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God in 2 Nephi 3

God  • Holy One of Israel • Lord

Lord God • Lord my God • Messiah

2 Nephi 3:21

The weakness of their words will I make strong in their faith

The Book of Mormon teaches that God makes people strong

in spite of their weaknesses, when they have faith

Because of their faith their words shall proceed forth out of my mouth

unto their brethren who are the fruit of thy loins;

and the weakness of their words will I make strong in their faith,

unto the remembering of my covenant which I made unto thy fathers.

Book of Mormon writers acknowledged their weakness.  At the end of his book Nephi reflected on these promises for his writing personally:  

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.

 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.

(2 Nephi 33:4,5)

Moroni, viewing his father Mormon’s completed work as well as his own attempts, felt that their personal weaknesses made their record inadequate to carry the great message.  The Lord comforted, reassured, and instructed him:

 And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them; . . .

 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.

 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;

 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.

I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me -- the fountain of all righteousness.

(Ether 12:23,25-28)

The Book of Mormon prophets fully acknowledge the truth of God’s evaluation that their writings are “weak.”  They don’t have faith in their own efforts; they have faith in God’s ability to use their writing to bless and inspire those who come after.  They have faith in God’s transforming power. And every person who has read the Book of Mormon with sincerity has experienced the power in those simple words.

The faith of the Book of Mormon writers is the kind of faith we each need as we face our own weaknesses.  We need to believe and know that God can intervene between our work and the object of our work, and make it strong in its effects.  As Dieter F. Uchtdorf explained, “Often, when we look at ourselves, we see only our limitations and deficiencies. We might think we have to be “more” of something for God to use us—more intelligent, more wealthy, more charismatic, more talented, more spiritual. Blessings will come not so much because of your abilities but because of your choices. And the God of the universe will work within and through you, magnifying your humble efforts for His purposes.” (A Yearning for Home,” General Conference October 2017)

2 Nephi 3:24

There shall rise up one mighty

The Book of Mormon describes, in one verse, Joseph Smith’s calling to serve God

And there shall rise up one mighty among them, who shall do much good,

both in word and in deed, being an instrument in the hands of God, with exceeding faith, to work mighty wonders, and do that thing which is great in the sight of God,

unto the bringing to pass much restoration unto the house of Israel,

and unto the seed of thy brethren.

This verse is a quick summary of what Lehi has been expounding on throughout this chapter as he speaks to his son Joseph.  

This verse could be read to imply that the prophet being spoken of is the seed of Joseph, son of Lehi.  We know that Joseph Smith was not a descendant of native Americans, only Europeans.  Being a note at the end of this descriptive chapter, we need not suppose that Lehi is speaking of another servant or prophet.  It is most reasonable to conclude that the European-Americans on the American continent lived among the descendants of Lehi.

This verse is a succinct prophesy of Joseph Smith’s mission:

1.  He would be “mighty.”  That is a rarely-used adjective today, with “powerful” being preferred in this culture.  Both “mighty” and “power” have largely been co-opted by fantasy people who reduce well to lucrative action figures and movies.  But for those who was to take their heads out of the soul-numbing clouds of pretend living, we can believe and accept the reality of Joseph Smith as a “mighty man,” and learn from that.

2.  He did much good in word.  We have already mentioned that the vast majority of Latter-day revelations and doctrine was what Joseph Smith translated or received.  His words, whether his own words, words he presented to the world from ancient peoples, or the words of Jesus Christ as found in the Doctrine and Covenants, represent a larger portion of sacred writ than any other person throughout history.

3.  He was an instrument in the hands of God.  In everything he did he gave credit to God.  Some people today like to delve into the particulars of the method of translating the gold plates into English.  Joseph Smith never gave any details, but only said it was done by the gift and power of God.  He always acknowledged God’s hand in directing his life.  As Mary Fielding Smith recalled, “He feels himself to be but a poor Creature, and can do nothing but what God enables him to do.”  (“The Spirituality of Joseph Smith,” Dean C. Jessee, September 1978 Ensign)

4.  He had exceeding faith.   We are familiar with that faith of a youth who didn’t doubt that God would answer his sincere question in the Sacred Grove.  We’re familiar with the condensed version of what led up to his experience there.  We can read more details of the faith of that young man.  As he wrote with his own pen,

 ” At about the age of twelve years my mind became seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns for the wellfare of my immortal soul which led me to searching the scriptures believeing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God. Thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of differant denominations led me to marvel excedingly for I discovered that they did not … adorn their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository. This was a grief to my Soul. Thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind. … My mind become excedingly distressed for I become convicted of my sins and by searching the Scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament. And I felt to mourn for my own sins and for the sins of the world for I learned in the scriptures that God was the same yesterday to day and forever that he was no respecter to persons for he was God. For I looked upon the sun the glorious luminary of the earth and also the moon rolling in their magesty through the heavens and also the stars shining in their courses and the earth also upon which I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in magesty and in the strength of beauty whose power and intiligence in governing the things which are so exceding great and marvilous even in the likeness of him who created them. And when I considered upon these things my heart exclaimed well hath the wise man said it is a fool that saith in his heart there is no God. My heart exclaimed all, all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotent and omnipreasant power, a being who makith Laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity who was and is and will be from all Eternity to Eternity. And when I considered all these things and that that being seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and obtain mercy.”  (Ibid.)

5.  He worked mighty wonders.  Joseph Smith, following his Master, performed a number of healings of sick people, by the power of God,  The healings of dozens of people in Nauvoo upon the outbreak of cholera is well-known and well-attested.  There were a number of other cases less spectacular.  Here is one of my favorite accounts, as found in the official History of the Disciples (Campbellites)

Ezra Booth, of Mantua, a Methodist preacher of much more than ordinary culture, and with strong natural abilities, in company with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and some other citizens of this place, visited Smith at his house in Kirtland, in 1831. Mrs. Johnson had been afflicted for some time with a lame arm, and was not at the time of the visit able to lift her hand to her head. The party visited Smith, partly out of curiosity, and partly to see for themselves what there might be in the new doctrine. During the interview the conversation turned upon the subject of supernatural gifts; such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Some one said: 'Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to men on the earth to cure her?' A few moments later, when the conversation had turned in another direction, Smith rose, and walking across the room, taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand, said in the most solemn and impressive manner: "Woman, in the name of Jesus Christ, I command thee to be whole;” and immediately left the room. The company were awestricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock—I know not how better to explain the well attested fact—electrified the rheumatic arm—Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it with ease, and on her return home the next day she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain.

6.  He brought about much restoration.  This is the theme of 2 Nephi chapter 3, particularly the restoration of God’s words (in the Book of Mormon) and the restoration of God’s covenants (in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

Lehi’s three chapters of instruction and exhortation to his sons follow a logical progression.  

Chapter 1:  Lehi exhorts them individually to be righteous and follow Christ.  

Chapter 2:  Lehi preaches the doctrine of choice.  Believing that, we must accept that some do not choose to follow Christ.  

Chapter 3:  Lehi teaches that even if individuals have chosen to stray, there is still hope, through the centuries, that the Lord God will offer the light to their children.  


God in 2 Nephi 3 by the Numbers

25 verses

God speaks:  13 verses = 52%

God is mentioned by name: 15 verses = 60%

Verses about God: 21 = 84%

God:  2

Holy One of Israel:  1

Lord:  16

Lord God:  1

Lord my God:  1

Messiah:  2