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God in 2 Nephi 3

God  • Holy One of Israel • Lord

Lord God • Lord my God • Messiah

2 Nephi 3:8

I will make him great in Mine eyes, for he shall do My work

The Book of Mormon teaches that the greatness of the Prophet Joseph Smith

was that he did God’s work

And I will give unto him a commandment that he shall do none other work,

save the work which I shall command him.

And I will make him great in mine eyes; for he shall do my work.

Joseph Smith accomplished much in his short life, and it was all at God’s direction.  

Later, in 1830, God would give him more insight into what it would mean to do God’s work, and no other work:

For thou shalt devote all thy service in Zion; and in this thou shalt have strength.

Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.

And in temporal labors thou shalt not have strength, for this is not thy calling. Attend to thy calling and thou shalt have wherewith to magnify thine office, and to expound all scriptures, and continue in laying on of the hands and confirming the churches.

(Doctrine & Covenants 24:7-9)

Joseph’s challenge was to live as Jesus exemplified:  “I do nothing of myself, but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” John 8:23.  Or, as expressed in the New American Standard translation, “I do nothing of my own initiative.”

While the world speaks both good and evil of Joseph, this is the opinion that matters:  God esteems him; he is great in God’s eyes.

The verse is totally about Joseph Smith.  But we can liken it unto ourselves and learn from the example:  Do God’s work, and don’t worry about the world’s opinion.  “Do good; let earth and hell combine against you, and they cannot prevail” (Doctrine & Covenants 6:34)

2 Nephi 3:9

He shall be great like unto Moses

The Book of Mormon reveals that Joseph of Old knew of Moses to come

And he shall be great like unto Moses, whom I have said I would raise up unto you,

to deliver my people, O house of Israel.

Here we have another clue that Joseph, exiled permanently to Egypt, had sought for information on how his people could return to the promised land.  God had already promised Moses to him, Moses who would take his people out of physical bondage, Moses who would raise the people of Israel to a great nation.  Not a perfect nation by any means, but the nation chosen by God to receive the prophets.

God says that Joseph Smith would be like Moses.  Joseph did organize a great people, a people who would be chosen to be led by prophets from his time and forward.  These prophets are to deliver them from critical false ideas that would be found in their own society.

2 Nephi 3:10

Moses will I raise up

The Book of Mormon teaches that God planned in advance

how to save His people in Egypt by Moses’s leadership

And Moses will I raise up, to deliver thy people out of the land of Egypt.

God repeats Himself.  In the previous verse, He called the children of Israel “my people.”  In this verse, He refers to these people who will be delivered as “thy people,” the people of the first prophet Joseph.  As Enos would later do, Joseph has apparently prayed on behalf of his people, and the Lord has told him of their future deliverance.

In these verses, Moses joins a few select individuals who were named by name in prophecies:  Joseph Smith (in this very chapter), Cyrus (by Isaiah), and of course Jesus Christ.

2 Nephi 3:11

I will give him power to bring forth my words

The Book of Mormon teaches that God planned

for the Book of Mormon to support the Bible

But a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins;

and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins --

and not to the bringing forth my word only, saith the Lord,

but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.

Joseph Smith, like most of the current membership of the restored Church, was a descendent of Joseph through his son Ephraim.  The Lord raised up this Seer specifically to bring forth more of His word.  He taught the earth-shaking doctrine that the canon of scripture was not closed.  As evidence, he translated the Book of Mormon, which carries its own witness of its truth (Moroni 10:4,5).  In addition, he received revelations which are recognized as scripture by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He also provided additional information on various Biblical prophets and prophecies, as contained in the Pearl of Great Price and the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

Joseph of Egypt, and through his writings Lehi and his son Joseph, foresee all this.  But he immediately adds that this Seer would convince “them” (the seed of Joseph) of the truth of God’s word that is already extant among humanity.  Ironically, by this very scripture, Joseph Smith corroborates the validity of the Bible record.  Because of a lack of archaeological evidence, many scholars deny the historicity of both Joseph of Egypt and Moses, and even Jesus of Nazareth.  Researchers comb through ancient documents trying to discover how the “myths” of Joseph and Moses came to be created.  It’s actually very similar to what doubters (even Christian doubters) do to the history of Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon.

” The myth of exodus,” suggests Cambridge archaeologist Cyprian Broodbank, was "at best a refracted folk memory of earlier expulsions of Levantine people."

There are echoes of the Moses myth in a number of other traditions: his escape as a baby through a treacherous waterway is similar to tales of Sargon, a pre-biblical hero from ancient Mesopotamia, as well as the Hindu deity Krishna.

Other researchers have likened Moses to Akhenaten, a fascinating Egyptian pharaoh forgotten for thousands of years until his tomb was discovered in the 19th century. Unlike the kings who ruled before and after him, Akhenaten was a monotheist, and he banned worship of all divinities except Aten, an all-encompassing god represented by a sun-disc. His enigmatic wife Nefertiti is one of ancient Egypt's more beguiling characters.

Some researchers believe the "Hymn to the Aten," inscribed on the walls of the ancient city of Amarna, prefigures Psalm 104 of the Hebrew Bible.  

“Was Moses Real?”  Ishaan Faroor.   The Washington Post.  December 10, 2014

"There is virtually no evidence, as the Torah says, that 600,000 Jewish males, with their wives and children and elders, left Egypt in the Exodus," said Rabbi Burt Visotzky, a professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. "Those are big numbers. You'd think someone would notice."  

"When it comes to Moses, again, you have a really larger-than-life portrait," said William Dever, a professor of archaeology from Lycoming College. "I doubt that the miracles attributed to him ever took place. I don't think he led three million Israelites out of Egypt in an exodus across the Sinai. I don't think he was the founder of Israelite religion, but I think there was a Moses. I argue, and I think some other archaeologists will, too, there was a small exodus group -- not millions of people, but perhaps a few thousand -- who did escape from slavery in Egypt."

ABC News

These ancient records from Joseph, preserved by Lehi, transmitted to modern times by Mormon, and translated by Joseph Smith into our modern Book of Mormon, do indeed provide better-than archaeological evidence for both Joseph and Moses.  Their words and deeds as recorded in the Bible are now augmented by much more information on these two great and history-changing men.

2 Nephi 3:12

The writings shall grow together

In the Book of Mormon, God lists five purposes He has

for bringing forth this latter-day scripture

Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins,

and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions,

and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins,

and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days,

and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.

First we’ll review the levels of who is talking.  The Lord is speaking to Joseph of Egypt.  Joseph wrote it down on the brass plates.  Lehi is reading those words to his son Joseph.  Lehi is reading the scriptures to his son, and that reading and explanation has become additional scripture.

This verse tells us that the people of Judah, the Jewish people will write.  Their writing is known as the Bible, the Book of Books.  The people of Joseph, Lehi’s civilization, will write.  Their writing is known as the Book of Mormon.  

The Bible “grew” through the centuries until it became a finished product several hundred years after Jesus lived.  Holy writing were collected and passed down through the centuries, until no one brought forth additional holy writings, and then the book was closed.   Mormon collected and abridged the holy writings of his people, and compiled them into the Book of Mormon.  The collection grew until he organized them, and, as the civilization was on the brink of destruction, there would be no additional holy writings for these people.  The book was closed.

These two closed books have grown together, as a mature man and woman grow together when they marry.  For those who understand them, they are as inseparable as the man and the woman.

The Lord lists five purposes for augmenting the Biblical account with the Book of Mormon:

1.  Confound false doctrine.  

2.  Lay down contentions.

3.  Establish peace.

4.  Give knowledge of forefathers.

5.  Give knowledge of covenants.

Quite a tall order in one verse!  A cursory examination of the beliefs and lifestyles of Latter-day Saints, as compared to those who only know the Bible, or especially compared to those who recognize no revelation from God, easily shows how the Book of Mormon is fulfilling its mandate.

2 Nephi 3:13

In that day when my work shall commence among all my people

The Book of Mormon teaches that Joseph Smith, the translator of the record, would be made strong

And out of weakness he shall be made strong,

in that day when my work shall commence among all my people, unto the restoring thee,

O house of Israel, saith the Lord.

Joseph Smith lived at the time of the commencement of the Restoration.  Those are Book of Mormon words.  We generally say that the gospel was restored, which is true.  But the Book of Mormon looks at it from the human angle, and says that the people are restored to the Lord and to His covenants.

This is done through the instrumentality of a weak man.  Not a perfect man, like the Savior.  Not a rich or powerful or influential man, like the American founders. An obscure boy who admitted to having weaknesses, and who received revelations which were publicly made known admonishing him in his weaknesses and failings.

It appears that God was using the Gideon affect in choosing young Joseph Smith to be His prophet.  In the Old Testament Gideon story, God didn’t want people who drank water ceremoniously.  He wanted people who got the job done, and who were ready to follow more orders.  Similarly, Joseph Smith and the early Saints did not follow the pattern of acceptable religionists.  But God was choosing them and refining them – choosing those who would be willing to follow a rough pioneer prophet.

It is not hard to discover Joseph Smith’s weaknesses, though his adversaries like to pad the list.  That’s not the point.  The point is that he was made strong enough to do all the work of restoring the gospel to the world – and restoring humble people to God’s covenants – in his short life.

2 Nephi 3:14

I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise

The Book of Mormon teaches that God would bless Joseph the Seer

And thus prophesied Joseph, saying: Behold, that seer will the Lord bless;

and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded;

for this promise, which I have obtained of the Lord, of the fruit of my loins,

shall be fulfilled. Behold, I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise.

In what way is this scripture fulfilled?  Those who sought to destroy Joseph Smith in his day killed him.  Did they not destroy him?  Were they confounded?

Every person who has lived on this planet (with a few notable exceptions recognized in the scriptures) has lived his life and then died.  Some die of disease, some die in accidents, and some are killed.  Perhaps in the next life people tell their death stories, as mothers today tell their birth stories.  But birth and death, though significant milestones, do not define a person.  What’s in between those vital statistics is life.

Furthermore, the very long list of people who were killed for their faith includes Jeremiah, Peter, John the Baptist, Abinadi, and Jesus Christ.  God blessed them in their lives, and they accomplished His work through their trials.  They have each left a legacy of truth that continues to bless the world.  Joseph Smith joins this group.

Joseph prophesied that the seer would be blessed.  Joseph Smith’s greatest blessing from God was communion with Him.  Joseph received visions and revelations from God to him, which passed from him as a blessing to all the earth.  No mobs or falsehoods or persecutions could stop these revelations.  Indeed, in the midst of his most difficult trial, the months he spent in liberty jail, he wrote these inspired words:

“How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.” (Doctrine & Covenants 121:33)

Joseph Smith’s second great blessing was the ability to organize the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the stone cut without hands that will roll forth and fill the earth.  (Daniel 2:34)  Just as God’s enemies cannot prevent Him from revealing what He will to Joseph Smith, prophets who have succeeded him, and other faithful Latter-day Saints by the power of the Holy Ghost, the enemies cannot inflict mortal damage on His church.  They may act in the refining fire to purge out those who are not committed to Jesus Christ in His own terms, to prune the tree.  But as Joseph Smith himself explained,

“As well might we argue that water is not water, because the mountain torrents send down mire and roil the crystal stream, although afterwards render it more pure than before; or that fire is not fire, because it is of a quenchable nature, by pouring on the flood; as to say that our cause is down because renegados, liars, priests, thieves and murderers, who are all alike tenacious of their crafts and creeds, have poured down, from their spiritual wickedness in high places, and from their strongholds of the devil, a flood of dirt and mire and filthiness and vomit upon our heads.

“No! God forbid. Hell may pour forth its rage like the burning lava of mount Vesuvius, or of Etna, or of the most terrible of the burning mountains; and yet shall “Mormonism” stand. Water, fire, truth and God are all realities. Truth is “Mormonism.” God is the author of it. He is our shield.” (History of the Church 3:297)

Ryan J. Wessel expounds on Joseph’s words:  “Joseph showed that fighting against something does not destroy the nature of the thing itself. Dirtying water does not wipe out all sources of pure water. Quenching a fire does not eradicate all fire from the face of the earth. Stifling Mormonism in no way defeats the truth of God’s Church or its progress in the years to come. Man’s “puny arm” is indeed feeble when put in this context”  (“The Textual Context of Doctrine and Covenants 121-23.  Religious Educator 13, no. 1 (2012): 103–115.

Finally, Joseph Smith wrote again of those who sought to destroy the church in his letter to editor John Wentworth:

“Persecution has not stopped the progress of truth, but has only added fuel to the flame. It has spread with increasing rapidity. Proud of the cause which they have espoused and conscious of our innocence and of the truth of their system, amidst calumny and reproach, have the elders of this Church gone forth and planted the gospel in almost every state in the Union.

“It has penetrated our cities; it has spread over our villages and has caused thousands of our intelligent, noble, and patriotic citizens to obey its divine mandates and be governed by its sacred truths. . . . there are numbers now joining in every land. . . .

“[T]he Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

This is the promise which Joseph of Egypt obtained from God, and we can see its fulfillment in progress.