2013 Book of Mormon: Chapter 12 (Institute Lesson by hgellor)
DOCTRINES AND PRINCIPLES IN THIS LESSON:
•Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ (see 2 Nephi 25:19–30).
•Pride, secret combinations, and priestcrafts will be stumbling blocks
for many in the last days (see 2 Nephi 26:20–31).
•In the last days the Lord will perform “a marvelous work and a
wonder” (see 2 Nephi 27).
A little introduction to the lesson…
Read 2 Nephi 25:1-8
1. Understanding the manner of prophesying among the Jews in Isaiah’s time (see verse 1).
2. Having the spirit of prophecy (see verse 4).
3. Being taught after the manner of the Jews in Isaiah’s time (see verse 5).
4. Knowing the regions around Jerusalem in Isaiah’s time (see verse 6).
5. Living in a time when Isaiah’s prophecies are fulfilled (see verse 8).
Ideas that can help people understand Isaiah’s prophecies:
All Church members may not gain a thorough understanding of items 1, 3, and 4 in the list above.
However, everyone can receive the spirit of prophecy, and because we live in the latter days, we can
look for the gradual fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies. Although we may not see all of them come to
pass, we can know that the events Isaiah foretold are happening around us.
Ne 25:1 Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand
The Nephites, understandably, had a difficult time understanding Isaiah. As Nephi points out, they didn't know
concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews. This was intentional on Nephi's part, for their works were
works of darkness (v. 2). The Jews had a way of prophesying which could confuse just about anyone:
"The prophets sometimes speak of future events as present, because they are present to them in their
visions. For instance, 'Unto us a Child is born.' (Isa. 9:6)
"Similarly, they sometimes speak of the future as already past. For instance: 'He hath borne our grief and
carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.' (Is. 53:4)
"Another peculiarity is that the prophets sometimes group together future events very much as one
combines stars into constellations in the wide expanse, according to their apparent position to an observer on
earth, rather than their actual distance from each other." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of
Mormon, vol. 1, p. 370)
We have several advantages which help us understand Isaiah better than the Nephites did. Today, we have the
entire Old Testament history to read. We have other prophets, like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zecharaiah, which
prophesied in a manner similar to Isaiah. We have linguists and scholars helping us understand the poetic forms of
Hebrew writings. But more than all this, we have the advantage of other scriptures which teach us about the
writings of Isaiah. There are interpretations of his writings in the New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine &
Covenants. Lastly, we have the benefit of history on our side. All the things that Christ did during his mortal ministry
are easy to understand when looking through the "retrospectoscope." Nephi emphasizes this point later. He explains
that when men see Isaiah's prophecies being fulfilled they will finally understand their meaning, in the days that the
prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass (v. 7).
2 Ne 25:4 the words of Isaiah...are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy
Nephi had no trouble understanding Isaiah. This is reminiscent of Joseph Smith's comment about the
book of Revelation. He said, "the book of Revelation is one of the plainest books God ever caused to be
written" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 290). It is easy for Nephi to say that Isaiah is not hard
to understand and for Joseph Smith to say that the book of Revelation is one of the plainest books ever
written, because they had both seen in vision the same things that Isaiah and John the Revelator saw. If
we had the advantage of seeing in vision the same things seen by these great prophets, the interpretation
would be a piece of cake.
Nevertheless, this is no excuse for us. The Lord has specifically commanded us to study Isaiah, a
commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah (3
Ne 23:1). We must seek the spirit of prophecy in order to understand Isaiah. The gift of prophecy is one
of the gifts of the spirit (1 Cor 12:10). It is through this gift that Isaiah can be understood. We should seek
this gift as with the other gifts of the spirit, seek ye earnestly the best gifts (DC 46:8).
The reason that Nephi and Joseph Smith had a far greater capacity to understand the prophecies of others
was not because they were entitled to the spirit of prophecy and we are not. Rather, their ability comes
from a more sure word of prophecy. As Peter said, We have also a more sure word of prophecy;
whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day
dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts (2 Pet 1:19). And, The more sure word of prophecy means a
man's knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the
power of the Holy Priesthood (DC 131:5).
Joseph Fielding Smith:
"Revelation may be given to every member of the Church. The
Prophet said that every man should be a prophet; that the
testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. It is not only the privilege but the duty of
each member of the Church to know the truth which will make him free. This he
cannot know unless it is revealed to him. Moroni has promised every person who
humbly and sincerely reads the Book of Mormon that he may know by revelation that
it is true. The gift of the Holy Ghost is given to the members of the Church so that
they may have the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Let it be understood however,
that they will not receive revelation for the guidance of the Church. That gift is
reserved for and vested in the man who holds the keys of the Priesthood. But the
members of the Church are entitled to receive revelation which is needful for their
progress and if they will hearken to the Spirit of truth and walk humbly before the
Lord, they will not fall short of this spiritual guidance." (Church History & Modern
Revelation, vol. 4, p. 36)
2 Ne 25:4 my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn
The Lord does not intend to teach us things we cannot understand. Rather, He gives us line
upon line, depending on our spiritual preparation, until we understand the mysteries of the
kingdom. For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work
among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he
speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding (2 Ne 31:3).
"If the Book of Mormon said only what we wanted it to we
wouldn't need it. But we do need it. It is written 'according to the
plainness of the word of God' (Jacob 2:11), 'in plainness, even as
plain as word can be' (2 Nephi 32:7). It needs no handbook (not
even this one) to explain its meaning. 'I glory in plainness,' said
Nephi (2 Nephi 33:6), 'for my soul delighteth in plainness; for after
this manner doth the Lord God work, . . . for he speaketh unto men
according to their language, unto their understanding' (2 Nephi
31:3). So that leaves us pretty much without excuse." (Since
Cumorah, p. 387)
2 Ne 25:8 [the words of Isaiah] shall be of great worth unto them in the last days; for in that day shall
they understand them
Nephi is declaring that the people of the last days will understand the words of Isaiah. This is
encouraging. It suggests that our understanding of Isaiah is correct. Still we worry because we cannot
understand every reference that Isaiah makes. Let's look at an example. We may be worried by the fact
that we don't understand all the terms used in the passage in 2 Ne 13, where Isaiah speaks of the
daughters of Zion and their changeable suits of apparel, mantles, wimples, and crisping-pins. Even if these
accessories are foreign to us, we still understand the principle that Isaiah is teaching. We understand that
the Lord is not pleased with the vanity of the daughters of Zion. We understand that this applies to our
day as well as Isaiah's. And we understand that there will be an appropriate punishment for those who are
vain and proud. The important principle is that the Lord is not pleased with pride and vanity not that we
understand every reference to ancient Hebrew dress. We should not be worried if we cannot understand
certain passages if we can get the big picture, the overriding spiritual truth, or the latter day reference.
We must be encouraged by the statement of Nephi, for in that day shall they understand them. We should
understand the words of Isaiah because he frequently spoke of our day and the events which are soon to
"We are all here today in fulfillment of the words of the prophets, and I love the
prophecies of Isaiah because it seems to me that he lived almost more in our day than
when he was actually upon the earth, because the Lord gave him to see so many of the
things that would transpire in the latter days" (Conference Report, Oct. 1956, p. 23)
Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. 2 Nephi 25:19-30
Elder Gary J. Coleman of the Seventy testifies of the
central importance of the Savior in our lives:
“The great plan of God provided a Savior for us. All
accountable persons sin and must pass through the
experience of death at the end of our mortality.
Therefore, God sent Jesus Christ to fulfill the plan by
helping us overcome sin and death. Jesus is our
Savior and Redeemer. Through His atoning sacrifice
for each of us, He helps us overcome sin through
repentance and baptism. Through His
Resurrection, He makes it possible for everyone to
overcome death and the grave. We have faith to
follow Jesus and become more like Him. Oh, how we
love our Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only ‘name
… under heaven … whereby *we+ can be saved.’ *2
Nephi 25:20.] I know that Jesus saves us from the
effects of sin and death” (in Conference Report, Apr.
2000, 35; or Ensign, May 2000, 29).
Nephi taught that we are saved by grace
“after all we can do.” What does “all we
can do” include?
How did Nephi and others help their
children focus on Jesus Christ?
In what ways can we “talk of Christ, …
rejoice in Christ, … *and+ preach of
In what ways can we learn of the Savior
and apply the principles of the
Atonement in our lives?
WICKEDNESS IN THE LAST DAYS
2 Nephi 26
GROUP 1: v. 20-21 GROUP 2: v. 22 GROUP 3: v:29-30
Examine the verse or verses and find sins that Nephi said would
be prevalent in the last days.
Pride, secret combinations, and priestcrafts will be stumbling blocks for
many in the last days. 2 Nephi 26:20-31
Why do you feel that these transgressions are abominable to the Lord?
What can we do to combat the evils presented in this prophecy? What counsel have
latter-day prophets given that can help us stay faithful?
Verses 20-21: pride, envy, strife, malice
Nephi describes the Gentile churches saying, they put down the power and
miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their
own learning. How similar are the words of the Savior to Joseph Smith in the
sacred grove, they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from
me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of
godliness, but they deny the power thereof? (JS-H 1:19) See also Isa 29:13.
Joseph Smith described the envyings and strifes of the religions of his day, it
was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts
were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling
ensued-priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that
all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in
a strife of words and a contest about opinions (JS-H 1:6).
Verses 22: secret combinations
Again the parallels with the 29th chapter of
Isaiah continue. Isaiah was apparently
describing secret combinations when he
described those that seek deep to hide
their counsel from the Lord, and their works
are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us?
And who knoweth us? (Isa 29:15) That
these secret combinations are founded by
the devil is well established in the Book of
It has been said that the revelations of
God provide the answer to all questions.
We often forget this and are quick to
base our views purely upon what the
world teaches us about
history, politics, science and other
With this is mind, we should prayerfully
ponder and read what the scriptures
and Church leaders have said touching
on the topics of
liberty, government, agency, secret
combinations, and so forth. The amount
of material on these topics may surprise
you if you have not looked into ithttp://www.ldsliberty.org/waking-up-to-secret-combinations-an-
Verses 29-30: priestcrafts
When we hear a term like "priestcrafts" we are likely to think first of the impure
motives of religious leaders of other denominations. Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained
that this term just as accurately describes those within the Church who set
themselves up as a light to the world with the intention of gaining the praise of the
Dallin H. Oaks
"Focusing on the needs of the students, a gospel teacher will never obscure their
view of the Master by standing in the way or by shadowing the lesson with self-
promotion or self-interest. This means that a gospel teacher must never indulge in
priestcrafts, which are 'that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the
world, that they may get gain and praise of the world' (2 Ne 26:29. A gospel teacher
does not preach 'to become popular' (Alma 1:3) or 'for the sake of riches and honor'
(Alma 1:16). He or she follows the marvelous Book of Mormon example in which 'the
preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the
learner' (Alma 1:26). Both will always look to the Master." (Conference Report, Oct.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles added
that priestcraft can occur both in the Church and from enemies to the
“Therefore, let us beware of false prophets and false teachers, both
men and women, who are self-appointed declarers of the doctrines of
the Church and who seek to spread their false gospel and attract
followers by sponsoring symposia, books, and journals whose contents
challenge fundamental doctrines of the Church. Beware of those who
speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively
proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of
those whom they seduce. Like Nehor and Korihor in the Book of
Mormon, they rely on sophistry to deceive and entice others to their
views. They ‘set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may
get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion’
(2 Nephi 26:29)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1999, 78; or Ensign, Nov.
"'Priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light
unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but
they seek not the welfare of Zion.' That's very interesting when he
says, 'They seek not the welfare of Zion.' He's talking about somebody
who is in Zion in that case who sets himself up for a light and wants to
get gain and praise. Well, I know lots of businessmen and others who
have had a free ride on the Church. That's done quite commonly. They
set themselves up for a light. Many of them have been high priests-
bishops, stake presidents, etc. My father was one of them; he cashed
in on it. It's sad. But you'll find that in every church, too. We might as
well be frank about these things. How do we deal with these people?
The next verse makes it clear. You should have charity; you don't judge
them at all. Of course not."(Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Lecture
21, p. 335)
Bruce R. McConkie
"Priesthood and priestcraft are two opposites; one is of God, the other
of the devil. When ministers claim but do not possess the priesthood;
when they set themselves up as lights to their congregations, but do
not preach the pure and full gospel; when their interest is in gaining
personal popularity and financial gain, rather than in caring for the
poor and ministering to the wants and needs of their fellow men --
they are engaged, in a greater or lesser degree, in the practice of
"Apostasy is born of priestcrafts (2 Ne. 10:5; 3 Ne. 16:10; D. & C.
33:4), for those who engage in them follow vain things, teach false
doctrines, love riches, and aspire to personal honors. (Alma 1:12, 16.)
Men are commanded to repent of their priestcrafts (3 Ne. 30:2), and
eventually, in the millennial day, these great evils will be done away. (3
Ne. 21:19.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 593-4)
In the last days the Lord will perform “a marvelous work and a wonder”.
2 Nephi 27
2 Nephi 27 contains one of the most significant prophecies about the latter-day
Restoration—a prophecy about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. 2 Nephi 26 and
27 include many important details that are not found in the biblical record of Isaiah’s
prophecy. These additional details could be either a restoration of Isaiah’s text or Nephi’s
inspired commentary on what Isaiah taught.
Compare the verses. Identify truths about the coming forth of the Book of
Mormon that are found in 2 Nephi 26 and 27 but not in Isaiah 29.
2 Nephi 27
25 Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor
me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the
precepts of men—
26 Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work
and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of
their prudent shall be hid.
In what ways is the Book of Mormon part of the “marvelous work and a wonder” that is taking place
throughout the world?
Heber J. Grant
"Truly a great and marvelous work has come forth and been proclaimed in every land and in every
clime all over the wide world. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored--by a personal visitation of
the apostles Peter, James and John, laying their hands upon the heads of Oliver Cowdery and the
Prophet Joseph Smith and ordaining them to the apostleship; by a personal visitation of John the
Baptist, who baptized the Savior, laying his hands upon Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith and ordaining
them to the Aaronic, or the lesser priesthood--the gospel is again restored to the earth, with the power
and authority that existed in the days of the Savior. Millions of dollars in money have been expended
for erecting and maintaining temples wherein ordinances are performed for the salvation of those who
have died without a knowledge of the gospel. All these things bear witness of the inspiration of God to
that man Joseph Smith, when he delivered this statement in a revelation to his father, that a great and a
marvelous work was about to come forth among the children of men." (Conference Report, Apr. 1920)
The "marvelous work and a wonder" doctrine comes from Isaiah, Therefore, behold, I will proceed
to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom
of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid....And in
that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of
obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor
among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel (Isa 29:14,18-19). What is marvelous and a
wonder is the work the Lord performs in the last days. Verse 18 above shows that the Book of
Mormon plays a role in the process but is not the "marvelous work and a wonder." The phrase
means that the Lord will build a kingdom in the latter days using the simple and meek of the earth.
He will gather the tribes of Israel by a great missionary effort that will be successful because of the
Book of Mormon and other latter-day scriptures. LeGrand Richards explains how crucial the
ministry of Joseph Smith was to this process.
"Joseph Smith, or any other man, could not have obtained all this information by reading the Bible
or studying all the books that have ever been written. It came from God. It is exactly what Isaiah
promised the Lord would do when conditions upon the earth should become as Joseph Smith
found them when he went into the woods to pray for light as to which of all the churches he should
"It truly is a marvelous work and a wonder. Can you conceive of anything that could be more
marvelous or more wonderful?" (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 411)