1 Nephi 20:1-2 Yet They Swear Not in Truth Nor in Righteousness

1 Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear not in truth nor in righteousness.
2 Nevertheless, they call themselves of the holy city, but they do not stay themselves upon the God of Israel, who is the Lord of Hosts; yea, the Lord of Hosts is his name.
I love how the Book of Mormon clarifies the meaning of this passage (Isaiah 48:1-2):

  1. Joseph Smith added the phrase “or out of the waters of baptism” in the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon, clarifying the meaning of “the waters of Judah.”  Isaiah is speaking to people who have made a covenant with the Lord and have publicly declared themselves to be his disciples.
  2. “They do not stay themselves upon [trust in or rely upon] the God of Israel.”  The Old Testament version tells us that they “stay themselves upon the God of Israel,” which is confusing.  We’ve just learned that their discipleship is untrue and unrighteous, so it makes a lot more sense to hear that they do not stay themselves upon God, in spite of their public declarations.
What is the central message for us?  It is one thing to be baptized and to be fully immersed in the water.  It is another to fully immerse our hearts and our minds in the gospel.  It is one thing to attend church meetings, deliver talks, teach lessons, and testify of the things we believe.  It is another to be true to those beliefs when no one is watching, to pray with real intent, to fully rely upon God and upon his promises.  As courageous as we feel when we are willing to declare our faith publicly, it is the private manifestations of faith that matter most and that give validity to those public declarations.  As Neal A. Maxwell taught, we need to “settle in our hearts” what we really believe in and what what we will do about it in order to avoid the trap of casual discipleship.
Today, I will make an effort to “stay myself” more completely upon the God of Israel.

2 thoughts on “1 Nephi 20:1-2 Yet They Swear Not in Truth Nor in Righteousness

Add yours

  1. Is there a wrong way to worship God? yes.
    ([1d.] not in truth or righteousness
    The Lord lives in truth judgment and righteousness. The nations bless themselves in the Lord.)
    Even those that praise the Lord do swear falsely))

    What is the difference between the hypocrite and those that are on the path of repentance?
    I think its the attitude towards sin. Many know its wrong to do things but they pursue it anyhow.
    Dont we all still sin even though we know its wrong. In some instances it is spontaneous with instant regret.
    Nephi did not want his children to fall into the same snares.
    What a blessing to have had the ancient records as well as prophets.


    1. I agree with you that Isaiah’s meaning relates to hypocrisy. Worshipping “in truth” means being sincere in our desire to follow God, even though we are not perfect. Thank you for your comment.


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