2 Ne 8 Introduction
The Second Coming of Christ will usher in the great Millenium. During this blessed period, divine authority will be administered from two great cities: the New Jerusalem and the Old Jerusalem. This chapter tells the story of the redemption of these two great cities. Verses 1-16 speak in general of Zion, the New Jerusalem, that great city which is yet to be built upon the American continent. Verses 17-23 speak of the redemption of the Old Jerusalem.
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Jerusalem of old, after the Jews have been cleansed and sanctified from all their sin, shall become a holy city where the Lord shall dwell and from whence he shall send forth his word unto all people. Likewise, on this continent, the city of Zion, New Jerusalem, shall be built and from it the law of God shall also go forth. There will be no conflict, for each city shall be headquarters for the Redeemer of the world, and from each he shall send forth his proclamations as occasion may require. Jerusalem shall be the gathering place of Judah and his fellows of the house of Israel, and Zion shall be the gathering place of Ephraim and his fellows, upon whose heads shall be conferred 'the richer blessings.'...These two cities, one in the land of Zion and one in Palestine, are to become capitals for the kingdom of God during the millennium." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 3: 69-71)
2 Ne 8:2 Look unto Abraham, your father, and unto Sarah
"...we will look unto Abraham our father, and to Sarah who bore us, for if we are Christ's, then we are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise...How was it, then, with Abraham? He is said to be the father of the faithful, and the great head of the Church in the days of the Patriarchs, and the head of those who have been adopted into the covenant of Jehovah through the blood of His only begotten; for if we are Christ's then we are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. If, by the virtue of the Savior's blood, our sins are washed away, we are the children of Abraham; we hail him as our father, and Sarah as our mother; he is the father of the faithful, he is the father of many nations. How was it with Abraham? Did he please God, walk before Him uprightly, and obtain this testimony that he pleased God, and obtain promises that no other man has obtained since the days of Abraham, the Son of God excepted? Jehovah promised that in him and in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed, as a pattern of piety, and as the great head of the Church. Because of his faithfulness in keeping the commandments of Jehovah on earth, he drew from on high this great promise. Who has lived since that time who has been thus blessed? I will venture to say not one. Then if we are his children, will we not do the works of faithful Abraham?" (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 2: 79.)
2 Ne 8:3 the Lord shall comfort Zion
Since the organization of the church, the saints have been the object of persecution and public ridicule. While these difficulties may have lessened of late, the lot of the latter-day saint continues to be more persecution than adoration. Yet, all of these inequities, individually and collectively, will be wiped away. Those saints who were commanded to build Zion in the 1830's (see DC 57 & 63) must have been horrified when they were mobbed and driven from their Jackson County homes. The promise is, and has always been, that the Lord does not expect his saints to suffer forever. "This verse (2 Ne. 8:3) was a great comfort to the Saints when they were driven out of Missouri and later out of Illinois. The Lord assured the Saints that eventually he would pour out comfort and blessings upon his people in America." (W. Cleon Skousen, Isaiah Speaks to Modern Times, 633-634 as taken from Commentaries on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. by K. Douglas Bassett, [American Fork, UT: Covenant Publishing Co., 2003], 37)
Ezra Taft Benson
"We live in a time when the devil is on the loose and is working among the Saints to thwart and tear down the work of God. But he will not succeed. Individuals may fall and there may be those who betray sacred covenants, but the kingdom of God will roll forward until it reaches its decreed destiny to fill the entire earth.
"I carry in my calendar book a passage of scripture that I sometimes use to remind myself and others about the eventual outcome of efforts to destroy the Church: 'No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall revile against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.' (3 Nephi 22:17.)" (Come unto Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 22.)
2 Ne 8:3 he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord
We can expect that the redemption of Zion to include a complete change in the landscape-the land will be made like the Garden of Eden. But the Lord has made it clear that the blessings he plans to pour out upon the saints will occur wherever they go. While in Kirtland, the Lord said, Therefore, will I not make solitary places to bud and to blossom, and to bring forth in abundance? Saith the Lord. Is there not room enough on the mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman? (DC 117:7-8). Elder LeGrand Richards has explained that the desert of the Great Basin in which the early pioneers settled blossomed as a rose in fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (see A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 233-4). Isaiah said, The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose (Isa 35:1). The Lord will comfort the saints and make the wilderness beautiful wherever the pure in heart go.
"'For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.'
"This vast congregation are living witnesses of the literal fulfillment of these words of the prophet. Was not this land a veritable wilderness in the year 1847? Has it not been transformed into a garden like Eden? This land has become choice above all other lands. We want no better. And I am inclined to think that the Lord can lead us to no better land than we have at the present time, unless a special blessing is conferred upon the land beyond what we have received. And in this conference we have seen the joy of the people; we have witnessed their gladness. We have heard the voice of thanksgiving from this stand, from the lips of the Elders of Israel. Here in this choir we have heard the voice of melody. Isaiah must have had his eye upon these occasions; and in the great visions that were given to him he must have witnessed the gatherings of the people of the Lord. Oh, how our hearts have been made to rejoice upon this occasion!" (Conference Report, April 1905, Second Day-Morning Session. 97.)
2 Ne 8:4 for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light for the people
The administration of God's kingdom will take place from the Zion on the American Continent. It will be from this New Jerusalem that the law and the judgments of the Lord will be given, 'for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the lord from Jerusalem' (Isa 2:3).
"We also read that out of Zion shall go forth the law. We also read that Zion is to become so glorious, in times to come, that the nations that are afar will say to one another, 'Surely Zion is the City of our God, for the Lord is there; his power is there, his glory is there,' etc. Now if there be a time, in the history of the latter-day Zion, that the power of God will be made manifest in their midst, so as to stir up the nations afar off, causing them to exclaim that Zion is truly the City of God; her laws are divine; let us become subject to her laws; do you suppose that we, with our present organization, after perfecting it as much as we can expect to, could be ready and prepared to send forth laws to foreign nations for their government? No. There would then be persons ordained and set apart for various purposes, not to bestow any new Priesthood, for it is all included in the everlasting and eternal Priesthood, after the order of the Son of God; but to set apart persons already holding the Priesthood in the great organization; to receive divine laws; or, in other words, to regulate the nations, according to the laws of Zion; that they may understand her laws, and know what the divine government is, by which they are to be governed; in other words, ministers or plenipotentiaries are to be sent forth to transact business among all nations and peoples who willingly shall become subject to the laws of Zion. As to the rebellious nations, there will be none left alive. As it is written, 'that nation or kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish.' 'Those nations shall be utterly wasted away;' consequently, the nations left, who are not totally destroyed will be anxious to be governed by the laws of Zion. Hence there will be an organization before the winding-up scene that will control the nations politically, giving them the privilege of remaining in their own land if they choose to do so, but subject to the laws of Zion." (Journal of Discourses, vol 19, May 20, 1877, p.14)
2 Ne 8:5 The isles shall wait upon me
Those of the house of Israel who have been scattered all over the earth, including to the isles of the sea, will turn to the Lord before the Second Coming. This includes those who came to the American continent. The term, "isles of the sea," is a term which Nephi and later Jacob use to refer to the land of promise. We think of the Americas as two great continents. However, it is completely natural for the prophets to 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, italics added). Every time Nephi or Jacob refers to the "isles of the sea," he is thinking about the land of promise and his people.
2 Ne 8:6 for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment
The earth will be transformed on two separate occasions. At the beginning of the Millenium, the earth will be transformed from a telestial state to a terrestial one. This will be similar to the paradise of the Garden of Eden before the fall of Adam. The second transformation of the earth will occur at the end the little season (after the Millenium) when the earth will be transformed into a celestial sphere for those worthy of a celestial glory. Joseph Fielding Smith explains how this passage from Isaiah is referring to the first of these two earthly transformations.
Joseph Fielding Smith
"This earth is filling the measure of its creation. (Sec. 88:18-26.) Today it is passing through its mortal state. The time will come when it shall die and pass away as do all things upon it. Isaiah says: 'The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.'(Isa 24:4)
"'The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.' (Isa 24: 19-20) Again he declares: 'Lift up your eyes to the heavens and look upon the earth beneath; for the heavens (i.e. the heavens surrounding the earth) shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell, therein shall die in like manner.' (Isa 51:6.) Here we have predictions that the earth shall pass away, die, and all its inhabitants shall also die in like manner. This truth was not generally and correctly understood until the Lord made known in revelations to Joseph Smith that this should be the case. When Isaiah said the earth should 'fall and not rise again,' the interpretation is that it should not be restored to the same mortal or temporal condition. When the earth passes away and is dissolved it will pass through a similar condition which the human body does in death....The 'new heavens and new earth' referred to in this scripture [Isa 65:17], and also in Section 101:23-31, had reference to the change which shall come to the earth and all upon it, at the beginning of the Millennial reign, as we declare in the tenth article of the Articles of Faith. This is the renewed earth when it shall receive its paradisiacal glory, or be restored as it was before the fall of man. (See Compendium, art, "Millennial Reign," p. 202.) 'The new heaven and new earth' we are discussing in Section 29, is the final change, or resurrection, of the earth, after the 'little season' which shall follow the Millennium." (Church History and Modern Revelation, vol. 1, p. 132)
2 Ne 8:7 ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart I have written my law
The prophet speaks of a righteous group of people in the last days, and the Lord will write the law in their hearts. Jeremiah taught this same doctrine when he spoke of the new and everlasting covenant to be revealed in the last days, 'I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel...I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people.' (Jer 31:31-33) How will the Lord write the law in their hearts?
The Lord always commands his prophets to write down his laws. In this instance, he is writing the law in the hearts of the righteous. This is exactly what happens when the saints attend the temple-they learn the law of the Lord. However, this law cannot be written down on parchments or stone tablets. Rather, through regular temple attendance and sheer repetition, it is written in the hearts of the temple patrons.
2 Ne 8:7 fear ye not the reproach of men
'And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.' (Matt 10:28)
'Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear.' (Moroni 8:16)
'For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.' (Romans 1:16)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"Let us recognize that fear comes not of God, but rather that this gnawing, destructive element comes from the adversary of truth and righteousness. Fear is the antithesis of faith. It is corrosive in its effects, even deadly." (Commentaries on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. by K. Douglas Bassett, [American Fork, UT: Covenant Publishing Co., 2003], 39)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"When I went on a mission, my father gave me a little card with a verse from the New testament, the words of the Lord to the centurion servant who brought news concerning the little daughter of the centurion. Those words, 'be not afraid, only believe.' I commend those words to each of us, my brothers and sisters. You do not need to fear if you are on the side of right." (Commentaries on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. by K. Douglas Bassett, [American Fork, UT: Covenant Publishing Co., 2003], 40)
2 Ne 8:9-10 Art thou not he that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?
Who hath cut Rahab and wounded the dragon? What does this mean? Reynolds and Sjodahl clarified that Rahab represents Egypt (Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 290) and Ezek. 29:3 refers to Pharaoh as 'the great dragon.'
Therefore, we may paraphrase this passage as follows: "Art thou not he (the Great Jehovah) who hath cut off Egypt, and wounded Pharaoh? Art thou not he who hath dried the red sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the red sea a way for the ransomed children of Israel to pass over?"
This famous scriptural event is symbolic in many ways. The Egyptian armies were the most powerful military force on the face of the earth at the time that Moses confronted them. Still, the power of the Lord was strong enough to destroy them and save his people. This event will be repeated in the redemption of Zion and Jerusalem. In that day, the power of the Lord will rest with the saints to such a degree that 'it shall be said among the wicked; Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.' (DC 45:70) Similarly, Jerusalem will be saved from the fiercest army ever assembled in the history of the world (Rev. 9:16), and a careful review of the plagues listed in Revelation shows a striking similarity to the plagues of Egypt (compare Ex. 7-9 to Rev. 8-9). Therefore, when we think of the triumph of the children of Israel over the power of Pharaoh, we should see the latter-day symbolism. The power of the Lord was wielded on behalf his people then, and that same power will be wielded again in just as dramatic a fashion.
2 Ne 8:11-17 The redeemed of Zion and the Jews at the Second Coming
Here, Isaiah speaks Messianically to two different groups of people. Verse 11 recounts the joy of the saints in the New Jerusalem of America. They will sing a new song (DC 84:98-102), they will rejoice to be in the presence of Jehovah, and they will welcome the returning city of Enoch, 'and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other' (Moses 7:63). Such will be the joy of the righteous.
Verse 12 emphasizes the identity of the Redeemer at that day. Now the focus shifts to the Jews in Jerusalem, who will be saved in a dramatic fashion at the Second Coming. The Lord says 'I am he,' reminding us of another ominous declaration, 'I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God' (DC 45:52). At this point, the Lord reasons with the Jews about their relationship with him. They feared man rather than God (v. 12-13). The Jews had forgotten the Lord and they had 'feared continually every day, because of the fury of the oppressor' (likely referring to the army prophesied to come against Jerusalem just prior to the Second Coming). The Lord asks, 'And where is the fury of the oppressor?' (The fury is gone because the Lord has just destroyed the opposing forces and redeemed Jerusalem). The Lord reminds them that if they had been faithful to him, they would have had no need to worry themselves about the wrath of their enemies, but of course, they did not. Again, in verse 15 he declares his identity to these shocked Jews, saying, 'I am the Lord thy God, whose waves roared; the Lord of Hosts is my name.'
At the end of this dramatic conversation, the Jews will finally realize that they have denied the Christ for two millennia. While they had suffered persecution after persecution from one oppressor and another, it could have all been avoided, if they had trusted in the arm of the Lord. This sad truth will cause them to 'weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king' (DC 45:53).
2 Ne 8:12 I am he that comforteth you
Gordon B. Hinckley
"With many of you there is the gnawing pain of bereavement and fear. To you the Lord has said, 'Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted' (Matt. 5:4).
"We know there are many days of loneliness and nights of longing. But there is also that which comes from Him who said, 'I, even I, am he that comforteth you' (Isa. 51:12).
"The Lord is your strength. He is available to you, and when invited, by His Spirit He will come to you...
"You will find comfort and strength as you lose yourself in...service. Your own troubles will be forgotten as you help others with theirs. Your burdens will become lighter as you lift the burdens of the downtrodden and the oppressed." (Commentaries on Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. by K. Douglas Bassett, [American Fork, UT: Covenant Publishing Co., 2003], 43)
2 Ne 8:17 O Jerusalem...thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling wrung out
For a graphic description of the punishments which Jerusalem has suffered, see the commentary for 2 Ne 6:10. Elder McConkie gives a good overview of the two main scriptural events in which the Jews are forced to drink the dregs of the trembling cup.
Bruce R. McConkie
"Daniel spoke prophetically of a day when there would be 'the abomination that maketh desolate' (Dan. 11:31; 12:11), and the phrase was recoined in New Testament times to say, 'the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet.' (Matt. 24:15.)....
"...These conditions of desolation, born of abomination and wickedness, were to occur twice in fulfilment of Daniel's words. The first was to be when the Roman legions under Titus, in 70 A.D., laid siege to Jerusalem, destroying and scattering the people, leaving not one stone upon another in the desecrated temple, and spreading such terror and devastation as has seldom if ever been equalled on earth. Of those days Moses had foretold that the straitness of the siege would cause parents to eat their own children and great loathing and evil to abound. (Deut. 28.)
"And of the same events our Lord was led to say: 'For then, in those days, shall be great tribulation on the Jews, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, such as was not before sent upon Israel, of God, since the beginning of their kingdom until this time; no, nor ever shall be sent again upon Israel. And except those days should be shortened, there should none of their flesh be saved.' (Jos. Smith 1:12-20.)
"Then, speaking of the last days, of the days following the restoration of the gospel and its declaration 'for a witness unto all nations,' our Lord said: 'And again shall the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, be fulfilled.' (Jos. Smith 1:31-32.) That is: Jerusalem again will be under siege ('For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle'); again the severity of the siege and the extremities of brutal conflict, born of wickedness and abomination, will lead to great devastation and desolation ('and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity'). (Zech. 14.) It will be during this siege that Christ will come, the wicked will be destroyed, and the millennial era commenced." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 12)
2 Ne 8:18 none to guide her among all the sons she hath brought forth
This is an accurate description of the spiritual leadership of today's Jews. The author once asked a faithful Jew why they no longer build temples. Her reply was that there was no Jewish prophet who had been given a commandment to build one. Indeed, there is 'none to guide her among all the sons she hath brought forth.' While modern Israel lacks nothing in political or military leadership, her spiritual leadership is lacking and will continue to be until two prophets cry in her streets.
2 Ne 8:20 Thy sons have fainted, save these two
During the Second Abomination of Desolation, when Jerusalem shall be under siege, there will be two great prophets which will prophecy in the streets of Jerusalem for 3½ years. Their story is told in the book of Revelation:
'...it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
...And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.' (Rev 11:2-12)
2 Ne 8:22-23 I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling...I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee
After the ministry of these two great prophets, the Lord will come to fight the battles for the Jews. He will take the cup out of their hands and make their enemies drink it. As the book of Revelation explains, as soon as the prophets are brought back to life, destructions begin to destroy the wicked, 'And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.' (Rev 11:13)
2 Ne 8:24-25 Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments
Verses 24 and 25 represent the first two verses of the next chapter of Isaiah, chapter 52. Thanks to Elias Higbee we have Joseph Smith's explanation of the meaning of these two verses:
'Questions by Elias Higbee: What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion-and what people had Isaiah reference to?
He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost.
What are we to understand by Zion loosing herself from the bands of her neck; 2d verse?
We are to understand that the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen; which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation. See the 6th, 7th, and 8th verses. The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles.' (DC 113:7-10)