The words of prophets matter. The last words of a prophet are particularly poignant and significant.
Throughout ancient scripture, prophets would deliver their final testament, or final testimony witnessing of truths they hoped their people would continue to embrace long after the prophet had passed on.
For example, before Moses died, he gathered the Israelites together at the plains of Moab, east of the Jordan river and Promised Land and delivered to them his final testimony and instruction. He reviewed all the great deeds God had done for His people. He recounted the blessings they received when they were faithful, and the troubles they suffered when they were faithless. He exhorted the people to remain covenantally true and faithful to God. Moses’s final words comprise the majority of the Book of Deuteronomy. And the Book of Deuteronomy is patterned on the covenant of faithfulness God delivered to the Israelites at Mount Sinai.
Later, Moses’s successor Joshua successfully led the Israelites into the Promised Land. Before he passed on, Joshua delivered a final speech the Israelites found in Joshua 24. Like Moses, Joshua recounted all the great deeds that God had done to deliver and save the people. And like Moses, Joshua exhorted the people to covenantal faithfulness. He famously challenged the people in covenantal language, “choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15).
The judge and prophet Samuel presided over the Israelite political transition from judgeship to kingship. Before he died, he gave a rousing speech to the Israelites (see 1 Samuel 12), reminding them of the great deeds that God had done for them because of His love and covenantally loyalty. Samuel warned the people against walking away from God’s covenants, describing in vivid detail what would happen if the people put a human king in place of God. And even if the people walked away from God, which they did from time to time and suffered the consequences, God would never and will never abandon His covenant with us! “For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people…. Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you” (1 Samuel 12:22, 24).
Following the pattern long established by the great prophet-leaders sent by God, Lehi delivered his last words to his people in 2 Nephi 1-4. Lehi reminded his people of the great deeds that God had done in delivering and saving the people. Lehi reviewed how God had been totally loyal to His covenantal obligations to deliver His chosen people, because of their faith (see 2 Nephi 1:1-5).
Lehi then prophesied of the blessings or troubles that his descendants would experience according to their covenantal loyalty to God (see 2 Nephi 1:6-4:11).
The basic summary of Lehi’s covenantal teaching, which summarizes God’s revealed covenant to His people at Mount Sinai, is this:
“Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence” (2 Nephi 1:20).
[See my article “What Does It Really Mean to Prosper?”]
Call to Action
When you read 2 Nephi 1-5, look for the specific ways that Lehi reminds his people of God’s great deeds of covenantal love and loyalty (this is the Abrahamic covenant).
Then look for the specific things Lehi reveals that we must do to show our loving loyalty back to God (this is the continuation of the Mosaic covenant).
Learn more about the covenant path expressed in the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants in my video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mD5w50ZhevI.
Check out the my 2 Nephi 1-5 video with Tyler Griffin produced by Zander Strugill of Book of Mormon Central.
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