2 Ne 33:1 neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking
The writing style of the Book of Mormon is sometimes awkward, but the spirit it carries and the principles it teaches are nothing less than eloquent. Nephi is indeed mighty in writing, because of the spirit of his message, for the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. His comment here is a product of his humility and is reminiscent of the words of Moroni, Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing (Ether 12:23).
As we come to the end of Nephi's record, it should be underscored that the mighty writings of Nephi contain almost every principle that will be dealt with in the rest of the Book of Mormon. In a sense, first and second Nephi are a condensed, "Readers Digest" version of the Book of Mormon. In the words of the Lord, the plates of Nephi...do throw greater views upon my gospel (DC 10:45). Those familiar with the Spirit of the Lord will recognize the words of Nephi as the words of Christ, if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ (v. 10). Furthermore, Nephi understood that the Lord was capable of making weak things become strong (Ether 12:27), for he said, the words which I have written in weakness will be make strong unto them (v. 4). Thus, the words of Nephi are mighty-they carry the Spirit of the Lord, they teach of Christ, they speak as the voice of one crying from the dust (v. 13), and will be used to judge us at the bar of the great Jehovah (v. 15).
2 Ne 33:3 I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night
One of the most difficult qualities to master is that of charity. The natural man loves only himself. It is not much more righteous to show love for one's family and friends for as the Lord has said, if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? (Matt 5:47). True righteousness requires a greater love than this. The spiritual man must first love the Lord God with all of his heart, might, mind and strength. Next, he must love his neighbor as himself. The last crowning quality of charity is to show love for vast groups of people-people with which you may have no interaction. This love stems from the godlike concern for the eternal welfare of others. This is the emotion which filled the hearts of the sons of Mosiah, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble (Mosiah 28:3).
Nephi's concern for his flock was so great that he prayed for them continually, he wept for their eternal welfare. Nephi had charity for his people. He had that same love that the Lord has for all of his spirit children. He will later explain that his love extended beyond his stewardship, for he said, I have charity for my people...I have charity for the Jew...I have charity for the Gentiles (v. 7-9).
"When our hearts are filled with charity, we love as Christ loved, his goals become our goals, his work becomes our work, and ultimately his glory becomes our glory, for we will become 'joint-heirs with Christ' (Romans 8:17) of 'all that my Father hath' (D&C 84:38).
With this thought in mind, and thinking of charity in relationship to hope, it might be said that hope is a hungering and thirsting after righteousness for oneself, and charity is essentially a hungering and thirsting after righteousness for others. Not surprisingly, therefore, we find that Lehi, after tasting the fruit of the tree of life, 'began to be desirous that [his] family should partake of it also' (1 Nephi 8:12), and that Nephi wrote, 'I pray continually for [my people] by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them' (2 Nephi 33:3)." (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 147)
2 Ne 33:4 I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people
It is not hard to see that Nephi prayed with great faith. He may not know exactly how the Lord will bless his people but he knows that his prayer of faith will be for their overall benefit. We need to learn to pray with the same faith that Nephi had, for the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).
2 Ne 33:5 no man will be angry at the words which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil
In Nephi's own words, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center (1 Ne 16:2). Speaking to Joseph Smith of the Book of Mormon, the Lord said, Satan will harden the hearts of the people to stir them up to anger against you, that they will not believe my words (DC 10:32). Therefore, if one encounters a strident opponent to the Book of Mormon and the individual is angry with the message of the Book of Mormon, you can know for a surety that he is of the spirit of the devil.
2 Ne 33:7-9 I have charity for my people... for the Jews... for the Gentiles
Nephi has just explained that he has charity for three groups of people: the Nephites, the Jew, and the Gentiles. In this respect, he is like other great prophets whose love extended beyond themselves, beyond friends and family. Enos petitioned the Lord at length for three things. He prayed for his own soul (Enos 1:4-8), for his "brethren, the Nephites" (Enos 1:9-10), and for those who could be considered his enemies, the Lamanites (Enos 1:11-18). Such a love cannot come from the natural man. Moroni described well the emotions of Nephi and Enos as he describes God's love for us, "I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy father." (Ether 12:34) The only way to get it is to ask, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ, that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." (Moroni 7:48)
Howard W. Hunter
A cabinet minister of Egypt once told me that if a bridge is ever built between Christianity and Islam, it must be built by the Mormon Church. In making inquiry as to the reason for his statement, I was impressed by his recitation of the similarities and the common bonds of brotherhood.
Both the Jews and the Arabs are children of our Father. They are both children of promise, and as a church we do not take sides. We have love for and an interest in each. The purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to bring about love, unity, and brotherhood of the highest order. Like Nephi of old, may we be able to say, "I have charity for the Jew. I also have charity for the Gentiles." (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 100.)
2 Ne 33:10 if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ
One missionary used to use this scripture in his door approach. When he was rejected by someone who said that they were already Christian, he would ask if they believed in Christ. They would answer, "yes", then he would open his Book of Mormon and read 2 Ne 33:10. He would say, "If you believe in Christ, you will believe in this book. It is another testament of Jesus Christ and I have been sent to bring it to you." I don't know if this bold approach was successful or not, but it was certainly doctrinally accurate. If any Christian in the world really believes in Jesus Christ and has a sincere desire to follow him, they will feel of the spirit of the Book of Mormon. They will recognize that the words of Nephi are the words of Christ, and they will have no choice but to accept the truth or have it stand as a witness against them at the last day.
"The Book of Mormon is the most Christ-centered scriptural record ever published. Every doctrine within its covers is but an appendage to as central theme- the testimony that Jesus is the Christ. All who believe in Christ will believe the words of this book. One cannot truly believe in the Bible and at the same time not believe in the Book of Mormon. 'There is not that person on the face of the earth,' Brigham Young said, 'who has had the privilege of learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ from these two books [the Bible and the Book of Mormon], that can say that one is true, and the other is false. No Latter-day Saint, no man or woman, can say the Book of Mormon is true, and at the same time say that the Bible is untrue. If one be true, both are; and if one be false, both are false.' (JD 1:38.) To believe the words of one is to believe the words of both (see Mormon 7:9)." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 375)
Elder Hartmann Rector Jr. tells his conversion story in the book, No More Strangers. He was a minister at the time he read the Book of Mormon and explains the great impact that the words of 2 Ne 33 had upon his thinking at this important time:
"[Nephi] said: 'And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.'
"And that is true; that is what these words do. You can't argue that they teach anything bad. Nevertheless, to say that they're the words of Christ and 'he gave them to me' is the most daring, dangerous, damning kind of a thing to say if it's not true. You just don't serve the cause of Christ in the world by writing fictions about Jesus Christ. I couldn't believe that any honest, responsible group or church or people would put a thing like this across on the world while trying honestly to serve Jesus Christ.
"In the next verse the writer of those words goes on to indicate that he understands exactly how serious it is. He says: 'And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye-for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.'
"That is about the strongest thing I'd ever read in my life, because I knew there was going to be a "last day" before I ever heard of this Book of Mormon. But then in the next verse the writer said the most touching thing I'd ever read: 'And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at the great and last day.' (2 Nephi 33:10-11.)
"That struck me as wonderful! I thought: 'What's wrong with that? That's absolutely right. He doesn't want me to join any 'Mormon' Church-no mention of it. Just entrance into the Father's kingdom by believing in Jesus Christ! If that isn't true the Bible's not true either, because that's all that the Bible is about.' And yet, if what I had now read was true, why in heaven's name hadn't we heard about it before? I just didn't know what to make of it!
"...So I just put my doubts on the shelf as fast as they came to mind and tried to deal with what the book seemed to say. By the time I had finished reading the book I was really in turmoil about the whole thing. If it were true, I couldn't understand why all this had been kept from the world in general for so long. Yet, if it wasn't true, I didn't know what I believed. I knew that if I went to any of my colleagues in the ministry for counsel, with the best of intentions they could only say one thing...
"...The next day [after a meeting with the missionaries] I went into the little chapel next door to our house, took the Bible and Book of Mormon with me, closed the door, and went up front and knelt down. Then I poured it all out to the Lord-everything that was churning inside me about the mess that I was in now, for I knew what would happen if I went ahead and was baptized. I knew it would be the end of my ministry, but I could take that. I was afraid, however, that it might also be the end of my marriage, for my wife was already extremely upset about what I'd been doing all week long...I also worried about my friends, my fellow colleagues in the ministry, and the people who believed in me....
"I poured all this out to the Lord. Then I left it with him and went back and sat down to try to think through things again. I opened up the Book of Mormon and reread the things I had underlined the first time through it to see if they still impressed me now as they did then. They did. I concluded that this book had to be true even though I couldn't explain where it came from and why we hadn't had it before. But then fear would just sweep me off my feet again...
"Round and round it went like that all day long from about 7:00 A.M. until toward 6:00 P.M. Then suddenly I realized what was happening. Here I was asking God for the answers and was being turned to the scriptures. Comparing the Book of Mormon with the Bible, I concluded that it had to be true even though I couldn't explain it. Then just when I was ready to move out in faith, fear and doubt would sweep over me again and block everything. Finally it dawned upon me that my fears and doubts were not coming from God in answer to my prayers, so I knew where they were coming from.
"I put the two books together, walked back over to the elders' quarters and knocked on the door again. This time I said to the elder who opened the door, 'I'm ready now. I've got a lot of fears yet, but no more doubts.' He invited me in and they all gathered around. One of them had a big grin on his face as he said, 'We've been having a great spirit here, fasting and praying for you all day.' Of course I didn't know they did that kind of thing and they didn't know what I was doing. But God knew, and together we won." (Hartmann and Connie Rector, No More Strangers, pp. 50-56)
2 Ne 33:11 you and I shall stand face to face before his bar
We always imagine that Christ will be our judge. However, He is not the only one who will judge us at the judgment-seat. Nephi declared, I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat...and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things (2 Ne 33:7,11). Moroni also will be at the judgment-seat, we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood (Ether 12:38). The Savior gave the responsibility of judging the twelve tribes of Israel to his apostles (Matt 19:28) and the responsibility of judging the descendants of Lehi to the disciples of the Americas (3 Ne 27:27). Therefore, the Savior and his servants, who wrote the scriptures we have today, will judge us according to our faithfulness to the light we had received in mortality.
2 Ne 33:14 these words shall condemn you at the last day
John the Revelator recorded, I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Rev 20:12). Nephi explains that the Book of Mormon is one of those books out of which the dead were judged. If you have read the Book of Mormon, you will be held responsible for living by all the principles contained therein, And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way (2 Ne 25:28).
Ezra Taft Benson
"Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or our condemnation. Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not." (A Witness and a warning, pp. 7-8 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 152)
Marion G. Romney
"For me there could be no more impelling reason for reading the Book of Mormon than this statement of the Lord that we shall be judged by what is written in it." (Conference Report, Apr. 1960, pp. 110-111 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 152)
Ezra Taft Benson
"What is the major purpose of the Book of Mormon? To bring men to Christ and to be reconciled to him...[It] helps us draw nearer to God. Is there not something deep in our hearts that longs to draw nearer to God, to be more like Him in our daily walk, to feel His presence with us constantly? If so, then the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path...When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance." (Ensign, Nov. 1984, pp. 6-7 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 171)
2 Ne 33:15 I must obey
Russell M. Nelson
"Nephi was a multifaceted genius. Endowed with great physical stature, he was a prophet, teacher, ruler, colonizer, builder, craftsman, scholar, writer, poet, military leader, and father of nations. Nephi had a sincere desire to know the mysteries of God. He became a special witness and trusted prophet of the Lord.
"Nephi lived an adventurous life and faced numerous difficulties. Some of the challenges he faced included fleeing Jerusalem, building a ship, crossing the waters to the promised land, colonizing, withstanding persecution, fulfilling family and leadership responsibilities, and keeping records. Toward the end of his inspiring life Nephi wrote his concluding testimony and bore witness of the doctrine of Christ, the power of the Holy Ghost, and the truthfulness of the words he had written. Appropriately, his final testimony closed with the words that could be known as his signature: 'I must obey.'
"Few have spoken so profoundly in behalf of one generation to another. Indeed, Nephi's life and mission were destined to bless us and all people of our day." (Heroes from the Book of Mormon, p. 16)