Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ways We Avoid Reality, 2 Nephi 27:3-5

3 And all the nations that fight against Zion, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision; yea, it shall be unto them, even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh but he awaketh and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.
4 For behold, all ye that doeth iniquity, stay yourselves and wonder, for ye shall cry out, and cry; yea, ye shall be drunken but not with wine, ye shall stagger but not with strong drink.
5 For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity. (2 Nephi 27:3-5)
An essay in the PDF“Reading Nephi Reading Isaiah” asserted that there are four types of Gentiles here – those that dream, those that are drunken, those that sleep, and those that are blind – and that they represent groups who are determined to avoid reality and avoid truth.  I found this illuminating, so I want dig a little deeper to what can be learned from this.

The first group are the dreams who are hungry and thirsty, perhaps for meaning and satisfaction in their lives.  They pursue their dreams and they eat and drink, but it doesn’t give them the lasting satisfaction they hoped for.  These can be likened to those who think they can find meaning and satisfaction without God, without keeping the commandments, and without following the plan of salvation.

The second group are those who are drunken.  Verse 1 in the same chapter clarifies this this inebriation as being “drunken with iniquity and all manner of abomination.”  People drink for pleasure and to escape.  These gentiles want to avoid reality by indulging in the pleasures of the flesh.  The trouble is, wickedness never was happiness, so at some point they will come out of it with a spiritual hangover of depression in which they “cry out and cry” and “wonder” why they are so miserable.

The third group are those who are asleep, who are lulled away into carnal security, who say all is well in Zion and that Zion prospers (2 Nephi 28:21), who are at ease in Zion (2 Nephi 28:24) whether they in this church or in some other church they think is Zion.  These people cheat themselves out of their divine potential; they don’t see that things could get any better, so they don’t try to be better.  They don’t see their sins and faults, so they neglect to repent and they fail to humble themselves for the grace of God to make their weaknesses stronger.  They avoid the reality that even the sanctified must watch and pray always lest they be tempted by the devil.

The fourth group are those who closed their eyes, blinding themselves, rejecting the words of the prophets and seers because of iniquity.  They have made iniquity so much a part of their identity that they can’t imagine life any other way.  Following the prophets’ words would destroy much that they value about their way of life and so these people prefer to ignore the prophets.  They close their eyes to the possibility of repentance and change of heart and of living a better life.

I think these things were written for us to realize that there are consequences if we discover ourselves among these groups and persist in staying there.  If we’re hungry, we can feast on the words of Christ.  If we want an escape, we need the rest of the Lord.  If we’re asleep, we need to awaken to God.  If we’re blinded, we need to open our eyes of faith.