Friday, February 21, 2020

An example of internal consistency (with an added layer of ironic wordplay) in the prophecies of Zenos

I noticed an intricate example of internal consistency and a new layer of ironic meaning tucked away in this verse:

11 For thus spake the prophet: The Lord God surely shall visit all the house of Israel at that day, some with his voice, because of their righteousness, unto their great joy and salvation, and others with the thunderings and the lightnings of his power, by tempest, by fire, and by smoke, and vapor of darkness, and by the opening of the earth, and by mountains which shall be carried up. (1 Nephi 19)
I assume this verse is quoting Zenos, although Nephi doesn't specify, he does mention Zenos by name in conjunction with other prophecies in the verses immediately before and after this one.

On the one hand...


The internal consistency in this verse is pretty obvious and intricate--the righteous will be visited by God with his voice because of their righteousness...

In 3 Nephi 9, after we get a detailed accounting of the extensive destruction to Nephite lands, the voice of God says to the people:


13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?
14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.


These same people are later visited by Christ, "unto their great joy and salvation."

On the other hand...


...while others will be visited with destructive elements. 3 Nephi 8 documents each of the elements of destruction listed in Zenos' prophecy in specific detail.

Thunderings -- v. 6
Lightnings -- v. 7
Tempest -- v. 6
Fire -- v. 8
Smoke / Vapor of Darkness -- vv. 20-23
Opening of the earth -- vv. 14, 17-18

Not a coincidence.


Ironic Wordplay



The last of the destructive elements is where I now see the ironic wordplay--the wicked will be visited by "mountains which shall be carried up." 

This seems to be a prophecy of the fate of the city of Moronihah:

10 And the earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah, that in the place of the city there became a great mountain. (3 Nephi 8)

I can't help but see this as in contrast to the description of Enoch's people, whom the Lord called Zion, who were "blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish.

Their leader, Enoch, instilled fear in the enemies of Zion, in part due to his ability to cause the earth to tremble, mountains to flee, rivers to change course, and even to cause land to come up out of the sea. (See Moses 7: 13-14, 17.) That would be frightening if your enemy could do these things, wouldn't it?

Eventually, Enoch's people were "taken up into heaven" (Moses 7:21).

So the ironic wordplay here is that when the wicked people reject God's covenant, they reject the opportunity to be "taken up" to Mount Zion to flourish in the high places, and instead they consign themselves to have a mountain carried up upon them. Yikes.

As Alma preaches, (and as recently cited in a different ironic twist by Stisa in this post) if we end up standing before God at the judgment day unprepared:

14 ... "we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.
15 But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance." (Alma 12)


Scriptural repetition -- An introduction

In this paper , Alan Goff makes a good case for intentional repetition in ancient Hebrew scripture (including the Book of Mormon whose write...