2 Nephi 30: 4-5

“And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews.  And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.”
Once the remnant obtain a copy of the Book of Mormon, from a believing gentile hand, they will realize they are originally come out of Jerusalem.  They will realize also that they are “descendants of the Jews.” 

It comes full circle. Those who were lost have returned again. The “prodigal” will return.  (Luke 15: 11-32.) There will be joy at the return.

This will happen as a preliminary to “the gospel of Jesus Christ [being] declared among them.” The Gospel being declared requires a true message, true messengers, authority, and ordinances. That will follow the remnant receiving the Book of Mormon. To what extent the gentiles bring those things and to what extent it will require heaven’s direct involvement, remains to be seen. But when the remnant reconnects, they will reconnect in every respect. The “gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them!”
As a result of these events, the remnant “shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers.” What does it mean to be restored? What knowledge? Which fathers? The Nephites, and Lehi, or to the earlier “fathers” as well? Does this include Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?

What does it mean they will be “also [restored] to the knowledge of Jesus Christ?”  What does this “knowledge” involve? What kind of relationship with Christ does this imply?

If we wonder at the “knowledge” the remnant will obtain, we have a parallel given to us: The future remnant knowledge of Christ shall be akin to that “which was had among their fathers.” Meaning they will grow to know what the earlier Nephite disciples and peoples knew. What kind of knowledge does that include?

When the right target receives the right Gospel, the results are dramatic. When the wrong group is entrusted with the Gospel, they tend to let it atrophy, grow dim, and become a social order without the power of godliness. The restoration was intended to cure that problem. But as with any gift from God, we must do more than to “take no thought but to ask.” (D&C 9: 6-7.) We must pursue knowledge and act with alacrity when it is given.
If we do not do this, then the result is not a blessing, but a cursing. (D&C 124: 47-48.) No matter what we are offered by the Lord, we must act consistent with His will to receive the blessings offered. When we fail to fulfill the obligation He appoints to us, then we fail to obtain what was offered. (D&C 124: 31-32.)
Once they have been given the gospel, the remnant will not fail. Their reconnection will be as a nail in a sure place, not to be moved. Their knowledge will grow into the perfect day, just as it might with anyone who is willing to receive what Christ offers.  (D&C 50: 24.) Noon at the summer solstice is a symbol of the perfect day. This year, in contrast, at midnight of the winter solstice there will be an eclipse. This would be a symbol in the heavens of the opposite of the perfect day.  When it arrives it undoubtedly is a sign relevant to the time. (Those things are never accidents or mere happenstance.)

The ideas begin to accumulate. Darkness and light. Free will and acceptance of what is offered by God. So many divergent roads that are offered in place of the one that remains strait and narrow, but nevertheless in a straight course before you. (2 Nephi 9: 41.)

2 Nephi 30: 3

2 Nephi 30: 3:
“And now, I would prophesy somewhat more concerning the Jews and the Gentiles. For after the book of which I have spoken shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written; and they shall carry them forth unto the remnant of our seed.

Nephi speaks again prophetically about our time. He makes no distinction between the Jews and “the remnant of our seed,” or Nephite remnant in what he says here. The “book of which I have spoken” is the record of the Nephites. It will come forth, written as a warning to the gentiles. Here is another attempt to establish a time frame for a prophecy. It will be after the record exists, gets brought forth “unto the gentiles” and then is “sealed up again unto the Lord.” We are in that era now. The record exists, even if part of it is sealed. It has come forth, at least in that part intended to be released at the point of this prophecy. And it has been “sealed up again unto the Lord.” We don’t have possession of it at present.

I’ve addressed the cover story that the Angel Moroni still has the plates in what I’ve written before. Briefly, the Book of Mormon tells Joseph Smith to “seal them up unto the Lord” in detail in three places. This is one of them. The other two are 2 Nephi 27:22 (giving the most detailed instruction to Joseph) and Ether 5: 1-4. All of these instructions are to the same effect. Once the Book of Mormon has been translated, to the extent it is to come forth in our day, the plates are to be “sealed up again” by Joseph. Since he did everything else in the way he was instructed, there is no reason to believe he wouldn’t have sealed up the record and hid it again.

Here Nephi prophesies that “there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written.” Meaning that those words “written unto the gentiles” or what we have in print now, will in fact be believed by “many.” They “shall believe the words.” Nephi has assured us of that. Therefore, it is necessary that some group from among the gentiles distinguish itself by actually believing the words of the Book of Mormon. It will be this group which “shall carry them forth unto the remnant of” Nephi’s seed. Notice that they will “believe” in the book. (That will require them to have a correct understanding of the book’s content, otherwise they would have unbelief.)

Those who do not believe (or have unbelief) in the Book of Mormon will not, indeed cannot, bring the words to the remnant. They aren’t qualified. They would not be able to convert any of the remnant. It will be those who actually believe in and accept the precepts of the Book of Mormon who will carry them forth unto the remnant.



Considering the otherwise direful predictions about the gentiles, this is the one way where hope may come to them. The group that believes in the Book of Mormon will necessarily have to be preserved to fulfill their responsibility to carry the words to the remnant. This is a subset of the Saints, and clearly not all of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the church itself, there remains a condemnation because of their unbelief in the book. ( D&C 84: 54-57.) This condemnation of the church was repeated by President Benson and again by Elder Oaks.

If, therefore, you would like to be preserved, the manner in which that will happen, according to Nephi’s prophecy, will necessarily require you to abandon the condemnation of the larger church, and become one of those who believe in the Book of Mormon. Not only to say, but to do; as Section 84 above requires.

It is surprising how much information the Book of Mormon has for us. It is even more surprising that with such detail available to us, we have done so little to understand and teach it. The words of this prophecy by Nephi ought to be proclaimed among us. However, very little attention has been given to it.

One of the effects of pride is blindness. We can’t see what our pride prevents us from seeing. We have to come down to the depths of humility (to use a phrase Nephi coined in 2 Nephi 9: 42.) Interestingly it is only the Book of Mormon which tells us to “come down in the depths of humility.” (2 Ne. 9: 42; Helaman 6: 5; and 3 Ne. 12: 2.) Once Nephi coined the phrase, Mormon used it twice in his abridgement. It is a good phrase. It does tell us what we must do.

The great work of the Lord in this day revolves around the Book of Mormon. More instruction, prophecy and promises are contained in that book for our day than any other. You can get closer to God by abiding its precepts than any other book.

Joseph Smith didn’t write it. It was written by ancient prophets, sealed up to come forth in our day, and translated by the gift and power of God.

It is a perilous book. We neglect it at the risk of failure. Don’t let it remain a “sealed book” for you. Anyone can come to believe in it if they are willing.

2 Nephi 30: 2

2 Nephi 30: 2:

“For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.

To the extent that gentiles “will repent” they may become part of the Lord’s “covenant people.” They are not the remnant, but they may join in the covenant. If they do, then by virtue of the covenant they become “covenant people.”

What is required for the gentiles to repent?

What covenant must they enter into or receive so they may be numbered among the “covenant people?” Is membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the only thing needed to “repent” and become a “covenant people?” If not, then what else would be required?

To the extent that “the Jews will not repent” then they will be “cast off.” Although history has shown how the Jews have been treated (as Nephi put it), “ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them.” (2 Ne. 29: 5.) These difficulties suffered by the Jews are preliminary. The Lord always watched over and preserved them from complete destruction. However, when the Gospel is offered to them in the last days, in the final offering to the last (who had once been first–see 1 Ne.13: 42), they will reject the offered renewal of the covenant at their peril. If they reject it, they “shall be cast off” because that will sever the covenant.  “The Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.”

Although we know the Lord will extend every opportunity to the descendants for the sake of a covenant with those who have become the friends of God, there are limits. God will do all He has promised to do. He will forbear, entreat, beseech, send messengers, labor alongside with His messengers, and do all He can to reclaim the heirs for the covenant’s sake. In the end, however, the heirs must either accept what He offers, or be cast off.

It is extraordinary how long the Lord will extend His hand to reclaim His people. But everyone must choose to follow Him. We have our agency. We cannot be forced to follow Him. Even though He may be longsuffering and patient, He cannot compel any to be saved.  (Moses 4: 1-3.) Unless a person is free to choose for themselves, there is no existence.  (D&C 93: 30.) 

If you remove the right to choose, it is not only agency that is obliterated, but it is existence itself. Though we are utterly dependent on God for our very existence, sustained from moment to moment by Him loaning us the ability to move, breathe and act (Mosiah 2: 21), because we are free to make choices we exist. If you destroy the right to choose you have ended the personality of the person. [I have explained this in the beginning of Beloved Enos.]

Well, all of this is of no import if the gentiles do not “repent.” Whenever we brush up against that subject we wind up engaged in discussions about justice, mercy, vengeance and restitution. I’ve written about this process in both The Second Comforter and Come, Let Us Adore Him. Briefly, here are some of the most important points:  To be forgiven we must forgive. Not just forgive, but plead for mercy for those who have offended us. The role of accusing is left to “the accuser of the brethren” or Satan. (Rev. 12: 10.) When we accuse others we interfere with their salvation. If we are the one who was offended, and we make no accusation against them, then we become their savior. Satan’s right to accuse is inferior to ours as victims of the offense. We suffer in the flesh the wrongs of others. If we make no claim for justice, surrender those and seek instead for mercy on behalf of others, then Satan’s accusations can have no claim upon them. We mimic Christ, follow His example, and in our own limited way also atone for the sins of others. Joseph Smith was trying to get us to understand this concept when he taught: “If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven, and if you will follow the revelations and instructions which God gives you through me, I will take you into heaven as my back load. If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours—for charity covereth a multitude of sins.” (DHC. 4:445)

I have explained this at length in what I’ve written in Come, Let Us Adore Him. Christ said this in His ministry repeatedly. He lived it.  He showed by His own example the way to obtain forgiveness for every wrong you have ever done. It is in the same way He went about atoning for sins. It is by suffering offenses and returning good. It is by forgiving those who despitefully use and abuse you. It is through loving those who are your enemies. It is by becoming sons and daughters of God. And it can be done in no other way. (Matt. 5: 38-48.) If you do not forgive others, you cannot be forgiven. (Matt. 6: 14-15.) This is why Christ, in teaching us to pray, told us we are only forgiven as we forgive others.  (Matt. 6: 12.) It is as we forgive that we obtain forgiveness.

The way is strait and narrow, and cannot permit you to pass through while carrying any burden of accusation, desire for revenge or even just complaint about others. When you lay down what you might justly claim against others and seek nothing for their offenses, then you are able to enter in. To be blessed, we must seek peace with those who would make war against us. (Matt. 5: 9.) When we judge all others with mercy, it is with mercy alone we will be judged. (Matt. 7: 2.)

For the most part, the gentiles will not repent. They will hold courts, use their time judging, exact conditions, set limits, and annotate their permanent records with notes showing what discipline a person has undergone. And happily employ control, compulsion and dominion over one another (D&C 121: 37) right up to the time when the trumpet sounds and it is everlastingly too late.  Others will justify this failure to forgive, shout praises to the abuse, and claim all compulsion and dominion is necessary to protect us from the evil. Even though our Master told us not to resist the evil, but forgive it. (Matt. 5: 39.)

For the most part, the gentiles will demand they be judged by a law they cannot satisfy.  Some few, however, will forgive and plead for the weaknesses and failings of others. They will forgive, and thereby be forgiven. They will obtain for themselves a judgment based only on mercy, for they have shown mercy to others. This atoning act of love and intercession will be the hallmark by which the children of God are identified in the Day of Judgment. (Matt. 5: 9.) Only the peacemakers can be trusted to live in peace with one another. All others are unfit for the presence of God.

2 Nephi 30: 1

2 Nephi 30: 1:

“And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.”

This is troubling if you understand what is said here. Let’s see if we can pull it apart.

Nephi adds this direct comment to his descendants, the forebears of the remnant.  Although they are the target of covenants and beneficiaries of the restoration, they too need to keep to the path. Though they are “beloved brethren” to Nephi, they are not given any unconditional promises. No one is.  Everything we receive is based on what we do, think and say. (See both Alma 12: 14 and D&C 130: 20-21.)

Note that this is not about the actual remnant, but about the Nephites who would be destroyed. These people would have access to Nephi’s record until the time of Mormon, when they would be destroyed. You can see the time frame in the word usage, “Ye are” as to the Nephites, in contrast to “the Gentiles who shall be.”  This message is addressed to the Nephites in a time before the gentile.

What is particularly distressing is the comparison Nephi is making. He is saying that the Nephites, who possess the land of promise, needn’t think themselves “more righteous than the Gentiles shall be” because if these Nephite descendants do “not keep the commandments of God” then they “shall all likewise perish.” If the Nephites do not keep the commandments, they will, like the gentiles, perish.

This means that Nephi is confirming again his prophecy of the destruction of the gentiles.  They are doomed. And the Nephites are similarly doomed unless they are obedient.

Despite this warning we know what happened to the Nephites. They were destroyed. The gentiles will be destroyed also.

In the case of the Nephites and the gentiles, “ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.” That is, neither all the Nephites have been, nor all the gentiles will be “utterly destroyed.”

Well, this is happy news indeed. Some tiny fragment of the gentiles will actually survive the destruction of the coming days! So we ought to rejoice! All is well with us after all! And coming from Nephi we know that we have a promise from one holding sealing authority who will, as I have previously pointed out, seal this prophecy. (2 Nephi 33: 13-15.)

Interestingly Nephi warns his own descendants about their pride and haughtiness. He says that these Nephite descendants, heirs of the covenant, should not think of themselves as righteous. “I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be.” Nephi’s prophecy is clear to him, and clear to his descendants.  They both regarded the gentiles with pessimism. They (we) are doomed. So they saw us as something dreadful to be compared to.  When Nephi confirms they ought not think themselves better than us, he is giving a strong warning indeed. The odd thing is that we read these same records, this same prophecy, and we think we’re better than them! We have inverted the picture! We’re good, they were bad! But Nephi is using us as the dreadful comparison, the stark warning, the terrible warning that if the Nephites do not repent they will be like us and perish.

When you pick these words apart and see the message it makes you wonder how we could have come to our inverted view. Arrogance and pride really do blind us. Almost completely. What more could Nephi have said to get us to understand? (2 Nephi 32: 8.)

2 Nephi 29: 14

“And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.”

Now we have an estimate of the time when a general disclosure of the records of these various nations will occur. It’s set in the time when the people who have survived the great distresses and wars of the last days will leave the New Jerusalem and return to their lands of possessions. That is, post-New Jerusalem, post-destruction of the wicked, and after the time when the Lord has come among them. When they are sent into their respective lands of possessions, then at last the entire record of the Lord’s dealings with each nation will be “gathered in one.”

So this won’t be anytime soon. Well, if soon, it will be after some more dramatic events, which will take our minds off the issue of missing scripture.
What is interesting is the Lord’s emphasis on those who “fight against my word.” He puts this first. The fight, as He puts it, is against both “my word and my people,” but it is the fight against His “word” that He lists first.  This is important.
You will recall there were two different reactions to the two parts of Lehi’s message. When it was repentance from their wickedness, the Jews mocked him. But when it was a message of the coming Christ, they wanted to kill him. (1 Ne. 1: 18-19.) This is the war against His “word” in a nutshell. The message of hope and redemption found in Christ is what the enemies of God always seek to suppress.
First, distort, suppress and exclude His word.  Then it follows that He has no people, because they cannot find their way back to Him.
Remember this is the great fight. It is relentlessly underway. So soon as His word becomes available, there will be forces, enemies, alliances, even good-intentions used to suppress, discard and alter His words. This is the great work of the adversary. This is the fight that gets waged first.
When the victory is won against His word, then the victory against the people is over. There cannot be any “people” belonging to Him if they do not possess His words in clarity, fullness, and with power.
What significance is there then in changing His words? Discarding His revelations? Suppressing His ordinances? Altering what He has revealed?  Designating some of His word as “mysteries” that ought to be feared or avoided? Why would Joseph Smith advise us to search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God? Why would we be told to avoid them today?  What has happened in the fight against the Lord’s word among us? 

The purpose of His word is to establish His people. When people have His word, and obtain the light and truth that flows from it, then they are inevitably turned in their hearts to the fathers. Primarily among those fathers is the one mentioned here: Abraham. For in Abraham we see a return to the original order which preceded the flood. He inherited what “came down from the beginning” and restored the original ancient order. (Abraham 1: 2-3.) When the “word” and “people” are again here, they are directly linked to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and are heirs to the covenant and priesthood  they held. It is a return. It is a resurrection of an ancient order, where men know God and are His friends and companions while living here in this fallen world.

The results of having the Lord’s “word” is to then create a “people” who in turn are linked to “Abraham.” These things all follow in turn.  The fight against it is begun at the “word” to prevent the others who follow. If you can choke people off and get them to refuse His “words” then you can prevent them from ever becoming His “people” and realizing the association which brings their hearts to the fathers.

It is a consistent plan and a predictable fight. How’s it going in our time? What good things have we done to preserve His word? Have we kept intact everything He handed us through Joseph? Do we possess all of the word He intended us to have, study and live? Are we thereby made into new creations, His people? Do we show the fruits of being His people? Do the visions of heaven flow over us, and angels minister to us? Do we possess knowledge of God in the sense used in the Book of Mormon? Are we in possession of all the rights and powers conferred upon Abraham?

It is an interesting interconnection the Lord refers to here. Worth reflection at a minimum. Fasting, prayer and seeking as well, perhaps.

2 Nephi 29: 13

“And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.”
Well, happily the Jews “shall” get the Nephite words. Some day. Currently for the most part they don’t want them. And, even if they did, the “words of the Nephites” will include the sealed portion, because they are certainly part of the “words” the Nephites recorded. So this will be future, even if there were Jews interested in taking the offer today.
The Nephites also “shall” have the words of the Jews. However, once again as we have seen, the words include a great volume of material spoken by Christ, recorded by the Jews, and not in anyone’s current possession. So this, too, must be in the future. For now we aren’t even sure of who these “Nephites” are.
The Nephites and the Jews “shall” get the words of the lost tribes of Israel. This is a category, not a number. Remember that.  So once again, future event. Don’t know when.  Don’t know how many records. Don’t even know how many groups will be included.

But all these records are inevitably to come forth. Just not yet.

Why?
Read Mormon’s explanation: “But behold the plates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he taught the people. And these things have I written, which are a lesser part of the things which he taught the people; and I have written them to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people, from the Gentiles, according to the words which Jesus hath spoken. And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.  And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.  Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people.  Therefore I, Mormon, do write the things which have been commanded me of the Lord. And now I, Mormon, make an end of my sayings, and proceed to write the things which have been commanded me.” (3 Nephi 26: 7-12.)

What if I do believe these things? What if I will accept the things which He offers? What if my faith has been tried and I am found to be deserving of more information? Can a person come out from under the condemnation referred to above, even if the rest of mankind fails to acquit themselves? Alma comes with the reply:  “Yes.” (Alma 12: 9-11.) So, as it turns out, ignorance is voluntary.

Well, shut my mouth! (That’s a pun, you see.)
[Can you do puns in a religious blog? Or will the long faced and dour be offended? Well, they don’t get it anyway. Hey! Why are you reading this if it offends you? Stop it!]
What do you suppose it would take for the Lord to respond to us removing the condemnation that we labor under? How should we go about trying to make that happen? I don’t see it happening, do you? I’m sort of persuaded by Nephi’s pessimism of the gentiles of our day.  Even this mild blog discussion I am attempting has provoked ire in many readers. How we fix our collective disinterest seems a monumental enterprise beyond human ability. I fear it would take some great calamity to unfold before we would change. Then again, I think the Lord has already told us that. (D&C 1: 17; 45: 50.)

2 Nephi 29: 12

“For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.” 

This is more than interesting. The Lord speaks, various people write what He speaks to them. These groups include:

1.  Jews– we get that and it’s the Bible, right?
2.  Nephites– we get that too, the Book of Mormon, right?

3.  Other tribes– how many? Who? When?  Where? What?
4.  All the nations of the earth–Now it’s just too broad. What does “all the nations” mean, exactly?

So, let’s take this a bit by bit, going through each one:

1. Jews: We have a Bible. But we DON’T have all the writings of the Jews, do we? We already referred to missing prophets Zenos and Zenok, and there are others. Look in your Bible Dictionary for “Missing Scripture” and you’ll tree a list. (I’m pulling your leg.  If you look that up it’ll refer you to “Lost Books” so go there.)

[That reminds me of a joke I tell: If I get a tattoo it’ll say “Leviticus 19: 28.” But you probably won’t think that’s funny.]

Anyway, the Jews recorded more both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament than we have currently. So don’t get all certain the Bible is the final word from the ancient Jews. It isn’t. Never was. There’s more coming.

2. Nephites: Clearly more coming. Sealed material has not been revealed, and will be some day. Providing, of course, we were to actually merit the disclosure. So, I suppose that means don’t hold your breath.

3. Other Tribes: We got nothing. Not even a number. The one chance we had to get a number was blown by both the disciples in Jerusalem and the Nephites. I’ve written about this in The Second Comforter. So the only way to triangulate is to either take the allegory of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5 and try to estimate– a risky proposition since it was intended to convey an overall meaning not a number– or we can work backwards from the crucifixion to the approximate 11 1/2 months later when Jesus appeared to the Nephites. Take the time spent with the Nephites, then estimate He’s been busy doing that same ministry elsewhere. Divide the time taken to minister into the available time and you get something between 10 and 18 other potential groups out there depending on your estimate of the time used. The record attempts to prevent us from being too accurate because it identifies three days specifically, then resorts to just “many times” to cover what may have been days or weeks. (3 Nephi 26: 13.)  However, when you read of the Nephite disciples “journeying and preaching” but coming together in “mighty prayer and fasting” and the Lord’s appearance again there, it seems closer to the 10 number than the 18. (3 Nephi 27: 1.) Well, you work it out. It’s just an unknown plural number which might be greater than just a couple. And for these we have no record at all.

4.  All nations: Nothing here, either. And no basis from which to compile an estimate.

So, from the foregoing we can see that we have some tiny fragment of the whole, and cannot even begin to construct an outline of what we are missing. But despite our ignorance, the Lord spoke to them, they wrote it, and it is available for some group to eventually read.  Apparently not us. We do not even get the rest of the record written on parchment and hidden by John, (referred to in the headnote to Section 7 of the D&C). We only get a part of the information from it. (D&C 7: 1-8.)

So, there’s a lot to be had.  We don’t have it…But what we do have we won’t study. Well,  maybe there is a cause and effect…

Seems to me, you don’t want to talk about it. Seems to me, you just turn your pretty head and walk away. (Joe Walsh, from the James Gang era, before the heaviest toll was taken.)  

So the Lord wants us to know there’s ever so much out there. That we have a tiny fraction of what was once available. And we just don’t seem to care. We’d rather reduce the volume of topics we study and eliminate the “mysteries” from our diet of Gospel study, so as to relieve ourselves of any responsibility for what we already possess. We are beyond dumbing down the Gospel. We’re discarding it by the week. Tighter and tighter, until you are left alone, without God in the world. There’s a brilliant phrase. It comes from the Book of Mormon. It is found at Mosiah 27: 31; Alma 41: 11 and Mormon 5: 16. Of all the phrases turned in the Book of Mormon this is the most solitary, profound and descriptive of the fall from grace mankind experiences. It is perfect, even if what it describes is perfectly horrid.

Well, enough of this…

2 Nephi 29: 12

“For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.” 

This is more than interesting. The Lord speaks, various people write what He speaks to them. These groups include:

1.  Jews– we get that and it’s the Bible, right?
2.  Nephites– we get that too, the Book of Mormon, right?

3.  Other tribes– how many? Who? When?  Where? What?
4.  All the nations of the earth–Now it’s just too broad. What does “all the nations” mean, exactly?

So, let’s take this a bit by bit, going through each one:

1. Jews: We have a Bible. But we DON’T have all the writings of the Jews, do we? We already referred to missing prophets Zenos and Zenok, and there are others. Look in your Bible Dictionary for “Missing Scripture” and you’ll tree a list. (I’m pulling your leg.  If you look that up it’ll refer you to “Lost Books” so go there.)

[That reminds me of a joke I tell: If I get a tattoo it’ll say “Leviticus 19: 28.” But you probably won’t think that’s funny.]

Anyway, the Jews recorded more both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament than we have currently. So don’t get all certain the Bible is the final word from the ancient Jews. It isn’t. Never was. There’s more coming.

2. Nephites: Clearly more coming. Sealed material has not been revealed, and will be some day. Providing, of course, we were to actually merit the disclosure. So, I suppose that means don’t hold your breath.

3. Other Tribes: We got nothing. Not even a number. The one chance we had to get a number was blown by both the disciples in Jerusalem and the Nephites. I’ve written about this in The Second Comforter. So the only way to triangulate is to either take the allegory of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5 and try to estimate– a risky proposition since it was intended to convey an overall meaning not a number– or we can work backwards from the crucifixion to the approximate 11 1/2 months later when Jesus appeared to the Nephites. Take the time spent with the Nephites, then estimate He’s been busy doing that same ministry elsewhere. Divide the time taken to minister into the available time and you get something between 10 and 18 other potential groups out there depending on your estimate of the time used. The record attempts to prevent us from being too accurate because it identifies three days specifically, then resorts to just “many times” to cover what may have been days or weeks. (3 Nephi 26: 13.)  However, when you read of the Nephite disciples “journeying and preaching” but coming together in “mighty prayer and fasting” and the Lord’s appearance again there, it seems closer to the 10 number than the 18. (3 Nephi 27: 1.) Well, you work it out. It’s just an unknown plural number which might be greater than just a couple. And for these we have no record at all.

4.  All nations: Nothing here, either. And no basis from which to compile an estimate.

So, from the foregoing we can see that we have some tiny fragment of the whole, and cannot even begin to construct an outline of what we are missing. But despite our ignorance, the Lord spoke to them, they wrote it, and it is available for some group to eventually read.  Apparently not us. We do not even get the rest of the record written on parchment and hidden by John, (referred to in the headnote to Section 7 of the D&C). We only get a part of the information from it. (D&C 7: 1-8.)

So, there’s a lot to be had.  We don’t have it…But what we do have we won’t study. Well,  maybe there is a cause and effect…

Seems to me, you don’t want to talk about it. Seems to me, you just turn your pretty head and walk away. (Joe Walsh, from the James Gang era, before the heaviest toll was taken.)  

So the Lord wants us to know there’s ever so much out there. That we have a tiny fraction of what was once available. And we just don’t seem to care. We’d rather reduce the volume of topics we study and eliminate the “mysteries” from our diet of Gospel study, so as to relieve ourselves of any responsibility for what we already possess. We are beyond dumbing down the Gospel. We’re discarding it by the week. Tighter and tighter, until you are left alone, without God in the world. There’s a brilliant phrase. It comes from the Book of Mormon. It is found at Mosiah 27: 31; Alma 41: 11 and Mormon 5: 16. Of all the phrases turned in the Book of Mormon this is the most solitary, profound and descriptive of the fall from grace mankind experiences. It is perfect, even if what it describes is perfectly horrid.

Well, enough of this…

2 Nephi 29: 10-11

“Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.”
Within the Book of Mormon, as a new volume of scripture, is the caution that even it is incomplete. What a marvel that is if you think about it. Here’s a new revelation telling us that there are other revelations that aren’t included in either the Book of Mormon or the Bible.

Everyone nation, from time to time, received sacred messages from the Lord! No matter where they are – east, west, north or south, He’s been in touch. They have written it down. The records are sacred, and He watches over them.  They will be revealed. And, the good/bad news is that from their content we will be judged.

We are judged “according to our works,” but measured against “that which is written.” Think about that for a moment.
What if they haven’t come to light yet? Are they still written? Are they still going to be used to measure us? If we haven’t seen these words, why would it be appropriate for them to be used as a measuring stick for our conduct?  Was the Book of Mormon’s standards binding upon us even before the record came forth?
Why does He assure us He is unchangeable? Why does He assure us He is the same yesterday, today and forever? Is the standard going to change from ancient record to ancient record? If it does not change, then are we accountable for the same standard of conduct no matter when or where we live? How can we be held to account for things that are yet to be revealed?
If we cannot be judged against something we do not know (Mosiah 3: 11), how can these words set a standard for judging even before they are published?
I want to propose a concept that appeals to my mind. When we are trying to “prove” a proposition, it is possible to set up an experiment where we control all variables but one, then see what that one variable does. How it acts, or reacts. Life here is like that, I think. A fallen Telestial Kingdom, “or the world in which you presently reside”– to quote an authoritative source– is the same place for Able and Cain, Enoch and Noah, Abraham and Nimrod, Moses and Pharoah, Jesus and Ciaphus, Jacob and Sherem, Alma and Nehor, Joseph Smith and Thomas Sharp. Same place with all of these contemporaries. But with the exception of Enoch and Noah, (who took different routes, but nonetheless were both favored by God) all the other pairs had dramatically different outcomes? Why?
This world is a fallen, but controlled environment. We get introduced here with free will and the capacity to change. Inside that environment of a fallen world, there have been people who have come and lived with all the same limitations that we have, but who have grown to know God. Their lives are proof that it can happen. Their testimonies and records of success are part of the “proof” of God’s fairness and of mankind’s freedom to return to Him.

If the Bible and the Book of Mormon both attest to the fact that it is possible for mankind to overcome by faith and return to God’s presence, then we have the proof needed to see how this life should be lived. We have the evidence of God’s willingness to receive us, and of our own capacity to overcome and return to Him.

Testimony after testimony, experience after experience are recounted in the Book of Mormon. We have enough “proof” that this process is available and works. If we were to have more, in a different record, reaffirming the same thing involving other people, would it add any different proof than is already in our possession? If not, then can we be judged by the same standard without having the specific life stories before us to illustrate in another hundred ways how men have triumphed and men have failed?

Is it possible there are others, some of whom are still living, who may also have recorded unspeakable things? Do their words count? Are they binding upon us for no other reason than to prove that in this contemporary world of sin it remains still possible to return to God’s presence?
What interesting things the Book of Mormon raises for our pondering and edification. It is a revolutionary book, in the sense it revolutionizes our understanding of how God deals with mankind.

2 Nephi 29: 9

“And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.”
The assurance to us by the Lord that He is the “same yesterday, today and forever” appears often in scripture. (See, e.g., four times by Nephi including 1 Ne. 10: 18; 2 Ne. 2: 4; 2 Ne. 27: 23, and above; Alma 31: 17; Mormon 9: 9; Moroni 10: 19; D&C 20: 12; and D&C 35: 1, among other places.) Why do you suppose the Lord wants us to trust in this idea? What is it about the Lord’s “sameness” that is important for us to understand?
Are the Lord’s expectations different from one generation to the next? Are His teachings?  Are His ordinances? Can we discard what He has given us and be justified? If His expectations are as unchanged as He is, then how important is it for us to study and retain all that He has given by revelation to mankind? How important is it to keep ordinances entirely intact?
If the Lord does not change, and the story of the Nephite people is a story of temporary success followed by ultimate failure, then how relevant is that account for us? Does temporary success in repentance guarantee constant favor from the Lord? When the Book of Mormon follows splinter groups in the narrative, because the splinters kept the commandments of God better, does that preserve a relevant lesson for those reading the book today? If so, how?
If the Lord “speaks forth [His] own words according to [His] own pleasure” then how can we control to whom and when He is permitted to speak? If He reserves to Himself this right, what effect does our system of recognizing an authoritative message from Him have upon His right to speak? Did the revelation given to Oliver Cowdrey that told him that he could not write commandments, but only according to wisdom, and never command Joseph Smith who presided over Oliver, establish a binding precedent on the Lord? (D&C 28: 4-6.) If so, what limit does that place on the Lord?  Does the limitation on someone being sent forth as a missionary to preach the Gospel, and the requirement they be “regularly ordained by the heads of the church” limit the Lord’s ability to speak His own words?  (D&C 42: 11.) If so, in what way?
Does the revelation to Joseph Smith informing the Church in 1831 that no one other than Joseph Smith is to receive commandments and revelations for the Church limit the Lord’s ability to speak to anyone else? (D&C 43: 1-6.) In particular, what of the Lord’s counsel that this limitation was intended as “a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.” (Id. verses 5-6.) Does that prevent Him from speaking “according to His own pleasure?”
What about the 1830 revelation given to Joseph Smith that no one other than Joseph Smith is to receive revelations and commandments in the church? (D&C 28: 2.) Does that limit the Lord’s ability to speak according to His own pleasure?
Do the promises given to Joseph Smith apply directly and continually as the binding precedent and complete limitation on the Lord’s capacity to speak to us? If so, then can He still speak to individual members of the church but without providing a “revelation and commandment” to the entire church? For example, do we expect only President Monson to receive revelation on the individual members of your own family? How is President Monson supposed to be doing that for the families of some 13 million church members? If that isn’t possible, then what about the approximate 2,000 stakes? Do we expect only President Monson to receive revelation about each of these divisions? If the stake presidents have been delegated responsibility, then can the stake president receive all revelation for each family within the stake? Can the stake president alone receive revelation for the families of his stake?
If each person is intended to receive some revelation for themselves, is that an absolute bar to receiving revelation for another? If, for example, someone were not in your ward, not in your stake, not even living in your state, but asked you to give them a blessing because of illness or injury, are you entitled to receive revelation while giving the blessing? Even if you have no connection to this person by family or church calling?  Should you proceed with the blessing? If so, would you expect the Lord to assist, give revelation, and even inspire a commandment to the person if it were appropriate?
How hard and fast are the rules we impose on the Lord? Does His statement that He alone will decide when and to whom He speaks according to “His own pleasure” need to be weighed as part of the equation? If He cannot speak to anyone other than Joseph Smith, then did Joseph’s death prevent Him from speaking further? If He cannot speak to anyone other than Joseph’s successors in the office of President of the High Priesthood, then what if the occupant of that office is ill, infirm, or disabled?
Would the “system” govern, or the Lord’s “own pleasure” govern? If it is “His own pleasure” then how can we possibly know when He speaks?  What about the Lord’s house being a house of order? Once He has a church established, should we trust He will confine His efforts to that church alone?
I suppose all these questions are answered by the Lord adding to “His own pleasure” that “because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.”
In the final analysis, it is left to us to fast, pray, seek the guidance of the Spirit, and to find where the Lord’s own pleasure in speaking is to be found. I do not expect someone other than the presiding authorities to conduct the affairs of the church. Nor would I expect anyone would organize a ward or stake other than someone having authority over that responsibility, regularly recognized by the church. I would not expect to either pay tithing to, nor be asked to pay tithing to, someone other than a Bishop in the church.  But, just as Elder F. Enzio Busche encountered gifted sisters with the gift of prophecy and visions, I do not believe revelation is or can be confined to any single office, person, or group. (See F. Enzio Busche’s book, Yearning for the Living God.)  While serving in various church leadership positions, including as a General Authority, he encountered gifted women with spiritual capacities who astonished him. But, to his credit, he did not doubt them.
God speaks according to His own pleasure. He cautions you that just because He says one thing at one time, He is never limited in what He may say at another time; even if you think it contradicts His earlier statements. He is living and He has the final decision in what He says and to whom He speaks. We must not forget that principle. Even though we may not like the uncertainty this introduces to our trusted systems. He alone will remain in control.

2 Nephi 29: 8

 
“Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.”
 
Why would anyone complain or murmur because God has spoken? We do. Somehow we get offended at the very idea God can or has spoken further. It is disturbing. It requires us to learn more, and may require us to change. It is inconvenient. It is troubling.
 
But new information from God should always be welcomed. It should be exciting and delightful, even if it requires us to change.
 
Not only does the Lord remember all nations, but He “speaks the same words unto one nation like unto another.” Meaning two things:  First, the records are going to agree on doctrine, ordinances and practice. There will not be some shocking departure from what we have already learned. But, second, we may find that other records have done a better job of preserving deeper insight into the history or truths than have we.
 
At one time the record written by Moses contained what is now in the Pearl of Great Price. At one time the record written by Abraham also found in the Pearl of Great Price was among the Biblical record. However, they were lost until they were restored through Joseph Smith. At one time the Biblical record contained the prophecies of Zenos and Zenock, only a small portion of which are still available through the Book of Mormon.
 
Although the records will agree, that does not mean there will not be significant additions to our understanding as a result of these becoming available. Even the record of the Nephites is sealed, and that of the Jaredites only partially translated. (Ether 1: 4-5.) Joseph and Sidney were forbidden to give the full account of the vision of the afterlife. (D&C 76: 114-115.) So you must not presume that “the same words” will be identical to the teachings preserved in our records. They may include much more.
 
It is also interesting how the Book of Mormon contains so much more information upon close inspection that it appears to have in a quick read. It is a measure of how seriously we take the Lord’s words as to how carefully we search the text.
 
As I’ve pointed out, most of the Book of Mormon scholarship is devoted to the question of the book’s authenticity. Word studies, Jewish idioms, internal consistencies, author variances and other examinations of the book have dominated the Book of Mormon library we have produced. I have proceeded from the premise that the book is authentic, that it is what it claims to be, and worthy of respect. Then, based on that premise, I’ve asked what the book teaches. The result has been more than edifying, it has been at times shocking. I’ve found that most of the deepest doctrines taught by Joseph Smith can be found in the Book of Mormon. When his revelations reach the greatest heights, the Book of Mormon equals what is revealed.
 
We tend to view the Book of Mormon as a “basic” version of doctrine, because we all know there are sealed portions yet to be revealed. However, I think that attitude is wrong. Everything in the sealed portion is already in the book we have in front of us. But to find it we must look more carefully at the text than we generally do.
 
I keep hoping that by showing respect to the text we can accomplish two things:  First, please the Lord and remove our condemnation from neglecting this valuable ancient record. Second, increase our respect for the value of doctrine. Without the unique doctrines restored through the Book of Mormon, we may as well be Presbyterian or Methodist.

These verses promise us that the testimonies of differing nations will agree.  They will all testify both of Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Savior, and provide the means by which we can come to Him and be saved.

The numerous examples of the Book of Mormon all converge on knowing Christ.  Indeed, the text has more examples of Christ ministering through the veil to mortal men than any other record, including His Judean ministry. It is a veritable treasure of Second Comforter experiences. If you want to know Christ, the Book of Mormon is your best guide.

2 Nephi 29: 6-7

 
“Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?  Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?”
 
This is a continuing statement made to Nephi by the Lord. Besides the sermons delivered in the New Testament and Third Nephi, this is one of the most extensive revelations to be found given by Christ. Given its length, and the fact it is a quote from the Lord, we are compelled to take note. The Lord is doing all He can to draw our attention to the fact that the Book of Mormon MUST be valued above the Bible. It MUST take its place in latter-day study of God’s acts among men.
 
To say you have enough information from God is foolish.  God “created all men,” and as a result He “remembers all men.” He will “bring forth [His] word unto the children of men” in whatever place, time and circumstance as He decides. He cannot be circumscribed by our preferences or false understanding. He can and does exercise the prerogative to speak to whomever He decides.
 
When the Book of Mormon came forth, all people were startled at the idea God had more to say. They thought it an odd thing for anyone to claim there was yet more scripture. Joseph was persecuted and hated for announcing he had a new volume of scripture.
 
Now, some 180 years later we think the Lord is bound to talk to a specific person, in a specific way, and that anyone else or anywhere else is beyond the Lord’s capacity to accomplish. In our own way, we are also bound to a tradition which excludes the Lord’s prerogatives; we just redefine the box we confine the Lord.
 
He “brings forth His word” without regard to our views, and to “all the nations of the earth.” Now “nations” is not the same thing as we regard it today. The “nations” at the time of the Book of Mormon were something we would call “people” or “ethnicity” like the Israelites.  
 
The definition of an “isle of the sea” includes everything that is not part of the great Euro-Asian-African land mass. Although we regard North America as a continent, in the Book of Mormon vernacular it is an “isle of the sea.” (2 Ne. 10: 20.) Further, most of Israel was relocated onto the isles of the sea. (1 Ne. 22: 4.) So when the Lord affirms He speaks to those on the “isles of the sea” He is confirming that there are multiple locations, involving multiple parties, each one of which has received sacred communication from Him. There are, in short, still a great deal of His words which have not as yet come to our attention. They are coming. When they do, we are warned to take care in what we choose to reject.
 
When I was first investigating the church, this argument was presented to me by the missionaries in one of the first discussions. I have to admit the proposition made such sense to me that I found it completely persuasive. The idea that God would not be in communication with the vast majority of mankind living separate from Palestine during the Lord’s life seemed to be a sort of abandonment by the Lord. If He is the God of all mankind, then ought He not speak to all mankind?
The “wise men from the east” were not locals to Palestine.  Yet they remained both connected to, and watching for signs involving the birth of the Lord. If them, why not others? The Book of Mormon answers this query. This idea was too persuasive for me to find doubt.
 
If God does remember all mankind, and speaks to the various nations over time, then the failure to keep the information intact is also explained. The Book of Mormon shows what and how a society’s faith fails and is lost. It explains how very careless mankind is with knowledge given by God.
 
Riddles of history are better answered both directly and indirectly in the Book of Mormon than any other text, including the Bible.

2 Nephi 29: 4-5

 
“But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles? O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.”
 
If you wonder at the Lord’s patience and willingness to forgive you have an answer here.  The Lord’s respect for and defense of the “Jews” as His “ancient covenant people” is unmitigated by any criticism of them. Instead He points to their “travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews” experienced in bringing forth this Biblical record.
 
The Jews deserve our thanks, our gratitude and our respect for this great work of preserving the record.

Twice the Lord calls the Jews His “ancient covenant people.” The Bible is a record of rebellion, persecution of the righteous, and slaying of prophets. It is a record of a fallen people who were often in apostasy, resisting true prophets calling for repentance, and suffering the judgment and condemnation of God.  When the New Testament record (also a product of Jewish writers–even in the case of Luke who, though born to gentile parents, was converted to Judaism) came into existence it was the Jews who resisted and persecuted the Lord. Yet He still calls them His “ancient covenant people.” He insists we have been ungrateful to the Jews for their work on the Bible.
 
This is the Lord speaking in the first person.  Nephi is quoting Him. These are the same people Lehi taught would be the only ones “who would crucify their God.” (2 Nephi 10: 3.) Yet despite that, Christ refers to them as His “ancient covenant people” to whom we owe a debt of gratitude! How merciful is our Lord?
 
Now, those who produced the Bible text are not merely the believers, true prophets, and victims of Jewish hostility and persecution.  The text may have originated with the prophets, but it passed quickly into the hands of the priests and Levites, scholars and Rabbis.  These others may not have had the same divine inspiration and association with angels, but they nevertheless attended with strict discipline to preserving the record of the prophets. Even those who directly challenged the Lord included the scribes who worked to preserve the records of the prophets. These “labors” and “pains” and “diligence” have produced gratitude from the Lord!
 
If He is willing to thank them, how generous is our Lord in His thanks to mankind! How ungrateful are we?
 
We tend to see those with whom we differ as enemies. But the Lord does not want us to approach religious disagreement in this way.  Instead he would have us “recover” them. He says: “ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them.” As Joseph Smith’s History recounts, his persecutors ought “to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me.” (JS-H 1: 28.) That is the only way to obtain agreement – persuasion, gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned. (D&C 121: 41-42.) Instead of “holding a court” against someone, we ought to preach the Gospel to them and teach them the truth with love and meekness. It is clear the Lord is showing by example how our attitudes ought to be displayed with those who persecute and reject us. But, then again, He taught the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5, 67) and in how He lived (John 8: 10-11) and died (Luke 23: 34). Oddly we would convict and excommunicate the adulterer, but our Lord would not. Nor does He who holds the greatest claim to condemn the Jews condemn them. Instead He says we ought to have gratitude for their pains, labors and diligence.
 
What does our ingratitude merit us? It merits us judgment. For the same judgment we apply to them will in turn be applied to us. We will see it used as the basis for His rejection of us:  “I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.”
 
Being a religious people is fine; but being a self-righteous people has always been perilous.  It is no different today. We should use the scriptures to inform our inner life. It is meant for internal use only. External application is likely to cause burning.

2 Nephi 29: 3

 
“And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.”
 
This is one of the great missionary scriptures.  It is used to show the Book of Mormon already anticipated an argument against it, and as a result shows there is no reason to reject the Book of Mormon because there is already an existing, recognized volume of scripture.
 
The gentiles are prone to prefer the Bible to the Book of Mormon. We emphasized the Book of Mormon for a few years, but found that other faiths were critical because we were not using the Bible as we should. So there has been a conscious effort to re-emphasize the Bible and de-emphasize the Book of Mormon. This has been done to broaden our appeal to members of other faiths.
 
The gravamen of the argument is in the words: “there cannot be any more Bible.” The idea there are other words of God, requiring equal respect to the words in the Bible, is a shocking heresy for many of the gentiles.  Remember that first phrase in the first verse: “Behold there shall be many” who are going to say this. The “many” are the gentiles, and their criticism will be Bible-based.
 
So, how are we doing with this idea? Do we prefer the Biblical teachings to those of the Book of Mormon? Do we spend more time with the Bible than the Book of Mormon in our own individual study? If we had to choose one as the “standard for our people” which one would we choose? The Book of Mormon (as verse 2 suggests) or the Bible (as verse 3 suggests)?  The Lord’s standard is the Book of Mormon. The gentile standard will be the Bible. Once again we are at odds with Historic Christianity.
 
This is not to say we disrespect the Bible. We don’t. We accept it as scripture. It is an admittedly valuable standard work, to be used in study and receiving knowledge of the things of God. Indeed, among other things the Book of Mormon testifies of the truth of the Bible.  Therefore the Bible is certainly accepted as a work of importance and value to us in matters of faith. But only one can assume primacy. The primary one for us is the Book of Mormon.
 
We may be justified in our attachment to and affection for the Bible. But the Book of Mormon must be preeminent. Our respect and affection for the Doctrine and Covenants, Temple and church organization is also well placed and should inform our understanding and behavior. But the Book of Mormon was intended to be the primary means for the Lord to impart understanding to us.
 
Much has has been written and said about this volume of scripture, but we are only now beginning to understand what we are looking at.

In Eighteen Verses I have shown how little we have done so far with this book of scripture. I have never attempted to be exhaustive in any discussion about the book. In a decade of teaching weekly about the book, where I only went from 1 Nephi 1: 1 to Jarom 1: 4, the discussion was not exhaustive.
 
This book was a gift to us. We ought not think the Bible has more to offer than what we find in “the most correct book” because a “man can get closer to God by abiding the precepts [of the Book of Mormon] than any other book,” just as Joseph Smith said.
 
The primary text of scripture I have used in The Second ComforterNephi’s Isaiah and Eighteen Verses has been the Book of Mormon. The primary text used in this blog is the Book of Mormon.
 
Until we understand that book, I fail to see why we think we should have more. There is more in that book than we’ve noticed. The first step ought be to notice what we have. Then things will be added. However, until we have taken the Book of Mormon seriously, I fail to see why the most important message for us –found within that book– should not be the first thing to be understood.

2 Nephi 29: 1-2



The quote of the Lord continues into 2 Nephi 29: 1-2:

“But behold, there shall be many—at that day when I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel;  And also, that I may remember the promises which I have made unto thee, Nephi, and also unto thy father, that I would remember your seed; and that the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed; and my words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel;”
The thought, “there shall be many” will be concluded in verse 3, and will be discussed there.

The day of the Lord’s “marvelous work” will be when He “remembers [His] covenants” made previously to “the children of men.” Those covenants to “the children of men” are all inclusive. This will include promises made to all mankind, without regard to their status as Israel, gentile, heathen, or even if they are living or dead as the work begins. It is the Lord’s covenants made in the pre-earth councils, and is for all mankind.

As fulfillment of these complete covenants, the Lord will “set [His] hand again the second time to recover my people.” Now the focus moves from “the children of men” to a sub-set of those He calls “my people.” His people are, by definition, necessarily affiliated with “the house of Israel” through covenant. These would include those called the “remnant” as well as those believing “gentiles” who accept the covenant and return through repentance to Christ.

Why do we see layers of covenants or promises referred to here? Why the covenants made “unto the children of men?”  Why then further “the house of Israel?” Why further “promises made unto Nephi?” Why still further “thy father” [meaning Lehi]? Why a work which will affect all these groups? And, finally, why does all of the foregoing return to “remembering Nephi’s seed?” What role does Nephi’s seed, or remnant fulfill in the promises made to all mankind?

Why does the Lord make a covenant with all humanity, but then reiterate the covenant with Abraham? Why do the covenants get repeated through Isaac and Jacob, the last of whom supplies the name of the covenant people “Israel?”  Why, after all those covenant recipients do the covenants get renewed with Lehi? Why immediately following Nephi do the covenants get renewed yet again in Nephi? Why does the Lord engage in this covenant making process to tie together the events of history and the lives of men? Can He still do this today? Does He still expect or want to enter into covenants with men today to further His purposes? Do those covenants necessarily get confined to an institution or priestly process rather than through Him, directly? Why not?

When we get to Nephi’s descendants, why are they the ones who are to provide “a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel?” What does this say about the significance of the Book of Mormon? Why is it the “standard unto the Lord’s people?” What does that do to clarify the condemnation resting upon the church under D&C 84: 57? How important is “the standard” established by the Lord? Why would Joseph Smith say the “fullness of the gospel” is contained in the Book of Mormon?

Why does the title page of the Book of Mormon, which was part of the translated record, contain this description:  “Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.”

What does it mean that these words shall “hiss forth to the ends of the earth?”
Did you notice the Lord taking personal credit for the words of the Book of Mormon? What does the phrase “the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed; and my words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth?” How does the Lord taking personal credit for these words affect the Book of Mormon’s significance?