29 May 2009

"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 also Jacob 5:49)

Vs. 5 - Here God explains what he will do with his vineyard gone wild: He will remove all protection from it, so that wild beasts can enter in and the walls that were a as defense, will now be made easily passable by the enemy.

Vs. 6 - He continues to explain what he will not do: no digging, no pruning, no weeding, no rain. This last point is a sobering reminder that this is God, who is all-powerful, "I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it."

Vs. 7 - The significance of the parable is revealed in these verse plainly, "For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel, the men of Judah his pleasant plants..." Comparing grapes to wild grapes, Isaiah goes on to explain, "he looked for judgment, and behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry."

These verses are very illustrative of the spiritual causes for apostasy among the house of Israel from long ago. I am impressed at how applicable these verses are to me with a reminder of all that God has done to prepare the way for us to bring forth fruit.

20 May 2009

"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 agreement. To have the capacity to bear children, but being unable to because of marital status according to the laws of God, will seem to have greater weight on their minds. The burden of being unable to fulfill one of their God-given mandates to rear and raise children is real to them.

Vs. 2 - "In that day" - the millennial day.
"shall the branch of the Lord be glorious and beautiful" - this is referring to the people of God that shall come forth. In Spanish, the word for "branch" is "sprout", suggesting new growth. That actually changes the meaning of this verse to suggest that after the destruction that shall come upon the daughters of Zion, the new growth or perhaps the children that are born afterward will be "glorious and beautiful".
"The fruit of the earth excellent and comely" - Perhaps this has reference to the end of the curse which God placed upon Adam and Eve, wherein he cursed the ground with plants that would produce thorns and weeds. This is mere speculation, as I am not familiar with such a prophecy otherwise.
"To them that are escaped of Israel" - In Spanish, this literally translates to "to them of Israel who have escaped". There is a footnote on "escaped" in the Isaiah version, which also suggests that it is not saying that they are escaped from Israel. Instead, they belong to the house of Israel and they have escaped some great captivity, probably that of the world and sin.
Another verse in Isaiah explains this well, "...and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth," (Isa 10:2).

Vs. 3 - "And it shall come to pass" - Future tense, prophetic assurance of events that will happen.
"They that are left in Zion and remain in Jerusalem" - Footnote on "left" says that this is when the righteous will shine forth "as sun in the kingdom of their Father," (Matt 13:43).
"Shall be called holy" - Those that remain are pure and clean in the cities of God.
"every one that is written upon the living in Jerusalem--" - This suggests that the wicked have died or been destroyed.

Vs. 4 - "When the Lord shall have washed away the filth" - Only the Lord can truly cleanse from sin. Forgiveness is ultimately His and His alone to give. It's the finery and ornaments of this world that the Lord considers to be "filth". These things will be replaced in a cleansing and humbling, yet purifying, process.
"the daughter of Zion" - again a reminder that this cleansing will come upon the "daughters" who will not be destroyed, but will be cleansed.
"And shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem" - cleansing of Jerusalem will be done by the Lord at that day.
"From the midst there of" - Suggesting that everything surrounding Jerusalem is wickedness.
"By the spirit of judgment" - The Lord is both merciful and just. Here at the end of times and at the beginning of the Millennium, judgment is executed.
"and by the spirit of burning" - "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch," (Mal 4:1).

Vs. 5 - "And the Lord will create" - Footnote on "Lord" explains in more plain detail how it is the the Lord will become a literal light to the people. This also reminds me that the Lord is He who creates, or in otherwords, He is the source of our blessings.
"Upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion" - The residences of those that live in Zion in the Millennium.
"And upon her assemblies" - Church houses, synagogues, any gathering place in Zion.
"A cloud and smoke by day" - There is a diffusion of the harsh daylight sun that will be replaced by the Lord with a cloud for shade. The footnote on "cloud" references when the Lord was as a cloud to the children of Israel when they fled Egypt under Moses's direction (see Ex. 13:21).
"and the shining of flaming fire by night" - Darkness will exist no more, even when the sun goes down. Again, this is like unto the Exodus when the Lord led them by a pillar of fire in the night.
"For upon all the glory of Zion shall be a defence." Jesus Christ himself is the glory of Zion. That glory, His glory, will be a defence to the righteous against all evil.

Vs. 6 - "For there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat" - The verse suggests that there is need of such a protection.
"and for a place of refuge, and a covert from storm and from rain" - A footnote on "refuge" suggests that this is speaking symbolically of the challenges and opposition that the adversary would wage against us. In Zion, there is protection from the harshness of the elements of the world.

12 May 2009

"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.

09 May 2009

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 Jesus Christ, who is the Fountain of all righteousness , I might finally become like Him.

(There is a lot of striving that has gone into working out the wording of these verse.)

05 May 2009

"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.