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?

 

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?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fulness of the keys and power of the Priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eyes upon him, and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back … to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was fore-ordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 96343.).

“Questions concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith are not new. They have been hurled by his critics since this work began. To those of faith who, looking through the colored glasses of the 21st century, honestly question events or statements of the Prophet Joseph from nearly 200 years ago, may I share some friendly advice: For now, give Brother Joseph a break! In a future day, you will have 100 times more information than from all of today’s search engines combined, and it will come from our all-knowing Father in Heaven. Consider the totality of Joseph’s life—born in poverty and given little formal education, he translated the Book of Mormon in less than 90 days. Tens of thousands of honest, devoted men and women embraced the cause of the Restoration. At age 38, Joseph sealed his witness with his blood. I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.” (Neil L. Andersen, “Faith Is Not by Chance, but by Choice,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 66).

 

 

The Lord Has Covenanted This Land unto Lehi and His Children Forever

After arriving in the Americas, Nephi recorded more of his father Lehi’s teachings and prophecies. The first recorded prophecy relates to the promised land which they had obtained from the Lord in the Americas…

“[W]e have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord. Wherefore, I, Lehi prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.” (2 Nephi 1:5-6)

Questions:

-Are their Native American groups who are the descendants of Lehi and, thus, have a special God-given privilege to inherit and prosper on certain American lands (much as the Israelites where given a promised land in the Near East by God)?

-Where are these promised lands in the Americas?

-Is all North and South America covenanted to Lehi’s descendants? Or, are their promised lands more localized?

-Can individuals or groups, who live in the areas of the Americas promised to Lehi’s descendants, ultimately prosper and find lasting protection without sustaining and cooperating with the children of Lehi?

-Is there a key to Lehi’s descendants finding their full potential — in peace, prosperity and strength — upon the lands promised to them?

-What do the above scriptural passages suggest about God’s will in relation to Columbus, the Pilgrims, and many others that have come to the Americas?

The Lord God will Bring the House of Israel Out of Captivity, Obscurity, and Darkness

Nephi continues to teach his brothers about the meaning of a portion of Isaiah’s prophecies found in the Brass Plates (comparable to Isaiah chapters 48 and 49 in the Old Testament). In interpreting the words of Isaiah, he again touches on the work the Lord will do through and for the children of Israel in the last days.

“Wherefore, he will bring [the house of Israel] again out of captivity, and they shall be gathered together to the lands of their inheritance; and they shall be brought out of obscurity and out of darkness; and they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.” (1 Nephi 22:12)

-Why did Jesus Christ focus his earthly ministry on the house of Israel? What is the principle by which He still focuses on, and operates through, the house of Israel to bless others throughout the world? How are the covenants He made to such men as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — who sought Him out and found Him thousands of years ago — tied to this principle of blessing the earth through the house of Israel?

-If someone who is of the house of Israel receives greater spiritual opportunities and does not magnify these opportunities to bless others, is his or her standing before God in greater peril compared with someone who never had such opportunities? Are those of the house of Israel held to a higher standard by God, given their calling to bless others though the blessings they have received? Will they either prosper greatly or be deeply confounded based on their decisions to either love God and keep His commandments or to reject Him and His counsel? Is there greater potential for wickedness and evil among those who are part of a covenant people and then fail to live by those covenants?

-Who in the world currently has a covenant relationship with God? How were those covenants established? Were they initiated directly and clearly by God? Or, was the source of the covenants of less distinct origin?  Does it matter, once true covenants are entered into with God, whether the person is a literal descendant of the Israelites or not?

-What kind of captivity, obscurity, and darkness will the Lord bring the house of Israel out of as Isaiah’s prophecies are fulfilled in our time?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

“The gathering of Israel consists in believing and accepting and living in harmony with all that the Lord once offered his ancient chosen people. … It consists of believing the gospel, joining the Church, and coming into the kingdom. … It may also consist of assembling to an appointed place or land of worship” (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 515).

God Shall Make Bare His Arm in the Eyes of the Nations

Nephi continues to teach his brothers about the meaning of Isaiah’s prophecies. Nephi and his family had Isaiah’s words as recorded in the Brass Plates that were being carried by the family during their journey to the Americas. They viewed Isaiah’s writings as particularly valuable given the prophet’s focus on the house of Israel (of which the family was a part). After sharing the words of Isaiah comparable to Isaiah chapters 48 and 49 in the Old Testament, Nephi provides the following interpretation for his brothers:

“…[T]he time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles…and by them shall our seed be scattered. And after our seed is scattered the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wherefore, it is likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders. And it shall also be of worth unto the Gentiles [and] unto the entire house of Israel, unto making known the covenants of the Father of heaven unto Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. And…all the kindreds of the earth cannot be blessed unless he shall make bare his arm in the eyes of the nations. Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to make bare his arm in the eyes of the nations, in bringing about his covenants and his gospel unto those who are of the house of Israel.” (1 Nephi 22:7-11)

Questions:

-Have Lehi’s descendants been scattered by the Gentiles?

-Has a mighty nation been established in the Western Hemisphere?

-Has the Lord God begun a marvelous work among the Gentiles? Is there a church that has grown up within the mightiest nation in the Western Hemisphere that has priesthood authority restored directly from God? Is there are church that is spreading quickly throughout the world (outward from the mighty Gentile nation) with news of this restored priesthood and the saving ordinances it can perform? Is there a church that is actively re-gathering the house of Israel as one of the main tenants of its faith? Is there a church building beautiful temples all over the earth as a testament to God’s power and restored priesthood?

-If the Book of Mormon is the word of God, as millions now testify it is, would it not qualify as a marvelous work in and of itself?

-What will it mean for God to bare his arm before all nations? Does the wording of this prophecy sound like there will be much ambiguity or subtlety in its fulfillment?

“That glorious day dawned in the year 1820, when a boy, earnest and with faith, walked into a grove of trees and lifted his voice in prayer, seeking that wisdom which he felt he so much needed.

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“There came in response a glorious manifestation. God the Eternal Father and the risen Lord Jesus Christ appeared and spoke with him. The curtains which had been closed for much of two millennia were parted to usher in the dispensation of the fulness of times. There followed the restoration of the holy priesthood, first the Aaronic, and then the Melchizedek, under the hands of those who had held it anciently. Another testament, speaking as a voice from the dust, came forth as a second witness to the reality and the divinity of the Son of God, the great Redeemer of the world.

“Keys of divine authority were restored, including those keys which were necessary to bind together families for time and eternity in a covenant which death could not destroy.

“The stone was small in the beginning. It was hardly noticeable. But it has grown steadily and is rolling forth to fill the earth” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “At the Summit of the Ages,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 74).

“Ours is the responsibility to help fulfill the Abrahamic covenant. Ours is the seed foreordained and prepared to bless all people of the world. … After some 4,000 years of anticipation and preparation, this is the appointed day when the gospel is to be taken to the kindreds of the earth. This is the time of the promised gathering of Israel. And we get to participate! Isn’t that exciting? The Lord is counting on us and our sons—and He is profoundly grateful for our daughters—who worthily serve as missionaries in this great time of the gathering of Israel” (Russell M. Nelson, “Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 88).

The People of the House of Israel Will I Gather in from the Four Corners of the Earth

Nephi, drawing on the scriptural prophecies his family had in the Brass Plates, describes events that would occur after the crucifixion of Christ.

“And as for those who are at Jerusalem, saith the prophet, they shall be scourged by all people, because they crucify the God of Israel, and turn their hearts aside, rejecting signs and wonders, and the power and glory of the God of Israel. And because they turn their hearts aside, saith the prophet, and have despised the Holy One of Israel, they shall wander in the flesh, and perish, and become a hiss and a byword, and be hated among all nations. Nevertheless, when that day cometh, saith the prophet, that they no more turn aside their hearts against the Holy One of Israel, then will he remember the covenants which he made to their fathers. Yea, then will he remember the isles of the sea; yea, and all the people who are of the house of Israel, will I gather in, saith the Lord, according to the words of the prophet Zenos, from the four quarters of the earth. Yea, and all the earth shall see the salvation of the Lord, saith the prophet; every nation, kindred, tongue and people shall be blessed.” (1 Nephi 19:15-17)

Questions:

-How is the dispersal and eventual gathering of the house of Israel tied to every nation and people being blessed in the last days?

-How is turning to the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, a key to receiving the covenant blessings made to  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

-Does it please a loving God to see the trials and hardships of those who reject His Son? Are those who cause tribulations for those who have rejected Christ any less responsible for their actions than anyone else? Would true followers of Jesus Christ ever despise and persecute a people who did not share their beliefs?

-Has the Lord begun to gather Israel in our time? What role does the Book of Mormon play in gathering children of Israel?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“Why was Israel scattered? The answer is clear; it is plain; of it there is no doubt. Our Israelite forebears were scattered because they rejected the gospel, defiled the priesthood, forsook the church, and departed from the kingdom. …

“What, then, is involved in the gathering of Israel? The gathering of Israel consists in believing and accepting and living in harmony with all that the Lord once offered his ancient chosen people. … It consists of believing the gospel, joining the Church, and coming into the kingdom. … It may also consist of assembling to an appointed place or land of worship” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 515).

The Lord Esteemeth All Flesh in One and Loveth Those Who Will Have Him to Be Their God

Nephi, in an attempt to help his rebellious older brothers understand the importance of their family’s journey away from Jerusalem, refers them to the experience of the Israelites who left Egypt and were led by the Lord to the land of Canaan (the Israelite’s promised land). He explains to his brothers that the Israelites living in and around Jerusalem – at the time he was speaking to Laman and Lemuel around 590 B.C. — had reached such a state of sin and rebellion that the Lord would allow these Israelites to be destroyed by another nation (similar to how the depraved Canaanites were displaced by the Israelites centuries before). In this context Nephi shares a number of general truths about how God sees and works with his children on earth:

“…The Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God.” (1 Nephi 17:35)

“…The Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it. And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked. And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes. He ruleth high in the heavens, for it is his throne, and this earth is his footstool. And he loveth those who will have him to be their God.” (1 Nephi 17:36-40)

Questions:

-Are there any groups or individuals toward which God shows favoritism? Is there any unfairness in how he works with his earthly children? How is the favor spoken of in this passage different from favoritism?

-If righteousness is the key to receiving God’s favor, how does a group (or individual) become righteous?

-What role do God’s commandments, covenants, and grace play in helping a group (or individual) live in righteousness?

-Should every instance of human destruction be viewed as a case of God bringing His judgments upon the wicked? If a person dies of old age — which is the destruction of the body – does that mean the person is wicked? Is widespread destruction (affecting a whole society or nation of people) more likely to indicate the loss of God’s favor? Is it easy to fall into the trap of seeing the misfortune of others as God’s judgment when misfortune, separate from God’s actions, is an inevitable part of this mortal life for all who come to this fallen world?

-Does God ever do anything that isn’t what is best for His children on earth? Are there times when God allows the destruction of individuals and nations for the eternal benefit of those who experience the destruction (as well as for those who inhabit the earth after them)?

-What is the difference between the love God feels for all of His children and the increased care He is able to provide to those who will have Him to be their God (i.e., those who strive to know Him and worship Him through obedience to His commandments)?

That Great Pit Which Has Been Dug for the Destruction of Men Shall Be Filled by Those Who Dug It

Nephi continues to be taught, by an angel of the Lord, about events leading up to Christ’s second coming. He learns that the Gentiles in the Americas, and throughout the entire world, who receive Christ’s latter-day revelations and directions will inherit the covenant blessings of the house of Israel along with those who are tied to the house of Israel by ancestry (see A Promised Land for All Who Serve the Lamb of God).

On the other hand, Nephi also learns that those who fight against Christ’s words and actions in the last days — when He is gathering the house of Israel according to the covenants made with them — will shut themselves outside the covenant blessings and, thus, will be vulnerable to the destructive pitfalls laid by Satan to capture souls in our time. The snares laid to fight against Christ and His followers will turn to the detriment and destruction of those who laid the snares.

“…That great pit, which hath been digged…by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which has been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God…For behold, this is according to the captivity of the devil, and also according to the justice of God, upon all those who will work wickedness and abomination before him.” (1 Nephi 14:3-4)

Questions:

-When a person or group has ill will toward another person or group, who does it usually hurt the most in the long run? Is it the person or group with the malice or the person or group toward which the malice is directed? How long will a group or society focused on fault finding and entrapment of others function before turning on its own members?

-What is the nature of the figurative pit mentioned in this prophecy? How will it be dug by those who wish to trap others within it?

-How difficult will it be to escape the pit? As Christ manifests Himself in word, power, and deed to restore the fulness of His gospel and gather the house of Israel (see 1 Nephi 14:2 and A Promised Land for All Who Serve the Lamb of God) will it be possible to stay neutral? Or, will “sitting on the fence” be more difficult than ever as a clear separation develops between those who recognize Christ’s work as real and those who deny it and fight against its progress? (See Christ’s parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:25-30.)

They Have Taken Away from the Gospel of the Lamb Many Parts which are Plain and Most Precious

As Nephi continues to see future events through vision, he is shown by an angel how the gospel of Jesus Christ would be altered by the great and abominable church prior to the Bible coming to the Americas.

“Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God. And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. And all this they have done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.” (1 Nephi 13:25-28)

Questions:

-Is it possible for there to be a perfect book in a fallen world where men and women use imperfect written language to preserve texts?

-Would it surprise you if God allowed aspects of Christ’s teachings, the apostles’ teachings, and the words of the ancient prophets to be altered as described in the verses above? By what eternal principle would God withhold His intervention to stop such detrimental changes? Does God ever force those on the earth to do what is right? Or, does He always – as long as they are permitted by Him to live — allow them to show their true colors in relationship to His standards and righteousness?

-If you believe the angel’s declaration to Nephi that truths would be intentionally taken away from the gospel record, what plain and precious truths do you think may have been lost? Is there any way these truths can be (or have been) restored?

-Are there truths and covenants emphasized in the Book of Mormon that help reconstruct the full, undiminished gospel of Jesus Christ? How can you know the truth about this important question (see Moroni 10:3-5)?

Video from Book of Mormon Central:

The Bible is of Great Worth

As Nephi continues to have future events unfolded to him in vision, the angel describes the meaning of what Nephi is seeing. One portion of the vision focuses on the Bible coming to the Americas with the Europeans (Gentiles) who began emigrating from the 16th and 17th century onward.

“…And I beheld a book…carried forth among them. And the angel said unto me: Knowest thou the meaning of the book? And I said unto him: I know not. And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel…wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.” (1 Nephi 13:20-23)

Questions

Why did the angel emphasize the covenants made to the house of Israel as being a central aspect of the Bible’s value to the Gentiles? Could this emphasis be based on the fact that the Gentiles would be among (and mix with) many of the house of Israel in the Americas – including Lehi’s descendants – and that the two groups’ spiritual and physical prosperity (or lack thereof) would be closely tied together as the Lord fulfilled his covenants with the house of Israel?

What portion of the Bible, if any, was spoken or recorded by a non-Jew or non-Israelite? Are the most important passages, spoken directly by Jesus Christ himself, also from the mouth of a Man with a Jewish mother?

Does the new covenant which Jesus Christ established with His earthly ministry dissolve the covenants made to those who came before Him in any way (such as the covenants made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)? Or, does the new covenant add to, and strengthen all the covenants that came before?