“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.”
1. To Nephi, seer of olden time,
A vision came from God,
Wherein the holy word sublime
Was shown an iron rod.
Hold to the rod, the iron rod;
‘Tis strong, and bright, and true.
The iron rod is the word of God;
‘Twill safely guide us through.
2. While on our journey here below,
Beneath temptation’s pow’r,
Through mists of darkness we must go,
In peril ev’ry hour.
3. And when temptation’s pow’r is nigh,
Our pathway clouded o’er,
Upon the rod we can rely,
And heaven’s aid implore.
4. And, hand o’er hand, the rod along,
Through each succeeding day,
With earnest prayer and hopeful song,
We’ll still pursue our way.
5. Afar we see the golden rest
To which the rod will guide,
Where, with the angels bright and blest,
Forever we’ll abide.
*For Younger Children* (Use this example to teach about the iron rod along with our provided activity) Hold to the Iron Rod
We recommend beginning with our activity The iron Rod Challenge at the bottom of this lesson, use this example to simply explain Lehi’s dream.
The rod of iron … was the word of God (1 Nephi 11:25).
Eight-year-old Matthew sat with the other children in his Primary class. They were quietly waiting for sharing time to start.
“We have a special treat today,” the Primary president said. “Sister Danton, the stake Primary president, is here and she will do sharing time for us.”
“Today we are going to talk about a vision the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi had in a dream,”* Sister Danton explained. “In his dream Lehi saw a tree with white fruit. He ate the fruit and it made him happy. Then he asked his family to come and eat the fruit. He wanted them to be happy too. Lehi also saw many people holding onto an iron rod. The rod led them on a strait path through mists of darkness to the tree. Some of the people ate the fruit but others did not.
“The objects Lehi saw in his dream have special meanings,” Sister Danton said. Then she showed the children a cardboard tree with paper fruit on it. “The tree of life is the love of God. The fruit is happiness and eternal life.”
Sister Danton then held up a long metal rod. She explained that the rod represents the word of God. “We can find the word of God by reading the scriptures, listening to the prophet, and attending church.” She looked around the room and said, “I need someone to help me.”
Matthew raised his hand.
Sister Danton blindfolded him and guided him to the rod. “Hold onto the rod until you reach the tree. Then I want you to pick a piece of fruit,” she told him.
Matthew gripped the rod and used it to guide him to the tree. When he reached the tree, he pulled a paper fruit from it.
“Congratulations! You reached the tree of eternal life and picked the fruit of happiness,” Sister Danton said. Then she removed Matthew’s blindfold. “Could you have found the tree on your own?” she asked.
Matthew shook his head. “I had to hold onto the rod or I wouldn’t know where I was going.”
“How did you feel when you held onto the rod?”
“I felt safe,” Matthew said.
Sister Danton smiled and said, “Just as the rod guided you to the tree, we can all return to Heavenly Father by holding onto the word of God.”
A warm feeling settled over Matthew. He was glad Heavenly Father had provided a way for everyone to be happy.
*For The Whole Family* We recommend you begin with our iron rod challege and then share your favorite thoughts from Book of Mormon Principles: The Sweet Fruits of Obedience
Book of Mormon Principles:
I recall my feeble attempts to depict the tree of life, the great and spacious building, the river of water, and the mist of darkness. But what I remember most distinctly is the rod of iron leading to the tree of life and acting as a guide to those who would take hold and follow where it led. The stick figures in my picture who held to the iron rod would reach the tree, “whose fruit was desirable to make one happy” (1 Ne. 8:10). Lehi’s son Nephi later explains that this iron rod “was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” (1 Ne. 15:24).
What was so special about the fruit that Lehi describes? “I beheld a tree,” he said, “whose fruit was desirable to make one happy. … And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy” (1 Ne. 8:10, 12). Nephi later explains the meaning of the tree in his father’s dream: “It is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men” (1 Ne. 11:22).
The Obedience-Joy Connection
What is the connection between the iron rod and the fruit of the tree? How does the word of God lead to the joy and happiness that come from partaking of the tree of life?
Church President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) taught: “The way for each person and each family to guard against the slings and arrows of the Adversary and to prepare for the great day of the Lord is to hold fast to the iron rod, to exercise greater faith, to repent of our sins and shortcomings, and to be anxiously engaged in the work of His kingdom on earth, which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Herein lies the only truehappiness for all our Father’s children.” 1
In King Benjamin’s address to his people he also explained how to experience true happiness: “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it” (Mosiah 2:41; emphasis added).
These prophets teach us that if we are to obtain true happiness, or in other words, to partake of the precious fruit described by Lehi and Nephi, we must obey the word of God, or His commandments, which Nephi describes as the iron rod. True happiness comes from the peace and joy we experience when we do that which we have been commanded to do.
In today’s world there is confusion over the definition of happiness. We can be misled if we listen to those who claim that happiness comes from material wealth or worldly pleasures. This all brings to mind a bumper sticker that was popular a few years ago. It read, “He who dies with the most toys wins!” Nothing could be further from the truth. Pursuing the pleasures of the world, particularly sin, does not bring lasting joy and peace. Alma taught his son Corianton that such pursuits do not bring true happiness: “Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).
The world defines happiness as pleasure or fun, not the inner peace and joy that come from partaking of the fruit of the tree of life. Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) clearly explained the difference: “Happiness includes all that is really desirable and of true worth in pleasure, and much beside. Happiness is genuine gold, pleasure but gilded brass. … Happiness is as the genuine diamond, which, rough or polished, shines with its own inimitable luster; pleasure is as the paste imitation that glows only when artificially embellished. … Happiness leaves no bad after-taste, it is followed by no depressing reaction; it calls for no repentance, brings no regret, entails no remorse; pleasure too often makes necessary repentance, contrition, and suffering; and, if indulged to the extreme, it brings degradation and destruction.” 2
What My Mission Taught Me
As a young holder of the Aaronic priesthood, I watched many of my older peers prepare for and depart to serve full-time missions. When they returned, I was amazed at the transformation that had occurred. I was impressed at how polished and mature they appeared. I was amazed at the strength of their testimonies. They seemed to shine with enthusiasm for the gospel. Where two years earlier they had stumbled and mumbled through a farewell talk in sacrament meeting, they now spoke with confidence and conviction as they described their mission experiences and bore strong testimony of the restored gospel. Invariably they told the congregation, “The past two years have been the happiest of my life.”
As a young teenager I wanted to experience the happiness these returned missionaries were describing. Now, I thought I knew what it meant to be happy. I had many friends, I loved playing football and baseball, and life seemed pretty good. I thought a mission would just be a continuation of these happy experiences.
Some years later I found myself in Hildesheim, Germany, as a brand-new missionary serving in the North German Mission. I had come into the mission field believing that missionary life would be a happy continuation of my teenage years. I was quite mistaken. I found missionary work to be difficult and exhausting. I was very homesick. My German skills were grossly inadequate. Small children and even dogs seemed to understand more German than I could. On top of all this, no one seemed to want to listen to our message.
I began to wonder what in the world those returned elders from the St. George Fourth Ward in Utah had been talking about. This was hard, and I definitely was not happy.
But like many young missionaries who had gone before me, a gradual transformation began to take place. I learned to study and pray in a way I had never known. I learned to be obedient to mission rules. I learned the value of hard work and consistent effort. Only then did I begin to understand what those returned missionaries had meant. I really was happy—the happiest I had ever been. It wasn’t the happiness I had experienced with friends on the ball field; it was the inner peace and joy that come from obeying the word of God and feeling His love.
Happiness Is Our Purpose
I am surprised that after all these years I have such a clear memory of my clumsy depiction of Lehi’s dream. My efforts certainly would not have won any awards; in fact, I don’t recall they even earned a very good grade from Brother Christensen. What that picture did instill in me, however, is of far greater worth. It helped me understand that Lehi’s dream is a beautiful description of the purpose for which we come to earth in the first place. The great plan of salvation provides that we may return to God’s presence and partake of the precious fruit, namely the love of God, and ultimately eternal life. Part of that plan involves temptations, such as the “great and spacious building” Lehi describes. It includes, as well, the trials and challenges of life. Many will wander from the path and be lost in the “mist of darkness” or perish in the “river of water.” But those who hold fast to the iron rod, or, in other words, obey the word of God, will enjoy the fruit of the tree of life and experience a happiness that will fill their “soul with exceedingly great joy.” This joy is the happiness that will last and will bring us peace.
Cake Pops & Almond Cookies
Super Fast Cake Pops
- Cake-doughnut holes
- Dipping Chocolate or Almond Bar
- Buy cake-doughnut holes
- Impale on sticks (lollipop sticks from Michael’s or another craft store, or wooden coffee stirrers).
- Melt chocolate – any kind – and dip them in.
- Let them sit on a plate or piece of waxed paper or foil until set.
- If you like, sprinkle with coconut, coarse sugar or sprinkles.
(From Eat Good Foods )
Almond Snowball Cookies
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for rolling cookies
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Bake almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool completely (about 20 minutes). Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees (F).
- Process almonds in a food processor 30 seconds or until finely ground but not powdery.
- Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add vanilla and 1 cup powdered sugar, beating well. (Dough will be crumbly.)
- Combine flour, salt, and almonds; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended.
- Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls, and place 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
- Bake at 325° for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and cool 10 minutes. Roll cookies in 1/2 cup powdered sugar.
(From Lemon Sugar )
1- The Iron Rod Challenge – This is a very fun challenge for the whole family.
Start by setting up an “iron rod” (you can use yarn, rope, string, etc )from one room in the home to another throughout the house. We recommend having it go through as many rooms in your house as it can safely go. In some of the rooms set up “worldly temptations” such as videogames in the living room, yummy treats in the kitchen, etc (note: don’t make them too irresistible!). In the final room you will want to set up a small light source that will stand in for the tree of life. And there you will want someone to offer “fruits” (a yummy treat, preferably white, see our treats section).
To start, turn the lights off in the house, try to make it as dark as possible. This will represent the “mists of darkness.” And have the kids start at the beginning with the instructions to hold on to the “iron rod” the whole time. One of the parent’s will play the role of the tempter, offering ways to deviate from the course, ie (treats, video games, etc). As they approach the end, turn on the light and show them there are fruits to enjoy. You can give them the “fruits” when they arrive or after the lesson. At the end you can have a lesson on the importance of the iron rod and how it plays in their lives today.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.