1 Nephi 16:1-5 The Truth Hurts
Nephi answered his brothers’ questions about their father’s dream, invited them to keep the commandments, and warned them about the eternal state of the wicked (see 1 Nephi 15:21-36). Their reaction was, “Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear” (16:1). It is interesting that they didn’t claim Nephi’s words to be false, but rather that they were hard. Those who oppose God’s truths cannot contradict them, so instead they declare them to be difficult or unreasonable (see also 1 Nephi 3:5). This attitude leads to resentment toward God and rejection of His standards. Satan offers an “easier way,” but it is a lie. In pre-mortal life he proposed, “I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost,” but in reality he seeks to enslave mankind (Moses 4:1; see also verses 3-6; Helaman 16:22-23). In contrast, Nephi loves his brothers and does not give up on them, inviting them to come unto God (1 Nephi 16:4-5; see also 17:15). But without continued humility, their faith and repentance didn’t last long (see 16:20, 22, 37-38; 17:17-19, 45).
1 Nephi 16:8 Humble Nephi
In the same chapter in which Nephi relates his father’s spiritual stumble (see 16:20, 25), he overlooks that and instead credits his father for having “fulfilled all the commandments of the Lord” (verse 8). Nephi could have said the same about himself, but instead he simply says, “And also, I, Nephi, had been blessed of the Lord exceedingly.”
1 Nephi 16:10-16; 17:13-14 The Ball Helps Us All
As Lehi’s party traveled in the wilderness, the spindles in the ball of curious workmanship (later called the director or Liahona; see Alma 37:38) led them to and kept them in “the most fertile parts of the wilderness” (1 Nephi 16:14). As we travel through mortality—which often seems like a wilderness or wasteland—the Holy Ghost points the way and keeps us in the “fertile parts,” where the Lord will feed and care for us. What do the Lord’s promises in 1 Nephi 17:13-14 add to this, for us today?
1 Nephi 16:17-32; 18:11-13, 21 Our Director
In this story of Nephi’s broken bow, what additional comparisons can be drawn between the Liahona and the workings of the Spirit in our lives? (See also 18:11-13, 21.) How is the Liahona like a patriarchal blessing? (See President Thomas S. Monson, “Your Patriarchal Blessing: A Liahona of Light,” Ensign, November 1986, 00-00.) What does it mean in your life to give “faith and diligence and heed” unto the “pointers” (verse 28)?
1 Nephi 17:1-6; 18:16 Eyes to See Blessings
Nephi plainly states, “we did travel and wade through much affliction” and “we had suffered many afflictions and much difficulty” (verses 1, 6), yet his humility and attitude allow him to affirm that, “great were the blessings of the Lord upon us” (verse 2; see also 18:16).
1 Nephi 17:21 What is True Happiness?
Besides their focus on material things, Nephi’s brothers’ complaint begs the question, “What is happiness?” Nephi replies patiently: “Do ye believe…do ye suppose” and eight times he reminds them, “ye know” (verses 23-29).
1 Nephi 17:35, 40 Does God Have Favorites?
We know that “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34; see also 2 Nephi 26:33) and here Nephi confirms, “the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one” (1 Nephi 17:35). But Nephi promptly follows this statement by clarifying, “he that is righteous is favored of God.” In this sense, can it be said that God has favorites? Consider also Nephi’s further assertion: “He loveth those who will have him to be their God” (17:40; see also John 15:10).
1 Nephi 19:7-14 They Set Him at Naught
Nephi wrote that Jesus would be esteemed by some to be “of great worth” (verse 7); they would hear His voice and rejoice (verse 11); and kings would be moved upon to exclaim His suffering (verse 12). But there is also a list of those who would reject and abuse Him:
- They would “set him at naught,” “trample” Him, and “hearken not” to His counsels (verse 7).
- They would judge Him, scourge Him, smite Him, and spit upon Him (verse 9).
- He would be taken by wicked men and die upon a cross (verse 10).
But how would the Savior react to this gross mistreatment? Or, more poignantly: What motivated Jesus to endure all this? Why did He “yield himself” (verse 10) to be lifted up and killed? Nephi provides the answer: “… He suffereth it … he suffereth it … he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men” (verse 9). We truly “stand all amazed” at His love (see Hymns, No. 193).
1 Nephi 20-21 To Fully Persuade Us
Nephi continued to labor with his brothers, in hopes they would truly repent. He read to them from the writings of the prophet Isaiah (whose ministry was among those of Jerusalem about a hundred years before Lehi’s time). Nephi pointed out that we can “profit” and “learn” from all scriptures, but that Isaiah’s words could help Nephi “more fully persuade” his brothers to “believe in the Lord their Redeemer” and “have hope” (1 Nephi 19:23-24). This should be our approach—to look for things in Isaiah that help us believe in Christ, learn, profit, and have hope.
- In verses 1-2 we see that Isaiah is speaking to an apostate people; they “swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear not in truth nor in righteousness.”
- The people are “obstinate” (verse 4), so the Lord helps them recognize that it is His hand that blesses them—not any “idol” or “graven image” (verse 5).
- Unfortunately, they “heard not” (verse 8). The Lord “deferred” His anger, but for their own good He caused them to pass through “the furnace of affliction” (verses 9-10).
- So far, does this sound like our lives at times? Consider what the Lord has done and continues to do: He has created for us this earth (verse 13); He loves us and will protect us from our enemies (verse 14); He will make our way prosperous (verse 15); He will lead us in His way (verse 17); He promises us constant, flowing peace (verse 18) and a posterity (verse 19).
- At the end of this chapter, the Lord invites ancient Israel (and us) to forsake the world (verse 20), yet warns that there is no peace in wickedness (verse 22).
- Again, the Lord provides a long list of ways He has blessed and will bless His people (verses 5-13), yet they claim to have been forsaken by Him (verse 14).
- In dramatic fashion the Lord declares His love for His people (including us today): “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel” (verse 15). Mothers do not forget that they have a baby, but even if they could, our God will never forget us! Indeed, He emphasizes: “I have [en]graven thee upon the palms of my hands,” an allusion to His death for us upon the cross.
- In the latter days (see chapter heading) the Lord’s light and His work will spread throughout the earth and among those in the world of spirits (verses 6-12, 22).
- Those who wait for Christ’s coming “shall not be ashamed” (verse 23) and eventually “all flesh shall know that I, the Lord, am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (verse 26).
1 Nephi 22 More Latter-day Prophecies
Nephi again helps his brothers understand, also giving us further lessons and prophecies related to our day:
- There would be a scattering and an eventual gathering of Israel (verses 3-9).
- The latter-day gathering is a “marvelous work” (verse 8) which will make known to the gentiles and to all the house of Israel “the covenants of the Father of heaven unto Abraham” (verse 9).
- To accomplish this work, the Lord will “make bare his arm in the eyes of all the nations, in bringing about his covenants and his gospel” (verse 11).
- Israel will be gathered out of captivity, obscurity, and darkness; and “shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel” (verse 12).
- The great and abominable church will war among themselves and will fall, and all who fight against Israel will be destroyed (verses 13-14, 22-23).
- The wicked will be burned and Satan will have no more power (verses 15, 26).
- The righteous need not fear, because the Lord will preserve them by His power (verses 16-17, 19, 22).
- In the Millennium, the righteous will be “led up” and “dwell safely,” as Christ reigns in “power, and great glory” (verses 24-26, 28).
- Nephi ends with the bottom line for his brothers—and for us—“be obedient to the commandments” (verses 30, 31).