Sunday, July 23, 2017

Isaiah on Finding Peace -- 1 Nephi 20

What Happens

"The Lord reveals His purposes to Israel—Israel has been chosen in the furnace of affliction and is to go forth from Babylon—Compare Isaiah 48."
1 Nephi 20 Chapter Heading


In our last episode, Nephi was teaching from the scriptures, and starting to quote Isaiah.  I know a lot of people starting to read the Book of Mormon drop out around this point, because Isaiah is sometimes hard to interpret.  Seriously, though, this is great stuff.  Christ himself in 3 Nephi 23:1 commands us to read Isaiah, and says that his words are great.  Who else gets that kind of a recommendation? :)

In the first verse, God, speaking through Isaiah, is talking to people who are part of covenants with God either through birth or baptism.  For us, that mainly means people who have joined the church.  And the subgroup he is talking to are the people who pretend to be dedicated to him, but who really aren't.

God has proven himself to us, over and over again, and yet we so often don't listen.  Nevertheless, he tells us in verses 9 and 10, he won't destroy us.  He knew we would mess up, and he's going to help us change anyway--but it's going to be rough.  We're going to probably have to learn the hard way, through the "furnace of affliction."  Yikes, right?  And yet, if we think about it, this is one of the most amazing and merciful things that God could ever do for us.  Instead of giving up on us, he redoubles his efforts to get through to us, and finds a way to help.  We don't often like to admit it, but if we think back, the hardest things in our lives have taught us the most, and if we chose well, they have made us better people.  That's exactly what God has in mind.

Verse 13 is always a good reminder--God made this earth that we on.  That's big.  It boggles the mind to consider--and if we let it, it might help us stop thinking of God as a fallible pushover who needs our advice and who should listen to our demands.  Maybe we'll think, and remember, that God is bigger and smarter and frankly, better than we are, and stop complaining long enough to ask for advice instead. :)

In verse 16 he asks us to come near, and in 18 he tells us that if we would just please listen to him, our peace could be like a river.  In 20 he asks us to walk away from evil: "Go ye forth of Babylon."  The excellent footnotes here point to Jeremiah 51:6 and D&C 133:5, which clarify that we are leaving for a reason--in order to be clean and to save our souls.  Good reasons. :)

Verse 22 emphasizes that there is no peace for the wicked.  That's a super good reminder as well, because we so often think, unwisely, that we can get someplace we want to go by doing evil.  ... But that's not where evil ever goes.  Evil leads to a bad place, every time.  The way we get to a good place is by following and doing good.  That's the only way--no shortcuts.

Tune in next time for more awesome Isaiah.

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