Come, Follow Me: February 24 — March 1
These final chapters of 2 Nephi give us brilliant support in defense of the Book of Mormon. We see it as a startling and wonderful gift from God that not only gives us a second witness for Christ, but a myriad of warnings for the last days. These warnings show us the state of the world and how Satan strives to deceive, the conditions of general Christian beliefs and how they have strayed from the truth, and how much God loves all His children everywhere and seeks to reclaim them.
Nephi saw a lot of things in vision and some of them were terribly sad. But the truly awful things were/are avoidable when people repent and strive to keep God’s commandments.
Nephi begins by prophesying that after Christ’s crucifixion in Jerusalem, He would appear unto the Nephites. Nephi backtracks a little in verse 3 by telling his followers that signs would be given of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. Then he describes the destruction that would occur in the Americas at the time of the crucifixion. Nephi blends the coming destruction among the Nephites with the destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming.
It’s really worthwhile to begin in 3 Nephi 11 and read about the destruction that preceeded Christ’s appearance to the Nephites, because it is a type of the Second Coming. Here’s an article that might be interesting during that study. Verse 4 talks about the wicked being burned as stubble, which is a Second Coming prediction, but verse 5 talks about the earthquakes and tempests that would occur before Christ’s appearance to the Nephites.
Looking at verse 4 and 5, do you find that easy to understand? It’s because you have read the prophecies of the Second Coming and you have read 3 Nephi’s account of the destruction there, which occurred in the past. Note that Isaiah uses this same method of communicating, mixing ancient events with future ones. It’s more difficult for us to grasp because of our lack of knowledge of Old Testament wars and destructions.
Nephi continues with this through verse 7 and agonizes over the things he has seen. Can you imagine seeing the destruction of the people you love and your descendants? Nephi not only foresaw their destruction at the coming of the Savior, but their great wars 400 years hence when the Lamanites would completely destroy them.
In verse 8, Nephi begins to talk about the righteous, who look forward to the coming(s) of Christ and seek to keep His commandments. To them Christ will bring healing and peace. In verse 12, Nephi says that both the Jews and the Gentiles need to be converted. In verse 13, Nephi says that Christ will manifest Himself to every people and nation, and this is the message of the final chapters of 2 Nephi.
In verse 14, Nephi begins a prophecy of the last days. After his people are destroyed because of their wickedness, the records they have kept will speak out of the dust to both Jew and Gentile. Nephi says that (verse 19) Lehi’s descendants who dwindle in unbelief will be smitten by the Gentiles. In verse 20, Nephi describes the Gentiles, that they will build up many churches with false doctrines, many of them in order to get gain. They will grind upon the face of the poor.
In verse 22, Nephi talks about the secret combinations of the last days inspired by Satan to commit murder and other sins in order to get gain. These kinds of things are rampant in today’s world. In verse 23, Nephi begins to teach his followers (and us) how God works. He invites all to come unto Him and to repent. He works in the light, not in the darkness.
In verse 29, Nephi says the Lord commands that there should be no priestcrafts. What are examples of priestcraft today? How does the revealed gospel protect against priestcraft? How do we labor for Zion (verses 29 – 33).
Nephi prophesies that all the lands of the earth would be drunk with iniquity. Then will come the destructions that precede the Second Coming. In verse 3, Nephi uses images found elsewhere in scripture where those who seem so very powerful will just vanish while everything the wicked seek will effectively vaporize. We tend to see the things around us—material things, powerful people, institutions, nations, governments, even geographical features of the earth and the earth itself—as permanent, but they are not.
Verse 5 cites the blindness that comes upon people when they turn away from God. If we look around at the decisions the world is making in blindness, without God’s help, it is obvious that as modern as the world is, it can still be utterly nonsensical. What are some of the beliefs and decisions you see in the world that do not make sense eternally or even temporally for the welfare of all?
Verse 6 talks about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Has any other religion been established with a book being produced first? No. Even the Bible was compiled long after Christianity was established. This really is a marvelous work and a wonder. It has never happened before and has never happened since.
Verses 7 – 10 talk about how the book is sealed. The sealed portion of the Book of Mormon contains the writings of Joseph who was sold into Egypt, the writings of the Brother of Jared and others who saw the beginning from the end.
Verse 11 says these words will be read upon the housetops. This can only happen when everyone who hears them will be worthy to hear them. When might that happen? How do you feel about being able to read or hear these prophecies? How can we prepare? Who has been worthy enough to read these words (verses 12, 13)?
Verse 15 – 18 comes from a prophecy in Isaiah 29: “Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them. And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God. And the man shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed. Then shall the learned say: I cannot read it.” This prophecy was fulfilled when Martin Harris took some characters from the Book of Mormon to Professor Anthon.
Also prophesied in Isaiah 29, verses 19 and 20 talk about how the book would be delivered to one who is not learned but is able to understand because of the gift given him of God. Why was it not possible for Joseph Smith to translate from the gold plates without God’s help?
In verse 21, the Lord says to not touch the things that are sealed and in verse 22 the Lord says that after the book has been read and witnessed, it would be hidden up unto the Lord. Where are the gold plates now? Why? (See verse 22.)
We then have an explanation of why the gold plates were not delivered to any existing church, since all Christian churches were teaching the precepts of men. The Lord promises to confound the wisdom of the wise and learned.
Verse 27 talks about those who hide their counsel from God, who do their works in the dark. These will all be revealed when Christ comes. We will probably be surprised when these things are revealed, since we are unaware of much of the secret wickedness around us.
Beginning in verse 28, the Lord shows how joyful it will be when people receive the Book of Mormon, learn of and believe in its precepts, and live “after the manner of happiness.” During the Millennium, everyone will be able to partake, “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” (verses 31, 32).
These verses also come from Isaiah 29. Go to Isaiah 29 in the Bible. What will become of those who murmur? What will happen to those who “err in spirit” or misunderstand doctrine? What will become of those who lay a snare for the believers to destroy their faith? What is the difference between them?
Nephi talks about churches built up in the last days—“and not unto the Lord.” There are over 45,000 distinct Christian denominations. Why? In verse 3, Nephi says they all will claim to be the Lord’s church and will contend with one another. There are about 750 anti-Latter-day Saint ministries mounted by Protestant groups. Why?
In verse 4, Nephi says they “will deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance.” How is this happening? Many charismatic churches claim to manifest the gifts of the Spirit, and indeed, in all of Christianity, there are miracles performed through the prayer of faith. In verse 5, Nephi says they “deny the power of God.” How is rejecting the Book of Mormon denying the power of God?
Some churches teach that miracles have ceased and so have gifts of the spirit. (See verse 6.) Some of these churches are becoming more charismatic (even Lutheran and Catholic churches) because churches where spiritual gifts are manifest are more popular.
In verses 7 – 9, we see the “eat, drink, and be merry” philosophy. We see this today in people who call themselves devoted Christians but don’t keep any commandments, especially those governing chastity. Many of these mock Latter-day Saints or treat them with contempt because we will not back down on questions of morality as set by the Lord.
Beginning in verse 12, Nephi talks about the pride of false teachers with false doctrines. They have fine sanctuaries and fine clothing. They persecute the poor in heart. A lot of this is happening online, where people pay for prayers. One mega-church received $600,000 on one Sunday in this manner. Who are the people who are sending money and what are their needs? What is “the prosperity gospel and how does it attract the poor?
In verse 14, Nephi says that in these churches there are “humble followers of Christ” who often stumble because of the teachings of men. Beginning in verse 15, Nephi shows us how serious these things are and how God’s wrath will come down on those who don’t repent.
In verse 20, Nephi says that in the last days (our days) Satan will rage in the hearts of men, to stir them up in anger against that which is good. How are we seeing this today? In verse 21, Nephi talks about others who are complacent. Some think everything is OK and don’t try to change anything; others don’t believe in Satan. In verses 27 – 30, Nephi talks about those who say they’ve received and need no more. This is a theme continued in following chapters.
The Bible promises us that the Lost Ten Tribes will return and that their return will be miraculous. Since Jesus visited them as His other lost sheep and they have surely had prophets over time, they will bring sacred writings with them. What will the Christian world do with these writings? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is anxious to have them and will canonize them, making three scriptural witnesses of Christ.
As part of the spiritual gathering of Israel and the separation of the wicked from the righteous, the Lord is performing His “marvelous work and a wonder.” He is doing this also to fulfill the promises He made to Lehi, Nephi, and other Book of Mormon prophets that their writings would be preserved and brought forth to their descendants who survive and have dwindled in unbelief.
In verse 3, the Lord says very clearly that Christians will not accept anything that is not the Bible, that they will say Bible is complete, authoritative, and perfect. The Lord calls them fools. They are ungrateful toward the Jews for creating it and ignorant of the fact that God reveals His nature and will to all who will receive Him and has for many nations in many periods of time.
That there is more scripture than the Bible proves that God is no respecter of persons, that He loves all His children. Limiting God to one book of scripture denies His power and His love. In verse 9, He reminds us that His work is not finished and will continue forever.
Nephi reminds his people not to feel like they are more righteous than the Gentiles. In verse 1, he says that unless they keep the commandments, they will perish with the unbelievers. He goes on to say that if Gentiles and Jews repent, they will be numbered with Israel, and that even those of the House of Israel will be condemned if they sin against knowledge.
In verse 3, Nephi says that when the Book of Mormon comes forth, many Gentiles will believe and will carry them forth to the remnants of Lehi’s people and to the world. In verse 7, Nephi talks about the physical gathering of the Jews to their homeland when they begin to believe in Christ. This is happening. This is the time of gathering and separation of the wicked from the righteous.
In verse 10, we see prophecies of the Millennium. Peace on earth and the revealing of the things of all nations. All secrets will be revealed; all works of darkness will be made manifest; all the writings of the prophets will be made manifest; Satan will have no more power.