Lesson 3: Navigating a Broken World by the Iron Rod (For Our Day)

Set the Course

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The central theme of the tree of life is holding to the Word of God and rejecting peer pressure to the contrary.

Founding a Nation on Scripture

In Lehi’s vision, he sees a path leading to life, hope, and indescribable joy. The only way to arrive safely at the tree, to taste the fruit, was to cling to a rod of iron representing the word of God and scripture.

After Lehi’s vision, scripture became the foundation of his family, and eventually the Nephite civilization. Whether it was Alma the Younger using scripture to encourage his son Helaman or help his son Corianton overcome struggles with immorality—or whether it was King Mosiah founding the Nephite republican government on the brass plates—the Nephite fathers used scripture to save their children.

Likewise, the righteous forefathers and colonists of the United States of America—those praised by Nephi as “humble”—relied upon the Bible as the foundation of their government and education. The entire Pilgrim and Puritan culture was centered on scripture, much like in the founding era of the Book of Mormon. In each, we have persecuted Israel fleeing the Old World, coming to America and founding a mighty nation based on the principles found in the word of God.

The evidence of American reliance upon God can be found in our early universities founded by Puritans and other early colonizers. Harvard University was established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and given the motto “Truth for Christ and the Church.”

Judeo-Christian connections can be found at Yale (founded 1701), Princeton (founded 1746), the University of Pennsylvania (founded 1751), Dartmouth College (founded 1769) and Columbia University (founded 1754)—as seen in the video clip below.

It’s interesting that the founders of this nation recognized the importance of spiritual light and revealed truth to education. These early colonizers, much like Lehi and Nephi in the Book of Mormon, understood principles that are distinctively tied to Joseph Smith and the Restoration.

Mists of Darkness

In Lehi’s vision, he sees multitudes pressing forward to the Tree of Life, but they are assaulted by an “exceedingly great mist of darkness” which attempts to make them lose their grasp of the iron rod/scriptures, and become lost (1 Nephi 8:23).

Nephi, in his own experience witnessing the Tree of Life and it’s interpretation, witnesses tyrannical governments and apostate religious leaders during the Dark Ages corrupt the Bible and withhold it from the general masses—leading to horrific persecution, torture and death for hundreds of years. A more detailed treatment of the Reformation and martyrs during this period can be found in “Lesson 2: Fighting for Scripture: Lehi & the Reformation Martyrs.”

An example of this war being waged today can be seen in President David O. McKay’s inspired and prophetic warnings concerning the removal of prayer from government schools in 1962.

In 1962, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Engel v. Vitale that it was unconstitutional and illegal for public schools to encourage the recitation of an official, non denominational prayer before beginning classes.

President David O. McKay was President of the Church at the time and was deeply disturbed by the ruling. He later commented:

The Supreme Court of the United States has made it unpatriotic for public schools to teach your children to pray. By making that unconstitutional, the Supreme Court severs the connecting cord between the public schools of the United States and the source of divine intelligence, the Creator himself. Evidently the Supreme Court misinterprets the true meaning of the First Amendment, and are now leading this Christian nation down the road to atheism.

What effect would cutting the connecting cord between the very source of intelligence, wisdom and understanding have on our educational institutions? Author and historian David Barton discovered an interesting statistical correlation between the removal of God from education and SAT scores, the staggering increase in birth rates for unwed girls, premarital sexual activity among teens, divorce rates, and more:

You can watch David Barton’s full presentation, America’s Godly Heritage, below:

The scriptures and inspired words of prophets in our day are our own rod of iron, protecting us from wandering in mists of darkness, “strange roads,” and being “drowned” in filthy waters (1 Nephi 8:32). In our day, we see many struggle as they drown under addictions, succumb to pornography, lose all hope leading to suicide, or are caught up in criminal activity.

Success in righteousness, the power to avoid deception and resist temptation, guidance in our daily lives, healing of the soul—these are but a few of the promises the Lord has given to those who will come to His word. Does the Lord promise and not fulfill? Surely if He tells us that these things will come to us if we lay hold upon His word, then the blessings can be ours. And if we do not, then the blessings may be lost. However diligent we may be in other areas, certain blessings are to be found only in the scriptures, only in coming to the word of the Lord and holding fast to it as we make our way through the mists of darkness to the tree of life.

Others in Lehi’s dream become lost through the false philosophies of men, wandering in strange roads that cut them off from the presence of God. President Benson similarly commented:

Today the world is full of alluring and attractive ideas that can lead even the best of our members into error and deception. Students at universities are sometimes so filled with the doctrines of the world they begin to question the doctrines of the gospel. How do you as a priesthood leader help fortify your membership against such deceptive teachings? The Savior gave the answer in His great discourse on the Mount of Olives when He promised, “And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived.” (JS—M 1:37)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie added his own witness to President Benson, pleading with leaders and parents:

We are so wound up in programs and statistics and trends, in properties, lands and mammon, and in achieving goals that will highlight the excellence of our work, that we have ‘omitted the weightier matters of the law.’ … However talented men may be in administrative matters; however eloquent they may be in expressing their views; however learned they may be in the worldly things—they will be denied the sweet whisperings of the Spirit that might have been theirs unless they pay the price of studying, pondering, and praying about the scriptures.”

To support Latter-day Saints in holding fast to the rod of iron, the Joseph Smith Foundation has put together “FAQs,” where members can learn what prophets have said about topics such as science, government, doctrinal issues, education, music, and more! The FAQs are a compilation of prophets statements and scripture on some of the most vital questions of our day.

The compilation seeks to let the Lord speak through His prophets without opinion and conjecture. Pure scripture and revelation, as opposed to the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. Great care has been taken to assure that very little commentary has been added. When commentary is provided, it is set off with blue text to ensure that the reader can easily distinguish the words of prophets and scripture.

Embark on the Journey

Monthly “I Am a Latter-day Nephite” Theme!

I will stand forth in the strength of the Lord.

Remember: While you absolutely may do every activity suggested if you would like, it is certainly not needed, nor are you limited by the ideas given here. Choose one or more that will work with your learning style, available time, or the group that you are working with. Even if you are an adult, don’t hesitate to choose an activity originally aimed at children—those can be the most fun!

Feel free to run with any other ideas that come to your mind! Allow the Lord to guide you in choosing the best activities for you. The ultimate goal is to engage with the material and become a “doer of the word.”

  • If this is your first week here, welcome! Please review our Welcome & How to Join the Quest for some helpful information on how to use this resource. You may also want to check out the Embark on the Journey section of Lesson 1 for some activities that will be helpful in getting you started on this quest. In particular, you’ll want a journal, and perhaps the “I Am a Latter-day Nephite” resolution, and a fun Book of Mormon reading chart. Just start where you are in the year—don’t feel like you have to backtrack and do every lesson, but grab these helpful tools and you’ll be good to go from here!
  • Draw, paint, or in any other way artistically depict you clinging to the Rod of Iron. Write your favorite scripture on the bottom and display in your home.
  • In a safe, outdoor space, make a fire. Observe the smoke- see how it moves and shifts with the wind. Alternatively, you can do this activity with bubbles. Compare this with the mists of darkness in Lehi’s vision. Discuss with your family how holding to an unyielding, unbending rod differs from the mists that move, change, and dissipate quickly. Liken this to how the scriptures and words of the prophets are firm and steadfast in leading us through an ever-changing world, unlike the philosophies of men that would toss us “about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).
  • Paint a Book of Mormon and give it as a gift to someone or display it in your home.
  • Bake Scripture Cookies with your family.
  • Learn “Search, Ponder, and Pray” in American Sign Language.
  • If you chose to download or purchase a designed cardstock version of the “I’m a Latter-day Nephite” resolution, you may want to post it where you will see it every day—on the fridge or your mirror, for example. Ponder on this month’s statement “I will stand forth in the strength of the Lord.”
    • Reflect on people you know—in real life, literature, or the scriptures—who have been strong witnesses for truth. What are their traits that you admire? How can you emulate those traits? Choose one to work on growing within yourself.
    • This activity could also be a great Family Home Evening or Family Council discussion. If you have children, invite them to record their goal in their Children and Youth Program booklets.
  • In your journal, reflect on your personal and family scripture study. What are you doing well? How does the Spirit prompt you to adjust? Choose one adjustment and implement it for a week. At the end of the week, record any differences you felt as a result.
  • Add a quote to your Book of Mormon quotes board.
  • Sometimes it’s nice to have a fresh and different way of studying the scriptures. Check out this list of ideas and try a few that you haven’t done before.

Unless otherwise stated, reference to any products, services, hypertext link to third parties or other information by trade name, trademark, supplier or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement or sponsorship by us. They are for convenience only.

All Hands on Deck

  • Pray each morning this week for the Lord to give you an opportunity to share your thoughts on the Book of Mormon and/or what you’ve learned this week with someone.
  • Join the For Our Day community on social media for uplifting shareable content, ideas on how to implement For Our Day in your home and classes, and to connect with others on the journey. You can find us here: Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
  • Share your favorite scripture on social media and explain why it means so much to you. Remember to add #ForOurDay so we can find it!
  • Invite a family you know to your home for Family Home Evening to do any of the Embark on the Journey activities.

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