Three Key Attributes of the Iron Rod

Lehi's tree

When Nephi’s brothers asked to know the meaning of the iron rod in their father’s dream, Nephi exhorted them to “give heed to the word of God and remember to keep his commandments always in all things” (1 Nephi 15:25).

brass plates

In the first three months of 2007, three latter day Apostles pondered what they would teach students at Brigham Young University (BYU) about what it means to hearken to the word of God. Each speaker addressed different aspects for understanding and finding ways to “hold fast” to the rod of iron (1 Nephi 15:23-24).

The Power of the Holy Ghost

On January 16, 2007, President Boyd K. Packer, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave a devotional address entitled “Lehi’s Dream and You.”

Elder Boyd K. Packer

In this talk, President Packer’s primary theme is summarized in the following excerpts:

  • “Lehi’s dream or vision of the iron rod has in it everything a young Latter-day Saint needs to understand the test of life.”

  • “If you hold to the rod, you can feel your way forward with the gift of the Holy Ghost, conferred upon you at the time you were confirmed a member of the Church. The Holy Ghost will comfort you.”

  • “At your baptism and confirmation, you took hold of the iron rod. But you are never safe. It is after you have partaken of that fruit that your test will come.”

  • “The mist of darkness will cover you at times so much that you will not be able to see your way even a short distance ahead. You will not be able to see clearly. But you … can feel your way ahead through life. Grasp the iron rod, and do not let go. Through the power of the Holy Ghost, you can feel your way through life. (See 3 Nephi 18:25; Doctrine and Covenants 9:8.)”

  • “Learn to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It is to be a shield and a protection and a teacher for you. … You have the advantage of being assured that you can be inspired in all your decisions.” (See:; see also “Lehi’s Dream and You,” New Era, Jan. 2015.)

In defining what the iron rod represented, President Packer focused on the power of the Holy Ghost.

The Scriptures or Words of Ancient and Modern Prophets

On February 4, 2007 at a Church Educational Fireside at BYU, Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave an address entitled “A Reservoir of Living Water.”


He emphasized a different aspect of the iron rod as shown in the following citations:

  • “The scriptures contain the words of Christ and are a reservoir of living water to which we have ready access and from which we can drink deeply and long.”

  • “Not only are we blessed to have these scriptures so readily available to us today, but we also have the responsibility to use them consistently and effectively and to drink deeply from the reservoir of living water.”

Book of Mormon
  • “I now want to review with you three basic ways or methods of obtaining living water from the scriptural reservoir: (1) reading the scriptures from beginning to end, (2) studying the scriptures by topic, and (3) searching the scriptures for connections, patterns, and themes.”

  • “The blessings of knowledge, understanding, revelation, and spiritual exhilaration that we can receive as we read, study, and search the scriptures are marvelous.”

  • “A constant flow of living water is far superior to sporadic sipping. Are you and I daily reading, studying, and searching the scriptures in a way that enables us to hold fast to the rod of iron—or are you and I merely clinging? Are you and I pressing forward toward the fountain of living waters—relying upon the word of God? These are important questions for each of us to ponder prayerfully.” (See; see also “Lehi’s Dream: Holding Fast to the Rod,” Ensign, Oct. 2011, 36.)

Elder Bednar emphasizes the treasuring study of scriptures as a vital part for holding steadfastly to the iron rod.

The Words of Living Prophets

Elder Neil L. Andersen

A month later, on March 4, 2007, Elder Neil L. Andersen, who was at that time of the Presidency of the Seventy and is now of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, made a presentation at a BYU devotional entitled “Hold Fast to the Words of Prophets.” In preparing his address, Elder Andersen had carefully reviewed the details of President Packer’s and Elder Bednar’s talks and knew that they had taken different approaches in defining the iron rod. His key points are outlined in the following quotes:

  • “My brothers and sisters, this is a subject the Lord wants you to think about.

  • “The iron rod represents the words of living prophets. We must also hold fast to the word of God as delivered by the living prophets.”

  • “This is the Lord’s pattern. He calls 15 men from ‘the ordinary pursuits of life’ (Boyd K. Packer, “The Twelve Apostles,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 6) and endows them with the keys and power to guide and direct us.”

  • “Do not underestimate what we each can receive from the solemn, sure testimony of the Savior borne by His special witnesses. That witness, received in a spirit of faith, will strengthen us in moments of difficulty and give us a firm footing as we move along the path toward the tree of life. Hold fast to the words of prophets. Ponder them. Believe them. Trust them. Follow them.”

  • “What is it worth to you and your family to have the words of God’s prophets? … It is worth everything to you and to your future families.” (See

In the endnotes of Elder Andersen’s October 2019 conference address, he concludes: “The connection between these three talks was no coincidence. The hand of the Lord was at work as three talks, prepared for the same audience, identified three aspects of the iron rod, or the word of God” (“Fruit,” Ensign, Nov. 2019, 116).

Armed with the Power of God

Near the conclusion of the great vision revealed to Nephi (1 Nephi 11-14), he foresaw that in the latter days “the saints of the church of the Lamb … were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14).

family at home

The Come, Follow Me lesson for January 20-26, 2020 explains that this vision can help us today—'for God has a work for [us] to do in His kingdom.” The way for each one of us to do our part so that our prayer that God’s “will be done in earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; 3 Nephi 13:13) is by arming ourselves with the word of God—the scriptures, the power of the Holy Ghost, and the words of living prophets.