We can choose to align our will with the Lord and have eternal life, or to the devil, and have eternal misery and destruction.
When he puts it that way, the choice seems like a no-brainer. But, in our day, the choices can sometimes seem so watered down, even innocuous. Missing church once in a while, taking off after Sacrament meeting, not fasting or paying tithing, going to a movie on Sunday...
None of the above will bring immediate discomfort, or call down rain-fire from hell. But, when putting all of our choices into one of the two categories Jacob listed, which ones do they fall under? There isn't a third option that says: or you can choose stuff that makes no difference. Nope, there are only two choices. The Lord's will, or the devil's. It's pretty simple.
2 Nephi 11
It reminds me to look at MY Savior that way. He knows me. He knows I'm sick. He knows what I need. He can give me the strength to get well. He can forgive me. Only He can save me.
BUT, the more I and study Isaiah, the more I understand.
I love in verse 3, where it shows the two-way, symbiotic relationship we should have with the Lord: and HE will teach us of His ways, and WE will walk in His paths.
We are here working WITH the Lord, and through Him, for our salvation. We are not alone or lost. What a comforting feeling that is.
Then you read about all those that have chosen not to walk after His paths, either out of ignorance or rebellion. (and when you think about that, there really are only three states a person could ever live in: ignorance, obedience, or rebellion. Everyone on the earth falls into one of those three.)
Left to our own devices, without a Higher compass to guide us or law to define what is right, most of us would gravitate towards the middle of good, or lower. And, by Isaiah's prophecy, we can see that many will be lifted up in pride. I have written next to verse 22: Don't trust in the arm of flesh.
2 Nephi 13
When we are judged it will be what on what we've done or thought, but who we've become. How much have we become like Christ? How much of his image do we have in our countenance? We cannot fake that, nor excuse it away. Our countenance will witness to Him of who we are and what we've become.
That being said, what we think, and what we do lead to the state of that countenance, so they are extremely important, as show in verse 10: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.
I know, for me, I don't want to feel the shame spoken of in verse 17. I want to be able to hold my head high and be told it is well, as in verse 10.
We've all heard it said that 'Ignorance is bliss.' But it is clear here that it is not.
Joseph Smith said: A man is saved no faster than he has knowledge.
And though the language we accepted our callings was different, our willingness to accept them and serve are the same.
Isaiah must have felt overwhelmed. I know sometimes when I receive a call or an opportunity where I have been asked to do something that might be out of my comfort zone I have felt overwhelmed. Sometimes, during those times, the adversary works extra hard on me, making me feel unqualified, unworthy and unable to do what I have been asked. At those times, I need to turn to the Lord for help, support and guidance, as Isaiah did.
Accepting a calling is an act of faith. It is the Lord that calls people.
How can I say no to the Lord? After all He has done for me? "I know you died for me, but I'd rather not...." I couldn't imagine.
I think that is a truth that transcends the conversation and speaks to life. When we choose not to believe in the Lord and His purposes, we will not have a foundation to stand on. We will not be 'established,' strong, firm, or immovable.
2 Nephi 18
Apostles spoke of the spiritual strength that follows when we place our trust in the Lord: “As we put our faith and trust in the Lord, we must battle our pain day by day and sometimes hour by hour, even moment by moment; but in the end, we understand that marvelous counsel given to the Prophet Joseph Smith as he struggled with his pain of feeling forgotten and isolated in Liberty Jail: “‘My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; “‘And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes’ (D&C 121:7–8). “My dear brothers and sisters, when pain, tests, and trials come in life, draw near to the Savior. ‘Wait upon the Lord, . . . look for him’ (Isaiah 8:17; 2 Nephi 18:17). ‘They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint’ (Isaiah 40:31). Healing comes in the Lord’s time and the Lord’s way; be patient” (in Conference
Report, Oct. 1998, 19; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 17).
• Isaiah used the fall of Assyria as a type and shadow of the destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming. Elder Bruce R. McConkie instructed readers of this passage how to arrange and understand the writings in the context of the Second Coming: “It is Isaiah, speaking of the Second Coming, who says: ‘And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day.’ So it is said of the day of burning when the vineyard is cleansed. ‘And [the fire] shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body,’ the account continues. ‘And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.’ The wickedness of men is so widespread, and their evils are so great, that few—comparatively—shall abide the day. ‘And it shall come to pass in that day’—the day of burning, the day when every corruptible thing is consumed, the day when few men are left—‘that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.’ (Isa. 10:17–21.) They shall be gathered after the coming of the Lord."
In D&C 121:32-34, the Lord Himself speaks of that: Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things--Things which have passed, and hidden thins which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose of the end thereof--Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven.
He continues to extend a beautiful promise to the righteous: And all they who suffer persecution for my name, and endure in faith, though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake yet shall they partake of all this glory. Wherefore, fear not even unto death: for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full.
"O Lord, I will praise the..."
"I will trust, and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he has also become my salvation..."
I love this phrase: "Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." This makes me think of the woman the well, and, for personal reasons, bears a sweet significance to me.
This is is the Lord speaking. I wonder who, in our day, are the sanctified ones, the mighty ones. I assume it is many members of the church, and many who are searching for the gospel. I know that I strive to be one of them. I want to be the one, when the Lord says "Whom shall I send" that is raising their hand super high (Think ooo, ooo Mr. Cotter, Mr. Cotter high) and saying, "Here am I. Send me."
The Lord has a great work to do here on earth. Now. And He NEEDS sanctified and mighty ones. We are so used focusing on how much we need the Lord, but He really NEEDS us. Are we going to be there for Him?
Verse 16: Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes... For me, I don't take this as literal. I think when the Lord is talking about children, He is speaking to the things that the wicked in the last days have created in their greed and wickedness, perhaps expensive homes, dishonest businesses, anything to do with pronography, etc. I imagine when the Savior comes all that is unholy will be abolished. All those thing people put their wicked hearts and minds to will be dashed to pieces before their eyes.
The earth is a living entity. It is written that it groans under our sins (don't remember where.) It is nice to know that after all the bad stuff happening now, that the earth will be able to rest at some point as well.
There is such a buzz about taking care of the earth. Recycle, carbon foot print, etc. Here we read that the earth will rest when wickedness it gone. I guess if people were really concerned about the state of the earth, they'd not only recycle, but repent as well. (Can you see that on a bumper sticker? lol)
The rest of the chapter is pretty depressing. . . which begs the question: if it's depressing (and sometimes not) why do we have so many of the old prophecies on our scriptures?
I taught the New Testament this past school year and have come across something really cool: In the first four chapters of Matthew, Mathew mentions NINE times that what is happening is a direct fulfillment of prophecy. Nine times.
It lends credence to the reality that God's plan is an eternal plan, orchestrated from the beginning of time.
But- here's my question to you: Are we, just regular disciples, capable of having the spirit of prophecy Nephi speaks of here? I mean, I know we can have the spirit of personal revelation in our studies, and in that way learn. But, specifically speaking to the 'spirit of prophecy' in verse four, do you think Nephi is saying that prophets understand Isaiah's words completely, but everyone else needs help?
I will echo the words of Nephi at the end of verse four: I too, delight in plainness! The simplicity of the gospel is beautiful!
I love how the Nephi refers to the restoration of the gospel as a marvelous work. When you look at God's plan in its entirety, you understand the joy that this must bring to the heavens and to men. This is the only time in all of earthly history where the gospel will not be taken from the earth again.
All of the keys are here. Temple work is being done for the dead. Missionary work is being done for the living. Miracles, revelation, scriptures, gifts of the Spirit . . . all are here to stay.
All of this is happening, as Nephi states in vv 16 and 18, so that ALL men can be convinced of the true Messiah and His Atonement. Not just the living, but the dead as well.
We certainly do live in exciting times!
Nephi's testimony is sweet : I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby men can be saved.
You can't get much plainer than that.
V. 24: Nephi tells us to do two things: Believe in God and be reconciled with Him. It isn't enough to just believe in Him, we must align our will to His, and DO what He wants us to do.
He speaks to this in verses 29 and 30, that we must worship Him with all our might, mind and strength, and our whole soul. And beyond that. we must keep the performances and ordinances of God. It is believing and doing.
And of course, we love verse 26...for me I love that the rejoicing in Christ comes with the talking and preaching of Him. That is where I find some of my greatest joy.
V. 28: THE RIGHT WAY IS TO BELIEVE IN CHRIST.
For some reason, verse 16 struck me... and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voices shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit...
It was the familiar spirit part that caught my attention. Why would the voices of those that lived so long be familiar to us now? I've got my own thoughts on this. I think one reason might be that we, as has been prophesied, are the noble and great ones. In some ways, the veil is a bit thinner for us. We feel the spirit and learn, yet at times we feel more like we are remembering something we've forgotten, rather than learning something new. I like this idea.
I also like the idea that the noble and great ones of today spent time with the noble and great ones from the scriptures in the time before we came here. We are educated and set apart to come to earth at this time. Doesn't it make sense that we would be taught much of what we are 'relearning' here and how? And perhaps even by the same people...
Mostly, though, I think it's familiar because the Holy Ghost makes it so. It rings true in our hearts. We feel it. It just makes sense.