Day 28: Seeing Eye to Eye, Part II

Mosiah 16:1

This idea of seeing eye to eye has intrigued me for years. What I have deduced from continued study and pondering is that seeing eye to eye means that a certain level of understanding has been achieved and everyone involved operates on the same level or plane of understanding. Abinadi is definitely focused on a specific set of knowledge that all people on earth will gain in this moment; namely that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and Savior and Redeemer of the world.

Abinadi’s prophecy, like other similar prophecies, has always given me hope on a personal level, however. Where interpersonal conflicts and disagreements are concerned, I usually think about this prophecy and wonder if it could also mean that people who have wronged me will recognize their error and we will resolve our differences. Or that people who have argued together over an issue will realize and embrace the truth; it’s not about who’s right, it’s about everyone recognizing the truth at the heart of the matter. Or that multiple people party to an ambiguous situation will finally all understand the truth of it.

Whether this will happen or not, the fact of the prophecy that all people will come to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is a really big deal to me. Multiple prophets have repeated this prophecy. Its boldness underscores its truth in my mind. The prophets already knew the truth and they tried to help the people of their day gain that testimony as well. But regardless of who chooses to believe now, at a given time EVERYONE will know.

Day 16: For what shall you be known?

2 Nephi 22:5

Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things; this is known in all the earth.

The invitation to sing out and tell the entire Earth about the Savior causes me to reflect on my own deeds. Have I done “excellent things” while here on Earth? If you asked my kids, husband, extended family, and friends to summarize my life, what would they report? I know some days my children would probably tell anyone who asked that I yelled too much or I was a mean mommy.

In my quest to be more like the Savior, I not only want to celebrate the excellent things He has done, but I also want to do excellent things that point others toward Him. The most “excellent thing” He has done is provide for humankind the Resurrection and the opportunity to gain eternal life—collectively summarized in this chapter as “salvation.” The most excellent thing I can do is raise my children to follow Jesus Christ, lift my neighbors, and bring others to Christ so that they, too, can qualify for salvation.

Day 10: Spiritual Strength

2 Nephi 4:17, 27, 30-35

The other day I had a moment of Nephi-like anguish for my mortal-ness. In 2 Nephi 4:17 Nephi exclaims, “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.” Have you ever felt the duality of your existence in this way? We are each of us parts divine and mortal, an eternal spirit in a mortal body. While our mortal bodies are essential to learning, growth, and preparation for eternal life, sometimes I wish it didn’t have to be this way. Sometimes my spirit desires righteousness and goodness beyond what my mortal half is capable of doing, thinking, or being.

I can’t imagine that Nephi was guilty of any really serious iniquities but I do understand that any thought, deed, or behavior in any way remotely contrary to God’s standard would cause discomfort for a sensitive spirit that had been cultivated in obedience, prophecy, visions from God, angelic ministrations, and righteous deeds. Mortal-ness is a powerful component of each individual. When we spend time engaged in mortal and worldly things, we feed this part of ourselves, making it even stronger. The reverse is true, however, that when we spend time engaged in spiritual activities and pursuits, we feed our spirits and make them stronger. Prayer, scripture study, family home evening, ministering, attending church, teaching the Gospel, worshipping in the temple, bearing testimony, and keeping the commandments all cultivate our spirits and strengthen them. Continuing to strengthen our spirits over our lifetimes is critical to developing the spiritual sensitivity Nephi demonstrates, as well as the strength of spiritual desire necessary to choose righteousness over every other option.

But as Nephi reminds us in verses 30-35, we don’t have to labor against mortal weaknesses alone. The Lord is there waiting to help us. Having experienced this same duality of immortal spirit subject to fleshy mortality, He understands our challenges and knows how to help. Like Nephi, we can put our trust in the Lord as He “makes our paths straight,” “clears the way before us,” “delivers us out of the hands of our enemies,” helps us to lose our taste for sin, encircles us “in the robe of [His] righteousness,” and “redeems our souls.”

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.