2 Nephi 28: 32

“Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.” 

After all these warnings, the mention of Zion, the foolishness of following the “precepts of men” Nephi turns again to identifying the most relevant group being warned. It is “the gentiles” (or us). As he considers our collective effort and how we allow the “precepts of men” to be our guide, he states his overall conclusion about our performance: “Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts!”

This is the third wo. And it is accompanied by a three name title. This time incorporating the “Hosts” or Family of God. This is the Father’s judgment upon us. His status as the “Lord God of Hosts” is clearly intended to let us know those proud gentiles who rely upon  the sparks of their own fire as their light will lay down in sorrow. (Isa. 50: 11; 2 Ne. 7: 11.)

When the Lord’s open arm is extended all the day, they reject Him and walk away. They prefer their own false ideas to the truth found in Christ. In the end they have “denied the Lord” because all His efforts toward them have been rejected.
Still, despite all these failings, and all the wo’s pronounced upon them, it is NOT the Lord’s failure. It is the gentiles. Even now the Lord would welcome them “if they will repent and come to Him.” His arm is yet “lengthened out all the day long.” So long as life remains, He is pleading for our repentance. So long as we are here, He will welcome our repentance. And, so we do not miss the point, He also uses a three-name title when extending the plea to us for our repentance. He is speaking on behalf of, and as the chief among, all the “Hosts of heaven.”  The entire council would welcome us back, if we would but return.
Can you not sense the agony of this plea? Can you not feel the mercy God would grant to any penitent soul? Despite this, men prefer their arrogance, their own precepts, their own false teachings to being taught by the Holy Spirit. We refuse to repent because we prefer our false teachings. We prefer our traditions that build up our pride, and tell us we are going to be exalted because we are good and deserve God’s favor. We’ve put up with tithing, and with faithful meeting attendance, and followed faithfully all kinds of leaders in every ward and stake we’ve ever attended. We’ve passed temple recommend interviews and attended faithfully our tithing settlement meetings – in short we think we’ve done everything God could possibly ask of us. 
Except we have NOT repented and come to Christ. Had we done that, we would have been embraced in those opened arms of our Lord. In five points of contact with a loving God, we would have heard unspeakable things and know we escaped the wo’s pronounced by Nephi.
Nephi’s assessment of the gentile performance is consistently pessimistic. Coupled with Nephi’s description of a consistently open and accepting Lord who would welcome us at any time were we willing to repent.
Nephi’s message gets mangled in our distorted cultural rewriting of meanings. When someone points out what he’s saying, it produces anger and resentment. The result is not particularly encouraging for the gentiles. Not merely because of Nephi’s prophetic words, but also because of our reaction to them.

12 thoughts on “2 Nephi 28: 32

  1. Recently I have been reading about finding out, for yourself, what your mission in life is and how important it is to have confidence in what you are doing. Also how to encourage your children to figure this out early in life so they can be leaders. I feel that it is so important that Heavenly Father gave us our patriarchal blessings to help us further pin point this concept. If we were truly seeking what the Lord wants us to do in this life, wouldn’t it give us more motivation to come unto Him and to know Him? So many of us just do the mundane things that life requires. Go to school, get good grades, get a good job, make money. When are we going to wake up and realize how much MORE important it is to do the will of the Father and to help others look to Him as well?

    I struggle with this in my own life and have recently been woken up to this through repeated illness. The Lord asked me to write a book about having faith and He’s given me many ways to do so, but I have been so wrapped up in what I’m “supposed” to be doing and what the world has taught me about myself (lack of qualifications), that I’m missing the point of the mission the Lord wants for me.

    I believe “repenting and coming to Him” is part of listening to what mission the Lord wants you to accomplish in this life so that you will rely on Him and get to know Him as you work with Him. We all desire to have purpose, to help, to do. It’s up to us who we are going to do that with.

  2. How sad that such an offering is rejected. I like the image of an outstretched limb, reaching out to us. And that the Lord further “lengthens it”

    Do you think Nephi got discouraged sometimes by many of the pessimistic predictions?

    Thanks for this post. Prompted some good thought.

  3. Are you talking about the points of fellowship?

    Will you please expound upon this.


  4. Thank you Kibbie Family. Recently, I was talking about this very thing with someone close to me. The point was brought up that repentance isn’t what we think it is, but then the question became, “If it’s not step by step: recognize, feel remorse, say sorry, etc. then what is it?” HOW do I repent if I don’t even know what repentance is?

    We then discussed about letting go… of our assumptions as to what truth is, of our unbelief, of the mists of darkness and the natural man. Again, the conundrum was “How?”

    Not too long ago, my daughter came in after bedtime, saying that she had scary thoughts and couldn’t get to sleep. At first, we talked about getting rid of those thoughts. But she asked, “How can I get rid of them, they are just there.” Then the Spirit spoke to us. We realized the best way to get rid of the scary thoughts, was to replace them with happy thoughts (ie, animals, castles, princesses, etc.) After going over a few possibilities of what she could replace the scary thoughts with, she happily hopped back in bed and quickly fell asleep.

    In talking to my good friend about how to “let go,” we realized that it isn’t so much about that, but “holding on” to truth. This will mean that our minds and hearts have to be open to the possibilities of what truth is, even if it is seemingly threatening or unpleasant. But the thing is, we can’t hold onto truth and disbelief at the same time. It’s a one or the other proposition.


  5. Denver,

    What does repenting and coming to the Lord really mean? I’m so tired of hearing people say that – everyone from leaders to regular people – and yet no one really knows what it means, or what form it takes.

    Is repenting really just turning around – either our gaze, focus, direction – towards Christ? Is coming to Christ merely listening to His voice, when I can’t even tell if He is speaking to me?

    Intellectually is one thing, actual understanding something is another, and I don’t understand it.

  6. Another thought regarding repentance:

    Moroni 10:30-33
    And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing. And awake, and arise from the dust, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled. Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of ungodliness; and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.


  7. ” Anonymous said…
    Are you talking about the points of fellowship?”

    Denvers book, The Second Comforter, talks about these
    ‘5 points of contact with God’.

  8. The verse is a chiasm with the Lord God at the center

    1 Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts!
    2 For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day,
    3. they will deny me;
    4.nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them,
    5.5’saith the Lord God,
    4′-if they will repent
    3′-and come unto me;
    2′-for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long,
    1’saith the Lord God of Hosts.”

  9. thanks CS.
    I feel ignorant.
    I clearly need to read again as this reference blew past me.
    Will you give me a chapter reference?

  10. strategic,
    I’m not sure which chapter it is off the top of my head. I know it was when he was talking about the Savior coming to the Nephites, that it was described.
    I feel like I need to reread that book again also. There is so much to take in.

  11. The comments above reminded me of another example to illustrate.

    The repentance process seems much like the spiritual armor in the scriptures. First, we must PUT OFF the natural man. But that isn’t enough – we have to replace it with something, and PUT ON the armor of God.

    This is similar to repentance. We must PUT OFF the unbeliefs and replace them with truth. It isn’t enough to just recognize the problem or errors. We must fill the hole with something of God – truth and light.

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