Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The amount of space left to engrave on the small plates of Nephi has
evidently become very small and the last five people who posses the plates
write just a few words. It almost seems like the first four are saving
space for the next person who will have possession of the plates. Omni, the
first to write seems to have spent most of his time in war. He says he is a
wicked man, but I wonder how wicked he really is. Omni passes the plates on
to his son Amaron, who gives the plates to his brother Chemish. Chemish
probably writes the worst verse in the Book of Mormon. He delivers the
plates to his son Abdinadom who delivers them to his son Amaleki who writes
the most of these five and his words are serve as a transition into the
history that is found on the large plates.

Amaleki lives during the time of King Mosiah and his son King Benjamin.
After fleeing Jerusalem and arriving in the promised land, the Nephites
originahad to split with the Lamanites and flee into what became known as
the land of Nephi and there they built their temple. Now they are forced to
flee again when the Lord warns King Mosiah that if they do not flee, they
will be overtaken by the Lamanites. After a number of years, a group of
Nephites return to the land of Nephi but they are not heard of again. All
this reminds me of the early saints having to flee Kirtland, then Missouri,
and then finally Nauvoo.

I think it is fitting that Amaleki finishes the plates with a strong witness
of Christ and a plea that all who read his words and the words of the
prophets come unto Christ through fasting, prayer and enduring to the end.
I am glad that it didn't end with the writings of the previous four who
added little or no doctrine or testimony at all.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Jarom chooses not to write any doctrine but to give a bit of history. It's from Jarom that we learn there have been wars on an almost continual basis with the Lamanites and the Nephites have been led into battle by their kings and leaders who were great and righteous men. Jarom also tells us that there are many who receive revelations, and the prophets and other church leaders work hard to teach the people about the coming of Christ and the law of Moses. The prophets understand the prophecies that the Nephites will be destroyed at some point because of their denial of God and Jarom says they taught the people with all of their strength so this wouldn't happen. There also doesn't seem to be much room left on the small plates and Jarom stops writing and tells us if we want to know more of their history we should go to the large plates.

Friday, March 26, 2010


We don’t know much about Enos. He went into the woods to hunt and while there the teachings of his father seemed to weigh upon him deeply and he felt a need to repent of his sins. I do not think that he was a sinful or bad person. He was obviously worthy enough for Jacob to pass on the plates and all of the other sacred things the prophets possessed. This would have included the Liahona, the sword of Laban and probably other important items. Perhaps he was avoiding his calling, or felt unworthy of it like President Kimball who after being called as an apostle, went up into the mountains and prayed because he felt unworthy of being an apostle, even though he was worthy.

Much has been said about the process that Enos went through. He first prayed for himself and having received forgiveness from the Lord, and I think a determination to do his best in the calling, he then prays for his fellow Nephites who have become a stiff-necked people. I think this means they were prideful and stubborn. Then he prays for his enemies the Lamanites. When we have the Spirit, and when we possess charity, we view those people we don’t like, and those people who abuse us, differently. Being accepted of the Lord changes how we look and feel about other people. While we can’t condone their bad acts and often have to deal with the consequences of their actions, our hearts and minds are more at peace, more settled because we look upon all people more as the Lord does. Instead of anger, we feel pity.

When the Lord says we should love our enemies, I don’t think it’s with the same love we feel for someone like a spouse or family member. President Taylor said that wasn’t possible or necessary. I don’t think Enos loved the Lamanites in the manner he loved his fellow Nephites. He says the Lamanites had sworn they would destroy them. They were a hating, wild, ferocious, blood-thirsty, filthy people who were obviously ignorant and lacking in an ability to understanding their own lack of progress. But if they were converted and their hearts softened, what kind of people would they become? I think that’s what we do when we pray for our enemies, that their hearts will be softened.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jacob 7

There are so many Sherems in the world today. These are people who, as
Jacob points out, are intelligent, are very convincing speakers and use
their powers of logic and persuasiveness to convince others of the falsity
of their beliefs. Sounds like politicians could easily fit in this
category. Sherem's argument is typical of people who argue against
religion or more specifically, a belief in God. He says, "no man knoweth of
such things; for he cannot tell of things to come." This argument reveals a
person who has never been influenced by the Spirit, or when influenced by
the Spirit, denies the feelings in their heart. Most revelation comes as a
feeling and people who do not allow themselves to feel what is in their
heart (hard heartedness) can only rely on their own intelligence. Many
people like this deny Christ and do so for one reason, to avoid
accountability for their actions. It allows them to do what they wish
regardless of right or wrong. Apostates who fight against the church more
often than not are people who do not want to face their sins. If the church
is false, then the preaching is false so they are not accountable to a false
church. Anyone who tears down the church, or attempts to tear down your
beliefs, does so so they do not have to contend with changing their own
lives. Only when faced with death does Sherem confess his lying. It's
interesting that after his death, Jacob still refers to him as a wicked man.

I can really identify with Jacob when he says "our lives passed away like as
it were unto us a dream." Life is short and it does fly by.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jacob 6

This ends Jacob's sermon to his people. Before chapter 5, Jacob had been telling his people that they needed to repent, that they were part of a picture that was much bigger than they realized and then quoted the allegory of the olive tree, an allegory his people and future generations of his people would be familiar with. Having quoted Zenos' allegory, Jacob now pleads with his people to repent. He prophecies that there will come a time when a last effort will be made by the Lord to restore his gospel and his people, Israel, and those who labor in the gospel will be greatly blessed. His pleas to his people are also pleas to us in our day, to not reject the words of the prophets. There have been so many prophets and all of them have prophesied of Christ, and the gospel and the power of the Holy Ghost. We have more words of more prophets than any people in history. Each one serves as a witness to us of the truth of Christ's gospel and his work. It is comforting to know that so many have testified and taught, and continue to teach today the same words that have been taught over centuries and centuries of time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Jacob 5

A book could be, and actually has been, written on just on Jacob 5. One thing that Jacob 5 shows is that he had, like Nephi and other great prophets, an understanding of all things. He had seen in vision the Lord's work on the earth. The great thing about prophets is they have a perspective of everything from the beginning of this world and before to its end and beyond. They understand the great symphonies while we struggle with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

With 77 verses, Jacob is undoubtedly the longest chapter in all of scripture. Basically, the chapter is a history of the Lord's dealings with his people from starting with Jacob and then going on until the millennium. As the Lord talks about his vineyard which is Israel, and his efforts to establish a righteous people so the gospel and the ordinances of salvation can go to all of God's children. In the chapter, when the Lord is calling for the destruction of the vineyard because of it's inability to bring forth fruit because of wickedness, I think this represents justice, and the servants pleading for him not to destroy the vineyard or Israel, represents mercy. We are in the midst of the first sixties verses, most of which has already transpired. Here are the verses and the time periods. If you read it from this perspective, it's a little easier to understand. It is definitely worth taking time to delve deeply into, but like Isaiah, it takes time and repetition. I know I only grasp it on the surface.

3-14 Jacob and the start of the house of Israel to the end of the prophets. Basically, 1800 to 400 B.C. Also during the time, some of Israel enters marriage with Assyrians and Babylonians (wild branches) and this creates the Samaritans.

15-16 400 B.C to Christ

17-28 This is the ministry of Christ and after.

25-27 The Nephites and Lamanites

29 The apostasy to Joseph Smith

30-75 The restoration of the millennium

76-77 The millennium

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jacob 4

To me, this chapter is an introduction to the allegory that will comprise chapter 5, the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon. There is much in chapter 4 to think about, by I'm going to focus on what I think are the 5 reasons Jacob gives for writing the allegory.

1. (verses 2-3) Jacob tells us how hard it is to engrave on the plates, and with the plates being small in number, he has to choose wisely what he will say. With this in mind, the allegory must be very important to take up so much room on the plates. He says he hopes what he writes will be received by his posterity with thankful hearts and find joy in what they will learn about him and Nephi and the other Nephite prophets.

2. (verses 4-6) Jacob says they have searched the scriptures, they have the the spirit of prophecy and have many revelations. They have the power of God to such extent that they can work miracles and control the physical elements. They believed in the Father and Christ, have kept the Law of Moses and so they write these words with the intent that everyone will know that they knew of Christ had a hope in his coming and his glory.

3. (verses 8-11) Jacob wants us to understand the nature of prophecy, that if a person is to understand prophecy, it has to be revealed and so we should not discount the revelations of God. Too often, Jacob says, men rely on their own wisdom and understanding which denies the power of God. He tells us to be reconciled to God which means to have return to him and have a good relationship with him, so that God will reveal his words to us.

4. (verse 13) Jacob emphasizes the importance of knowing what truth is: things as they really are, things as they really will be, and Joseph Smith added, things as they really were. Jacob says not only are they, the Nephite prophets, witnesses of the truth, but all prophets are.

5. (verses 14-18) Christ is the stone (the stone that serves as the heart of their foundation) rejected by the Jews. The Jews rejected Christ because in their blindness, they looked beyond the mark. Because the Jews couldn't see the obvious that God had placed in front of them, by denying the privilege God gave them, he removed their chance to understand and let them have what they desired instead, and because they desired the wrong thing, they stumbled and failed. But Jacob promises that even though they rejected the stone on which they could have built a sure foundation of faith, religion and salvation, the Lord will yet provide them the opportunity to build upon that foundation it in the future. And in the allegory, he is going to show how that will happen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jacob 3

To me, this is a chapter about the pure in heart. The Nephites seem to think they are the righteous ones. The Lamanites, not them, are the dark and filthy people. But Jacob skillfully points out that for what they know, the Lamanites are actually more righteous and if the Nephites are not careful, the Lord will destroy them, not the Lamanites, for their wickedness. The Nephites have no excuse. They have prophets, the scriptures, the knowledge, and probably all of the tools and wealth to be a highly educated and prosperous people. The Lamanites are suffering for the sins and teachings of their fathers. They don't understand and know the truth about the important things in life. He warns the Nephites that the will bring destruction on their children and all of the sins of their children will be heaped on their heads because they are the ones who started the cycle of unrighteousness in their people.

Jacob urges us to be pure in heart, be firm in our minds concerning the gospel, and pray with faith and trust in the Lord. The Lord will console us in our afflictions, he will take care of those who would be harmful to us. But he so wants us to keep our hearts and minds on him, especially he wants us to remember how much he loves us. Jacob says we should feast upon his love. That's an interesting thing to say in our day where the vast majority of people, including those who believe, have little idea of what that love is and that it's there for the taking.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jacob 2

There are two great sins that the people of Nephi are committing. One is pride because of their riches and the other is adultery brought on by polygamy. In both cases, it seems it is the men who are sinning. Their pride has come because they have sought for riches without first seeking to be spiritually grounded and they use their riches to have position and power. We know this because they persecute the poor and do not take care of the sick. In contrast, I think of people like John Huntsman who have become extremely wealthy while being a member of the church. He has used his money to support the church, to build the Huntsman Cancer Center, among many other philanthropic efforts. The people of Nephi obviously have their priorities wrong. We should never feel bad because others have more and seem to be in a position of power over over us because of their wealth. If they are prideful, they wealth will not bother us. If they are, they are soon to suffer because they will be brought down in humility by the Lord.

The Nephite's worst sin is having plural wives and concubines. They use the sins of Solomon and David in the Old Testament as an excuse. Jacob says that the hearts of the women have been pierced with deep wounds and have died. Their suffering was evidence that the men were in sin. The Lord has heard the women's prayers and seen their sorrow and will not let them suffer any longer. Plural wives, Jacob teaches, will only happen when he commands a people to raise up more posterity. I think the question of plural wives will always haunt the church to some extent. Partly because it was begun in secret, partly because it goes against modern society's traditions of marriage. Not the tradition of having one wife that our society used to have, but the tradition of not marrying at all that pervades society now. If there is no need to marry and have a single wife, to have more than one is even more extreme. As the church's promotion of a traditional family becomes less and less important, the idea of a traditional wife in the home with children will become more foreign. It will require more and more courage of those women who are traditional wives in traditional families.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Jacob 1

One of the evidences to the truth of the Book of Mormon is the change of language patterns. Joseph Smith did not have the education and no doubt the ability to change the style of speech when Nephi is no longer writing and Jacob is. When we leave the small plates and move to Mormon's translation of the new plates, you can see the consistency of Mormon's language as well as the change in speech patterns when other prophets are quoted directly.

Jacob says that he received his errand from the Lord so he undoubtedly was ordained and set apart for his calling as a prophet. Jacob was not one step behind Nephi as a great prophet. When Nephi passed the plates on to him, Nephi stressed the importance of only writing sacred teaching and revelation. Nephi and Jacob both had "great anxiety" over the need to teach the people because both of them had seen in vision what will become of them in the future. He points out that both he and Nephi had many revelations concerning Christ's coming, so Jacob says that they "labored diligently" to persuade the people to "come unto Christ and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest." His rest in this life is the peace and assurance that the gospel is true, to have the peace that comes with a spiritual certainty that helps us to be immune to the doubt and skepticism of the world.

One interesting thing is that Jacob talks of Nephi having wielded the sword of Laban. We have no record of the wars Nephi led the people in. But the sword of Laban was the pattern for all the swords they forged and created. It was also a symbol of the promise that the Lord would protect them and lead them in battle. The promises still hold true today. Oliver Cowdery saw the sword of Laban and he said that the words "This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of God and his Christ" were engraved on it. I'm guessing that those words were engraved on it after it had been taken from Laban.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

2 Nephi 33

Nephi laments that he can't write with the same power that he speaks with. He must have been a very powerful speaker! But he points out that whether writing the word of God, or speaking it, what makes the words powerful is the Holy Ghost. For us, being able to understand and know the truth of the scriptures is a matter of the heart. If we read the Lord's words, or hear them spoken, the Holy Ghost is always there to bear witness and it is up to us whether those words will enter and touch our hearts. If we reject the Holy Ghost's testimony, we will reject the words because we harden our hearts. It's never a failure of the Lord's words. Those who reject the Book of Mormon, or any scripture for that matter, do not reject it because it is false, they reject it because they reject the Holy Ghost's testimony. Truth is independent and stands firm and unwavering. Whatever we or anyone else feels about it does not change the fact that it is true.

Nephi's last testimony is very powerful. He has seen the rejection of the gospel, the scriptures and revelation by people in the latter days. In essence he is saying, you cannot accept Christ without accepting his words, and you cannot accept his words without accepting his prophets. The true believer of Christ will accept the words that come from prophets because their words are Christ's words. Otherwise it is like saying I believe in Christ, but I don't believe anything he says. So to reject the prophets and their words is to reject the Savior. Nephi finishes by praying that all will be saved in the last day, but he knows that many will reject the gospel and that will bring about a separation. He also states that everyone that rejects the Book of Mormon will stand face to face with him and the Savior and will be shown with great power that the Lord commanded him to write what he has written.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

2 Nephi 32

There are two things that Nephi admonishes us to do. One is to feast on the words of Christ. When we do, we speak with the power of the Holy Ghost meaning when our words will be inspired. When our words our inspired, our lives and those around us will be uplifted. This doesn't mean that every time we open our mouths, we'll be a fountain of divine wisdom. But it does mean that when it is necessary and important, our words will influence others for good and we'll help change lives. Nephi says that when we fail to know and understand God's words, it is because we do not try, we don't ask for an understanding mind and heart, and then we are not brought into the light. Nephi mourns for us because he cannot tell us more. He would tell us more but the Spirit stops him because we are not prepared for it. He says it's because we will not search and understand great knowledge.

The second thing he tells us is to hearken to the Spirit. When we hearken to the Spirit, listen to and feel its promptings, we will be inspired to pray. Only Satan would not want us to pray. It's easy to understand why he would want us to cut off our relationship with our Father in Heaven. What happens when you stop talking to a friend? You lose contact with them. You lose their influence, love and most of all, your relationship with them begins to dwindle until you no longer even think about them. Nephi encourages us to pray about everything we do. When we pray and dedicate everything we do the Lord, the Lord will consecrate it to the blessing of our soul. Everything will become sacred to us and to the Lord. Notice that the Lord doesn't say consecrate it to me for my benefit, he turns it to our benefit.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2 Nephi 31

This chapter provides so much insight and understanding to gospel principles and you have to wonder how anyone could read this chapter and not say this is book is true and it is scripture. I'm not going to comment on the explanation of why baptism is important or why the Savior was baptized except to say that in Christ's fulfilling all righteousness, it shows that righteousness isn't just the absence of sin, it is the willingness to conform our lives to the will of God. Christ was sinless, so his righteousness in being baptized was his willingness to be bend his will to that of his Father's.

I like verse 3. God speaks to people according to their understanding. I think this not only means he speaks in their language, but he speaks on a level that they can understand. The more they listen, the more they are given to understand. We start will small bits of knowledge and over a lifetime we can come to know great and marvelous things. How much had Nephi grown in spiritual knowledge? Twice in this chapter Nephi states that the Father spoke to him as well as the Son. It appears Nephi was in conversation with them. Instances where the Father speaks only occurs a few times in scripture and reveals how great a prophet Nephi was.

At the end of this chapter, Nephi begins to give us specific ways to grow and this continues in Chapter 32. Having giving the first essential step of baptism, Nephi then tells us to press forward. To press means to move something by continuous physical force. Nephi is saying "don't give up." We must continuously try to be steadfast in our trust and faith in the Savior, continuously strive to be filled with love and hope, to continuously try to rely on the scriptures for strength, and continuously keep enduring, hanging on, not giving up. Nephi states there is no other way. By this, I think he means this is not only the way we will be saved, because this is the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of the Father and the Holy Ghost, but this is the only way to be truly happy and have a life that is fulfilled and meaningful.

Monday, March 8, 2010

2 Nephi 30

To Nephi, there are two groups of people in world, the Jews and the Gentiles. So even though as members of the church we are also descendants of Israel, Nephi considers us to be Gentiles since we are not full blooded Jews. However, I think the warning that Nephi gives his people that just because they are Jews they shouldn't assume they are more righteous than the Gentiles, it is a good warning for us. Just because we are members of the church, we should not assume we are more righteous than anyone else. Not knowing something does not make a person less righteous, it only makes them less accountable. Nephi tells the people that through us, the whole world, including the posterity of Lehi and the Jews of our day, will have the gospel and will be able to come to the a true knowledge of the Savior. And being the bearer of the message does not make us more righteous than those who will eventually receive it.

I think it gets more easy to see the division between the righteous and the wicked taking place that the Lord says he will cause in the last days. And just as we can all look forward to the time when there will be no danger and no wickedness, we can look forward to a time when all things will be made known. I look forward to that because I have lot's of questions and it will nice to have an understanding of all those things we wonder about but have no answers for.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

2 Nephi 29

There is logic in this chapter that is undeniable. If you believe in a God that has always given revelation throughout history, and that revelation was written by prophets and preserved as scripture, how could you assume he would not speak again? How could anyone assume that he had no more to say? And even more basic, who are we to decide that God will not speak again? The Lord even asks, "Why 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?" We only have a fraction of what was written by the prophets and to receive more confirms God's existence and the truth of what he says. And not only do we have more scripture from the past, but we have revelation and scripture in our day also. To assume that God is not active in our lives and not speaking to prophets is to close our eyes to the sun on a bright summer day and say there is no light.

Friday, March 5, 2010

2 Nephi 28

Chapter 28 is a strong prophetic warning to the people of our time. It is a long list of sins and transgressions that very much describe the problems of our day. One of the biggest is our acceptance of sin, the attitude that what is sin is not sin but acceptable and normal behavior. Just as Nephi describes, we have many contending religions, churches that teach doctrine that is based not on revelation but their own understanding and interpretations. There are many who do not believe in God, especially a God who is active in our lives, or at the least are agnostic. Unfortunately their shouts are louder than those who believe because they generally have control of the media. There is much class distinction and pride and rather than solve the problems of poverty, people capitalize on it and end up keeping the people in poverty they are professing to help out of it.

I think one of the most important things that Nephi says is in verse 30. He will give us line upon line and precept on precept, meaning our spiritual learning will come by step by step. If we accept and live what he gives us, he will give more. If we turn from that, if we do not continue to learn, we lose what we have. That is why people who leave the church eventually come to a point where they do not understand the doctrine and its application in their life and lose the foundation of their beliefs. What they used to believe becomes no longer relevant. If we stick with it, he tells us we will learn wisdom. Nephi basically says that it all comes down to whether we want to trust God, or trust in our own strength.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

2 Nephi 27

I wonder what Joseph Smith thought as he translated this chapter. As he translated these words, it had to have been both sobering and inspiring to realize that he was the person being referred to, that he was translating the book being prophesied about, and here he was fulfilling the very words being translating. Joseph could see that a portion of the plates were sealed and most likely realized that these sealed plates were the ones John spoke of in Revelations. I have no doubt that we do not realize how sacred this scripture is, and how blessed we are to be able to hold in our hands these ancient words written over 2500 years ago. I am sure that is why the Lord withholds knowledge and understanding of these words from those who would ridicule and scoff at them. He says he has poured out a spirit of deep sleep on them because they have closed their eyes and rejected the prophets.

It was when Joseph Smith was translating this chapter that he realized that others could see the plates and would have to stand by him as witnesses to their actual existence and purpose. After the three witnesses had the plates shown to them by the angel, Joseph went to his parents and wept because now the burden was not on him alone. Now others new without a doubt. It is one thing to say I have seen an angel, or I have seen and handled the plates. But when three or more can come forward and say I saw the angel too, I also saw and handled the plates, Joseph's testimony was validated and validated by men who were respected in the community.

It is so easy to forget what a miracle it is that we have the Book of Mormon. It is to easy to not remember the sacrifices made by those who wrote it, the blood that was spilt and the lives taken in order that we might have it today. And it is too easy to not realize how miraculous its coming forth in our day was. We are so very fortunate to have access to this sacred book and its words.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2 Nephi 26

Nephi continues with his interpretations of Isaiah as they relate to his own people through verse 11. Much of what he tells them is also typical of what will happen in the last days. He tells his people that Christ will appear to them. But there will be wars and those who believe in Christ will be ridiculed and persecuted for their beliefs. They will kill the prophets and because of their wickedness and denial of Christ, they will be destroyed and the land will face great destruction. Nephi states that he has seen this in vision and it almost overwhelmed and consumed him. The righteous will not perish, but Nephi warns the wicked that the Lord will only strive with them so long. You have to wonder how long he's going to put up with the wickedness in our time.

The remainder of his interpretation of Isaiah is directed to the gentiles in the last days and this begins with verse 12 and continues through chapter 30. It's as if Nephi is saying, we can apply this to the Jews and to ourselves, but the message will be most important to the gentiles or us. And the main thrust of what he tells us is in verse 12, we must become "convinced that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God." Most churches believe that Christ didn't become the Savior until he was born and that he was only one of three possible manifestations of God. Nephi is saying he was a God before his earthly birth, he was a God on the earth, and he is a God now, not a temporary manifestation, but an eternal God. Here is some of what He prophecies to the gentiles in this chapter. There is too much to write about:

1. Verse 13. The Savior will manifest himself through the Holy Ghost to everyone who believes in him.
2. Verse 15. The descendants of Lehi's family will be driven and smitten by the Gentiles.
3. Verses 16. The Nephites will write about their people and seal this up and the Book of Mormon will come forth out of the ground and speak to them. It will sound familiar and have a familiar spirit. When I was on my mission, a Lamanite woman told me that the grandmothers in their tribe used to pass on their history to the grandchildren. They did this by telling them stories of their people. When she read the Book of Mormon the first time, she recognized the same stories in it that her grandmother had told her as a child.
4. Verse 20. The gentiles become built up in their pride (great and spacious building sound familiar?) and they become a great stumbling block to the church. They rely on their own wisdom, do not take care of the poor and dismiss the powers and miracles of God as nothing.
5. Verse 23-28, 30. The Lord will not turn anyone away. Everything he does is done because of his love for everyone and no one is privileged above another. No one will be denied his love regardless of their race, gender or religion.
6. Verses 29-30. To church members, he says that instead of doing everything for their own gain and power, priestcraft, he commands that everything should be done out of charity or love

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2 Nephi 25

Nephi now interprets the Isaiah chapters for his people because he knows they do not understand them. The reason they don't is because they don't understand the way that the Jews prophesied. Nephi says the words weren't plain to them and we can certainly identify with them on that. In this chapter, the verses through verse 20 have Nephi relating the words of Isaiah to the Jews at Jerusalem specifically since the majority of his people would not have ever known Jerusalem or what it was like. And what Nephi does is show how the words of Isaiah were fulfilled. Beginning in verse 21, Nephi relates them to the Nephites and Lamanites. I picked out seven things in verses 1-20 that Nephi speaks to show the prophecies have been fulfilled with the Jews.

1. Verse 10. The Jews were destroyed and taken captive into Babylon.
2. Verse 11. After this, they were returned from Babylon and restored to their lands and Jerusalem.
3. Verses 12-13. They have many wars until the Savior comes who they reject because of their wickedness and crucify him.
4. Verses 14-15. The Savior will rise from the dead and Jerusalem is destroyed again, this time completely and the Jews are scattered among all the earth.
5. Verse 16. They will remain scattered among all the nations and persecuted by them until they believe in Christ and don't look forward to a different Messiah or believe in false ones.
6. Verse 17. The Lord will set his hand a second time to restore his people by doing a marvelous work and a wonder.
7. Verse 18. He will bring forward new scripture that will convince them that Christ is the true Messiah.

The last verses of the chapter contain Nephi's poignant plea for his people to keep the Law of Moses but to look to and believe in Christ. He tells them that the only way to live is to believe in him, not half way, but with full commitment, "with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul." Verse 23 is used a lot but misunderstood in my mind. It says we are saved by the grace of Christ after all we can do. I don't think it means were saved by his grace after doing everything we can. I think it is saying regardless of everything we could possibly do, the only way we are saved is by his grace. Nothing we do saves us, it only qualifies us for some level of exaltation. That is why Nephi says "we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ... that our children (and us) may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

Monday, March 1, 2010

2 Nephi 24

Nephi finishes his quoting of Isaiah and in this chapter we learn of Lucifer's fall from his high station in the premortal life. When we finally see him for what he is, we will look upon him as a small and cowardly person and wonder how such a weak being could cause so much evil.

Isaiah once again talks of Israel's triumph over Babylon and the Lord returning them to the lands of the inheritance. All of this took place, but as one commentary states: "As history has its cycles, so prophecies of events now past foretell events yet future. The past is the stage upon which the future is portrayed. The scriptures thus have a timeless value and an eternal relevance." I was noticing on Sunday how all the hymns have a foundation in Isaiah. The establishment of Zion, the triumph over the church's enemies, the coming of the Lord both in the meridian of time and at the second coming, the triumph over evil, the need for righteousness, the restoration of the gospel, the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith; all of these and more are in Isaiah and in our hymns. Everytime I read Isaiah in the Bible and Book of Mormon, I learn more and it becomes a bit easier to understand. It's hard reading at first, but over time, it's reading that is well worth it.