28 December 2008

"The Words of Isaiah," 2 Nephi 6:1-7

2 Nephi 6:1-7

Near the beginning of what is the longest grouping of verses quoted from Isaiah in the Book of Mormom, we get just a brief taste of what is in to come.

Jacob, the brother of Nephi, takes a few moments at the head of this chapter to define his authority in terms of his responsibilities and obligations to those that he teaches. It is interesting to note the repetitive nature of his message, which he acknowledges to those that he is addressing (see vs 3). This is one pattern of leadership that I see to be similar in the modern church.

Another such pattern is that he is on assignment from his brother, their prophet leader, to address a specific set of scripture taken from Isaiah. This too is common at all levels in the Church today, to receive instruction from their priesthood leaders to act accordingly. What impresses me about Jacob's approach, however, is how engrossed he was in the topic at hand. It seems that he only offers the remark that Nephi had requested this topic of him as a side note.

In the two verses of Isaiah that Jacob quotes, he references a prophecy that illustrates the church being set up among the Gentiles in the last days as a way for God to reach out to the members of the House of Israel and bring them back in. He describes those gentiles that will reach out to the House of Israel as righteous kings and queens. Indeed, we are witness of this work continuing to grow today in much the way Isaiah had seen it.

22 December 2008

"The Manner of Happiness" , 2 Nephi 5:26-34

2 Nephi 5:26-34
see also Alma 50:12:23

"Thus Moroni, with his armies, which did increase daily because of the assurance of protection which his works did bring forth unto them, did seek to cut off the strength and the power of the Lamanites from off the lands of their possessions, that they should have no power upon the lands of their possession." (Alma 50:12)

“Brethren, stand close together and lift where you stand.” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, quoting Hanno Luschin, "Lift Where You Stand," Liahona, November 2008)

It is curious that the link between the two groups of verses above was through the word "happiness". In verse 20 of Alma 50, the author also references a prophecy from Lehi, made shortly before Nephi's account in 2 Nephi 5. "Blessed art thou and thy children; and they shall be blessed, inasmuch as they shall keep my commandments they shall prosper in the land. But remember, inasmuch as they will not keep my commandments they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord."

Prosperity and happiness come through hard work and obedience to the commandments of God.

20 December 2008

"A Sore Cursing...Save They Shall Repent," 2 Nephi 5: 21-25

2 Nephi 5:21-25

I struggled with these verses yesterday when I was study it in Spanish, not because of the language but because of my perceived severity of the curse. Because of their unrighteousness, this particular branch of the house of Israel was punished with the cursing of a darker skin.

In our modern circumstances, a darker skin seems hardly a curse. In fact, as I reflected in Doctrine and Covenants 95:1, I was reminded that with every chastisement, the Lord is merciful and had prepared a way for their eventual salvation, whatever their lot in life is. What's more, whom the Lord loves, He chastens. I feel that this condemnation that fell upon the Lamanites was also extended in love.

What is even more curious, as Nephi is making account of the Lamanites' curse, the Lord says unto him that the Lamanites will keep the Nephites in remembrance of the Lord unto repentance, or else "they shall scourge them even unto destruction," (vs. 25). Despite their curse, brought upon a nation because of the wickedness of their fathers, never are the Lamanites consigned to absolute destruction as were the Nephites for failure to keep God's commandments.
In a broader view of the situation, it seems that the Lord did have the Lamanites long term preservation in mind. Thus the eternal purposes of a loving God are considered to be far beyond our immediate circumstances.

16 December 2008

"And The Lord Was With Us," 2 Nephi 5:8-20

2 Nephi 5:8-20

Nephi acknowledges the Lord's involvement at this critical moment of transition. For Nephi, this knowledge is indispensable. In recognizing the presence of the Lord in their dealings, Nephi gives credit to the source of his blessings first.

From Matthew 6:33, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

Nephi's account here is evidence of the Lord's promises that unto the righteous, the Lord will bless them in all things that they need.

13 December 2008

"The Lord Did Warn Me," 2 Nephi 5:3-7

2 Nephi 5:3-7

Laman and Lemuel truly had murderous intentions, so fixed was their determination to rid themselves of Nephi and his admonitions to righteousness. The seriousness of their intentions were revealed to Nephi as a warning from the Lord.

Following the topical guide for further references of Divine warning, the preface to the Word of Wisdom stands out as a warning for our times (see D&C 89:4). There is also this passage of scriptures in Doctrine and Covenants 63 that warns us to not take lightly the things of God (see verses 58-66).

Warnings come from God, so that if we follow their instructions we are the benefactors of "a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, otherwise, a greater condemnation," (D&C 63:66).

11 December 2008

From a Footnote in 2 Nephi 5:1-2

2 Nephi 5:1-2

Following the footnotes for "anger" in these first two verses has brought me to a curiously timely grouping of scriptures in Psalms 37. I will reprint it here in it's entirety. I believe that God talks to men through the scriptures, and this morning is a particularly acute evidence of such a belief.

Psalms 37: 1-21:
1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou aenvious against the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be acut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3 aTrust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the adesires of thine heart.
5 aCommit thy bway unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6 And he shall abring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the Lord, and wait apatiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
8 aCease from banger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
9 For evildoers shall be acut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the bearth.
10 For yet a alittle while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
11 But the ameek shall inherit the bearth; and shall cdelight themselves in the abundance of peace.
12 The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
13 The Lord shall alaugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
15 Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
16 A alittle that a brighteous man hath is better than the criches of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the Lord upholdeth the righteous.
18 The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their ainheritance shall be for ever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of afamine they shall be satisfied.
20 But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
21 The wicked aborroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.

08 December 2008

"O Lord, I Have Trusted in Thee, " 2 Nephi 4:28-35

2 Nephi 4:28-35

This last part of this chapter has been difficult for me to get my mind around. I have had some distractions these past few days that have made it harder for me to focus on my studies when I've made them.

Verse 34
stands out as important this go around. I've poured over the verses that reference "trusted" and "trust" in that verse.

Ezekiel 33:13
- "When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it."

These verse of scripture are a reprimand to me this morning, lovingly extended from a righteous Father in Heaven. I'm gliding too much, trusting too much in my own righteousness... which in all reality is DEATH. For he that truly puts his trust in God shall be prospered in the land (see Helaman 12:1)

03 December 2008

"In So Much Mercy," 2 Nephi 4:20-27

2 Nephi 4:20-27

Nephi's optimism is based on one profound argument: "If the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow...?" (vs. 26) The depth, breadth, and scope of such optimism embraces all.

I was reading in the morning paper about the passing of Elder Worthlin and one particular observation noted that he strove to live his life according to the knowledge that he possessed. This thought seems to be akin to the feelings that Nephi is feeling here. It is motivation to me to live my life more in harmony with the knowledge that the Lord has blessed me with.

With so many evidences of the Lord's influence in one's life -- Nephi has a long personal list (see verses 20-25) -- the compelling argument becomes "why" (vs. 27).

  • Why should I allow myself to commit sin?
  • Why should I give temptations the time of day in place of peace and contentment?
  • Why should I ever let anyone get me angry?