemed” (verse 3). Summoning the background of Jacob’s many tribulations, afflictions, and sorrows (verse 1), Lehi verbalizes one of the gospel’s most sublime teachings: “Thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain” (verse 2). Everyone has afflictions, but this does not sound like God is saying, I’m punishing you for your own good. Rather, it is a prophetic declaration regarding our very purpose on earth and our Father’s loving plan to help us become as He is. What follows is a brilliant recitation of how our God does this, along with other key elements of His plan of redemption. (Additionally, 2 Nephi 2 is one of the many parts of the Book of Mormon that shouts emphatic testimony that Joseph Smith did not fabricate the Book of Mormon through plagiarism nor imagination. Just a few words from this remarkable discourse prove its inspired source.)
2 Nephi 2:5-28 God’s Perfect Plan for His Children
This chapter lends itself to creating an outline of Heavenly Father’s plan for us. One approach is to identify and compare our part in His plan, along with the roles of the Savior and our Father in Heaven:
- We must have a broken heart and a contrite spirit (verse 7).
- We must repent (verse 21).
- We must reject the influence of Satan, who seeks to make us miserable (verses 27, 29).
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
- They have given us knowledge of good and evil (verses 5, 27).
- Jesus is willing to redeem us because He is full of grace and truth (verse 6).
- Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice to satisfy the demands upon us of the law of justice (verse 7).
- Jesus’s merits, mercy, and grace are the only way we can dwell again in God’s presence (verse 8).
- Jesus laid down His life, was resurrected, and brings to pass the resurrection of all (verse 8).
- Jesus will intercede before the Father in behalf of all men and will save those who believe in Him (verse 9).
- As Jesus advocates for us, Heavenly Father will judge us according to truth and holiness (verse 10).
- They allowed for opposition in all things, making possible righteousness, life, and happiness (verse 11).
- They gave us law, also making possible righteousness and happiness (verse 13).
- They created all things for us (verse 14).
- Their work is designed to bring about Their eternal purposes for us (verse 15; see also Moses 1:39).
- They allowed Adam and Eve to experience opposition and gave them agency to act for themselves (verses 15-16, 26-27)
- They allowed Satan to entice Adam and Eve, opening the way for the Fall and mortality (verses 16-18, 22, 25).
- They drove Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden, requiring them to labor for their keep (verses 19, 22).
- They made it possible for Adam and Eve to bring forth children and the family of all the earth (verses 20, 23, 25).
- They prolonged the days of mankind, allowing us to repent (verse 21).
- They allowed the fall of mankind, opening the way for children, joy, and good (verses 23, 25).
- Their design—and its results—were according to Their wisdom and knowledge of all things (verse 24).
- Jesus came to earth as mortal to redeem us from the Fall (verse 26).
- Jesus gives us the opportunity to choose liberty and eternal life, and wills us to do so (verses 27-28).
2 Nephi 3 Lehi’s Words to Joseph
To better understand this chapter, it is helpful to note two important things relating to format:
- The writer of this chapter is Nephi, who is quoting Lehi as he speaks to his son Joseph; and Lehi is quoting Joseph of Egypt, who was quoting the Lord’s words to him. So, Nephi is quoting Lehi, who is quoting Joseph, who is quoting the Lord.
- Additionally, there are four men named Joseph in this chapter: Joseph, son of Lehi (referenced in verses 1-3, 22-25); Joseph, son of Jacob/Israel (referenced or quoted in verses 4-22); Joseph Smith, Jr. (referenced in verses 6-9, 11-15, 18-19, 24); and Joseph Smith, Sr. (referenced in verse 15).
2 Nephi 3:5, 11-25 Joseph Smith and the Restoration
According to the prophecies in this chapter, what blessings would come in the latter days through the inspired work of the “choice seer” (verse 6), the Prophet Joseph Smith? Consider the following:
- The Messiah and His covenants will be made manifest to the seed of Joseph of Egypt (verses 5, 12, 21, 23).
- The Book of Mormon would be brought forth and convince many of the truth of the Bible (verses 11-12).
- The Lord’s word in the Bible and the Book of Mormon will grow together and confound false doctrines, lay down contentions, and establish peace (verse 12).
- The House of Israel will be restored and the Lord will bring His people unto salvation (verses 13, 15).
- The seed of Joseph of Egypt will be preserved forever (verse 16).
- Joseph Smith would do much good, work mighty wonders, and bring to pass much restoration (verse 24).
2 Nephi 4:15-35 Nephi is Like Us
After his father died, Nephi became introspective and recorded his deep, personal feelings, including his inadequacies, prayers, and testimony. It can be a powerful experience to carefully read verses 15-35 and identify verses that apply to ourselves; things we feel we also could have written, and why. Especially, note the things Nephi expressed about the Lord, and think about how the Lord has blessed you in similar ways:
- Nephi could trust in the Lord (verse 19).
- The Lord supported and led Nephi through afflictions (verse 20).
- The Lord filled Nephi with His love (verse 21).
- He confounded Nephi’s enemies (verse 22).
- He heard Nephi’s prayers and gave him revelations (verses 23-25).
- Nephi felt that he could praise and rejoice in the Lord forever (verse 30).
It is always enlightening to read or hear the prayers of prophets and take them for our examples. What did Nephi pray for in verses 31-33? What did Nephi promise the Lord in verses 34-35?
2 Nephi 5 The Family Divides
Nephi was compelled to leave the land of their “first inheritance” (Mosiah 10:13) and led his followers—those who “believed in the warnings and the revelations of God” (verse 6)—to a land they called Nephi (verse 8). It is notable that in their anger, murmurings, and threats, Laman and Lemuel accused Nephi of causing them “much trial” and afflicting them “because of his words.” Yet their true concern comes out in their assertion, “We will not have him to be our ruler; for it belongs unto us … to rule over this people” (verse 3). But Nephi, with his life again threatened (verses 2, 4, 19) and the additional burdens of leading his people to a new land, still affirms, “And the Lord was with us” (verse 11).
The people of Nephi were happy (verse 27), and enjoyed blessings such as:
- They were led by a prophet and in company with others who chose to follow God (verses 6, 10).
- They labored to support themselves and they prospered and multiplied (verses 11, 13, 15, 17).
- They had the scriptures (verse 12).
- They had means for defense from their enemies (verse 14; see also verse 34; Jarom 1:8-9).
- They had a temple (verse 16).
Perhaps the Nephites’ blessings can help us recognize “how good we have it,” despite our individual trials.
2 Nephi 5:20-24 What Is the Curse?
These verses support the following conclusions:
- The definition of the curse is that those who refused to hearken to the Lord were cut off from the Lord’s presence, or the influence of His spirit (verse 20; see also Alma 3:11).
- The curse came as a natural result after many years of iniquity and hard-heartedness (verse 21; see also Alma 3:18-19).
- The skin of blackness was not the curse, but rather the “mark” of the curse (verse 21; see also Alma 3:6-7, 10).
- The Lord left open the opportunity for repentance and reversal of the curse (verse 22; see also Alma 3:14; 23:18; 3 Nephi 2:15).
- The reason for the curse was to prevent the followers of God from uniting with those who were cursed and perhaps turning from their righteousness (verses 22-23; see also Alma 3:8-9, 15).
- Some of the results of being cut off from the Lord were idleness, mischief, subtlety, and failure to labor for their sustenance (verse 24; Alma 3:8 adds incorrect traditions and spiritual destruction).
- It is also important to point out that this form of the curse was unique to the Book of Mormon and has no connection to other times or places, in or out of the scriptures.