Laman and Lemuel ask what these verses of scriptures mean that Nephi has read to them. Are they spiritual or physical? They don’t seem to realize they can find out for themselves.
Nephi bears his testimony about prophets being directed by the Spirit to tell their people what God needs them to know, both spiritually and temporally. But it never means as much when someone tells you the answer, rather than when you seek for the answer yourself and get personal revelation specifically tailored for you.
Nephi explains the scattering and gathering of Israel, prophesied by Isaiah. His brothers seem to have intellectual/historical questions, but not questions that deepen their faith in God.
What is the purpose behind my questions? Is it to bring me closer to God, or just to ask for the sake of tripping up others or making myself look smart?
Do I really want to know God’s plan for me? Am I willing to act on answers received?
Nephi talks about the future history of his people and the scattered of Israel and how Isaiah’s prophesies foretold their scattering and their gathering.
And it meaneth that the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered.”1 Nephi 22:7
In Joseph Smith’s days, confounded didn’t only mean to be confused or bewildered, but also meant “mixed or blended in disorder” or “put to shame.” So, when the children of Israel were scattered and confounded, they were blended in with other nations in disorder and put to shame.
It says later in verse 22 that “the righteous need not fear, for they are those who shall not be confounded.”
What a great promise. Do you want to not be confounded? Then follow God.
God warns those who do not choose Him:
For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the power of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who much be brought low to the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.”1 Nephi 22:23
Those that need to fear the future are those who:
- seek gain
- seek power
- seek to be popular
- seek the lusts of the flesh and things of the world.
Basically, all those who seek after wickedness in all its forms, following the devil, not their loving Savior, need to fear.
Whose side will I choose?
Nephi talks about the last days full of “blood and fire, and vapor of smoke…and it cometh unto men according to the flesh if it so be that they will harden their hearts against the Holy One of Israel.” (18) But he gives hope, saying that the “righteous shall not perish; for the time surely must come that all they who fight against Zion shall be cut off.” (19)
What does it mean to be cut off?
If you cut off a tail of a dog or a hand of a man, the severed part has no more to do with the body it came from. It’s separated from the control center and becomes a useless piece that can’t do anything on its own. A cut off tail can’t wag. A severed hand can’t move its fingers.
So it is with the wicked. They are cut off from God and have no more to do with Him—the One who controls the heaven and the One who has power to save them from hell and misery. They become totally useless, unable to do anything good on their own. Super sad.
Another reason people will be cut off from God is because they don’t listen to the Savior and His prophets.
And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.”1 Nephi 22:20
Do I believe in living prophets? If not, am I willing to pray for a witness that God has called living prophets to speak for Him today?
Do I heed the words of living prophets?
Freedom and light
After this scattering foretold by Isaiah, “the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wherefore, it is likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders.” (8)
When that happens, God will bring the children of Israel “again out of captivity, and they shall be gathered together to the lands of their inheritance; and they shall be brought out of obscurity and out of darkness; and they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.” (12)
What brings freedom and light?
Nephi tells them that knowing the “Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel” brings people out of captivity (from the devil) and out of obscurity and darkness.
If you feel bound down by darkness and confusion, seek the Source of all light and freedom, even Jesus Christ.
Nephi goes on to rejoice in the last days when Christ will return again to the earth in power and great glory to reign.
The Holy One of Israel must reign in dominion and might, and power, and great glory.”1 Nephi 22:24
He will gather all His people, those who have taken His name upon them in covenant and been humble and repentant and have tried to keep His commandments “and they shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture. (25)
I feel so much peace when I read these verses about the Savior. He truly does love us and want us to find safe pasture with Him.
Hearts – the source of power
Nephi goes on to say that when Christ reigns again, Satan will have no power. Why?
And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power…for he hath no power over the hearts of the people…”1 Nephi 22:26
This is the GREAT part of the Second Coming of our Lord. Nephi reveals the source of Satan’s power—our hearts.
When we allow our hearts to be hardened, Satan gains power over us. And he doesn’t use that power kindly.
During Christ’s reign, Satan will have NO POWER, because he won’t control the hearts of men. Men will be truly free because they will control their own hearts and keep them humble and soft by seeking the influence of the Holy One of Israel.
Nephi gives us one simple act we can do to keep empowered—to not give our hearts over to the captivity of the devil.
But, behold, all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent.”1 Nephi 22:28
This promise is not given to one “chosen” people or culture on earth. It’s given to the whole world—anyone who chooses God. Those who wish to dwell safely with Christ someday can if they simply repent, giving their hearts to Him for safekeeping.
Repentance is the key to safety and peace.
Nephi ends his teachings by reminding his brothers that he and their father are not the only ones to tell them these things. They have the brass plates and all the words of the prophets that tell them that they “must be obedient to the commandments of God.” (30) If they do, they “shall be saved at the last day. And thus it is. Amen.” (31)
Repent and keep the commandments!