The Book of Mormon shows how important it is to pray frequently
Behold, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my God,
because of the anger of my brethren.
Nephi has just presented a well-constructed prayer and meditation in the last chapter.
Obviously he did not come to the Lord with this problem only once, but many times.
He probably tried many ways to placate his brothers, but he had to be true to himself
and to God, so there was constant conflict.
2 Nephi 5:5
The Lord did warn me
The Book of Mormon shows God’s care and concern for those who revere Him
And it came to pass that the Lord did warn me,
that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness,
and all those who would go with me.
God did not offer a miraculous intervention as He has in the past. Those interventions
were to move forward His purpose in having the family – the whole family – come to
the Promised Land. That has been accomplished. Any further miracles would just
bring more condemnation on Laman and Lemuel for their unbelief and rebellion, so
He leaves them to follow their inclinations. His purposes are now better fulfilled
with Nephi and the more righteous part of the group separating.
We see also that Nephi did not take it upon himself to leave the group, to split
the family. He waited until the last minute, putting up with who knows what kind
of threats and danger, but still secure in the trust that he has declared in the
Lord. He had been called to be the spiritual leader of the whole group, and he did
not abandon his post until he was released by the Lord.
2 Nephi 5:6
Those who believed in the warnings and revelations of God
The Book of Mormon teaches how important it is to follow the living prophet,
and to do so in real time
Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family,
and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family,
and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters,
and all those who would go with me.
And all those who would go with me were those
who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God;
wherefore, they did hearken unto my words.
Nephi lists those who believed in God, those who went with him in the first great
schism of Lehi’s family. The first part is very definite: Nephi, Zoram, and Sam,
and their families, and his two younger brothers, Jacob and Joseph, who presumably
were still single.
Then he lists his sisters. Were his sisters married? He does not say they came
with their families. Were they married to the sons of Ishmael? Those sons were
rebellious. Did they all lose their wives at this point?
Then he adds “and all those who would go with me.” Without the “and” it would merely
be a recap of those who believed. But the “and” is there. Who else is in this group?
If Jacob and Joseph are still not married, they have not been long in the promised
land. There are children of Laman and Lemuel, and there are children of the sons
of Ishmael, who may also be the children of Nephi’s sisters. Some of these children
– particularly those with faithful mothers – may have chosen to join Nephi’s group.
Additionally, the family may have already encountered previous inhabitants, who have
already had the opportunity to be led by God through prophecy or to remain in their
Sometimes whole families join the Church. Sometimes whole families stay faithful
to the gospel. But sometimes families are split by the gospel. Jesus himself said,
“I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against
her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” (Matthew 10:35) Although
these individuals or partial families may feel like just a footnote in the history
of the Church, the Lord recognizes and values each life.
2 Nephi 5:10
Keep the commandments of the Lord in all things
The Book of Mormon emphasizes the importance of keeping the Law of Moses before it
was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments
of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses.
In describing the new nation which has just been created, Nephi first stresses that
his people live as Israelites. Their law is the law of Moses.
The commandments of the Law of Moses are the Ten Commandments, those foundational
laws which are also the foundation for every successful civilization.
The statutes are the details of how to live. They include manner of worship, mostly
concerning the sacrifices, as well as how to establish a social order.
The judgments are Plan B. How should society react when commandments or statutes
The Brass Plates would have been very helpful in the establishment of this new society,
and would have been the text of their law.
Because Nephi points out how they lived according to the Law of Moses, we may wonder
if this was a part of the cause of contention between his brothers and himself. What
part of the judgments and statutes and commandments did they not want to keep? Whatever
it was, without Nephi there to remind them, the Lamanites are now free to disregard
those laws, Furthermore, they don’t even have the Brass Plates any more, so even
if there are aspects of the law that they want to observe, they no longer have access
to the whole text. They may remember parts, and it may be that they lived according
to those parts that they remembered, or that they chose to remember. At least we
learn in the next generation that they were not an adulterous society:
Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and
the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they
have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father --
that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none,
and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.
And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance,
in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful
unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.
Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and
their husbands and their wives love their children.
Nephite society, like Jewish society, had a law that covered both interpersonal and
devotional affairs. In American society, of course, those functions are totally
I suppose the commandments would correspond to the Constitution of the United States,
and to the scriptures. The statutes and judgments would correspond to various federal,
state, and local laws, statutes, ordinances, etc. In the Church they would correspond
to the Handbook.
2 Nephi 5:11
The Lord was with us, and we did prosper
The Book of Mormon indicates that the Lord gives prosperity,
and prosperity is the opportunity to work and support one’s family
And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly;
for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance.
And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind.
This is the second time Nephi has written about planting crops and being blessed
therein. As soon as the family arrived in the Promised Land he had noted
And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds;
yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land
of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were
blessed in abundance. (1 Nephi 18:24)
Apparently they had brought some of that reaping to plant in their new settlement.
After their first landing, Nephi had written,
And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in
the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow
and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner
of wild animals, which were for the use of men. (1 Nephi 18:25)
Though he didn’t mention it the first time, he establishes now that they domesticated
these wild animals. They established themselves as an agrarian society, with both
agricultural produce and livestock. Later stories will indicate that the Lamanite
society, on the other hand, reverted more of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
In keeping with Nephi’s go-and-do philosophy, he teaches us here that the Lord blesses
those who do the work and plant the seeds.
2 Nephi 5:12
Prepared by the hand of the Lord
The Book of Mormon continually points to God as the source of all good.
And I, Nephi, had also brought the records which were engraven upon the plates of
brass; and also the ball, or compass, which was prepared for my father by the hand
of the Lord, according to that which is written.
Nephi continually gives credit to God. He says that his group observed the traditions
of the Law of Moses, or of what God had commanded his people originally. Then, as
though to balance the people’s obedience, he shows how God blessed them: with seeds
and crops, with flocks and animals, and with guidance through the Liahona and the
2 Nephi 5:19
The words of the Lord were fulfilled
The Book of Mormon points to the importance of recognizing
the fulfillment of God’s words in our own lives.
And behold, the words of the Lord had been fulfilled unto my brethren,
which he spake concerning them, that I should be their ruler and their teacher.
Wherefore, I had been their ruler and their teacher,
according to the commandments of the Lord,
until the time they sought to take away my life.
Nephi is here testifying of his own faithfulness to his calling to be their leader
and teacher. Like his father before him, he stuck it out, in spite of mockery and
threats, until released by the Lord. Nephi gives credit to God for this prophetic
fulfillment, but we can also acknowledge Nephi’s valiant effort in a hard calling.
2 Nephi 5:20
The word of the Lord was fulfilled
The Book of Mormon warns the world of what they will lose
if they do not hearken to His prophets
Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that:
Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words
they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.
And behold, they were cut off from his presence.
Laman and Lemuel thought they had a bad deal with Nephi as their ruler and their
teacher. They thought he said hard things to them, and they quaffed at correction.
So they got the desire of their heart: he left them. Did this make their life
better? No, they were not capable of teaching their own children all the things
that Nephi established in his society, so their children missed out on tremendous
opportunities. They missed out, too, on the opportunity to repent.
No scriptures, no prophet = no wisdom from above, no ordinances of salvation.