Mighty Even unto the Power of Deliverance

Another of the earliest direct messages in the Book of Mormon comes from the writings of Nephi. This Nephi was raised in Jerusalem at the heart of the Jewish nation. His father, Lehi, was one who earnestly sought the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who the people of the Jewish nation professed to worship).

In the act of solemn prayer, seeking for the welfare of his people, he received revelation from God, which included a warning of the impending destruction of Jerusalem. In hopes that they would repent and be spared, Lehi began communicating what he had seen to the inhabitants of his city and soon received further revelation to leave Jerusalem because some in the city, unhappy with Lehi’s warnings, were plotting to take his life. Lehi and his family did as they were directed and (in 600 B.C.) were led by God away from the darkening prospects of Jerusalem across long stretches of land and sea to the Americas.

After witnessing and participating in this extraordinary deliverance, Nephi declares the following truths for those who would later read his account:

“…the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” (1 Nephi 1:20)

Questions:

-Who is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? (see quote from Ezra Taft Benson below)

-What is revelation? How and when does God reveal himself to those living on the earth?

-How important is it to have the power of deliverance in your life and your family members’ lives?

-Is physical deliverance or spiritual deliverance more important? How, if at all, are both types of deliverance related?

-Are the tender mercies of the Lord extended to everyone on the earth? Or, just to those whom He has chosen because of their faith?

-What is faith? And, what kind and intensity of faith do you need to be made mighty through God’s direct participation in your life?

Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…

“The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. …

“… The Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness and obedience enable us to receive these important gifts and, frequently, the Lord’s timing helps us to recognize them.

“We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies” (David A. Bednar, “The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 99–100).

“We must keep in mind who Jesus was before He was born. He was the Creator of all things, the great Jehovah, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was and is the Holy One of Israel” (President Ezra Taft Benson, “Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Dec. 2001, 10).

I Am a God of Miracles

The Lord inspired Nephi to include messages in his writing on the Gold Plates that He knew would, in turn, help inspire and direct Joseph Smith as the prophet of the Restoration. Speaking in the first person, the Lord states the following:

“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.” (2 Nephi 27:23)

The Lord then—through the prophet Nephi—directs Joseph Smith to a specific portion of Isaiah’s writings (comparable to the translation of Isaiah 29:13-24 in the King James Version of the Bible) and restates them directly as a message to Joseph. These words undoubtedly helped the prophet Joseph to understand the scope and meaning of the work the Lord was initiating through him.

“…The Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him: 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—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.” (2 Nephi 27:24-26)

“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?” (2 Nephi 27:27)

“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. 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. 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; 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.” (2 Nephi 27:29-32)

“Therefore, thus saith the Lord who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob; Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face wax pale. 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. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” (2 Nephi 27:33-35)

Questions:

-How and why will the wisdom and understanding of those who are not aligned with God’s marvelous work fail?

-Will miracles, leading up to the return of Jesus Christ, make it clear that many of mankind’s concepts of truth are deeply flawed (because they did not take into account God’s direct and miraculous interventions in response to true faith among His children on earth).

-How jolting will it be for some as God’s miraculous power begins to be more and more evident for all to see? Will some respond by “working in darkness” to discredit and undermine God’s work?

-Who will be more receptive to God’s miraculous work? Will it be those who are well-established in life through existing systems of wealth and power? Or, will it be the poor who are largely outside of these systems of wealth and power?

-How will the gathering of scattered Israel be part of God’s miraculous work?

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)

By the Words of Three I Will Establish My Word

After using the Gold Plates to record Jacob’s, Isaiah’s, and his own testimony of Christ’s gospel, Nephi states the following:

“…By the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words.” (2 Nephi 11:3)

Questions:

-Is this principle of three witnesses found in other places in the scriptures?

-Thinking of the Godhead as an example, are the testimonies given by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost from a single source? Or, are these testimonies from three separate Persons who are one in purpose?

-Does each member of the Godhead share His testimony in a unique way? Where in the scriptures do we have the testimony of the Father? Where in the scriptures do we have the testimony of the Son? How does the Holy Ghost share His testimony?

-Did God establish three witnesses to the divine origins of the Book of Mormon? Where can the testimony of those three witnesses by found? (see Testimony of the Three Witnesses)

Reconcile Yourselves to the Will of God

Jacob, speaking as the Lord’s prophet, teaches that the will of God and the will of the devil are active in the pursuit of all human souls.

“…Cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life. Wherefore…reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.” (2 Nephi 10:23-24)

Questions:

-According to the passage above, what are the results of reconciling yourself to the will of God? On the other hand, what are the results of reconciling yourself to the will of the devil (and the flesh)?

-Is the pull of the two wills strong enough that each individual is either moving toward living in accordance with one will or the other at any given time?

-How can one be reconciled to the will of God?

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

“[Satan] promotes conduct and choices that limit our freedom to choose by replacing the influence of the Holy Spirit with his own domination (see D&C 29:40; 93:38–39). Yielding to his temptations leads to a narrower and narrower range of choices until none remains and to addictions that leave us powerless to resist” (D. Todd Christofferson, “Moral Agency,” Ensign, June 2009, 49).

Great Are the Promises of the Lord unto Them Who Are upon the Isles of the Sea

After recognizing the Lord’s hand in bringing his father’s family across the ocean to their promised land in the Americas, Jacob teaches his people that the Lord had (and would) scatter many others from the house of Israel across the seas and oceans to new lands. Many of the promises of restoration extended to Lehi’s family in the last days are also extended to these people who have been scattered upon the “isles of the sea.”

“…Great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea.” (2 Nephi 10:21)

“For behold, the Lord God has led away from time to time from the house of Israel, according to his will and pleasure. And now behold, the Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off…” (2 Nephi 10:22)

Questions:

-Does “isles of the sea” refer only to islands? Or, does it also refer to lands that would have been reached by sea or ocean travel (in relation to the ancient kingdom 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:
//players.brightcove.net/710874264001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5776886627001

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?

He That Raiseth up a King Against Me Shall Perish

Jacob declares God’s will and voice concerning the promised land in the Americas. Along with being a land of inheritance for Lehi’s descendants, it will also be a land of freedom and liberty for all people—a place where Zion will be reestablished with the King of Heaven as its King.

“…This land, said God, shall be a land of thine inheritance, and the Gentiles shall be blessed upon the land. And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles. And I will fortify this land against all other nations. And he that fighteth against Zion shall perish, saith God. For he that raiseth up a king against me shall perish, for I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words.” (2 Nephi 10:10-14)

Questions:

-Are all parts of the Americas a promised land? Or, is the promised land referred to in this passage more localized?

-Are there other promised lands outside the Western Hemisphere? (See link to a definition of promised land above)

-Why will God fortify the American promised land against all other nations? What or who will He be protecting?

-How will Zion be established within the American promised land? Has it already begun to be established?

-How will Lehi’s descendants be involved in the establishment of the American Zion?

-Will the establishment of Zion in the Americas be a source of marked conflict? Or, will it be a more peaceful, organic process?

-How important is it to hear God’s words? Do you believe the Book of Mormon is God’s word? How can you find out if it is or isn’t? (see Moroni 10:3-5)

The Promises of the Lord are Great unto the Gentiles

Jacob proclaims the Lord’s voice and will regarding the gathering of the Jewish people in the last days. Much of the prosperity and strength granted by God to the greatest Gentile nations will be linked to their role in gathering and helping the Lord’s ancient covenant people.

“…Behold, thus saith the Lord God: When the day cometh that they shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance. And it shall come to pass that they shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea, and from the four parts of the earth; and the nations of the Gentiles shall be great in the eyes of me, saith God, in carrying them forth to the lands of their inheritance. Yea, the kings of the Gentiles shall be nursing fathers unto them, and their queens shall become nursing mothers; wherefore, the promises of the Lord are great unto the Gentiles, for he hath spoken it, and who can dispute?” (2 Nephi 10:7-9)

Questions:

-Based on the above passage, is it likely God’s favor will be upon any nation that fights against the house of Israel or the Jewish people in the last days?