2 Nephi 10:9-17 — LeGrand Baker — God’s hand in history
2 Nephi 10:9-17
9 Yea, the kings of the Gentiles shall be nursing fathers unto them, and their queens shall become nursing mothers; wherefore, the promises of the Lord are great unto the Gentiles, for he hath spoken it, and who can dispute?
10 But behold, this land, said God, shall be a land of thine inheritance, and the Gentiles shall be blessed upon the land.
11 And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles (2 Nephi 10:9-11).
I pointed out some time ago, when we were reading 1 Nephi 21 which is Isaiah 49, that the kings and queens who will be the “nursing” fathers and mothers of Israel are probably sacral kings and queens, rather than political ones (My comments on 1 Nephi have been incorporated into the commentary on First Nephi by Stephen Ricks and myself). Here, Jacob seems to concur and to clarify that question. He says “the kings of the Gentiles shall be nursing fathers unto them, and their queens shall become nursing mothers; wherefore, the promises of the Lord are great unto the Gentiles.” Then he adds, “And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles.” It is apparent that in Jacob’s view the kings who have “the promises of the Lord” and the political kings who do not exist in this land, are not the same sort of kings. That is, they are not the kings of this world, rather they are those sacral kings who are anointed during the ancient Israelite temple drama.
12 And I will fortify this land against all other nations.
13 And he that fighteth against Zion shall perish, saith God.
14 For he that raiseth up a king against me shall perish, for I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words.
15 Wherefore, for this cause, that my covenants may be fulfilled which I have made unto the children of men, that I will do unto them while they are in the flesh, I must needs destroy the secret works of darkness, and of murders, and of abominations.
16 Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God.
17 For I will fulfil my promises which I have made unto the children of men, that I will do unto them while they are in the flesh– (2 Nephi 10:12-17).
Some years ago I asked Chauncey Riddle what he did with his title “doctor.” He replied that it was a great academic distinction, given by the world, to be praised and appreciated by the world. Chauncey said that if he were in a situation where the title “Dr. Riddle” could reflect any distinction on “The Kingdom,” then he would use it. Otherwise, he didn’t think it had much value, so he didn’t bother. I have adopted that principle as my own. Therefore it is in the attitude of an apology for doing so, that I call attention to my own Ph.D. in my comments today.
I received a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin in American History, with a focus on the period of the American Revolution and the writing of the Constitution. Since then, much of my professional life has been devoted to the study of the principles of the Declaration of Independence and of the American Constitution, and of the men who created them. I have taught “American Constitutional History” at BYU for many years. My title here at BYU library is “Curator of the Freedom Archives,” and my responsibility is to acquire and process national political and economic manuscript collections which reflect the ways by which the principles of freedom can be used and protected in our time (This was written in November 1998).
I first went to Wisconsin in the fall of 1963. That same fall student riots began to occur all over the United States and the “Revolution of the 60’s” was soon in full swing. In the midst of that revolution, I studied constitutional principle from the writings of the men who best understood it: Washington, Madison, Franklin, John and Sam Adams, Arthur and Richard Henry Lee, and their contemporaries. Those men taught me two things above all else.
1. There are eternal principles which foster and empower individual freedom. Those principles can be expressed in terms of the atonement of Christ or in terms of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It doesn’t matter how they are expressed, the principles are the same.
2. Those principles are not self imposing, but must be sought after and deliberately incorporated by an individual into his own life, or they cannot impact the life of that individual. Knowing the principles of liberty is not equivalent to incorporating them into one’s life and enjoying their blessings. There is one characteristic absolutely requisite to incorporating the principles of freedom into the life of any individual. That characteristic is best described by a combination of the words righteousness (zedek)and integrity. As righteousness and integrity are requisite for an individual to enjoy the blessings of liberty, so they are also necessary for a community or a nation, if that people are to enjoy the mutual blessings of individual liberty. There can be neither political (Constitutional) nor personal (blessings of the atonement) freedom for any individual or group of individuals whose lives are not an honest expression of integrity in righteousness.
One cannot understand American history without some understanding of its roots in the Greek, Roman, and Jewish worlds. Then, when the Declaration of Independence (which is the expression of the principles of freedom) and the Constitution (which shows how to make those principles functional) – then when those documents are seen in the light of their historical roots, it becomes apparent that American Freedom in that generation was the crowning achievement of a hundred generations of good and honest people who, through the “sifting and winnowing” of political ideas, ultimately discovered constitutional truth.
It was no accident, so Jacob testifies, that this land was withheld from being a part of the European world until after most of that sifting and winnowing had been accomplished.
To me, the past political histories of mankind (and our political “history” as I project it into the future) are living testimonies that there is a God in heaven who has orchestrated the affairs of men throughout our history for our earthly benefit and eternal advantage. One of the ways he has done that is to send a select group of his children into the world at critical times to move human affairs in the direction of liberty and ultimate peace. I thank God for them — and, just now, especially for Jacob, who testifies that the principles of freedom are eternal, and whether they are called political freedom or free agency, they are among the greatest of the blessings of a loving God. Those same great and good men also teach us, through precept as well as example, the methods by which we may appreciate and make those principles an expression of our own lives.