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
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
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 Godraise up unto you, like unto me;
him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever heshall 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 Israelmust 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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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;
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 Israelreigneth.
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.