28 November 2009

"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 government will require a great deal of training and instruction.

The essence of Christ's government is self-discipline. With control of one's self, there is peace within one's self and with all those around them. There is also the ingredient of inspiration/revelation, that will be prominent in the government of Christ. The ability to connect with Heaven through revelation will make it possible for effective government to be administered at all levels efficiently. "The zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall perform this." (vs. 7)

On the topic of government, I've discovered or re-discovered Doctrine and Covenants 134 which offers a declaration on the role of government as viewed from the position of the Church.

25 November 2009

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 yoke of man's burden had been removed, the rod of the oppressor had been broken. The advantages of the world over the house of Israel are overcome, and now their faith has proven effective. Really, this has reference to the liberating power of forgiveness which comes from Christ's Atonement. For without the burden of sin, there is no oppression that can weigh down the glorious power of hope experienced in forgiveness. Thus the joy is compared to the fruit of a harvest.

As this joy is also compared to the spoils of battle in verse 3, in verse 5 it describes the nature of the battle. Most battles are with great bloodshed, but the war for the souls of men shall be different. The footnote in verse 5 takes us to Malachi 4:1 -
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, 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.
This is why Isaiah says this battle shall be with "burning and a fuel of fire." This is the Lord's battle and when that great day comes, those who stand in opposition to the work of the Lord shall be destroyed by fire. Being found on the Lord's side shall also bring great joy, an increase of joy, at that day.

24 November 2009

"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 Savior's ministry was a literal fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Therefore, learn this, oh man, that the words of the prophets of God shall be fulfilled -- all things in their season, and not according to the time frame of man.