The revealed text

The revealed text
The light of revelation at the Whitmer farm where Joseph and Oliver worked upstairs to finish translating the Book of Mormon

Monday, February 29, 2016

Lesson 10: He Inviteth All to Come unto Him

This lesson covers 2 Nephi 26-30. I'll make some notes on specific verses that Gospel Doctrine teachers may want to discuss in class.

In chapter 26, Nephi outlines the future: Christ's visit to the Nephites, the destruction of his people, etc. These prophecies are more specific than we sometimes realize. The table I posted last week shows that this chapter comes from Isaiah 29. In case you didn't notice that, here's how Nephi divides up Isaiah 29:

Isaiah chapter            Book of Mormon location
Isaiah 29:3-4*              2 Nephi 26:15-16
Isaiah 29:5*                2 Nephi 26:18
Isaiah 29:6                  2 Nephi 6:15
Isaiah 29:6-10             2 Nephi 27:2-5
Isaiah 29:13                2 Nephi 28:9
Isaiah 29:14a*             1 Nephi 14:7a; 22:8a; 2 Nephi 25:17b; 29:1a
Isaiah 29:15a*             2 Nephi 28:9a

Isaiah 29:21b*             2 Nephi 28:16a


One of my books has an entire chapter on the three versions of Isaiah 29 that we have thanks to latter-day revelation, but I'm not going to get into that much detail here.
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Let's look at 2 Nephi 26:16--For those who shall be destroyed [the Nephites] shall speak unto them [those who have dwindled in unbelief] out of the ground [from the plates buried in Cumorah] and their speech shall be low [Heb. bowed down in homage, humbled, or in mourning] out of the dust [as low as they can go], and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit [Joseph Smith would speak their words to Oliver Cowdery in familiar Biblical terms].

This verse is quite interesting in light of Oliver Cowdery's recitation of what Moroni told Joseph Smith. "He [Moroni] said this history was written and deposited not far from that place," referring to Joseph's home. 

Key point: The Book of Mormon was not written thousands of miles away and then transported to New York.
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2 Nephi 26:17 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, and those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not have them, for they seek to destroy the things of God.
 
This is exactly what Mormon explained in Mormon 6:6:

And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni.

The Nephites gathered in the land Cumorah; Mormon made this record; he hid the other records in Cumorah (which Oliver described and Brigham Young later reported); and he gave "these few plates" to Moroni. [Later, of course, Moroni would return to the hill Cumorah in New York and bury these plates in the stone and cement box from which Joseph would recover them. Oliver Cowdery described the box in more detail than Joseph did.]

Key point: The Book of Mormon was written in the same land where the final battles took place, just as Moroni told Joseph Smith (as reported by Oliver Cowdery). 
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2 Nephi 26: 19 And it shall come to pass, that those who have dwindled in unbelief shall be smitten by the hand of the Gentiles.
20 And 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...

Nephi's descendants would be smitten by the Gentiles, whom he identifies as building up many churches. This is an interesting detail because when we compare the Spanish conquerors in Central America with the English conquerors in North America, which of the two built up many churches? The Spanish were Catholic; the British were protestants who built up many churches: Episcopalian, Methodist, Calvinist, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, and many other denominations.

Some people might claim this verse refers to physical churches they built, and both the Catholics and the Protestant denominations built lots of physical churches. But look at verse 21:

21 And there are many churches built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice.

This is an apt description of the fights between the various protestant denominations. Among Catholics, one parish doesn't content with another, and they're all subject to the Pope. By contrast, the Great Awakenings in the U.S. led to tremendous envying, strifes and malice. Look at how Joseph Smith described what he observed where he was growing up:

a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions. (Joseph Smith-History 1:6)

Key point: Joseph Smith and Nephi were describing the same Gentiles, in the same location--western New York.
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2 Nephi 27 tells us how Joseph was going to translate the text. Remember, Joseph and Oliver worked on this part of the Book of Mormon last. They started with what is now Mosiah 1 (and was originally Mosiah chapter 3, but Martin Harris lost the first two chapters). Joseph and Oliver were at the Whitmer farm when they translated 2 Nephi. They were almost finished with the whole translation when they got to 2 Nephi 27 and read, for the first time, the prophecy of how Joseph was going to translate.  

2 Nephi 27:9 the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another

Joseph delivered the words to Oliver Cowdery, but before that, he delivered them to Martin Harris, Emma Smith, Emma's brother, and others.

2 Nephi 27:20 wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.

This passage shows how Joseph used the seer stone. He simply read the words that appeared on the seer stone; i.e., the words which the Lord gave unto him. Some scholars think Joseph got ideas that he articulated, but this verse corroborates the accounts that said Joseph read what was written on the stone.

2 Nephi 27:22, 24 Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me... And again it shall come to pass that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him...

Here again, Nephi explained that Joseph Smith was going to read the words. He read them out loud--delivered them--to the scribes (mainly Oliver Cowdery). Then, as verse 22 instructed, he showed the plates to the three and eight witnesses and returned the book (the plates).

Key point: Nephi had seen Joseph Smith and described how he would translate the record, using the seer stone and a scribe.
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That's enough for this lesson, but hopefully you can see how much detail these verses contain, and how perfectly they describe the North American setting.



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