Friday, February 21, 2020

Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased

We are familiar with the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:12
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
I have noticed this theme as I have been reading 1st and 2nd Nephi, especially the chapters quoting and commenting on Isaiah. Language like this is common is Isaiah
And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled. (Isaiah 5:15 / 2 Nephi 15:15)
Passages with this kind of language often pinpoint specific people or groups that exalt themselves and eventually are abased and vice versa. They are labeled by different terms, like "the great and abominable church", "the great and spacious building", "the mother of harlots", etc., but they all connote the same. It is a wicked group of people who refuse to enter into covenants with the Lord and fight against/oppress/mock those who do.

We see the pattern of exalting oneself and being brought down, time and again. Here are some examples:

Lehi saw the great and spacious building in a dream.
26 And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.
27 And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit. (1 Nephi 8:26-27)
Nephi saw in vision that the great and spacious building fell
And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. (1 Nephi 11:36).
We see the same pattern for the great and abominable church.
And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable Church. (1 Nephi 13:8)
And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, (1 Nephi 14:3)
Compare this last quote with 1 Nephi 22:14, when Nephi is commenting on Isaiah
And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. And all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it.
We find the same pattern in Isaiah, only with labels like the "great and abominable church" or "great and spacious building" typically replaced with "Assyria/Babylon" or similar. For instance, in Isaiah 14 / 2 Nephi 24, we read about the king of Babylon (symbolic for Satan and/or his kingdom?)
11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave; the noise of thy viols is not heard; the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! Art thou cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thy heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Similarly, in Isaiah 13:19 / 2 Nephi 23:19
And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
Another example in Isaiah 10:12-18 / 2 Nephi 20:12-18
12 Wherefore it shall come to pass that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and upon Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.
13 For he saith: By the strength of my hand and by my wisdom I have done these things; for I am prudent; and I have moved the borders of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man;
14 And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people; and as one gathereth eggs that are left have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.
15 Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? As if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood!
16 Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, send among his fat ones, leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.
17 And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame, and shall burn and shall devour his thorns and his briers in one day;
18 And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body; and they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth.
Again, the language in the part marked with grey, resembles the language in 1 Nephi 22 where Nephi describes the fate of the abominable church.

Isaiah uses Assyria and Babylon, two glorious kingdoms from a worldly perspective, that conquered and oppressed Israel and Juda/Jerusalem. Metaphorically, this represents the spiritual Israel (those who enter into covenants) and their oppressors (those who "fight against Zion"). An important and repeated element of Isaiah's writings is that the physical conquering of Israel/Juda by Assyria/Babylon will be reversed in a spiritual sense in "that day" (the latter days).  

Compare Isaiah 47:1, describing how Babylon is brought down
Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.
...with the description in Isaiah 52:2 / 2 Nephi 8:25 of Zion/Jerusalem that Babylon oppressed:
25 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, sit down [implied: on the throne], O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
Because Assyria/Babylon/the abominable church exalted themselves, they shall be abased. Thus, a prerequisite to being exalted is to not exalt oneself, that is, not unite with the great and abominable church.
And blessed are the Gentiles, they of whom the prophet has written; for behold, if it so be that they shall repent and fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to that great and abominable church, they shall be saved (2 Nephi 6:12)

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