The phrase “people of my wrath” refers to the inhabitants of the ancient kingdom of Israel during a time when they had strayed from the commandments and principles taught by the God of Israel. Their actions led them to be characterized as a “hypocritical nation” due to their profession of faith contradicted by their worldly and idolatrous practices, aligning themselves more with the heathen nations than with the statutes of their covenant relationship with God.
The designation “people of my wrath” was given through the prophetic utterances of Isaiah, which were subsequently cited by the Nephite prophet Nephi in his scriptural record. This reference to Israel suggests that they had incurred divine displeasure, warranting a punitive response that would come in the form of foreign oppression. Specifically, the Lord speaks of using the king of Assyria as an instrument to execute judgment upon Israel, stating, “I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets” (2 Nephi 20:6).
The fate of Israel as the “people of my wrath” serves as a warning and a lesson within the narrative of the Book of Mormon, highlighting the consequences of covenant infidelity and the expectant call to righteousness. It underlines the mercies and judgments of God, with the intent of bringing His people to repentance and guiding them back to the path of obedience and blessing.