Lesson 29: Nephi Prophesies
• Items needed: one clear glass full of water and two empty clear glasses, a piece of saran wrap, a clear glass pie pan, a scoop of dirt, a pen or pencil, a water filter (or a picture of a water filter), a picture of Jesus, a half of a paper towel, a rubber band, a brad, tape or magnets, the Book of Mormon Stories DVD, a TV, and a DVD player.
• Cover the glass of water with the piece of saran wrap. Press the sides tightly around the glass. Double the paper towel and put it on top of one of the empty glasses. Push down on the middle so it is concave. Stretch a rubber band around the glass to hold the paper towel in place.
• Print the scripture story visual aids. Cut each page in half so one picture or sign is on each half. Number the back of the scripture story pictures in the order they were printed. (Note: The scripture story visual aids are from chapter 38 of Book of Mormon Stories.)
• Print the watchman on the tower activity onto white cardstock. Cut out the wheel. Using an exacto knife, cut the dotted openings on the tower picture leaving one side on each opening uncut in order to open and close the flaps. Poke a hole in the middle dot on the tower and wheel picture using a large needle. Put the tower picture on top of the prophet wheel. Put the brad through the middle dot on each page, and open up the arms of the brad on the back of the wheel. Cut out the nine cards of prophet’s quotes.
Show the children the glass of water. Point out how clean the water is and remind them how healthy and good it is for the body.
Explain that the Nephites had been blessed with many good things for the body and spirit, but because of the ease of the way, they forgot that it was because of God they were so blessed. They didn’t keep their hearts focused on God and his commandments, and they began allowing contaminants into their lives that were harmful. (Put the glass of water in the glass pie pan. Pour a pile of dirt onto the saran wrap. )
Tell the following story as you show the matching scripture story visual aids to the children. (Some visual aids can be used more than once in the story.)
When Nephi returned to his home in Zarahemla from preaching to a people in the north, he saw that the people had allowed wickedness to enter their lives. It filled him with great sorrow. Nephi knelt in prayer on his garden tower and poured out his sorrow to the Lord. Nephi’s garden tower was next to a highway which led to the chief market in Zarahemla. Certain men were passing by and saw Nephi as he was pouring out his soul unto God. They ran and told the people what they had seen, and the people came together in multitudes that they might know the cause of such great mourning. When Nephi arose he saw the multitudes who had gathered together, and he asked if they had gathered to have him tell them of their iniquities
Have the children look up Helaman 7:20 – 21 & 26 to discover what sins the Nephite’s were committing. Have the children poke holes in the saran wrap with the tip of a pen or pencil for each sin they find. (Pride, vanity, set heart on riches and praises of men, murder, stealing and lying in order to get gain, forgetting God) Ask the children if they have seen any of these kinds of sins in the world today.
• Shake the water slightly so it clouds up. Point out the dirt in the water and ask, “Is the water still healthy and desirable?” What would happen if someone drank the water? It could make them sick.
The evil the Nephites had let into their lives was making them spiritually sick. The more they partook of sin the sicker it made their spirits. Nephi knew the results of letting wickedness into their lives and he warned them of the consequences. (Put up sign # 1 on the board: Prophets warn about the dangers of sin.)
Have the children look up the following scriptures to find the warned consequences Nephi prophesied would happen if they did not clean up their lives and repent. (Helaman 7:16, 22, 28) (No strength from God to withstand their enemies, city and lands taken away, destroyed from the face of the earth, everlasting misery and endless woe.)
After Nephi had warned the multitude concerning their sins, some men among them who belonged to a secret band called the Gadianton robbers were angry and cried out against Nephi.
• Who were the Gadianton robbers? They were a Satan inspired secret band whose two objectives were to get gain and power, and they used any illicit and unlawful means possible to obtain their objective including murder, threats, bribery, blackmail, theft, lying, etc.
The Lamanites, who had become more righteous than the Nephites, did not tolerate the Gadianton robbers and destroyed those who were among them. But Satan had a hold on the Nephites, and many of them had united with the Gadiantons, building them up and supporting them until they had spread over all the land and had seduced even the righteous to believe in their works. (Helaman 6:20-21 & 38)
Many members of the secret band of Gadianton robbers had infiltrated the Nephite’s system of government and had become judges, but they did not administer justice. They condemned the righteous, and they let the guilty and the wicked go unpunished for money.
Some of these Gadianton judges were among the multitude at Nephi’s home. They tried to stir up the people against Nephi.
• Why would the Gadianton robbers wish to stir up the people against Nephi? (See Helaman 8:4) Nephi had spoken plainly against them concerning their secret works of darkness. They endeavored to destroy anyone who would expose, threaten, or interfere with their evil objectives.
But there were some in the crowd who said, “Let this man alone, for he is a good man, and those things which he saith will surely come to pass except we repent.”
When Nephi saw that he had gained favor in the eyes of some, he continued to speak to them. He reminded them that all the prophets have testified of a way to make their lives clean again, and that was through the atonement of Jesus Christ. (Put sign #2 on the board: Prophets testify of Jesus Christ and teach repentance.)
• What did the people of Nephi need to do in order to apply the atonement and clean up their lives? First they needed to realize they had done wrong. Then they needed to repent and stop the flow of unclean things into their lives. (Take the dirt off the cup.) How can people in today’s world stop the flow of unclean things into their lives? By removing the things from their lives that influence and encourage them to commit sin.
• What did the Nephites need to do after they had stopped the flow of unclean things into their lives? They needed to do everything they could to make things right again and fix the damage that had been done. (Put the paper towel covered glass in the pie pan. Pour the dirty water into the paper towel covered glass. This should filter out the larger pieces of dirt.)
• After the flow of dirt has been stopped, and as much as possible has been done to clean up their lives, would the Nephites then be clean and pure again? Point out the dirt that is still in the water. Explain that it is impossible to fix or remove all the damage we have done to ourselves and others. We need help. Show the children the water filter (or a picture of a water filter). Explain (or show) that if we were to pour the water into the filter it would take out all the impurities.
Just as we would need a water filter in order to make dirty water clean again, so do we need the Savior in order to make our lives clean of sin. (Put the picture of the Savior on the board.) We can’t do it ourselves.
The Gadianton judges did not want to change their lives. They wanted to continue to seek for riches and power, so they did not want to listen to Nephi, and they did not want the crowd to listen to him either. They tried to make the people doubt Nephi’s ability to prophesy of the judgments that would come upon them. They said they were a powerful people and there was no way their enemies could take away their cities and land.
Nephi reminded the people of the power given to prophets of old such as Moses. He told them that if God gave such power to those prophets, couldn’t He give power to Nephi to know the judgments that would come upon the Nephites.
Nephi demonstrated his prophetic power given to him by God by telling the crowd of an event that was occurring in the city that no one else was aware of. He said the chief judge had been killed by his brother because the brother desired to sit on the judgment seat, and both men belonged to the secret Gadianton band. Nephi explained that this act demonstrated the evil that was among them, and that the Nephites were at the doors of destruction.
Play chapter thirty-eight of the Book of Mormon Stories DVD, starting at the point Nephi tells the crowd about the murder of the chief judge. Afterwards ask the following discussion questions:
• The Gadianton judges accused Nephi of committing the murder to raise himself up to be a prophet. Why might the wicked judges desire to make Nephi appear to be a false prophet?
• What was Nephi’s response to their accusations? (Helaman 9:25–35.) He told them to repent or be destroyed, and then Nephi once again demonstrated his God-given prophetic ability by telling the people of an upcoming chain of events that would occur.
Why did Nephi demonstrate his prophetic ability to the Nephites? So they would know he had power from God to know of things that would happen in the future if they did not repent.
Latter-day prophets have also been given power, knowledge, and wisdom from God. They teach us what has been revealed to them. (Put sign #3 on the board: Prophets teach the revealed word of God.)
• How can we strengthen our testimony of the living prophet? By doing what he says. Remind the children of the five men who went to the city to see about the chief judge. They did not believe Nephi was a prophet, but when they got there and saw that his words were true, they did believe and they fell down in fear of the judgments Nephi had prophesied. Explain that when we do what the prophet says, we will see the truth of his words, and we will see there is safety in following his words.
Show the picture of the watchman on the tower. Explain that during the Savior’s time, robbers would sometimes come into vineyards to steal or destroy crops. Wise farmers would build tall towers in their vineyards and hire a trusted watchman to stand on the tower and watch for danger. From where he stood, the watchman on the tower could see things the others could not see.
Through the ages, Heavenly Father has given his children “watchmen.” These trusted watchmen the Lord gives us are called prophets. Nephi was one of these watchmen. These watchmen help keep us safe from the destructive attacks of Satan by warning us of danger.
• What would happen if we did not heed the warnings of our watchmen the prophets? Satan’s destructive attacks and influence could cause the loss of earthly blessings and the loss of the blessings of eternal life.
Show the children the flaps that open on the picture of the watchman on the tower. Explain that behind the top flap is a picture of a latter-day prophet and behind the bottom flap is something that prophet taught. Give each child, or set of two children, the list of some of the things these latter-day prophets taught. Spin the wheel and then have a volunteer open the top flap on the tower picture and show it to the class. Then have the child face the picture toward themselves to see what the bottom box says. Have the child pantomime what the bottom box says and see if the other children can guess which item on the list it is. Have the child who guesses correctly explain how we are blessed and kept safe when we follow that teaching. Continue with this activity until every child has had a turn acting out one of the items, or until time is up. You may wish to mention something the living prophet has emphasized in his teachings at the end of the activity. (For example: President Monson emphasizes service.)
Point to the signs on the board and remind the children that Heavenly Father sends prophets to warn us of the dangers of sin, to teach us about the Savior and repentance, and to lead and guide us on the earth with God’s revealed word. We are blessed when we listen to and follow the prophet.
Weekly Reading Assignment
Remind the children to do their scripture reading assignment for this week: Helaman 7:1-22, Helaman 8:1-10 & 26–28, Helaman 9:1-41