Today, we’ll be examining 2 Nephi 20, which is comparable with Isaiah 10.
The first thing we need to take note of with this chapter, is the chapter heading, which reads, “Destruction of Assyria is a type of destruction of wicked at the Second Coming – Few people shall be left after the Lord comes again – Remnant of Jacob shall return in that day – Compare Isaiah 10.”
According to The Book of Mormon Student Manual and the Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, much of chapters 19 and 20 are given over to explaining how Judah and Assyria will be punished for making an alliance together, since the Lord warned against this through his prophet, Isaiah. First of all, the condition of the land is noted.
- People decree unrighteous decrees (v1)
- People write about the suffering they created themselves (v1, personal translation)
- They prevent the poor and the disabled from obtaining justice (v2)
- They take the rights from the poor so that they can hurt the vulnerable and defenseless (v2)
I notice that this list contains things that people of our day do now. Contrast this with speech given by Alma the Elder prior to baptizing the people of King Noah.
"Behold, here are the waters of Mormon and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?" (Mosiah 18: 8-10, emphasis added)
The Lord doesn’t want us to treat the poor and needy like a food source. He wants us to be there to help and take care of them, just as he would do if he was here in person.
Anyway, Since Ahaz went against the commandment of God, Assyria is going to be like The Lord’s paddle and Judah is about to be spanked (v5)! However, once he’s done punishing Judah, the Lord plans to turn around and punish Assyria for its pride. According to Isaiah, Assyria is just a tool in the Lord’s hands. Like an axe or a saw that boasts they can cut wood better by themselves, without the hand that wields them, Assyria is about to fall. According to Isaiah, they will be destroyed in a single day and there will be so few left that a child could count them. (v 16-19)
After this, Isaiah says, a remnant of Israel will remain on the earth and, eventually, will be restored to its rightful place. Why? Because they will remember their God (v20). So, the Lord advises the children of Israel not to fear Assyria. Yes, Israel is about to be beaten by Assyria, and, yes, they will be enslaved, just like they were in Egypt. After a while, though, they will be freed.
Interestingly, at the end of this chapter, Isaiah provides a list of the towns to be conquered by Assyria. In order, they are Aiath, Migron, Michmash, Geba, Ramath, Gibeah, Gallim, Laish, Anathoth, Medmenah, Gebim, and finally Nob, where the Lord says he will be “hewn away.” Looking at a map, this provides a comparatively straight line from the country’s border to Jerusalem itself. So, the whole point of invading Judah for Assyria is to take down Jerusalem. Before he can do more than threaten it, however, Assyria will be destroyed.
Now, looking back at the chapter heading, I remember that this is supposed to be how things happen during the Second Coming as well. The people of the earth will look on the poor and needy as having no rights and, as a result, just like Assyria, the Lord will burn it in a single day.
Isaiah used the fall of Assyria as a type and shadow of the destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming. Elder Bruce R. McConkie instructed readers of this passage how to arrange and understand the writings in the context of the Second Coming: “It is Isaiah, speaking of the Second Coming, who says: ‘And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day.’ So it is said of the day of burning when the vineyard is cleansed. ‘And [the fire] shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body,’ the account continues. ‘And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.’ The wickedness of men is so widespread, and their evils are so great, that few—comparatively—shall abide the day. ‘And it shall come to pass in that day’—the day of burning, the day when every corruptible thing is consumed, the day when few men are left—‘that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.’ (Isa. 10:17–21.) They shall be gathered after the coming of the Lord” (The Millennial Messiah , 315–16).
Applying the Scripture to My Lif
The Lord has often suggested that the Second Coming of the Savior would arrive like a thief in the night. If we’re not prepared, it will catch us off guard. I guess the best message I can get from this chapter is to be aware of how I treat those with less than I have or who need more than I need. Especially if I don’t want to be among those gathered for burning at the Last Day.