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Showing posts from 2009

"The Lord Sent His Word," 2 Nephi 19:8-21

2 Nephi 19:8-21

What the remainder of this chapter is dealing with has to do with Israel's complete ignorance, or deliberate lack of faith, so that they might continue in their sinful ways.

The reality that seems to be echoed in my mind is this simple truth: that the closer one gets to God and becoming like God, the harder it is, and more offensive to the Lord it is to back down, ignore, or turn away from Him. The Lord does not forget the execution of his covenants. So to those whom he has blessed with his Word, he judges according to that knowledge which is given them.

Men will try to rebuild in the face of such condemnation from the Lord, as if the condemnation and chastisement of God were some minor inconvenience that they could just work around. "...The sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars." (vs. 10)

Here are some thoughts as I contemplate these verses. I think on what wickedness there must be to incite the wrath of God. These verse include condemn…

"The Prince of Peace," 2 Nephi 19:6 & 7

2 Nephi 19:6 & 7

The idea that the Savior of mankind will also become the supreme governor of the nations has capture my attention in this reading of these memorable verses.

"For unto us a child is born, and unto us a son is given..." one of their own. "And the government shall be upon his shoulders." This strikes me as amazing. The weight of the government of the nations shall be upon Christ. So effective will be his leadership, so profoundly revolutionary shall be its effects, that people will call Him "Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

The following verse states that this government that the Lord will establish will continue to expand and have no end to its increase. Yet the use of government in this sense is so different from the current, secular definition of government as I understand it today. This isn't to suggest that there will be an increase in government spending and programs. Christ's gov…

An Increase of Joy, 2 Nephi 19:3-5

2 Nephi 19:3-5

Verse 3 lists blessings or results of the "light" shining upon the house of Israel. Specifically, it mentions two blessings: 1) that he had multiplied the nation, and 2) that he had increased their joy.

This first blessing has reference to the ancient covenant that the Lord made with Abraham (see Abraham 2:9) in that he would make of Abraham's posterity a great nation. By the time of Isaiah, the fulfillment of this promise had already been brought to pass.

This second blessing, an increase of joy, is later described in this third verse as a joy similar to that which is experienced in a fruitful harvest, or the spoil obtained after a long fought battle. These comparisons make me to think that this joy is the result of something that had been desired for a long season, and more so which is the result of a long period of labor, comparable to all the work that goes into bringing about a fruitful harvest.

Verse 4 explains the cause for this increase of joy: the yok…

"The People... Hath Seen a Great Light," 2 Nephi 19:1-2

2 Nephi 19:1-2, see also Isaiah 9:1-2

Isaiah continues to explain the calamities that are to come upon the House of Israel, as they ignore the Lord their God, his law, and the testimony of the prophets. Yet Isaiah pauses here at the beginning of this chapter to testify of the coming of Jesus Christ.

He says that their gropings in darkness will not be as bad as in times past, primarily because "the Light" will come among them. It makes reference to the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali. We learn from footnotes and from an account of the Savior's ministry that these were lands near or within the land of Galilee. (Galilee is also referenced here in the same verse, but it doesn't really illustrate the proximity of the regions to one another. )

In Matthew 4:14-16, there is a direct reference to these verses of scripture as being the reason for which the Savior did set off in the specific direction that he did at that point in his ministry. This is one of many instances where the…

"Seek... God," 2 Nephi 18:19-22

2 Nephi 18:19-22

This final grouping of verses from this chapter contains another accusation against Israel for looking for answers elsewhere, rather than from God.

Verse 19 condemns sooth-sayers, fortune tellers, wizards, those that seek to speak with the dead, etc. with this very simple question: "Should not a people seek unto their God for the living to hear from the dead? "

There is a footnote on this verse that leads to 1 Samuel 28:8-20, which tells about the fall and demise of Saul, who in failed attempts to communicate with God turned to a woman who practiced sooth-saying, or in other words, wizardry and fortune-telling. The account would almost be humorous, if it wasn't so hopeless and uninspiring.

The woman knew that Saul, who was king, had condemned and sought out to destroy those with familiar spirits and wizards. So Saul ,at this point where his kingdom is on the brink of takeover, under disguise and compelled by fear, comes to this woman to find answers.

Saul sou…

"I and the Children", 2 Nephi 18:18

2 Nephi 18:18 reads like this:
Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of Hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion. "Behold," a call for attention to this statement which is one of the few times there is mention of family in the words of Isaiah.

"I and the children," A father to children relationship --the entity of the family. Mother was probably not included in this statement either out of respect (or reverence) for her place in the family, or perhaps, because of social customs that had evolved out of a patriarchal society. Though she is referenced at the beginning of the chapter as a "the prophetess".

"the children whom the Lord hath given me," Psalms 127:3 also reads, " Lo, childrenareanheritageoftheLord: andthe fruit ofthe womb is his reward. " These verses are a recognition of the truth that our children are not really ours, but are on loan from on our Heavenly Father.…

"And He Shall Be for a Sanctuary," 2 Nephi 18:9-17

2 Nephi 18:9-17

We live in difficult times and these verses are a powerful balm for me this day.

In verses 9 and 10, Isaiah sounds a warning against those who think to form alliances with larger powers so that they may be protected, or in the joining of smaller powers so that their combined powers may be a strength against larger threats. Isaiah plainly says that such will not stand nor will they be of effectiveness in coming against the Lord's people: "for God is with us."

Verses 11 - 13 had heretofore alluded me as to the full significance of the passage. However, having first read the translation from Spanish, and having the broader overall picture in mind, these verses are powerful counsel.

Verse 11: Isaiah is commanded not to walk in the ways of the people. With a strong hand, the Lord clearly delivered this counsel to Isaiah.

Verse 12: this is the verse that most baffled me. "Say not, a confederacy... " The Spanish translation uses a word that means "con…

"The Waters of Shiloah," 2 Nephi 18:1-8

2 Nephi 18:1-8

There is a theme that runs throughout this chapter. It is first stated like this:
Forasmuch as this people refusesth the waters of Shiloah that go softly... behold, the Lord bringeth upon them the waters of the river, strong and many... (vs 6 & 7). "Shiloah" in this verse is another name for the Messiah, (see JST Genesis 50:24). "The waters of Shiloah that go softly..." This reminds me of other names or titles attributed to the Savior, such as "living water". In John 4:14 from the conversation that the Savior has with the woman at the well, it reads:
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.So perhaps in a similar sense, what Isaiah is accusing his people of rejecting is the gentle, peaceable gospel of Christ--these waters that flow softly.

Focusing on the promise extended to those that do drink, or …

"The Lord [Shall] Shave with a Razor that Is Hired," 2 Nephi 17:17-25

2 Nephi 17:17-25

(Personal note: The Spirit of the Lord facilitates comprehension of Isaiah.)

These verses explain the effects that Ahaz's choices have on the House of Judah. There is a historical reference in 2 Chronicles 28:19-21 which explains why the condemnation of the Lord had come upon Ahaz.

The remainder of the chapter describes the desolate conditions/bondage that result. Their land becomes overgrown with briers and thorns. Verse 20 describes how the Lord will shave with a hired (or borrowed) razor, thus suggesting that the house of David becomes dependent upon other nations for their strength.

Verse 18 leaves me wondering if this is strictly symbolic or strictly literal or both symbolic and literal. The footnotes from Isaiah 7 suggest that this gathering of flies from Egypt and bees from Assyria represents a call to arms. The verse is also cross-referenced with Isaiah 5:26 which talks about the call to Zion by means of an ensign to the nations.

All this, in comparison with th…

"Behold, a Virgin Shall Conceive," 2 Nephi 17:10-16

2 Nephi 17:10-16

I've already spent several days considering these verses in their context, making reference to both the English and Spanish translations in both the Book of Mormon and the Old Testament. The verse that is most frequently referenced in this group is found in verse 14, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bare a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

Yet in the context of these other verses, the Lord provides this prophecy to illustrate that the threat that they presently faced, would come of naught in a span of a few years. The prophecy of Christ's birth is a symbolic representation of both spiritual and temporal liberation for the house of David.

I appreciate the reference to butter and honey in verse 15. From the footnotes in Isaiah, we learn that butter and honey were common staples among the poor in ancient times. The thought comes to me that it was not wrong that Christ himself be born into poor and humble circumstances.

On a different note, …

"Take Heed, and Be Quiet; Fear Not," 2 Nephi 17:1-9

2 Nephi 17:1-9

The title of this post is part of the council of the Lord via Isaiah to the king of Judah, Ahaz. As a backdrop, we learn from this passage that two other kingdoms, Syria and Ephraim, had joined together to wage war against the house of David (vs 2). Ephraim is the head of the ten tribes of Israel that had been driven north out of the land of Canaan.

There is some poignancy in this affront because of Ephraim's fall from the house of Israel. It reminds me of those that leave the fold of God, but for whatever reason cannot leave it alone. Ephraim, despite their fiery threatening, is prophesied to be completely dispersed within 65 years of the time of this attack on Judah. And thus the Lord says to Ahaz, "It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass," (vs 7).

I find a great deal of courage in the face of potential opposition and fear. The Lord is with his people. And so we are blessed to follow the guidance of a prophet of God.

"How Long?" 2 Nephi 16:11-13

2 Nephi 16:11-13

The footnote in the Isaiah equivalent of verse 11 is on the question: How long? It explains that Isaiah is inquiring of the Lord how long will man be this way. To which the Lord answers as long as they exist shall they so be.

Before reading this footnote, I took the question to be an inquiry as to how long he should expect to serve in his capacity. In this case, the Lord's answer is as long as man exists, there shall be a need of service.

At the very end of this chapter is a prophecy of the gathering of Israel. Only a tenth part shall return. The result of their scattering is because of their disregard for the things of the Lord. That ancient covenant which resides deep within their being (probably unbeknown to them) is what will bring them home.

"Hear Ye Indeed, But They Percieved Not," 2 Nephi 16:8-10

2 Nephi 16:8-10

These verses deal with the calling of Isaiah as a Prophet to Israel, or perhaps it was only Judah, the remnant of what remained of Israel. I am impressed in verse 8 by Isaiah's willingness to go and serve the Lord.

Isaiah's instructions from the Lord are a prophecy of the Messiah's mission: "Hear ye indeed, but they understood not; and see ye indeed, but they perceived not," (vs. 9). The wording is confusing in these verses because it sounds as if the Lord would intentionally have Isaiah cloak his teachings or preach in such a way that the people wouldn't be able to understand. This is similar to the Savior's teaching in parables, where he taught eternal truths with simple stories. The reason for such teaching is to address those that are prepared in the midst of larger congregations of less attentive listeners.

"Thy Sin [Is] Purged," 2 Nephi 16:6-7

2 Nephi 16:6-7

The weight and significance of these verse was brought to my understanding over the weekend with a sacred experience where I had the opportunity to personally listen to the testimony of another. It was a lifetime of experiences that stemmed from one pivotal event: the remission of sins through the ordinance of baptism.

That's what I see in these verse of Isaiah, the remission of his sins which came just prior to his calling as a prophet. In his ministry as a prophet, his personal experience is not the first thing which he points to, however the importance of this principle, being cleansed from sins, he does emphasize at the beginning of his book:
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
The reality that sin can only be forgiven through the Lord Jesus Christ is the crux of our message. This is where the Gospel of Jesus Christ…

"I Saw Also The Lord," 2 Nephi 16:1-5

2 Nephi 16:1-5

This is an account of when Isaiah sees the Lord on His heavenly throne. I've already spent a handful of days on these verses in Spanish. There my emphasis was on the declaration found in verse 3, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." When I started studying in English, I discovered a footnote found in verse 1, for where Isaiah says, "I saw also the Lord." The footnote on "saw" leads to a verse in John 12:41 which reads: "These things said Esaias(Isaiah), when he saw his glory, and spake of him."

Being in the Lord's presence, and in the presence of these beings called seraphim that declare to each other the holiness of the Lord, causes Isaiah to cry out in anguish, "Wo is unto me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips; and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts." In other words, being in the presenc…

The Work of the Lord "...In That Day," 2 Nephi 15:30 (29&30)

2 Nephi 15:30 (29&30)

The pretext to this last verse is found in the previous verse and some of the footnotes that are found in the actual book of Isaiah in the Bible also give more insight.

Back in verse 29, there is a footnote on "prey" which leads over to a prophecy made by the Savior himself in 3 Nephi 21. The wording is definitely misleading if taken in the wrong spirit.
And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. (3 Nephi 21:12)

To my understanding this is a prophecy of missionary work that will take place in the last days. The perceptions of the world towards our efforts as missionaries is that we come among them as ravaging beasts to steal away their family members and neighbors. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yet effective are the means…

"They Shall Roar Like... Lions," 2 Nephi 15:28-29

2 Nephi 15:28-29

These verses appear to be Isaiah's best attempt at describing what he sees and hears in our day and time. I wonder if what he sees has already transpired or if he was seeing even yet further into the future beyond the present. "arrows... sharp," "bows bents," "horses' hooves... like flint," "wheels like a whirlwind." He has to use things that he understands and to describe it those around him.

The roaring of lions mentioned several times in these verses has to be in reference to modern aircraft. If you've ever spent anytime near an airport and listened to the sounds of the planes coming and going, it is easy to see why Isaiah would say this is as the roaring of lions. The footnotes on the verses in Isaiah seem to almost suggests a symbolic parallel between this roaring of transportation and the Gathering of Israel in the last days.

In looking for a personal application is it curious to observe how all things served to a…

"None shall slumber nor sleep," 2 Nephi 15:27

2 Nephi 15:27

"None shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken; "

A fresh reading of this verse, simply illustrates how quickly the traveling process will become. The travel shall become quick enough to not require sleep. "The girdle of their loins," this is a belt. "Latchet of their shoes" shoe buckle or anything else used to fasten a shoe. It simply seems to me that the point that Isaiah is trying to communicate here, is that travel will allow people to gather so quickly in the last days that it can be accomplished in less than a day. Such a concept was completely unfathomable even 60 years ago. In the history of the world, 60 years is a considerably small time frame.

"An Ensign to the Nations," 2 Nephi 15:26

2 Nephi 15:26

The beginning of this verse reads: " And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far."

Footnotes on the word "ensign" lead to other scriptures that also call it a "standard". The verse that I find most enlightening is found in D & C 115:5, "Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;" This verse explains how the ensign shall be lifted up -- it is through the light that emanates from the lives of the people.

This is a personal mandate that my life ought to so be that others are able to discern a difference.

The next part of the verse reads "and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth;" The word "hiss" in the Spanish translation is the equivalent of "whisper". There are many ways in which this "hissing" or "whispering" of the truth can take place: print media, electronic media, films, television, the Internet, persona…

"The Anger of the Lord [Is] Kindled against His People,"

2 Nephi 15:24-25

"Therefore, as the fire..." Footnote on "fire" has at least two implied meanings:
The light that emanates from Christ himself.
Those faithful remnants of the house of Israel in the last days (see 3 Nephi 20:16). This second thought I had not considered. This suggests that the Saints will be the ones that are doing work in the latter days. While the scripture referenced above sounds rather destructive, I recall reading just last evening that the Saint's power to lead in the last days would be noted because of their unique capacity towards kindness and Christ-like compassion.

So where the scripture talk of destruction of the wicked and power to consume, which in a sense is calculated to bring fear into the hearts of the wicked, the reality of the issue is that the power and capacity for good that is exhibited by the Saints will be increased. Their works will be works of kindness, love, and great mercy. Yet ironically, in the hearts of the wicked, the…

To ""Take Away the Righteousness of the Righteous," 2 Nephi 15:22-23

2 Nephi 15:22-23

" Wo unto the mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink;

"Who justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!"

A footnote that leads to Proverbs 31:3-9 talks about how kings and princes should not drink wine, nor be drunk for the express purpose of being able to judge righteous judgment upon those that need it, especially in relation to the cause of the poor and needy.

What continues to stand out to me as I return to these verses is how Isaiah condemns wine and strong drink because of it distorting properties which allows mighty and strong men to justify the wicked and deprive the righteous of their just reward. The footnote on "reward" in verse 23 leads to a topical guide entry for "bribery". Curiously enough, the word used in Spanish for "reward" is the equivalent of "bribery".

I have not before seriously considered the implications of strong drink, wi…

"Wise in Thier Own Eyes," 2 Nephi 15:21

2 Nephi 15:21

"Wo unto the wise in their own eyes..." This is a clear condemnation of those that profess to be wise according to their own ideas and perceptions. Wisdom comes from God. To profess wisdom otherwise, is to publish a false doctrine as truth--relative, absolute, or however one wishes to frame it. Truth is eternal and can only fully emanate from the divine fountains of life itself.

"... and prudent in their own sight!" This is the part of the verse that truly strikes me as curious this morning. "Prudent" according to their own making. It perhaps the first time that I've considered that the world's ultra-conservative idea of prudence might be off or too extreme. There is a footnote on "prudent" which leads to the topical guide listing for prudence.

From there we learn that prudence for the most part is a desirable trait for a man of god. Yet, there are verses only in Isaiah and the Gospels that specifically call out the prudent …

"Them That Call Evil Good," 2 Nephi 15:20

2 Nephi 15:20

"Wo..." The list of condemnations that Isaiah pronounces against the house of Israel in his day continues. Yet, these condemnations are so applicable to me in my day.

"unto them that call evil good..." There are footnotes on both "call" and "evil". The footnote that emphasizes "call" condemns those that would take judgment upon themselves, assuming that they know better than the Lord what is good and what is evil.

Moroni reminds us in chapter 7, verses 14 &18 that we should not judge wrongfully, judging the evil thing to be of God, or that which is of God to be evil. Most importantly, at the end of verse 18, Moroni states, "For with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged." This is a very interesting thought, that as I choose to treat and perceive others, so shall I be treated and perceived by God in the end. There is something of a secret in becoming like God in this simple observation.


To "Draw Iniquity with Cords of Vanity," 2 Nephi 15:18-19

2 Nephi 15:18-19

Vs 18- " Wo unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope;" The word "draw" in these verses means to pull. This is a visual image of an abstract concept. The image is of someone pulling on a cord to drag behind them some large burden. It is interesting that it is called "vanity". One might ask himself, why would someone knowingly be so attached to their iniquities as to drag them behind them; it is because of their vanity. Vanity, in other terms, maybe known as pride or vain ambition. Vanity is the result of placing our hopes and dreams in our own wishes and not in valuing or accepting the will of the Lord.

In different, yet similar terms, the same idea is expressed again in the second half of the verse. In Spanish, it this part of the verse that offers a footnote on this passage suggesting that sin is compared to the bond between the beast and its cart. The visual in my head is of an ox, slowly plod…

The Lambs Shall Feed and Strangers Shall Eat, 2 Nephi 15:17

2 Nephi 15:17

"Then..." After the destruction of the wicked and after the Lord is exalted in righteousness.

"shall the lambs..." The disciples of Christ; the followers of the Good Shepherd.

"feed after their manner..." The real question here is whom does "their" refer to? It is in reference to the wicked who had been destroyed. We've read in earlier verses that the unrighteous have these great feasts, but their indictment was that they did not remember the Lord their God. The sheep then, the followers of Christ, are the privileged recipients of those blessings that were first enjoyed by the wicked.

The second half of the verse reaffirms this point even more clearly: "And the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat." There is an interesting cross reference to this verse in Isaiah 10:16 which reads: "Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning…

"Sanctified in Righteousness", 2 Nephi 15:16

2 Nephi 15:16

"But the Lord of Hosts shall be exalted in judgment," After all the condemnation which will be brought upon the children of Israel for their unrighteousness, Isaiah reminds us that the Lord and his work will continue. His ability to judge rightly will cause him to be exalted. I'm trying to consider how the judgments of God vary from man's judgment. Under the Topical Guide for Jesus Christ, Judge there are ample references to this aspect of his mission and character.

"For judgment I am come into this world." (John 9:39)
"He shall judge the world in righteousness."(Psalm 9:8)
(See also 2 Nephi 2:10)

"...And God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness." This second part of verse 16, explains the result of God's ability to judge rightly, he shall be sanctified in, or because of, his righteousness. This is offered in contrast to the destruction into which the house of Israel descends.

The Isaiah equivalent for this verse…

"Man Shall Be Humbled," 2 Nephi 15:15

2 Nephi 15:15

We begin with this statement, "And the mean man shall be brought down..." The footnote on "brought" references similar passages from earlier in Isaiah where he says, "And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day, " (Isaiah 2:17). In Spanish, the word "mean" is translated to mean "vile". This has the feel to me of a man who through lies and deceit has built up his pretended kingdom around him. His tactics are by force. All this shall crumble and be made to lie low in the dust.

"And the mighty man shall be humbled," These next two statements both end with "shall be humbled." I call on the true definition of "humble" or "humility". It is to acknowledge the hand of God in our work. For the wicked to be humbled, those who have up to that point not acknowledged God, and had thought to become a …

"Hell Hath Enlarged Herself... Without Measure," 2 Nephi 15:14

2 Nephi 15:14

This is a chilling description of the demise of God's people because of their failure to acquire testimony and live according to its precepts.

Vs. 14 - "Therefore, hell hath enlarged herself," These are the preparations that devil has made (perhaps preparations isn't the proper term) to receive the wicked, who should have been the righteous. "...and opened her mouth without measure;" It seems that void into which they are descending at this point is so hard to escape, and so all consuming, that to define its ends seems impossible, for they are "without measure."

"And their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it." It is as if one were stuck in a small paddle boat 50 feet from the edge of a great waterfall, realizing that everyone is going off a cliff into destruction. The reality of surviving such is unthinkable. Being stuck in the current of destruction, and powerful downward …

"My People Are Gone Into Captivity," 2 Nephi 15:13

2 Nephi 15:13

These verses are so very rich in descriptions as they relate to the conditions under which the House of Israel crumbled. We continue in this verse to build on the "Wo" pronounced upon Israel in verse 11, where we learn that the resources that were allocated to Israel (in the form of blessings) for the purpose of advancing the Lord's work were wasted on luxury.

Verse 13 begins, "Therefore, my people are gone into captivity..." I've been with the notion of blessings being abused for several days. Now, as I consider it, I don't know that I've ever really considered in my own life the proper use of blessings. I acknowledge to the best of my ability the blessings that I do receive from God, yet I've never thought that there is a reason for receiving them. In other words, blessings are not the end, but as we are observing here, they are a means received because of our righteousness to enable us to achieve even greater ends. Israel's …

"They Regard Not the Work of the Lord," 2 Nephi 15:12

2 Nephi 15:12

Vs. 12 - "And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine are in their feasts; but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands."

This is a pointed accusation. Amos 6 elaborates on this condition in greater detail by saying, "Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion." The riches and blessings that are bestowed upon Israel are for an expressed purpose in advancing the causes of Zion. God blesses us with abundance so that we can create equity and share our abundance with others. Historically, what Isaiah is accusing Zion of is the human tendency to waste our abundance on luxury and finery.

In this particular verse, those luxuries are described as music and drink to accompany their meals. Then the pointed accusation: "but they regard not the work of the Lord."

What is the work of the Lord that the wicked would not consider it? When I consider how hard it is to bring about the converting changes that ne…

"Wo Unto Them That... Follow Strong Drink", 2 Nephi 15:11

2 Nephi 15:11

Continuing with the next "Wo".

Vs. 11 - "Wo unto them that rise up early in the morning..." We have to read this in context of the rest of the verse. There is not evil in awaking early. We read in Doctrine and Covenants 88:124, "retire to thy bedearly, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated."

The rest of the verse reads, "...that they may follow strong drink, that continue until night, and wine inflame them!" Here it is those that are motivated by strong drink. These verses were given in a time long before the establishment of the Word of Wisdom and the resultant conspiring designs of large corporations that now stand behind the "strong drinks" of our day, the principles of sobriety are the same throughout the ages.

To me this is curious, because the drives that cause an man to arise early after strong drink and stay up late, stand in direct opposition to the compelling moti…

The Opression Caused by Covetousness, 2 Nephi 15:8-10

2 Nephi 15:8-10

The beginning of a list of condemnations that the Lord has against the house of Israel begins in these verses. Each point begins with the word "Wo".

Vs 8 - "Wo unto them that join house to house..." There are footnotes on these verses that equate this to covetousness. This is the first condemnation against Israel: covetousness. "...Till there can be no place..." This joining together has reference to the establishment of city dwelling environments, apartments and such, that are created to save on the amount of land used. Those guilty of covetousness, are them that are responsible for the joining of houses, in other words, greedy landowners/developers that attempt to squeeze into as small a space as possible. "...That they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!" (The exclamation mark is part of the actual scripture.)

The visual that I have is of a wide expanse of land with a small area in the middle built up as a mountain of…

"Judge... Betwixt Me and My Vineyard," 2 Nephi 15:1-7

2 Nephi 15:1-7

Vs 1 - A parable about "God's mercy and Israel's unresponsiveness,"(see the chapter heading). Israel is described in this verse as being located on a "very fruitful hill."

Vs 2 - God prepares a choice vineyard, attending to every needful element in its preparations to bring forth good grapes. So diligent were His preparations, that He looked expecting grapes, but instead He found wild grapes. Herein is the premise for the remainder of the chapter.

Vs 3 - Jerusalem and the men of Judah are asked to think about this thing and determine if there was anything more that God could have done, in all reality, for his people, that he didn't do, so that they might have brought forth good fruit.

Vs 4 - This verse reinforces verse two where it says the Lord expected to find grapes, good fruit, as a result of His labors. He drives home the point with a question: "What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it?" (See a…

"In That Day," 2 Nephi 14

2 Nephi 14

Vs. 1 - "And in that day" - the millennial day, immediately after the daughters of Zion have been abased of all their worldliness.
"Seven woman shall take hold of one man " - there is a footnote in the Isaiah version of this verse which suggests this is because there will be few men left due to war. A suggestion that perhaps a practice of polygamy will be reinstated.
"We will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel;" - Such women will be very industrious and capable of providing for their own needs.
"Only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach." - Again another footnote from the Isaiah version on the word "reproach" suggest that this reproach is caused from being unmarried and without children.

In a millennial day, when social perceptions will not be as they are now, it is interesting to consider how for a woman it would be a greater reproach to be childless and unmarried than to be a part of a polygamous ag…

"In That Day," 2 Nephi 13:16-26

2 Nephi 13:16-26

These verses list the destruction that will come upon the lofty daughters of Zion "in that day." The time period refers to the day of the Lord, or, as far as I can tell, this is a direct reference to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In no uncertain terms, all the fine decorations, all the worldly ornamentation that the daughters of Zion put their trust into will be eventually stripped from them. There is a direct correlation here with unrighteousness as well. This curse of humiliation falls upon them because of their haughtiness, their wanton eyes and stretched-forth necks.

The personal application for me is to avoid the luxurious, and in my walk among men, I should be humble and simple.

The Cause of the Righteous, 2 Nephi 13:9-15

2 Nephi 13:9-15

There is one verse amidst all the decreed condemnation and destruction of Judah and Jerusalem that is worthy of my entire attention this morning, verse 10: "Say unto the righteous that it is well with them; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings."

I struggle with this daily, perhaps we all do. But that there are blessings specifically assigned to the righteous, makes the desire to obtain such a station all the more worthy of our best time and efforts. Arguably, it is in the pursuit of righteousness that we obtain it. Thus, to be righteous becomes a lifelong process, a continual exertion of our best selves.

"How can such a state of constant striving, yield fruits?" "How could fruit grow into maturity otherwise?" is perhaps the better question.

Today I will strive to become whom I ought to be, for whom I know I should have become yesterday, but still hope I can become tomorrow, so that in the end, through repentance and faith on the Lord …

"The Lord... Doth Take Away... the Stay and the Staff," 2 Nephi 13:1-8

2 Nephi 13:1-8

I was fortunate to read this account in Spanish first this go around. In Spanish the same verses equate the words "stay and staff" with the translated "sustain and support". In simple terms then, what Isaiah is saying is that the arm of the Lord which has been a support for his people, Jerusalem and Judah, will be taken away by the Lord because of their disobedience.

He points to the great blessings of able leadership--counselors, wise men, men of war, prophets-- and says that these things shall be done away with. They will be replaced with inexperience in matters of ability and respect, and be led by those who are children.

The reason for the demise of Jerusalem is in verse 8, "their tongues and their doings have been against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory." Clearly, the things we do and the things we say carry great weight in the sight of God. I do well to remember this.

"The Lord Alone Shall Be Exalted," 2 Nephi 12:4-22

2 Nephi 12:4-22

The remainder of this chapter is a reminder to the house of Jacob (and to me) that in the end "the Lord alone shall be exalted," (2 Nephi 12:17). All that man aspires to is of no worth in the end. These verses are very descriptive in depicting in great details that last day with abundant use of local symbolism that has great meaning in the regions surrounding Jerusalem. All the vain labors of man throughout all time will eventually be counted as nothing before the Lord in the end of times.

This is thus a powerful reminder that the efforts expended in the work of the Lord are of such greater worth to man.

"Many People Shall Go," 2 Nephi 12:1-3

2 Nephi 12:1-3

In this chapter begins the lengthiest direct extraction from the Bible that is found in the Book of Mormon, all of which are the words of Isaiah the prophet.

This first chapter, which is the second chapter from the book of Isaiah, begins with a prophecy of the House of the Lord being established in the tops of the mountains. Latter-day Saints believe this to be in reference to the Salt Lake Temple and its surrounding meeting halls.

I find it particularly intriguing the prophecy that many shall go up to it to find truth and instruction. Then the distinction between Zion and Jerusalem: "out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem," (see vs. 3).

There is a relevant prophecy found in Zechariah.

"I Have Seen Him," 2 Nephi 11

2 Nephi 11

As a qualifier, Nephi states that both Isaiah and his brother Jacob had seen his Redeemer (see vs 2-3). There is not clarification in these verse as far as whether this is seeing with the natural eyes or with the spiritual eyes. I submit that in these cases, each is developed enough spiritually, or at least purified enough personally to see with their spiritual eyes.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," (Matt 5:8).

While in the flesh, the Lord was daily before the people, working great miracles, and the people believed him not to be the Lord their God. (see John 12:37-41)

This is my second day on this topic. When I reread the post title, Joseph Smith's personal testimony of the Savior came to mind, "For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father— " (Doctrine and Covenants 76:21).

A second thought came to me. Why would we trust the witness of someone who ha…

"I Will Fulfill My Promises... Therefore, Cheer Up Your Hearts," 2 Nephi 10:17-25

2 Nephi 10:17-25

(I am still basking in the light of a glorious day of conference sessions. Here we are, the people of God ready to take action in a worldwide organization. There is no gathering like this anywhere on the earth. )

As I read through the final part of this chapter, I can't help but think of how optimistic and hopeful Jacob sounds as he concludes these remarks. This is a true mark of a Christian prophet.

Jacob tells how the Gentiles will be raised up as a mighty people upon the land of promise, and that they will afflict their seed. Ultimately, however, they shall be the means of bringing the Gospel to their posterity. The outcome is optimistic. (see vs. 17-18)

Jacob tells about how they have been taken out of Jerusalem and the land of their inheretance. However, the Lord's will was done in this thing and as a result they had received an even greater land of promise. Additionally, Jacob references scriptural promises made to those that are found upon the isles of the…

"For He That Fighteth Against Zion Shall Perish," 2 Nephi 10:7-16

2 Nephi 10:7-16

There is a trigger in these verses that has been put in place by way of covenant, or promise, to the children of men. In verse 7, we learn that when the house of Israel is brought to believe in Jesus as the Christ, then will He fulfill the promises which He had made to their fathers.

These divine promises are of such strength that in order for the Lord to bring them about, He must destroy the work of the wicked, or those that fight against Zion. In other words, as the righteous (like young plants) begin to grow, the Lord will go about clearing the way for their growth, so that they are not overpowered by the wicked. "...That my covenants may be fulfilled... I must needs destroy the secret works of darkness, and of murder, and of abominations," (vs. 15).

There are specific promises that are made to the believing among the Gentiles. The Lord has promised to bless them upon the promised land forever, so that they would never be subjected to kings. The Lord has se…

"This Should Be His Name," 2 Nephi 10:3

2 Nephi 10:3

Jacob, discoursing on the Savior, calls him for the first time in this record Christ. Parenthetically, Jacob explains that an angel had revealed His name to him the night previous. There is a footnote on the word "angel".

Jacob was one who enjoyed communion with angels. He had had visions of the Savior as early as in is youth. He was also able to hear the voice of the Lord from time to time. Such communications were critical for Jacob, who bore the weight of their civilization's spiritual well being. It was Jacob who moved forward as prophet after his father, Lehi, and older brother, Nephi, were gone. These evidences of divine communion allow me to understand how prophets are truly servants of the most high God.

"For Behold, the Promises," 2 Nephi 10:1-2

2 Nephi 10:1-2

Jacob, the day following his profound and insightful discourse in chapter 9, again resumes the discussion of covenants that are extended to the children of the House of Israel. He is particularly interested in focusing on the righteous remnant that will proceed from their own lineage.

In verse 2, the driving point of this teaching is that these are the the promises that apply to "our children" in this life. These are not theoretical ideas or vague references of general application. "...God will be merciful unto many; and our children shall be restored, that they may come to that which will give them the true knowledge of their Redeemer," (vs. 2).

"Buy... Without Money and Without Price," 2 Nephi 9:50-54

2 Nephi 9:50-54

Jacob concludes this lengthy discourse with symbolism of drinking and eating, applying it to one's acceptance of the Gospel of Christ. The wording is curious.

In verse 50, he invites his listeners to come and buy wine and milk, but to do so without money or without price. He's not saying that it is free. What he is saying is that it can be had without money, but that it still must be bought. How can I buy something without spending money?

To buy something typically requires us to expend our resources in exchange for a good or service. If we are to buy without the resource of money, then we must use some other resource that we have available to us to make the purchase. Perhaps, what Jacob suggests here is that there is an investment of time required on our behalf before we can obtain what is otherwise has no monetary equivalent.

"I Stand with Brightness Before Him", 2 Nephi 9:44-49

2 Nephi 9:44-49

These verses have been in my mind for the last several days. They've caused me to reflect upon my responsibilities before God and in the successful execution of my church callings and assignments.

I appreciate that value that Jacob places on wanting to be clean and pure before God. To remain clean from the blood and sins of his day, he understood his obligation as a leader to his people to teach them the consequences of sin. Jacob concludes this grouping of verses with these words: "Behold, my soul abhorreth sin, and my heart delighteth in righteousness; and I will praise the holy name of my God," (vs 49).

"Remember the Greatness of the Holy One of Israel," 2 Nephi 9:40-43

2 Nephi 9:40-43

I have been reprimanded and reminded this morning about seasons past that I had been closer to my God.

The footnote for "come unto the Lord" in verse 41 lists a long line of scriptures found in the Book of Mormon alone, a powerful reminder of this testament's witness of Christ.

These verses in this chapter also remind me that there is a standard in the Lord God that we are to be measured against.

"Remember the words of your Maker," (vs. 40)."Remember that his paths are righteousness," (vs. 41)."Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him," (vs. 41)."He cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name," (vs. 41).What has impressed me about these verses is that Christ has come as an one knowing, who fulfilled his potential; which divine potential is also an inherent part of our immortal makeup. The standard that I am given the potential to rise up to is the example of the life of the L…

"That Cunning Plan of the Evil One," 2 Nephi 9:28-39

2 Nephi 9:28-39

I don't know of anywhere else in the scriptures where a prophet lays out the designs of the adversary to destroy us, but this is exactly what Jacob does in these verses. I find in these verses applicable course correction and an appropriate understanding of sin so that I can repent and avoid the more serious sins.

Perhaps I don't struggle with all the major sins listed here, but the tendency is there. For instance, I think of how easy it is to glide into auto-pilot in prayers, Sunday School lesson preparation, or participation in Church meetings. If the metaphorical soil of the soul is not tilled periodically and frequently, it becomes harder to learn and receive counsel.

The uncircumcised, murderers, adulterers, idol-worshipers -- these all have they're consequences laid out in simple terms in these verses (see vs. 33-37). In being able to see the consequences of such actions, there is a strength in understanding the results of even allowing ourselves to thin…

The Crux of Salvation, 2 Nephi 9:21-27

2 Nephi 9:21-27

The latter verses in this grouping stand out this morning. In verse 26, "The atonement satisfies the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them...". This reminds me of Nephi's resilient observation that the Lord will not give commandments to his children, except he has prepared a way for the commandment to be fulfilled (see 1 Nephi 3:7). God is a merciful and just being. He has not prepared commandments with the intention of condemning us, but to exalt us.

It impresses me that the Lord God Omnipotent performed the atonement on behalf of all. It impresses me that God will not condemn those who never had the opportunity to received his law. It impresses me that God does expect those who have the law, such as I, to live in obedience according to the standards of His law.

Mercy, Atonement, and Repentance, 2 Nephi 9:19-20

2 Nephi 9:19-20

I've found two scripture in the Book of Mormon this morning that state God's omniscience and mercy in the same thought. Here in 2 Nephi 9:19 & 20, Jacob states that first God is merciful. In the next short verse he adds to his argument that God is all-knowing. In Alma 26:35, Ammon concludes similarly that God, as a being who comprehends all, is merciful to all those who will repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ.

Back in 2 Nephi, these verses are the premise that Jacob sets up for explaining the atonement and the condition of salvation in plain terms.

There is something else that stands out in verse 20: the footnote for holiness. There's a Hebrew translation for the word holiness which means committed or consecrated. I think on the standard of righteousness that is set before us by our God, how he expects us to be like Him even a perfect being. The thought is overwhelming except for the fact that He has also provided the tools to enable us to re…

"Their Joy Shall Be Full Forever," 2 Nephi 9:10-18

2 Nephi 9:10-18

These verses contain a very vivid description of the division between the wicked and the righteousness in the eternal realms and the reasons for this division. This group of verses starts with perhaps the clearest definition of death and hell in all of holy writ.

Death (vs. 11) - A temporal death, also known as the grave. This is what holds our bodies separate from our spirits when we die.

Hell (vs. 12) - Also called spiritual death. This is the holding space for those captive spirits separated from their body. Earlier in this chapter, it was already established that separated from the presence of God, our spirits would be as the devil, consigned to a fallen, disembodied state. This is hell.

In verse 18, the culmination of the blessings of the resurrection are extended to the righteous.
"But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the sh…

"Again in the Flesh I Shall See God," Addendum to 2 Nephi 9:4-9

As an addendum to my last post, I've found another scripture that parallels Job's and Jacob's (brother of Nephi) statements about the resurrection (see Job 19:26, 2 Nephi 9:4). This one says nearly the same thing as the others, only the context of this declaration is significant. In Moses 5:10, Adam states, "Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God." This is father Adam, the head of the human race, when he had finally come to understand the meaning of his fall from the Garden of Eden.

In verses previous to this, Adam had learned that salvation was made available to him on conditions of repentance and faith on the Son of God. Though he had been separated from the presence of God, this new knowledge of God's plan for the human family allowed him to understand that at some future date he could be restored to physically and spiritually live in the prese…

"Cut Off from the Presence of the Lord," 2 Nephi 9:4-9

2 Nephi 9:4-9

In these verses, salvation is defined as a return to the presence of God in our bodies. Verse 4 reads, "Our flesh must waste away and die; nevertheless, in our bodies we shall see God." Job echos a very similar sentiment in the Old Testament, "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God," (Job 19:26).

Jacob is covering a great deal of information in these verses. In explaining the importance or need for an infinite (all-encompassing) atonement, Jacob illustrates the effects of the fall.

(This is something that I don't think I've ever fully comprehended in part because I've never fully experienced it. That is, throughout my life in some form or other, I have known the goodness of God to pad the effects of the fall. I suspect that so it is with most people. Perhaps then the only way to fully comprehend the effects of a separation from God's presence is through prophetic utterance. )

Jacob explains that …

"Lift Up Your Heads Forever," 2 Nephi 9:1-3

2 Nephi 9:1-3

Here Jacob gives reason for his inclusion of these two chapters from Isaiah in his discourse to his own people: "I have read these things that ye might know concerning the covenants of the Lord that he has covenanted with all the house of Israel," (vs. 1). For Jacob, Isaiah is evidence of the Lord's covenant relationship with the house of Israel.

It is Jacob's hope and motivation for sharing this information that his hearers would find strength from the words of Isaiah. Jacob knows that a true knowledge of the covenants of God gives hope and freedom - reasons for rejoicing.

A Committed God, 2 Nephi 8:13-25

These remarks may be construed as boastful, but they are inspired out of a spirit of profound gratitude. I am very grateful this morning for the council that has lead me to start each day out with a period of study in the scriptures. I am grateful to start each study with a prayer to my God, who is also my Father.

This morning as I concluded my prayer, I felt the same regard, respect, appreciation, and love towards my Heavenly Father that I have had towards my own father and other men whom I have held in close personal regard. The reality of God as my Father personally, whom I can love with all the same endearing affections as I have my own mortal father, has been impressed upon my mind this morning.

2 Nephi 8:13-25

As I have read through the remainder of 2 Nephi 8, verses 13-25, the Lord is explaining to His people His personal commitment to them. In verse 16, He concludes with this simple statement, "Behold, thou art my people." Throughout the remainder of this chapter, one t…