I have spent several days now studying chapter 21, as I have spent several weeks studying chapter 20. The two chapters are very similar in content, except that 21 seems a little more focused and clarifying. I will readily acknowledge that I feel like I have not had the Spirit of the Lord upon me strong enough to fully comprehend the significance of these passages.
This chapter again deals with the Gathering of Israel in very similar terms and timeline of events as does chapter 20. Perhaps one specific difference is that the Book of Mormon (though not referenced by name) is pointed to as a sign of the commencement of the Gathering of Israel.
The rise of the Gentiles, their opportunity to accept the Gospel and become a part of the Gathering, and for them to become a part of the Gathering if they will accept the Gospel is detailed in this chapter. Their destruction is also foretold, or rather their separation from Israel.
This chapter needs parentheses. (Not that I would correct the manner in which the Lord is speaking to his people.) The chapter starts with the Lord stating that he will give us a sign. He then proceeds to offer context upon context, helping to explain the purposes of the Gentiles and the scattering of the descendants of the Lamanites, etc.
The answer to the Lord’s initial statement, the sign that He was to give us, is finally explained in verse 7. The fulfillment of this sign will leave kings dumbfounded. “for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.” (vs. 8)
Verse 9 is similar to the statement made by Isaiah of a “great and marvelous work”.
Verse 10 feels like a nod to Joseph Smith, but I feel that the same could be say of anyone actively engaged in the cause of Christ. Indeed the footnote in the verse on “marred” points to Joseph Smith’s martyrdom.
Verse 11 is a warning to those that will not believe the words of Christ: “they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.” (emphasis added)
This prophecy of the remnant of Jacob being in the midst of the gentiles as lion in the midst of the beasts of the forest is repeated here again in verse 12. It is compelling imagery.
Verse 13 makes a statement about the remnant of Jacob having strength over their enemies. This has me contemplating these questions: who are my adversaries or enemies? Any enemy personified in my life, there are none. Or at least, they are far from me. Even these I would not count to be mine enemies, rather there are those who would live by a different standard. Those who would cheat or be dishonest. Those who would act in a malicious manner. None of these are near me, nor do I feel threatened by them.
The Lord then proceeds to detail the destruction that will come upon the wicked. All this that they will not worship the works of their hands.
In the last part of this chapter, the Savior gives instructions on the establishment of the New Jerusalem and who it is that will be a part of that singular event.
What is the purpose in coming to Zion? The end goal of all of this, the work that is required to get people to where they need to be is all for this end: to come unto Christ, “that they may call on the Father in my name.” (See verse 27)
It’s prayer! The end of it all is to be able to commune with God and to receive instructions at his hand.