Thursday, March 15, 2012

Jesus talks about Isaiah's Prophecies, Part 2

(This is the second half of what is currently a two-part post.  To see the predecessor, see here.) 

In the previous post, I explained a little bit of the set-up to the views I'm about to share.  Jesus had been preaching among the Nephites, following his resurrection.  He had been sharing his "gospel" among them, and as each day progressed, more and more of the people joined the multitude who were trying to hear his words, and see the miracles he preformed.

Many, many wonderful things happened, and I hope to devote a whole series to my thoughts on the details in the near future.  What I'd like to focus on today is where he refers to Isaiah, and how he said all of his prophecies should be fulfilled (3 Nephi 20:11).  He proceeds, "...when they shall be fulfilled then is the fulfilling of the covenant which the Father hath made unto his people, O house of Israel.  And then shall the remnants, which shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, be gathered in from the east and from the west, and from the south and from the north; and they shall be brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God, who hath redeemed them."

I could copy the rest of the chapter, but I'll try to summarize, and share my thoughts.

He explains that if the Gentiles don't repent after they receive their blessing, after they have scattered the remnant of the house of Jacob, then "shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver." (3 Nephi 20:15-16)

A few questions and simple answers now...

Who are the Gentiles? Anyone not a Jew, correct?  Earlier in the Book of Mormon the "scattering" of the remnant of the house of Jacob is prophesied, in 1 Nephi 13.  It refers to a man, brought across the waters by the hand of God, which allows religious freedom to be enjoyed by those who followed him across the waters.  (Many call his man Cristobal Colón:  Christopher Columbus.)

Who are the "remnant of the house of Jacob"?  We understand part of this remnant to be the descendants of Lehi's children, who are believed to have resided in the Americas.  They are to be "scattered", as referred to in 1 Nephi 13:14, by those Gentiles who came across the waters.  Did this not happen to the American Indians?  And where did those who were "scattered" go?  West?  South?  North?

(Map of "Early Localization of American Indians". Photo source, Wikipedia.)
The night before I read 3 Nephi 20, I came across a website where someone quoted the verse about the lion among the beasts of the forest.  They suggested that this referred to the current issue of "illegal immigration" that the US battles.  They also referred to an earlier verse in the Book of Mormon, where it says that anyone lead to this "land of promise" shall have been led by the hand of God, to be a free people.

Another question.  Are people in Canada generally free?  How about Mexico?  Nicaragua?  How about Brazil?  Are people fleeing on handmade rafts to the peaceful coasts of Venezuela?  Ecuador?  Or is it pompous of me to say that America's exceptional state as a "land of promise" is truly that–exceptionally blessed?  Was there some other "Gentile" that went and scattered the people of Central America or Canada?

{This brings in another undeniable point in my mind.  At some point, the descendants of Lehi–this "remnant"–lived in a place where they would be "scattered from".  Were the Mayans or Incas, whom many claim descended from Lehi, ever scattered and driven?  Perhaps I'm illustrating ignorance here.  I don't know for sure.} 

"If the Gentiles do not repent..." what does that mean?  What do the people of America have to repent for?  Which commandments do we break, all the time?  Are not the simplest of commandments Jesus gave us–to love one another–broken by anyone, just about every day?  Which of us is perfect in this regard?  Are any of us perfect, period?  Certainly not me! This does not even touch some of the greater sins of our day, which are becoming more and more acceptable, and more and more commonplace.

So back to the main verse:
"shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver."
Down to the main point.  It seems highly likely to me that the remnant, who is as the lion, are very likely those who the media calls "illegal immigrants".  Descendants of American (or Mexican) Indians, perhaps, re-inheriting this land, whether or not Americans like it.  If we look at the effects of illegal immigration on stolen identities, medicaid fraud, and free education in expensive universities, I would venture to say that they are both treading down and tearing in pieces.  To even consider the affects of Arizona's attempt to have checks on "papers" for illegals has wreaked political havoc.  If enough states took on this issue, there would be even great potential for the "United" states to be "torn to pieces", if not literally, then mentally.  Indeed, this could very well be an accurate unfolding of this prophecy.  

Having working with illegal immigrants as a missionary, I've developed an "I don't know" attitude on how to deal with the issue.  I saw people I taught and came to love dearly get deported, and then be back in Utah within barely a week.  It seemed a waste of money for the government, as well as those deported.  Each of those who I knew who got deported came back, at any/all costs.  

(photo source)
I've prayed about it on more than one occasion as to which view to support (widening the doors on immigrant quota, amnesty, fence building, e-verify, etc.), and regardless, it seems clear to me that it's all in God's hands, no matter which view I take.  Unless the Gentiles repent and turn to God, they will be as sheep with a young lion among them, period.  This prophecy makes complete sense, whether or not this is the literal fulfillment of it.  And the irony of it, is that this illegal immigration issue has only been a serious issue within the last 30 years.  How long ago did we take simple prayer, or even displaying a list of the 10 commandments out of schools or any government buildings?  And Roe vs. Wade?  All sorts of other social turn-arounds from historically accepted norms and values have taken place, and just in my lifetime.  Even to see how some media outlets seem to have completely forgotten the Holocaust, and Jew-hating seems to somehow be justified in the minds of not some, but so many.  It almost feels like I'm living in some pseudo-reality when I hear of these upside-down prejudices coming back to life. 

How thankful it makes me for the blessing of this book of scripture in my life.  It gives peace and comfort in an otherwise unsettling social and political environment.  I know we're in His hands!  And I hope more and more people come to understand these prophecies, especially as they come to be fulfilled. 

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