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2 Nephi 18
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2 Nephi 18
2 Nephi 18:1–4
1 Moreover, the word of the Lord said unto me: Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen, concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz.
2 And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.
3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived and bare a son. Then said the Lord to me: Call his name, Maher-shalal-hash-baz.
4 For behold, the child shall not have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, before the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.
In the previous chapter, Isaiah and a prophetically named son came to Ahaz with a sign. The sign was that a young woman would conceive a son who would not be very old before Assyria would come.
In this parallel prophecy, we have a second prophetically named son of Isaiah, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, or “making speed to the spoil; he hastens to the prey.” While Shearjashub was a hopeful “remnant will return,” this son foretells doom.
The writing of the name on a great roll, and it being witnessed by two faithful witnesses in accord with the law of witnesses, demonstrates the importance of the omen. Although presented as a son, the context here may or may not have referred to a physical child. Rather, as with Shearjashub, a woman who had not yet conceived would bear a child who would witness the destruction before they were very old. That the women had not yet conceived simply makes the timing indeterminate—but still soon.
2 Nephi 18:5–8
5 The Lord spake also unto me again, saying:
6 Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son;
7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria and all his glory; and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks.
8 And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.
In the previous chapter, Isaiah had delivered the good news that the current apparent threat from Syria and Remaliah would not occur. The two images that Isaiah sets forth are the pleasing and peaceful waters of Shiloah, and the joy in the news that Rezin will not be a threat.
Symbolically, the waters of Shiloah represent Yahweh’s law at the heart of Jerusalem. It is that which has been rejected, as Isaiah has previously indicated. He uses the refusal of the waters here because he will contrast those easy waters of Yahweh’s rule to the “waters of the river, strong and many”, which will be the Assyrian invasion. The peaceful waters of Shiloah create the antithesis of the strong waters of the rivers, and the previous peace in Jerusalem to the destruction that is coming.
Isaiah doesn’t wait for readers to understand the symbolism, however, for he names the king of Assyria directly, and has him “overflow” the land. The extension of the metaphor of the river refers to a river in devastating flood conditions.
2 Nephi 18:9–10
9 Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear all ye of far countries; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.
10 Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand; for God is with us.
Isaiah now tells the people of Judah that their human, worldly plans for their salvation will come to naught. When he says: “associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces,” Yahweh has Isaiah tell Judah that they may attempt to make alliances, typically with Egypt, but that alliance will avail them nothing.
When he says “take counsel together, and it shall come to naught,” he means that whatever plans they make will be futile. Since they have turned against their God, Yahweh is not with them, and without Yahweh’s support, they will fall.
2 Nephi 18:11–15
11 For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying:
12 Say ye not, A confederacy, to all to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
13 Sanctify the Lord of Hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15 And many among them shall stumble and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.
As is the common theme with prophets, the solution to the people’s problems come through returning to their God. Isaiah is told to preach boldly. To those who think that a confederacy will save them, he tells them that it will not. Nevertheless, they should not be afraid.
The solution is to turn to Yahweh: “and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” In other words, do not fear man. Do not even fear the mighty Assyrians, but fear Yahweh who is even more mighty. In the Old Testament, the use of the word fear is often not intended as a synonym for being afraid, but rather being in awe. It describes the relationship of mortal humankind to their powerful God. Thus, the people are being told to return to the respect and worship of Yahweh.
If they do so, “he shall be for a sanctuary” for the faithful children of Israel, but a stumbling-block for those who do not return to Yahweh’s proper way.
2 Nephi 18:16–18
16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
17 And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.
18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of Hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion.
The testimony and the law refer to the scriptures, which contain the testimony of Yahweh and the law, which came from Yahweh. Those are to be the salvation of the disciples, or the faithful. This contrasts to those in the previous verses who would find the law a stumbling-block.
In verse 17, Isaiah notes that the destruction is coming, but that there is hope during, and particularly after, that destruction. Thus, the faithful will wait upon the day of the Lord, when the covenant is faithfully lived. Temporarily, the Lord is not with the house of Jacob. Isaiah uses the image of hiding his face, but that is a poetic image. Humankind might hide their faces in shame, but Yahweh’s face, or his presence, is absent because his children refuse to see him.
Verse 18 ends more hopefully. For those who wait upon the day of the Lord, there will be signs and wonders, and the Lord of Hosts will no longer be hidden from his children but will dwell with them in Mount Zion.
2 Nephi 18:19–22
19 And when they shall say unto you: Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and mutter—should not a people seek unto their God for the living to hear from the dead?
20 To the law and to the testimony; and if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
21 And they shall pass through it hardly bestead and hungry; and it shall come to pass that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.
22 And they shall look unto the earth and behold trouble, and darkness, dimness of anguish, and shall be driven to darkness.
Isaiah now gives counsel to the faithful. He notes that there will be some who turn to worldly prognosticators. He is referencing a practice in the ancient world of those who communed with the spiritual realm in unusual sounds and unintelligible utterances. Isaiah declares that they should listen to the prophets of the living God rather than those who pretend to commune with the dead for information.
A way to discern among those who would prophesy is to compare them to the law and to the testimony. Isaiah uses those two terms to indicate all of the scriptures. If a proposed prophet does not accord with the scriptures, “it is because there is no light in them.”
Those false prophets will not be fed by the scriptures but remain hungry. They reject Yahweh, and when they look to the heavens, they do not see light, but rather darkness.
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