Friday, November 5, 2010

1 Nephi 21 (Isaiah 49) The Lord can gather Israel with both hands tied behind His back

In this chapter, Nephi quotes Isaiah to show the many methods Lord plans to use to gather His scattered people. So, how many different ways are mentioned that does the Lord plan to gather His people? A bunch. And some of them are quite creative. They look hard to us, but they are no problem for the Lord because of His great power. Nephi quotes this chapter so that his people (and us) can have hope and trust the Lord.

…saith the Lord—that formed me from the womb that I should be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him… (v5) The Lord raises up prophets to gather Israel. This phrasing also applies to Jesus Christ.

thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob (v6) Raising righteous families gathers Israel.

I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth. (v6) Being a good example helps to gather Israel.

Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, O isles of the sea, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee (v8) The Lord answers the prayers of those who are seeking the true church.

I will preserve thee, and give thee my servant for a covenant of the people…to cause to inherit the desolate heritages (v8) The Lord gathers the people to empty lands to save them, as when the Saints moved west.

That thou mayest say to the prisoners: Go forth; to them that sit in darkness: Show yourselves. (v9) The Lord also involves the spirits of the dead in the gathering, as Joseph F. Smith saw in his vision of how the preaching of the gospel was organized among spirits. (see D&C 138)

And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. (v11) The Lord gathers the people using the temples. He gathers them to build temples, He gathers families in the eternities through temple work, and all the dead who accept the gospel are gathered into the house of Israel through temple work. Temples are truly the highway to exaltation and gathering.

these shall come from far; and lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. (v12) The Lord will gather people from all nations through missionary work.

But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me—but he will show that he hath not. (v14) The Lord will gather the depressed and alone. He will also do miracles to show He has not forsaken or forgotten His people.

Thy children shall make haste against thy destroyers; and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee. (v17) There are several ways of looking at this verse. Firstly, it is a chiasmus.

Thy children
Shall make haste
Against thy destroyers
And they that made thee waste
Shall go forth
Of thee.

The chiasmus gives me the impression that the Lord will gather people to Israel who had previously fought against it through ignorance. Children of Israel will make haste to set these people straight, and then they will be converted and “go forth of thee,” or be counted among the house of Israel.

Oddly enough, it could also be interpreted to testify of church discipline, how those who are destroying the church from the inside will be corrected or otherwise “go forth of thee”, meaning they are removed from the church. (Casting the wolves out of the fold helps gather Israel.)

as I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on even as a bride (v18) This imagery expresses how the Lord gathers His people to Zion gradually in waves, like clothing and jewelry is put on. Each wave of gathering adds glory and beauty to Zion. Each wave will add excitement and anticipation for the second coming of the Lord, just like a bride gets more and more excited for her wedding as she dresses in her wedding dress.

For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants;…The children whom thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the first, shall again in thine ears say: The place is too strait for me; give place to me that I may dwell. (v19-20) The Lord gathers so many people that it puts a strain on the land, bursting at the seams, so they have to create new colonies and split wards and split stakes.

Then shalt thou say in thine heart: Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate (v21) The Lord gathers children to Israel through adoptive services.

Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles…and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. (v22) The Lord involves the Gentiles in the work of gathering Israel. (Amazing!)

I will…set up my standard to the people (v22) The Lord uses the standards and the commandments to gather Israel.

And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers (v23) The Lord uses royalty to help gather Israel. Rulers change their laws and policies to permit the church to proselyte and meet in their country. Also, since every endowed member is a prospective king or queen, they are involved in the work of gathering Israel by feeding nourishing doctrine to new members and investigators.

thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me (v23) Everyone who is gathered to the house of Israel will have a testimony and will not be ashamed for having waited for the truth so long.

But thus saith the Lord, even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. (v25) Even the oppressed and captive peoples in the world will be delivered so that they can be gathered.

and all flesh shall know that I, the Lord, am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. (v26) Everyone will know this because everyone will have heard our testimony of it by the time the gathering is over.

This chapter is meant to show us how many different ways the Lord has of gathering His scattered people. Through this chapter we see that to the Lord, gathering Israel really is a “light” (easy) thing. It’s as if He says to us, “Look! It’s so easy I can do it with my eyes closed and both hands tied behind my back! I can even gather Israel using people who wouldn’t ever dream of gathering Israel!” This helps us have greater faith and trust in the Lord and to see His hand in our lives and in various world events. Most of all, it gives us encouragement to share the gospel with people.

But that’s not all this chapter does. My next post will examine how this chapter testifies extensively of the great work of redemption for the dead in the temple.