#6 Book of Mormon, “Free To Choose…”
Posted by nhilton on February 4, 2008
2 Nephi 1-2
Because Jim has so expertly focused his notes on 2 Nephi Chapter 2, I won’t bother you with much detail on that chapter but rather confine my notes here primarily to the 1st Chapter in 2nd Nephi and the literary interest I have in the overall theme of opposition which is so beautifully illustrated throughout the Book of Mormon particularly and all scripture generally. FYI, my additional notes on 2 Ne. 2 can be found on my blog.
Try to visualize the setting here: Rebellious brothers (& maybe others) getting lectured to by younger brother & then Father. Why are they listening to all this talk? Is there a pattern here? Who are Nephi & Lehi representing here? The others? Do you think they served treats afterwards? Kidding.
Let’s now turn to 2 Ne. 2:11 “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass…”Does the family setting that opens the Book of Mormon and continues to the point we’re at in our study bear this truth out? Why? Were Laman and Lemuel simply an object lesson in opposition meant to contrast with their righteous brothers?
With these thoughts in mind…First question: Why is opposition necessary? Does it exist inherently or is it conjured up by God? Can you think of a time when opposition didn’t or won’t exist? What do you learn from all these answers, specifically applied to your life?
These two chapters are packed with imagery underscoring Lehi’s above statement. Let’s look at a few of them:
2 Ne. Chapter 1
v. 5-12: CAPTIVITY vs. LIBERTY
Just one chapter ahead of our lesson assignment, 2 Ne. 3:5, contains Joseph of Egypt’s prophecy that the Messiah would bring latter-day Lamanites out of darkness unto light–yea out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom. This is a link between darkness & light with captivity & deliverance. Both sets of images communicate to us a process, a movement, a rebirth, through which humans become whole by coming to a physical or spiritual promised land or condition.
The chains of hell in v. 13 continue this theme and contrast. Look over in v. 15 and contrast these chains of hell with God’s loving arms.
Other places to find similar contrasts are: 1 Ne. 4:2; Alma 36:28-29; Alma 21:14-17; Mosiah 24:21; Alma 26:15: Alma 5:6, 7, 56.
v. 13-14: SLEEP vs. AWAKE:
Physical sleep can symbolize spiritual darkness, when we’re immobilized in the chains of hell. Rising is like a resurrection and redemption when we shake off the awful chains which bind the children of men.
Other places to find similar contrasts are: Mosiah 24:19; Alma 51:33; Alma 55:16; Alma 5:7; Alma 19:8; Mormon 9:13.
v. 14, 21: DUST vs. WATER/FRUITFULNESS:
We’ve read Lehi’s vision with the “tree whose fruit was desirable to make one happy”(1 Ne. 8:4,10) in previous lessons, linked with water, vineyards, and olive trees. Its fruit stands for God’s love, and faith in Christ as described as “a tree spring up unto everlasting life” ( 1 Ne. 11:22). Approaching the tree is a sacramental experience: “Come unto me,” Alma quotes the Lord as saying, “and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; Yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely; yea, come unto me and bring for works of righteousness”(Alma 5:34-35). Nephi considers the tree synonymous with living waters (1 Ne. 11:25).
The fountain of living waters is contrasted by the river of filthy waters. Though the sea is a place where Lehi and his family come close to being swallowed up, the Lord also makes the sea their path.
Please know that much of the above notes on contrasts is derived from Richard Dilworth Rust’s, Feasting on the Word, the Literary Testimony of the Book of Mormon.
2 Ne. 1:4: If indeed there is opposition in all things, what is the opposition to this verse?
The theme of covenant continues in these chapters leaving off where Nephi spoke in last week’s lesson. Lehi tells his posterity that “God hath covenanted with me [it] should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.” (2 Ne. 1:5) See also verses 6-11. How does this verse apply to you? Does this impact our current politics?
v. 10: Is this “dwindling” inevitable? How can v. 9 be true if v. 10 is true? Who is it in this verse who has all this “knowledge” and blessings and then rejects God?
v. 11: Is this an addendum to what Nephi (1 Ne. 13-14) taught or a repetition?
v. 13-15: I challenge you to recite these verses, from memory and aloud to yourself in a private place as if you were Lehi. Maybe even record yourself & play it back for yourself. THEN do it for your family during a family devotional or family home evening. I think you and everyone in the room will be struck by the power of Lehi’s imagery, poetry and power. Mind you, you must do it with confidence and no jest. Complete composure is required….I’m trying to think of who could do this in our ward….maybe this is best done in the home.
v. 19: I think it took great courage for Lehi to utter, and Nephi to record, this last line: “But behold, his will be done; for his ways are righteousness forever.”
v. 20: In what ways are “prospering in the land” and “cut off from my presence” opposites and consequences to the opposing related behaviors? If we are not prospering, does this signify (as the NT Jews believed) sin on our part? Is the converse true?
v. 21-22: In what ways is Lehi and other prophets blessed with their knowledge of the future? Would you like to know the future of your posterity? In what ways DO you know the future of your posterity? How are you doing at declaring the gospel to them, modeling after Lehi?
v. 24-27: Did Nephi NOT keep the commandments before leaving Jerusalem? What about Laman and Lemuel? Do you think these words were helpful to Nephi’s rebellious brothers? Why are they included in this record?
v. 28-29: What is the FIRST blessing? How can this blessing be divided between so many people or given just to one (Nephi)? Is this the usual Father’s Blessing we see in Old Testament record?
v. 30-32: What does this teach us about inheritance? Posterity? About the people called “Nephites?”