Monday, June 19, 2017

All the ways of saving the righteous and destroying the wicked in 1 Nephi 22

In 1 Nephi 22, Nephi takes some time to give some very general reassurances about the latter-day struggle.

13 And the blood of that great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall turn upon their own heads; for they shall war among themselves, and the sword of their own hands shall fall upon their own heads, and they shall be drunken with their own blood.
14 And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. And all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it.
15 For behold, saith the prophet, the time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned.
16 For the time soon cometh that the fulness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.
17 Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire.
18 Behold, my brethren, I say unto you, that these things must shortly come; yea, even blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke must come; and it must needs be upon the face of this earth; and it cometh unto men according to the flesh if it so be that they will harden their hearts against the Holy One of Israel.
20 And the Lord will surely prepare a way for his people, unto the fulfilling of the words of Moses, which he spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.
21 And now I, Nephi, declare unto you, that this prophet of whom Moses spake was the Holy One of Israel; wherefore, he shall execute judgment in righteousness.
22 And the righteous need not fear, for they are those who shall not be confounded. But it is the kingdom of the devil, which shall be built up among the children of men, which kingdom is established among them which are in the flesh—
23 For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.
24 And the time cometh speedily that the righteous must be led up as calves of the stall, and the Holy One of Israel must reign in dominion, and might, and power, and great glory.
25 And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth his sheep, and they know him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture.
26 And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth. (1 Nephi 22:13-26)

This section has seemed rather ambiguous to me because it is hard to pin down exactly what is meant about how the righteous would be saved from the wicked and how the wicked would be destroyed. In some places it seems the righteous will be saved by power, other places they are saved by the destruction of their enemies by fire, other places they are saved as their enemies are cut off or as Christ executes righteous judgment.

Similarly, the wicked are destroyed or tumble to the dust in a great fall, or they fall into the pit they digged for the righteous, or they fight each other and destroy each other, or they suffer the fullness of God’s wrath, or they are cut off, or they are burned as stubble with fire, or suffer with blood and vapors of smoke, or they are brought low.

In the past I have automatically assumed this all happens at the coming of Christ. But now I’m not so sure if it all happens then. Some of the events seem mutually exclusive ways of being destroyed or saved. For instance, if the wicked kill the wicked, then their destruction isn’t at the Lord’s coming; it’s earlier. And while the wicked will be burned at Christ’s coming, that doesn’t stop the wicked from burning each other earlier.

Eventually I decided this is a case when Nephi lumped it all together. One or other of these different ways will be true at some time, so ti is sort of a multi-purpose prophecy. Its not linear like the Book of Revelation. It’s sort of like saying, “The righteous will be saved by option1/ option2/ option3 /option4 /option5 while their enemies will be destroyed by optionA /optionB /optionC /optionD /optionE.”

Of course I could be wrong.  What do you think?


Rozy Lass said...

Maybe the Lord will do things on a case by case basis in different locations rather than a general flood as in the days of Noah. I don't know. All I know is that God is in charge and he knows what he's doing.

Michaela Stephens said...

Yep, we really don't know, do we?