2 Nephi 2 God in the Book of Mormon

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God in 2 Nephi 2


God • Great Mediator • He Who Knoweth All  Things

Holy Messiah • Holy One • Holy Spirit • Lord God

Messiah • Redeemer • Spirit

2 Nephi 2:18


The Book of Mormon teaches that the devil wants all of us to be miserable


And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever,

he sought also the misery of all mankind.

Wherefore, he said unto Eve,

yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies,

wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit,

and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.


Lehi equates falling from heaven with being miserable forever.  Because of our divine natures – even the devil’s original divine nature – only in heaven can we experience joy.  If we are not in heaven, or in a heavenly state, we are miserable.  Thanks to the fall, initiated by the devil, we are miserable here on earth,  However, thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ, we are not miserable forever (unless that is our choice).

Lehi emphasizes that the devil is the father of lies, before quoting what he said to Eve.  Where is the lie in that statement?  

1.  He said they would not die.  It’s true, they didn’t physically die in the moment, or in the earth-day that they partook.  But eating the fruit did introduce death into their bodies, and they eventually died.  

So many of Satan’s temptations to us seem to be pleasurable at the moment, but they lead to misery later on.  

Furthermore, there are two deaths, and at the moment they ate the fruit they did experience spiritual death.  They were separated from God’s presence, from the Garden, and from the Tree of Life.  They were all set to be miserable forever.

2.  It is true that God knows good and evil, but it is also true that the devil know good and evil.  So offering them the gift of knowing good and evil, then claiming it makes them like God was disingenuous.  It also made them like him, like a devil.  The difference is that God has chosen eternally to be good, and the devil has chosen to be evil forever.

Knowing good and evil is neither godlike nor devilish.  Knowing good and evil means having the choice to become as the God or as the devil.  Ironically, the one who opposed the Father’s plan of choice and agency was the one who was the catalyst to enable Adam and Eve – mankind – to have agency.


2 Nephi 2:21


God gave commandment that all  must repent

The Book of Mormon teaches that

God gives us time in this life to repent and turn to Him


And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God,

that they might repent while in the flesh;

wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men.

For he gave commandment that all men must repent;

for he showed unto all men that they were lost,

because of the transgression of their parents.


Rewriting this verse according to its parallel structure:

The days of the children of men were prolonged

    According to the will of God

       That they might repent while in the flesh

           Wherefore their state became a state of probation

Their time was lengthened

   According to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of     men.

       For he gave commandment that all men must repent

           For he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.

1.  Their days are prolonged and their time is lengthened.  Compared to what?  Does this mean that they did not die in the 24-hour day, that they do not die a physical death as soon as they transgress God’s law?  Or does it mean that people in the time directly after the fall had very long lives, as recorded in Genesis (but none to exceed 1000 years, or “a day with the Lord”?  

2.  On what basis are their lives lengthened?  

a.  Simply according to His will.  It happened.

b.  According to the commandments which He gives them.  Those who keep His health and dietary commandments live longer, healthier lives.  “Healthier” means they have more energy and ability to live their lives as they direct, and have to spend less down-time in a being-acted-upon state.

3.  The reason for our lengthened lives, whether by the natural life-span of humanity or by careful observance of a healthy lifestyle, is that we can repent.  If we think, “I’ve already repented, I’m fine just as I am now,” we have to wonder why we’re still here on earth.  The Lord must think otherwise.  It is still time to repent.

4.  We’re on probation.  Students who perform poorly in their classes are put on probation.  They have a certain time – one semester – to prove that they really can do the university work, that they will settle down and apply themselves to the task at hand, and if not, they are dismissed.  Opportunity gone.   People who break laws are put on probation in lieu of going to jail.  If they fail to comply with the terms of the probation, they end up back in jail.  It always hangs over their heads.

We’re lost to start with.  We are born with a death sentence.  The joy of birth will inevitably be followed by the sting of death.  We will all spend some of our time in violating God’s commandments, sometimes ignorantly, sometimes willfully.  We are living in a state of spiritual death as we face the future event of our physical death.


2 Nephi 2:24


All things have been done in the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things


But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.


This is a profound verse, a comforting verse, a reassuring verse.  This is a verse which I have found myself repeating at dismal points in life.  It is often eclipsed by the more famous couplet which follows, “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.”

In context, the verse teaches us that God knew that Adam and Eve would take of the fruit of the tree of good and evil.  They would not remain in that innocent state before the fall, so yearned for, even resentfully, by most Bible readers, who lack the added perspective of the Book of Mormon.  It was a state of stagnation, and God knew they would reach for something more, even though it meant passing through sorrow.

He who knoweth all things has given agency to all his children.  They (and we) make bad choices, and we are constantly being impacted by those bad choices.  It is appropriate to regret decisions we’ve made contrary to God’s laws.  But it is also easy to regret decisions we made where there was no clear right and wrong.  We took one path, and sorrow ensued.  It is easy to resent bad decisions of others which harm us.  

Living in a world of good and evil we must each strive constantly for the good, while rubbing elbows with those who are going a different direction.  We can learn from our own mistakes of judgment, as well as from what we observe and experience of others.  In God’s wisdom He provides the environment for us to develop wisdom. We do not know all things, but as we travel through mortality, colliding with everyone’s agency, we know a lot more than we would if we could direct everyone else’s actions in our favor.  We know more than we would if we could magically live “happily ever after.”


2 Nephi 2:26


The Messiah cometh in the fulness of time

The Book of Mormon teaches that

Jesus’s redemption gives us freedom to act for ourselves


And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time,

that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.

And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever,

knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon,

save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day,

according to the commandments which God hath given.


The coming of the Messiah is an essential, central part of the plan of Him who knoweth all things.  He knew from the beginning that Adam and Eve would “fall,” and be cut off from His presence.  He knew that someone had to reverse those effects and offer redemption to the fallen.  He knew who would be worthy, who would have enough love of Him and of his fellowmen to keep himself pure and dedicated to the task.  He knew, and throughout the whole pre-Christian era the prophets foretold that Christ, the anointed One, would come to offer that redemption.

People believe that they are free because they can choose what to do.  That is true in mortality.  But they are not free to avoid the conditions of mortality.  They are not free to avoid death and live forever.  Without revelation people have no idea of conditions after this life.  

Jesus’s redemption provides us freedom in the long run.  We may say that a person is free to choose steak or shrimp, but if there is no shrimp available, one can point to the menu and argue with the waiter all day, but one actually does not have freedom to choose shrimp.  Without the atonement, we can do as we like in this life, but we would have no choice to return to God in the next.  It would not be available, because there would be no way to become clean enough.

Because there is redemption through the Messiah, God can give commandments and that has meaning.  The commandments are a big part of our choice.  Some commandments are obvious to people of good will, or to people in a reasonable culture, such as “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not kill.”  People can live by this code without recognizing God as the originator of the commandments.  Other commandments are identified as spiritual in nature, such as worshipping God and keeping the sabbath day holy.  Those who obey these commandments do so out of devotion or commitment to God.


2 Nephi 2:27


Eternal life comes through the Great Mediator

The Book of Mormon teaches that

God has given us all things which are expedient for us to return to his presence


Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh;

and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.

And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil;

for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.


[26]a And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.

[27]b And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men,

[26]b And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon,

[27]a Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.

[26]c save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.

[27]c or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

This verse expands on the previous.  It emphasizes that freedom comes through the Mediator.  This (and the next verse) are the only Book of Mormon instances of using this descriptive name for Christ.  Christ gives us significant choice.  He does not give us the choice in short term decisions, between cherry pie or chocolate cake, between a hike or a swim.  But he opens up the universe to us, and, through our acceptance of and respect for his suffering, he gives us the choice of our eternal identity and eternal home.  We can make all the mundane decisions of this life without going through him.  But to have permanent liberty and eternal life, we must go through him as the Mediator.  He stands at the gulf of separation created by our own unclean choices, and offers to share with us his purity.

People tend to think that they don’t have quite as much as they would like, and wouldn’t it be expedient if we all had a little more?  This scripture teaches us what “expedient” mean; it means what is required to make an informed choice at that crossroads where we encounter the Mediator, and we can choose to go through him and follow his plan, or go some other way.  All the other things we may have in this life are not significant.

But it is a fork in the road, a place of decision.  We are warned that the other way holds no good thing for us.  It’s a way of punishment, captivity, misery, and death.  God provides all the good things in His kingdom, and offers it all to us.  He offers for us to be like Him and inherit his kingdom, no less as joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).  However, if we don’t accept it, we’re not just floating somewhere in between.  The devil takes an active role, making more or less the same offer: be like him.  Except that Satan’s offer doesn’t include the power which he has – that he retains for himself.  And we lose that liberty and freedom which were granted to us both in the pre-existence and in this mortal life.  There’s no describing or imagining the misery and captivity and compulsion of that sphere, out of the influence of the Savior (D&C 76:44-48).  

2 Nephi 2:28

Look to the Great Mediator

The Book of Mormon teaches that

the way to eternal life is to look to Christ and be faithful to him

And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator,

and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words,

and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;


This verse (with the following) beautifully summarize Lehi’s argument to his sons throughout this chapter.  Furthermore, it is a succinct, stand-alone message of encouragement to press forward for every believer.

We may read the message as increasing levels of discipleship:  

We may also see that the first three verbs and objects are interchangeable, and work together to lead to the fourth:

and by so doing, you have chosen eternal life.  The great Mediator, His words and His commandments, lead to His life – eternal life.


   


 

 




God in 2 Nephi 2 By the Numbers

30 verses

God is mentioned by name:  18 verses = 60%

God is mentioned by pronoun: 2 verses = 7%

Verses about God:  20 verses = 67%


God: 15

Great Mediator:2

He Who Knoweth All  Things: 1

Holy Messiah: 2

Holy One: 1

Holy Spirit: 1

Lord God: 2

Messiah: 1

Redeemer: 1

Spirit: 2


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