My seminary class is at the end of 2 NEPHI and we're approaching Jacob quickly. Here are some thoughts I have about NEPHI.
Like Moses, I noticed NEPHI isn't too complimentary of himself (even though we're very aware of the incredible man he is). His humility shows quite frequently as he writes about his weaknesses. I've shared with my class that we all want to identify with NEPHI, but realistically, we're more like LAMAN & LEMUEL than we want to admit. It is my impression that this is why he writes about them so much. It is our challenge to overcome the faults of LAMAN & LEMUEL in ourselves. Once we identify what those things are (pride, selfishness, physical comfort, lack of commitment to the Lord, love of the world, greed, etc.), and then admit that we have those things, then we can work on ridding ourselves of what will hold us back from receiving the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
NEPHI is very repetitious, THANK GOODNESS. He speaks often of the condition of our hearts. He tells us what will soften our hearts. You can see a process occuring in NEPHI of gaining understanding from the Lord of the Lord's will. As NEPHI is obedient, he begins to open himself to what the Lord wants and those turn into his own personal desires as well. NEPHI begins to become as the Savior is. NEPHI cannot NOT be obedient to the Lord. In his very last words to us, he says: "For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen." (2 Ne. 33:15) He MUST obey because he is in full acceptance of the Lord's way. To do otherwise would to go against all he knows to be true.
There is a digression occurring with LAMAN & LEMUEL because of their complaining and insincere repentance. They continue to harden their hearts to the point that only the power of God can soften them (1 Ne. 18:20). They are no longer sure of what they know (loss of their testimony), they are reluctant to listen to their younger brother NEPHI for direction because they don't believe he's being directed by the Lord. There is also pride mixed up in their rejection of NEPHI.
The most noticeable difference in them was made apparent to me once NEPHI took the Lord's faithful followers away from LAMAN & LEMUEL. In 2 Nephi 5, NEPHI takes his people (those who believe in the Lord and his revelations) and separates them from the influence of evil. He builds a temple and teaches his people to be obedient to the commandments of God. When they keep the Lord's commandments, they prosper in the land. Those left behind with LAMAN & LEMUEL, then are left with a curse (being cut off from the presence of the Lord - 2 Ne. 5:20), a sign of that curse (a skin of blackness - 2 Ne. 5:21), and the result of that curse (became an idle people, full of mischief - 2 Ne. 5: 24).
NEPHI teaches us so much more.....I'll have to stop in later and share what else made an impression on me!