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2 Nephi 33
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2 Nephi 33
Nephi’s Weakness in Writing
2 Nephi 33:1–3
1 And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.
2 But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.
3 But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.
This chapter is Nephi’s farewell. It is a sad farewell. He says, in verse 3, “I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them.” For all that Nephi has attempted to teach his people, it apparently did not lead to a righteous people. It is against that backdrop that we see verses 1 and 2.
Nephi is obviously writing. While he knows that eventually the Book of Mormon will come forth, and eventually will be for the benefit of the remnant of his people, at this time he is writing to a people he knows and among whom he lives. He cannot write everything he wishes he could, and he knows that he has a more powerful communication by the Spirit when speaking. Therefore, “there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.”
It is not clear how much of the books 1 and 2 Nephi that Nephi’s people had, but whatever they had that was written to provide them the word of God. Many hardened their heart against it. Within the first generation, the Nephite people have not been able to fully follow Yahweh’s path. It is no wonder that Nephi wrote so much of what they should do, since they were not doing it.
2 Nephi 33:4–6
4 And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal.
5 And it speaketh harshly against sin, according to the plainness of the truth; wherefore, no man will be angry at the words which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil.
6 I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.
Nephi prays for his people. His desire is that those prayers work for their salvation, that they persuade them to do good. In particular, he reemphasizes his constant theme of the coming atoning Messiah.
Nephi, as their teacher, has spoken “harshly against sin, according to the plainness of the truth.” Another truth he teaches is that those who have the spirit of God will accept correction, but those who have the spirit of the devil will reject the correction and be angry because of it. Regardless of the personal justification that they might make for their actions, their spirit will understand if they are contrary to God’s plan of happiness. Anger is the opposition to that happiness in God.
Nephi says that he speaks in plainness and reiterates that he glories in plainness. He has made things as clear as he can. He testifies of the Messiah because of his personal experience with the blessings of the Messiah.
Nephi’s Final Testimony
2 Nephi 33:7–11
7 I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat.
8 I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came.
9 I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.
10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.
11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.
Nephi declares that he has charity for his people, for the Jews, and for the gentiles. This charity is certainly the true love of Christ. Nephi loves and serves his people. He is a Jew by heritage, and he has seen the future role of the gentiles in the salvation of the children of Israel. He loves all who follow the narrow path to eternal life and does not exclude any from it who can abide the way. It is a way “which leads to life,” and all should “continue in the path until the end.” In this way, Nephi reprises his teaching of enduring to the end.
Nephi also declares that he has taught the words of the Messiah and the doctrine of the Messiah. All may know that truth by seeking confirmation of the Spirit.
2 Nephi 33:12–15
12 And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day.
13 And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come.
14 And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day.
15 For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen.
Nephi began this chapter in sadness and leaves it with some hope. He prays that “many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great day.” The hope is that there will be some hope. The sadness is that he seems sure that not all will find hope. Even in his day, not all his people follow the doctrine of Christ.
True to form, Nephi echoes Isaiah, and speaks as one crying from the dust. Isaiah prophesied that “thy speech shall whisper out of the dust” (Isaiah 29:4, which Nephi quoted in 2 Nephi 26:16). What Nephi taught came from Yahweh, and therefore stands as a witness against those who heard that voice, but rejected it.
The reference to speaking from the dust shifts the reference from his day to ours. Nephi had indicated that his people might reject the written word and warns that the same condemnation might come will not receive the Book of Mormon. Nephi has seen them as well and spoke of those who felt that they already had enough of God’s words (see 2 Nephi 28:29).
If the modern world rejects his written words, and by implication the whole of the marvelous work and a wonder that will be the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, those words will stand against them at the day when they stand before their God to be judged.
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