Nephi contrasts the works of God with that of Satan. Satan’s work is in darkness with the intent to bind all men (v. 22). God’s (Christ’s) work is in the light to benefit all men (v. 23). Satan seeks to end life physically through murder and spiritually through sin (v. 22). When Nephi says Christ “loved the world, even that he layeth down his own life” for the salvation of all, (v. 24): he is paraphrasing Isaiah “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him” (Isaiah 53:10; Mosiah 14:10). Jesus confirmed Isaiah’s prophecy to Nicodemus when he ministered on earth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He also revealed to Orson Pratt through Joseph the Prophet that he “so loved the world that he gave his own life, that as many as would believe might become the sons of God. Wherefore you are my son” (D&C 34:3).
To show that all are invited to Christ, Nephi paraphrases Isaiah 55:1 (v. 25). Nephi then asks three questions regarding the atonement being universal and answers each question in the negative. None are excluded from the houses of worship; none are excluded from the opportunity for salvation; and none are excluded from partaking of the goodness of the Lord (vv. 26–28).
Nephi seems to continue his commentary on Isaiah’s writing.
18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments, and cauls, and round tires like the moon;29 He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, 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. [2 Nephi 26:29]19 The chains and the bracelets, and the mufflers; 20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the ear-rings; 21 The rings, and nose jewels; 22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping-pins; 23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and hoods, and the veils. [2 Nephi 13:18–23; Isaiah 3:18–23]
Nephi’s definition of priestcraft will be used later to understand its practice among the Nephites. The association of Isaiah’s words and the warning against priestcraft is strengthened by the dictionary definitions, especially the archaic or alternate meanings of several words used by Isaiah. For example: a muffler is a covering or veil or scarf worn as a protection or disguise. A bonnet is a women’s head covering tied under the chin worn chiefly by children, or as a part of a uniform or habit. An ornament is an accessory article or object used in a church service. A mantle is a loose sleeveless cloth worn over other clothes, an enveloping robe or cloak. A wimple is a soft covering for the neck and sides of the face worn by nuns. A hood is a covering of an ecclesiastical garment (a monk’s cowl). A veil is the outer covering of a nun’s headdress.
Again Nephi gives the Lord’s counterpart of the problem. He commands all to have charity and not suffer the laborers in Zion to perish. He warns of the eternal effects of laboring for money (vv. 30–31). He warns of many other iniquities, and concludes his prophecy with an invitation for all to come to Christ: black and white, bond and free, male and female, the heathen (non-Christian), Jew, Gentile (Christian)—because all are alike unto God (v. 33).
It should be remembered that Nephi is prophesying concerning the conditions that would be prevalent in the day the Book of Mormon would come among the children of men (2 Nephi 26:14). Priestcraft is the fourth condition, the first three were: (1) the many churches stumbling because of the loss of the plain and precious parts from the Bible; (2) many churches would cause envyings, strife, and malice; and (3) secret combinations. All of these conditions were self-evident in the 1830s and still continue to one degree or another in our day.