Nephi continues with a few prophecies in this chapter. He tells of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. He also tells that Christ will visit the Nephites in America. I have watched a few Discovery Channel specials on Nostradamus. He was also a prophet in that he foresaw things to happen. From what I have seen and heard, he prophesied about doom and gloom. Compare him to Nephi and other Book of Mormon prophets and you will find that Nephi also prophesied about destruction, but not all of his prophesies were about war and destruction. He also prophesied about glorious things to come such as the birth of Christ as well as the resurrection.
Christ is the Law
In 3 Nephi 1:24, we read that certain people were trying to convince everyone else that the Law of Moses was fulfilled. But they did not understand the scriptures. Nephi plainly explains that when Christ would manifest himself to the children of Lehi, then they should heed "the words which he shall speak unto [them]" and that those words "shall be the law which [they] shall do" (2 Nephi 26:1).
Sell Themselves for Naught
In verse 10, Nephi says that his people will “sell themselves for naught; for, for the reward of their pride and their foolishness they shall reap destruction.” The question I pose is, “what do you sell yourself for?” Do you sell your time to things that have no worth? Do you give more of your time to work, hobbies and other people than you do your family or the Church? This is an interesting concept to think about – that of selling yourself. You must not think of this in terms of money, although you can. For greater applicability, you must think of selling yourself in terms of time, talents and means. I think what Nephi is saying here is that you shouldn’t sell yourself for nothing of value in return. If you sell all your time to playing games or to your career or your hobby, you will receive nothing of eternal value in return. What you will receive is an empty home, a saddened wife, dysfunctional children and ultimately eternal misery – all because you sold yourself for nothing. Look at the opposite – if you sell your time to your family, the Church and service, your reward will be great. And when you compare the amount of yourself you sell to your family, the Church and service to the reward you will receive, you will know that you are getting the better end of the deal. For what you will receive will far outweigh what you will sell yourself for.
The temptations of Satan are ever so subtle. They begin innocently and sometimes hardly register on our spiritual RADAR. But if we do not watch ourselves and our thoughts and our words and our deeds (Mosiah 4:30), then Satan will ever so gently cast his flaxen cord around our neck unnoticed. Then that cord begins to thicken until we are bound "with his strong cords forever" (2 Nephi 26:22).
C.S. Lewis penned in The Screwtape Letters, "The safest road to Hell … is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without turnings, without milestones, without signposts."
The next part Nephi talks about is what Christ gave to us. You can think in terms of selling oneself in this instance too. Christ sold himself to the will of his Father. Christ then offered the Atonement to everyone. In verse 25 he says, “Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.” In verse 27 Nephi states that Christ has given us the Atonement for free. Clearly Nephi is talking in monetary terms here as he did in verse 25. The Atonement is not free in the sense time and sacrifice. One must use (spend) his or her time on this earth to repent, obey the commandments of God and keep the covenants they have made. He must give the Lord a contrite heart and broken spirit (3 Nephi 9:20).
2 Nephi 26:29 defines priestcrafts as thus: "that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion."
Obviously there are many religions and churches whose founder's purpose is to gain money. Just here in the metroplex where I live there are "mega-churches." I'm sure that many of the members use the donations to help the poor, but I wonder how much money the clergy make.
Priestcrafts can also be found in the Church. Whenever a Sunday School teacher seeks to be a light unto himself, he is practicing priestcraft. He seeks not the welfare of his students but rather he seeks the glory of being viewed as intelligent. There is a fine line between "gospel scholarship" and priestcrafts.
I don't know what the Prophet's stance is on marketing the Gospel, but I've always been leery of conferences and merchandising that members pay for. I know that what some of these companies and conferences do is good, but should we pay to have the Gospel (or parts of the Gospel) taught to us? That is just my personal opinion.
One of the greatest commandments we are to obey is to have charity “which charity is love. And except [we] should have charity [we are] nothing” (2 Nephi 26:30). We are not to labor or sell ourselves for money; rather we are to sell ourselves to charity. If we “labor for money” (meaning all our life is consumed in the pursuit of money), we will be nothing. If we labor for charity, we will inherit the Kingdom of God.
One of my favorite quotes about charity I first heard while I was in the MTC as a full-time missionary in June 1995. This quote is by Marvin J. Ashton who was in the Quorum of the Twelve. He said,
“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses and shortcomings, having patience with someone who has let us down, or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other” ("The Tongue Can be a Sharp Sword," Ensign, May 1992, 18).
I am trying to develop charity in my life. There are things that upset me, but I am trying hard not to let those small things get to me so much. I think that the truest form of charity you can practice is in marriage. In marriage, everything is magnified.
I hope whoever is reading this will sell them selves to the will of the Father. Give yourself to charity which is the true love of Christ. Understand that the true love of Christ is giving your self to others – serving and loving others. Also, remember that the most important people you will serve and love will be those closest to you – your family, your spouse, and your children.
The Mercy of the Lord
In my commentary on 2 Nephi 24, I had a section entitled "The Shepard vs. The Prison Keeper" wherein I contrasted the mercy of the Lord to that of Satan's. Chapter 26 has several other support references to this thought.
In verse 15 towards the end of the verse it reads, "and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten." The Lord warns the Nephites and Lamanites that if they do not repent, they will become scattered by the Gentiles. But even after all of that, the Lord is still merciful and does not let them dwindle forever. One of the reasons the Lord prepared the Book of Mormon was to help those who dwindled in unbelief.
In verse 24 we read that the Lord loves the world and he does not do "anything save it be for the benefit of the world." Satan, on the other hand, desires nothing more than the destruction and eternal damnation of the world.
Lastly, in the final verse of the chapter (33), Nephi tells us that the Lord denies nobody from partaking of the Atonement. In God's eyes, everyone has equal access to the Atonement regardless of race or status.
Sins of Commission
Verse 32 summarizes seven sins we must not commit: lying, stealing, taking the name of God in vain, envying, having malice, contending with others and committing whoredoms. These are somewhat similar to the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments are:
Thou shalt have no other God before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honor thy father and thy mother.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness.
Thou shalt not covet.