Book of Mormon
ďHearken to the Truth, and Give Heed
The Lord guides the families of Lehi and Ishmael according to their faith.
Nephi demonstrates unwavering faith by fulfilling the Lord's command to
build a ship.
Laman and Lemuel bind Nephi, who shows courage and gratitude despite this
trial. After they free him, he guides the ship to the promised land.
A study of this lesson will inspire us to follow Nephiís example of faith and
Scripture references for study:
1 Nephi 16Ė22
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 5 Handout (PDF)
Nephi & His Brothers - A Comparison
Nephi wrote, "We had suffered many afflictions and much
difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all"
(1 Nephi 17:6).
As you review 1 Nephi 16-18 consider where you would place yourself on
the following scale. More importantly, which direction are you moving
on the scale?
The Nephi/Laman Scale
Praises the Lord during
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
|Complains and murmurs
Talks against parents
and spiritual leaders
Complains and no action
Does not seek the Lord
Angry and murmurs
Nephi/Laman Scale Handout: Click here for a page formatted for
printing 3 scales per page.
Consider the contrast:
The murmurers allowed circumstances to rule over them.
Nephi was strengthened by the experiences.
We continue the story of Lehi's family after Nephi has explained his father's
dream to his brothers. The family remains in the wilderness after
having gone back for the family of Ishmael.
Even after Nephi's inspired explanation his brothers said, "Thou
hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear"
(1 Nephi 16:1).
Nephi didn't beat around the bush. He gave it to his brothers straight:
it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard
things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have
I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day;
wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them
to the very center. And now my brethren, if
ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed
unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur
because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did exhort my brethren, with all diligence,
to keep the commandments of the Lord"
(1 Nephi 16:2-4).
Apparently Nephi's powerful teaching had some effect for "it
came to pass that they did humble themselves before the Lord; insomuch that I
had joy and great hopes of them, that they would walk in the paths of
righteousness" (1 Nephi 16:5).
"And it came to pass that
the voice of the Lord spake unto my father by night, and commanded him
that on the morrow he should take his journey into the wilderness. And it came to pass that
as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to
his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious
workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two
spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness."
(1 Nephi 16:9-10)
WHAT IS THIS BALL FOUND BY LEHI?
The Liahona. The single mention in the scriptures of the word Liahona is
found Alma, "And now,
my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call
a ball, or director--or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being
interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it" (Alma 37:38).
Throughout the scriptures we find incidents or items that are a type or
representation of things.
WHAT MIGHT THE LIAHONA BE A TYPE OF?
A symbol of Christ and his teachings.
"For behold, it is as easy to give
heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to
eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass,
which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land. And now I say, is there
not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did
bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall
the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale
of sorrow into a far better land of promise." (Alma 37:44-45)
Nephi said that he "beheld the pointers which
were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence
and heed which we did give unto them." (1 Nephi 16:28)
Isnít this how the gospel works in our lives? When we are diligent
in living the gospel and heed the commandments, we find purpose and direction
in our lives.
On the other hand, we can have the gospel, but unless we are faithful we will
not be blessed with its guidance any more than Lehi and his family were blessed
with direction from Liahona when they were not faithful.
As Nephi wrote about the Liahona he said, "And thus we see
that by small means the Lord can bring about great things"
(1 Nephi 16:29).
ISNíT THIS A WONDERFUL OBSERVATION? HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE LORD BRING ABOUT GREAT THINGS
IN YOUR LIFE BY SMALL MEANS?
Consider the latter-day restoration. A young, inquiring boy reads
a brief passage of scripture in James. As a consequence of his acting
on that scripture, a revolution in truth is brought about that has affected
millions and will continue to affect many more.
Consider the mission of Samuel Smith (the first mission of the church). Samuel came back from his short mission frustrated and feeling that he
had accomplished little. He had left a Book of Mormon with a man
by the name of John P. Greene, who was not interested. Later Greene
read the book and was convinced of its truthfulness. He left the
book at the home of John Young. The Young family read the book, including
John's son Brigham. This same Book of Mormon was shared with Brigham's
closest friend, Heber C. Kimball. These two men were instrumental
in opening up the missionary work in England. How many lives have
been affected by that one small act of Samuel Smith? (story related
by Joseph Fielding Smith in Doctrines of Salvation, 3:220-221)
The Broken Bow Incident
Nephi says that as he "went forth to slay food" he broke
his bow made from "fine steel" (16:18). As a consequence, things became
"exceedingly difficult" (16:21) and they were unable to obtain food.
HOW DID NEPHIíS BRETHREN REACT?
His brethren were angry (16:18. Why? Because their tool
for obtaining food had been broken.
Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael began to "murmur exceedingly" because
of their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness (16:20).
Even Lehi began to "murmur against the Lord his God" (16:20).
They had hardened their hearts and were "complaining against the Lord"
Consider the circumstances. Their very lives were being threatened
without the ability to obtain food. Even Lehi, that faithful prophet,
had his faith stretched to the limit.
IF YOU WERE PLACED IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES,
WHERE WOULD YOU PLACE YOURSELF ON THE NEPHI/LAMAN SCALE?
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THAT EVEN LEHI MURMURED ON THIS OCCASION?
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF EXPECTING PARENTS OR LEADERS TO BE PERFECT?
HOW DID NEPHI REACT?
Instead of sitting around the campfire, moaning and complaining (murmuring),
he got up and took action. Although inferior to his steel
bow, he made a bow out of wood and an arrow with a straight stick. He also armed himself with a sling and stones (16:23).
He respected authority. In spite of the fact that his father had
murmured against the Lord, Nephi showed his obedience to the patriarchal
order and asked his father where he should obtain food (16:23).
He was obedient. He followed the directions he received from
his father which he had received from the Liahona.
As the Lehi family continued on their journey, Ishmael died. His daughters
sorely grieved the loss and murmured against Lehi (16:34-35).
HOW DID NEPHIíS BRETHREN REACT?
They got caught up in the murmuring of Ishmael's daughters.
They even considered the murder of Lehi and Nephi (16:37).
HOW WOULD WE REACT?
This incident clearly illustrates the danger in murmuring. There
was no sin in grieving the loss of Ishmael, but when it turned to murmuring
against the Lord's anointed they had crossed into dangerous territory. Murmuring is like a highly infectious disease. Not only are you afflicted,
but it spreads to others and feeds upon itself. If it is not stopped
and steps of repentance invoked, it is like gas being poured on a fire. In this incident, the sin of murmuring almost led to the horrible sin of
Lehiís family continues in the wilderness.
1 NEPHI 17:1-3. The children of men blessed
for keeping commandments.
Nephi testifies that men will be blessed for their efforts to accomplish
that which the Lord has commanded, if they pursue the course he has set
W.H. Murray made the following statement that reflects the words of Nephi:
"Until one is committed
there is a hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary
truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
"All sorts of things occur
to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream
of events issues forth from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner
of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no
man could have dreamt would have come his way." (EverestóThe
West Ridge, p100)
The Sea Journey
After completing the ship and filling it with supplies, the Lehi family went
into the ship and "did put forth into the sea
and were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land"
Note: In an interesting article entitled Lehi and El Niño: A
Method of Migration, David L. Clark discusses how Lehi and his family
would have been able to travel cross the Indian and Pacific Oceans in a
direction that is directly opposed by the wind patterns and the surface
currents of those oceans. It can be found in
BYU Studies, Summer
This was a long journey and the more rebellious became bored and
to make themselves merry" by dancing, and singing, and speaking
This rudeness caused them to forget the power of God which had led them
this far. They became "past feeling".
Nephi was concerned with their irreverent attitude and spoke to them
much soberness" (18:10).
Laman and Lemuel bound Nephi with cords and treated him "with much harshness"
After binding Nephi, the Liahona ceased to work and a great storm arose
Nephi said that the bands on his wrist and ankles caused swelling and as
a consequence "great was the soreness thereof" (18:15).
The rebellious brothers threatened anyone who spoke out for Nephi, including
Lehi and Sariah, causing them to be brought down "upon their sick beds"
HOW DID NEPHI REACT TO ALL OF THIS ADVERSITY?
Did he condemn God? Wrote Nephi: "I did
look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not
murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions" (18:16).
When the storm became exceedingly powerful, his brothers released him. Did
Nephi spend time in retribution against his brethren? No. He
exercised his faith in the use of the "compass" and prayed to the Lord
for their deliverance (18:21).
WHERE DO WE STAND ON THE NEPHI/LAMAN SCALE?
WHAT KIND OF SAINTS ARE WE?
HOW DO WE REACT TO CHALLENGES AND ADVERSITY?
It seems that whenever the Lord has a work to be done, the adversary cranks
up the opposition several notches. The story of Lehiís family and their
important immigration to America is such an example.
Consider the plight of the Twelve prior to their departure on their mission
to England in 1839.
- They had made their official start to this mission
in Far West on April 26, 1839. This was done at night to avoid the
They returned to Illinois and their families where they remained
until the latter part of the summer.
As you may recall, the Saints had been driven from Missouri during the winter
of 1838-39. The Twelve were attempting to get their families established. They were also plagued with sickness that summer, as were many of the Saints.
In this adversity, the Twelve began their missions to England. Elder B.H.
Roberts wrote the following account in his history of the Church:
Wilford Woodruff and John Taylor were the first to leave Nauvoo.
Wilford was so weak that Brigham Young had to row him across the river
from Iowa. Once in Nauvoo, Wilford laid down to rest.
The Prophet came along and said: "Well, Brother
Woodruff, you have started on your mission?"
"Yes, but I feel and look more like a subject for the
dissecting room than a missionary," was the reply. "What did you say that
for?" asked Joseph. "Get up and go along, all will be well with you." (CHC, 2:23)
A short time later, Brigham left his home in Montrose and crossed the river
to the home of his friend Heber Kimball. All his children were sick,
and he left his wife with a baby but ten days old, and in the poorest circumstances,
for the mobs of Missouri had robbed him of all his possessions..
Once in Nauvoo, his strength failed him and he remained at Heber's for
several days. His wife heard of his plight and crossed the river
to nurse him.
A few days later Brigham and Heber determined to start their mission.
Heber was so weak, that some of the brethren had to assist him in climbing
into the wagon. He left his wife in bed shaking with ague, and all
his children sick. Said Heber, "It seemed
to me as though my very inmost parts would melt within me at the thought
of leaving my family in such a condition, as it were, almost in the arms
of death. I felt as though I could scarcely endure it."
"Hold up!" said he to the teamster, who had just started. "Brother
Brigham, this is pretty tough, but let us rise and give them a cheer." Brigham, with much difficulty, rose to his feet, and joined Elder Kimball
in swinging his hat and shouting, "Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah for Israel!" Sisters Young and Kimball, hearing the cheer came to the door--Sister Kimball
with great difficulty--and waved a farewell; and the two apostles continued
their journey without purse, without script, for England. (CHC, 2:24)
The departure of Elders George A. Smith, Reuben Hedlock, and Theodore Turley,
the last two not of the Twelve, but of the Seventy, was but little less
remarkable. They were feeble in health, in fact, down with
the ague. Before they were out of sight of Nauvoo their wagon upset
and spilled them down the bank of the river. Elders Smith and Turley
were unable to get up, not because of any injuries they had received, but
because of their weakened condition from illness. Elder Hedlock helped
them into the wagon and they resumed their journey. They had not
proceeded far when they met some gentleman who stopped their team and said
to the driver: "Mr., what graveyard have you been robbing?" The
remark being elicited by the ghostly appearance of the elders en route
for England. (CHC, 2:25)
Nephi Teaches From Isaiah
In 1 Nephi 19 Nephi writes of prophets who prophesied regarding the Savior.
Most of these prophets that Nephi mentions are unknown in the Bible: Zenock,
Zenos, and Neum.
Nephi & Isaiah.
As we know, Nephi quotes extensively from Isaiah.
1 NEPHI 19:23-24. Liken the scripture unto us
for our profit and learning.
WHY DID NEPHI TEACH FROM ISAIAH?
To more fully persuade men to believe in Christ.
For our profit and learning.
Written to all of the House of Israel to give them hope.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIKEN THE SCRIPTURES UNTO OURSELVES?
As we "liken the scriptures unto ourselves" here are some questions we
might ask as we consider the story of Lehiís family. We might ask
similar questions as we read other scripture stories.
What significance does this particular event or principle have for me today?
What does the rebellion of Laman and Lemuel teach me?
What can I learn about faithfulness from Nephi's obedience?
If I were in this particular situation or faced with this challenge or
question, how would I react? What flaws or strengths would I find
in my own character?
Am I like Lehi's family in the wilderness, or am I like Nephi?
Do I complain when things get difficult, or do I trust in God no matter
what the circumstances?
What do I learn about God and his dealings with his children from this
Why does God put his children through the trials of the "wilderness?"
Why did he send Lehi and his family to a whole new land?
As I study the lives of men and women in the scriptures, what do I learn
about the things that please or displease God?
Why was this particular concept, principle, or event included in the scriptures?
1 Nephi 20-22.
WHAT DID ISAIAH TEACH IN 1 Nephi 20 AND 21 (compare to
Isaiah 48 & 49)?
The Book of Isaiah covers four prophetic periods of history:
The period surrounding the removal of Israel by Assyria.
The period surrounding the Babylonian captivity of Judah.
The coming of the Savior.
The last days.
The Isaiah chapters in 1 Nephi.
Chapter 20 - Judah, Babylon, and the Captivity.
Chapter 21 - The Last Days.
Isaiah had a panoramic perspective of the destiny of Israel:
His was a vision that showed that the hand of the Israel's God was extended and
that divine assistance was ever available to his chosen people. This
despite Israel's immaturity and wicked wanderings, infidelity to Jehovah, and
disloyalty to the principles of the everlasting covenant,
1 NEPHI 20:4,8-11. In spite of the wickedness
of Israel, they are still the Lord's chosen.
The Lord commands Israel to come forth out of Babylon (v20).
1 NEPHI 21:8. This appears to be talking about
Joseph Smith and the gathering of Israel.
1 NEPHI 21:22-23.
See Nephi's commentary in
Speaking of the restoration of the gospel in the last days.
It will occur following the persecution and scattering of the Lamanites.
It will take place in a great Gentile nation - United States.
1 Nephi 22:8-9 speaks of the missionary effort.
Jacob says (2 Nephi 6:12-13) that the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy
is millennial and pertains to the final destruction of the enemies of the
covenant people of God.
NEPHI 22:1-3. Nephi comments on the teachings of Isaiah
and the prophets.
By the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets.
These things pertain to both the temporal and spiritual.
NEPHI 22:26. Satan to be bound by righteousness.
IS THERE ANY REASON WE CANNOT DO THIS IN OUR OWN LIVES AND HOMES TODAY?
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the Lehi family's experiences in the wilderness
and in crossing the sea. Where do you stand on the Nephi/Laman scale? What can
you do this week to move closer to the Nephi side of the scale?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, by Joseph Fielding Smith.
Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
15 January 2016