“That They May Know the Judgments of God”

Brant Gardner

Redaction: After quoting such major sections of Isaiah, Nephi now explains his purpose in recording that material—to let the quoted text stand intact to serve as a foundation upon which to build his own ideas. Those ideas are to prepare future generations with his prophetic knowledge and to confirm Isaiah’s prophecies as the foundation for his own prophetic statements.

Nevertheless, it is significant that he sees the words of Isaiah as condemnatory of the future. Surely he understood that Isaiah’s prophecies of the Assyrian invasion and the Babylonian invasion had already come to pass. While there remained an important prophecy of an eschatological gathering, that prophecy is hopeful, not condemnatory. Yet Nephi indicates that he has written so that “they may know the judgments of God, that they come upon all nations.” If the dire prophecies of Isaiah had already been fulfilled, upon which nations will they yet come true? The answer is clearly that they will be fulfilled in the fate of the Nephites. Nephi’s vision obviously happened prior to the time he begins to write. The evidence will show that it was the vision associated with the tree of life (1 Ne. 11–14) that is now being restated from the perspective of Isaiah rather than the tree.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2