The Plan and the Proclamation by Elder Dallin H. Oaks Lesson Plan

Elder Oaks began his talk,The Plan and the Proclamation, by relaying Jesus’ Parable of the Sower.  I haven’t heard this parable referenced often in talks about family but I appreciated the opportunity to think about this parable in the  context of family life.

He then went on to discuss Lehi’s Dream.  We are more accustomed to thinking about this dream (which is also a parable) as instructive about families because members of Lehi’s own nuclear family play key roles in the story.  However, I had never thought about Lehi’s dream and the parable of the sower together before.  Since these two parables are in different books of scripture, we discuss them in completely different years in seminary and Sunday School classes. Combining insights from both parables is an interesting exercise.

Written interpretations to both of these parables are included within the scriptural text. I have included the parables and their written interpretations side by side in the tables below for convenience.  However, parables could have many layers of meaning beyond the written interpretations and class members may feel personal inspiration about unique parallels to their own lives and families as they study and ponder about these parables.

You may print the images and tables included below as handouts or project them onto a large screen as visual aids.

Begin class by discussing the parable of the sower.  You may explain the parable in your own words or invite class members to read it silently on their own. (Note: Round Robin reading of long passages of text is not recommended.) Before they read or listen to the parable, tell them to think about these questions. Discuss their answers after the reading or telling the story.

  • What gospel principles can we learn from this parable?
  • What does it warn us to avoid or be cautious about?
  • How does this parable relate to your personal life and to your family life?

The Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower
Illustration used with permission. courtesy of
©Vesper Stamper/vesperillustration.com

The Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13:3-8

Interpretation

Matthew 13:19-23

3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Lehi’s Dream

Now turn your attention to Lehi’s dream.  Again, you may explain the parable in your own words or invite class members to read silently on their own. Before they read or listen to the parable, tell them to think about these questions. Discuss their answers after reading or telling the story.

  • What gospel principles can we learn from this parable?
  • What does it warn us to avoid or be cautious about?
  • How does this parable relate to your personal life and to your family life?

Lehi’s Dream
Image Courtesy of LDS.org

Lehi’s Dream

1 Nephi 8:10-28

Interpretation

1 Nephi 11:21-36, 12:1-18

10 And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
11 And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.
12 And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.

11:21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
11:22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.
11:23 And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.

13 And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit.
14 And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off; and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go.

12:16 And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the fountain of filthy water which thy father saw; yea, even the river of which he spake; and the depths thereof are the depths of hell.

 

15 And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit.
16 And it came to pass that they did come unto me and partake of the fruit also.
17 And it came to pass that I was desirous that Laman and Lemuel should come and partake of the fruit also; wherefore, I cast mine eyes towards the head of the river, that perhaps I might see them.
18 And it came to pass that I saw them, but they would not come unto me and partake of the fruit.
19 And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.
20 And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.
11:25 And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life;  which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.
21 And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.
22 And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
23 And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost. 12:17 And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.
24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.
25 And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.
26 And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.
27 And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.
28 And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.
12:18 And the large and spacious building, which thy father saw, is vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men. And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God, and the Messiah who is the Lamb of God, of whom the Holy Ghost beareth record, from the beginning of the world until this time, and from this time henceforth and forever.

Synthesize

Now take some time to talk about how the parables relate to each other.

  • What are some common themes in the two parables?
  • What are some differences?
  • How did studying both parables together expand your understanding of gospel principles?

The possible insights that could be derived from this exercise are infinite.  Merely as an example, since there are no right or wrong answers here, let me share some of the thoughts I had as I studied the Parable of the Sower and Lehi’s Dream together.

  • Both emphasize the importance of—and the difficulty obtaining—the word of God.
  • Both parables warn about the dangers of becoming distracted from our eternal goals by worldly priorities.
  • Lehi’s Dream is told from the perspective of a parent, while the sower could be anyone who spreads the word of God.
  • Both use the symbol of fruit to represent our eternal goals and rewards. This made me think of other fruit metaphors in the scriptures, such as these:
    • Matthew 7:15-20
    • Genesis 2-3
    • Galatians 5:22-23
  • In Lehi’s Dream, he finds the fruit already present on a grown tree, which reminded me that God’s love is a gift of grace that we must accept. In contrast, the parable of the sower begins with seeds that must grow before yielding fruit.  This made me think about how we can grow to develop the capability to give the gift of God’s love ourselves, but it may take a great deal of time before our efforts come to fruition.
  • In Lehi’s Dream, the word of God is solid and stationary (an iron rod), but the people must make great efforts to find it and follow it, focusing my attention to the need to work out our own salvation. However, others did affect the outcome, by encouraging or belittling those who sought the word of God. In the Parable of the Sower, the word of God (the seeds) lands in different environments. This reminded me that not all of us have the same trials and we must have empathy for those who are working within more hostile circumstances than we are.  In the context of families, I thought about how some families are strong environments for growth while others are harmful.

The Proclamation on the Family

Now let’s turn our attention to a more modern document, The Family: a Proclamation to the World. In contrast to the parables we have been studying, the proclamation is quite direct.  For example, the principles to establish a successful family are given as a simple list of nine items:

Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of

  1. faith,
  2. prayer,
  3. repentance,
  4. forgiveness,
  5. respect,
  6. love,
  7. compassion,
  8. work,
  9. and wholesome recreational activities.

While warnings come in a list of three:

We warn that individuals who

  1. violate covenants of chastity,
  2. who abuse spouse or offspring,
  3. or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities

will one day stand accountable before God.

Because of the simple language, it can be easy to read these passages quickly without feeling the need to reflect in the same way we did while reading parables. But let’s look at these passages more carefully.

  • Are these principles and warnings simple to apply in real life?  Why or why not?
  • Of all the principles and warnings that could have appeared in these lists, why would these particular ones be vital?
  • How do these principles and warnings relate to each other? What differences and similarities do you notice between them?
  • How do the insights you gained while reading the Parable of the Sower and Lehi’s Dream relate to the principles and warnings found in the Proclamation?

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at aprilyoungb.com.

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2 Responses

  1. Moss says:

    This was excellent. Thank you!

  2. E says:

    All I can say is wow! What an awesome lesson outline. You have a talent, thank you for sharing.

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