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God in 1 Nephi 22

Father of Heaven • God • Holy One of Israel

the Lord • Lord God • Lord your God

Mighty One of Israel • Prophet • Redeemer

Savior • Shepherd • the Spirit

1 Nephi 22:17

The righteous will be saved, even if by fire

The Book of Mormon teaches that God may use fire to save the righteous

Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power,

even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come,

and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet,

they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire.

On all the occasions where God’s wrath has come upon the wicked in behalf of His people, we know by the historical record that the people had done all in their power to preserve themselves.  The miracles occurred at the extremity.  God did not save them without their exerting their utmost efforts, and we need not suppose that this future event will be any different.  The righteous must not “sit on thrones in thoughtless stupor” expecting God to save them.  They will need to use their physical strength as well as their mental capacities and planning to do all they can in their own defense.  God will provide the miracle in His own time.

The message of this verse is to work fearlessly, confidently, and peacefully in our mortal endeavors.


1 Nephi 22:18

These things must shortly come

The Book of Mormon teaches that disaster would come

to those who harden their hearts against the Holy One of Israel

Behold, my brethren, I say unto you, that these things must shortly come;

yea, even blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke must come;

and it must needs be upon the face of this earth;

and it cometh unto men according to the flesh

if it so be that they will harden their hearts against the Holy One of Israel.

These calamities come upon the world because they reject the Holy One, who teaches them holiness.  They are choosing unholiness, which includes persecution of the righteous, and therefore they must be removed.  

Nephi says that blood, fire, and vapor of smoke will come in the flesh, but he does not say that these are literal descriptions.  They may be imagery of destruction.

Blood of course signifies death and killing, wars and enmity.  

Fire may symbolize a cleansing and purifying, wiping off the face of the earth certain peoples or philosophies.  Whatever fire represents, it seems to be the key element at this time, as verses 15 and 17 also mention the fire as the causative factor in saving the righteous from the violence of the wicked.  

Vapor of smoke may be confusion, as in Lehi’s Tree of Life vision.  It may be equivalent to the smoke of the bottomless pit in Revelation 9:2, which would require an examination of the Apocalypse to understand.

In terms of Nephi’s brothers and their concerns, blood and fire and vapor of smoke would literally come upon their descendants who rejected Christ, at the time of His crucifixion.

1 Nephi 22:20

The Lord will surely prepare a way for His people

The Book of Mormon teaches that we should listen to prophets,

because they show the way

And the Lord will surely prepare a way for his people,

unto the fulfilling of the words of Moses, which he spake, saying:

A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me;

him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

This is a strange, time-travel sort of verse.  Moses, who lived 1200 B.C., prophesies of the earthly life of Christ (“like unto me”), and Nephi, in 600 B.C., thrusts it forward to beyond 2000 A.D.  

It was critical to their survival and freedom for the children of Israel to follow Moses as the Lord’s prophet in their time.  We know that it was difficult for them, and some of that difficulty may have arisen because Moses came from outside their own social structure.

It was critical for the people in the Meridian of Time to accept the Messiah who came among them in the flesh, though few did.  The established social and religious order was particularly offended at this upstart who claimed to be the Son of God.

Moses literally came with new instructions from God, as did the Lord Himself.  In the latter-days, God has again sent additional new instructions (“I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things” 1 Nephi 20:6), and again His messenger came from outside the established religious structure.

The Lord prepared the way for Israel’s freedom from their bondage in the powerful empire of Egypt, by following Moses, His emissary.  He prepared the way for His children to be free from the grasp of that awful monster, death and hell, through His Only Begotten Son.  He has prepared a way that His saints in the latter-days will be free from all who will fight against Zion.  Once again we must follow God’s emissary.

1 Nephi 22:21

The Prophet is the Holy One of Israel

The Book of Mormon teaches that Christ will execute judgment in righteousness

And now I, Nephi, declare unto you,

that this prophet of whom Moses spake was the Holy One of Israel;

wherefore, he shall execute judgment in righteousness.

Nephi wants to be sure that we understand that the “Prophet” of whom he is speaking is Jesus Christ, the Holy One of Israel.  Combining verses 19 and 20 which speak, both of the Holy One and of the Prophet, we learn that

1.  Woes come when people harden their hearts against Him.

2.  God prepares a way for those who do not harden their hearts against Him.

3.  We are urged to hear Him in all things.

4.  Woe will come to those who will not hear Him.

Inasmuch as “he that receiveth my servants receiveth me,” those who harden their hearts against the Latter-day missionaries who are teaching the words of Jesus, including His words in the Book of Mormon and other revelations, are headed for woes.  Those who criticize the leaders of the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because said leaders do not operate according to whatever social whim is blowing are headed for woes.

“Cut off” may mean their life is terminated, cut off from this world.  It may mean cut off from God.  As the Church, standing firm in the midst of a whirling sea of decadence, is more and more perceived as “intolerant,” those who jump ship into the chaos will be cut off.

Whatever action Jesus takes toward all these people who reject Him will be just.  They had the opportunity on this earth to progress to return towards Him, but they chose, after many years, to reject Him.  When they thoroughly reject Him, their purpose for being here ends.  So they will be cut off.

1 Nephi 22:24

The Holy One of Israel will reign in dominion, might, power, and great glory

The Book of Mormon teaches that the righteous will be led

And the time cometh speedily that the righteous must be led up

as calves of the stall,

and the Holy One of Israel must reign

in dominion, and might, and power, and great glory.

The prophet Nephi uses an interesting analogy for the protection of the righteous people during this latter-day period of turmoil and persecution:  “calves of the stall.”  

The first Old Testament prophet to use that image was Amos, who preceded Isaiah by a generation or two.  Certainly his words, including the references to the coming doom, were relevant in his own day with his own people.  But much of his description sounds eerily like our own day:

Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came! . . .

Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;

That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall.

That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David;

That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments; but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. . . .

. . . Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord.

(Amos 6:1,3-6,10)

Zion, or the kingdom of God on earth, is presently centered in the United States of America, which is the chief of the nations, and to which the tribes of Israel have come.  At this time all aspects of our society are on an accelerating downward spiral:  family soundness, financial soundness, personal responsibility, wholesomeness of entertainment.  We turn a blind eye to unsustainable trends, pretending that there will be no evil consequences.

The description of eating the lambs out of the flock and the calves out of the stall may be literal, as a people whose opulence allows them to consume whatever they desire.  It may also have some symbolic reference to the Lord’s people being called calves and lambs.

In any event, pleasures, appearance, and perception are the focus of this society.

Joseph is represented by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as we come unto Christ through the Book of Mormon, or the stick of Joseph.  (More can be said about that, and will be at some time.)  Our nation does not recognize the message and the importance of the restored gospel, and continues to reject the principles taught by the prophets.

And, indeed, increasingly one cannot mention the name of the Lord in our public forums.

Four hundred years later, Malachi, in speaking of the glorious Millennial time, would say, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.”

Nephi wrote right in between these two solitary Old Testament statements about calves, but of course he didn’t have Malachi’s writings.  However, if we take the statements of these three prophets in chronological order, a picture emerges:  Amos says that the calves in the stalls are being destroyed.  Nephi says the calves of the stall will be led [to safety], and Malachi says the calves of the stall will go forth and grow up.

The Holy One of Israel will reign in dominion.  All will acknowledge Him as their Lord.  He will reign in might.  He will have conquered His enemies, or the enemies of his people.  He will reign in power.  His people will have His power to overcome their own weaknesses through His atonement as they establish His kingdom.  He will reign in great glory.  The myriads of rulers who reigned in their niches on this planet through the centuries sought glory in their monuments and tales of conquest.  But this ruler is exalted and glorified through the righteousness and peace of His subjects.

1 Nephi 22:25

He gathereth His children from the four quarters of the earth

The Book of Mormon teaches that there will be one fold and one Shepherd

And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth;

and he numbereth his sheep, and they know him;

and there shall be one fold and one shepherd;

and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture.

This very dense verse has six descriptions of this glorious time:

1.  He will gather His children from the four quarters of the world.  There are only four quarters.  An individual quarter doesn’t represent anything, but four quarters represents the whole.  Presently (2017) He gathers them from less than half of the earth’s population area.  These conditions will change, so that they can be gathered from every continent, every nation, every people group.

2.  He numbers them.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, probably more than any other religious group, keeps tabs on its members.  They are counted, and they are numbered to such an extent that each member of the Church has an individual membership number.    At the end of 2016, there were 15,882,417 official members of the Church.  Not 15,000,000, or even rounded to the nearest ten.  (As a matter of comparison, the Vatican estimates 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world.) Every individual is counted in the Church.  In speaking of “His children,” we might think He is talking about any sort of Christian who attempts to follow Him. But in describing Him as numbering them, He may be narrowing it down to only members of the Restored Church.

3.  They know Him.  This is the reciprocal of Him numbering them.

4.  There shall be one fold and one Shepherd.  He spoke of that time to come when He walked the earth (John 10:16).  This is further evidence that He is speaking of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that day is still in an unimagined future.  Currently there are several shepherds.  Among the Christians who know the True Shepherd, there are many folds.  

5.  He shall feed His sheep.  He has fed them with His word, in the Old and New Testaments, in the Book of Mormon, and in other latter-day revelations.  He has fed them through His atonement.  He will feed them with more of His word.  (See 2 Nephi 29:12,13; Ether 3:22)

6.  They shall find pasture in Him.  This is another reciprocal relationship.  Not only will He offer, but they will accept.  More than that, “Seek and ye shall find.” They will seek His word and His understanding.  As Latter-day Saints, we may stand to the side and say, “The day will come when all the world will appreciate the Book of Mormon and latter-day revelations as we do.”  Perhaps it would be wiser to say, “To prepare myself for that Day, I will today seek more deeply in the word of the Lord which He has already given.”

Because we recognize two sets of reciprocal relationships, a type of parallelism, we will lay out the scriptural passage to reflect that:

And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth;

       and he numbereth his sheep,

       and they know him;

and there shall be one fold and one shepherd;

       and he shall feed his sheep,

       and in him they shall find pasture.

Laid out thus, we can now discern that the first and fourth lines are also parallels.  The gathering clearly means gathering to the one fold.  His people will come from the splintered four quarters to the united one fold.

1 Nephi 22:26

They dwell in righteousness

The Book of Mormon teaches that Satan will be bound

by the righteousness of the people who worship and obey the Holy One of Israel

And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power;

wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years;

for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth.

This verse presents as a chiasm, with the last phrase matched with the extended explanations in verses 24 and 25:

1.  verses 24,25

2.  And because of the righteousness of his people,

3.  Satan has no power;

4.  wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years;

3.  for he hath no power over the hearts of the people,

2.  for they dwell in righteousness,

1. and the Holy One of Israel reigneth.

Perhaps the most powerful phrase here is “dwell in righteousness,” a phrase used only by Nephi in the scriptures.  “Dwell in righteousness’ gives strength and imagery to “the righteousness of His people.”  Some people make occasional forays into righteousness; others try to visit as often as possible.  But these people will dwell in that state.  It will be their nature; their occupations will take place in righteousness; their language will reflect it; their culture will be immersed in it.

1 Nephi 22:28

They shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel

The Book of Mormon teaches that those who repent will dwell safely

But, behold, all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people

shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent.

This verse seems to be an aside, to be separate from the previous glorious description of the millennial conditions, which are yet future.  Those conditions are physical – they come according to the flesh.  After assuring his readers understand that, he adds this one little note after his description of things that come according to the flesh.  

He tells us that, no matter what millennium we might live in, no matter what geography, if we repent, we can dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel.  We can live in holiness in the midst of wickedness and turmoil, and we can know and experience spiritual safety.  He doesn’t say if they have faith, but he stresses repentance, the change of action and of heart.  We can seek to create a millennium in our little circle, where Christ reigns.

1 Nephi 22:30

The things which are written in the scriptures are true

The Book of Mormon testifies that the Bible is true, and teaches obedience to God

Wherefore, my brethren, I would that ye should consider

that the things which have been written upon the plates of brass are true;

and they testify that a man must be obedient to the commandments of God.

Nephi concludes his first book by testifying of the Bible, and the biblical message:  be obedient to the commandments of God.  It seems rather an abrupt ending.  But it also reiterates the message that Nephi has repeatedly stated as his thesis statement throughout the whole book:  Keep the commandments and you will be blessed with the tender mercies of the Lord.  As for a conclusion to this section of the book, he has described the terrible conditions in the last days, with constant reassurance to the righteous.  In the context of this section, he is speaking to us:  Be obedient to the commandments of God in the latter-days.  The Brass Plates have given this testimony of a people past; Nephi, living in his present, has testified of the blessings he has received by obeying the commandments; now he thrusts the same message forward to the time of turmoil and tribulation.  It is the same message, from the same God.  Be obedient, and we will receive the blessings described by Nephi in this chapter, such as knowing the Lord, being brought out of captivity, having Satan bound in our lives because of our righteousness, being preserved as by fire, not fearing, being led by the Holy One, and dwelling safely.

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God in 1 Nephi 22 By the Numbers

31 verses

God is mentioned by name:  18 verses = 58%

God is mentioned by pronoun: 2 verses = 6%

Verses about God:  20 verses = 65%

Father of Heaven: 1

God: 2

Holy One of Israel: 6

The Lord:  6

Lord God: 3

Lord your God: 1

Mighty One of Israel: 1

Prophet: 1

Redeemer: 1

Savior: 1

Shepherd: 1

Spirit: 2