I have been reading 2 Nephi 27 this week. I noticed something in verse 5 that I hadn’t caught before: so, God pours on the people deep sleep, “for” they have closed their eyes and rejected the prophets.
I think there’s a lot to think about there. Isaiah is told to preach in such a way that the people won’t understand and repent. But, I think that comes after decisions that the people have made. They have look beyond the mark, wanted things they couldn’t understand, etc. God tried plainness and they closed their eyes. So, if they’re going to sleep, God’s going to make them sleep deeply.
Is that actually a merciful thing? If they are only half-sleeping, knowing what’s going on but keeping their eyes closed, then they are knowingly rejecting what’s in front of them. But, if they are sound asleep, then they would be less responsible for understanding what is going on around them. Is this deeper sleep, or Isaiah’s preaching, a way of saving them from further condemnation?
I think of the Lamanites in this way, too. Laman and Lemuel could see what they were rejecting; they closed their eyes and pretended to be asleep. But their children didn’t have that same sort of chance. They were taught to ignore. It was sad and horrible that so many generations passed by without contact with God, but, it did mean that all those generations were not held responsible for what they didn’t know. It was as if a deep sleep passed on Laman and Lemuel’s kids, so that they were not responsible for the closed eyes of their parents.
At least, that is how I am inclined to read those situations.