Monday, December 9, 2013

The Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 19

I’m attempting to keep plugging through these Isaiah chapters (just six more to go, including this one!), so here is 2 Nephi 19 which is comparable with Isaiah 9.  Much of my understanding of this chapter comes almost directly from the Institute’s Book of Mormon student manual and, since I struggled a great deal for an understanding of the first verse of this selection, I want to begin this section with a quotation directly from the book.

As the Assyrians swept down against the alliance of Israel (Ephraim) and the Syrians, they destroyed Damascus and captured the northern region of Israel, later called Galilee (see 2 Kings 15:27–31). The text in 2 Nephi 19:1 refers to this occurrence as a “vexation” that brought “dimness.” In spite of this invasion and the threat it posed for the rest of Israel and for Judah in the south, Isaiah prophesied of the coming of the Messiah to this region as the coming of “a great light” (2 Nephi 19:2). The lands inherited by the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali were in northern Israel, or Galilee, where Jesus was raised and spent most of His ministry. Matthew and John saw the fact that the Messiah dwelt in the area of Galilee as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (see Matthew 4:12–16; John 1:5).

I also want to deconstruct some of the names Isaiah says the Savior will be given.

  • Wonderful – I think this name is used because the Savior performed the Atonement which allowed us the ability to repent of our sins and come back home.  That’s pretty wonderful, don’t you think so?
  • Counselor – In my opinion, the Savior is given this name for a variety of reasons.  First, thanks to the Atonement, nobody knows us better than he does.  Therefore, he is our first and best counselor when we need a listening ear.  Second, the Lord spent his life in teaching and being a good example.  Therefore, we are wise if we follow his counsel.  Third and perhaps most important, we are told that the Savior will be our “advocate” during judgment (1 John 2:1).  This effectively means that the Savior is our defense attorney.  Sweet, right?
  • The Mighty God – Jesus takes his authority from the Father.  Father was the architect and Jesus was the construction foreman.  He is listed as second in the Godhead along with the Father and the Holy Ghost.  Therefore, this is his rightful title.
  • The Everlasting Father – According to the Relief Society Manual on the Teachings of Joseph F. Smith, Jesus takes the name “Father” for a variety of reasons.  To sum up: 1) because he was the creator of heaven and earth.  2) those who “abide in the gospel,” and are reborn in him through baptism.  3) Since Jesus is the Father’s representative on earth, He has been pleased to give his title to his Son.
  • The Prince of Peace – “Lastly, with the phrase ‘Prince of Peace,’ we rejoice that when the King shall come, there will be no more war in the human heart or among the nations of the world. This is a peaceful king, the king of Salem, the city that would later become Jeru-Salem. Christ will bring peace to those who accept him in mortality in whatever era they live, and he will bring peace to all those in his millennial and postmillennial realms of glory” (Christ and the New Covenant, 80–82, as quoted from the Book of Mormon Student Manual).

Anyway, the Father is planning to send Christ to give his kingdom order and establish it with judgment and justice forever.  This prophesy has been sent to all of Israel, including Ephraim and those who reside in Samaria who are proudly saying things like, “This building that fell down will be rebuilt better and those trees that got cut down will be replaced with better trees.  So the Lord is sending Assyria (“the adversaries of Rezin”) to humble Ephraim. The Syrians will come first and the Philistines will come afterward.  Together, they will conquer Israel (Ephraim).  Even considering this, the Lord is still angry with Ephraim.  Here, it says something that could have more than one meaning.  Quoting from the Book of Mormon Student Manual, “While the phrase ‘his hand is stretched out still’ is most often an expression of righteous anger, it is elsewhere portrayed as a hand of mercy (see 2 Nephi 28:32; Jacob 6:4–5).” The main reason for this is that the people won’t ask the Assyrians for help, but they will also forget to turn to their God.  Therefore, the Lord intends to cut them off.  According to Isaiah, those that should be teaching the rising generation to follow the Lord their God and abide by his precepts are leading them down false and destructive paths, so that the Lord cannot take joy in any of them.  The land and people will be so dark that they won’t even think to save their own siblings.  The hunger will be so great that people will be willing to eat their own flesh. 

Applying the Scripture to My Life.

Speaking as daughter, wife and mother, I understand that I have a responsibility to my family.  My job is to teach them to seek their Father-in-Heaven when times are tough, and to do so myself.  I understand that the Lord will not look lightly on my failure to raise them with their eyes looking in his direction. 

I also want to say that I rejoice with everyone else at the inclusion of a Savior and Redeemer in the Plan of Salvation.  I’m grateful to the Lord for all he has done to help me.  I hope one day to look Him in the face and tell him personally.

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