26 June 2009

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 like the burning of a fire."

The use of the word "strangers" means that these are peoples who are not of the chosen people of God. Clearly, this is evidence that at the end of times, as many as will come to the table of the Lord to feast upon his word shall come to eat. Their inheritance, the inheritance of strangers that believe is to receive that part which was prepared for the house of Israel had they chosen to believe in and follow Christ.

24 June 2009

"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 has a footnote on the word "holy". Its first reference is in Leviticus 19:2, "Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy."

Back in verse 16 from Isaiah, it is as much as to say: Oh house of Israel, you could have been here with me! But you had no interest in my work. My words were not found in you; nor were your hearts close to me. Behold, how I have been sanctified because I continued in righteousness. Now, I proceed forward with my work, which is holy.

23 June 2009

"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 light unto themselves as they supposed, represents a complete destruction of all that is around them.

"And the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled." With eyes previously fixed elsewhere on their own pomp and glory, they are finally brought to consider their own relationship with God.

22 June 2009

"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 pull makes it hard to see the direction in which they are being pulled.

The irony of the situation is that it is the glory and the multitude and the pomp that makes it so hard to see the direction in which one is travelling is a straight ticket into the depths of despair.

19 June 2009

"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 failure to realize this later point is what then brought them down into condemnation.

"Because they have no knowledge;" - So building on the point, the blessings that should have been obtained from their abundance was knowledge. Knowledge is the result of faith in action and the substance of what constitutes personal conviction and testimony. Israel lacked that testimony of God's work, because as we're reminded in verse 12, they had no interest it.

"And their honorable men are famished," - Feasting upon the words of Christ would remedy this spiritual malnourishment. I'm also reading this as being in reference to the leaders and teachers among the house of Israel. This I feel is in part the cause of the final observation in this verse.

"And their multitude dried up with thirst." - If the honorable men, those whom are charged with the responsibilities to teach and lead the body of Christ, are not able to feast upon Christ's words and drink deeply from the well of Life, how can they ever begin to hope to impart any living water to the multitude? Hence, the leadership suffers from hunger, and the congregation is "dried up with thirst."

The accusations are pointed and clear, and ever bit as applicable in our day as it was in the time of Isaiah.

18 June 2009

"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 need to be realized in order for a soul to be fulling converted to the pathway of righteousness, I'm almost overwhelmed with how hard that can be. It is at one level so hard and difficult, while on another level, so very simple, that to those who do not have eyes to see and ears to hear, it because almost impossible to discern the works of the Lord.

Hence, if our attentions are focused on finery and the details of luxury, in place of subtle prompting of the Spirit and the details of the Lord's work, we stand in direct opposition to the work of God and His righteousness.

17 June 2009

"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 bed early, 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 motivations that are caused by the workings of the Spirit of God. Yet, they work in the same time frame, the one causing destruction on the one hand and the other working salvation on the other hand.

04 June 2009

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 buildings. In the eyes of the Lord, here He sees the earth which he had created for man, being bought up by the rich, sometimes taken by force. Then those that lived on those lands are sent in their poverty into the big cities to dwell in cramped conditions. The earth which the Lord had made for man was being squandered by the rich.

Vs 9 - "In mine ears," this is what the prophet hears. "Saith the Lord of Hosts," What the prophet hears is the voice of the Lord. "Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, and great and fair cities without inhabitant." Because of the greed that drives the building of these great cities, the Lord has said that they will be left empty, abandoned. Why and where will they go? Crime is a rampant issue with city dwellings.

If it were me, the desire to spread myself out and work the land is an even greater motivator to remove myself from city life. Other possible causes could include inflation, these city dwelling places becoming just too expensive to live in. Such is our dilemma now.

Vs 10 - "Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of a homer shall yield an ephah." This seems to go back to the thought that the Lord desires that we work the land for our sustaining. These measurements are explained in greater detail in the Bible Dictionary. Basically, ten acres of vineyard will produce one bath, a liquid measurement roughly the equivalent of 8 gallons. Ten acres to yield only 8 gallons?! An ephah is a dry measure equivalent of a bath. It is a tenth of a homer, which is a larger measurement. The results should be the opposite. Where a homer of seed is planted, the harvest should be ten fold greater, not one tenth of the seed planted.

What the Lord is illustrating here is the complete reversal in productivity that is created when people are taken off of their lands and brought to dwell in cities. There is an interesting verse in Micah 2:2 that reads, "And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage." This verse is given in direct reference to these verses discussed herein.