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"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, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the 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. This reminder that the begetting of children is a blessing which the Lord extends to us. It is a small part of the creation which the Lord permits us to be a part of.

How profound is parenthood.

"... are for signs and wonders in Israel," These ideas are calculated to be perceived only by those who have eyes to see. At first reading, this would suggests that Isaiah and his children will be the means of some miraculous spectacle. But the full context contained within the verse seems to suggests otherwise. Isn't it obvious that what Isaiah is referring to in this verse is the same idea that in our days has been articulated like this: "The Family is central to the Creator's plan" (see the Family: A Proclamation to the World ).

The end of the verse helps me to understand and come to this conclusion even more. "...from the Lord of Hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion." Mount Zion in my mind becomes a symbolic representation of the temple, or a place were the Spirit of the Lord dwells continually, a holy place where only the pure in heart are to dwell.

The home, the family dwelling space, ought to also be like the temple, therefore Isaiah and his family are become signs for Israel of the type of life that the Lord would have his people to live.
They are become evidence of the true doctrine of Christ to a people that are turned completely backwards as to the true purposes of life. Their wonder is the calculated success of family life that in their times as well as ours was so very hard to achieve.

This deep discovery in a small verse from the Old Testament has had a profoundly enlightening effect upon me over the last several days. I was well acquainted with the doctrine of family life as found in our modern church, but there are very few evidences of this being taught at all in the church of antiquity. If the church is the same as the church in antiquity, why wasn't it taught to the Israelites. The answer is that it was, but they had a hard enough time abiding by the Law of Moses, that the Celestial law of family could hardly be comprehended. But here Isaiah states that he and his family are for a witness to Israel from the God that dwells in Zion of what Israel could have if they would turn to the Lord their God.

The doctrine of the family is eternal. That Isaiah understood this, as one of the great Biblical witnesses for Christ, reinforces even more the significance of family relationships in our Father in Heaven's plan of happiness for his children.

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