All That Fight Against Zion Shall Be Destroyed

In interpreting Isaiah chapters 48 and 49 for his brothers, Nephi again teaches about the fate of those who fight against the people of the Lord in the last days.

“…[T]he blood of that great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall turn upon their own heads; for they shall war among themselves, and the sword of their own hands shall fall upon their own heads, and they shall be drunken with their own blood. And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. And all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it.” (1 Nephi 22:13-14) 

Questions:

-Would the people of the Lord (true followers of Jesus Christ who receive His Spirit) ever be filled with the kind of anger and ill-will that leads to widespread violence and war?

-How quickly, on the other hand, would a group or society that is animated by such ill-will and anger start to turn upon itself and any of its neighbors who are under the influence of the same dark spirit?

-What role will anger toward the truth and light of Zion play in separating the wicked from the righteous in the last days?

-Are there growing signs of hatred toward the Lord’s people (who will not bow to the deteriorating status quos of the societies around them)?

-How easy will it be for those with good-will toward all—and high standards of conduct based on the truths of revealed scripture—to stay separated from each other in the midst of those who have fallen prey to contagious hatred born of ill-will and anger? Will the good in heart from all faiths be gathered together in solidarity, of necessity, as the great and abominable church (described in the passage above) begins to destroy itself?

All the Nations that Fight Against Zion Shall Be as a Dream of a Night Vision

The prophet Nephi foresees that all who set themselves against Zion in the last days will find emptiness rather than joy and satisfaction.

“…All the nations that fight against Zion, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision; yea, it shall be unto them, even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh but he awaketh and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.” (2 Nephi 27:3)

Questions:

-Where is Zion located today?

-Does it have more than one location?

-Is it currently everywhere where the pure in heart can be found? What does it mean to be pure in heart? Can one be pure in heart without the purifying power of the Holy Ghost?

-Who is participating in the formation and growth of Zion?

-Who is fighting against Zion? What is the motivation driving those who fight against Zion? How long lasting will be the satisfaction they gain from distressing Zion?

-Will the results of God’s active interventions make it clear who He supports and who He doesn’t in the last days? Will any setback for Zion be lasting?

God Commandeth That There Shall Be No Priestcrafts

Nephi provides a key to distinguishing between those who are true servants in God’s kingdom and those who are not.

“He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish. But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.” (2 Nephi:26:29-30)

Questions:

-How powerful is the allure of self-aggrandizement and material security?

-Does the pure love of God (which Nephi refers to as charity in the passage above) need to be nurtured and sought after if one is to serve in a way that is pleasing to God?

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

“Let us beware of false prophets and false teachers, both men and women, who are self-appointed declarers of the doctrines of the Church and who seek to spread their false gospel and attract followers by sponsoring symposia, books, and journals whose contents challenge fundamental doctrines of the Church. Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce. Like Nehor and Korihor in the Book of Mormon, they rely on sophistry to deceive and entice others to their views. They ‘set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion’ (2 Ne. 26:29)” (M. Russell Ballard, “Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 63).

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 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)

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

All People Shall Dwell Safely in the Holy One of Israel If It So Be That They Will Repent

As Nephi continues to expound on the prophesies and messages of Isaiah (chapters 48 and 49), he reemphasizes – despite the turmoil of the last days and all that will befall those who fight against Zion – that there is always safety in Jesus Christ.

“[A]ll nations, kindreds, tongues, and people shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent.” (1 Nephi 22:28)

-Does Christ deny anyone or any group who comes to Him?

-Is there any other way to come unto Christ, besides through repentance?

-If the standard we repent to is the Divine Christ, how much emphasis and focus should be placed on repenting daily?

-Does the thought of a Perfect Standard encourage you or discourage you?

-Is encouragement or discouragement, in looking to Christ, a choice we make?

-How important is it to have faith that such a standard is obtainable for the standard to be meaningful?

-Would Christ want us to obtain anything less than the potential He has given us through his example and atoning sacrifice?

-If we allow His power into our lives, are there limits to what Christ can make of us as individuals and as groups?

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

“Why have our Father and His Son commanded us to repent? Because they love us. They know all of us will violate eternal laws. Whether they be small or large, justice requires that every broken law be satisfied to retain the promise of joy in this life and the privilege of returning to Father in Heaven. If not satisfied, in the Day of Judgment justice will cause that we be cast out of the presence of God to be under the control of Satan [see 2 Nephi 9:8–10; 2 Nephi 2:5].

“It is our Master and His redeeming act that make it possible for us to avoid such condemnation. It is done through faith in Jesus Christ, obedience to His commandments, and enduring in righteousness to the end.

“Are you taking full advantage of the redeeming power of repentance in your life so that you can have greater peace and joy? Feelings of turmoil and despondency often signal a need for repentance. Also the lack of the spiritual direction you seek in your life could result from broken laws. If needed, full repentance will put your life together. It will solve all of the complex spiritual pains that come from transgression. But in this life it cannot remedy some of the physical consequences that can occur from serious sin. Be wise and consistently live well within the boundaries of righteousness defined by the Lord” (Richard G. Scott, “The Path to Peace and Joy,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 25).

These Are Those Who Must Be Consumed as Stubble

Nephi continues to interpret and expand on Isaiah’s prophecies.  After emphasizing that all who fight against Zion will be destroyed, he provides additional detail about the aims and characteristics of those who will not be protected in Zion as the time of Christ’s return draws near.

“…All churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble.” (1 Nephi 22:23)

Questions:

-Is Nephi referring to churches specifically as places and organizations for traditional Christian worship? Or, is he referring to all organizations and groups — whether they would normally be called churches or not — that are focused on power, the lusts of the flesh, and popularity?

-Have some corporations and companies become church-like in our day? How do such corporations try to exercise control over the flesh? How important is it for large companies to do whatever keeps them, and their products, popular among the widest portion of the population possible? If the standards of the population at large begin to deteriorate how likely is it that these organizations will mirror and seek to justify the deteriorating standards? What level of depravity would an organization need to fall into in order to be in danger of destruction at the time of Christ’s coming?

-Has wielding government power become a kind of practical church — where the “greatest difference” can be made through social policy that helps society to “progress” — and a substitute for the Gospel for some? Are those who believe in a God of miracles more likely or less likely to view government in this way?

-Do some Christian churches focus more on gaining income and popularity than they do on teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ as found in the scriptures?