CLICK HERE to read 2 Nephi 26.
Nephi continues his instructions and prophesying, teaching his people that Christ will one day visit them. This is in reference to the verse in John 10:16, when Christ said he would visit his “other sheep” just as he visited among the Jews of the Middle East.
“And after Christ shall have risen from the dead he shall show himself unto you, my children, and my beloved brethren; and the words which he shall speak unto you shall be the law which ye shall do” (verse 1).
Nephi then begins to prophesy, saying that contention among the people (which is never of God) will lead to division, which will lead to war, which will lead to the scattering and destruction of the people. They will need the words of Christ to be gathered again, very much like the preaching of Isaiah that Nephi just taught (in previous chapters).
But we must turn to the Lord to be gathered.
We must submit to Him and focus on His words to fight that contention always seeking its way in, wanting to pull us away from God.
“Wherefore, all those who are proud, and that do wickedly, the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, for they shall be as stubble. And they that kill the prophets, and the saints, the depths of the earth shall swallow them up, saith the Lord of Hosts; and mountains shall cover them, and whirlwinds shall carry them away, and buildings shall fall upon them and crush them to pieces and grind them to powder. And they shall be visited with thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes, and all manner of destructions, for the fire of the anger of the Lord shall be kindled against them, and they shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts” (verses 4-6).
This is not just immediate judgment – or consequences of the people’s choices – back then.
It is also a prophesy to our time (see verse 14). We know that in the latter-days of the Latter-days, which we have begun, the Earth itself will testify because all other testimonies will have been rejected. Rather than trying to harm us, it is the last warning we get – a tender mercy to get our attention and give us another chance to turn to Him, to acknowledge Him. Those who do respond will be welcomed and nourished; those who do not, will be signing up for the pruning program instead.
More about that in the book of Jacob (up next!).
This is why, despite the destruction, we can cry with Nephi, “Thy ways are just” (verse 7).
And those who turn to Him, who do what He says, they will not perish (but have everlasting life, John 3:16). “But behold, the righteous that hearken unto the words of the prophets, and destroy them not, but look forward unto Christ with steadfastness for the signs which are given, notwithstanding all persecution – behold, they are they which shall not perish” (verse 8). Not perish, and have everlasting life (John 3:16 again).
So what happens instead of their destruction?
“The Son of Righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him…” (verse 9).
This is the work of the atonement: to see God, to be healed by God, and to have peace with God. This is to be at-one.
This is in stark contrast to those who “sell themselves for naught”, and receive destruction as “the reward of their pride and their foolishness” (verse 10).
At-one with God is the opposite of being torn-away from God “because they yield unto the devil and choose works of darkness rather than light” (verse 10).
Then Nephi teaches something very important, and that is how dependent we are upon the Spirit in order to receive correction, instruction, and guidance. It is the Holy Spirit that helps us know what to do and what not to do, and that gives us promptings from the Lord. This is a gift to us, a constant companionship that leads us along our way.
But without it, we are lost.
“For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul” (verse 11).
Nephi was grieving the destruction of his own people. He saw it long before it happened, and knew it would come because they would stop listening to the Lord.
Yet still, there is hope, because the Lord keeps His promises. And we have certain promises made to us about our posterity, and this gave Nephi hope. No matter how far some strayed, there would also be those who reached out to them and those who remained righteous. These righteous descendants would remember the Covenant and continue to testify of it. This would help others around them, but also us – for it is their written words compiled with Nephi’s that made the record we now call “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ”.
Nephi said, “and after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written, and the prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten” (verse 15).
Not only would they not be forgotten, but their written testimonies – later hidden in the earth by Moroni – would be brought forth in our time, when Joseph Smith was led to them. So those witnesses – their testimonies – do literally speak to us “out of the ground” (verse 16).
“For thus saith the Lord God: They shall write the things which shall be done among them, and they shall be written and sealed up in a book” (verse 17).
What a miracle, that this very book I can hold in my hands and learn its words!
But not all will hold them, and not all will understand them.
“Those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not have them, for they seek to destroy the things of God…” (verse 17).
And so again, we have the two choices: to become the covenant people of God, or not.
Becoming His people leads us to Him.
Choosing not to become His people leads us away from Him.
It’s that simple.
“And the multitude of their terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away – yea, thus saith the Lord God: It shall be at an instant, suddenly…” (verse 18).
And so the destruction begins to unfold, from His time to our time in the Latter-days.
His people were scattered and destroyed, which we read of throughout the rest of the Book of Mormon. Later, there is the apostasy, where “the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor. And there are many churches built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice” (verses 20 and 21).
This is the opposite of one true and living church of Jesus Christ, organized by Him under His authority, and established in these Latter-days for His covenant people, the righteous, the Saints.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
And the opposite of the true Church is “secret combinations”. Secret combinations are just that: combinations of power and false authority working in secret. This is the organization of Satan’s efforts to kill our spiritual lives, get us to surrender our physical bodies (the gift of mortality he did not get), and pull us away from God all together. It seeks after self-power (not empowered by God), unrighteous dominion, and to steal glory from God (who is the source of all things).
But, “my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness. He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him” (verses 23 and 24).
God does not work in secret to steal us from ourselves, but works in the light to give us life!
He loves all His children, and wants all of them to succeed.
“All men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden” (verse 28).
In the same way, as we seek to be like our Father-in-Heaven, we should testify of Him after the pattern which He has established. This means when we testify, we testify His words and do it in His name, so that we do not set ourselves up as false Christs. We do it because we are called or asked or assigned, not to “get gain and praise”. We do it to testify of the message the Holy Spirit gives us that will be the benefit for all, not just ourselves or someone else. This is testifying.
To speak our own words outside that pattern, to seek after speaking, to do it under our own name (or authority) rather than His, to speak to get gain or to build ourselves up, to speak to benefit only a certain person, ourselves, or group – that is priestcraft, instead of testifying.
“Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing” (verse 30).
Charity, the pure love of Christ, is most important of all!
And it is for everyone!
Love is pure and for the benefit of others.
Everything else is selfish.
“And again, the Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another; that they should not commit whoredoms; and that they should do none of these things; for whoso doeth them shall perish” (verse 32).
“For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all area like unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (verse 33).
Love. It’s all about love.