Chapter two opens with Isaiah’s prophesy about the Temples in the latter-days (verse 1).
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it” (verse 2 of both 2 Nephi 12 and Isaiah 2).
We know “the Lord’s house” is the Temple, and that when scripture talks about the “mountain of the Lord”, it is a metaphor for the Temple or Temple pattern.
“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (verse 3).
So many people will say, “Let’s go to the Temple!”
It is already said! This is both fulfilled now, and will be fulfilled further still.
We know the Temple is the house of the the Lord, who is the God of Jacob.
We know that we make sacred covenants in the Temple, just as Jacob did, just as Abraham did.
And this is why we go to the Temple, for the Lord to “teach us his ways” so that we can “walk in his paths”.
We go to receive His laws and His instruction. We go there to learn and practice the laws by which we will live during the millennium. We need this experience to prepare us also for celestial living later. We must practice now, so that we are qualified when that time comes. We are called to live our celestial lives even now, and the temple teaches us how. We qualify now for our future celestial-ness.
Besides going to the temple to learn how to govern ourselves, we also go to learn how to interact with and care for others. We learn to sacrifice and serve as the Savior did. We learn to make peace instead of war (verse 4), and how to be live at-one with each other rather than against each other. This will come true even in a physical and literal sense during the millennium, when no nation will invade or try to conquer another.
Verse 5 opens with “O, house of Jacob”, which is covenant language about how we (at the Temple) become the House of the Lord.
(See the Man-of-Holiness blog about how we become “Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord”)
And when we do so, and as we do so, then we are able to “walk in the light of the Lord” (verse 5) because we at at-one with Him.
(See the Sheckinah blog about the “light of the Lord”).
“All have gone astray, every one to his wicked ways” (verse 5 in 2 Nephi 12). This is why we need the atonement, why we must repent, why we must choose (and do the work) to become the covenant people.
“When the Lord is trying to build a more refined culture with a higher quality of life, it is displeasing to him that his chosen people find pleasure in the coarse, ribald, and riotous living of strangers (non-of-the-covenant) who belong to a lower culture (Skousen, p. 155).
He knows who we can become, and knows the way to help us to do so. It grieves Him when we will not be that people, when we will not practice what we are learning. They only way to become is by practicing, by trying. It makes Him sad when we would rather settle for less than do the work to accept what He has to offer us. We grieve Him when we choose to live in a less world, even now, than to progress toward a higher life.
Just because some people appear to prosper in wickedness does not mean it is good for us, and does not mean they are really happy (verse 7). Pursuing anything other than Heavenly Father’s plan is a form of worshiping idols (verse 8). We must let go of these things and refuse to settle for the cultural norm because we are made of finer stuff and we belong to a higher sphere.
But instead of becoming covenant people, we too often try to do it our own way, and remain stubborn against the Lord while complaining about misery we created. “And the mean man boweth not down…” (2 Nephi 12:9). We must do things – live life – Heavenly Father’s way, and follow our Savior in His example of loving and inviting. Anything else – including force, misery, and the removal of agency – is Lucifer’s plan, not Jehovah’s plan of Happiness.
“Enter into the rock” means to rely on the atonement, and “hide thee in the dust” is to protect ourselves through obedience as His creation, His children (verse 10). The dust is more obedient than we are, because it at least blows where it is told (see Mosiah 2:25). We should do so much, to go where we are told and to do what He asks!
We will, all of us, at some point kneel before the Savior and acknowledge what He has done for us, confessing that He is the Christ. This is significant not only in our admittance of who He is, but also in the change that will overcome us. Even those who are “lofty” and “haughty” will be humbled in that moment (verse 11 and 17) (see D&C 76:98-110).
“For the day of the Lord of Hosts soon cometh upon all nations, yea, upon every one” (verse 12).
He will come again. He will return, this time as King and Conqueror.
And everyone will know it (verse 13).
And we each, as individuals, will be held accountable to God (verse 14-17).
And we each, as individuals, we know and understand His justice – and His mercy.
In addition, there will be a literal change in the earth, where mountains are brought down by a great earthquake (see Revelation 16:18 and Jeremiah 4:23-26 and Ezekiel 38:20). This is also the same time, at the appearance of the Lord, when the waters will be pushed back and all the countries will be on one land again as it once was (D&C 133:23).
He will prove Himself to be the real God, and idols will be destroyed and abandoned (verse 18). Those who do not know Him will be frightened when they feel the earth shake and see everything destroyed (verse 19). All the worldly treasures will be swallowed by the earth (“to the moles”) or piled up in caves (“to the bats”) (verse 20). People will instinctively try to run away from the commotion and destruction, trying to hide in safe places (verse 21). But everything man made for evil will be destroyed, and the Earth will not let anyone hide from the Savior (verse 22).
It is better to trust in the Lord, and not be afraid (Proverbs 3:5, 25):
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy paths.
Be not afraid of sudden fear,
neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.