Thursday, November 5, 2015

3 Nephi 20:14-16 -- On Retaining the Promised Land

"And the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you this land, for your inheritance.
And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people—
Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver."
3 Nephi 20:14-16

This first verse is another one talking about a promised land, but in this case it was the land where they already lived... the land where the Lord led Lehi and Nephi and their people in the first place.  So, it was promised for the people who left their homes and traveled there, and it was still promised for their descendants here, when Christ affirms that it is theirs as an inheritance.  Later in this chapter it talks about the "New Jerusalem" (3 Nephi 20:22) that will be established, as well as affirming that the original Jerusalem (3 Nephi 20:29) will be restored to his people as well.  These verses about lions among sheep seem scary kind of like some of the things in Revelation.  Probably because, like them, we know that these are part of a future prophecy, and they haven't happened yet.  I think the Old Testament and Book of Mormon battles that we read about are sometimes equally dramatic, but less scary, because we don't have to be scared of things that have already happened.
In any case, the thing that will protect us in the future is clear here.  We need to repent and be on the Lord's side.  As members of God's church, God adopts us as chosen, so it is still our *choice* what side to be on, not just who our ancestors were.  But that works both ways.  God's chosen people can still forsake God, and not keep their part of the covenant, and lose their promised land to others.  Whether we are members of the extended house of Israel or not, choosing God and living his gospel are the things that keep us on God's side.
In the midst of war and destruction scriptures sometimes it is hard to remember that God is loving and kind.  He is, unquestionably.  But he isn't a pushover.  We can't unrepentantly harm others, refuse to learn, disrupt the classroom for others, and then act surprised when he kicks us out of class.  God is patient and forgiving, but the limit is this life.  We have to pull it together, and change our lives for good.  If we don't, then it is our choice to spurn God's invitation as we refuse to join in God's kingdom.  Today, let's repent, and retain our promised land.

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