CLICK HERE to read 2 Nephi 13.
Nephi continues his preaching of Isaiah’s words.
(This chapter corresponds with Isaiah 3.)
Specifically, this is the chapter that blows materialism out of the water.
Pride, in this chapter symbolized by material vanity, will destroy the covenant people. It happened literally in 537 BC when Babylon conquered Judah and Jerusalem (which is why Nephi’s father, Lehi, told the family they had to leave). But we will see leading into the next chapter, how this all specifically applies to our day, to these latter-days.
So Nephi shares Isaiah’s words, starting with the consequences of Jerusalem (the covenant people) removing themselves from the protection and provision of the Lord (by not being faithful to their covenants). Because they have left Him, chosen against Him, the Lord will remove His presence and the ways He communicates His presence:
- Staff = Prophets
- Bread = Scriptures
- Water = Spirit
“For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem (the covenant people) and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,” (verse 1).
And then blessings that come through the prophets, scriptures, and Spirit are also removed (because the people have chosen not to receive these blessings):
“the mighty man (strength), and the man of war (protection), the judge (discernment and wisdom), and the prophet (priesthood leadership), and the prudent (prepared-ness and provision), and the ancient (honor and nobility)” (verse 2).
They will so far remove themselves from the teachings of the Lord, that instead of great and wise leaders provided from the Lord, He will give them “children… to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them” (verse 4).
There are several interesting things about that verse four.
First, it is very Old Testament-ish (which, of course, Isaiah was), in that it reminds us of King Saul losing his privileges and so David taking over, or the younger receiving the birthright because the older gave away his inheritance.
It is also very New Testament, as it reminds us when Paul received the vision to share the gospel with the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
Spiritually, it reminds us of the analogy of milk versus meat from 1 Corinthians 3:2, which is repeated in D&C 19:22 in an opposite direction kind of way. In the first case, we are reprimanded for not taking spiritual “meat” when we are ready for it, and instead only being lazy to take spiritual “milk” and nothing else. In the latter case, we are reminded that we cannot give spiritual “meat” to those not yet ready for it, and to first nourish them with spiritual “milk”.
As a therapist, it also makes me think of the family dynamics of today. Within the church, we have Elijah’s promise from Malachi 4 that the Lord would turn the hearts of the children to the fathers. That promise is for the covenant people, which means outside the covenant the opposite must be true: the children turning their hearts away from the fathers. Or, as this verse in 2 Nephi says, “babes shall rule over them”.
“And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor; the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable” (verse 5).
This loss of respect is happening already in our day!
There will be people refusing to be Bishops or take other leadership roles:
“In that day shall he swear, saying: I will not be a healer, for in my house there is neither bread nor clothing; make me not a ruler of the people” (verse 7).
This is the “ruin” of the covenant people. It will cause the downfall!
But it gets worse:
“The show of their countenance doth witness against, and doth declare their sin to be even as Sodom, and they cannot hide it”.
Sodom was so evil, such a place of misery, that Heavenly Father had to destroy it because it was not even fair for new spirits to be sent there to be born.
Isaiah is saying our day, the last days, will be that bad and worse.
Only next time such grand destruction comes, it will be our Savior’s return and the sorting of people (“judgment”) according to what laws they did keep.
“Say unto the righteous that it is well with them; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings” (verse 10).
There are consequences to everything.
This is what I teach my children: there are consequences to everything. We can make good choices, and receive positive consequences; make poor choices, and receive negative consequences.
Our consequences are ours for the choosing.
The “fruit” is the evidence and consequences of righteous choices.
Or, the evidence of negative choices:
“Wo unto the wicked, for they shall perish” (verse 11).
All of this causes things to be out of order (of the priesthood) as what Heavenly Father established for us. Anytime we are out of order, there is drama and chaos and problems because we are removed from his provision and protection. So things go topsy-turvey and become a mess.
“And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them” (verse 12). This verse again talks about kids thinking they are the boss of adults and other parents. Women are given in the context of things being out of order (with a capital P for Priesthood-ness), and so they are out of Order because it should be the Priesthood presiding in the home.
Verse 13 describes the Savior as our advocate with the Father: “The Lord standeth up to plead…” He does plead for us! But He also knows that He will have to enter judgment with us as we agree with Him upon the consequences of our choices.
Then, classic to Hebrew poetry, Nephi and Isaiah take this tiny reference to women and their relationship with the Lord as a “husband” (see Isaiah 54:5). He is not picking on women directly, so much as using the woman as an analogy as a type for that which is not of Christ. Some of the descriptors included in “not of God” include:
- haughty (verse 16)
- wanton eyes (not “eye single to my glory” as in D&C)
- walking and mincing as they go (murmuring)
- making a tinkling with their feet – these ankle bracelets symbolize our need to just be pretty or special or loved or important – so that we are complaining instead of being grateful and humble
But the Lord says He will take it away. All the superficial things upon which we think our lives depend, He is going to take them away… all those things… and because we love these things more than the Lord, we will grieve and mourn the loss of them, not realizing it is the Lord who did that amazing gift of service and effort and diligence and faithfulness.
And yet, we will also mourn because those of us are at war (still in the War on Heaven), and we will see them “fall by the sword” (if the “sword” is the words of the prophets and scriptures, then to fall by the sword is to reject the words of the prophets and stray from the church.
And we will mourn them.
“And her gates shall lament and mourn….”
And so we will mourn, not only because we feel badly or miss the joy of our loved ones, but because we know it is part of our premortal covenant to testify to those around us.
And so we grieve and mourn those who are beyond where the scriptures can reach quite yet, and those who do not want to progress, and those who know better but turn away.