CLICK HERE to read 2 Nephi 30.
Nephi continues his speech, making sure the Jews don’t think they are hot-shots just for being Jews. Being born in the covenant is one thing, but we must keep our covenants individually. If we are going to be a covenant people, then we must act like a covenant people.
The thing that sets a “chosen people” apart is behaving like the chosen people.
This is true because there is mutual choosing going on: He is choosing us, and we are choosing Him. That’s what makes a covenant. If we do not keep up our end of the deal, if we do not keep our covenants, then there is no covenant which we can claim, then there is no chosen-ness to give us any rights.
In fact, the Lord says that Gentiles who repent can also become part of the covenant.
It reminds us of Acts 10, when Peter has his vision to take the gospel to the Gentiles. The word for those Gentiles in Greek means “God-fearers”. God-fearers were coverts to Judaism that supported the Jews in every way, and who had converted to the Jewish God in every way – except for circumcision. Or later, when some Jews understood the Savior was, in fact, the Messiah, but still kept laws they had already made as Jews – because those were covenants, and covenants are made to be kept. At the same time, the Gentile Christians did not follow the same laws, because they had never made those covenants since they had not grown up Jewish.
In the same way, here Nephi tells the people that if you do not behave like covenant-keepers, then you will experience the consequences of those outside the covenant. But if you are covenant-keepers, even if you are a convert to the covenant, then you will receive the blessings of the covenant.
He tells the people that he doesn’t want them to “suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish…” (verse 1).
But also, that “as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord” (verse 2).
So it doesn’t matter if you were born a Jew or Gentile, or if you were a convert or not, or if you converted a long time ago or recently… none of that matters, not so much as whether you are in process of keeping your covenants and obeying the commandments.
“for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel” (verse 2).
Then Nephi prophesies that the book of his records “shall come forth”, even to the Gentiles, and “there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written” (verse 3). This, Nephi says, is how the descendants will know their story – from his father Lehi bringing the family out of Jerusalem, to all the records that will be passed down (verse 4).
“And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ…” (verse 5).
“And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God…” (verse 6).
They rejoice because they know the blessings come as a result of the covenant. In this way, not only are blessings gifts to us from the Lord, in and of themselves, but they are also evidence that a covenant is in place and that the Lord is keeping His part of it. Even further, it is evidence that we are keeping our part of it, as best we can, through the atonement, and also as “judged” by the mercy of the Lord because of that atonement.
So blessings are not just blessings, but they are also evidence of covenants in process.
And this does cause us to rejoice!
And this does strengthen us and “quicken” us, so that we become “a pure and delightsome people” (verse 6).
But also the Jews, now scattered, shall begin to believe in Christ, and THEN they will be gathered (verse 7).
When we turn away from the Lord, we are scattered and destroyed.
When we turn to the Lord, we are gathered and rescued.
“And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth” (verse 8).
He wants to restore us to the place – the people – He created us to be.
He will return, physically, and the Earth will be renewed and restored to its celestial state, as will His people. Part of that process will be the judgment of us all, with which we will agree and understand because He will be so fair and true to the laws He has given us. Look at verse 9:
And with righteousness shall the Lord God judge…
He will be a fair and righteous judge.
(He will) reprove with equity…
All will be held to the laws they had and understood.
And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth
Nephi has already defined for us that the “rod” is the Scriptures, which is the word of God. So again, it is by His own law that He has already given to us which will be the standard by which we are measured and the answer key by which we are graded.
In that way, too, our own choices now determine our judgment then. Classes are not pass/fail so much as graded, A or B or C or D or F, and so this judgment will be the same. We will be given the grade that we earn, and agree with that grade. Our grade will be based on which laws we have proven that we are able to keep, and our reward will match our grade.
“For the time speedily cometh that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people” (verse 10). This has several layers to it. First, there is the eternal layer such as the previous paragraph, where we will be divided by what “grade” we get, by which covenants we are able to keep.
Those who are able to keep the Telestial Law (obedience & sacrifice) will inherit the Telestial Kingdom.
Those who are able to keep the Terrestial Law (chastity/fidelity) will inherit the Terrestial Kingdom.
Those who are able to keep the Celestial Law (consecration) will inherit the Celestial Kingdom.
Another way to see the “great division among the people” is considering the latter days in the context of Lehi’s dream, the one with the vision of the rod of iron. In the beginning, we are all at the start together. As we each start our journey along the iron rod, we are in line (in order of the Priesthood!). But as we all end our journey, we are divided our own choices either to stay near the iron rod to get to the tree of life, or to leave the iron rod and go to the great and spacious building. The closer to the end of times, in these latter days of the Latter-days, there is more and more of a gap between that building and the iron rod – because we are that much closer to the tree of life, which is further and further away from that building. So we will either cling to the iron rod – or by leaving it, be further away – and thus divided from the covenant people.
Back to verse 9 of this chapter, the last phrase is this:
And with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
If we know the rod of his mouth is His very words, the scriptures and the words of prophets, then we know the “breath of his lips” is the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that “burns” within us when convicting us to move us toward repentance, and the Holy Spirit that will fill our hearts in the end when Satan is bound and can no longer tempt us (verse 18).
There are always both temporal and spiritual applications, and this example is no different.
The people will be separated into who is righteous and who is wicked. The righteous will be spared, and the wicked will be destroyed. “… he will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire” (verse 10).
And then, when all the people are governed by and respond to righteousness and faithfulness (verse 11), then there will be a time of peace – even with the animals, now celebrating a higher state of being than what we now experience in the telestial world. The “rules” of animals will be changed, because we will no longer be in this fallen state:
“And then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling, together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den” (verses 12-14).
When the Holy Spirit has so filled us, and when we are living in such a state, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord” (verse 15).
And if we are so full of knowledge, then “all things shall be made known” (verse 16).
And all things shall be revealed (verse 17).
We shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord!