Monday, April 20, 2015

3 Nephi 16:17-20 -- On Being Ready for a Better World

"And then the words of the prophet Isaiah shall be fulfilled, which say:
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing, for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion.
Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God."
3 Nephi 16:17-20

This is Christ, visiting the American continent, quoting Isaiah.  I really like that context, because it shows that he was applying it specifically to the people he was talking to.  This whole chapter is actually amazing with so many interesting things, but I wanted to talk about the two sides of this particular prophecy.  Overall, this is a joyful prophecy, talking about people finally being able to see eye to eye, and singing for joy, and comfort and peace, and pure knowledge.  God reveals his arm and everyone, very clearly, will see and know God's work... unto the ends of the earth.
The other side of it is a little scary though.  Part of the chapter talks about destruction and things that will lead up to this eventual bliss.  It's almost like the garden of Eden in reverse.  Adam and Eve had to leave the garden, and the world started to grow weeds and to cause them to work a little bit harder for everything.  In order to restore us to a similar, but superior, bliss, God will have to do some weeding.  And whenever we read of destruction, or see it actually in the world, the question comes up... how can God be just and merciful and allow this to happen?  And the answer is, it's been a long time coming.  As much as we don't like to talk about Hell and judgment... they both exist.  Probably they aren't quite the same as they are often portrayed in the media, but the truth is, we really will have evil restored to us if we choose evil in our lives.  We live in a largely unjust world, which God allows to be that way in some areas in order to give us the space and the multiple chances that we need in order to change and repent.  But it only delays justice... it never removes it.  Christ paid the price for everyone in overcoming death, and also the price of sin for the people who are actively working to give it up and forsake it.  Which is why we need to.  Why it is so important that we accept Christ's gift and apply it to our lives... because we don't want to suffer the consequences of our poor decisions.  And we don't have to, if we let Christ in.
None of this to lessen the amazing joyfulness of this scripture.  The redemption of Jerusalem, the restoration of Zion... a world where we all see eye to eye, and God is revealed to all.  That is a world to sing about. :)  Today, let's work for that.  Let's be there, rejoicing, with clear consciences and looking forward to so much more.  Let's make sure we're ready for that, and not still delaying our repentance or standing in the perfect garden and missing the weeds.

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