Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Sunday School Lesson #2 (Book of Mormon)

Posted by Jim F. on January 6, 2008

Notes I created for this lesson during the last teaching cycle: http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=248

For all of these notes, be sure to read not only the notes themselves, but also the responses. There are often good questions or suggestions in the readers’ responses.

Then, please add your own study questions, responses, or suggestions to these–and don’t forget to take the time to put your material on the Feast Upon the Word wiki: http://feastupontheword.org/Home

8 Responses to “Sunday School Lesson #2 (Book of Mormon)”

  1. phdinhistory said

    Jim F. wrote: “Lehi has two visions, and the second begins with him seeing ‘God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God’ (verse 8). Why is that the way that he sees the Celestial Kingdom, as a place of praise rather than a place of celestial work?”

    Is this a way of putting Christ at the center of the story? The wording in verse 8 echoes Luke 2:13 (“there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God”), which is in the middle of the narrative of Christ’s birth.

  2. phdinhistory said

    Jim F. wrote: “In verses 9-11 [of 1 Nephi], Christ appears to Lehi and gives him a book to read. Is it significant that this revelation occurs by means of a revealed book rather than by Christ speaking to Lehi or in some other way?”

    Was it common knowledge in Jerusalem that Lehi was a prophet without plates, a shepherd without scriptures? Was it an open secret in the city that the mighty Laban, rather than Lehi, had possession of the family’s sacred book? Did the Lord, in recognition of Lehi’s perceived deficiencies, personalize Lehi’s vision of the Savior? Did Lord use his tender mercies to create a situation whereby Lehi, even though he was not yet a scriptural custodian, could testify to the people in Jersulem of “the things which he read in the book” (1 Ne 1:19)?

  3. Clark said

    Are we sure that’s Christ?

    Also the type of the hidden heavenly book seems significant. I think the Jews in Jerusalem would see that as significant.

  4. Joe Spencer said

    phd, very interesting points raised in your #2. A ridiculous fellow I know wrote (and is actually trying to get published!) a book that is, at least in one sense, about nothing but this little revelation of the book, but he was not astute enough to consider the connection you point out. Thanks.

  5. phdinhistory said

    Jim F. wrote: “Verse 13 tells of the woes that are to come to Jerusalem and verse 14 follows immediately with Lehi’s praise of God. Then verse 15 tells us that Lehi’s heart was filled with joy because of the things that he had seen. Since the only thing we are told about what he has seen is that Jerusalem will be destroyed, how do you explain his joy?”

    Was the destruction of Jerusalem presented to Lehi through pictures, words, or both? Nephi tells us in verse 14 that his father “had read and seen many great and marvelous things.”

    In verse 13, Nephi implies that the words on the page of the heavenly book, which Lehi read out aloud, were “Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations!” Who did the “seeing” that was spoken of on that page of the heavenly book? Was Lehi saying that the words on the page of the heavenly book came alive and he saw the wickedness in Jerusalem through them?

    Was Lehi exposed to the type of transcendent writing that all of the other Book of Mormon writers aspired to? Were the stories that got passed down about Lehi’s experience with the writing in the heavenly book so amazing that virtually all of the subsequent Book of Mormon writers bemoaned their inadequacies with written expression? Did Moroni have Lehi’s experience in mind when he wrote about the brother of Jared? Lehi’s vision of the heavenly book started with him “overcome with the Spirit” and ended with the Lord making Lehi “make [Lehi] mighty even unto the power of deliverance” (1 Ne 1:7, 20). According to Moroni, the brother of Jared’s writing was so “mighty” that it caused “the overpowering of [any] man [who] read them” (Ether 12:24). Were these parallels coincidental or intentional?

    Was Lehi bursting with joy so soon after witnessing the destruction of his home and people because the book he read explained the Lord’s forthcoming mercy? Did the heavenly book outline the plan of salvation when it “manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world” (1 Ne 1:19)?

  6. phdinhistory said

    Jim F. wrote: “Verse 20 [of 1 Nephi 1]: In the last sentence of this verse Nephi stops to talk about why he is writing: to ‘show [. . .] that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.’ The phrase ‘tender mercies’ is from the Psalms. In them the phrase is almost always used to refer to salvation from sin. (See, for example, Psalm 51:1.) Is Nephi using the phrase differently here?”

    According to more than one thesaurus, “short shrift,” “tender mercies,” and “unsympathetic treatment” are synonymous. Is this a fundamental misunderstanding of the scriptures, or is it somehow based on Prov. 12:10, which says “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel”?

    According to Elder Maxwell, God’s revelation of the plan of salvation, and “the scriptures [that] produce much-needed historical perspective,” are evidence of His “tender mercies.” Was Elder Maxwell drawing a contrast by implying that God could have merely provided us with His commandments and promised blessings? Was Elder Maxwell saying that God has has been even more merciful by providing us with a history from which we can draw lessons that are relevant for the present and the future?

    Elder Benjamín De Hoyos seemed to equate “the tender mercies of the Lord” with the “Happiness [that] comes as a result of our obedience and our courage in always doing the will of God, even in the most difficult circumstances.” Was Elder De Hoyos saying the Lord is merciful to give us happiness when life is good to us, and that He is even more merciful when he gives us happiness in the midst of trying circumstances?

    According to Elder Bednar, “The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ.” Was Elder Bednar influenced by the scriptural idea that the Lord has a “multitude” of “tender mercies,” and can therefore send blessings that are targeted to the specific needs of a particular person?

    Some of the commentaries I have seen say the Hebrew word translated as “tender mercies” refers to a mother’s womb. When Psalms talks about “tender mercies” meaning salvation from sin, should we interpret this as an image of God having the kind of compassion that a mother feels for her wayward child? Or should we stay more focused on the image of the womb and interpret “tender mercies” as the feeling that God has for his children who cannot help themselves? Is this one of the reasons why Elder Bednar links “tender mercies” to things like the atonement that only the Lord and his servants can do for us?

    Which, if any, of these meanings for “tender mercies” did Nephi intend to convey in 1 Nephi 1? Was this a “tender mercy” for Lehi because he was shown the history of the world in vision, including the miraculous events of the meridian of time? Was this a “tender mercy” for Lehi because he felt joy even though his city and people would soon be destroyed? Was this a personalized “tender mercy” for Lehi because his life was spared, unlike that of previous prophets? Was this a “tender mercy” for Lehi because the Lord made the impossible possible by allowing Lehi to walk away unharmed from the crowd that wanted to take his life?

  7. cherylem said

    Are you going to provide a link to your notes for lesson #3?

  8. Robert C. said

    Cheryl, I think we’re going to try to relieve Jim of his duties in this regard (I personally hope this will expedite the publication of some other projects I’m anxious to see from him!) by having someone else make sure they post a link to his lessons each week. So far Brian J., Matthew, and I have agreed to rotate doing this (notice Brian linked to Jim’s notes in his Lesson 3 post, and I’m working on Lesson 4 as we speak–also, on the wiki we’re trying to make a more organized list of links here), though if we ever get more organized I think we might try to set up a sign-up sheet or something to get others involved in something resembling an organized manner (please, anyone, add your name below if you’re interested in helping!). But we are hoping that you and others will continue to post your notes also because they are so helpful….

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