“My People”

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

This surmise is strengthened by this verse, in which he regards all "that shall receive hereafter these things which I write," as his people.

“My People”

Nephi realizes that the Prophet Isaiah, as, indeed, all the prophets, are difficult to understand, without special instruction. His people, he says, had not had the information needed because their works were works of darkness and abomination. (v. 2) We note that righteous living is necessary to a correct understanding of the Word of God, and especially the prophetic word.

The Prophetic Language. We may here note some peculiarities of the prophetic language, "the manner of prophesying among the Jews."

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 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. We have seen an example of this in the prophecies (see Is. 10 and 11), where the prophet speaks of the deliverance from Assyrian captivity and the deliverance by the Messiah, still future, as closely following, one upon the other. This peculiarity is very striking in the prophecies of our Lord concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the "end of the world."

Nephi claimed to understand the prophecies, not only because he, himself, had the Spirit of prophecy (v. 4), but because he had lived in Jerusalem and was familiar with the religious observances of the Jews, their national customs, habits and history (v. 5), and the topographical surroundings of Jerusalem (v. 6). Without this knowledge the prophetic word is to a large extent unintelligible.

Prophecies are often uttered in figurative, or symbolic, terms. Some examples are here offered:

Arm means strength, or power, and arms made bare, power manifested. (Is. 52:40)

Babylon stands for an idolatrous, persecuting enemy of the people of God. (Is. 47-12; Rev. 17, 18)

Beast means a worldly power, especially a tyrannical, usurping government. (Ezek. 34:28)

Dragon (Rev. 12:3 and 13:1 refers to some oppressive worldly power.

Book, received, is the symbol of inauguration (Rev. 3:5.

Breastplate is a symbol of something that is a protection for a vital part of the body, and which, at the same time, strikes terror into the breast of an adversary, (Is. 59:17; 1 Thess. 5:8; Rev. 9:9).

Crowns, symbol of delegated authority (Rev. 19:12, here, literally, "diadems.").

Earthquakes, violent agitations (Rev. 6:12).

Forehead, written on, was the mark of a priest (Rev. 13:16-18).

Harp, a symbol of praise and joy (Rev. 14:3).

Heaven and Earth, has a threefold sense. It means the material world, perceptible to our senses; sometimes it refers to the moral invisible world, and sometimes to the political organizations of the world. When used in this sense, heaven is the symbol of rulers and earth of subjects (Matt. 24:29).

Horn, stands for Power and regal dignity. (Rev. 13:1)

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1