Tuesday, February 06, 2007

2 Nephi 24

Thankfully the death and destruction described in the previous chapter is not the end … better things are to come. Israel will be restored and Satan will be bound for a thousand years and the Earth will have peace.

Strangers

In the first verse of chapter 24, Isaiah refers to strangers who will be "joined with them" meaning the House of Jacob (Israel). We learn from the Bible (dictionary and scripture references) that a stranger is a "man of non-Israelite birth" who is a resident in the promised land and who has permission to live there. In this context, it is understood to be the Gentiles living in modern-day America. We've learned previously from the other Isaiah chapters in 2nd Nephi that America will be the location of Zion from where the law will go forth and Jerusalem will be the place where the word will go forth. Therefore some alliance will be formed between the (American) Gentiles and the House of Jacob. Already today, Israel is one of America's strongest allies.

The Fall of Satan

Isaiah compares the fall of the King of Babylon to the fall of Satan. Just as the King of Babylon "ruled the nations in anger" (v. 6) and is later "persecuted", so shall Satan be mocked.

Verses 6 through 11 are so poetic and bring welcome relief (at least to me as the reader). Here was the King of Babylon who tormented the neighboring nations, his people and even the fir-trees all for the sake of his glory. When he is finally defeated and thrust to Hell, he becomes the persecuted and he must endure the torments of a racked soul.

Then in verses 12 through 20, we read of Satan's demise and how he'll be cast into his own prison and the people of the Earth will say, "Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake the kingdoms?" (v. 16).

The Shepard vs. The Prison Keeper

All through these Isaiah chapters, we've read how merciful and patient the Lord has been with the House of Israel. He extends his hand time and time again and is ever-patient with us. Even after scattering His people, the Lord promises to gather them again and restore them to their promised lands (v. 1).

Satan, on the other hand, shows no mercy. He destroyed the world and captured not only a third of the hosts of heaven, but all those who died in their sins. He kept them in his prison and never opened the doors (v. 17).

Alma 30:60 best describes the "mercy" of Satan. " … the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell."

In contrast, read the words of Christ who spoke to the Nephites and Lamanites after the great destruction in the Promised Land. He said, "Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me" (3 Nephi 9:14).

Epilogue For Commentary on Isaiah Chapters

I've read the Book of Mormon many, many times, but I've never really taken the time to study the Isaiah chapters. Mostly I've simply read through them and endured them. I am so thankful that I stopped and "inspected" these chapters this time through. I know I would have not learned much of anything new if I did not use some help. I am grateful to Bryan Richards and Nathan Boone who run GospelDoctrine.com. They have done a marvelous job in gathering quotes from General Authorities and other reference material, thus saving their readers hours of research time.

The general feeling I have after reading the Isaiah Chapters this time is that I marvel at how much these chapters dealt with the 2nd Coming and the Last Days. I've learned new things about Zion and Jerusalem and the Millennium that I've never considered before. If Mormon's intention was to prepare us for the Last Days, it is no wonder then that he included Nephi's and Jacob's commentaries on Isaiah. Before the Lord comes again, there will be much death and destruction and wickedness. There will also be much righteousness. And since the Book of Mormon is a parallel to our day, it too documents the wickedness and wars and destructions and righteousness of the Nephites and Lamanites. Just as the Book of Momon ended with the coming of Christ, so too will our "day" end with the 2nd Coming of Christ.

We now know what will happen. All that remains to be seen is what we choose to do. Will we repent and turn to God or will we suffer the consequences of unrepented sin? Nephi reminds us that we are free to choose liberty or death (2 Nephi 2:27). All that we have to do is choose the right.

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