2 Nephi 10

2 Nephi 10: America, Land of Liberty

                Jacob speaks to his people and informs them that many of them shall perish in unbelief, but many more shall be restored and given knowledge of their true redeemer. Jacob explains that the more ‘wicked’ part of the world would crucify Jesus Christ; “…it must needs be expedient that Christ—for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name—should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.” (2 Nephi 10:3)

Jacob explains that because of the “…priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified.” (2 Nephi 10:5) Famines, destructions and pestilences shall come upon them, and they shall be destroyed. However, when they come to knowledge of their Redeemer, they shall be restored to their lands and no longer shall they be dispersed throughout the entire world.

The Gentiles will not be without their inheritance, for the Lord will provide for them a land of LIBERTY, free from kings and free from oppression of other nations; “And this land [The United States of America – North American Continent] 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 [God] will fortify this land against all other nations. And he that fighteth against Zion shall perish, saith God.” (2 Nephi 10:11-13)

                Jacob warns that anyone who raises up a King or any sort of dictator in this ‘land of Liberty’, would be destroyed! God will do this, to fulfill his covenant with the children of men, to; “…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.” (2 Nephi 10:15-16)

                Jacob comforts his people by explaining that while they were forced to leave Jerusalem and the land of their inheritance, they have been granted a better land. This new land of ‘Liberty’ will be a beacon of peace for the whole world. Jacob explains that with this knowledge they should rejoice; ”…seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea.” (2 Nephi 10:20)

Jacob ends this chapter by emphasizing the need to follow the Lord and avoid the temptations of the devil. Jacob tries to cheer everyone up; “…cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.” (2 Nephi 10:23) As children of God, and as His followers we have been granted many blessings. We have the ability to choose freedom or death. We have been given this agency, and we will find much peace and joy in using our agency to follow God.

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1 Nephi 18

1 Nephi 18: Crossing the Sea to the Promised Land

                Nephi and his family continue the construction of the ship, a ship that was not built; “…after the manner of men…” (1 Nephi 18:2) Nephi finishes the ship and sees that it; “…was good, and that the workmanship, thereof was exceedingly fine…” (1 Nephi 18:4) After Nephi’s brothers saw the craftsmanship of the ship, they did humble themselves before the Lord.

Nephi explains that while in the wilderness (before building the ship), Lehi [Nephi’s Father] had two sons ‘Jacob’ and ‘Joseph’. Nephi and his entire family loaded up the ship with all their provisions and went forth across the ocean as the wind blew. After traveling the sea for the space of many days, Laman and Lemuel and their families began to dance and sing with “…much rudeness…” (1 Nephi 18:9) In other words, they were rioting and rebelling. Nephi was filled with fear that the Lord would be angry with them, and for this purpose they might be swallowed up in the sea. Nephi began to speak with his brothers, to try and persuade them to repent of their actions; this of course only angered his rebel brothers.

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“…it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me [Nephi]  and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness;  …it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass [The Liahona], which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work.” (1 Nephi 18:11-12) Because of the wickedness of Laman and Lemuel, they did not know which direction to travel and their arose a great storm and tempest that caused the ship to be pushed back for three days, and on the fourth day the storm worsened.

“…after we had been driven back upon the waters for the space of four days, my brethren began to see that the judgments of God were upon them, and that they must perish save that they should repent of their iniquities; wherefore, they came unto me, and loosed the bands which were upon my wrists, and behold they had swollen exceedingly; and also mine ankles were much swollen, and great was the soreness thereof. Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.” (1 Nephi 18:15-16) Even though Nephi was miserable, broken down physically and mentally… he praised the Lord!

Laman and Lemuel had caused the entire family to be stricken with great affliction, but even with this, they would only soften their hearts if they knew they would be on the brink of destruction. The Lord knows each and every one of us, and He knows that sometimes we need horrible things to happen to us in order for us to wake up and hear his crying voice. Laman and Lemuel both had to be brought right up to the point of destruction in order to realize the power of God and repent of their actions.

Laman and Lemuel loose the bands of Nephi, and Nephi did take the compass; “…and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm….it came to pass that I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land.” (1 Nephi 18:22) The Lord wants us to be obedient and sometimes He has to use extreme measures in order for us to hear His voice and follow His command.

“…it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land… and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.” (1 Nephi 18:24) Because they hearkened unto the voice of the Lord they were delivered and did arrive in the Promised Land as the Lord had promised.  In the Land of Promise they did find; “…beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper.” (1 Nephi 18:25)

1 Nephi 17

1 Nephi 17: Building the Ship

                Nephi explains that they traveled through the wilderness, eastward and did come across many afflictions and even childbirths along the way. Regardless of their afflictions, the blessings of the Lord were also great; “…we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.” (1 Nephi 17:2) Nephi explains that even though their journeys were tough, the commandments of the Lord must be fulfilled and in doing so, God; “…doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them…” (1 Nephi 17:3) Their entire journey took 8 years, before they came to the land, which they called ‘Bountiful’ because of bountiful honey and fruit. After being in this land for only a few days the Lord came to Nephi and commanded him that he should go up into the nearby mountains.

Once upon the mountain the Lord commanded Nephi to build a ship to carry them to the ‘Promised Land’; “…it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters.” (1 Nephi 17:8) The Lord advised Nephi that He would help him find and build the instruments he needed to construct this ship. Nephi made many tools from molten rock and when he began to build the ship, his brothers again murmured; “…saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters. And thus my brethren did complain against me, and were desirous that they might not labor, for they did not believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord.” (1 Nephi 17: 17-18)

Nephi’s brothers continued this until Nephi reminded them of how the Jews were led into bondage and how the Lord, with Moses led them out of bondage. Nephi explains that the Lord does many wonderful things for the righteous and destroys the wicked. Nephi speaks to his brothers;  “…the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it. And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked. And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes.” (1 Nephi 17:36-38)

By recounting history, Nephi hoped that his brothers would understand that Nephi, like others throughout history were being led by God and doing so to lead the righteous away from the evil-doers. Nephi explains that they too could understand and feel the Lord, but “…ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words…” (1 Nephi 17:45) The Lord often times will try to communicate to us through the Holy Ghost, but like Laman and Lemuel many are past feeling the spirit and therefore lose the ability to feel the Spirit of God. Nephi was confused as to why his brothers were so lost and confused, he explained; “Behold, my soul is rent with anguish because of you, and my heart is pained; I fear lest ye shall be cast off forever. Behold, I amfull of the Spirit of God, insomuch that my frame has no strength.” (1 Nephi 17:47)

Because of his words, Laman and Lemuel desired to kill Nephi. However, they were shaken by the Lord and prevented from laying their hands on Nephi. They then repented and told Nephi that they knew he had the power of the Lord.