His Hand Is Stretched Out Still – 2 Nephi 19:12, 17, 21; 20:4

…For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
(2 Nephi 19:12, 17, 21; 20:4; Isaiah 9:12, 17, 21; 10:4)

As he describes the rebelliousness of the kingdom of Israel, Isaiah repeatedly uses the phrase quoted above. Four times in two chapters (and once in an earlier chapter—2 Nephi 15:25Isaiah 5:25), he concludes his reprimand with the same statement: “For all this his anger is not turned away,” he says, “but his hand is stretched out still.”

What is the meaning of the stretched-out hand? The most obvious interpretation, from the context, is that it represents God’s justice. Most translations of the Bible adopt this interpretation. For example:

Nephi interprets this passage differently. When he comments on these chapters, he reassures us that God’s arm of mercy is perpetually extended towards us, even when we are rebellious and unresponsive to His invitation:

Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts (2 Nephi 28:32).

After Nephi’s death, his brother Jacob shares the allegory of the olive trees, which emphasizes God’s patience and longsuffering. Jacob then provides a similar reassurance:

How merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long (Jacob 6:4)

Last Sunday, Elder Brian K. Ashton taught us the importance of a correct understanding of the character of God. He shared his wife’s experience of growing in confidence as she better understood God’s love:

For her entire life, my wife, Melinda, has tried with all her heart to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. Yet, beginning in her youth, she felt unworthy of Heavenly Father’s love and blessings because she misunderstood His nature. Fortunately, Melinda continued to keep the commandments in spite of the sadness she felt. A few years ago, she had a series of experiences that helped her better understand God’s nature, including His love for His children and His gratitude for our even-imperfect efforts to do His work.
She explains how this has influenced her: “I now feel sure that the Father’s plan works, that He is personally invested in our success, and that He provides us with the lessons and experiences we need to return to His presence. I see myself and others more as God sees us. I am able to parent, teach, and serve with more love and less fear. I feel peace and confidence rather than anxiety and insecurity. Instead of feeling judged, I feel supported. My faith is more certain. I feel my Father’s love more often and more deeply.” (“The Father,” General Conference, October 2018).

Today, I will remember that God’s “hand is stretched out still.” I will remember that He is focused on helping me be successful. I will surely experience consequences for my unwise choices. But even when I do wrong, I can always trust that His arm of mercy is extended, ready to help me as soon as I’m ready to receive His help.

8 thoughts on “His Hand Is Stretched Out Still – 2 Nephi 19:12, 17, 21; 20:4

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  1. Thank you for your service. “Nephi interprets this passage differently.”? A lot of us find Isaiah’s work a little hard to understand, but this part does not seem all that hard, he just tells it to us the way it is.

    I have been wondering whether this applies to our present situation; it seems strange that we have had so much difficulty with the pandemic, and perhaps Mormon 1:16 also fits. For example, a hospital in my region is so outstanding that they have developed a better test for the virus, using a pre-packaged swab for the person to collect their own saliva sample, according to an article in their newsletter. But in the same issue, at the top of the same page, they said that nobody understands why many people have Covid with little or no symptoms while others have a serious or fatal disease. So I called them and sent email, explaining about the difference in results depending on whether the initial site of the infection is in our lungs, our stomach or our eye – and the amount of virus in the initial transmission; I got a nice reply but no confirmation about whether they agree with my Grand Unified Theory.

    Nephi uses similar language, but he seems to be telling us about different times and circumstances. Seems to me that each one has something of his own to say. Hope that helps.

    There have been lots of mistakes in our failure to provide good prevention and treatment – starting with the alleged experts telling us do not wear masks, and wait for us to develop better tests. Presently the worst failure in treatment is as described in this news article. The treatment they discuss would save lots of lives, at low cost, if we would just focus more effort on using it.



    1. Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you found the post useful and that you find this Isaiah passage intuitive.
      I’m not a coronavirus expert, so I’m not qualified to comment on your opinions about appropriate treatments. I am, however, grateful for the doctors, nurses and medical researchers who have labored to minimize the impact of this global health crisis.
      It’s true that we sometimes fail to recognize facts that should be obvious, because they don’t conform with our preconceptions. It is often difficult to overcome these barriers, but we are always better off when we are open to new information and willing to change our views as we grow in knowledge.
      All we can do, I think, is to continue to make our voices heard and listen to others. As we model good habits of learning, we encourage others to do the same.
      Hope that’s helpful.


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