Day 8: Happiness, Peace, Eternal Life

1 Nephi 20:17-19, 21-22

I love when Nephi recounts the miracles God performed for the children of Israel in the past and for Nephi’s family in the present. They were an essential reminder of several things, including evidence of God’s existence, proof of God’s goodness, and of how God always fulfills His promises to His covenant people. In chapter 20, Nephi records the words of Isaiah which follow this pattern.

As I read the concluding verses of 1 Nephi 20, a sort of parallel construction struck me. First, Isaiah testifies of the existence of the “Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” and some of His roles such as teacher and leader (v. 17). Then the Lord provides information about potential blessings that could have been available if the audience had been covenant keepers: peace and strength in righteousness, numberless posterity (v. 18-19). The turning point comes in verse 20 where “The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob” provides a sort of hinge. Verse 21 provides the evidence that the Lord has the power to fulfill the promises of verses 18-19: He led the children of Israel “through the deserts” and kept them alive in miraculous ways, like providing water from rocks. This miracle and others demonstrate God’s power and reliability. He always fulfills His promises, therefore we can believe His promises of peace and eternal life.

This setup is why verse 22 struck me so forcefully this time: “And notwithstanding he hath done all this, and greater also, there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” There is an irreducible truth to be gleaned here. Not even God, who has all power, goodness, truth, mercy, and knowledge can grant peace to the wicked. It is an eternal truth that happiness, peace, and eternal life can ONLY be granted on the conditions of repentance and obedience. ONLY covenant, commandment-keeping, righteous people fulfill the qualifications for these blessings. “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). God wants us to achieve lasting happiness, peace, and eternal life so He has instructed His prophets from the beginning of time to teach this eternal truth: happiness, peace, and eternal life ONLY result from keeping the commandments, making and keeping covenants with God, repenting, exercising faith in Jesus Christ, and following God.

 

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.