Ends of the Atonement?
Posted by robf on February 26, 2010
2nd Nephi 2 is one of the most quoted chapters in the Book of Mormon. Seminary students can quote passages about opposition in all things, and Adam falling that men might be. I think many Latter-day Saints find it profound or beautiful or comforting. But I’ve been reading it every day for the past week, and have decided I pretty much don’t understand any of it!
I’ll start with verse 10. I can’t make heads or tails of it. I don’t know if the syntax is all messed up or what, but I can’t seem to see the relationship between all the phrases. What are the ends of the Atonement, and what do they have to do with affixing happiness or punishment? What is the Christ’s intersession for all men? And what does it have to do with his being “the firstfruits”?
If I read it quickly, like I have most of my life, it all makes sense. But when I really dig in, when I really try to figure out what Lehi is saying, I come up with mostly blanks. I just don’t get it.
In fact, I’m not sure there is a single verse in this chapter that I really understand.
I don’t get the opposition in all things part. Is this an argument against some kind of ancient philosophical monism? There are five “musts” in two verses (11-12) and I’m not sure why any of the things mentioned are “musts” or if there is some kind of logic here that I am not following.
Things to act and things to be acted upon? Is this just making a distinction between people and rocks? Or what? Don’t all things have a measure of intelligence and act in their respective spheres? What is this all about?
And what about men being that they might have joy? I’m not feeling it. I have to admit I just don’t know what this is about either. The whole Fall, Atonement, and Redemption is spoken of in this chapter, but these verses seem to obscure them for me more than anything else.
If anything, I seem to understand less about the Savior from reading this chapter. What’s up with that?
At the end of the teachings, Lehi says that these words are “the good part, according to the words of the prophet”–but I’m not sure what makes these words “the good part” or who “the prophet” is that Lehi is referring to. Isaiah? It’s all just a mystery to me.
Help me out here. I never thought this chapter was all that difficult before. But somehow, it has slid into obscurity for me. Can we spend some time on this one? Here or on the wiki? I feel like all of a sudden I don’t really know a close family member I’ve known all my life. I hate feeling like this chapter might as well be written in another language, ’cause I just don’t get it!