2 Nephi Chapter 30
This chapter deals mainly with prophecies of the latter-day restoration or gathering of Israel both in the New World and in the Old World. This will occur in preparation for the onset of the Millennium which is also described here.
1 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.
verse 1 "And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you" Nephi now addresses himself to the descendants of the Book of Mormon peoples, to those blood descendants of Lehi, Ishmael, and Zoram.
Here Nephi uses the term "Gentile" to refer again to all non-Jews including those outside the house of Israel and those citizens of the great Gentile nation of the latter days many of whom are of the blood lineage of the house of Israel. In the next verse, Nephi's own descendants are included in the category of "Jews" because they came out from the land of Judah, even though we know that they are of the blood lineage of the tribe of Joseph through both Ephraim (Ishmael) and Manasseh (Lehi).
2 For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.
verse 2 Are the Gentiles, those actually without the house of Israel, going to be included in the gathering of Israel to occur in this final dispensation? They are indeed. As many of these Gentiles as repent and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ will gather with Abraham's descendants and indeed will be inducted "by adoption" into the House of Israel. As stated below (verse 8), the work of gathering will take place "among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth." John the Baptist understood this principle of "adoption" and taught it to the Jews of his day. He said to them, "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham" (JST Matthew 3:36). The "stones" were obviously the Gentiles (see also the commentary for 1 Nephi 14:1-2).
"as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off" Nephi probably intends "the Jews" here to mean the descendants of his own people. This statement also applies to all Israelites by blood lineage. Those who do not measure up to their spiritual privileges will not receive the blessings that might have been theirs as sons and daughters of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
3 And now, I would prophesy somewhat more concerning the Jews and the Gentiles. For after the book of which I have spoken shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written; and they shall carry them forth unto the remnant of our seed.
verse 3 In this verse Nephi seems to continue to use the definitions of "Jews" and "Gentiles" that are most frequently applicable in the Book of Mormon, that is the "Jews" are all those who came out of the land of Judah including the Book of Mormon people. The Gentiles are everyone else, especially those citizens of the great Gentile nation of the latter days.
"after the book of which I have spoken shall come forth" After the Book of Mormon plates shall be delivered to Joseph Smith.
"and be written unto the Gentiles" And be translated for the use of the "Gentiles" in the great Gentile nation.
"and sealed up again unto the Lord" And be delivered back to the Lord.
Among these "Gentiles" which, as we have discussed previously, are actually mostly descendants of the tribe of Joseph and his son Ephraim, there will be many who believe the message of the Book of Mormon. Some of these will become missionaries and carry forth the Book of Mormon to the descendants of the Book of Mormon people.
4 And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews.
verse 4 "they are descendants of the Jews" The remnant or seed of the Book of Mormon peoples, wherever they may be today, will gain a knowledge of their spiritual heritage through the Book of Mormon. The Nephite and Lamanite peoples were all descended from the tribe of Joseph. In what sense then are they "descendants of the Jews"? Throughout the Book of Mormon, it is taught that Jewish nationals-those who originated in the kingdom of Judah-are Jews. In this sense, Nephites and Lamanites are Jews, though they are genealogically descended from the tribe of Joseph. In addition, the actual tribal representation among Book of Mormon peoples will be expanded in future pages of the Book of Mormon when Mosiah leads a contingent of Nephite peoples north to the land of Zarahemla. There his people encounter and unite with the people of Zarahemla, a people partly descended from the tribe of Judah and perhaps other Israelite tribes (Omni 1:13-19).
It is obviously incorrect to declare that all American Indians or modern-day "Lamanites" are descendants of Joseph through Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael (see the supplemental article Book of Mormon Myths). Those native American Indians who have descended from Book of Mormon peoples, which likely represents only a small part of the Indian peoples, most probably have the blood of many of the tribes of Israel. Reference to them as a "remnant of Jacob" is a satisfactory label though not perfectly accurate.
It is interesting to note that in early church history, perhaps largely due to 2 Nephi 30, it was anticipated that a mass conversion of the American Indians to the gospel of Jesus Christ was imminent. W.W. Phelps wrote to Oliver Cowdery: "The Indians are the people of the Lord, and the hour is nigh when they will come flocking into the kingdom of God, like doves to their windows; yea, as the book of Mormon foretells-they will soon become a white and delightsome people. And how much is the joy of our hearts enlarged, when it is known the 'poor Indians' are to be raised from their low estate, and miserable condition by the everlasting gospel; even the fulness of the gospel contained in the Book of Mormon, and other books of God?" (Messenger and Advocate [October 1835] 2:193-95).
The early saints also anticipated a physical gathering for the American Indians just as they did for the Jews. This was to occur in Zion which, from revelations given to Joseph Smith, was to be in western Missouri. The United States government policy of relocating the Indians just west of Missouri was considered an act of God. It was anticipated that the Indian's would have a significant role in establishing and building Zion. How disappointing has been the spiritual progress of the American Indians!
5 And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.
6 And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.
verse 6 "their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes" This phrase suggests that the freeing up of the apostate descendants of the Book of Mormon peoples from their false beliefs and ignorance will be a process over a period of time and not a single event.
"they shall be a pure and a delightsome people" The earliest editions of the Book of Mormon contained the word "white" rather than "pure." The word "pure" first appeared in the 1840 edition. Perhaps Joseph Smith made this emendation to avoid the misinterpretation that skin color would actually change. Or, perhaps this prophecy does indicate that when those who bear the mark of the curse accept the gospel, the mark is eventually removed from them. See the discussion of the "curse" and the "mark of the curse" in the commentary for 2 Nephi 5:21-23. This prophecy found application prior to the latter days. Perhaps the first group to qualify for this prophecy were those Lamanites converted by the sons of Mosiah during their fourteen-year mission. These were the "Anti-Nephi-Lehies" (see the commentary for Alma 23:6). With their conversion the cause of the curse was done away. Therefore, there was no continuing reason for the "mark," the dark skin, to persist. It is likely that the dark skin was removed from them making them the first Lamanites to become physically white as well as spiritually "pure and . . . delightsome." The mark would also be removed from others (3 Nephi 2:14-16).
verses 7-17 In these verses Nephi refers to the gathering of Israel, in particular the gathering of the tribe of Judah. We know that the gathering of the Jews will not take place in earnest until the Lord's second coming. Thus, much of what is said in these verses refers to the millennial gathering of the scattered tribes of Israel. While the latter-day gathering of Israel began with the restoration of the gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith, this gathering will continue to the time of the second coming of Christ and reach its zenith during his millennial reign.
7 And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ shall also become a delightsome people.
verse 7 "the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ" It is probably fair to say that few of the world's cultures have so thoroughly fettered themselves with false doctrines and false traditions than the Jews. In the last days some relatively few Jews will begin to accept Christ. This movement, the so-called "Messianic Jews," or "Jews for Jesus," is seen today in the United States and in Israel and in other countries. It seems clear from modern prophecy, however, that no major conversion of the Jews will occur until the Savior's second coming when he will set his foot on the Mount of Olives, and the mount will split in two. At that time the Jews will look upon the Lord and ask, "What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God. And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king" (D&C 45:51-53).
This verse indicates that in the eyes of the Lord the converted Jews will be more "delightsome" than they are at present.
"they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land" Certainly we have no trouble today in seeing the beginning of the fulfillment of this part of the prophecy. Under the influence of the Zionist movement the Jews are rapidly gathering to Israel. As one might expect, in the early days of the Church, the interest in the Zionist movement was high since members looked forward to Christ's second coming and the onset of the Millennium-perhaps even in their own lifetime.
While verse 7 might lead one to believe that the mass conversion of the Jews will precede their physical gathering, historical events have shown that the opposite is true. Again, the real gathering of the Jews to Jesus Christ and his Church will not occur until the millennium.
verses 8-18 Nephi closes his prophecy by quoting from the prophet Isaiah concerning the Millennium. In the scheme of things, Nephi does omit one final phase of this earth's existence-that great final battle during which the devil and his legions shall be loosed following the Millennium, and Michael will lead the righteous (D&C 88:111-115).
8 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth.
verse 8 "the Lord God shall commence his work" "His work" is the missionary effort of the latter-day Church of Jesus Christ-the gathering of Israel. Do we have a problem with the timetable suggested here for the events in verses 7 and 8? Taken in sequence, these verses suggest that their will be a major conversion of the Jews prior to or coincident with the establishment of the latter-day missionary program. At the time of the writing of this commentary, not many of the Jews have been "gathered" or converted to the gospel, yet the missionary effort had its beginnings more than a century ago. Certainly the Lord's missionary work has commenced prior to any major conversion of the Jews, and their mass conversion still lies ahead as suggested in the commentary for the previous verse. Apparently the work of gathering will be continued during the Millennium when the work will be greatly expedited in speed and efficiency compared to that which is done prior to the Savior's second coming. So much so that all that is done prior to the Millennium will seem like only a beginning.
verses 9-10 These verses describe the great destruction and cleansing of the earth just prior to the Millennium.
9 And with righteousness shall the Lord God judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
verse 9 Here Nephi quotes from Isaiah-see Isaiah 11:4 and 2 Nephi 21:4.
The Lord shall judge fairly the poor and the lowly. An alternate translation of "righteousness" here is "equity."
"and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth" With fairness he will arbitrate for the lowly of the earth. These "meek" individuals will obviously be favored of the Lord. He obviously shows no favoritism to those of worldly wealth or position (D&C 35:15; D&C 88:17-18). The wicked, on the other hand, who in this context are those who place things of the world ahead of things of the Spirit, will obviously draw the Lord's wrath.
10 For the time speedily cometh that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy; and he will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire.
verse 10 "the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people" This great division will occur in the last days in preparation for the earth's being changed from a telestial to a terrestrial environment. The telestial-bound individuals will be destroyed while the others will be allowed to remain to see the beginning of the Millennium.
verses 11-15 These verses are quotations from Isaiah-see Isaiah 11:5-9 and 2 Nephi 21:5-9. They describe the conditions that will exist during the Millennium.
11 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
verse 11 Here the clear reference is "the Lord God" in the previous verse. Righteousness and faithfulness shall be characteristic of him-as a girdle or band about his "loins" and "reins." "Loins" anciently referred to the genital parts which were regarded as the seat of strength or procreative power. "His reins" might be rendered "sinews" and also refers to his strength and power.
verses 12-15 These are the classic and oft quoted verses that describe the millennial period of peace between wild and domestic animals and between people and potentially dangerous animals. Satan will be bound, righteousness will prevail, and knowledge of the gospel will fill the earth. For commentary on these verses, see the commentary for 3 Nephi 21:6-9.
12 And then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling, together; and a little child shall lead them.
13 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
14 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den.
15 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
verses 16-18 These verses also continue to describe conditions that will exist during the Millennium.
16 Wherefore, the things of all nations shall be made known; yea, all things shall be made known unto the children of men.
17 There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed.
verses 16-17 The Lord will later reveal to Joseph Smith the following: "The rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed" (D&C 1:3).
"there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed" The Millennium will be a period of complete disclosure, exposure, and unveiling. All secrets, both wholesome and sordid, will be revealed. Dissembling will not be allowed.
18 Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more, for a long time. And now, my beloved brethren, I make an end of my sayings.
verse 18 "all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed" There is a fundamental principle of learning that pertains here. The only individuals who will fully appreciate the day when all scripture will be made available to them are those who have been diligent with the scripture we have available to us today!