Scripture, Prophecy and Covenant

There is a new download titled “Scripture, Prophecy and Covenant” available in the downloads section. It is a brief exposition on accepting scripture as covenant.

The quotes are taken from the Restoration Edition of the scriptures.

God’s Mysteries

There is a great difference between recognizing the “signs of the times” and knowing the detail of how prophecy will be fulfilled. An example of the difference is found in Matthew. Matthew 2:1-18 tells of “wise men” who studied the scriptures, watched the signs in the heavens, recognized a “star” that testified of the birth of the Messiah or newborn “king of the Jews,” traveled a great distance (perhaps as long as two years) to worship Him, facilitated fulfilling prophecy by their presence in Jerusalem, and were visited by God in a dream. Here is the account:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Despite all the wise men were able to know, they did not know where to find the newborn king. They mistakenly went to Herod’s people to inquire about Christ’s birth. They did not know, and God did not reveal to them, that Christ would be born in Bethlehem.

It is unlikely they would have willingly acted to fulfill the Jeremiah 31:15 slaughter of children. Yet Matthew credits their involvement with fulfilling this prophecy. Can men unwittingly fulfill prophecy? Can anyone, even wise men who are well studied in scripture and prophecy, ever fully understand prophecy.

One of the lessons from this scriptural account is that all “wise men” whose diligence and faithfulness lead them to understand God’s hand is at work may still not understand how or where God will act. There remain “mysteries” which God will accomplish, but men cannot understand beforehand.

If the wise men knew He had been born, but could not identify where Christ’s birth happened, despite all else they were able to do, then how can anyone know how God will accomplish His “strange act” in the last days?

Remember the modern caution in D&C 101:93-95:

What I have said unto you must needs be, that all men may be left without excuse; That wise men and rulers may hear and know that which they have never considered; That I may proceed to bring to pass my act, my strange act, and perform my work, my strange work, that men may discern between the righteous and the wicked, saith your God.

Prophecies are not given to know details beforehand. They are given so that when they are fulfilled one may understand that God knows the end from the beginning. (Isa. 48:3-5.)

3 Nephi 20: 24

“Verily I say unto you, yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have testified of me.”
The Lord chose and established Israel. He would remain committed to them, although they went whoring after other gods.
Moses held the fullness of the priesthood. He conferred blessings upon others. Although Moses was taken from Israel, the blessings of the priesthood remained. Moses blessed Joshua, and Joshua held the blessings of the priesthood for so long as he lived. But the fullness of the priesthood, that portion which permitted a man to see God face to face, was taken with Moses. (D&C 84: 20-25.)
When Joshua died, both the priesthood that left with Moses, and the blessings from that priesthood were lost. What remained thereafter was a lesser form of priesthood called the Levitical or Aaronic Priesthood.  This continued to be ministered from Moses until Jesus Christ.
The prophets, however, were something different.  They came through diverse families and from unexpected places. They were not part of the leading Levitical families and not even from that tribe on occasion. Their priesthood was not reckoned by what was then on the earth, but was given to them directly from heaven itself. Joseph Smith taught: “All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself” (TPJS, pp. 180-81).
The men who held the higher form of priesthood, the fullness that made it possible for them to behold God face to face, were “all the prophets from Samuel and those that followed after.” Having this form of priesthood they could behold God face to face and live. (D&C 84: 22-23.)
The power to see God face to face is not real if the man does not actually behold God face to face. It is powerless. It is theory. It is a notion and not a reality. This priesthood the revelation speaks about is not a theoretical idea, but an actual, real power which allows the person holding it to behold God and live. Therefore, when Christ states that “all the prophets from Samuel and those that followed after” had “testified of [Christ]” this is more than rhetoric. They became prophets by reason of the Lord having appeared and spoken to them; having testified of Himself to them. Therefore their status as prophets and their witness of Him were coequal. They sprang from the very same thing – the same event. This, then, formed the basis for their service as the Lord’s prophets. They knew Him. They could testify of what they knew, heard and saw, rather than what they believed to be true from what others had said. God had made Himself known to them.
Christ was confirming that these prophets had testified of Him because He was the one who had called them. He was the one who qualified them. He was the one whose witness and message they bore to others. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy! (Rev. 19: 10.) Here He confirms again that those prophets sent by Him have testified they know Him. They do not testify of themselves, but of Him. They do not point to themselves, but they point to Him. They do not promise salvation through themselves, but invite others to come to Christ and be saved. They will understate rather than overstate their calling and standing before God.

3 Nephi 20: 17-19

3 Nephi 20: 17-19:

“Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.  And I will gather my people together as a man gathereth his sheaves into the floor.  For I will make my people with whom the Father hath covenanted, yea, I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass. And thou shalt beat in pieces many people; and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. And behold, I am he who doeth it.”

The remnant will be the instruments of Divine retribution against the gentiles. It will be the remnant’s “hand” which “shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries.” And it will be “all [the remnant’s] enemies [which] shall be cut off.” So, who will be the remnant’s “adversaries?” Who will be their “enemies?”

The Lord promises to “gather my people together” –and the only ones He has called His people are the Nephite audience, never the gentiles. (See 3 Nephi 16: 8-9; 3 Nephi 20: 15, 27; 3 Nephi 21: 2.) The Lord’s people to be gathered, the promised inheritors of the land, the chosen and covenant people are the remnant. This prophecy is about them. The gentiles are only included to the extent that a few of them will repent. (3 Nephi 16: 13; 3 Nephi 21: 6.)
The “sheaves into the floor” is a harvest image. It is an end-of-times view, because it involves harvest time. “Gathering the sheaves into the floor” is a reference to latter-day Zion, where a group is first “gathered” before the burning of the fields that always follows.
Again the Lord calls the remnant “my people” while clarifying that His people are those “with whom the Father hath covenanted.” To covenant with the Father is to receive a Father. The Father does not covenant with strangers. His covenants are with His household. So this is the Family of God.
The “iron horn” and the “brass hoofs” are also symbolic images. What does a “horn” represent? In the context of judgment, does the “horn” hold additional meaning? Why is the horn said to be “iron?” What do the hoofs represent? In the context of judgment do the “hoofs” have additional meaning? Why are they “brass?” How stern and unrelenting will the judgment be? How complete will it become for the “people” to be “beat in pieces?” How terrible will the pouring out of judgment become?
Why would judgment be so severe upon a people who claim to be godly? Think about the introduction to Joseph Smith at the time the restoration of all things was offered. (JS-H 1: 19.) Compare that to the statement made by the mortal Christ when the Pharisees were confronting Him about violating the rituals and practices of the religious hierarchy at the time. (Mark 7: 5-9.) Christ offered them the fullness of His Gospel and they rejected it. The judgment which followed was unlike anything that went before.  Christ warned them it would be so. (Matt. 24: 21.)  Nevertheless, they refused to accept the fullness offered them, continued on in their religious traditions, and were besieged by Roman legions and slain en masse. The account from Josephus is difficult and shocking to read. Mothers cannibalizing their infants to satiate their hunger pains. It is as if hell itself opened upon Jerusalem.
Rejection of the fullness of Christ’s Gospel carries terrible consequences. We have seen it before. And, when it was rejected before, it was done in preference to traditions from men. The arm of flesh and a religion multiplied the commandments of men until every aspect of life was controlled by religion. How one dressed, what they ate, how they observed the Sabbath, what things were considered clean and unclean, how to appear in public in order to conform to the right look, vocabulary and conduct. These were very religious people. I’ve discussed them in Come, Let Us Adore Him. I assume you’re familiar with that.
Thank goodness we are not like them. We have the fullness, don’t we? We are safe and in the right path and none can molest us or make us afraid. For we are the chosen people.
Well those other people (not us) who rejected the fullness of the Gospel, those are the ones who will be broken into pieces. Then their “gain” and their “substance” will be consecrated to the Lord. So they will live the law of consecration after all! Only it will be postmortem. That is, once killed, the Lord can use their gain and substance to provide for His people.
Lest any forget the author and finisher of our faith, He speaks to us anew to remind us who is responsible for these deeds: “And behold, I am he who doeth it.”

The Lord is, after all, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. When He invites us in meekness to come to Him, we should realize that failure to come risks the judgments that have always been terrible to bear. Those Old Testament events we have a difficult time associating with Christ will become associated with Christ again. Just as His New Testament judgments were His and terrible to behold. He is the same. We should expect that when the time ends and we have not met our appointment, we actually do risk rejection and judgment.

3 Nephi 20: 12

3 Nephi 20: 12:

And verily, verily, I say unto you, that when they shall be fulfilled then is the fulfilling of the covenant which the Father hath made unto his people, O house of Israel.”

 
Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the Israelite covenant will happen at the same time as the fulfillment of the covenants for the Nephite remnant. So things will develop simultaneously for all the chosen people. Not just locally, but globally.
 
Notice the reference to the “Father” and to “His people.” Why is it the “Father’s people” in this scripture? What significance is there to the covenant being fulfilled for the Father’s people? Are they different from others? Can others have a covenant with Christ? Why is it the Father’s people who will see the fulfillment of their covenants in this final, winding up of history?
 
How are “O house of Israel” and the “Father’s people” related? Are they the same? Why or why not?
 
Why would all covenants come to a fulfillment at the same time? What is there of general historical development which requires all of these to be fulfilled simultaneously?
 
How would you prepare for the time when the fulfillment of all the covenants are to occur? Is there some kind of storage you should be assembling? What about things that put “oil” in a “lamp?” How would you go about getting that put together?
 
If the judgments of God will begin on His own house (D&C 112: 24-26), then how do you prepare to avoid that judgment?

There is an upside to every prophecy, even in those predicting calamity. The upside consists in two things: First, avoiding the judgment by being prepared for it. (D&C 38: 30.) Second, recognizing it so as to not be alarmed or lose faith because of it. (D&C 1: 3.)

When you see the distresses which are to come, recognize them as signs given by the Lord and take comfort. (Luke 21: 8-13.)
 
Christ uses Isaiah as His source because Isaiah was inspired in what he wrote. We also have a record of his prophecy. Therefore, the Lord could speak in the first person and have us quote Him. However, He pays tribute to His own prophet by quoting the words of Isaiah. This is meekness indeed. Our Lord is not and never has been prideful. He is meek, and willing to let others have credit, share in triumph, and be treated as equals. How unlike Him are the gentile leaders who love to lord it over one another, holding each other as subservients. Christ, however, made Himself a servant of all. (Mark 10: 42-44.) He puts that same meekness on display again here, as he quotes from Isaiah. This shows the Lord’s respect for Isaiah.
 
Interesting the things which become apparent the closer you look at our Lord. Interesting how much the Book of Mormon adds to the picture of our Lord. What a great volume of scripture we have been given.
 
Well, back then to our main topic…

2 Nephi 31: 10-11

2 Nephi 31: 10-11:

“And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father? And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.”

Notice the “prophetic-perfect” tense, where Nephi speaks of the Lord’s future conduct as if it were in the past. This is what happens when a prophet speaks in prophecy. To the prophet, the events are in the past because he was shown it before writing it.  Although the event has not occurred yet, the prophet remembers it in his mind and to him it is a past event.


This “remembering” the future makes the mind of the prophet akin to the mind of God.


Nephi again addresses his “beloved brethren” in this plea. Can we “follow Jesus” and not keep commandments? Is “be willing to keep the commandments” the same as “keeping the commandments?” Are all commandments to be kept? What about those that create conflict?  How did Christ resolve the conflict between the commandment to do good and honor God on the Sabbath, with the commandment to do no work on the Sabbath? Are some commandments objective and without conflict (like baptism) while others may conflict with each other? Can you keep them all? Do you think you even know them all? How do you resolve conflicts? How do you make up for the wrongs you do in ignorance? (Mosiah 3: 11.)

Notice the quote Nephi reports from “the Father.” Again, Nephi is telling us something about his associations. He says the Father has stated: “Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.” You can search all the scriptures and you will find this quote appears in this one place. Nephi is quoting the Father. Where did Nephi get the quote from if it does not otherwise appear in scripture?


What does that tell you about Nephi? What does it tell you about the Father’s view of baptism? What does it tell you about the actions of Christ and the will of the Father? Why does the Father refer to Christ as “my Beloved Son” while speaking of baptism?


With what emotion does the Father express Himself about Christ?  Does that emotion attach to any of those who do as Christ did?  Does it please the Father when we are baptized? Why?


What is God’s work? (Moses 1: 39.) How does baptism relate to this work? How do we “follow Christ” without seeking to do everything He did? Can we do all He did? Why did Joseph say we must go from one exaltation to another? What does Joseph refer to when he explained: “you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.”  (King Follett Discourse.) This was long after Joseph received the Vision of the Three Degrees of Glory found in Section 76. Section 76 was received February 16, 1832 while the King Follett Discourse was given April 7, 1844. Remember that all of what was seen in the vision was not recorded by Joseph: “But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion;  Which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful forman to utter.” (D&C 76: 114-115.) Why would some things be known to a prophet but “not lawful” for him to reveal to others?

What does the idea of “following Christ” imply, if it were taken to its fullest extent? Why would that require someone to go “from one small degree to another?” What would be involved for someone to pass “from exaltation to exaltation,” as Joseph mentions in this discourse in April, 1844? How fully must we follow Christ?


If it is God’s work to bring to pass immortality and eternal life for His children, then must God work out salvation for His children to confer upon them immortality and eternal life? If another becomes “like God” will they undertake the same work?  Will it require the same price to be paid? Is there another way?

2 Nephi 31: 1

 
And now I, Nephi, make an end of my prophesying unto you, my beloved brethren. And I cannot write but a few things, which I know must surely come to pass; neither can I write but a few of the words of my brother Jacob.”
 
Don’t make any mistakes, Nephi was a prophet. He knew he was a prophet. He also knew his testimony and explanations were indeed prophesy. So, in case you were wondering, here he removes any doubt. He is “making an end of my prophesying unto you.” And he identifies “you” to mean his “beloved brethren.” Who would that be? Could gentiles be included as his “beloved brethren?” What would a gentile have to do or be in order to qualify for that description? They why aren’t you doing that?
 
Why “cannot” he “write but a few things” further? Is there a limit put upon his prophecy for us? (1 Nephi 14: 28.) Would he have liked to have said more? Does he assure us what he did write is true and complete as far as permitted to be written? (1 Nephi 14: 30.)
 
What does it mean that he knows it “must surely come to pass?”  How can he know that? What does it mean about the information we have in his record? How closely was the information given in conformity with what the Lord wanted him to reveal? How seriously should we take the record or prophecy of Nephi?
 
Why does Nephi refer again to his brother Jacob? What did Nephi and Jacob have in common in their faith and knowledge? (2 Nephi 11: 2-3.) What does this imply about the validity of their testimony, their prophecy, their commission to deliver words of warning? What level of attention should their words attract from us? If we give them strict heed, will they lead us in the way of life and salvation?
 
As he ends his record, an aging and dying prophet, whose journey began on another continent is pleading to us to save ourselves. He has been such a significant source of faith in moments of despair, that when the Lord was reminding Joseph Smith of faith in troubled times, He drew directly from Nephi’s life. Joseph was in Liberty Jail, abandoned by force of arms by his people, who had been evicted from Missouri. The governor had ordered the extermination of Mormons if they remained. Joseph’s people had been killed, mobbed, evicted, driven in the snow from Missouri, their property pillaged, their women abused, and their houses burned. In a dungeon cell, Joseph was lamenting his plight. He felt abandoned by the Saints, and by God. As he pled for relief, the Lord told him to face adversity without complaint, because it would ultimately be for his good. When the Lord spoke and reminded Joseph of moments of despair over which faith and hope triumphed, one of the moments used was taken from Nephi’s life:

“if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (See, 1 Nephi 18: 13-16.)
 
It was no accident that the 116 pages were lost, compelling the use of Nephi’s full record to begin the Book of Mormon. It was a “wise purpose” indeed. (Wds. of Mormon 1: 6-7.) These words were always destined to come to us unabridged, from the hand of Nephi unaltered, translated by the gift and power of God into our language by Joseph Smith. Now they confront us, inform us, elevate us, warn us and deliver to us the means of obtaining the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2 Nephi 30: 11-15



“And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.  And then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling, together; and a little child shall lead them.  And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”


These words, again borrowed from Isaiah, are familiar to all of us. The time frame puts it inside the larger Nephi prophecy regarding the fulfillment of covenants made to the “fathers.”


What is interesting for us is the narrative of end-of-times peace and return of righteousness. This includes a “people of God” returning to inhabit the earth set inside the Book of Mormon narrative prophecy. The Book of Mormon remnant figure centrally into the progression. It (the book) comes forth, and from that time until the fulfillment of the return of righteousness and peace, the book’s involvement is central. The gentiles receive custody of it. Don’t do much with it. Some few actually believe it. They will eventually take it to the remnant. The remnant begin to come onboard with their conversion. They increase, the gentiles decrease, the momentum builds. The gentiles ultimately get swept away, while the remnant begin to grow into the fullness of the Gospel in all its rights, ordinances, and return to the knowledge of Christ.


As the culmination of these trends, which begin small, but gain momentum as they roll forth, we see the final product for what it was always intended to become: Zion. Once the stone cut out of the mountain without hands begins to roll forth, it will not stop until it has filled the whole earth.


Among those who are destined to fulfill these events, they will “not hurt nor destroy in all” the Lord’s “holy mountain.” What does it mean to “not hurt?” What does it mean to “not destroy?”  Why a “holy mountain?”


The earth itself will be “full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” What “knowledge of the Lord” is referred to here? How completely does the water cover the sea?  Will there be any need for one man to say to another “know ye the Lord” in that day, or will all who remain know Him? (Jer. 31: 34; D&C 84: 96-99.)


We imagine that day, but do not live for it. We think ourselves qualified to be part of that group. But ask yourself, do you make others hurt? Do others who hurt find relief from their pain by what you are willing to suffer, without returning evil for evil, but good for evil? Or do you believe such ideas to be “weird?” Because they are, indeed, for all we do, all we say, all we live and all we are, so alien to us that they are weird indeed.


From inside that culture, looking back at us and our time, reading our foolishness, observing our entertainment, they will think us more than “weird.” They will think us utterly insane.  And they will be right. We are the madmen, claiming ourselves to be righteous, while dwelling in raw sewage and celebrating revenge, discord, hatred and anger. We speak of Zion while marketing Babylon. We ask “what will sell” before we undertake any project. We study the trends of the fallen, wicked and perverse in order to adapt our faith, our words, and our conversations to appeal to Babylon. The social statistics of Latter-day Saints run about 7 years behind the larger population.
We’re all headed to hell, but console ourselves that we remain “peculiar” because we are slower in our descent than the larger population. It never occurs to us that a complete break will be needed.


The Lord plans to provide that break. The question then will be whether we join with those who lament the fall of Babylon (Rev. 18: 9-11), or among those who will rejoice at the coming of Zion (D&C 84: 96-102.) Perspective is affected by what our hearts value. Unfortunately, the choice is “either-or,” and not both. (Luke 16: 13.)


Well this is indeed “getting weird”…

2 Nephi 30: 6

 
“And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.”

Once the remnant is in possession of the Gospel, they will “rejoice.” What does that mean? What form would “rejoicing” take as a result of receiving the Gospel?

What does it mean to “know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God?” How would they recognize that?

What are the “scales of darkness” which cover eyes? How would the scales have been over their eyes in the first place? What does it mean to have the scales “begin to fall from their eyes?” Does “begin to fall” mean something about a gradual process, rather than a single quick event? How do scales continue to remain in place, even as they “begin to fall?” What does that imply about the difficulty in overcoming errors because of false understanding or traditions? Even the remnant will struggle to fully remove the “scales of darkness.”

Why are there “not many generations” involved in this process? Do you need “generations” to pass away in order to fully remove darkness?

Why is it not possible to accomplish this in a single generation?

If the Lord’s purposes in redeeming the remnant will take “not many generations” then why do we think we can accomplish it in one? How gradual a process is involved?

What does it mean to become a “pure and delightsome people?” (For many editions of the Book of Mormon, this phrase used to be, “white and delightsome.” It was changed back to the original, “pure” rather than “white” in the 1980 edition.)

 
Why does purity and being “delightsome” to the Lord go together?

If this process is going to involve “not many generations” then how far away are we from this unfolding?

When we read prophecy like this, we should realize we are looking at unfolding history from the Lord’s perspective.  We want to know what will happen in our single lifetime. We are impatient. He is interested in having us know the truth.

Nephi’s prophecy gives us a perspective that helps put our own time into context. We are in a hurry. History is not. There is a great deal left to do. There is a great deal left to happen. Nephi is letting us see this lengthy agenda.

O that I had repented

National debt is nearly the entire annual gross domestic product.
 
The banking crisis in Europe is threatening to spread, and the US has committed billions to help prop up the imbalanced European socialist-democracies.
 
The money supply is shrinking at a rate comparable only to the years leading into the Great Depression.
 
I am reminded of the Nephites when they were denounced with these words: 
 
“O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?  Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you; behold, he hath cursed the land because of your iniquity. And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them.”  (Hel. 13: 29-31.)
 
As our own riches become “slippery” so that we cannot hold onto them, I think we get a taste of what the Nephites were allowed to experience because they could not distinguish between those who taught the truth and those who merely led them about while blind.
 
The prophecy continued with these additional words of wise, and still relevant counsel:
 
“And in the days of your poverty ye shall cry unto the Lord; and in vain shall ye cry, for your desolation is already come upon you, and your destruction is made sure; and then shall ye weep and howl in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts. And then shall ye lament, and say: O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out. Yea, in that day ye shall say: O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us.  Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle. Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land.  O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us; for behold the land is cursed, and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them.  Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls. Behold, our iniquities are great. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us? And this shall be your language in those days. But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head. O ye people of the land, that ye would hear my words!”  (Hel. 13: 32-39.)
 
As always, the Book of Mormon remains the keystone of our religion.  A person can get closer to God by abiding its precepts than through any other book.
 
I don’t think Joseph Smith wrote it.  I think he translated it.  I think it contains wisdom from an earlier, failed civilization that once inhabited this land.  I think their lessons should not be forgotten by us.  Because when we fail to learn them by precept, then we get to learn them by experience.  And some of their experiences were quite difficult.

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