16 And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind—and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands, and look not forward any more for another Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things.
17 And the Lord will set his hand again the second time to restore his people from their lost and fallen state. Wherefore, he will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men.
18 Wherefore, he shall bring forth his words unto them, which words shall judge them at the last day, for they shall be given them for the purpose of convincing them of the true Messiah, who was rejected by them; and unto the convincing of them that they need not look forward any more for a Messiah to come, for there should not any come, save it should be a false Messiah which should deceive the people; for there is save one Messiah spoken of by the prophets, and that Messiah is he who should be rejected of the Jews.
Nephi ends his long block of Isaiah scriptures by noting that many of his contemporaries and also many others would trip over the symbolism and hidden meaning of Isaiah and miss the mark. Accordingly, in this chapter he hoped to prophecy to his descendants so clearly that they could not misunderstand.
This implies that even among those who had followed Lehi out of Jerusalem, confusing and uncertainty regarding the identity of the savior remained. Nephi was ,with good reason, afraid that among his descendants would be many who would focus on the law of Moses rather than the savior, and who would not recognize the savior when he came–as would the Jews in Jerusalem. Jacob’s battle with Sherem confirms that Nephi had cause for concern. Nephi worried that teaching his sons the learning of the Jews would lead to the same narrow and legalistic thinking that he saw would lead the house of Israel to reject it
Even though Nephi knew that one day all of Israel would come to know Christ, he longed for his descendants to continually enjoy the choice blessings of following Christ. That is why he bore one of the most straightforward witnesses of the savior:
“19 For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
20 And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should heal the nations after they had been bitten by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved.”
Nephi knew that when it comes to knowledge of the Savior, he could not afford to obscure his testimony. Only words of plainness could make the coming of Christ clear to those who heard his words.
I imagine that Nephi must have gloried in the promise that his words and the words of his descendants would be an instrument in redeeming those of Israel that would lose sight of the Messiah. His words would help those before Christ know that he must come, but also help those who came after his coming know that he was the awaited one.
Today, Jews across the world still long for the coming of the Messiah. They sing of him and shout praises to him. But there can be no Messiah aside from Jesus Christ. He is the one anointed from the start of the world to come and redeem the world and particularly the house of Israel. How tragic that those who await him do not recognize their Lord and King. And yet, one day every knee shall bow and tongue confess. And Nephi’s testimony has been instrumental in helping many of the house of Israel come to know their savior. I am grateful to him for his witness.