Jews will be scattered among all nations until they begin to begin in Christ, the Lord will set his hand again the second time to restore his people, we are saved by grace after all we can do, churches that preach their own wisdom and learning, and a God that invites all men to partake of his goodness and none are forbidden.
1 Nephi 17:22
1 Samuel 15:22
2 Nephi 10:24
2 Nephi 2:8
1 Nephi 14:1-2
Helaman 6:22, 30
3 Nephi 18:24
Follow the Prophet – April 2014 Ensign
I really like the stumbling block from Alma, as I see that as one of the biggest problems, yet solutions that God will use just as He did in Alma’s day.
“the wickedness of the church was a great stumbling-block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in its progress.
11 And it came to pass in the commencement of the ninth year, Alma saw the wickedness of the church, and he saw also that the example of the church began to lead those who were unbelievers on from one piece of iniquity to another, thus bringing on the destruction of the people.
12 Yea, he saw great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising others, turning their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who were hungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted.”
Just in my own family half my cousins and several aunts and uncles have stopped going to church. My dad and one of my brothers are no longer members at all. Some due to personal choices, but most, like my brother left the church because they couldn’t stand the hypocrisy of the institution and what it was teaching anymore. I also teach at a high school in Salt Lake County, and probably about 2/3 of my coworkers were raised Mormon, but most no longer go to church, or if they do they know it is full of crap, and teaching falsehoods, but are stuck going because of family members. Most of my students don’t believe in organized religion at all even ones from mormon households, because they see “the wickedness of the church, and … also … the example of the church”. This is I think a necessary first step to prepare for when the Lord sets His hand the second time to gather His people. Alma’s converts were among the poor and disaffected. The ones who had been driven out of the churches, or repulsed by their blatant corruption and bad example. Many of my students ask me how supposed Christians can vote for politicians whose ethics are antithetical to those of Christ. And I agree with them. It sets a bad example. Youth aren’t stupid. They see hypocrisy and injustice, and they realize that the babylonian system the USA runs is corrupt. So, I have hope that many of them will embrace the fullness and escape to Zion in joy when it comes.
In reference to your question about which prophets might have identified the time of the coming of Christ, prior to Nephi mentioning 600 years in the future, could those prophecies have looked something like this?
45 And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the Righteous be shed, that all they that mourn may be sanctified and have eternal life?
46 And the Lord said: It shall be in the meridian of time, in the days of wickedness and vengeance.
As I was listening to the podcast, I wondered whether or not Nephi got his number the same way we try to identify the start of the millennium, by counting the “days” of God’s work and then estimating the approximate time frame based on when we are alive.
Alma might have been doing some similar calculations when he told the people:
21 And now it came to pass that when Alma had said these words unto them, he stretched forth his hand unto them and cried with a mighty voice, saying: Now is the time to repent, for the day of salvation draweth nigh;
25 And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice.
(According to estimated dates in the Book of Mormon he was about 80 years early.)
Alma had the record of Nephi, so he could have possibly “done the math”, if he thought Nephi was giving a specific year, yet we find that even when told “5 years more” the people still mis-calculated the day of Christ’s birth, although everyone seemed to be aware of Samuel’s prophecy (and we know ancient civilizations were really good at calculating calendars from the stars and moon cycles).
That’s a solution I hadn’t considered, and it also answers why Alma didn’t know how soon even though Nephi had already given a time frame. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter, but I geek out on things like this.
That’s a good point about Alma not knowing as precisely as Nephi did. A few years ago I was looking into the Book of Mormon account of Christ’s birth. I had been taught that Jesus was born exactly on the day that the unbelievers had picked to put believers to death. I’m not sure if that’s just a misconception I had or if it is widespread in the church.
It had bothered me that these unbelievers had kind of forced God’s hand, in some way. That they had picked the date and then God delivered His people at the last moment. It turns out the Book of Mormon doesn’t actually say what I had thought or been taught.
3 Nephi 1:
9 Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet.
This is the verse where the unbelievers pick a deadline.
3 Nephi 1:
10 Now it came to pass that when Nephi, the son of Nephi, saw this wickedness of his people, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful.
11 And it came to pass that he went out and bowed himself down upon the earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people, yea, those who were about to be destroyed because of their faith in the tradition of their fathers.
12 And it came to pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord all that day; and behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying:
13 Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.
This is where Nephi prays and God reveals that He will be born that very night. But what does it say about when Nephi prayed to God? Does it say he waited until the wicked people’s deadline was at hand? Nope. It says when Nephi saw this wickedness. We don’t know how long it took for Nephi to learn about this wicked deadline, but it’s extraordinarily unlikely that he didn’t learn about it until the last minute.
All the Book of Mormon teaches us is that as soon as Nephi learned about the unbelievers setting a deadline, he prayed to God to deliver the righteous. That exact day that Nephi prayed is when Christ was born. How close it was to the deadline is not stated.
Verse 11 states that the righteous were “about to be destroyed”. I don’t see that as saying it was going to happen the next day. ‘About’ is not a precise term, it means “near to in time”. That could be one second away, one hour away, one day away, one week away, one month away. All of those, and many others, are valid examples of being near to in time.
So the real question is how long did the unbelievers set the date in advance? We don’t know. How long did it take for Nephi to learn about this wicked plan? We don’t know. How long did it take for Nephi to pray for his people to be delivered? He did it the same day he learned about the plan. How long did it take for the signs of Christ’s birth to come after Nephi prayed? That very night.
Finally, verse 16 gives us a big clue that the date was still some time away:
3 Nephi 1:16 And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; for the sign which had been given was already at hand.
The sign was already at hand. It had come before their deadline. That’s not the language I would use if it was a nick-of-time type event. It’s reads more to the point that the event came well before their deadline.
A couple more thoughts for this week’s reading…
If you want to see how clearly Isaiah can be understood when you know the context to apply, try reading Isaiah 29:1-5, then turn to 2 Nephi 26:15-19. You can see what Nephi meant when he said that Isaiah is clear to understand if you have the spirit of prophecy, which I assume to mean have seen the future, like he has. In which case, it would be like reading Isaiah as a history book of things that have already happened instead of trying to project words onto a future narrative.
The other comment I have relates to the discussion about the stumbling blocks of the Gentiles. I think they are primarily listed beginning in verse 20 of 2 Nephi 26, which I used as a cross reference to 1 Nephi 14:1. In my interpretation, these stumbling blocks are important to recognize because the removal of these things is a key indicator that the Lamb of God is being made manifest unto the Gentiles (not in physical form, but in word, and in power — by taking these stumbling blocks away). Nephi further emphasizes the stumbling blocks listed, beginning with verse 20 by reiterating them in greater detail in 2 Nephi chapter 28. I hadn’t noticed this repetition before, so thanks for the deep dive.
I hadn’t made the connection between Isiah 29 and 2 Nephi 26. Once you pointed that out, I did a little more research and found Ezekiel 4:1-3 which uses the same language (siege, fort, mount, camp) to describe the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem.