Saturday, March 10, 2012

Oh, We Like Sheep! (1 Nephi 22)

In the previous chapter (1 Ne 21), Nephi quoted Isaiah about the scattering and gathering of Israel.  In this chapter (1 Ne 22), Nephi explains to his brothers what Isaiah was talking about.  The first thing I always notice about this chapter is something I really like.  Here, give a listen to verse 1...

1 Nephi 22: 1
1.  And now it came to pass that after I , Nephi, had read these things which were engraven upon the plates of brass, my brethren came unto me and said unto me: What meaneth these things which ye have read?  Behold, are they to be understood according to things which are spiritual, which shall come to pass according to the spirit and not the flesh?
This verse tells a story in my mind:  Nephi has just read scriptures to his brothers.  His brothers go off to themselves and actually discuss it, and discuss it sincerely.  They don't quite get Isaiah, so they come back to Nephi and, not try to kill him (surprise surprise), but seek knowledge about these important writings of Isaiah.  And the way they ask, they nearly bear their testimony of the truthfulness of Isaiah, and their belief that Nephi does have a spiritual understanding that they don't have.  It's just nice to see this side of Laman and Lemuel, actually making an effort.

A Mighty Nation Among the Gentiles

Nephi explains that Isaiah's prophecies are to be understood both spiritually and temporally.  He tells them (us) that all things are revealed to the prophets through the voice of The Spirit.  The scattering of Israel will be both of the heart (apostasy, and a rejection of Christ) and of the foot (literally led away and lost).  Nephi reminds his brothers that they themselves were led away, and nobody knows where they are.  

1 Nephi 22: 6-8
6.  Nevertheless, after they shall be nursed by the Gentiles, and The Lord has lifted up his hand upon the Gentiles and set them up for a standard, and their children have been carried in their arms, and their daughters have been carried upon their shoulders, behold these things of which are spoken are temporal; for thus are the covenants of The Lord with our fathers; and it meaneth us in the days to come, and also all our brethren who are of the house of Israel.

7.  And it meaneth that the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that The Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered.

8.  And after our seed is scattered The Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wherefore, it is likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders.

The United States of America won independence from England and the other European nations that had planted their flags here.  America became a nation of religious freedom, and thus the place for the restoration of The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is the marvelous work among the Gentiles that Nephi spoke of, and the starting point for the gathering in of the house of Israel, in which Israel will be brought into the gospel by the Gentiles.  We know that Joseph Smith was a descendant of Ephraim, the son of Joseph who was sold into Egypt.  This makes Joseph Smith a part of the house of Israel, not a Gentile, so how does this prophecy work?  I looked it up in the Bible Dictionary on

Gentile. The word gentiles means the nations, and eventually came to be used to mean all those not of the house of Israel. It is first used in Genesis with reference to the descendants of Japheth (Gen. 10:2–5). As used throughout the scriptures it has a dual meaning, sometimes to designate peoples of non-Israelite lineage, and other times to designate nations that are without the gospel, even though there may be some Israelite blood therein. This latter usage is especially characteristic of the word as used in the Book of Mormon.
So, Joseph Smith is not a Gentile according to the definition: Not of the house of Israel, but is a Gentile because he is part of a Gentile nation.

The miracle of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that which will gather Israel, both spiritually and temporally.  The Gentiles, or non-Gentiles from the Gentile nations, will take the gospel to the world.  And BONUS!  The Gentiles are brought in to Christ's Kingdom as well.

1 Nephi 22: 9, 12
9.  And it shall also be of worth unto the Gentiles; and not only unto the Gentiles but unto all the house of Israel, unto the making known of the covenants of the Father of heaven unto Abraham, saying:  In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

12.  Wherefore, he will bring them again out of captivity, and they shall be gathered together to the lands of their inheritance; and they shall be brought out of obscurity and out of darkness; and they shall know that The Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.

  • Temporally:  Gathered together to the lands of their inheritance (Literal Gathering)
  • Spiritually:  They shall know that The Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.

One Fold, One Shepherd

1 Nephi 22: 24-26
24.  And the time cometh speedily that the righteous must be led up as calves of the stall, and The Holy One of Israel must reign in dominion, and might, and power, and great glory.

25.  And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth His sheep, and they know Him; and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd; and He shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture.

26.  And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and The Holy One of Israel reigneth.  
I like this:  He shall feed his sheep, and in Him they shall find pasture.  It reminds me of Handel's Messiah.  In song 17 on the 1st CD, in the song "He Shall Gather His Sheep," the soloist sings,

"He shall feed His flock like a sheeeeeepherd.  And he shall gaaaaather the laaambs with His aaarms, wiiiiiith His arms.  And caaaaarry them in His boooosem; And geeeently lead those that are with young."
And here's a parallel for you.  When I first bought my Messiah CD I could hardly understand a word of it.  After listening to it quite a bit, it started to become more clear.  After I understood it, it was so clear that, when others would say they couldn't understand the words, it seemed odd to me.  I played this for my Gospel Doctrine class one day, asking them all to tell me the words that were being sung.  A few knew the songs by heart, but most couldn't even tell if they were in English.  I did this as a visual (or audual) of coming to understand Isaiah better through practice and repetition.  And now days, the internet doesn't hurt neither.

Now when I read Isaiah and other parts of the Old and New Testaments where Handel took his text, sometimes my scriptures sing to me.  This is an awesome sensation, very tender.

A word about George Frederic Handel.  The greatest composers in history thought very highly of  Handel.  J.S. Bach is reputed to have said, "Handel is the only person I would wish to see before I die, and the only person I would wish to be, were I not Bach." Mozart is reputed to have said of him, "Handel understands effect better than any of us. When he chooses, he strikes like a thunder bolt" and to L.V. Beethoven he was "the master of us all...the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb."  Cool, huh?  These giants of long hair music wrote some of the greatest tributes to The Savior in the history of music (Handel's Messiah, Bach’s Magnificat, Johannes Passion or Mass in b-minor, Mozart’s Great Mass, Beethoven’s Christ am Ölberge).  I like to think that the respect of these fellas for Handel comes from their trying hard to express their own testimonies of Jesus Christ through music, but paling in comparison with Handel's masterpiece.  It's just a thought. 

I'm going to end here.  There's much that I skipped and/or glossed over in this chapter.  There's just too much, and I'm going about this project (of blogging the entire BOM) way too slowly to write every thought.  I recommend you read them and write your own thoughts down.

I'll share a quick story first

A friend of mine traveled to Israel on an LDS church tour.  He told me of an experience where the bus that he was traveling on ran over one of the sheep of a local shepherd.  The driver got off the bus and talked to the shepherd while the group remained inside of the bus.  They could hear the two talking, but couldn't understand the language.  There was an interpreter in the bus, and he told them what was going on.  He said that they were settling on a price for the sheep that was killed.  In the tradition of the culture, the driver had to pay 4 times the value of the sheep.  You would think that this would please the shepherd, since he made quite a profit.  Instead, after receiving the money from the driver, the shepherd picked up the dead sheep, and with tears in his eyes said a word in his foreign language to the sheep.  My friends' group were curious what the shepherd had said to the dead sheep in his arms.

The interpreter said, "That is the name of his sheep."

May the Lord Jesus Christ gather you and hold you in his arms, and may you find Pasture in His care.

Peace be with you...

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