2 Nephi 11

2 Nephi 11: Jacob sees the Savior

                Jacob testifies to his people that he has seen Christ, but he says that it is not just his word to believe, but the words of all the witnesses that have seen God.

“…wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words.” (2 Nephi 11:3)

God has said that by the word of 2-3 witnesses his word shall be established. Jacob is not the only one claiming to have seen God and therefore testifies to the people that he has seen Him. He writes this down as a record to his people and all future generations, as well as the testimonies of others who say they have seen of Him.

Jacob testifies that a Savior would need to exist; “…that save Christ should come all men must perish. For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time.” (2 Nephi 11:6-7)

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2 Nephi 9

2 Nephi 9: The Last Days and the Spirits of the Dead

                Jacob speaks to his brethren and tells them that he has come to the knowledge of the things he is about to teach as being part of the covenants of the Lord, that was promised through the house of Israel. Jacob explains that he knew; “…he has spoken unto the Jews, by the mouth of his holy prophets, even from the beginning down, from generation to generation, until the time comes that they shall be restored to the true church and fold of God; when they shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise.” (2 Nephi 9:2)

In the Last Days, the Jews will come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, even Jesus Christ. Jacob explains to his people that he teaches of these things, so that they may be filled with joy, because of the promised blessings the Lord has in store for them.

What is the meaning of Life?

                Jacob knows that many of his people, and many of us in present day are searching for the answers to questions like; what is the meaning to life? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going after death? Etc. Jacob explains; “…I know that ye have searched much, many of you, to know of things to come; wherefore I know that ye know that our flesh must waste away and die; nevertheless, in our bodies we shall see God.” (2 Nephi 9:4)

Jacob makes the obvious point, we all must die. Has there ever been a recorded history of mortal men living forever? No. However, this does not mean that our life does not go on after death. If one is to believe that we have life after death, that means that there must be some sort of plan for this, correct? Our Heavenly Father has a plan for us, this plan was created before the world was!

Jacob explains this Plan of Salvation;

“…it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him. For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord. Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more.” (2 Nephi 9:5-7)

Let’s step back and understand what Jacob is teaching. We know that Jesus Christ was sent to earth (our Redeemer) to Redeem us from our sins! What sins? In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve something called Agency, this Agency would allow for Adam and Eve to make their own choices, even if they were contrary to the commandments of God. This was necessary for God to give His children the ability to choose for themselves, whether they wanted to follow good or evil. This gave our life meaning and purpose, however, God was not about to leave us without a plan to return to Him.

Here we have the Plan of Salvation, God knew that Adam and Eve would disobey Him, but this was all part of the plan. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God by following the enticing’s of the Devil they were cast out of the Garden of Eden and thus given the opportunity to prove themselves in the world and become the first parents of all the Spirit Children of God. Because man was in a “fallen” state, i.e. we were unable to be in God’s presence. God gave us the Resurrection through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, who DIED FOR OUR SINS! Because Jesus Christ died for our sins, we were given a gift from God, Salvation! Because of Jesus Christ, we know had a way to return to God! But, we again have to use our Agency… Follow Jesus Christ on the pathway back to God? OR Follow Satan on the pathway to disobedience and destruction?

If God had not given us a Redeemer, Jesus Christ… we would have been dead spiritually. The Free gift of Salvation is ours to take as long as we can be a disciple of Christ. This means that we are disciple-ined (disciplined in the teachings of Christ, i.e. we follow His commandments). Jacob goes on to teach his people and praise God; “….O how great the plan of our God! For on the other hand, the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls, having a perfect knowledge like unto us in the flesh, save it be that our knowledge shall be perfect.” (2 Nephi 9:13) God’s plan for us is perfect, we must choose who to follow in this life.

The purpose of Life? Follow God’s commandments, obtain knowledge and become as perfect as we can in this life. If we make mistakes, we recognize the mistakes and move past them, always bettering ourselves and those around us.

Jacob teaches that in the next life, when were are judged; “…we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and the irrighteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness…. it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God.” (2 Nephi 9:14-15)

The only thing that goes with us into the next life is our knowledge and memories. Nothing else will go with us, therefore we should strive to value friendship and family… love for our neighbor and our God. Jacob explains that after we die, those; “….who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end.” (2 Nephi 9:16) Essentially not much changes from the time we die. If we are miserable in this life and only desire material wealth… we will desire material wealth in the next life. If we are happy with our life and the basics we have, we will enjoy the next life.

Those who follow God will be delivered from the devil in the last days! “…he [Jesus Christ] cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day… he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God… if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it.” (2 Nephi 9:22-24) Jesus Christ died for all our sins that we might be given a chance to prove ourselves in this life, be baptized and follow His commandments until the day the Lord calls us home.

No Law… No Punishment

                “…he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement; for they are delivered by the power of him. For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 9:25-26)

God has given us laws and commandments so that there might be punishment and reward. For those who follow the commandments, the Lord has sent His Son to die for our sins, so that we can return to our Heavenly Father! Jacob warns of those who have been given the law, and chose to disobey… knowing full well that they are doing wickedness; “…wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!” (2 Nephi 9:27)

Wo unto those who think they are WISE:

Jacob explains that many who think they are wise, are actually foolish.

“…O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.” (2 Nephi 9:28)

Wo unto the…

  • “…unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.” (2 Nephi 9:30)
  •  “…wo unto the deaf that will not hear; for they shall perish.” (2 Nephi 9:31)
  •  “…Wo unto the blind that will not see; for they shall perish also.” (2 Nephi 9:32)
  • “…Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart, for a knowledge of their iniquities shall smite them at the last day.” (2 Nephi 9:33)
  • “…Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.” (2 Nephi 9:34)
  • “…Wo unto the murderer who deliberately killeth, for he shall die.” (2 Nephi 9:35)
  • “…Wo unto them who commit whoredoms, for they shall be thrust down to hell.” (2 Nephi 9:36)
  • “….wo unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them.” (2 Nephi 9:37)
  • “…wo unto all those who die in their sins; for they shall return to God, and behold his face, and remain in their sins.” (2 Nephi 9:38)

Jacob encourages his people to follow the Lord and not to give into the enticing’s of the Devil; “…But behold, my brethren, is it expedient that I should awake you to an awful reality of these things? Would I harrow up your souls if your minds were pure? Would I be plain unto you according to the plainness of the truth if ye were freed from sin? Behold, if ye were holy I would speak unto you of holiness; but as ye are not holy, and ye look upon me as a teacher, it must needs be expedient that I teach you the consequences of sin.” (2 Nephi 9:47-48)

Because Jacob was called of God to speak unto his people, he must act as a teacher unto them… so that they might become holy. Jacob exhorts [urges] his people to follow God, that they might be quenched of their spiritual thirst

“Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.” (2 Nephi 9:50-51)

2 Nephi 4

2 Nephi 4: Lehi Dies

                Lehi calls all of the sons of Laman, Lemuel and Nephi and all their families to give them a blessing before he departs (for Lehi must have known that his death was approaching).

“…it came to pass my father, Lehi, had spoken unto all his household, according to the feelings of his heard and the Spirit of the Lord which was in him, he waxed old…” (2 Nephi 4:12)

After Lehi died and was buried, Laman and Lemuel and their offspring were angered unto Nephi for he spoke many things of the Lord unto them. Nephi explains the purpose of his writings;

“…upon these [the plates] I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children. Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and myheart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.” (2 Nephi 4:15-16)

Nephi knows that the scriptures are important for man to ponder and learn from. Nephi knows that he is not perfect, but he knows that when he his encircled in temptations the Lord will deliver him.

“…when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted… God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh. He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me… he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.” (2 Nephi 4:19-23)

Nephi praises the Lord for being with him through all the hard times, and he puts his trust in the Lord. Nephi then explains how sin can come upon anyone, but how we should overcome our sin and lean on the Lord for strength.

“…why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy? Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul. Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions. Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.” (2 Nephi 4:27-30)

Nephi asks why he should yield to sin and let the enemy encircle him. Nephi leans of the Lord, the Rock of his salvation to help him overcome the sins and temptations of the world.

“May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walkin the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

…Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.” (2 Nephi 4:32;35)

Nephi explains that the temptations of the world and the evil are shut off from him because he has a broken heart and a contrite spirit and leans on the Lord, his Redeemer and Savior! Nephi exclaims that the Lord will answer to anyone who asks.

1 Nephi 11

1 Nephi 11: Nephi’s Vision of the Tree of Life

                Nephi , believing on the words of his father Lehi desired to see for himself the things which is father was able to behold he prayed to the Lord and; “…was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord… into an exceedingly high mountain, which I [Nehpi] never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.” (1 Nephi 11:1) Nephi is then asked by an angel of the Lord if he truly believed on the words of his father, and Nephi responded that he believed all the words. Because Nephi believed the words (had faith without seeing) he was then granted the ability to see what his father had seen in visions and dreams.

The Angel then shouts for Joy that Nephi believed, and told him to LOOK. Nephi looked and asked the Angel to give him an interpretation of the Tree which his father Lehi had seen. Nephi is then left by the Angel to see a vision;

“…it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.” (1 Nephi 11:13) The heavens then open and the angel comes down and asks Nephi; “…what beholdest thou?” (1 Nephi 11:14) Nephi responds; “…A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.” (1 Nephi 11:15) The Angel then asks; “…Knowest thou the condescension of God?” (1 Nephi 11:16)

What is the Condescension of God?

Condescension: the act of descending to a lower and less dignified state; of waiving the privileges of one’s rank and status; of bestowing honors and favors upon one of lesser stature or status.

The Angel asks Nephi if he understood what the condescension of God was, to which Nephi responded; “…I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” (1 Nepi 11:17)

The Angel explains that the virgin he had seen is; “…the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh…. [the Angel then carries Nephi into another vision and commands him to look] …I [Nephi]  looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” (1 Nephi 11:18;20-21)

So what is the Condescension of God? Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained it better than I could;

“When we think of him, we think of the most noble and exalted being there is. Then we read this question, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” and discover that somehow it is associated with his love for us, his children, his spirit children who are now dwelling as mortals here on earth. We discover in our text that he shall be the Father of a Son born “after the manner of the flesh”; that is, he condescends, in his infinite wisdom, to be the Father of a holy being who shall be born into mortality…

So when we think of Christ’s condescension in this matter, we must think of the glory and dominion and exaltation that he possessed. We read in the revelations that he was ‘like unto God’ (Abraham  3:24). We read the language of the Father where he says, ‘worlds without number have I created; … and by the Son I created them, which is mine only Begotten’ (Moses 1:33). We discover that Christ was like the Father; that he was co-creator, that he had the might and power and dominion and omnipotence of the Father and that he acted under his direction in the regulating and the creating of the universe.

We read the words which an angel spake to King Benjamin, in which the angel described him as “the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity,” and then said that he would come down and tabernacle in a body of clay and minister among men; that he would be the Son of God and that Mary would be his mother (see Mosiah 3:5, 8).

Here we have a glorious thing. Here we have exalted, noble beings on a plane and status so far above our present circumstance that we have no way of comprehending their dominion and glory, and we have one of them, God our Eternal Father, through the condescension and infinite love and mercy that he has for us, stepping down from his noble status and becoming the Father of a Son after the manner of the flesh. We have that Son being born, that Son who was his firstborn in the spirit, who had like power and omnipotence with the Father. We have each of them performing a work that there is no way for us to understand as far as magnitude and glory and importance is concerned.” (Bruce R. McConkie – Behold the Condescension of God; December 1984)

Nephi, after seeing the virgin and the Lamb of God being born explains to the Angel that the Tree is; “…the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.” (1 Nephi 11:22) The Angel confirms that this is true and proceeds to show Nephi more visions of the Lamb of God and his ministry upon the earth. Nephi is commanded to look, and he looks; “….I [Nephi] beheld the Lamb of God going forth among the children of men. And I beheld multitudes of people who were sick, and who were afflicted with all manner of diseases, and with devils and unclean spirits; and the angel spake and showed all these things unto me. And they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God; and the devils and the unclean spirits were cast out.” (1 Nephi 11:31)

Nephi is commanded again to look, and he beholds the Lamb of God being judged before the world, lifted upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world. Nephi is then shown the vision of the Tree of Life, which his father Lehi had seen. In the vision, there was a great and spacious building which Nephi declared; “….was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (1 Nephi 11:36)

1 Nephi 10

1 Nephi 10: Lehi tells of the coming of Jesus and the scattering of the Jews

                Nephi explains that before he starts his account of his people, he must speak concerning the words of his father Lehi. After the dream of Lehi, Lehi began to speak about the Jews, saying that the great city of Jerusalem would be destroyed and that they would be carried away captive into Babylon. Lehi also foretells that the Jews would be led out of captivity to return to the land of their inheritance. Nephi explains what his father told him; “…six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews—even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world. And he also spake concerning the prophets, how great a number had testified of these things, concerning this Messiah, of whom he had spoken, or this Redeemer of the world. Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer.” (1 Nephi 10:4-6) Nephi explains that because the world was in a lost and fallen state, because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, mankind needed a Redeemer! This Redeemer would come and take upon himself the sins of the world!

Lehi mentions that before the coming of this Messiah, that a prophet would come before to prepare the way; “…he should go forth and cry in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for there standeth one among you whom ye know not; and he is mightier than I, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose…” (1 Nephi 10:8) – See also Matthew 3:3 Lehi explains that this Prophet [John the Baptist] would baptize the Messiah and after this baptism the Messiah would become the Lamb of God, who would take away the sins of the World!

Lehi explained to Nephi, who then taught us that this Lamb of God would be rejected and slain by the Jews, then; “…rise from the dead, and should make himself manifest, by the Holy Ghost, unto the Gentiles.” (1 Nephi 10:11) Because of this Lehi explained that the house of Israel would be divided and be scattered and broken off upon all the face of the earth. This is compared like unto an Olive Tree, which in the last days the remnants of the branches of Israel [after having received the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ] “…should be grafted in…” (1 Nephi 10:14) into the Olive Tree. Nephi explains that all these visions and writings were done in a tent in the valley of Lemuel.

After Nephi had heard about these visions and dreams he became desirous to see and hear for himself through the power of the Holy Ghost. Nephi explains that; “…he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (1 Nephi 10:19) Nephi knew that if he had faith to know these things, that the mysteries of God could be unfolded before him. He just had to have faith to TRULY know if what his father Lehi had seen was true.

Hebrews 9

Hebrews 9: Christ = The Mediator

                Paul writes to the Hebrews and explains that in times of Old (the Old Testament) a priest would come into the Holy Tabernacle once a year to “atone” for the sins of the people. However, Christ came to Atone for the sins of the people with a far greater tabernacle, which was His own body, the very same body that He sacrificed and Atoned for us. In order for this Atonement to take effect, Jesus Christ had to die for the Testament. This is similar to “last will and testament”, which is only executed upon death of an individual. Because of this it was necessary for Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Those who follow Him; “…are called [to] receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:15)

Paul explains the divine mission of Jesus Christ;

“…Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands… but into heaven itself…. Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the scone time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:24;28) Therefore those who follow Jesus Christ will be given salvation when Jesus Christ returns for the Second time.

 

Isaiah 43-44

Isaiah 43-44

Chapter 43: Jesus is our only Redeemer

The Lord has redeemed his people from slavery – he will protect them from waters and from fire. The Lord has chosen his servant, and commissioned Israel as his witnesses. The Lord will judge Babylon, and supply roads and water for his people in the wilderness. Jacob (Israel) has not offered sacrifices, and has been full of iniquity – nonetheless, the Lord will forgive previous sins.

Chapter 44: Why worship objects?

The Lord’s spirit will be poured onto the descendants of Jacob, and they will spring up like grass. “…  beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6) Idols and idol makers achieve nothing. Israel’s transgressions have been blotted out, as with a thick cloud. Jacob has been redeemed. Cyrus is the Lord’s shepherd, who will help to rebuild Judah and Jerusalem.