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1 Nephi 14
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1 Nephi 14
1 Nephi 14:1–2
1 And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks—
2 And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.
Nephi’s vision has been leading to this point. Nephi understood, even before this vision, that Lehi’s family would become a separated people from the main house of Israel. The vision is the picture of how that separation would be healed. It wouldn’t be a simple process, and would involve events on two different hemispheres. However, it would come together.
Nephi has seen that there would be two records, and has seen that the Gentiles would ultimately inherit both the land and the promise that is attached to it. After showing how the two records would join, with the New World record filling in plain and precious things lost from the Old World record, Nephi’s visions turn to the Gentiles themselves.
The definition of a Gentile is that he or she is not an Israelite, not part of the covenant people. There is no complete unification until the house of Israel is unified. This comes when the Gentiles “shall hearken unto the Lamb of God.” When that happens, the Gentiles “shall be numbered among the house of Israel.
Isaiah had promised a gathering of scattered Israel. Nephi’s vision not only sees Lehi’s seed as scattered Israel, but Israel itself as partially lost. The Gentiles will inherit the Gospel through the Old World book, and both the New World Israel and the Gentiles as newly Israel will be gathered into the House of Israel.
1 Nephi 14:3–6
3 And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end.
4 For behold, this is according to the captivity of the devil, and also according to the justice of God, upon all those who will work wickedness and abomination before him.
5 And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, Nephi, saying: Thou hast beheld that if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them; and thou also knowest concerning the covenants of the Lord unto the house of Israel; and thou also hast heard that whoso repenteth not must perish.
6 Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God.
After the unification of the House of Israel, including the adoption of the Gentiles who are “no more confounded” (as Nephi recorded in verse 2), the great and abominable church itself—the cause of confounding the Gentiles—will be brought down.
The great pit is that gulf that Nephi saw between the world and the narrow path. It will be filled in. The image of the gulf symbolized the difficulty of those who entered the spacious building from returning to the narrow path. With that gulf filled in, there will be no great obstacle to repentance.
This is the reason that verses 5 and 6 speak of the Gentiles repenting. In some ways, the Gentiles had been representatives of the great and spacious building, but they can, and must leave it. They must cross the gulf. They must walk the narrow path, else they must perish. The great and abominable church has not been destroyed at this point in the vision, and it remains a possible destination.
1 Nephi 14:7–8
7 For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other—either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken.
8 And it came to pass that when the angel had spoken these words, he said unto me: Rememberest thou the covenants of the Father unto the house of Israel? I said unto him, Yea.
The covenants of the Father unto the house of Israel have been made to create the way to the eternal joy which is the fruit of the tree of life. The vision has been laying out the way that these covenants would work through the vicissitudes of the agency of humankind to reach the ultimate goal of bringing the house of Israel to final unification.
At this point in the vision, the covenant peoples from each hemisphere have been united. The Gentiles have received the promise of prospering upon righteousness, and the joining of the New World book with the Old World book removes the impediment of lost understanding.
Now Nephi is shown that Yahweh will “work a great and marvelous work.” That work will be to restore the clear vision of the narrow path. Symbolically, the mists of darkness will be removed. The actual metaphor is to deliver the people from the “hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds.”
What had begun as a story of two hemispheres and two branches of the house of Israel now moves to the point where the story becomes the story of two choices: on the one hand life eternal, and on the other temporal and spiritual destruction.
1 Nephi 14:9–12
9 And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil.
10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.
11 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.
12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.
With the physical impediments of separation of the branches of the house of Israel removed, with the plain and precious parts of the gospel restored for all, the earth is ready for the final times.
The scenes of the end of the world are couched in terms of war. It is a war of binary opposites, black and white, good and evil, Yahweh and the Devil. Thus, Nephi sees that “there are save two churches only; the one is the Church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the Church of the devil.”
Each of the two churches has battled from humankind’s hearts. The Church of the Devil has had its time and has been effective. The image of the Church of the Lamb of God is that there are far fewer. The imagery of the fewer faithful is also painted in the New Testament saying of believers being the salt of the earth. They have great value, even though they are few, just as a little salt benefits a larger meal.
In the end, the battle lines are drawn between the two churches.
1 Nephi 14:13-17
13 And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God.
14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.
15 And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth.
16 And as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations which belonged to the mother of abominations, the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold, the wrath of God is upon the mother of harlots; and behold, thou seest all these things—
17 And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel.
The covenants Yahweh made with the house of Israel will be fulfilled. He is their God, and they will be his people. This is made complete through the final war between the opposites, the church of God and the Church of the Devil. It will be a formidable battle, but that final battle will prepare the way for the completion of the purpose for the earth, the full benefit of the covenants Yahweh has made with his people.
1 Nephi 14:18–27
18 And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!
19 And I looked and beheld a man, and he was dressed in a white robe.
20 And the angel said unto me: Behold one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
21 Behold, he shall see and write the remainder of these things; yea, and also many things which have been.
22 And he shall also write concerning the end of the world.
23 Wherefore, the things which he shall write are just and true; and behold they are written in the book which thou beheld proceeding out of the mouth of the Jew; and at the time they proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, or, at the time the book proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, the things which were written were plain and pure, and most precious and easy to the understanding of all men.
24 And behold, the things which this apostle of the Lamb shall write are many things which thou hast seen; and behold, the remainder shalt thou see.
25 But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them.
26 And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel.
27 And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel.
Nephi has seen some of the events of the final war between God and the Devil. However, he also sees that John the Revelator will write more fully of those events. Therefore, Nephi need not write them. Nephi has already seen that the book of his seed will be joined with the book that would contain John’s writings, so he knew that he needed to write with more precision.
Seeing John, however, lets Nephi know that this is truly a witness of the end, and that he and John will each stand as a witness. The law of witnesses, that truth be established through at least two witnesses, will be upheld.
1 Nephi 14:28–30
28 And behold, I, Nephi, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard; wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me; and I have written but a small part of the things which I saw.
29 And I bear record that I saw the things which my father saw, and the angel of the Lord did make them known unto me.
30 And now I make an end of speaking concerning the things which I saw while I was carried away in the Spirit; and if all the things which I saw are not written, the things which I have written are true. And thus it is. Amen.
This concludes Nephi’s vision. He has recounted the important outlines, but still left out some details. The theme of not being able to write everything will be repeated throughout the Book of Mormon. It is impossible to capture everything in writing.
At the end of his vision, Nephi testifies not only to what he saw, but to the fact that his father also saw these things. The subject of this vision is so important that the law of two witnesses also applies.
It is interesting, since Nephi links his vision with his father’s, that the emphasis of the two appears to be so different. It is possible that some of what Nephi records in detail as the vision of the future was also revealed to Lehi, but that Nephi waited to record it here. This hypothesis is strengthened by remembering that, right after discussing the symbolic dream, Lehi spoke of the mission of the atoning Messiah.
Nephi concludes with an amen that testifies to the truth of the vision, and also closes the chapter.
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