Nephi continues to quote Isaiah in these chapters (2 Nephi 15-20). One footnote of interest prior to this reading is found in 2 Nephi 12:2, footnote a, “Comparison with the King James Bible in English shows that there are differences in more than half of the 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, while about 200 verses have the same working as the KJV.” An example of how this comparison is helpful is found in 2 Nephi 12:16, footnote a, “The Greek (Septuaging) has ‘ships of the sea.’ The Hebrew has ‘ships of Tarshish.’ The Book of Mormon has both, showing that the Brass Plates had lost neither phrase” (see, “Upon All the Ships of the Sea, and Upon All the Ships of Tarshish”: Revisiting 2 Nephi 12:16 and Isaiah 2:16 for an insightful article on this verse).
One thing that has always stood out to me in these pages is the phrase, “but his hand is stretched out still”. It follows the very threatening phrase, “his anger is not turned away” (2 Nephi 15:25; 19:12,17,21; 20:4). So is it a good thing or a bad thing that “his hand is stretched out still”? I guess it depends on what you decide to do when God stretches His hand out to you (For a great article on this thought see, “His Hand Is Stretched Out Still”: The Lord’s Eternal Covenant of Mercy).
Hypostasis is a technique that is used frequently in the scriptures. This technique uses a part of the corporeal nature of God to represent God as a whole. An example of this is when the scriptures say something to the effect of “the voice of the Lord”, “the face of God”, “the arm of the Lord”. These “parts” of God are used to imply that God himself–whole and complete–was actually present. So, if “his hand is stretched out still”, then the implication is that HE is still near.
What I am referring to can be illustrated in Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life. The Rod of Iron is usually thought of and portrayed in visuals as something akin to a guardrail. However, Lehi, Nephi, and Isaiah NEVER use the word rod in this way (see 2 Nephi 20:5,15,24,26, for example). They always use the word rod to talk about something that is held in the hand and stretched out (with the exception of 2 Nephi 21:1,4; Isaiah 11:4, although these work too). What does this change about how you picture, or think, of the “rod” that is coming from the Tree of Life”? If the Tree of Life typifies Christ (SNellFour), then what is the Tree of Life holding out to all? Is His hand “stretched out still”?
Just like it depended on how the people reacted to the “rod” in the vision, it will depend on how we react when His hand/presence is “stretched out still”. If His hand is stretched out, then we must do as Isaiah writes, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).
ON THIS DAY IN 1829: April 21 to about May 10, 1829, Harmony, Pennsylvania. Joseph Smith continued dictating the translation of the Book of Mormon to Oliver Cowdery.
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