Book of Mormon
Things Which I Saw While I Was Carried Away in the Spirit”
Nephi sees the future of his descendants and his brothers' descendants.
Nephi sees the formation of the great and abominable church, the colonization
of the Americas, the Apostasy, and the Restoration of the gospel.
Nephi sees the blessings promised to the faithful; he also sees the destruction
of the great and abominable church.
A study of this lesson will help us understand Nephi’s vision of the future and
how the warnings and promises in it apply to us today.
Scripture references for study:
1 Nephi 12–14
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
notes: Click on links for expanded information.
Lesson 4 Handout (PDF)
1 Nephi 12
After Lehi had described his dream to his family and prophesied of future events, Nephi
desired to know of those things for himself.
"For it came to pass after
I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing
that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in
mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly
high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had
before set my foot. And the Spirit said unto
me: Behold, what desirest thou? And I said: I desire to
behold the things which my father saw." (1 Nephi 11:1-3)
Nephi was then presented with a view of the tree of life and of things
Nephi beholds the future history of the American continent from the time
of the division between the Nephites and the Lamanites up to the appearance
of Jesus Christ on the American continent (approximately 600 years).
A description of the cataclysmic events immediately preceding the Savior's
appearance as described in 3 Nephi 8.
The visit of Christ to America after his resurrection and the selection
of twelve ministers to judge the American Israelites.
Nephi is shown the four generations of righteousness that follows the visit
of the Savior.
Nephi next sees his descendants and those of his brethren enter into wars
that eventually bring about the destruction of the Nephite nation.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT CHAPTER 12?
As I read these verses, I tried to put myself in the place of Nephi. He has witnessed the entire one thousand year history of his descendants. He has been given a preview of the future Book of Mormon, minus the account
of the Jaredites.
How do you suppose Nephi felt as he viewed all of this?
It must have appeared as a dark picture as he viewed the cycles of wickedness,
war, and righteousness leading up to the visit by the resurrected Christ.
How he must have rejoiced as he beheld the visit of the resurrected Lord
and the impact his visit had on the people for four generations.
How grim he must have felt as he saw the Nephite and Lamanite nations degenerate
into wickedness and constant war. How Nephi's heart must have sunk
when he beheld the destruction of his people.
I wonder if Nephi wished he had not viewed this prophetic
scene. I was reminded of Jedediah M. Grant's description of Joseph
Smith's vision of certain latter day events and wondered if Nephi felt
the same: "The prophet stood in his own
house when he told several of us the night the visions of heaven were opened
to him, in which he saw the American continent drenched in blood, and he
saw nation rising against nation.... The Prophet gazed upon the scene
his vision presented, until his heart sickened and he besought the Lord
to close it up again." (Journal of Discourses, 2:146-147)
1 Nephi 13
Nephi's vision continues, but now moves into the future and away from the
scene of destruction, the destruction of his own people.
- "And it came to pass
that the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld many
nations and kingdoms. And the angel said unto
me: What beholdest thou? And I said: I behold many nations and kingdoms.
And he said unto me: These are the nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles." (1 Nephi 13:1-3)
1 NEPHI 13:4-6.
Nephi sees in vision the great and abominable church.
- WHAT IS THIS GREAT AND ABOMINABLE CHURCH?
- The Church has not officially identified any specific organization as the
great and abominable church. Therefore, any conclusions about specific
organizations remain our private views and cannot be taught as Church doctrine.
great and abominable church is a symbol of apostasy in all its forms. It is a representation of all false doctrine, false worship, and irreligious
attitudes. It does not represent any specific church in the world
today" (Lesson Manual, p17).
- Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "The titles church of
the devil and great and abominable church are used to identify all churches
or organizations of whatever name or nature -- whether political, philosophical,
educational, economic, social, fraternal, civic, or religious -- which
are designed to take men on a course that leads away from God and his laws
and thus from salvation in the kingdom of God.... Any church or organization
of any kind whatever which satisfies the innate religious longings of man
and keeps him from coming to the saving truths of Christ and his gospel
is therefore not of God." (Mormon Doctrine, pp137-38).
- WHO IS THE FOUNDER OF THE GREAT AND ABOMINABLE CHURCH?
Joseph Smith said, "In relation to the kingdom of God,
the devil always sets up his kingdom at the very same time in opposition to God" (HC, 6:365).
The “devil” is the founder of the great and abominable
- WHAT ARE SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GREAT AND ABOMINABLE CHURCH?
See 1 Nephi 13:5-9.
It binds the saints and brings them into captivity.
Though this may be a literal thing, it may also be a spiritual captivity. The Savior taught, "And ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). The great
and abominable church teaches little or none of the truth. If one
does not have the truth, one is brought into spiritual captivity.
It tortures and slays the saints of God.
Desires worldly riches and evil doing.
Seeks the praise of the world by destroying the saints of God.
- WHAT EVIDENCE DO WE SEE OF THE GREAT AND ABOMINABLE CHURCH WORKING TO DESTROY
THE SAINTS TODAY?
To answer this question, we need to review Elder McConkie's definition
of the great and abominable church, "all churches or
organizations of whatever name or nature -- whether political, philosophical,
educational, economic, social, fraternal, civic, or religious -- which are
designed to take men on a course that leads away from God and his laws and thus
from salvation in the kingdom of God."
WHAT ORGANIZATIONS FIT INTO THIS PROFILE?
HOW CAN WE ENSURE THAT WE ARE NOT DECEIVED BY PEOPLE
OR ORGANIZATIONS THAT LEAD PEOPLE AWAY FROM GOD AND HIS LAWS?
What did Lehi behold in his dream?
to the iron rod (the word of God), we are led through the mists of deception.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "As
we encounter the mist-shrouded portions of life's trail, we can grasp the
'iron rod,' for the age has now arrived, which Dostoevsky foresaw when
'Freedom, free thought, and science will lead mankind into such straits
and will bring them face to face with such marvels and insolvable mysteries,
that some of them, the fierce and rebellious ones, will destroy themselves,
and others . . . will destroy one another, while the rest, weak and unhappy.
.. will.. . whine `save us from ourselves!'"
(A More Excellent Way, p13-14)
- Resource Note 1: Nephi's "Great and
I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the
seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God,
that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the
many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised
(1 Nephi 13:12)
WHO WAS THIS MAN?
Columbus wrote concerning his great undertaking;
Lord unlocked my mind, sent me upon the sea, and gave me fire for the deed.
Those who heard of my enterprise called it foolish, mocked me, and laughed.
But who can doubt but that the Holy Ghost inspired me?"
(quoted in Studies In Scripture, 7:46)
We begin to see through these early chapters of the
Book of Mormon that the work of the Lord on this planet is not just happenstance. He has had a plan from the beginning regarding his work. Some of
this plan was revealed to Nephi. As is now evidenced by history,
the Lord has acted to see that his plan was carried out by raising up men
to do it.
Many of us are blessed to be living upon this promised
land in these prophetic times of fulfillment. I do not think that we have
begun to comprehend the great work that is going on around us.
President Ezra Taft Benson: "As
one looks back upon what we call our history, there is a telling theme
which recurs again and again in this drama. It is that God governs in the
affairs of this nation." (Teachings
of Ezra Taft Benson, p587)
1 NEPHI 13:13-19. Nephi
beholds future events upon the American continent.
WHAT FUTURE EVENTS HAS NEPHI DESCRIBED IN THESE VERSES?
The coming to America of early explorers and settlers
President Ezra Taft Benson: "The
Pilgrims of Plymouth, the Calverts of Maryland, Roger Williams, William
Penn—all had deep religious convictions that played a principal part in
their coming to the New World. They too, I believe, came here under the
inspiration of heaven." (Teachings of
Ezra Taft Benson, p569)
The native Americans were "scattered" and "smitten"
by the Gentiles (v14).
History records the brutal attacks upon the Aztecs,
Incas, and native tribes in North America.
The Revolutionary War (v17-19).
WHY ARE THESE EVENTS SO SIGNIFICANT THAT NEPHI BOTH
SAW THEM IN VISION AND ALSO WROTE THEM UPON THE PLATES?
President Benson: "Before
the gospel could again shine forth its resplendent light, religious and
political freedom first had to be restored. This land had been preserved
as a continent apart from the religious oppression, tyranny, and intolerance
of Europe. In time, emigrants came to the new land and established colonies.
By and large, they were a God-fearing people. A war was fought for their
independence, and by God's intervention, victory was achieved. (See 1 Nephi
13:16-19.) By that same omnipotent power the Constitution was born (see
D&C 101:80), which guaranteed religious and political liberty (see
D&C 98:5-8). Only then was the time propitious for the kingdom of God—that
'stone cut out without hands' to be restored (see Daniel 2:34)."
(Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p109)
it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land;
and I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them."
(1 Nephi 13:20)
WHAT IS THIS BOOK THAT NEPHI BEHELD?
The Bible. "The
book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants
of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth
many of the prophecies of the holy prophets"
(13:23) and "when it proceeded forth from
the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord"
1 NEPHI 13:26-28. Plain
and precious parts of the gospel taken away.
This was not done accidentally or ignorantly, but with a
designed purpose: "...all
this they have done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord,
that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of
The 4th century historian Eusebious recorded the
words of an earlier writer: "For this purpose
they fearlessly lay their hands upon the holy Scriptures saying that they
have corrected them. And that I do not say this against them without
foundation, whoever wishes may learn; for should any one collect and compare
their copies one with another, he would find them greatly at variance with
one another.... Copies of many you may find in abundance, altered,
by the eagerness of their disciples to insert each one his own corrections,
as they call them, i.e. their corruptions.... But what a stretch
of audacity this aberration indicates, it is hardly probable themselves
can be ignorant. For either they do not believe that the holy Scriptures
were uttered by the holy Spirit, and they are thus infidels, or they deem
themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and what alternative is there but
to pronounce them demoniacs?" (quoted in Studies in Scripture, 7:52)
Brother Hugh Nibley: "Some
experts think they have a pretty good idea of the sort of people responsible. They were people who had received the gospel from the apostles, but immediately
after the passing of the apostles proceeded to make basic alterations,
deliberately disregarding some of the most important teachings. They were
not the old Jewish-Christian communities, but various local churches of gentile
composition, into whose hands the record came at an early time (in the 70's and
80's A.D.), and by whom the alterations—especially deletions—were made. The changes consisted in new interpretations of the scriptures, not in
corruptions of the text, and in substantial omissions. " (Since
of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an
exceedingly great many do stumble yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power
over them" (v29).
HOW MANY GOOD PEOPLE HAVE STUMBLED OVER THE CENTURIES BECAUSE OF THE REMOVAL OF THE PLAIN AND PRECIOUS PARTS?
WHAT DID THE LORD DO TO COUNTER THE LOSS OF THESE
PLAIN AND PRECIOUS TRUTHS?
1 NEPHI 13:35-36. The seed
of Nephi to write that which is plain and precious.
WHAT PLAIN AND PRECIOUS TRUTHS ARE CLARIFIED IN THE
BOOK OF MORMON?
The time between death and resurrection.
The Book of Mormon became the catalyst for the restoration
of many more truths. Wrote Joseph of one important event, "We
still continued the work of translation, when in the ensuing month (May,
1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the
Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned
in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed, praying
and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud
of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us" (HC,
1:39). Of course, this was John the Baptist who returned and ordained
Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic priesthood.
1 Nephi 14
1 NEPHI 14:1-7. Blessings and cursings upon the
WHAT BLESSINGS ARE PROMISED TO THE GENTILES IF THEY REMAIN FAITHFUL TO
THE LORD? WHAT CURSINGS ARE PROMISED TO THE GENTILES IF THEY HARDEN
THEIR HEARTS AND TURN AWAY FROM THE LORD?
Destiny Of The Gentiles
1 Nephi 14:1-7
The Lord will be manifest to them in power, in word, and in deed (v1).
The Lord will remove their stumbling blocks (v1).
They shall be numbered among the house of Israel (v2).
They shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever (v2).
They shall not be brought down into captivity (v2).
They shall be cast into the pit which they have helped dig, to their utter
Those who repent not shall perish (v5).
They shall be brought into captivity and destruction, spiritually and temporally
WHAT ARE THE STUMBLING BLOCKS REFERRED TO IN THESE VERSES?
The lack of true principles and doctrine.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "One unique and powerful
doctrine earlier restored through Joseph the Seer was amplified by revelations
received in the prison-temple. It provides a special and obvious example
of how lost truths can actually become a deprivation and a diversion that
constitute a stumbling block (1 Nephi 13:40; 14:1). This doctrine is the
truth about the premortal existence of men and women— existence
as individual personalities and entities. The general absence of this deep
doctrine and this precious perspective has had a profound and inevitable
effect upon the way in which many mortals view this life. Indeed, the loss
of this doctrine in its plainness and fulness has been a subtle stumbling
block to many without their even sensing it." (But for a Small
WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT THEY SHALL BE A BLESSED PEOPLE UPON THIS LAND FOREVER?
This will be a people that will be blessed with eternal truth.
They will be a free and independent people, free from bondage and captivity.
They will be a prosperous people.
WHAT IS THE RESULT IF THE GENTILES FAIL TO REPENT AND KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS
OF THE LORD?
President Ezra Taft Benson: "I say to you with all
the fervor of my soul: We are sowing the seeds of our own destruction in
America and much of the free world today. It is my sober warning to you
today that if the trends of the past continue, we will lose that which
is as priceless as life itself—our freedom, our liberty, our right to act
as free men. It can happen here. It is happening here." (Teachings
of Ezra Taft Benson, p582)
President Benson: "If the Gentiles on this land
reject the word of God and conspire to overthrow liberty and the Constitution,
their doom is fixed, and they 'shall be cut off from among my people who
are of the covenant' (1 Nephi 14:6; 3 Nephi 21:11, 14, 21; D&C 84:114-15,
117)." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p619)
NEPHI 14:10-14. There are save two churches
WHAT ARE THE TWO CHURCH'S THAT NEPHI BEHELD?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "The church of the devil
is the world; it is all the carnality and evil to which fallen man is heir,
it is every unholy and wicked practice; it is every false religion, every
supposed system of salvation which does not actually save and exalt man
in the highest heaven of the celestial world. It is every church
except the true church, whether parading under a Christian or pagan banner."
(Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:552)
WHAT IS OUR DESTINY IF WE LIVE RIGHTEOUSLY?
"And it came to pass that I, Nephi,
beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints
of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who
were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with
righteousness and with the power of God in great glory." (v14)
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?
HOW CAN WE BE ARMED WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS AND POWER?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "In
this mortal probation our objective is to follow God and flee from Satan,
to overcome the world, to put off the natural man and put on Christ, to
bridle our passions, to rise above 'the lusts of the flesh and the things
of the world,' to refrain from 'all manner of iniquity' (1 Ne. 22:23) --
to crucify the flesh and walk in the Spirit."
(Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:482)
WHAT WILL EVENTUALLY HAPPEN TO THE GREAT AND ABOMINABLE
1 NEPHI 14:15-17. The wrath
of God to be poured out.
the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get
gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those
who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those
who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do
all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom
of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those
who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed
as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet."
(1 Nephi 22:23)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "In
this world of carnality and sensuousness, the great and abominable church
will continue its destructive course. But there will be an eventual future
day when evil shall end, 'and the great and abominable church, which is
the whore of all the earth, shall be cast down by devouring fire.' (D.
& C. 29:21; Ezek. 38; 39; 1 Ne. 22:23; Rev. 18.) Before that
day, however, desolations will sweep through the earth and the various
branches of the great and abominable church 'shall war among themselves,
and the sword of their own hands shall fall upon their own heads, and they
shall be drunken with their own blood' (1 Ne. 22:13-14; 14:3)."
(Mormon Doctrine, p139)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the things which Nephi beheld while he was carried
away in the spirit. What does the restoration of truth through Joseph Smith
and the Book of Mormon mean to your life?
Resources Used In This Lesson
A More Excellent Way by Neal A. Maxwell.
But for a Small Moment by Neal A. Maxwell.
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, vols. 2 & 3, by Bruce R. McConkie.
History of the Church by Joseph Smith (HC).
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Since Cumorah by Hugh Nibley.
Studies In Scripture, vol. 7, edited by Kent P. Jackson.
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
08 January 2016