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Monday, March 30, 2009

1 Nephi Ch. 21

(Read it here)
Summary: Messiah shall be a light to the Gentiles and shall free the prisoners--Israel shall be gathered with power in the last days--Kings shall be their nursing fathers--compare Isaiah 49.

This is a good chapter. To be honest, it is significantly harder for me to really enjoy the Isaiah chapters as much as the other ones, and I think this is due to the fact that Isaiah uses a lot of symbolic description in his writing.

BUT, here's an interesting tidbit I learned. Bruce R. McConkie points out that Isaiah's writings in Nephi are in an even more perfect form than found in the bible because Nephi got them directly from the brass plates. Nephi actually quoted about a third of Isaiah's writings and paraphrased 3%.

Isn't that neat? It almost makes me wish that we could have an entire biblical record as copied directly by one of the Book of Mormon prophets.

This chapter deals a lot with the Restoration, the scattering and gathering of Israel, and the millennial era. I always wonder what it is about these chapters that compels Nephi to copy them down word for word. I think this time I discovered part of the answer.

We've just spent several chapters watching Nephi first learn that their descendants were going to fall away, then we saw how Nephi tried repeatedly to get Laman and Lemuel to have a change of heart and hearken to Lehi's teachings. We've seen Nephi's anguish over their unfaithfulness. He must have been feeling very discouraged at times.

BUT, this chapter, to me, is all about HOPE.

It talks about the Lord's mercy (vs. 10, 13), His Faithfulness to us (vs. 7), and that His compassion for us (vs. 15).

It talks about how even the "captives of the mighty" and the "prey of the terrible" shall be delivered (vs. 25).

It talks about how the places of desolation and waste will be too small to hold us (19).

It talks about how the Lord will raise a standard--will show us the way, and the children we have lost will be brought to Him (21-22).

In verse 9, it talks about how even those in spirit prison will have a chance for salvation.

This chapter, in essence, is all about how our earthly suffering will not last forever. The Lord is mindful of us, the way a nursing mother is mindful of her children. Isn't this a fantastic way of putting it? We all have had "suckling babies" (bottle fed, breast fed, all the same). Don't we all know what it is like to truly be mindful of our small children? And, that we are so mindful of them, we can't help but me moved to compassion for them? The Lord says "Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel" (vs. 15). We can stray, we can hurt our brothers and sisters, but the Lord will not forget us.

I love that. I think of the welling up of love I have for my small children--how they shape my thoughts, how they are always present in my mind somewhere, how their tears can move me, how I desperately want the best for them. In a much larger and infinitely more perfect way, this is how our Lord feels about us. It is a beautiful feeling.

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