2 Nephi 20

For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return; the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.

For the Lord God of Hosts shall make a consumption, even determined in all the land.

Therefore, thus saith the Lord God of Hosts: O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian; he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.

For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.

(2 Nephi 20:22-25//Isaiah 10:22-25)

This passage reminds me of the passages in 1 Peter 4:17 and D&C 112:25:

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

(1 Peter 4:17)

And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;

(D&C 112:25)

Ancient Israel, because of her pride, idolatry and complacency, came under judgment, often by the means of the wicked nations surrounding it before they in turn received a reckoning. But I do not think Isaiah’s words apply only to ancient Israel, and likewise Peter warns and we’re told in the latter-days that God’s judgment will fall upon us (“the house of God”) first. Mere membership of his kingdom will not spare us from this process; indeed it makes us more accountable. But God’s judgment also serves as a cleansing and a sifting process, and the remnant who are left will be far more faithful. The question, I guess, is how we respond to that process and which direction we are sifted in.

2020 Edit:

Here in 2 Nephi 20//Isaiah 10, the Lord speaks about how he will use “Assyria” (literally Assyria the first time around, but a type of other such rulers and regimes in the future) as a means of bringing judgment upon his own people, for a time:

O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is their indignation.

I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.

(2 Nephi 20:5-6//Isaiah 10:5-6)

However, this wasn’t and will not be the “Assyrian’s” intention:

Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but in his heart it is to destroy and cut off nations not a few.

(2 Nephi 20:7//Isaiah 10:7)

Thus the Lord can make use of the wicked and the unwitting, those who think they are fulfilling their own desires, to accomplish his work, which reminds me of this statement by Mormon in Mormon 4:5:

But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed.

Yet while the “Assyrian” will prevail for a while, the fact he has unwittingly been used as an instrument of God will not spare him punishment for his own misdeeds:

Wherefore it shall come to pass that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and upon Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.

Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? As if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood!

Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, send among his fat ones, leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.

And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame, and shall burn and shall devour his thorns and his briers in one day;

And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body; and they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth.

And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.

(2 Nephi 20:12, 15-19//Isaiah 10:12, 15-19)

The closing verses of this chapter are interesting too:

He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages.

They are gone over the passage; they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramath is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled.

Lift up the voice, O daughter of Gallim; cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth.

Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.

As yet shall he remain at Nob that day; he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.

Behold, the Lord, the Lord of Hosts shall lop the bough with terror; and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down; and the haughty shall be humbled.

And he shall cut down the thickets of the forests with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.

(2 Nephi 20:28-34//Isaiah 10:28-34)

This list of places is a list of places approaching Jerusalem, representing the approach of the Assyrian army in its attempt to conquer Jerusalem, Nob presumably being the closest point and perhaps within sight (its site is uncertain, although one Major Wilson proposed Mount Scopus as a possible location; the latter was certainly used as a vantage point by the Romans in their successful conquest of Jerusalem in AD 70). The Assyrians approached close enough to put the city under siege, until they were miraculously delivered:

Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.

And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esar-haddon his son reigned in his stead.

(Isaiah 37:36-38, reproduced with little change in 2 Kings 19:35-37)

And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword.

(2 Chronicles 32:21)

What’s striking, and perhaps applicable for later (and yet future?) fulfilments, reading the original invasion as a type of such trials, is that the Lord’s deliverance only came after the Assyrians had successfully made their way close to the city. Only at what might have been the last possible point before they were in the city itself, at the point where to many all may have already seemed lost, did God step in.

 

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