Sunday, September 18, 2011

The angel’s prophecy to Nephi of the coming events of the church in the latter days

Throughout the second half of 1 Nephi 13 and 1 Nephi 14, we get a bird’s eye view of the main events of the church in the world. I don’t know why I didn’t get this before, but just a few days ago I finally started to see it for what it was and understand it better.

1) The Lord brings forth much of the gospel in writing from Nephi’s seed (1 Nephi 13:34-35). Clearly this is the publication of the Book of Mormon.

2) Those who seek to bring forth Zion and publish peace are blessed (v37). Clearly this is the early days of the church, the attempt to build Zion in Missouri, and the declaration of the restored gospel. (I like to think that any of us who are sharing our testimonies and gospel principles in writing are “publishing peace,” and we still have part in this promise.)

3) Other books come by the power of God to convince that the Bible is true (v39). This could mean the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price at the very least, but I dare not limit it to just them.

4) The Lord manifests Himself in word, in power, and deed to take away stumbling blocks (1 Nephi 14:1-2). I’ve already discussed this in my post “How the Lord takes away our stumbling blocks.” He does this for people whether they are in or out of the church.

5) The marvelous work and the wonder is done by God to either convince men to peace and eternal life or to deliver them to hard-heartedness and captivity of the devil (v7). This, I believe, is missionary work, since the Book of Mormon has already come out at this point. Also see my post "What is the marvelous work and the wonder?"

6) There are two churches – the church of the Lamb of God, and the church of the devil, the mother of harlots . The church of the devil has great dominion in all nations, and the church of God has only small dominions, but it is also on all the face of the earth. (v10-12). I don’t think we’ve gotten to the point where the church is established legally in all countries with permission to proselyte, so I think this is where we are. I think our temples are a very small dominion of the Saints. I think places where the Saints set the standards are places our dominion. Where else do you think our dominions are?

7) The mother of harlots gathers multitudes in all nations to fight against the Lamb of God (v13). I think this is militant atheism, and we’re beginning to see some of it, but I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet. When it happens, we should not be surprised and dismayed, but remember that this was prophesied long beforehand, so God is still in control, even though ignorant mortals reject Him.

8) The power of God descends on the church and they are armed with righteousness and the power of God in great glory (v14). Obviously when atheism gets much more militant, we will need even more power from God than ever before. This also tells us the key to win our future battles—we need the righteousness that comes from obedience to the commandments, we need the Spirit, and we need power of the priesthood.

9) The wrath of God is poured out on the great and abominable church in the form of wars in all nations belonging to the mother of harlots (v15-16). This is an interesting natural consequence of fighting the truth. People who fight against the church ultimately can’t achieve unity and harmony among themselves either. They become captives of hostility and turn it on everyone who disagrees with them. The more violently they fight against the church, the more violent will be their fights among themselves. If they murder the saints, in about 30 years, they will murder each other.

10) The work of the Father commences to prepare the way to fulfill His covenants with the house of Israel (v17). This can be very puzzling at first. It can’t be the restoration of the gospel because that has already happened. The fascinating thing is that this commencement of preparation happens in the midst of all the wars in the world, and that is a testimony to the power of God that He can do such a thing.

But what are the covenants that are to be fulfilled at this stage? Is it the Abrahamic Covenant? [thy seed shall inherit this land, in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed, in thy priesthood shall the kindred’s of the earth be blessed] It seems like that is already being fulfilled. What remains to be done? Is it coming forth in the first resurrection?

I finally had to look up a footnote for “work” in the phrase “work of the Father” in that verse and it led me to 3 Nephi 21:20-29, which showed a close repeat of the above steps until it began talking about assisting the remnant of Jacob to build a city, the New Jerusalem, then to gather in the people to their lands of inheritance.
23 And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
24 And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.
25 And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.
26 And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem.
27 Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name.
28 Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance. (3 Nephi 21:23-28)
Aha! This covenant the Lord will fulfill will be the establishment of the actual city of Zion! (So I suppose in a certain sense, that is still part of the Abrahamic covenant about the promise of lands of inheritance.)

So here we have an idea of at what stage in general events Zion will be built. It seems like it is a long way off, doesn’t it? Well, guess what, we don’t know how soon these things will happen. We can’t just relax, we have to prepare for it. And we’ll need all the spiritual power and righteousness possible to get through the days of multitudes fighting against the Lamb of God, and fighting each other.

After this stage of building Zion, the prophecy of events is passed over to John in Revelation, so if we want further intelligence, we have to study what he wrote.

This sequence of events is presented in such plain and precious language that it can become a guide to us as we march ever closer to the Second Coming of Christ. I for one am grateful for it.


Curls said...

Thanks for breaking this down. I don't have as good an understanding of the second coming as I would like, and this post helped me understand some things a bit better.

Michaela Stephens said...

I don't have as good an understanding of the second coming as I would like either. I have often thought I may have to gather all the scriptures that seem to have anything to do with the second coming and study them and try to fit them together.