This chapter starts with an If/Then statement.
If the Gentiles “hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks—(1) And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, [Then] they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father…” (the house of Israel) and “be a blessed [and free] people upon the promised land forever” (2)
Christ will manifest Himself to us in:
- word (the Book of Mormon and living prophets in His restored Church)
- power (the priesthood of God to work miracles for the benefit of mankind on earth)
- very deed (Christ is manifest through the works of others. Service, prophets, the whole organization of the Church working again on the earth as it did in the days of Jesus).
After all these blessings are given to us—words, power, deeds—we must not harden our hearts against Christ and His kingdom on the earth (His Church).
How do hearts get hardened?
Elder Dale L. Renlund in his talk about Preserving the Heart’s mighty change, gives an answer.
We all know of individuals who had this mighty change of heart but subsequently yielded to the natural man. They became casual in their worship and devotion to God, their hearts became hardened, and they thereby jeopardized their eternal salvation.”
Ways our hearts become hardened:
- Yielding to the natural man
- Becoming casual in our worship and devotion to God.
Overcoming the natural man
This is not easy to do. By nature, we tend to be lazy, fearful of change, or stubborn and prideful. We want to do what we want to do. But God asks us to let this natural man go. Give our wills over to Him and let Him make of us a new person. A better one than we can ever be on our own.
Initially, this can be extremely hard. You think you’re giving up YOU. And you are. But you sacrifice that person for the person God knows you can become if you trust Him. He knows our eternal nature that we have forgotten upon coming to this earth. God knows the REAL us. And when we finally forget ourselves and give our wills over to His will, we learn who we really ARE as well.
Be intentional, not casual
I love how the Church has pushed Sabbath day observance and worship over the last few years. The prophets always encourage us NOT to become casual in our worship and devotion to God.
As I have made small changes and sacrifices, the Sabbath has come to mean more to me as I have felt my testimony of my Savior grow. Some of the things I’ve tried doing or not doing is: 1) not to read any worldly fiction on Sunday. That is hard because reading is my first love. My passion. But I realized I do this every day of the week, so sacrificing pleasure books on Sunday was my sacrifice to God to show Him He comes first, not my pleasures. Instead, I read books or articles that teach more about Him and His characteristics.
I also committed to consecrate my time on the Sabbath to serving others more. I write letters or emails to missionaries, make cookies for people who have birthdays in my ward each week, and spend time being present with my family, instead of hiding behind my phone or computer.
Those are a couple of things I’ve tried to sacrifice or consecrate to the Lord to make His day more holy and bring me closer to Him. Your ideas will probably be much different. Seek God’s help in knowing how you can make His day more wonderful for both you and Him.
There are other facets in our lives, besides the Sabbath day, that we can choose to be intentional about, to keep from becoming casual. Scripture study. More meaningful prayers. Serving those around us. Sharing what makes us happy about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Repenting daily. Forgiving those who have wronged us. Loving our enemies, even when they make our lives miserable.
Repentance is a gift
Vs 4-“if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them.” That is such a hopeful phrase. Do you want things to go well with you? Then repent and turn to God today. And tomorrow. And the day after that! 😊
The next verse gives a warning. “Wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God.” (5)
Repentance is the healing salve or balm that keeps our heart from hardening against God. Think of what happens to a real heart when it becomes hard…the hardening of arteries leads to a heart attack.
When we don’t repent, it’s like not taking medicine for our hearts. The arteries and veins providing sustenance to the heart become clogged or hardened so spiritual blood can’t reach the center to keep us healthy and rejoicing.
Repentance is the medicine for a healthy heart.
For the time cometh…that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting…either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity…”1 Nephi 14:7
Life boils down to these two choices:
- Peace and life eternal with our God OR
- Captivity with the devil.
When we harden our hearts by not claiming the redemptive gifts of the atonement available through repentance, we choose the latter.
Moses lifted up the brass serpent in the wilderness to save all who would look up to it. Such an easy thing to do, but many would not look up at the symbol representing the Savior.
Peace and life eternal seem to be easy choices. But many today are swept away by the whims of men and the glories of the world (which are nothing when compared to the glories of God). And so, their hearts harden, their eyes are blinded, their ears are deafened so they cannot see and understand all they are giving up.
In this messed up, crazy world, there is great comfort and safety that comes from following God.
There are two churches only: “the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” (10)
This makes it very clear that there is but one true church upon the earth. How grateful I am to God that I am a member of it. Other churches may have bits and pieces of truth, but they are mingled with the philosophies of men, and ultimately lead away from The Truth—The Savior of the world.
Christ established His Church when He lived upon the earth. After He was crucified and his apostles were all eventually killed, an apostasy took place as His fell apart at the seams because Christ’s priesthood authority died with Him and the last of His apostles. Darkness fell upon the earth for many centuries, and the earth must have groaned.
To whore (verb) means to: pursue a faithless, unworthy, or idolatrous desire; to corrupt by lewd intercourse. Debauch is a synonym which means to make disloyal; to seduce from chastity; to lead away from virtue or excellence; to corrupt by intemperance or sensuality.
The great and abominable church is likened to a whore what corrupts all truth; it leads away from the rod of iron; it seduces away from chastity; it leads away from virtue, excellence, faith. Any organization, doctrine, philosophy, political whim, or person that leads away from Christ is associated with the whore of all the earth.
Few but mighty
Nephi sees how wicked the world gets, but he sees the “church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few…nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth…” (12)
The wicked will fight against us. Satan won’t leave God’s people alone, and he will tempt many away into forbidden paths.
How do we fight this?
“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.”1 Nephi 14:14
Our covenants will arm us with power from on high.
Righteousness gives us power. Covenants arm us with power from on high.
Because of the wrath of God, wars and rumors of wars will be poured out upon the great and abominable church. The angel tells Nephi that when these wars and rumors or wars begin to be poured out upon all nations of the great and abominable church, that will also be the day when the Father shall “commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel.”
The gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through Joseph Smith in the 19th century. All covenants of the priesthood and temple blessings are again available to covenant-keeping members of Christ’s restored Church–The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have a prophet and apostles again. The priesthood keys have been restored to bless men upon the earth. It’s a wonderful day to be alive!
When President Russell M. Nelson became our new prophet, seer, and revelator in 2018, he told us we needed to keep to the covenant path so we could be armed with power to resist the temptations of the devil. He urged us to hold to our sacramental covenants and go to the temple more often (or learn all we can about the temple if we don’t live close to one), so we can keep in this covenant path. I feel like that power from heaven described in verse 14 will be poured out upon us as we do this. We truly can be “armed with righteousness and the power of God in great glory.”