2 Ne 29:1 I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them
This represents the fifth time that Nephi has mentioned this doctrine. Apparently, he understands that we learn through repetition. The marvelous work and a wonder which the Lord brings to pass in the last days is the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth, the gathering of Israel, and the fulfillment of the covenants that the Lord has made with the ancient prophets. See also commentary for 1 Ne 14:7 and 2 Ne 25:17.
George Q. Cannon
"It is a marvelous work. It is contrary to all human experience outside of this Church, to see people dwelling together as the Latter-day Saints have done and do in these valleys. It is phenomenal in its character, because nowhere else can you see an exhibition of it. Men say all manner of things concerning it because of its strangeness, it being so different from anything else that is known. Men attempt to philosophize upon it. They try to explain the reason for it, and have recourse to all manner of views, as erroneous as they possibly can be, concerning the causes that produce these results that we see throughout these valleys, ignoring entirely the true cause and denying the possibility that God is in this movement, and that His Spirit produces these results. Yet this is the only clear and sufficient reason. It is the only one by which all this can be accounted for. Human power could not have done what has been done among the Latter-day Saints. It was beyond the power of human wisdom; it was beyond the limit of human power. It required a divine power to work out these grand results. For contemptible as the Latter-day Saints may be in the eyes of some, despised as they may be, this power that has brought this congregation together and that has gathered these people from the remotest parts of the earth is a grand power; it is a power that is beyond that of man. Man in no instance, in and of himself, has ever been able to accomplish anything comparable with it. And to say that there is no God in this, it would require more faith on my part to believe that than it does to believe that God is in this movement." (Collected Discourses 1886-1898, ed. by Brian Stuy, vol. 2, George Q. Cannon, March 1, 1891)
2 Ne 29:1 that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people
When the Lord recovers his people, he gathers them, protects them, and reestablishes his covenants with them. The reference to "the second time" implies that there was a first time that the Lord set his hand to recover the people.
"From this scripture we learn that the events described were to be in the future: 'The Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people.'(2 Ne 21:11) There could not be a 'second time' unless there had been a first. The first time was when the Lord led Israel out of Egyptian bondage and captivity." (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 202-3)
2 Ne 29:2 my words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto my people
Most of the time when the scriptures speak of the ensign lifted up in the last days, it refers to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this particular passage, Nephi uses the language of Isaiah to describe the Book of Mormon hissing forth unto the ends of the earth. Therefore, the Book of Mormon is, in part, the ensign spoken of by Isaiah, And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth (Isa 5:26). The many other meanings of this passage are explained by Elder McConkie.
Bruce R. McConkie
"Many ancient prophecies foretold that in the last days the Lord would set up an ensign to the nations, a standard to which Israel and the righteous of all nations might gather. (Isa. 5:26; 11:10-12; 18:3; 30:17-26; 31:9; 49:22; 62:10; Zech. 9:16.) This ensign is the new and everlasting covenant, the gospel of salvation (D. & C. 49:9); it is the great latter-day Zion (D. & C. 64:41-43); it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 228)
2 Ne 29:3 A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible
Most missionaries who have served in a Christian country have heard this argument from someone. It is the main argument against the Book of Mormon.
"The argument is, as the Lord suggests, most foolish. It is our modern counterpart to those of Jesus' day who rejected him in the pretense of being loyal to the Law of Moses, the irony being that loyalty to the Law of Moses demanded acceptance of Jesus as the Christ. The purpose of the Law of Moses was to teach and testify of Christ. Such is also the purpose of the Book of Mormon, it being the most Christ-centered book ever written. Yet it is rejected in the name of loyalty to the Bible. The logical extension of such reasoning would be to reject the Gospel of Mark in the name of loyalty to Matthew or to reject the witness of Peter in the pretense of loyalty to Paul and his teachings." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 347)
Most people who cry, we have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible, have no idea why they believe that. Some will quote the passage in Rev. 22:18-19:
'For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.'
They argue that John was declaring that nothing could be added to the Bible or taken away from the Bible. This is their proof that the heavens closed after the Bible was written.
This argument implies that John was writing the book of Revelation as the last chapter of the New Testament. It is in this context only that the passage above can be construed to refer to the entire Bible. This thought process is false for the following reasons-first the books that we know as the New Testament were not compiled at the time of John's writing. They were scattered epistles gathered together sometime later. Second, John is thought to have written the epistles of John after writing the book of Revelation-demonstrating that the passage does not mean that there can be no more revelation. Third, the context of the passage itself demonstrates that John was talking about the book of Revelation not the entire Bible. When John says, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book he is referring to the plagues discussed in Revelation 15 &16 not the plagues written in the New Testament. The New Testament is not a book of plagues, the book of Revelation is. Fourth, a very similar passage is found in Deuteronomy 4:2:
'Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.'
If such a passage is meant to imply that there cannot be any more scripture, then everything in the Bible after Deuteronomy must be false.
The real meaning of the scripture is that the commandments of God should not be altered. Nevertheless, they were altered for we know that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book (1 Ne 13:28). When Joseph Smith altered passages of the book of Revelation in the Joseph Smith Translation, it was to restore those plain and precious things that were lost.
Those who declare that the Bible is the only revelation that God ever intended for his children also claim that the Bible is perfect. They contend that all man ever needs to know regarding God and salvation is contained in its pages. McConkie and Millet comment on this view:
"The fundamental error of Bible cultists is the doctrine of Bible infallibility. This tenet holds that the Bible must be 'completely authoritative and trustworthy in all that it asserts as factual, whether in matters of theology, history, or science.' The Bible, it is held, 'does not contain error of any kind.'
"It has to be significant that the Bible makes no such claim for itself: There is not a single passage of scripture that can properly be used to sustain such a view. For is there any agreement among those maintaining such a position as to what version of the Bible should be used or what the Bible is saying on a host of matters.
"...To claim for the Bible what it does not claim for itself is to misuse the Bible. The Bible does not claim to be the constitution of the church, it does not claim to be infallible, nor does it claim to be the answer in all things. What the Bible does claim is that whenever God had a people that he acknowledged as his own he spoke to them through living prophets who then added those words to the canon of scripture. The purpose and spirit of the Bible is to open the heavens, not to seal them." (McConkie and Millet, Sustaining and Defending the Faith, pp. 40, 50)
2 Ne 29:5 have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people?
The Gentiles are chastised by the Lord for using the Bible with an attitude of ingratitude. It was indeed the Jews who produced the Bible but the Gentiles, historically, had treated the Jews with disdain. After the Roman Diaspora (70 AD) the Jews were again scattered all over the earth-amongst the nations of the Gentiles. For centuries they were persecuted as prophesied, thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway...thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee (Deut 28:33,37). One of the crowning examples of Gentile ingratitude is seen in the Holocaust. Jews among the Christian nations of Europe were slaughtered solely because they were Jews. Many of those who killed and persecuted the Jews at this time were staunch believers in the Bible. Thus, we see that the Gentiles should have been thankful to the Jews, they should have been seeking to reestablish them in the lands of their inheritance, and they should have been treating them as the Lord's covenant people. Instead, they have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them.
2 Ne 29:7 I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea
The term, "isles of the sea," is a term which Nephi has use to refer to the land of promise. In this passage, the Lord uses it in a similar fashion. Although we think of the Americas as two great continents, it is completely natural that Nephi, having sailed to the promised land, should refer to it as an isle of the sea, we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea. But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this (2 Ne 10:20-1). Every time Nephi refers in a prophesy to the "isles of the sea," he is thinking about the land of promise. When the Lord says, I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea, He is referring to the Nephites, among others.
2 Ne 29:7 I bring forth my word unto...all the nations of the earth
The doctrine that the Lord speaks to all nations is repeated three times in this chapter. In verse11 it reads, For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them, and from verse 12, I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. We should not be surprised to find out one day that many of the writings the ancient Orient, Near East, and Africa have divine origins. The Lord has said he would bring forth his word unto all the nations of the earth. Why should we disbelieve him? Elder B. H. Roberts explains:
B. H. Roberts
"Elder B. H. Roberts offered the following counsel on this principle:
While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is established for the instruction of men; and is one of God's instrumentalities for making known the truth, yet he is not limited to that institution for such purposes, neither in time nor place. God raises up wise men . . . of their own tongue and nationality, speaking to them through means that they can comprehend; not always giving a fulness of truth such as may be found in the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ; but always giving that measure of truth that the people are prepared to receive. Mormonism holds, then, that all the great teachers [those who teach principles of truth and virtue] are servants of God; among all nations and in all ages. They are inspired men, appointed to instruct God's children according to the conditions in the midst of which he finds them. . . . Wherever God finds a soul sufficiently enlightened and pure; one with whom his Spirit can communicate, lo! he makes of him a teacher of men. While the path of sensuality and darkness may be that which most men tread, a few . . . have been led along the upward path; a few in all countries and generations have been wisdom seekers, or seekers of God. They have been so because the Divine Word of Wisdom has looked upon them, choosing them for the knowledge and service of himself. (Defense of the Faith and the Saints 1:512-13 from Joseph Smith, the Choice Seer, McConkie and Millet, chapter 2)
Hugh Nibley takes the interpretation even one step further:
"These words are those of the prophet Nephi, found in the Book of Mormon, a book which in many such passages opens a window on other worlds. Here we learn that God has been in contact at sundry times and places with nations of whose existence the world has never dreamed, and even with inhabitants of other worlds, for the house of man, we are told, is but one among many mansions." (The World and the Prophets, p. 210)
2 Ne 29:8 the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God
The Lord operates by the system of witnesses. He will not destroy a people for wickedness until they have been adequately warned. He will not hold us responsible for rejecting his law unless we have been sufficiently taught his law. Therefore, in order to justify his punishment of the wicked, his word must also be established by more than one witness. Paul recited the ancient Hebrew law as follows, in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established (2 Cor 13:1). The word of God is no exception. In this verse we see that the Lord is declaring to the world that the Book of Mormon is the second witness, and is in fact, another testament of Jesus Christ. It was written with the intent to show the world that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations (Moroni's Title Page). Elder Maxwell explains what the third witness is.
Neal A. Maxwell
"The splendid Book of Mormon advises that a third scriptural witness is yet to come from the lost tribes (see 2 Ne 29:12-14)....We do not know when and how this will occur, but we are safe in assuming that the third book will have the same fundamental focus as the Book of Mormon-'that...their seed [too]...may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer' (3 Ne 16:4). If there is a title page in that third set of sacred records, it is not likely to differ in purpose from the title page in the Book of Mormon, except for its focus on still other peoples who likewise received a personal visit from the resurrected Jesus (see 3 Ne 15:20-24; 16:1-4)." (First Nephi, The Doctrinal Foundation, BYU Religious Studies Center, p. 15 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 163)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Lost books are among the treasures yet to come forth. Over twenty of these are mentioned in the existing scriptures. Perhaps most startling and voluminous will be the records of the lost tribes of Israel (see 2 Ne 29:13). We would not even know of the impending third witness for Christ except through the precious Book of Mormon, the second witness for Christ! This third set of sacred records will thus complete a triad of truth. Then, just as the Perfect Shepherd has said, 'My word also shall be gathered in one' (v. 14). There will be 'one fold and one shepherd' (1 Ne 22:25 in a welding together of all the Christian dispensations of human history (see DC 128:18)." (Ensign, Nov. 1986, p. 52 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 163)
2 Ne 29:9 my work is not yet finished
The doctrine that the Bible is all of God's word falsely implies that God can no longer speak to man, that He no longer has the ability or the intent to communicate with his children, that his work is finished. The current state of wickedness in the world clearly demonstrates that the Lord is not yet finished with his work. He hasn't given up on his children-and he never will.
This doctrine concludes that God is a changeable being, that although he spoke with prophets and revealed new truths throughout time, his pattern of behavior has changed. Yet the Lord told Malachi, I am the Lord, I change not (Mal 3:6). And from Hebrews, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Heb 13:8).
Therefore if the words and works of God have cease among the children of men it must be a reflection on the people not on the Lord. Moroni explains:
'...has the day of miracles ceased?
Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.' (Moroni 7:35-37)
2 Ne 29:12 I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel...and they shall write it
The lost ten tribes will produce the third witness that Jesus is the Christ. Their record will contain the story of Christ's visit to them after his ascension and visit to the Nephites, But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel, for they are not lost unto the father, for he knoweth wither he hath taken them (3 Ne 17:4).
This branch of Israel is by far the largest, at least by the number of involved tribes. They were led north after the Assyrian captivity and have since been referred to as the Lost Ten Tribes. It is apparent from the scriptures that many of these lost Israelites were scattered all over the earth. It is equally apparent that a main body retained its identity and heritage. Proof of this is seen in the fact that they were a cohesive body that the Lord could visit in the meridian of time (3 Ne 17:4), that they had their own prophets who would record this visit and other prophecies (v. 12), and that they will return as a cohesive unit from the north to receive their temple blessings at the hands of the Ephraimites (DC 133:26-32). Their brethren who have been scattered are meanwhile being gathered by the great missionary effort of the latter days.
Bruce R. McConkie
"'We have no knowledge of the location or condition of that part if the Ten Tribes who went into the north country.' (Compendium, p. 88.)
"Esdras, an apocryphal writer, records this version of their escape from Assyria: 'Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea the king, whom Salmanasar the king of Assyria led away captive, and he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land. But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt, That they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land. And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow passage of the river. For the most High then shewed signs for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over. For through that country there was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half: and the same region is called Arsareth. Then dwelt they there until the latter times; and now when they shall begin to come, The Highest shall stay the stream again, that they may go through.' (Apocrypha, 2 Esdras 13:40-47)
"...The Lost Tribes are not lost unto the Lord. In their northward journeyings they were led by prophets and inspired leaders. They had their Moses and their Lehi, were guided by the spirit of revelation, kept the law of Moses, and carried with them the statutes and judgments which the Lord had given them in age past. They were still a distinct people many hundreds of years later, for the resurrected Lord visited and ministered among them following his ministry on this continent among the Nephites. (3 Ne. 16:1-4; 17:4.) Obviously he taught them in the same way and gave them the same truths which he gave his followers in Jerusalem and on the American continent; and obviously they recorded his teachings, thus creating volumes of scripture comparable to the Bible and Book of Mormon. (2 Ne. 29:12-14.)
"In due course the Lost Tribes of Israel will return and come to the children of Ephraim to receive their blessings. This great gathering will take place under the direction of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for he holds the keys of 'the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.' (D. & C. 110:11.) Keys are the right of presidency the power to direct; and by this power the Lost Tribes will return, with 'their prophets' and their scriptures to 'be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim.' (D. & C. 133:26-35.)" (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 455-8)