BMGD #10 2 Nephi 26-30

February 27, 2012 | 2 comments
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It makes me crazy when people begin with an apology, but . . . my kids are in a theater camp for the next three weeks, which means that I’m spending two hours per day in the car, five hours per day at rehearsal (while still trying to homeschool and keep up with housework), and every other waking minute trying to find silver stage make-up and wondering whether poking myself in the eyeball with a fork would get “The East Witch Is Dead” song out of my head because if it would, I’d do it.  Anyway, notes will be skimpy for the next three weeks.

CHAPTER 26
1 And after Christ shall have risen from the dead he shall show himself unto you, my children, and my beloved brethren; and the words which he shall speak unto you shall be the law which ye shall do.

Do you think children is used literally here (meaning:  Christ will show himself to Nephi’s actual children [in the Spirit world] after he has risen) or less literally (meaning:  Christ will show himself to Nephi’s descendents in the Americas after he has risen) here?

Remember that “brethren” is the archaic form of “brothers” or “brothers and sisters.”  What do you make of Nephi’s description of “children and siblings” here?
It would be interesting to read Jesus’ words in the NT and in 3 Nephi as “the law,” especially since virtually none of it is in the OT form of laws.

2 For behold, I say unto you that I have beheld that many generations shall pass away, and there shall be great wars and contentions among my people.

 

What was the point of Nephi seeing this in advance?  What effect do you think this information had on his people?  What effect does it have on us?

3 And after the Messiah shall come there shall be signs given unto my people of his birth, and also of his death and resurrection; and great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked, for they shall perish; and they perish because they cast out the prophets, and the saints, and stone them, and slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall ascend up to God from the ground against them.

Were the signs of his “death and resurrection” one thing, or were there separate signs given for the death and for the resurrection?

Why would the destruction of the wicked be tied to the death/resurrection of Christ?  In what ways are they related?

Do you take the last line as a poetic flourish, or more literally?  Does it link to the Cain and Abel story?

4 Wherefore, all those who are proud, and that do wickedly, the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, for they shall be as stubble.

How literally do you take this?  If you take it more symbolically, why would burning and stubble (as in: charred remains, not facial hair!) be a good metaphor for the fate of the wicked?

5 And they that kill the prophets, and the saints, the depths of the earth shall swallow them up, saith the Lord of Hosts; and mountains shall cover them, and whirlwinds shall carry them away, and buildings shall fall upon them and crush them to pieces and grind them to powder.

Again, how literally do you take this?  (We know that some of these things literally happened.)  In what situations do you take “natural” disasters to be signs of judgment?  How do you know?

6 And they shall be visited with thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes, and all manner of destructions, for the fire of the anger of the Lord shall be kindled against them, and they shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts.

What is accomplished by the repeated reference to stubble?

7 O the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people! For I, Nephi, have seen it, and it well nigh consumeth me before the presence of the Lord; but I must cry unto my God: Thy ways are just.

I love this first line.  I think the natural human tendency is to gloat when bad things happen to bad people, and the last few verses left up in the air Nephi’s reaction to all of this tragedy.  I love that his first commentary on these events is sadness.

What work is “before the presence of the Lord” doing in this sentence?  I admit that it is a stretch, but it is making me think of Isaiah’s experience (Isaiah 6 = 2 Nephi 16) where he is told that the people won’t repent (of course, this depends on how you interpret those very puzzling verses).

I’m very intrigued by “thy ways are just,” largely because my sense in the beginning and the middle of the verse is that Nephi was wondering if that was indeed the case. What do you think led Nephi to conclude that God’s ways are just?  And, weren’t we expecting mercy, and not justice?

8 But behold, the righteous that hearken unto the words of the prophets, and destroy them not, but look forward unto Christ with steadfastness for the signs which are given, notwithstanding all persecution—behold, they are they which shall not perish.

Do you assume that future Nephite history would have a simple and always-followed delineation where those who obeyed where protected and those who didn’t were killed (hint:  Abinadi)?  If not, then what do you make of v7-8?

I think in the phrase “and destroy them not,” “them” refers to the words of the prophets, or perhaps the prophets themselves.  Then there is a nice little inversion:  destroy the (words of the) prophets, and you will be destroyed, don’t destroy them, and you won’t be either.  (It’s like karma!)

9 But the Son of righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him, until three generations shall have passed away, and many of the fourth generation shall have passed away in righteousness.

Skousen thinks “Sun” instead of “Son” was originally here.

Do you take the time frame of three generations as a historical accident, or is there something significant about that amount of time?

Why do you think this material was revealed to Nephi?

Russel M. Ballard:

Throughout scriptural history, the Lord has promised peace to His followers. Apr 02 GC

From Poetic Parallelisms in the Book of Mormon:

1 A And after Christ shall have risen from the dead he shall show himself unto you,
my children, and my beloved brethren;
B and the words which he shall speak unto you shall be the law which ye shall do.
2 C For behold, I say unto you that I have beheld that many generations shall pass away,
D and there shall be great wars and contentions among my people.
3 E And after the Messiah shall come there shall be signs given unto
my people of his birth, and also of his death and resurrection; and
great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked,
F for they shall perish; and they perish
G because they cast out the prophets, and the saints, and stone them,
and slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall
ascend up to God from the ground against them.
4 H Wherefore, all those who are proud, and that do wickedly,
the day that cometh shall burn them up,
H saith the Lord of Hosts, for they shall be as stubble.
5 G And they that kill the prophets, and the saints,
F the depths of the earth shall swallow them up, saith the Lord of Hosts; and mountains shall cover them, and whirlwinds shall carry them away, and buildings shall fall upon them
and crush them to pieces and grind them to powder.
6 E And they shall be visited with thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes,
and all manner of destructions, for the fire of the anger of the Lord shall be kindled against
them, and they shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts.
7 D O the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people!
C For I, Nephi, have seen it, and it well nigh consumeth me before the
presence of the Lord; but I must cry unto my God: Thy ways are just.
8 B But behold, the righteous that hearken unto the words of the prophets, and
destroy them not, but look forward unto Christ with steadfastness for the
signs which are given, notwithstanding all persecution—behold, they are
they which shall not perish.
9 A But the Son of righteousness shall appear unto them; Citation

10 And when these things have passed away a speedy destruction cometh unto my people; for, notwithstanding the pains of my soul, I have seen it; wherefore, I know that it shall come to pass; and they sell themselves for naught; for, for the reward of their pride and their foolishness they shall reap destruction; for because they yield unto the devil and choose works of darkness rather than light, therefore they must go down to hell.

 

11 For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul.

Webster 1828 “strive”:

1. To make efforts; to use exertions; to endeavor with earnestness; to labor hard; applicable to exertions of body or mind.
2. To contend; to contest; to struggle in opposition to another; to be in contention or dispute; followed by against or with before the person or thing opposed; as, strive against temptation; strive for the truth.
My spirit shall not always strive with man. Gen 6.
3. To oppose by contrariety of qualities.
4. To vie; to be comparable to; to emulate; to contend in excellence.

I find definition #2 interesting, particularly because it matches the Genesis 6 usage.  Actually, I think “strive” might be the perfect word here since the Spirit does #1 and #2 and not a lot of words would convey both of those ideas.

12 And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God;

How are v11 and v12 linked?

What do you make of the addition of “the Eternal God” to the second phrase when it is missing from the first phrase, which is otherwise parallel?

13 And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.

What point in history (if any) do you think Nephi is describing here?  (The Second Coming might be an obvious answer, but if we assume that this passage proceeds in historical order, then that doesn’t fit.)

Are “miracles, signs, and wonders” three different things, or three ways of saying the same thing?

Dallin H. Oaks:

Note that these promised manifestations of the Lord are to “every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.” Today we are seeing the fulfillment of that promise in every nation where our missionaries are permitted to labor, even among peoples we have not previously associated with Christianity. Apr 06 GC, italics his

14 But behold, I prophesy unto you concerning the last days; concerning the days when the Lord God shall bring these things forth unto the children of men.

15 After my seed and the seed of my brethren shall have dwindled in unbelief, and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; yea, after the Lord God shall have camped against them round about, and shall have laid siege against them with a mount, and raised forts against them; and after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written, and the prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten.

NB the military metaphors in this verse:  camp against, laid siege, raise forts, etc.  What does Nephi accomplish by portraying the Lord as an invading army?

I’m intrigued by the idea of the people being no more (“are not”), but the words surviving.  This might be a good description of the end of the BoM record, but if you take it that way, then does that mean that this passage is not in historical order (since v14 referred to the last days)?

What do you make of the idea that the unbelievers will not be forgotten?  Is this the same group that, as the wicked, is destroyed a few verses above?

16 For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground,

and their speech shall be low out of the dust,

and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit;

for the Lord God will give unto him power,

that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground;

and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.

Cf. Isaiah 29:4

What does it mean for speech to be “low”?

Who is the “him” in the 4th line?

Why “whisper”?

If we assume that this refers to the BoM, then Nephi is talking about himself to some extent in this verse, yet he doesn’t show any indication that he is aware of that.  What do you make of that?

Interesting that “those who shall be destroyed” are the righteous here; this would undercut any approach to the above narrative that saw a clean line of good=saved and wicked=destroyed.

A “familiar spirit” is usually a bad thing in the OT.  Is that what it means here?

David A Bednar, taking the “familiar spirit” as a positive thing:

Youth of all ages, even infants, can and do respond to the distinctive spirit of the Book of Mormon. Children may not understand all of the words and stories, but they certainly can feel the “familiar spirit” described by Isaiah.  Apr 10 GC

This is an evocative and unusual verse.  What do you make of the image of the dead, with help from the Lord, speaking from the grave?

17 For thus saith the Lord God:They shall write the things which shall be done among them, and they shall be written and sealed up in a book, and those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not have them, for they seek to destroy the things of God.

What moment(s) in history is this book describing?

18 Wherefore, as those who have been destroyed have been destroyed speedily; and the multitude of their terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away—yea, thus saith the Lord God: It shall be at an instant, suddenly—

What do you make of the multiple references to quick destruction in this verse?

19 And it shall come to pass, that those who have dwindled in unbelief shall be smitten by the hand of the Gentiles.

20 And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor.

There seems to be an interesting parallel of this material to the Isaiah material quoted in the last lesson, with both “the Gentiles” and Assyria taking on a dual role:  they are wicked in themselves, but they will be used by the Lord to smite a fallen covenant people.

Usually in the scriptures, a stumbling block is something someone encounters that was put there by someone else.  In this case, the Gentiles have created their own stumbling block.  What do you make of that?

This reference to “many churches” is an interesting counterpoint to the “save two churches only” in 1 Nephi.  How do you reconcile those two ideas?

Note the list of three things that Gentiles churches do.  In what ways might we (individually or as a church culture) be guilty of the same things?

What does “lifted up in the pride of their eyes” suggest about their attitude?

Why would putting down miracles and putting up their own learning create a climate where they could (1) profit and (2) harm the poor?  How might this happen today?

Note the nice inverse parallelism between putting down God’s power and preaching up their own learning.  What do you take from this image?

21 And there are many churches built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice.

Can you think of ways in which we might be encouraging envyings and strife?  What can we do to avoid those things?

22 And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.

Webster 1828 “flax” includes this:  ” The skin consists of fine fibers, which may be so separated as to be spun into threads as fine as silk.”  The point seems to be that this is the thinnest possible cord, possibly not even entirely visible, certainly so fine and delicate as to seem impossible to cause any harm.  I find this image very powerful–first, that Satan can lead someone by something as seemingly insignificant as a silk thread and, second, that the end result of not getting rid of the flax cord is to be bound by strong cords.

Interesting that we’ve been talking about corporate issues (=the sins of churches) up to this point, but here Nephi pivots to a very individualized image of one person being led by the devil.  What accounts for that shift?

Think more about the relationship between a secret combination and a covenant.  In what ways are they similar?  How are they different?

23 For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.

For what is “in darkness” a metaphor in this verse?  How would you respond to critics of the Church who claim that our temple rituals, finances, etc., are done “in darkness” and therefore are not of God?

24 He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.

Usually we think of “the world” as a negative thing.  How does this verse nuance that view?

What cultural things might we be doing that are, in effect, commanding some people or groups not to partake of salvation?

25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith:

Come unto me all ye ends of the earth,

buy milk and honey,

without money and without price.

This verse stealthily introduces an Isaiah quotation, one of the most frequently used ones in the BoM.

V23-25 are concerned to tell us how the Lord does not work.  What might you learn from this?  How would you contrast how Satan works in v22 with how the Lord works in v23-25?

NB the end of v20–the opposite of grinding the faces of the poor is offering everyone milk and honey for free.  Perhaps this parallel suggests that “the poor” could be read metaphorically (=poor in spirit) as well.

Marion G. Romney:

Jesus put no money price tag on his invitation. Nephi quotes him as saying, “Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.” This does not mean, however, that because he put no money price on it that there is no cost involved. There is a cost to be paid in becoming a disciple of Christ, a very real cost. But the cost is a performance cost, not a money price.  Oct 78 GC

26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.

The repetition from v24 suggests that Nephi viewed the Isaiah quotation in v25-26 as illustrating his point that Christ doesn’t command anyone to go away.  The commentary in v26 suggests that Nephi links this not just to personal salvation, but to the ability to participate in a community.  Assuming you agree with my conclusions here, what does this tell you about how Nephi interprets Isaiah?  Does it suggest any principles of interpretation?

What do you make of the word “persuade” in this verse?

I’m curious about how these words would have sounded to this new, little Nephite group (assuming Nephi shared all of this with them and didn’t just write it down for future generations–is that a good or bad assumption?).  How would they have viewed their separation from the Lamanites in light of this counsel?

28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.

Dieter F.Uchtdorf:

I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters in the Church a special measure of humanity, compassion, and charity so that they feel, at long last, they have finally found home.  When we are tempted to judge, let us think of the Savior, who “loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. … [And] he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, … [for] all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.” Apr 10 GC

Jeffrey R. Holland:

The scriptures are replete with the promise that God’s grace is sufficient.9 This is one arena where no one has to claw or compete. Nephi declares that the Lord “loveth the [whole] world” and has given salvation freely.  “Hath [He] commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness?” Nephi asks. No! “All … are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden [at His hand].”  “Come unto me all ye ends of the earth,” He pleads, and buy milk without money and honey without price.All are privileged, the one like unto the other. Walk peacefully. Walk confidently. Walk without fear and without envy. Be reassured of Heavenly Father’s abundance to you always. As we do this, we can help others, calling down blessings on them even as they make supplication for us. We can cheer every talent and ability, wherever it is bestowed, thus making life here more nearly what it will be like in heaven. Apr 02 GC

D. Todd Christofferson:

By identifying our ancestors and performing for them the saving ordinances they could not themselves perform, we are testifying of the infinite reach of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Christ “died for all.”“He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”“God is no respecter of persons: “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”“Doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.”Our Lord “inviteth … all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”It is inconceivable that this invitation, universally extended in life, would be rescinded for those who had not heard it before they died. With Paul, we are persuaded that death poses no such obstacle: “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, … shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Oct 00 GC

 

29 He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.

Do you parse this verse to say that preaching and being a light is OK if your goal is the welfare of Zion and not gain/praise?  Related question:  Aren’t we supposed to be the light of the world  (Mt 5:14:  “Ye are the light of the world.”)?

Webster 1828 “priestcraft” ” The stratagems and frauds of priests; fraud or imposition in religious concerns; management of selfish and ambitious priests to gain wealth and power, or to impose on the credulity of others.”  (The word is not used in the OT or NT.)

In what ways are members of the Church today tempted to engage in priestcraft?

How does v29 relate to v28, which is another way of saying:  Does Nephi see a link between priestcraft and restricting people from the community?

30 Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.

What does it mean for the laborer in Zion to perish?

Nephi seems to see an inverse relationship between priestcraft and charity/love.  How would you explain that relationship?

31 But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.

This verse seems to tie in the idea of priestcraft and charity and the laborer, but how?  What exactly is Nephi’s argument here?

How does this verse relate to the fact that we all must labor for money (or have someone else do that for us)?

32 And again, the Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another; that they should not commit whoredoms; and that they should do none of these things; for whoso doeth them shall perish.

What does “perish” mean in this sentence?  Does that definition impact how you understand how that word is used earlier in this chapter?

NB that v31 ends with the person who labors for money perishing; this verse is a big ol’ laundry list of things that will cause you to perish.  Do you then read this verse as an explanation of what it means to labor for money?  If not, how do you explain the relationship of this verse to v31?

33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

What does “plain” mean?  Do you feel that everything the Lord does in the scriptures and in your life is “plain”?

Given the various roles and histories of the Jews and Gentiles (about which the BoM has an awful lot to say!), in what sense is it accurate to say that they are alike unto God?

This verse has a lot in common with Galatians 3:28.

Dallin H. Oaks:

“He inviteth them all.” We understand “male and female.” We also understand “black and white,” which means all races. But what about “bond and free”? Bond—the opposite of free—means more than slavery. It means being bound (in bondage) to anything from which it is difficult to escape. Bond includes those whose freedom is restricted by physical or emotional afflictions. Bond includes those who are addicted to some substance or practice. Bond surely refers to those who are imprisoned by sin—“encircled about” by what another teaching of the Book of Mormon calls “the chains of hell” (Alma 5:7). Bond includes those who are held down by traditions or customs contrary to the commandments of God (see Matt. 15:3–6; Mark 7:7–9; D&C 74:4–7; D&C 93:39). Finally, bond also includes those who are confined within the boundaries of other erroneous ideas. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that we preach to “liberate the captives.” Apr 06 GC

Dallin H. Oaks

Similarly, the present-day servants of the Lord do not attempt to make Filipinos or Asians or Africans into Americans. The Savior invites all to come unto Him (see 2 Ne. 26:33; D&C 43:20), and His servants seek to persuade all—including Americans—to become Latter-day Saints. We say to all, give up your traditions and cultural practices that are contrary to the commandments of God and the culture of His gospel, and join with His people in building the kingdom of God. Oct 03 GC

Chieko N. Okazaki:

[The Savior] “inviteth … all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female … and all are alike unto God” (2 Ne. 26:33).  God has given us many gifts, much diversity, and many differences, but the essential thing is what we know about each other—that we are all his children. Our challenge as members of the Church is for all of us to learn from each other, that we may all love each other and grow together.  The doctrines of the gospel are indispensable. They are essential, but the packaging is optional. Let me share a simple example to show the difference between the doctrines of the Church and the cultural packaging. Here is a bottle of Utah peaches, prepared by a Utah homemaker to feed her family during a snowy season. Hawaiian homemakers don’t bottle fruit. They pick enough fruit for a few days and store it in baskets like this for their families. This basket contains a mango, bananas, a pineapple, and a papaya. I bought these fruits in a supermarket in Salt Lake City, but they might have been picked by a Polynesian homemaker to feed her family in a climate where fruit ripens all year round.  The basket and the bottle are different containers, but the content is the same: fruit for a family. Is the bottle right and the basket wrong? No, they are both right. They are containers appropriate to the culture and the needs of the people. And they are both appropriate for the content they carry, which is the fruit.  Now, what is the fruit? Paul tells us: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance” (Gal. 5:22–23). In the sisterhood of Relief Society, in the brotherhood of priesthood quorums, in the reverent coming together to partake of the sacrament, the fruit of the Spirit unites us in love, joy, and peace whether the Relief Society is in Taipei or Tonga, whether the priesthood quorum is in Montana or Mexico, and whether the sacrament meeting is in Fiji or the Philippines. Apr 96 GC

CHAPTER 27
1 But, behold, in the last days, or in the days of the Gentiles—yea, behold all the nations of the Gentiles and also the Jews, both those who shall come upon this land and those who shall be upon other lands, yea, even upon all the lands of the earth, behold, they will be drunken with iniquity and all manner of abominations—

Is “the days of the Gentiles” a synonym for “the last days”?  How would you perceive the time that we live in differently if you thought of it as “the days of the Gentiles” instead of “the last days”?

Why is drunkenness a good metaphor for being filled with iniquity?

Mormon Theology Seminar summary statement:

In a perhaps still more striking illustration of Nephi’s freedom in
adapting the text of Isaiah 29 to his own purposes, he transforms into
two distinct events what in Isaiah 29 is clearly only one historical event.
Language originally describing just the singular fall of Jerusalem is
thus employed to describe both the ancient fall of the Nephite nation
and the latter-day fall of the Gentile nations. Nephi accomplishes this
curious appropriation by inserting into the middle of his quotation
of Isaiah 29:5–6 a lengthy aside that contains no actual Isaiah text
(verses 19–33 of 2 Nephi 26 and verse 1 of 2 Nephi 27). The aside
thus serves as a textual break that traces the major temporal shift
from the end of the Nephites (around 400 c.e.) to the arrival of the
Gentiles in the New World (around 1500 c.e.). Though verses 5 and
6 of Isaiah 29 both refer to the same event, in Nephi’s account the
two verses are distributed among references to two intertwined but
temporally distinct events.  Citation

2 And when that day shall come they shall be visited of the Lord of Hosts, with thunder and with earthquake, and with a great noise, and with storm, and with tempest, and with the flame of devouring fire.

Joseph Fielding Smith, referring to v1-2:

That was said many hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. We are living in the days of the Gentiles when this prediction was to be fulfilled. We see it being fulfilled, and we must remember, my good brethren and sisters, that members of the Church are not members of, and do not belong to the world.  Apr 52 GC

3 And all the nations that fight against Zion, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision; yea, it shall be unto them, even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh but he awaketh and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.

This feels like a complicated image.  I think what is going on here is that, much as you can eat in a dream and then wake up hungry, the nations that fight Zion will think that they are successful but then realize that it was all fake; they will be unfulfilled.  If you agree with that reading, what does it teach about those who fight against Zion?

4 For behold, all ye that doeth iniquity, stay yourselves and wonder, for ye shall cry out, and cry; yea, ye shall be drunken but not with wine, ye shall stagger but not with strong drink.

What does the image of intoxication suggest about those who sin?

5 For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.

What is the spirit of deep sleep, and is that related to the similar metaphor in v3?

6 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book, and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered.

Is the “slumbering” in this verse related to the sleeping in v3 and/or v4?  (It would seem to be an interesting inversion.  Obviously, the slumbering is different–the writers are dead, and the iniquitous are having false dreams.  But the terms draw them together to suggest an inversion by commonality.)

7 And behold the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof.

More info on sealed books here.

Is this book the BoM?  If so, in what ways does it cover the world from beginning to end?  (See also v10.)

What does it mean for a book to be sealed?

Is there a significant difference between a book being a revelation and containing a revelation?

Mormon Theology Seminary summary statement:

Nephi’s use of the Isaianic image of a “book that is sealed” (Isaiah
29:11) aptly illustrates these points. In Isaiah’s original prophecy, this
image is clearly presented as a metaphor (“the vision of all is become
unto you as the words of a book that is sealed”) in a two-verse prose
excursus in the middle of a longer poetic text. Nephi seems to have
picked up on the richness inherent in this image and he expands much
more dramatically on verses 11–12 than on other parts of Isaiah 29.
Recognizing that even Isaiah employs the image only as a symbol,
Nephi repurposes that symbol to stand for something whose emergence
he had witnessed in his own apocalyptic revelation (in 1 Nephi
11–14): the Book of Mormon. He thus weaves his own prophetic
anticipations of what modern Latter-day Saints easily recognize as
the “Charles Anthon incident” into the text of Isaiah, resurrecting the
Isaianic text at the same moment that he, as it were, partially “kills”
the text’s original intentions. Citation

8 Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore the book shall be kept from them.

If this verse is about the BoM, what does it teach us about the BoM?

9 But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another;

Does “deliver” as opposed to “translate” surprise you here?

10 But the words which are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof.

If this is the BoM, Nephi seems unaware of that fact.

11 And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth.

From “sealed” to “upon the housetops” (I presume this means it will go viral–perhaps it will be embedded in a video of a cute cat) is quite the inversion.  Why is there no middle ground for this revelation?

Why would the revelation of “all things” be important?  (Seriously.)

12 Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein.

13 And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.

That “few” included several women; see here.

What does “as if it were from the dead” accomplish in this verse?

14 Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God!

Why do you think Nephi knew and shared “three witnesses” above but only “as seemeth him good” here?

The BoM is certainly the most self-conscious of all scriptural texts.  (Most don’t mention themselves at all; others dispense with their own existence in a verse or two.)  Why do you think it was so important that a history and reception of the BoM be included in the BoM?

15 But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book: Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them.

In most tellings of the Anthon incident, the following details are included that are not in this account:  the reading of the text, the confirmation of the text, and the issuing of a certificate of authenticity, and then backtracking when told of the divine origins of the text.  Why do you think those elements are missing from the account?  (We might also add the role of Martin Harris as intermediary to that list of elements, depending on how you parse this verse.)

16 And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God.
17 And the man shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed.

We are familiar with the Charles Anthon incident.  But it is usually (but not always) the nature of prophecy to have more than one fulfillment, or layer of fulfillment.  Can you imagine other circumstances that might be related to this passage?

18 Then shall the learned say: I cannot read it.

If we assume that this passage had its fulfillment in the Anthon incident, then this would serve as one of the most specific incidents of prophesy ever recorded and fulfilled.  Why do you think this level of specificity would have happened here?

19 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say: I am not learned.

Is there a specific fulfillment for this passage?  If not, then why is there with Anthon–how might you explain the lack of parallelism?

20 Then shall the Lord God say unto him: The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.

21 Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work.

22 Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men.

To whom is the Lord speaking in this verse?

23 For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.

How does this verse relate to what came before it?

24 And again it shall come to pass that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him:

25 Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men—

See JS-H 1:19.

Normally in the scriptures, fear toward God is a good thing, but not here.  What would it look like for fear of God to be “taught by the precepts of men”?

26 Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.

marvelous = causing to marvel, be amazed (not nec. a synonym for ‘good’)

27 And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. For shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding?

counsel =thinking, planning, deliberations

In what situations might we be tempted to hide our deliberations from the Lord?

What the heck does the “potter’s clay” line mean?

28 But behold, saith the Lord of Hosts:

I will show unto the children of men that it is yet a very little while and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field;

and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest.

Cf. Isaiah 29:17

Lebanon is usually known for its forests, so this verse suggests an inversion.

29 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book,

and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.

Cf. Isaiah 29:18

This verse is also picturing a reversal.

30 And the meek also shall increase,

and their joy shall be in the Lord,

and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

Cf. Isaiah 29:19

31 For assuredly as the Lord liveth they shall see that the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off;

Cf. Isaiah 29:20

32 And they that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught.

Cf. Isaiah 29:21

Neal A. Maxwell:

So the process of proving, reproving, and improving unfolds; it should neither offend us nor surprise us. Meanwhile, unevenness in the spiritual development of people means untidiness in the history of people, and we should not make an individual “an offender for a word.” (Isa. 29:21; 2 Ne. 27:32), as if a single communication could set aside all else an individual may have communicated or stood for! Oct 84 GC

33 Therefore, thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:

Jacob shall not now be ashamed,

neither shall his face now wax pale.

Cf. Isaiah 29:22

What does the reference to Abraham accomplish in this verse?

What does a “pale face” symbolize?

34 But when he seeth his children, the work of my hands, in the midst of him,

they shall sanctify my name,

and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob,

and shall fear the God of Israel.

Cf. Isaiah 29:23

35 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding,

and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.

Cf. Isaiah 29:24

CHAPTER 28
1 And now, behold, my brethren, I have spoken unto you, according as the Spirit hath constrained me; wherefore, I know that they must surely come to pass.

2 And the things which shall be written out of the book shall be of great worth unto the children of men, and especially unto our seed, which is a remnant of the house of Israel.

3 For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord—

As Nephi begins this discussion of the state of churches in the last days, (how) is this material a commentary on the Isaiah verses quoted above?  (I’m thinking especially v35 of the previous chapter might be part of the launching point for the ideas in this chapter.)

4 And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance.

Think about the definition of “contention.”  Is there a proper role for contention?  Is contention ever OK?  Is disagreeing ever OK?

5 And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;

Is the emphasis on “no God” or “no God today“?  What kinds of philosophies suggest this?

6 Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.

Cf. JS-H 1:21.

You know, I actually have an enormous amount of sympathy for people who have had enough of organized religion.  I’m a Gen Xer, and our generation has shown, in young adulthood and onward, a substantial decrease in church attendance relative to other age groups and other people at our same age. According to American Grace (a book you should read), the reason my generation has stopped affiliating with churches is as a reaction to the political involvement of churches in the 1980s and onward.  They also note:

When the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life asked a large national sample of nones [people with no religious affiliation] why they rejected religious identification, their objections were not theological or scientific. Instead the new nones reported that “they became unaffiliated, at least in part, because they think of religious people as hypocritical, judgmental or insincere.”  Citation

I suspect that the scandals we grew up seeing (televangelists stealing money from poor old ladies and crying on TV when their affairs were discovered; pedophilia scandals, etc.) played a part as well.  I encounter a lot of people my age who want nothing to do with (any) church because of this, and, frankly, I can’t blame them.  Perhaps this is just a big tangent . . .

What does this section on Satan’s tactics suggest to you about how we need to approach missionary work?

7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.

What is the issue here–instant gratification?  Desire for pleasure?  Desire for socializing?  Desire to conform to social norms?

8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

In all seriousness, it seems like a fine line between “Jesus loves you no matter what you have done” and “God will justify you in committing a little sin.”  What do we need to do to keep the distinction clear?

Joseph Fielding Smith, referring to v7-8:

Do not think that this was said of the world, or even the “stranger . . . within our gates” (see Ex. 20:10). It is said of members of the Church.   Apr 69 GC

Gordon B. Hinckley:

The most persuasive gospel tract is the exemplary life of a faithful Latter-day Saint. We live in a time when the pressures of life make it so easy and so tempting, in fulfillment of the words of Nephi, to commit “a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; … turn aside the just for a thing of naught and revile against that which is good.” (2 Ne. 28:8, 16.) Said the Savior while speaking on the mount: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” If we as a people will walk with integrity, will be honest and moral in our actions, will put into our lives the simple and basic and wonderful principle of the Golden Rule, others will be led to inquire and learn.   Apr 82 GC

What’s incorrect about the statement at the end of the verse?  By which I mean:  Is it not possible for a sinner to be punished and then move on?

9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.

This verse repeats a lot from 27:27.  If you take both of these verses as bookends, what do you conclude about the material in between?

How can you recognize a false teacher?

10 And the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.

Why would these false teachings, which don’t have anything directly to do with the dead, cause the saints to cry from the ground?

11 Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted.

Jim F.:  ” This is a variation on or another translation of the beginning of Psalms 14:3 and 53:3. (See also Romans 3:12.)”

12 Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up.

Skousen thinks “doctrines” instead of “doctrine” was original here.

NB that pride is mentioned twice in this verse.  Webster 1828 entry for pride:

1. Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.

2. Insolence; rude treatment of others; insolent exultation.

3. Generous elation of heart; a noble self-esteem springing from a consciousness of worth.

4. Elevation; loftiness.

5. Decoration; ornament; beauty displayed.

6. Splendid show; ostentation.

7. That of which men are proud; that which excites boasting.

8. Excitement of the sexual appetite in a female beast.

9. Proud persons.

In addition to #8, anything catch your attention?  ;)

Jim F.:  ” An inclusion is like a sandwich, with two pieces of bread and a filling in between. Inclusion creates a set of parentheses around something to help us understand that thing. Here the “bread” is the mention of pride; the “filling” is what comes between: false teachers, false doctrine, corrupt and lifted up churches. What is the relation between the “bread” of this inclusion” and its “filling”?”

13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.

How much can you spend before a building is a “fine sanctuary”?  How much can you spend on your clothing?

Why is it true that fine sanctuaries rob the poor?  (Is it not possible to have a really expensive church and still give buckets of money to the poor?)

What would persecuting the meek look like?

Why is there a link between being prideful and mistreating others?

14 They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.

How do you mesh this verse with v11, which seems to suggest that they are all corrupt?

How does teaching by the precepts of men lead to pride?

15 O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!

16 Wo unto them that turn aside the just for a thing of naught and revile against that which is good, and say that it is of no worth! For the day shall come that the Lord God will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth; and in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish.

Harold B. Lee:

Obviously this was intended for those in Zion or for the pure in heart of the Church.  Oct 63 GC

What is the “thing of naught” in this verse?

17 But behold, if the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness and abominations they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of Hosts.
18 But behold, that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof.

19 For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish;

Is this verse teaching that those who belong to the devil’s kingdom can repent?

Neal A. Maxwell:

Being so “stirred up” will be a real thing, though we can only speculate as to how it will be achieved. Oct 98 GC

What do you make of the two (different) uses of “stirred up” in this verse?

Neal A. Maxwell:

Some will even come out of the kingdom of the devil, which the Lord has promised to shake in order to stir some therein to repentance (see 2 Ne. 28:19). These souls, bruised but believing, will have fought their way through guerrilla territory, searching for spiritual liberty even as forces in the world seek “to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries” (Ether 8:25). Oct 80 GC

20 For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.

21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

How do you balance this verse with the idea of “not steadying the ark”?

I usually hate pop psych, especially when intertwined with the gospel, but this article on the role of habits was very interesting.  Best line:  “Habits aren’t destiny — they can be ignored, changed or replaced. But it’s also true that once the loop is established and a habit emerges, your brain stops fully participating in decision-making. So unless you deliberately fight a habit — unless you find new cues and rewards — the old pattern will unfold automatically.”  That sounds like the scientific explanation as to what is happening when we allow Satan to use our habits to “lull” us.

Webster 1828 pacify:

To appease, as wrath or other violent passion or appetite; to calm; to still; to quiet; to allay agitation or excitement; as, to pacify a man when angry, or to pacify his wrath or rage; the word being applied both to the person and to the passion. So we say, to pacify hunger, to pacify importunate demands.

2. To restore peace to; to tranquilize; as, to pacify countries in contention.

That definition makes it sound like pacifying is a really good thing!  What does it mean, then, to say that the devil pacifies people?

What is the link between a pacified person and a cheated soul?

Does the word “carefully” surprise you?

Dallin H. Oaks:

Those who fall for this deception may profess to believe in God, but they do not take His commandments or His justice seriously. They are confident in their own prosperity and conclude that God must have accepted their chosen route. Oct 04 GC

James E. Faust:

I have always been fascinated that people are led carefully down to hell. Apr 89 GC

Ezra Taft Benson

I like that word “carefully.” In other words, don’t shake them, you might awake them.  Apr 65 GC

Ezra Taft Benson:

I think we need to be on the alert today to see that that does not happen in the Church. Oct 55 GC

22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

There’s something funny going on here:  If someone is whispering in your ear that he does not exist, you might question that!  What do you make of this image?  Is it related to the “whispering”?

Webster 1828 flatter:

1. To soothe by praise; to gratify self-love by praise or obsequiousness; to please a person by applause or favorable notice, by respectful attention, or by any thing that exalts him in his own estimation, or confirms his good opinion of himself. We flatter a woman when we praise her children.

2. To please; to gratify; as, to flatter one’s vanity or pride.

3. To praise falsely; to encourage by favorable notice; as, to flatter vices or crimes.

4. To encourage by favorable representations or indications; as, to flatter hopes. We are flattered with the prospect of peace.

5. To raise false hopes by representations not well founded; as, to flatter one with a prospect of success; to flatter a patient with the expectation of recovery when his case is desperate.

6. To please; to soothe.

7. To wheedle; to coax; to attempt to win by blandishments, praise or enticements.

We generally consider it a good thing to praise and express gratitude to other people; does that put those people at risk of being flattered?

Why would it be flattery to suggest that there is no hell?

William H. Bennett, on v20-22:

I should like to emphasize, my brothers and sisters, that those words of Nephi apply to some members of our Church today and not just to some individuals who are not members of our Church. May I suggest that all of us do some soul-searching on that matter and make whatever corrections are necessary to get back on course.   Apr 75 GC

23 Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.

Skousen thinks that the second “and death, and hell” was not original.

Assuming that the lake of fire and brimstone is not to be taken literally, why is it a good symbol for hell?

24 Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!

In what ways  might we be “at ease” in Zion?  How do you balance this idea with the idea that humans were created to have joy?

Jim F.:  “As we read verses 19-24, it is often tempting to see someone else as the person described, often someone outside the Church, but if someone inside, then someone with whom we disagree. However, the scriptures are most useful to us when we apply them to ourselves, so our questions should be about us: how do I anger at that which is good, become lulled into carnal security, or accept flattery and deny the existence of hell? ”  (I love the way he phrases things.)

25 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!

I think of this verse every time we sing “Come, Come Ye Saints.”

26 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!

What kinds of things might your average Sunday School attending LDS do that could constitute denying the power of God or denying the gift of the Holy Ghost?

27 Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!

In what ways do you see this attitude in church culture today?

28 And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.

What do you the rocky and sandy foundations symbolize in this verse?  How do you know?

29 Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!

Thinking about this verse, what attitude toward change do you need to cultivate?

30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

NB the contrast between those who try to hide their own counsel from the Lord (mentioned in previous verses) and those who follow the counsel of the Lord in this verse.

In what ways would obeying and listening lead to wisdom?

What would the process of having things taken away (from those who say “We have enough”) look like?

Robert D. Hales:

We will still find it challenging to wait upon the Lord, especially when we cannot fully understand His plan and purposes for us. That understanding is most often given “line upon line, [and] precept upon precept.”In my life I have learned that sometimes I do not receive an answer to a prayer because the Lord knows I am not ready. When He does answer, it is often “here a little and there a little”because that is all that I can bear or all I am willing to do.  Too often we pray to have patience, but we want it right now! As a young man, President David O. McKay prayed for a witness of the truthfulness of the gospel. Many years later, while he was serving his mission in Scotland, that witness finally came. Later he wrote, “It was an assurance to me that sincere prayer is answered ‘sometime, somewhere.’” Oct 11 GC

31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

32 Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.

CHAPTER 29
1 But behold, there shall be many—at that day when I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel;

Many what?  (Maybe Gentiles that repent from 28:32?)

2 And also, that I may remember the promises which I have made unto thee, Nephi, and also unto thy father, that I would remember your seed; and that the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed; and my words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel;

3 And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.

What would “Bible” have meant in this context, hundreds of years before even the OT text was jelled and none of the NT written?  What does its use here suggest to you about the process of translation of the BoM?

4 But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?

I find it curious that instead of addressing the “Bible only” attitude from v3, the Lord pivots here to addressing the fact that, despite their attachment to the Bible, they aren’t nice to the Jews who gave it to them.  Can you discern why the Lord would have taken that approach in this passage?

5 O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.

And there goes your last excuse for anti-Semitism!

6 Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?

7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.

How would you respond to a non-LDS Christian who read this verse and said, “That can’t possibly be right–that verse has the Lord saying that He wasn’t able to complete or finish His work in the Bible.  Why would the Lord disparage his own work like that?  Why wouldn’t he have made the Bible complete?”  In thinking through your response to that question, what does it tell you about the nature or scripture and what you should expect from scripture?

10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.

11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.

Do you read this verse to suggest that the Lord communicates through (different) scripture with people in each culture?  (Cf. v 12) What are the implications of your answer to that question?

What do you think it means to say that people will be judged by the words of scripture?

12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.

13 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.

What purposes are served by each nation getting counsel meant for other nations?  What does this system suggest to you about how you should interpret scripture?  (Cf. v14 on gathering.)

14 And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.

Is the parallel between the people gathering and words gathering a happy coincidence, or is something more going on here?

CHAPTER 30
1 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.

2 For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.

3 And now, I would prophesy somewhat more concerning the Jews and the Gentiles. For after the book of which I have spoken shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written; and they shall carry them forth unto the remnant of our seed.

4 And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews.

5 And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.

6 And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.

“White” was original here where “pure” is used; this appears to be a change Joseph Smith made to the 1840 BoM.

7 And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ shall also become a delightsome people.

Is the omission of “pure” from before delightsome (cf. v6) significant?

8 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth.

9 And with righteousness shall the Lord God judge the poor,

and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.

And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth;

and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

Isaiah 11:4 has “he” instead of “Lord God.”

judge = treat (So the first line means that he will treat the poor fairly.) In what ways do people in our society not treat the poor fairly?  How can we be sure that we are treating them fairly?

reprove = decide (So the 2nd line is parallel with the first.)

“Earth” might be a mistranslation–it could be “ruler,” which might make more sense, since the earth seems an over-broad object for punishment.

“Rod of his mouth” and ‘breath of his lips’ = judgments, speech. These will end injustice for the earth/rulers.  I find it interesting that he won’t resort to violence to slay the wicked, but to just laws.

10 For the time speedily cometh that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy; and he will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire.

Since the next verse picks up the Isaiah quotation from the previous verse, this verse appears to be commentary on Isaiah.  Given that, in what ways might this verse be a commentary on the Isaiah quote in v9?

11 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins,

and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

Isaiah 11:5 is virtually identical.

Netbible:

Justice will be like a belt around his waist,

integrity will be like a belt around his hips.

What does this image suggest to you?

12 And then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb;

and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling, together;

and a little child shall lead them.

Isaiah 11:6 is virtually identical.

This verse pictures the end of the natural and expected predator-prey relationship.  What would it suggest symbolically?  (My thoughts:  a complete reordering of the world, unexpected changes [which fit in with the problem of saying, ‘we already have a Bible, thanks!’ above], the end of fear, danger, and threats.)

13 And the cow and the bear shall feed;

their young ones shall lie down together;

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

Isaiah 11:7 is virtually identical.

I like the fact that the lion’s needs are still met!

14 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp,

and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den.

Isaiah 11:8 is virtually identical.

Every mother who has ever lived understands the power of this verse–the end of danger to children is truly the mark of a changed order of reality.

15 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain;

for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11:9 is virtually identical.

NB the relationship between knowledge of the Lord and right actions.

How does this quotation from Isaiah relate to the material about the Bible, the Jews, the scattering/gathering, and covenants that came before it?

This passage from Isaiah was already quoted in 2 Nephi 21.  What does the fact that  it is quoted again–only a dozen or so chapters later!–suggest to you about how the BoM uses Isaiah?

16 Wherefore, the things of all nations shall be made known; yea, all things shall be made known unto the children of men.

How does the “wherefore” in this verse relate to the Isaiah quote that immediately precedes it?

17 There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed.

How should this knowledge impact your life?

18 Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more, for a long time. And now, my beloved brethren, I make an end of my sayings.

Skousen thinks “I must make an end” was original here.

Additional Resources:

Reading Nephi Reading Isaiah: Reading 2 Nephi 26-27

2 Responses to BMGD #10 2 Nephi 26-30

  1. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 29, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Nicely done.

  2. Jacob F on March 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks Julie!