Wo unto Them That Fight Against God and the People of His Church

Nephi, after prophesying about the destruction to befall those at Jerusalem who would reject Christ and the people of His Church, extends a general cautionary principle.

“…Behold it shall come to pass that after the Messiah hath risen from the dead, and hath manifested himself unto his people, unto as many as will believe on his name, behold, Jerusalem shall be destroyed again; for wo unto them that fight against God and the people of his church.” (2 Nephi 25:14)

Questions:

-Do you believe Christ is the God of this earth and came to His people (in and around Jerusalem) as the promised Messiah?

-Who were the people of His Church at the time of His Resurrection?

-Who are the people of His Church today?

-Who is fighting against God and the people of His Church today?

-What does Nephi prophesy about the fate of those who fight against God and His Church in the last days?

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)

It Must Needs Be an Infinite Atonement

Jacob teaches his people (at around 559-545 B.C. in the Americas) about the Resurrection being an answer to the Fall.

“…Our flesh must waste away and die; nevertheless, in our bodies we shall see God. Yea, I know that…in the body he shall show himself unto those at Jerusalem, from whence we came; for it is expedient that it should be among them; for it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him. For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man be reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.” (2 Nephi 9:5-6)

“Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and crumble to its mother earth to rise no more. O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself…” (2 Nephi 9:7-9)

Questions:

-What does Jacob mean when he says that Jesus Christ’s Atonement had to be infinite? (for an excellent exploration of this topic read The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister)

-How is being Resurrected with a physical immortal body part of saving our souls from the powers of hell?

-Would remaining as spirits for the eternities after death allow us to reach our full potential as God’s children? In this scenario, could we achieve the same power of spiritual and physical perfection that our Father and Jesus Christ currently have?

-Will the resurrection to a perfected body permanently seal off further spiritual influence from those who will spend eternity without bodies (i.e. Satan and those who followed him in the pre-mortal world)?

-What does it mean to be a subject of Jesus Christ?

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?

Rely on This Redeemer

As a prophet of God, Lehi had uncommon insight into God’s work and many future events. He shared many of these things with his family including Nephi who recorded some of what he heard, which record became part of the Book of Mormon.

When speaking of the future of Jerusalem, Lehi foresaw the coming of a Messiah and declared that…

“…All mankind were in a lost and fallen state, and ever would be save they…rely on this Redeemer.” (1 Nephi 10:6)

Questions

-What signs do you see around you that the inhabitants of the earth are in a lost and fallen state?

-What does it mean to rely on Jesus Christ who is the Redeemer of which Lehi spoke?

-How do you feel about Lehi’s declaration that there is no other way to overcome the lost and fallen state of humanity except through the Redeemer?

The Lord is Able to Do All Things According to His Will

After the brothers returned to their father’s camp with the Brass Plates, Lehi, their father, received additional revelation that the young men were to go to Jerusalem once again and bring back the family of a man named Ishmael. The brothers are successful in convincing Ishmael and his family to join the divinely mandated exodus to a new land but on the way back to Lehi’s camp Laman, Lemuel, and some of Ishmael’s family had second thoughts and wanted to return to Jerusalem.

As part of his effort to keep them from doubting and rebelling against specific direction given by God to leave Jerusalem, Nephi asks the following:

“…How is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him?” (1 Nephi 7:12)

Questions:

-How can you know God’s will?

-How do you know when your will and God’s will are aligned?

-Is there any limit to what God can provide by way of help and guidance when your will is aligned with His?

-How important is faith as a catalyst for allowing God’s strength into your life?

He is Mightier than All the Earth

After two unsuccessful attempts at obtaining the Brass Plates (see previous post The Lord Prepares the Way) from a man named Laban, Laman and LemuelNephi’s two older brothers — were ready to give up. They were afraid of confronting Laban because of the strength he had as an individual and the power he had, as a leader in Jerusalem, to command a small army. After the second attempt to obtain the plates, Laban had attempted to kill the brothers.

Nephi addressed their concerns as follows:

Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands? (1 Nephi 4:1)

-How meaningful would it be to have an Ally who is mightier than all the earth?

-In His higher wisdom, God will not always intervene in a life — or in events on the earth more broadly — the way we may want Him to. So, how can you know if God, the mightiest of allies, will or will not answer your prayers for specific blessings in your life?

-If the Book of Mormon is what Moroni declares it is in his introduction (see Condemn Not the Things of God) and was brought to us by the gift and power of God: How could understanding and living by the commandments contained in the Book of Mormon increase the power of God in your life?

-Was Nephi in a position where he hoped God would assist him? Or, was hope replaced by trust because he knew he was fulfilling a commandment? Can your relationship with God graduate from hope to trust when your will and actions are aligned with God’s commandments?

-Is it possible to trust someone you don’t know?  Is it possible to know God and, therefore, trust Him? Would you say Nephi’s knowledge of God was based more on theological studies or more on actual experience?

 

The Lord Prepares the Way

Another direct teaching comes from Nephi while giving the account of his family’s journey to the Americas. After leaving Jerusalem, Lehi (Nephi’s father) receives direction from God to have Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem and obtain a historical record contained on brass plates. Two of Nephi’s brothers complained and resisted, but Nephi declared his willingness to go and do what was required. In his record, as contained in third chapter of the Book of Mormon, he shares the principle of truth on which his willingness was based:

“…I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Nephi 3:7)

Questions:

-Have you received commandments from God? If so, what commandments have you received? Are you conscientious about following through based on any direction you have received?

-Are God’s commandments applicable to everyone? Where can these commandments be found?

-Are some commandments more foundational or important than others? (see Mark 12:30-31)

-How sure can you be, based on Nephi’s statement, that it is possible to accomplish what you have been commanded to do?

Prophets, Seers, and Revelators…

“Obedience is the first law of heaven. All progression, all perfection, all salvation, all godliness, all that is right and just and true, all good things come to those who live the laws of Him who is Eternal. There is nothing in all eternity more important than to keep the commandments of God” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [1978], 126).

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).