2 Nephi 16

2 Nephi 16: Isaiah sees the Lord

“In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” (2 Nephi 16:1) Here Isaiah sees the Lord and his sins are forgiven. Isaiah is called by the Lord to prophesy and he does, prophesying of the day of the Lord. Isaiah speaks about the pre-mortal world where Jesus Christ volunteered to be our Savior.

“…I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said: Here am I; send me. And he said: Go and tell this people—Hear ye indeed, but they understood not; and see ye indeed, but they perceived not.” (2 Nephi 16:8-9)

Isaiah knew that the Lord would be persecuted and would be rejected, and he prophesies of this!

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 John 2

1 John 2: Christ is our Advocate

                John explains that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that if we wish to known God, we must follow His commandments. Those who say; “…I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4) Essentially John is saying that those who say they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, but do not walk after His ways is a liar. In order to know God or to know His Son Jesus Christ and truly accept Him in your heart… WE MUST FOLLOW HIS COMMANDMENTS. If we love Him, we will follow Him.

“…whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God… He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk, even as he walked.” (1 John 2:5-6) Again, we see that saying is different than doing. If we accept Jesus Christ, we must show it through actions. Salvation is FREE, but it is up to us to accept this FREE gift. Accepting the FREE gift means following Jesus Christ.

John writes to everyone who has overcome the wicked one [the devil] and has followed after Jesus Christ. John warns; “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15-16) John instructs us to love not the things of the world, but does that mean we can’t enjoy some worldly things? I would venture to say that while we are living in this world, it is OK to enjoy worldly things. However, we must have our main focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is it ok to have money? Yes. Is it ok to have a nice house or car? Yes. It is only when the love of the worldly things takes away from the love of our Savior or away from the love of our neighbors and family. What matters most is that when we pass on from this life into the next we leave behind good memories with those we loved, we take with us knowledge and experience and nothing else.