plan of God
Scheduled for study Feb. 10-16, 2020.  Jacob’s people may have felt isolated and abandoned by God, but Jacob’s intent was to show them that the plan of God for his people was rich with blessings.

Day 1

2 Nephi 6-8 – The Lord is merciful to His people and will fulfill His promises.

As you read 2 Nephi 6-10, ponder what the Lord is trying to teach you. As you identify these truths, record them and prayerfully consider how you can act on what you are learning.

The lesson writers bring up an interesting possibility in the text for today’s lesson. Might the people of Nephi have felt cut off from, or felt they were no longer a part of, the house of Israel? Might they have wondered or doubted that the promises to the house of Israel included them? They were a mixed bunch of people. Some of Jacob’s audience still remembered living in Jerusalem, while all of the younger members only knew of life in the Promised land. These younger people knew nothing of the people of Jerusalem except from the stories of their parents. To many of Jacob’s listeners the stories of Jerusalem and its people were like listening to the tales of Israel being led through the parted waters of the Red Sea. These stories were part of their culture and religion, but the newer generation had no way to connect to what was, in many ways, so self-evident to those who actually lived in the Holy city and knew of the temple, the palaces, and the olive orchards around the city.

If some of Jacob’s listeners really were emotionally disconnected from their Jewish roots in Jerusalem, it is no wonder he may have felt a need to find some way to connect them to their heritage as children of the prophet Israel. What better way to do this than through the writings of Isaiah, one of Israel’s greatest prophets.

This also brings up the challenge we have of identifying with the idea that we are also considered by God to be the children of Israel. In many ways Jacob is speaking directly to us, for we also need to learn the same lessons as his immediate audience.

General counsel

I can’t answer the three questions asked of each person in the lesson, but I can contribute some general words about what it means to be a child of Israel.

The scriptures talk a lot about the scattering of Israel, because of their rejection of their Savior. This may not seem very loving. It may come across as an act of vengeance of sorts. But look at the reason for the promised scattering. The promise made to Abraham that through his descendents all the nations of the earth would be blessed by the covenants of the priesthood required that his descendents actually become part and parcel among every nation on earth. If they couldn’t take the covenants to the nations of the earth, they could always, even in their most rebellious state, take their genetic link to Abraham. The promises made to Abraham were all based on being of the family of Abraham, so we need to find his family scattered all around the globe.

It was through the scattering, even though it was technically a punishment for disobedience, that the Lord fulfilled his promise to Abraham to bless all the people of the earth. Along with the scattering came the second half of the promise – that those once scattered would eventually be gathered back again. It was through this scattering process that allows the gathering we do today through missionary work to bring Abraham’s posterity back to the covenants their rebellious forefathers lost to them. During the many generations between the scattering and the gathering the posterity of Abraham was being absorbed into, and spread among all the nations of the earth.

The process of the fulfilling of the Abrahamic covenant shows us just what a patient man God is. Sometimes it takes thousands of years to fulfill even a simple promise. And God has the patience to wait that long. This whole scenario of sending prophets to save the people, scattering them when they became too rebellious to be saved then gathering them slowly from among the nations of the earth, shows God’s love for every individual. Sure, all those generations who missed out in mortality on the gospel message will have to be taught the truth in the spirit world, but because He has this need also covered, there is no soul who comes to earth who will not, at some point, be taught the gospel message. This is just another demonstration of God’s love for each and every one of His children. No one is forgotten, and no one is left behind.

In every generation who will listen to His message, the Lord offers covenants that lead to exaltation. It doesn’t matter what time period we are born in, if we are willing to listen to the message, He will send a prophet to deliver it. Miracles always follow faith, and that includes revelation.

Here is an interesting challenge for you. As you read the scriptures, for example the Book of Mormon, look at how long it takes the Lord to finally destroy the people. How many opportunities are given to the Nephites and Lamanites before their opportunities have all been used up? The Lord is incredibly patient with us as He tries to entice us to a life of happiness. Are we that patient with the Lord? When you go to Him in prayer and want an answer to something, are you willing to wait, like He is, for years for the desired answer? Are you willing to do whatever is required to get the answer you seek? Do you really think it fair that we hold the Lord to one standard of behavior when it comes to answering us or blessing us, but we feel justified in living a completely different standard? How can we be a little more tolerant with the Lord as we wait upon Him to answer us and grant us our petitions?

Day 2

2 Nephi 9:1-26 – Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ delivers all people from physical and spiritual death.

As you read 2 Nephi 6-10, ponder what the Lord is trying to teach you. As you identify these truths, record them and prayerfully consider how you can act on what you are learning.

Today’s lesson may cause some confusion for some people. They read the title, “Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ delivers all people from physical and spiritual death” and their response is something akin to, “Well duh!” This doctrine is central to our beliefs, and the core for all of our daily actions. Without Christ’s rescuing efforts we would be unavoidably lost. But this is the whole point of today’s lesson. The lesson writers want us to look at the “what if” scenario. They want us to think deeply about what would happen to us if there had been no Christ. Think of today’s lesson as our own version of the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. What would have happened to us; what would our lives be like without Christ to save us?

Have you ever considered why people refer to death and sin as “awful” and “that monster”? Think about people who don’t actively believe in Christ. What happens to them when they die? Actually, what do they think happens to them when they die? What do they have to look forward to? If they have a child that gets into an accident or gets sick and dies, where do they think that child is now? Do they have any hope at all of ever seeing that person again? Without a hope in Christ, and a belief in the resurrection, it certainly looks bleak for those who lose a loved one or who are dying themself.

Without an atonement for sin we are without any possible way to be forgiven for even the smallest of our many violations of God’s laws. Without a resurrection possibility our death in mortality would be a permanent farewell to all we hold dear. With such a dismal outlook on life I would weep and wail at a funeral as well. Under these conditions, both death and hell become one way tickets to eternal suffering. I wrote an article on the advantages of being able to sin. It explains how this ability to willfully break God’s laws without immediate and eternal consequences is what the Atonement grants us, and is what, in the end, also saves us.

Day 3

2 Nephi 9:27-54 – I can come unto Christ and receive the glorious blessings of His Atonement.

As you read 2 Nephi 6-10, ponder what the Lord is trying to teach you. As you identify these truths, record them and prayerfully consider how you can act on what you are learning.

This lesson also has an article attached. But before you head off and read it, I would like to comment on what it means, in part, to come unto Christ. I have heard from many that they don’t know how to accept the atoning sacrifice Jesus made on their behalf. How, exactly, do you “accept” the Atonement?

We may be just a little confused by the terms we use about the Atonement. To activate the power of Christ’s Atonement, to accept his Atonement, or to come unto Christ, is all one and the same process. The Atonement was a payment for our sins, but what it did was to take the responsibility for reparation for our sins from off our shoulders and place them on Christ’s. He bore the burden of punishment for everyone else’s sins. What we sometimes forget is that this doesn’t exonerate us from all payment for sins. What it did was to transfer the burden of reparation from us having to answer directly to God to us having to answer directly to Christ for our sins. God, our Father, as the maker of the laws, cannot grant us mercy for the breaking of those laws, no matter how merciful He feels, He cannot cheat justice.

In God’s mercy He gave us a Savior to pay for our sins when we could not pay for them ourselves. This is Christ’s Atonement, the payment for our sins. This puts Jesus in a position to offer us direct mercy where our Father was not able to offer it directly. Because Jesus has already paid for the sins, he can now set the terms for being forgiven of our sins, and his terms are within our reach, whereas God’s terms were not. To accept his atoning sacrifice all we have to do is to obey the commandments he gives us, and to follow his servants here in mortality. The Prophets teach us what Jesus would have us do and how we need to behave in order to be forgiven for our sins.

Does turning to Christ mean we don’t have to suffer for our sins? Not at all. We do have to suffer for our sins, but our suffering will be within our ability to be forgiven of our rebellious or stupid behaviors. Coming to Christ means that we look to him for forgiveness. We look to him for salvation. He becomes our life preserver as we float in a sea of sin. It is his mercy and power that keeps us afloat and above water. Baptism is the first step to utilizing his Atonement to rid ourselves of sin and start down the path to perfection. Obedience to his commandments keeps us on that path and leads to him forgiving us of our sins as we seek to use his power and grace to overcome them.

Day 4

2 Nephi 10:20, 23-25 – Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I can “cheer up” my heart.

As you read 2 Nephi 6-10, ponder what the Lord is trying to teach you. As you identify these truths, record them and prayerfully consider how you can act on what you are learning.

Let’s use the final line in today’s lesson as the basis for our thinking. This is John 16:33.

33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

If we read through 2 Nephi 9-10 and focus just on the tribulations and sufferings pronounced upon the heads of disobedient Israel, one may not see that there is a lot to be excited about. But the sufferings of Israel, and especially of the Jews, came because of outright rebellion. There is nothing new in this pattern. Every people on earth, when they rebel against the light and knowledge they receive from God, are punished, and that always means sorrow and suffering. Even those who are obedient to the commandments experience hardships. So where is the silver lining in all these dark clouds?

Jacob is trying to teach his people a principle that many of us tend to lose sight of in the midst of the afflictions of this life. He is trying to teach his people that despite the rigors of life there is joy to be found in the promises of the Lord. This falls under the category of “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). It is clear that even God experiences great sorrows, but what makes all that bearable, but the peace and joy that comes from righteous living and having all the blessings and powers of the universe at your command. 

The peace and joy that comes from God is largely generated from within. His peace is not based on external circumstances. When we look at the mercy and goodness of God, His promises made to us through His priesthood covenants, despite the hurt of the moment, we can have hope that He will make all things right in the end. When all is said and done, we will be able to acknowledge that God is just and merciful, benevolent, and rich in His rewards to those who believe in Him.

Jacob’s people were cut off from the rest of Israel and the Jews. They were a lone people in a new land. It might have been easy for them to feel like the Lord had abandoned them. Jacob was reminding them that they were anything but abandoned. This same reminder can apply to us when we feel forgotten. The promises of God are rich in blessings if we will but be faithful and fulfill our part of the covenants we have entered into. He will always fulfill His part, and His blessings always surpass anything we could expect to receive, for His promises are eternal, and celestial in nature, which we cannot now even conceive.

Scripture Study and Family Home Evening

2 Nephi 9:27-44 – The woes pronounced by Jacob.

The article below directly addresses the concept of God’s laws and how they affect us. Jacob wanted his people to fully understand what they were doing to themselves if they chose to sin, so he spent a number of verses teaching them about the consequences of sin.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

BoM Week 07