Day 11: In the shadow of His hand

2 Nephi 8:12-13

Several weeks ago I gave a talk in sacrament meeting in which I told the congregation that my default emotions are fear and anxiety. Ever since I was young I have worried (to an almost debilitating degree) about what people think of me. I fear their judgment, treatment, potential insults, attitude; and then I fear repeated contact. Serving a mission helped me overcome some of this fear but I have found recently that much of my social and interpersonal fears still prevent me from sharing the Gospel the way I should. Fear is a problem for me. This is probably one of my crosses to bear in mortality but many of us wrestle with fear, whatever form it takes on an individual level.

Which is why I find Jacob’s quotation from Isaiah so poignant! The Lord questions, “who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of man, who shall die” (v. 12)? I perked up when I read this. Isn’t God always reminding us in the scriptures that man is nothing (see Moses 1:10)? Why should I fear man who will die considering that God is eternal? And He further reminds us that “the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth, He is “the Lord thy God, whose waves roared” (v. 13, 15). God is all powerful, He created the Earth and all humankind. He is the only being in the universe we should fear. But this fear that He asks of us is respect and obedience. Even though He could reach out and destroy anything He wanted, instead God has “covered thee in the shadow of [His] hand” (v. 16). God wants to protect, preserve, and bless us. He is merciful and kind. Like the Psalmist, we can say with absolute confidence, “The Lord is on my side” (Psalm 118:6).

 

Day 9: Vows and Promises

1 Nephi 21

It’s no wonder Nephi loved these chapters from Isaiah. 1 Nephi 21/Isaiah 49 is chock full of the goodness of God. He is strong (v. 5); He is faithful (v. 7); He hears us, helps us, and preserves us (v. 8); He is merciful and will lead us to sustenance (v. 10); He comforts us (v. 13); He will not forget us (v. 15); He has graven us on the palms of His hands (v. 16); He will make us victorious over our enemies (v. 17). These tremendous promises by God to do all these things for us, His children, are confirmed in verse 18. God uses the phrasing of a vow or oath to formalize these promised blessings, “as I live, saith the Lord.” Because God is eternal, to swear by His life is like the ultimate promise. And He always keeps His promises.

This makes me want to do a better job keeping my word and teach my children how to keep promises. I’m going to review Sister Joy D. Jones’s talk “A Sin-Resistant Generation” from April 2017 General Conference.

Day 3: Redeemer of the World

1 Nephi 10:17-19

While reading 1 Nephi 10:17-19 I was struck for the first time by how Nephi clarifies that the God He worships and to whom he makes reference in his writings IS the pre-mortal Jesus Christ. Prior to these verses he has used the titles “Lord” and “God” but in verse 17 he describes how he and his father have accessed and received power from God, specifically to have visions and speak as prophets. Nephi writes that this power is granted “by faith on the Son of God––and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come.” So the essential ingredient to their callings as prophets is faith on a divinity who is the Son of God, the Messiah to come.

Nephi then further describes the “power,” that it is the “power of the Holy Ghost.” This power is a “gift of God.” Note the use of “God” here and how Nephi continues to identify who this God is: the power of the Holy Ghost is a gift offered to mankind from the beginning of time through to the future when God will “manifest himself unto the children of men.” Nephi has already told the reader that the Son of God, the Messiah, will come to earth so I can only conclude that he is tying all our concepts of deity together. The Son of God and Messiah are also God.

Then in verse 18 Nephi Nephi further illuminates God’s character using the pronoun “he” to tie the description into the God of verse 17. God “is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” All people are invited to follow “the way” by repenting and coming unto him––God, Son of God, Messiah.

Finally, Nephi ties up the remaining loose end of God’s identity: Lord. Nephi has also used this title in the previous chapters to identify deity but here he seems to deliberately tie the title into our fuller conception of God. He does this by invoking the language of the previous two verses using the phrases “power of the Holy Ghost” and “as well in times of old as in times to come” which draw together “Son of God,” “Messiah,” and “God.” The closing phrase has a beautiful double significance: “the course of the Lord is one eternal round” both attaches the title “Lord” to the one deity Nephi has been describing AND definitively concludes that the God he worships is an eternal being with power, knowledge, foresight, and a plan.

Jesus Christ is the God of this world.

Day 1: God and His Prophets

1 Nephi 1:8-9, 14, 19

I love these initial chapters of the Book of Mormon where we first learn about Lehi’s family and his calling as a prophet. Highlighting all mentions of God and Lord as suggested by President Nelson helped me identify the ways in which God reveals Himself and what He is like. Lehi identifies the “luster” of God’s appearance (v. 9) as well as His magnificence (see v. 8). I love that the attributes “power, and goodness, and mercy” are singled out in verse 14. God’s core characteristics, His unchanging perfection, are captured here: He is all-powerful, perfectly good, and merciful.

Lehi’s calling as a prophet couldn’t be more plainly identified than in verse 19. Lehi calls the people to repentance, prophesies of Jesus Christ, and testifies of “the redemption of the world.”