The Gentiles Preach up unto Themselves Their Own Wisdom and Their Own Learning

Seeing our time, the prophet Nephi touches on some of the spiritual and organizational characteristics troubling the people (Gentiles) who would largely displace the remnants of his and his father Lehi’s descendants.

“…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. And there are many churches built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice. 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…” (2 Nephi 26:20-22)

Questions:

-When seeing the weaknesses of the Gentiles, is Nephi focused more on the people of the United States and Canada? Does his critique also refer to the Latin American countries south of the United States? Is there also some reference to all nations throughout this fallen world?

-Are the churches Nephi is referring to Christian places of worship? Or, is his meaning more generalized to refer to all organizations that developed from the Christian churches and the related Enlightenment culture of Europe?

-What stumbling block is Nephi referring to in this passage? And, why does he refer to it as a great stumbling block? Is this a reference to the absence of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (because of apostasy) as these organizations formed?

-What are the organizations that have been “built up” to have the most power and influence in the United States in our time? Have similar organizations been built up in other countries in the Americas and throughout the world?

-Do these organizations focus on the power and miracles of God? Or, do they put greater emphasis on — and give greater credit to — what they perceive to be human power and human wisdom? Do many of these organizations take advantage of the poor?

-Are their many institutions and organizations that (inadvertently or intentionally) cause envying and strife?

-What are secret combinations? What are the consequences of having oath-bound groups in our society that do evil for their own worldly gain?

The Words of Isaiah Are Plain unto All Those That Are Filled with the Spirit of Prophecy

After recording many of the words of Isaiah, Nephi declares that Isaiah’s words are plain to those who have the spirit of prophecy and that Isaiah’s prophecies would be much clearer to all people at the time when they are fulfilled.

“…I write unto my people, unto all those that shall receive hereafter these things which I write, that they may know the judgments of God, that they come upon all nations, according to the word which he hath spoken. Wherefore, hearken, O my people, which are of the house of Israel, and give ear unto my words; for because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy. But…in the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass. Wherefore they are of worth unto the children of men.” (2 Nephi 25:3-4)

Questions:

-How do God’s judgments come upon all nations? And, how do Isaiah’s prophecies shed light on those judgments?

-How can one reach a state where he or she is filled with the spirit of prophecy?

-Are the non-Hebrew versions of Isaiah even more difficult to understand since he used poetic and literary forms that were easy to distort when the Hebrew was translated into another language?

-How many of Isaiah’s prophecies have been clearly fulfilled as of today?

Ye May Liken Them unto You and unto All Men

Before recording many of the words of Isaiah onto the Gold Plates (from which the Book of Mormon was translated), Nephi testifies that Isaiah’s teachings and prophecies have such a sweeping spiritual vision that they are applicable to all people.

“And now I write some of the words of Isaiah, that whoso of my people shall see these words may lift up their hearts and rejoice for all men. Now these are the words, and ye may liken them unto you and unto all men.” (2 Nephi 11:8)

Below is a sampling of the writings of Isaiah as recorded by Nephi:

“…Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (2 Nephi 12:3Map of the Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

“O ye wicked ones, enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the Lord and the glory of his majesty shall smite thee. And it shall come to pass that the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of Hosts soon cometh upon all nations, yea, upon every one; yea, upon the proud and lofty and upon every one who is lifted up, and he shall be brought low.” (2 Nephi 12:10-12Second Coming)

“…The idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for the fear of the Lord shall come upon them and the glory of his majesty shall smite them, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which he hath made for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for the fear of the Lord shall come upon them and the majesty of his glory shall smite them, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” (2 Nephi 12:18-21Second Coming)

“Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (2 Nephi 12:22Worldliness)

“Say unto the righteous that is it well with them; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Wo unto the wicked for they shall perish; for the reward of their hands shall be upon them!” (2 Nephi 13:10-11All Men Come unto God to Be Judged of Him)

“In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious; the fruit of the earth excellent and comely to them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, they that are left in Zion and remain in Jerusalem shall be called holy, every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem…” (2 Nephi 14:2-3Millennium)

“…They regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hnds. Therefore, my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge…Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure; and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it” (2 Nephi 15:12-14Cursed is He Who Putteth His Trust in Man)

“Wo unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope.” (2 Nephi 15:18Sin)

“Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (2 Nephi 15:20Deception)

“Wo unto the wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight!” (2 Nephi 15:21Pride)

“Wo unto the mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink.” (2 Nephi 15:22Word of Wisdom)

“…As the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, their root shall be rottenness, and their blossoms shall go up as dust; because they have cast away the law of the Lord of Hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 15:24The Wisdom and Praise of the World is Foolishness before God)

“…His hand is stretched out still.” (2 Nephi 15:25Mercy)

“Sanctify the Lord of Hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (2 Nephi 18:13Fear)

“Wo be unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; To turn away the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless.” (2 Nephi 20:1-2 —  Unrighteousness)

“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.” (2 Nephi 21:9Millennium)

“The Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy of Ephraim also shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.” (2 Nephi 21:11-13Gathering of Israel)

Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things…” (2 Nephi 22:5Sing)

“…Mine anger is not upon them that rejoice in my highness.” (2 Nephi 23:3Worship)

“And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall give thee rest, from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve.” (2 Nephi 24:3MillenniumHouse of Israel)

I Will Have All Men That Dwell Thereon That They Shall Worship Me

In his role as a prophet, Jacob reveals the Lord’s mind and will. In the passage below, Jacob teaches his people about how, in the last days, God will bless their descendants (and those who are numbered among their descendants) in the American promised land.

“…My beloved brethren, thus saith our God: I will afflict thy seed by the hand of the Gentiles, nevertheless, I will soften the hearts of the Gentiles, that they shall be like unto a father to them; wherefore, the Gentiles shall be blessed and numbered among the house of Israel. Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land…above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God.” (2 Nephi 10:18-19)

Questions:

-Are the Gentiles, referred to in the passage above, those who live in the American promised land but are not descendants of Jacob’s parents (Lehi and Sariah)?

-Given their unique blessings upon the land, will any group ultimately prosper in the American promised land without serving hand in hand with those of Lehi’s descendants who come to worship the true and living God?

-What does it mean to be numbered among the house of Israel? Does it matter if you have Israelite heritage going back to ancient Israel or not?

-Who among the Gentiles will be numbered among the house of Israel in the last days (whether they have Israelite heritage or not)?

-Is true worship of the true and living God tied to helping fulfill His covenants with the house of Israel?

-Is there a church to which the covenants and priesthood of the house of Israel have been restored?

Video:
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I Will Fulfil My Promises Which I Have Made unto the Children of Men

God, through his prophet Jacob, speaks concerning the inevitable fulfillment of His covenants in the last days. Spiritual darkness and destruction will follow those who fight against God as he fulfills His promises to gather the righteous to Zion.

“…That my covenants may be fulfilled which I have made unto the children of men, that I will do unto them while they are in the flesh, I must needs destroy the secret works of darkness, and of murders, and of abominations. Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God. For I will fulfil my promises which I have made unto the children of men, that I will do unto them while they are in the flesh.” (2 Nephi 10:15-17)

Questions:

-Based on this passage: How is understanding the covenants God has made, and how He will fulfill them in the last days, key to knowing whether you are in line with God’s will?

-If a person does not understand what God is doing, would it be easier for him or her to be drawn into a position where he or she is fighting against His work?

The Descendants of the Lehi Will Become a Righteous Branch of the House of Israel

Jacob reiterates God’s promise, also given to his brother Nephi, that his father’s descendants in the Americas will again receive the peace and strength of the restored Gospel (after a time of apostasy, great trials, and destruction).

“…Behold how great the covenants of the Lord, and how great his condescensions unto the children of men; and because of his greatness and his grace and mercy, he has promised unto us that our seed shall not utterly be destroyed, according to the flesh, but that he would preserve them; and in future generations they shall become a righteous branch unto the house of Israel.” (2 Nephi 9:53)

Questions:

-Do you believe that God cares deeply enough about the righteous desires of his children on earth, that He would promise to fulfill them (as He did in the case of Lehi’s family and others in ancient times regarding their descendants)?

-Can you enter into a covenant relationship with God wherein He promises to care for and bless your posterity (to the degree they will let Him)? What about a covenant relationship related to other righteous desires of your heart?

-How would you know God had accepted the covenant? How would you know what God’s specific promises are and what your specific obligations are?

-Is there a church now in existence through which God makes such covenant relationships and makes the related blessings and obligations clear? If so, how did God give the priesthood of this church the authority to officiate the covenant relationships in His name?

-Are the descendants of Lehi becoming a righteous branch of Israel now? Are they largely awake to the covenant blessings that have been established for them? Or, is the awakening still in its early stages?

None Will He Destroy That Believe in Him

Jacob continues to expound on specific prophecies of Isaiah as found in the Old Testament (chapter 49 verses 24-26). The protection God will provide to His covenant people, who believe in Him, will provide a powerful witness to all in the last days that the Holy One of Israel is the Lord of the earth:

…[T]he Messiah will set himself again the second time to recover them; wherefore he will manifest himself unto them in power and great glory, unto the destruction of their enemies, when that day cometh when they shall believe in him; and none will he destroy that believe in him. And they that believe not in him shall be destroyed, both by fire, and by tempest, and by earthquakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine. And they shall know that the Lord is God, the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 6:14-15)

Questions:

-Will it be possible to stay neutral when God’s recovery and protection of his covenant people creates a great division among the people of the earth in these last days?

-Why will those who are not building up Zion feel compelled to fight against it? Why will so many not participating in the establishment of Zion be filled with hatred towards it and, thereby, succumb to evil?

-If the Jews and the rest of the house of Israel are God’s ancient covenant people, has He established His covenants anew among the people of the earth in our day?

 

The Jewish People Who Still Wait for the Messiah Will be Blessed as Well as All People Who Build up Zion in Preparation for His Second Coming

After quoting Isaiah (chapter 49 versus 22 and 23 as found in the Old Testament), Jacob explains that after a period of trial and dispersion the Jewish people would be blessed by God through Gentile peoples whom He would raise up in the last days. On the other hand, those Gentiles who fight against the Jewish people who still wait for the Messiah and those who fight against the covenant people of the Lord (whether the covenant people are Jewish or not) will not prosper.

The Jewish people “shall be scattered, and smitten, and hated; nevertheless, the Lord will be merciful unto them, that when they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, they shall be gathered together again to the lands of their inheritance. And blessed are the Gentiles, they of whom the prophet has written; for behold, if it so be that they shall repent and fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to the great and abominable church, they shall be saved; for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children…Wherefore, they that fight against Zion and the covenant people of the Lord shall lick up the dust of their feet; and the people of the Lord shall not be ashamed. For the people of the Lord are they who wait for him; for they still wait for the coming of the Messiah.” (2 Nephi 6:12-13)

Questions:

-Are there still millions of Jews who faithfully wait for the Messiah despite the trials of their people? What does Jacob say about the protection and blessings they will receive for this faithfulness?

-With the Restoration of the fullness of the gospel (including the teachings of the Book of Mormon and modern-day prophets), do the Jewish people have more fertile ground for coming to a knowledge of their Redeemer?

-Are they being gathered in to the land of their inheritance in our time?

For a free copy of the Book of Mormon go to: https://www.mormon.org/beliefs/book-of-mormon

Isaiah Speaks of Things That Are and Things That Are to Come

Jacob, and many other Nephite prophets, had a deep respect for the writings of Isaiah as these prophets knew his words were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

“…Behold, I would speak unto you concerning things which are, and which are to come; wherefore, I will read you the words of Isaiah.” (2 Nephi 6:4)

“…They [the words of Isaiah] may be likened unto you, for ye are of the house of Israel.” (2 Nephi 6:5)

Questions:

-Has God established anew the covenant relationship with the house of Israel in our time?

-To whom did He appear personally – as well as sending Moses, Elias, and Elijah – to restore the full covenant relationship? (see Doctrine and Covenants 110)

-Do the words of Isaiah provide a pattern by which God works with the house of Israel?

-How can those who are of the house of Israel liken the words of Isaiah unto themselves?

-How can the words of Isaiah tell of things to come and also tell of things that currently are?

Great Were the Covenants of the Lord Which He Made unto Joseph

Lehi teaches his youngest son, Joseph, about the writings and prophesies of their ancestor who was also named Joseph. This ancestor was the same Joseph who was a son of Jacob and was sold into Egypt by his brothers (as recorded in the Old Testament book of Genesis, chapter 37). As described in the verses below, he saw that Lehi’s family would create a branch of the house of Israel in the Americas. This branch would fall into apostasy but would be brought back into the light by the power of the Messiah in the last days.

“…Great were the covenants of the Lord which he made unto Joseph. Wherefore, Joseph truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel…a branch which was to be broken off, nevertheless to be remembered in the covenants of the Lord that the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light—yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom.” (2 Nephi 3:4-5)

He, Joseph the son of Jacob, also prophesied about a seer who would be born within his lineage and would accomplish a great work in the last days according to the will and power of God:

“…Joseph truly said: Thus saith the Lord unto me: A choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins…and unto him will I give commandment that he shall do a work for the fruit of thy loins…which shall be of great worth unto them, even to the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers…[A]nd unto him will I give power to bring forth my work unto the seed of thy loins—and not to the bringing forth my work only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.” (2 Nephi 3:7,11)

This seer of the last days would also be called Joseph:

“And thus prophesied Joseph saying: Behold that seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded…And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation. Yea thus prophesied Joseph: I am sure of this thing…for the Lord hath said unto me, I will preserve thy seed forever.” (2 Nephi 3:14-16)

Questions:

-Has the restorative work which the Lord accomplished through the prophet Joseph Smith been confounded? Or, does it continue to grow and strengthen under the Lord’s continuing guidance?

-Have those who have sought to destroy Joseph Smith, and the work the Lord gave him to do, been confounded? Did those who murdered Joseph think that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would die with him?

-Are those who reject the second witness of Jesus Christ and His gospel, as provided in the Book of Mormon, rejecting an offer of greater spiritual strength and understanding from God?

-How powerful are the covenants made by God with His children?

-Do you believe that God made the covenants with Joseph of Egypt as detailed in the above verses?