BMGD #41: 3 Nephi 22-26

October 29, 2012 | 3 comments
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CHAPTER 22

1 And then shall that which is written come to pass: Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:1, which is virtually identical.

NET:

“Shout for joy, O barren one who has not given birth!

Give a joyful shout and cry out, you who have not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate one are more numerous

than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.

The image here is as clear as it is surprising:  the barren (=cursed) woman is told by the Lord to be happy, because she will have a greater posterity than the married woman.  Do you read this literally or symbolically?  If symbolically, what do the infertile woman, the mother, and the children represent?  I think v5 suggests a more symbolic reading (what with viewing the Lord as the husband of Israel) but v3 suggests a more literal reading (what with looking at a huge number of people who are capable of taking over the Gentiles nations) for the children, but not for the woman, who is still a symbol for Israel.

Remember that our context here is that 3 Nephi 21 described the destruction of the wicked and the gathering of the righteous.

Notice how the rhetorical set up of this verse (“that which is written”) serves to emphasize the importance of scriptures.

What does this verse suggest to you about the role singing should play in our worship and joy?

This verse fits in nicely to a long series of hymns associated with women (Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Mary, and even maybe Emma Smith and Eliza Snow), where a woman’s singing is celebratory and revelatory.  There is also an association with “eschatological reversals,” which means that things will be upside down at the end times, when God sets everything aright.  The original audience would have found the image of a barren woman singing/shouting for joy to be unexpected or bizarre.  It is what we might call today “an attention getting device” for the rest of the chapter–it would certainly rouse one’s interest as to how this surprising turn of events had come to pass.

As you continue to read this passage, consider who/what the “married wife” might symbolize.  (My thought:  this is the woman who is content in this world because she thinks she is already enjoying every possible blessing, or who thinks that she is better than other people because of the ‘evidence’ of her righteousness around her.  She will be surprised at the last day when other people, people she had scorned, are more blessed than she is.)

Does this verse have anything to contribute to our thinking about the roles of women and mothers and infertile women and children today?

In what apparently sad conditions today might we find the faith to sing?  How do we do that?

If you read the Nephites as the desolate woman, what would you conclude?

2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thy habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes;

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:2, which is virtually identical.

NET:

Make your tent larger,

stretch your tent curtains farther out!

Spare no effort,

lengthen your ropes,

and pound your stakes deep.

Some scholars read this in light of the idea that it was the woman’s responsibility to set up the tent (which, in any case, was probably somewhat anachronistic by Isaiah’s time), so the idea is that this verse continues the theme from verse 1:  because the barren woman will be a mother, she needs to have a larger tent to accommodate her children.  Again, what might this symbolize, or are you reading literally?

I like the idea of a barren woman preparing for blessings to come here; it shows faith and hope.

If the “stakes” we have today in the church come from this image, then what is the tent?  (And isn’t it interesting that building the stakes here is women’s work.)

3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left, and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:3, which is virtually identical.

NET:

For you will spread out to the right and to the left;

your children will conquer nations

and will resettle desolate cities.

This can be read as a restatement of the Abrahamic promise of seed (if we are reading fairly literally).  If that is the case, then it is interesting that the promise is here directed not to Abraham, but to a barren woman.

If we read this chapter as a restatement or summation of the last chapter’s teachings about the Gentiles and the house of Israel, then this verse fits in nicely, with the idea of “inheriting the Gentiles.”

4 Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:4, but it adds a line (“and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth”).  The verse already has quite a bit of repetition.  I wonder if this addition was accidental, or changes the poetic structure of the verse, or if there is a significant difference between “reproach” and “shame,” or what.

NET:

Don’t be afraid, for you will not be put to shame!

Don’t be intimidated, for you will not be humiliated!

You will forget about the shame you experienced in your youth;

you will no longer remember the disgrace of your abandonment.

Whether reading literally or more symbolically, this is a powerful promise to make to an infertile (even symbolically) woman.

Regardless of our particular form of distress, we are told not to fear or be ashamed.  Of course, at this point, there is no reason given for that–no sense of why/how we would be able to do that, but perhaps some suspense is created–it will be addressed in the next verse how we are able to go forward without fear or shame.  The structure of this passage is interesting:  while it is the Lord’s/husband’s actions who make all of the difference, the Lord is not introduced until v5 and we are left to focus on the wife.  This is most appropriate to a passage where the subject is the sense of absence of the Lord!

5 For thy maker, thy husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel—the God of the whole earth shall he be called.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:5, except that verse has this for the first line:  “For thy Maker is thine husband.”

NET:

For your husband is the one who made you –

the Lord who commands armies is his name.

He is your protector, the Holy One of Israel. 

He is called “God of the entire earth.”

Lots of interesting stuff going on here.  I think this verse supports a more symbolic reading, since the husband is the Lord.  It is weird to describe a husband as “the one who made you”–that would be the father’s role.  It is also weird to think about the wife of the Lord being barren–why  might that happen?  What does that suggest to you about the Lord?  It is also interesting from a feminist perspective to think that this passage requires all of the males in the audience to put themselves into a woman’s place to “hear” these words.  (We almost never ask men to do that, even today.  Women are far more likely to be asked to identify with men than men are to identify with women–in or out of the church.)

I like the juxtaposition of the lines here:  the 1st and 3rd line are familial/nurturing images of creating and protecting while the 2nd and 4th lines are militaristic/geopolitical images of armies and lands.  It is a great combination to show how completely the Lord cares for his people.

Note how many titles/roles are applied to the Lord in this verse; how might that relate to what has been going on in this passage up to this point, which is a discussion of the future promise of a barren woman?

This verse is showing the Lord as an “absentee husband” (at least temporarily), who has not fulfilled his duty to his wife by giving her children.  Is that a point where the metaphor breaks down, or is there something to be learned about the Lord from this description?  (Does v7 help answer this question?)

Brant Gardner:

This absent husband is none other than the Lord of Hosts. In the context of the Bountiful Sermon, this is a self-declaration. Jesus in their midst is declaring himself to be that husband to them. Citation

6 For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:6, which is virtually identical.

NET:

“Indeed, the Lord will call you back

like a wife who has been abandoned and suffers from depression, 

like a young wife when she has been rejected,” says your God.

In what ways is Israel like a woman rejected (presumably for unfaithfulness) by her husband, but then brought back by him?  What does this image suggest to you about the Lord?  What does it suggest about our relationship with the Lord?

Is the God who is speaking in this verse (“saith thy God”) the same person as the Lord described in this verse (“the Lord hath . . .”)?

Is there any relevance in this passage to our thinking about marriage today?

What does this verse suggest to you about covenants?

7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:7, which is virtually identical.

NET:

“For a short time I abandoned you,

but with great compassion I will gather you.

How does this verse relate to Jesus experience of abandonment on the cross?

Is this verse related to experiences that we might have today of feeling abandoned by God?  (What is the remedy if we feel that way–does anything in this passage provide an answer to that question?)  Should we expect to feel abandoned from time to time?

What does it teach you about God to suggest that he would “abandon” us, even for a short time?

Note that this verse puts abandonment and gathering in opposition to each other; what might you learn from that?

Brant Gardner reads this as relevant to the Nephite’s immediate situation (that is, they are barren because they are distant from the rest of the house of Israel).  I wonder about that, because it makes it sound as if the distance between the Nephites and the rest of the house of Israel is a Bad Thing, which is kind of hard to square with 1 Nephi.  (It also presumes that the Nephites would want to be in the Old World, which seems like a tough case to make.)

Again, how literally should we be reading here?

8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:8, which is virtually identical.

NET:

In a burst of anger I rejected you momentarily,

but with lasting devotion I will have compassion on you,”

says your protector, the Lord.

What does this verse suggest to you about anger?  (Are the rules for the Lord’s anger different from the rules for our anger?)

Can ‘o worms:  is there anything in this verse that you should model as a parent or leader?

Note the contrast in this verse between what is temporary and what is eternal.

General thoughts on the idea of the wife as the covenant people and the husband as the Lord: it suggests supreme intimacy, kindness, love, care, concern, priority, etc.

Note the contrast here between absence and mercy (and not the more usual justice and mercy).  Is the suggestion made the absence is justice, or is something else going on here?

Why aren’t we given more explanation about the wrath?  As the passage stands, it feels a little . . . capricious.

The wife is left desolate for awhile, so we should expect that experience as a part of our mortal life, but note that Jesus had the same experience as a mortal, so he is prepared to help us through that.

If you go back now and read v1-2, do they provide any insight as to how you should react in times of desolation?  Thoughts on the image of the tent: priesthood organization, stretching of a woman’s body in pregnancy, and represents the growth of the Church. Why are these good images? Just like the portable tabernacle will become a temple, the earthly body will be perfected.

9 For this, the waters of Noah unto me,for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:9, except that verse begins with “for this is as the waters of Noah” and ends with “nor rebuke thee.”  That first change is interesting because the normal practice of the BoM is to have more transitional or relational material to make the Isaiah stuff flow more smoothly, not less.  On the other hand, “is as” is in italics in the KJV, and I think I have noticed a tendency for that stuff to be omitted in the BoM sometimes.  As for the second change, is the implication that the Lord is reserving the right to rebuke Israel?  Or is there a better explanation for the change?

NET:

“As far as I am concerned, this is like in Noah’s time,

when I vowed that the waters of Noah’s flood would never again cover the earth.

In the same way I have vowed that I will not be angry at you or shout at you.

The point of this verse is to draw a comparison between Noah’s time and the time of the (formerly) barren woman/wife. What are the salient points of the comparison?  What are the differences?  Is the gender change from Noah to a wife significant?

Does this verse add any light to your understanding of the story of Noah’s flood?

The shift from the story of the barren woman to the discussion of Noah’s flood feels pretty abrupt.  Do you think that’s an accident of translation, or deliberate, or something else?

10 For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:10, which is virtually identical.

NET:

Even if the mountains are removed

and the hills displaced,

my devotion will not be removed from you,

nor will my covenant of friendship be displaced,”

says the Lord, the one who has compassion on you.

This verse contains a powerful promise: the Lord’s kindness is stronger than mountains.

How does the image of moving mountains relate (or does it) to the flood waters?

I note that the idea of moving mountains would have been particularly salient to the immediate Nephite audience!

Note the inverse parallelism of “mountains” and “covenants” in this verse–that’s particularly interesting given that the mountain is the usual symbolic locale for covenant-making.

Thinking about v9 and v10, what is the message about the Lord’s relationship to the natural world?  About our relationship to the natural world?

Aileen H. Clyde:

“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord.” Such scriptural language overwhelms my reasoning and floods me again with the reality of God’s love and of our importance to him. Did he speak to our intelligences in that way in the long-ago council when we understood enough to choose to follow Christ? It was surely then, before our mortal experience, that we began with our part of building the covenant relationship with the Savior which is vital to our eternal lives. I believe we chose to be guided then, as we need to be guided now, by his loving care for our divine and unique identities. Our decision then was of the greatest import. Now, when we face crossroads and dilemmas, we can look again to that same source for courage to move forward on our journey. Apr 95 GC

11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted! Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:11, which is virtually identical.

NET:

“O afflicted one, driven away, and unconsoled!

Look, I am about to set your stones in antimony

and I lay your foundation with lapis-lazuli.

Apparently antimony was added to mortar to better hold the surrounding stones.  Lapis-lazuli appears to be the strongest and most beautiful stone that could have been used.

Why is she described as “not comforted” at this point?

Note that we have shifted images from the barren woman in a tent to a city being (re)built here.  Are these two images of the same thing, or images of two different things?  (There may be some interesting overlap, since some women used antimony as make-up.) (Note that we’ll pick up the idea of children again in v13.)  (I also wonder if the “tossed” woman is related to the departed mountains of the last verse.)

12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:12, which is virtually identical.

NET:

I will make your pinnacles out of gems,

your gates out of beryl,

and your outer wall out of beautiful stones.

Note that the Lord is building this city, not the inhabitants.  Their safety, beauty, and prosperity all will come from the Lord.

You could also read v11-12 as an allusion to the temple, which then makes sense of v13 (children = descendants taught in the temple) and makes v14-15 into the blessings of temple worship.

13 And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:13, which is virtually identical.

NET:

All your children will be followers of the Lord,

and your children will enjoy great prosperity.

Note the parallel here between following the Lord and being prosperous/peaceful.

Note that the point of the city isn’t to be beautiful/safe/prosperous–the point is that there is an environment where children can be nurtured.  (Is this taking us full-circle back to the woman in the tent?)

Our Heavenly Father has promised peace to his children. “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (3 Ne. 22:13.) Peace in the Lord can give them freedom from self-doubt, freedom from fear, freedom from the confinement of their environment, freedom from enslaving habits. His peace can free them to unfold from the tender buds they are to the mature and fruitful adults they can be. Oct 88 GC

14 In righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from oppression for thou shalt not fear, and from terror for it shall not come near thee.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:14, which is virtually identical.

NET:

You will be reestablished when I vindicate you.

You will not experience oppression;

indeed, you will not be afraid.

You will not be terrified,

for nothing frightening will come near you.

I think most of us enjoy such a high level of physical security that it is hard to appreciate what an incredible promise is contained in this verse.

15 Behold, they shall surely gather together against thee, not by me; whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:15, although that verse does not include “against thee.”

NET:

If anyone dares to challenge you, it will not be my doing!

Whoever tries to challenge you will be defeated.

I find it interesting that this world described is not one without threats, but one where the Lord deals with the threats against them.  Once again, how literally are you reading?  Is this the eternal New Jrsm?  (And if so, what are the threats there?)  Or is this an earthly grouping of righteous people?  Or something else entirely?

16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:16, which is virtually identical.

NET:

Look, I create the craftsman,

who fans the coals into a fire

and forges a weapon.

I create the destroyer so he might devastate.

It is certainly tempting for an LDS reader to read “the smith” as Joseph Smith and the instrument brought forth as the Book of Mormon.  It should first be noted to what extent that reading would be a product of the translation and not the underlying text and secondly should be noted whether that reading fits the context of the surrounding verses.  (Hint:  not even close.)

This verse shows the Lord creating a craftsman and a destroyer.  Are these the same person or two different people?  (I think the point of this verse is that not only does the Lord create those who destroy, but he creates those who create the destroyers’ weapons.  In other words, the Lord is in charge of the entire process, so if he says that he will protect his people, then they can trust that he is capable of doing that.  This would explain how this verse relates to the one before it and the idea [and linking of the verses] is also reiterated in the next verse.)

17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall revile against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.

This verse quotes Isaiah 54:17, except that that verse has “that shall rise against thee” instead of “that shall revile against thee.”  This is not the first time that a change from KJV Isaiah to BoM Isaiah sounds to me like the kind of thing that happens from an oral memorization error (or perhaps a transcription error).  Skousen reads “rise” instead of “revile” here.

NET:

No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed;

you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you.

This is what the Lord will do for his servants –

I will vindicate them,”

says the Lord.

Again, this is a very powerful and comforting promise.

Notice that the Lord’s people will prosper against both metal and verbal weapons.

Interesting reflections on this chapter here.

CHAPTER 23

1 And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.

Thinking specifically about the last chapter:  Why do you think Jesus quoted Isaiah 54 (with very few changes) to the Nephites?  Why do you think it was included in our record?  (Note that those are two different questions!)

Remember that “behold” means “look.”

What does it mean to “search” the scriptures?  (My thought:  searching means that you are looking for something actively, you are not just gliding along or enjoying the ride or re-confirming what you already know, but seeking out something that is not readily apparent.  It also presumes that there are things to learn that would not be apparent without searching.)

Note how the command to search is reiterated and “diligently” is added to it.

Do you read this verse to imply that we are not (necessarily) commanded to search other scripture, or not commanded to search it diligently, or what?  Aren’t we commanded to search all scriptures?  Is that command just reiterated/specified here, or is there something else going on with this verse?

What makes Isaiah different from other prophets?  (Note that Jesus also quotes from Micah and Malachi in 3 Nephi.)

Notice the “for” : how does the greatness of Isaiah relate to the command here?

What do you see in this verse that should shape your approach to studying Isaiah?

To what extent does this command apply to us versus to the immediate Nephite audience?  (I think you could make the case that they apparently had a huge interest

2 For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles.

Note the “therefore.”  In what ways is it true that to speak about everything related to the house of Israel means that you also speak to the Gentiles?

Why is the idea of the house of Israel and of the Gentiles such a huge theme in Jesus’ teachings in 3 Nephi?  (Because, honestly, I don’t think that most members of the Church care a whole lot about it today and certainly it doesn’t really register with non-members.)

What does this verse suggest to you about how you should study Isaiah?  What precisely is it that you should be searching for?

Is the “all” in this verse literal or hyperbolic?

3 And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake.

Does this verse imply that Isaiah was inerrant?  (If so, does it imply that other prophets not given this praise are not necessarily inerrant?)

Is this verse telling us anything about how literally/symbolically we should be reading Isaiah?

What work is “even according to the words . . .” doing in this verse?   (In other words, what is it adding that would be missing without it?)

4 Therefore give heed to my words; write the things which I have told you; and according to the time and the will of the Father they shall go forth unto the Gentiles.

We might have expected “give heed to _Isaiah’s_ words” to follow the “therefore.”  Why does Jesus pivot to his own words (not Isaiah’s words) here?  How does the “therefore” relate this verse to the one before it?  Another way to ask that question:  What is the relationship suggested here between Jesus’ words and Isaiah’s words?

What things specifically are they supposed to write?  (Because they already have the Isaiah material, no?)

What is the relationship between “time” and “will” in this verse?

Did he really need to tell them this?  (In other words, wouldn’t they have known to write down his words?)  Why did Jesus say this?  Why was it included in the record?

5 And whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things.

How does this verse relate to the one before it?

Why the shift from talking about Isaiah specifically to prophets in general here?

What are the “these things” in this verse?

Notice the formula:  listen/obey, repent, be baptized and this results in salvation.  Is this the formulation that you would have expected?  (What happened to the role of atonement?  To faith?  To anything after baptism–either ordinances or actions?)

Notice the “for”:  how does it relate the material after it to the material before it?

6 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he said unto them again, after he had expounded all the scriptures unto them which they had received, he said unto them: Behold, other scriptures I would that ye should write, that ye have not.

What does it mean to “expound” scripture?  Do we have a record of Jesus doing that?  If yes, what is it and what does that suggest to you about how to interpret scripture?  If no, then why mention this tantalizing detail but not fill out the canvas for us?

Is there a resonance between the “other scripture” and “other sheep”?

7 And it came to pass that he said unto Nephi: Bring forth the record which ye have kept.

8 And when Nephi had brought forth the records, and laid them before him, he cast his eyes upon them and said:

Note that neither v7 nor v8 is strictly necessary to the flow of the story; why were they included?  Is there something significant in these “stage directions”?

Why is Jesus casting his eyes on the record if he already knows that there is some scripture he wants them to have that they don’t have (which v6 explained)?

Is it significant that “record” is singular in v7 but plural in v8?

Is “casting eyes upon” the same as reading and/or searching?  (I’m thinking that Jesus probably didn’t take the time to read the entire record and then determine that Sam wasn’t there and that he probably knew before he asked.  But then what is this, a bit of theater?  What’s going on here?  Why are v7 and v8 in the record, and why did they happen?)

9 Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so?

Why is Samuel always called “the Lamanite” when no other BoM person gets a geographic/racial/political/religious/whatever identifier added to his/her name?

See Helaman 14:25 for the prophecy.  It is kind of weird that, when you read that, you had no idea that you were reading a text included by express commandment of Jesus Christ.

Something kind of weird is we have both Jesus and Nephi assuring us that this prophecy did indeed come to pass, but its fulfillment is not included in the BoM record.  Why might it not have been included?  I almost feel like this conversation about including the prophecy in the record serves as a sort of substitute authentication of the prophecy, but why not just narrate its fulfillment, like Matthew 27:52 or something?  Or was the prophecy only fulfilled in the Old World and not in the New World?   (Which would be kind of weird, both for Samuel to be prophesying about it and for Nephi to here be affirming in the next verse that it was fulfilled when he would have had no independent knowledge of it.)  Apparently some LDS readers have read this verse to say that it was the fulfillment–not the prophesy–that was missing from the record.  That makes more sense, but it also leaves us with the problem that we still have no fulfillment in the record!  This article has some interesting things to say about the issue and points out that the prophesy in Samuel’s teachings appears to be out of chronological order, perhaps hinting that it was added later.  (Although that’s a pretty sloppy redactor, no?)  I suppose another possibility is that the fulfillment was added to Nephi’s record at this point but was not later included in Mormon’s abridgment, and that’s why we don’t have it.

What effect does it have on the reader to have the resurrection described as “the day that the Father should glorify his name in me” and not in some other way?

Note the verbs:  arise, appear, minister.  Is this significant?

Presumably Jesus knows the answer to the question that he asks.  Why, then, does he ask it?

10 And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled.

Is there a relationship between what Jesus just said about all of Isaiah’s words being fulfilled and what is said here about Samuel’s words being fulfilled?

Is it significant that the disciples don’t call him “the Lamanite” here?

How would these disciples have personally known that Sam prophesied “according to thy words,” or are they just going along with what Jesus is saying here?

11 And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?

Again, why is Jesus asking questions to which he presumably already knows the answer?  Is there anything that we should learn from this?

So, why didn’t they include this in the record?  Because really, that’s a big deal.

Note that, despite, the fact that Jesus asks this question, the answer to it–if they gave any–is not included in the record.  Why might this be?  What are we to learn from it?

I think most readers assume that they had left _all_ of Samuel’s ministry out of the record.  (And that, perhaps, it was because he was a Lamanite.)  Is it more likely that they left everything out, or that they had just left out the part about the dead rising?  If the latter, what might have motivated them to leave those prophecies out of the record, or was it just an oversight?

We have nothing anywhere else in scripture comparable to this divine “hands on” redaction of the records.  Does that mean it didn’t happen or that it wasn’t recorded?  Why was this so important to include in the record, especially since we already know from Matthew that the dead rose when Jesus did?

12 And it came to pass that Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written.

Does this mean that Nephi had forgotten?  Was this a simple oversight, or was there some deliberate reason for leaving stuff out?  Why might he have done that?  How could he have done that?  Are we supposed to be learning something here?

This story is an embarrassing one for Nephi.  (I’m fairly certain that I would have died on the spot if this had happened to me.  I don’t even take criticism for mortal beings that well.)  The fact that this story was included in the record suggests to me that Nephi (nor Mormon) was interested in presenting the hagiographic shlock (not that I’m bitter) that passes for some church history that is written today.

13 And it came to pass that Jesus commanded that it should be written; therefore it was written according as he commanded.

I like how the repetition in this verse serves to show that the command was immediately fulfilled.   (Even if Nephi had deliberately left Sam out, this verse redeems Nephi.)

Neal A. Maxwell takes this incident as a template for how the errors in other scriptural records will, someday, be fixed:

Granted, there is not full correlation among the four Gospels about the events and participants at the empty garden tomb. Yet the important thing is that the tomb was empty, because Jesus had been resurrected! Essence, not tactical detail! Moreover, the faithful, then and now, understand why the resurrected Jesus did not appear to the Sanhedrin, to Caiaphas, or Pilate—but, instead, to the bands of believers at Bethany and Bountiful. Why, for instance, did not ancient Church leaders more carefully record the fulfillment of certain prophecies of Samuel, the Lamanite? Belatedly, at Jesus’ direction, it was written fully and precisely. So, belatedly, the fulness of the history of the dispensation of the fulness of times will be written! The final mosaic of the Restoration will be resplendent, reflecting divine design and the same centerpiece—the Father’s plan of salvation and exaltation and the atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. Oct 84 GC

Note that this verse is the end of the chapter in the 1830 edition.  (Brant Gardner says the versification was changed so that the next chapter would match the verses in the KJV for Malachi.)

14 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had expounded all the scriptures in one, which they had written, he commanded them that they should teach the things which he had expounded unto them.

Again, what does it mean to expound scripture?  What does it mean to expound all scripture “in one”?  This strikes me as a very big deal–why isn’t it included in the record?  (Or is it?)

If you follow this chapter, it seems that Jesus doesn’t expound all scripture in one until the record of Sam’s prophecy is included in the record.  Does this order of events give you any indication as to what is meant by expounding the scripture in one?  Was Samuel’s record a necessary element of that?  If so, why and how?

There’s a super-interesting double-edged message about inerrancy in this chapter:  on the one hand, we see Nephi and the other disciples as fallible in their record keeping in a major way.  On the other hand, we see divine intervention to correct/perfect the record.

General question:  Note how this chapter begins with a discussion of Isaiah’s scriptures and then transitions to a discussion of Samuel’s scriptures.  I suspect that we would discover all sorts of interesting things if we compared/contrasted these two.

CHAPTER 24

1 And it came to pass that he commanded them that they should write the words which the Father had given unto Malachi, which he should tell unto them. And it came to pass that after they were written he expounded them. And these are the words which he did tell unto them, saying: Thus said the Father unto Malachi—Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.

Note “the Father.”  (It is even repeated.) Is that significant?  Is all scripture given by “the Father” or is Malachi a special case?

I think “which he should tell unto them” makes clear that Malachi wasn’t on the brass plates, which makes sense since most scholars date him to the 400s BCE, well after Lehi left.  Does the fact that a particular notice of author and date is made here have any bearing on how we interpret those times when that notice is missing, such as when Jesus quoted Micah a few chapters ago?

Note that Jesus doesn’t allow historical circumstances to prevent them from getting what they need.

Note that the last thing Jesus did was to command them to include the missing prophecy (or fulfillment?) from Samuel.  So how does that material compare to the Malachi material here?  Are we supposed to be comparing these passages?

Again, what does “expounding” mean and is the expounding included in the record?

This verse quotes Malachi 3:1, which is virtually identical.

NET:

 “I am about to send my messenger, who will clear the way before me. Indeed, the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple, and the messenger of the covenant, whom you long for, is certainly coming,” says the Lord who rules over all.

Note that Jesus usually quotes biblical poetry, but this is prose.

Note the irony (or is it?) for a Nephite audience, for whom the lord they were seeking did just suddenly come to his temple!

Who is the messenger?  Is it the Lord?  (That would make sense of the next sentence.)  Is it Samuel the Lamanite?  (That would make sense of the link between this material and the end of the last chapter; if this is right, it would be interesting to compare the roles of Sam and John the Baptist.)  Is it John the Baptist?  (That fits the NT context, but isn’t something the Nephites know a whole lot about, or that Jesus explains in 3 Nephi.)  Note that the Hebrew for “my messenger” is . . . Malachi.  (But that pun [is that technically a pun?] doesn’t seem to be made much of here.) Malachi 4:5 (which is quoted in 3 Nephi 25:5) says that Elijah will be sent; is that the same person mentioned here?

Given the emphasis on the fact that these are the Father’s words to Malachi, is the messenger preparing the Father’s way?

What exactly does the messenger do to prepare the way?  Why would the Lord need his way prepared?

In what ways is the Lord the messenger of the covenant?  Or does “messenger of the covenant” refer to the person sent to prepare the way of the Lord?

Thinking more about delighting in the Lord . . . how should this be relevant to our lives?

Is “the Lord of Hosts” a synonym for “the Father” in this verse?  If not, how do you make sense of the titles here?

2 But who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:2, which is virtually identical.

NET:

Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can keep standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, like a launderer’s soap.

This verse would be pretty straightforward to read as poetry if you wanted to:

Who can endure the day of his coming?

Who can keep standing when he appears?

For he will be like a refiner’s fire, 

like a launderer’s soap.

V2 led us to believe that this would be all unicorns and rainbows, since we delight in the Lord and he appears, but this verse points to the other edge of the sword:  many people won’t be able to endure his cleansing presence.  I suspect this verse would have had particular resonance for the immediate Nephite audience, who just had had this experience of seeing the unworthy around them die before they could experience the presence of the Lord.  In fact, one wonders if the natural inclination of these Nephites would have been to parse these verses of Malachi as references to events in their immediate past, not as events in their future.

The purpose of a refiner’s fire is to purify; the purpose of laundry soap is to clean.  In what ways is the Lord like these two things?  How might this be relevant to our lives?   Can we read the events in the last several chapters as being analogous to refining and cleaning?

It is sometimes said that the way a refiner knows that all of the impurities have been removed from metal is because he can see his own image in it; if that practice is the background, then that’s a great link to the idea of having the image of God in our countenances.

Note that refining is a painful process . . .

Note the contrast between this Malachi quote (harsh, judgmental, warning) and the last Isaiah quote (comforting, welcoming).  To what do you attribute the difference?

3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:3, which is virtually identical.

NET:

He will act like a refiner and purifier of silver and will cleanse the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will offer the Lord a proper offering.

Note that the purification/cleansing mentioned in the last verse in general terms is, in this verse, specifically applied to the priesthood.  (Previous chapters of Malachi, which Jesus doesn’t quote, point out the highly apostate nature of the priesthood.)  In what ways is the Nephite context different?  What were they (and us) to make of the idea of the priesthood needing purification?

Does this verse imply that the OT temple rituals will be reinstated, or is that reading too literally?

4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:4, which is virtually identical.

NET:

 The offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in former times and years past.

What time period does this verse envision?  (A time when the OT sacrificial system is observed, or something more metaphorical?)

5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger, and fear not me, saith the Lord of Hosts.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:5, which includes (but in italics) “from his right” after “stranger.”

NET:

“I will come to you in judgment. I will be quick to testify against those who practice divination, those who commit adultery, those who break promises, and those who exploit workers, widows, and orphans, who refuse to help the immigrant and in this way show they do not fear me,” says the Lord who rules over all.

How does this verse relate to the material that comes before it, particularly the purification of the priesthood?

In many cases, people who sinned against widows, etc., would do so with no one to witness against them because there would be no one to defend the widow.  In this verse, the Lord makes the point that he witnesses–and remembers–all of these injustices and that there is a price to be paid for them.

Note the contrast between the last verse, which was about the purification of priests, and this verse, which is about the punishment of sinners.  First, what about other groups (who are neither priest nor oppressor)?  Second, why do the priests get purified but these people get punished?  (Shouldn’t the priests, as priests, be held to a higher standard and therefore be punished but these sinners perhaps be purified?)

Widows, orphans, and workers were paradigmatic for powerless people in the OT, so I think we would be completely justified in thinking that this verse applied also to other groups who are generally defenseless today, including the mentally impaired, the elderly in some cases, etc.

Thomas S. Monson:

The word widow appears to have had a most significant meaning to our Lord. He cautioned his disciples to beware the example of the scribes, who feigned righteousness by their long apparel and their lengthy prayers, but who devoured the houses of widows. To the Nephites came the direct warning, “I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against … those that oppress … the widow. Oct 94 GC

6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:6, which is virtually identical.

NET:

“Since, I, the Lord, do not go back on my promises, you, sons of Jacob, have not perished.

How does this verse relate to the one before it?

Do you sense a tension between the last Isaiah quote about the Lord sometimes leaving the barren woman but sometimes being a husband to her and the idea in this verse that the Lord does not change?  If so, how do you resolve that tension?  (Honestly, I think a modern translation resolves almost all of the tension.)

Note the “therefore”:  the point seems to be that the children of Jacob are fine because the Lord will not renege on the on the covenant.  However, if the people have not kept up their end of the bargain (and they haven’t), then isn’t the Lord completely justified in not fulfilling his part of the covenant?  (The point I am hinting that is that we need to nuance our usual understanding of the covenant as one tempered by mercy.)

7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts. But ye say: Wherein shall we return?

This verse quotes Malachi 3:7, which is virtually identical.

NET:

From the days of your ancestors you have ignored my commandments and have not kept them! Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord who rules over all. “But you say, ‘How should we return?’

Do you think that they actually didn’t know how to return to the Lord, or just didn’t want to?

This verse begins a pattern where the Lord makes a statement and then the people question it.  Pay attention to the kinds of questions they ask.

To what extent was this material relevant to the immediate Nephite audience (who were at least worthy enough to survive the destructions and who had very recently had profound spiritual experiences in Jesus’ presence)?

Is there a sense in which the Lord needs to return to the people, or is that just a poetic flourish?

8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say: Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:8, which is virtually identical.

NET:

Can a person rob God? You indeed are robbing me, but you say, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and contributions!

Does this verse answer the question posed at the end of the last verse, or does it move on to a different subject?

How does the question the people asked in the last verse relate to the question that they ask in this verse?

How should this verse impact how you think about tithing?  About your money in general?

You know, you don’t hear a whole lot about tithing in the BoM.

Many scholars read the “tithes and offerings” as specifically what was owed to the priests to maintain them.  What’s interesting about that is that the people may have felt perfectly justified in withholding their contribution from a corrupt priesthood.  We might read this verse as saying either (1) even if they are corrupt, you are still obligated to support them (interesting echoes of the story of the widow’s mite here) or (2) now that they have been purified and cleansed, you are again obligated to support them.

Lemme tell you what I find interesting about this:  I think it is fairly common to rationalize theft from any entity that is wealthy enough not to be harmed by the theft.  (Such as:  stealing a very small thing from your employer, or digital media, etc.)  But if it is possible to rob God (who, obviously, won’t go hungry if you ‘steal’ your tithing from God), then I think the point it being made that the sin of theft is in the act of taking, not in the amount of harm it does to the person from whom you have stolen.  (I’m still working through some shock and sense of failure over the time I couldn’t convince a seminary class 12 years ago that it was wrong to steal digital media . . )

9 Ye are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:9, which is virtually identical.

NET:

You are bound for judgment because you are robbing me – this whole nation is guilty.

What does this verse suggest to you about the ideas of collective sin and/or collective judgment?

Was this verse applicable to the immediate Nephite situation?  If not, why was Jesus quoting it to them?

10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house; and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:10, which is virtually identical.

NET:

“Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse so that there may be food in my temple. Test me in this matter,” says the Lord who rules over all, “to see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until there is no room for it all.

Under what circumstances is it OK to prove/test/try God?

The image of heaven having open windows out of which one might pour blessings (like a bucket full of water) is an interesting one.

Brant Gardner:

In the Hebrew conception of the universe, the world was seen as being covered by a heavenly tent that kept out the celestial waters. When it rained, the windows of the tent were opened and some of that celestial water came down to earth. This imagery is transformed from water to blessings. The rain falls over large areas and creates beneficial conditions on the entire earth. The opening of these symbolic windows that are holding back the blessings will similarly benefit many over a large area. Just as with the celestial waters, the image is one of a barrier that is being removed. Citation

The immediate referent for “meat in my house” would have been the material with which to perform temple sacrifices.  I’m not sure that this passage is “about” tithing as much as it is “about” temple worship and the people setting the stage to make that possible.

Dallin H. Oaks:

When the risen Lord appeared to the faithful on this continent, he taught them the commandments the prophet Malachi had already given to other children of Israel. The Lord commanded that they should record these words. [quotes v8-10] After the Savior quoted these words, “he expounded them unto the multitude” and said, “These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations.” Here we see that the law of tithing is not a remote Old Testament practice, but a commandment directly from the Savior to the people of our day. Apr 94 GC

11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the fields, saith the Lord of Hosts.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:11, which is virtually identical.

NET:

Then I will stop the plague from ruining your crops, and the vine will not lose its fruit before harvest,” says the Lord who rules over all.

How is this verse applicable to those who pay tithing today?

Note how the tithing that may have been a numeric loss of wealth in the last verse turns in to a gain in this verse.

12 And all nations shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of Hosts.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:12, which is virtually identical.

NET:

“All nations will call you happy, for you indeed will live in a delightful land,” says the Lord who rules over all.

The cynic asks:  Should we not be concerned with what other people think about us, and doesn’t this verse encourage precisely the opposite?

13 Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say: What have we spoken against thee?

This verse quotes Malachi 3:13, which is virtually identical.

NET:

“You have criticized me sharply,” says the Lord, “but you ask, ‘How have we criticized you?’

Note that this is the third time that the people question in response to a statement from the Lord.  How do these questions relate?  I read this as a ”what not to do” situation.  If you do that, what does it suggest to you about the kinds of questions that you shouldn’t be asking?  Are these genuine questions, or malicious in some way?  What do  you they teach you about Israel?

In what ways might we criticize the Lord today, and fail to be aware of it?  (Does the next verse answer this question?)

Is this verse describing blasphemy, or something different?

14 Ye have said: It is vain to serve God, and what doth it profit that we have kept his ordinances and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts?

This verse quotes Malachi 3:14, which reads “and what profit is it” and “ordinance” is singular.

NET:

 You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God. How have we been helped by keeping his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord who rules over all?

In what ways do you see this attitude today?  What’s the best way to avoid it?  On what assumptions is it built?

Think about v11:  the Lord has just specifically promised them that it will not be vain to serve the  Lord, but actually end up to their benefit.  (The wrongness of the people’s questions/statements in this section, contrasted with the calm and loving way that the Lord responds to them, is truly something to behold.)

What does it mean to walk mournfully?  Is this something the Lord actually asked of them, or something that they incorrectly thought was required of them?

15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:15, which is virtually identical.

NET:

So now we consider the arrogant to be happy; indeed, those who practice evil are successful. In fact, those who challenge God escape!’”

Are the proud happy?

Who is delivering the people who tempt God:  God or someone else?

Does this verse describe three different things, or is this three ways of saying the same thing?

16 Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:16, which is virtually identical.

NET:

 Then those who respected the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord took notice. A scroll was prepared before him in which were recorded the names of those who respected the Lord and honored his name.

Is the second line here an allusion to the Samuel the Lamanite situation in the last chapter, where a similar event happened?

I suspect that the idea of penitent saints speaking to one another is interestingly significant here–we might have expected this verse to begin with a more typical picture of repentance, but here it is very community focused (as were the sins previously mentioned, from the corruption of the priesthood to oppressing workers, etc.).

Do you interpret the list of the penitent literally or symbolically?  If literally, then what is the point of an omniscient person making a list?  If symbolically, what does it symbolize?

Brant Gardner:

For Malachi, the imagery is of this heavenly book recording the righteous. In the context of Hebrew history, this was an image that indicated that the Lord would remember the righteous even when the world did not. However, in the immediate context in which this chapter is being cited, the Bountiful context is very different. The Lord is citing this chapter of Malachi as part of his discussion of the value of the written scriptures. In the particular context, it is the value of the Nephite written scriptures. For the Bountiful context, the command to write a book of remembrance is a direct reference to the Book of Mormon. The Lord has told them that one of the events that precedes the coming of the Triumphant Messiah will be the coming forth of their record, or the Book of Mormon. They have been told that written scriptures are essential, so much so that the Messiah himself would examine them and require that they be accurate (when he requires the correction to the record of Samuel). Thus the entire context leading up to Malachi is emphasizing the scriptural record, and it is punctuated in this verse. Citation

17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:17, which is virtually identical.

NET:

“They will belong to me,” says the Lord who rules over all, “in the day when I prepare my own special property.  I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.

Note that this (presumably small) group is able to avoid the choices of the larger group around them choose the right.

Why does the Lord compare the righteous to jewels?  What are the points of comparison?  Is this at all related to the Isaiah material a few chapters ago that described the jewels out of which the righteous city was built?

18 Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

This verse quotes Malachi 3:18, which is virtually identical.

NET:

 Then once more you will see that I make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not.

Notice that the answers to the three questions that the people asked will be obvious at this future day, although they were perhaps not obvious in their present tense.

How does this verse relate to the verse before it?

There is no chapter break here in the 1830 BoM.

CHAPTER 25

1 For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

This verse quotes Malachi 4:1, which is virtually identical.

NET:

“For indeed the day is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant evildoers will be chaff. The coming day will burn them up,” says the Lord who rules over all. “It will not leave even a root or branch.

How literally do you interpret this verse?  (Does the reference to wings in the next verse help you decide?)

How does this material relate to the purifying/cleansing of the priests in the last chapter?

Given that we already have this material in the OT and in Moroni’s citation to Joseph Smith, why do we have a third iteration of it in the scriptures?  Why is this chapter so important?

2 But unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves in the stall.

This verse quotes Malachi 4:2, which has “Sun” instead of “Son.”  Skousen thinks it should be “Sun.”

Skousen thinks it should be “of the stall” instead of “in the stall.”

NET:

But for you who respect my name, the sun of vindication will rise with healing wings, and you will skip about like calves released from the stall.

What does the image of healing in wings suggest to you?  (The wings here might be the rays of the sun, which would symbolize warmth, life, light, etc.  Or, it might indicate power in the extremities [cf. to Jesus’ hands, esp. in context of the crucifixion] or a power that humans simply don’t have [=flight].)

Note the contrast between v1 and v2.  These are very different images–how do they compare?  (We might have expected a fruitful plant with root and branch here to symbolize the righteous.)

With the reading of “sun,” there is a nice contrast between the destroying fire of v1 and the blessing fire of v2.

The image of the calves suggests the happy freedom of animals released from their pens.

The first allusion to wings in the Bible is Genesis 1:2, where the spirit of the Lord hovers over the waters, using the same words used elsewhere to describe a mother bird hovering.  So to find that very same image at the very end of the OT is kind of nice (if you are into canonical criticism).

3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of Hosts.

This verse quotes Malachi 4:3, which is virtually identical.

NET:

You will trample on the wicked, for they will be like ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the Lord who rules over all.

Does this verse suggest that the righteous will have a role in the destruction of the wicked?  Is that how we usually think about this?  Isn’t this sort of . . . vindictive?

4 Remember ye the law of Moses, my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

This verse quotes Malachi 4:4, which is virtually identical.

NET:

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, to whom at Horeb I gave rules and regulations for all Israel to obey.

How does this verse relate to the one before it?

5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord;

This verse quotes Malachi 4:5, which is virtually identical.

NET:

Look, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.

How does this verse relate to the one before it?  Does it posit a link between Moses and Elijah?

How literally do you interpret this verse?  (Are you obligated to have the same level of literalness that you have had for the previous parts of the passage?)

6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

This verse quotes Malachi 4:6, which is virtually identical.

NET:

He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me, so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment.”

Why is “heart” singular, when it belongs to more than one person?

In the Bible, heart = mind (and bowels = heart).

What does it mean to turn someone’s heart?

In what ways would turning hearts prevent a curse?

These are the last words of the OT (although that, of course, was not known to the immediate Nephite audience and perhaps the redactors, but it is to us).  Does that imply that 3 Nephi 26 is a transition as momentous as that from the OT to the NT?

Note that there was no chapter break here in the 1830 BoM.

General question:  Why do you think Jesus quoted this chapter?  For the immediate Nephite audience, it meant that they now had access to it–why did they need it?  For us, it is a repetition of material already in the OT (and with very few changes, and none of great significant)–why do we need it?

CHAPTER 26

1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had told these things he expounded them unto the multitude; and he did expound all things unto them, both great and small.

I think from this verse “telling” and “expounding” are two different things.  What is not clear to me still is whether the expounding is (1) not included in the record or (2) begins in the next verse.

Is it significant that it is the multitude and not the disciples who are taught these things?

What work is “both great and small” doing in this verse?  What does it even mean?

2 And he saith: These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations.

Note again that Jesus is operating under commandments from his Father.

Why would the Father have wanted them to have Malachi 3-4?  What was in there that they needed?  Was it for the immediate Nephite audience, or more for “future generations”?  If it was for the future people, why not reveal it to them then?

3 And he did expound all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory—yea, even all things which should come upon the face of the earth, even until the elements should melt with fervent heat, and the earth should be wrapt together as a scroll, and the heavens and the earth should pass away;

How literally do you read this verse?

What does it mean for the heavens to pass away?

Is the scroll here related to the scroll previously that had the names of the righteous on it?

The image here comes from 2 Peter 3:10.

Brant Gardner:

It is interesting that the particular language of the scroll is inaccurately applied to this new context. Note that the Isaiah imagery has heaven being rolled as a scroll, an imagery also found in Revelation 6:14. The reference here is to the Hebrew conception of heaven as a tent over the earth keeping out the celestial waters (see also 3 Nephi 24:10; Malachi 3:10).  It is easy to see how a tent might be envisioned as rolling up like a scroll. The imagery of the Old Testament is one of the division between heaven and earth being removed. The 3 Nephi context has the rolling as a scroll applied to the earth. Unlike the KJV models where only the heavens pass away, the 3 Nephi text has both heaven and earth passing. The only reference in which this altered has place is the earth as a sheet of metal under intense heat. Under that scenario, the earth could be as a flattened piece of metal that under the conditions of heat might be rolled as a scroll. This interpretation is particularly interesting for two facts. The first is that this fits much better into the imagery of Malachi where the refiner’s fire is purifying the elements. The second is that the Book of Mormon Nephites would not have had scrolls for their records, but they did have sheets of metal. When the metaphor is shifted to this new context, the purification of the fires creates something purified out of the original, and the old earth and heavens passing away into renewal through the refiner’s fire is a more tangible metaphor in the New World context. Citation

 

4 And even unto the great and last day, when all people, and all kindreds, and all nations and tongues shall stand before God, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

Does this verse imply that people will be judged in groups?

Does this verse imply that all people will be judged at the same time?

Does this verse imply that people are judged by their works and not their beliefs?

5 If they be good, to the resurrection of everlasting life; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of damnation; being on a parallel, the one on the one hand and the other on the other hand, according to the mercy, and the justice, and the holiness which is in Christ, who was before the world began.

Does this verse imply only two possible fates?

In what ways are these judgments “parallel” and not “opposite”?

In what ways does it show mercy to resurrect people to damnation?

We would have expected mercy and justice to play into judgment, but what is holiness doing here?

Why was “who was before the world began” mentioned in the context of judging?

This verse ends a chapter in the 1830 BoM.

6 And now there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people;

Why not?

What is “truly” doing in this verse?

On what basis was the <1/100 that we have chosen?

General question:  Was Jesus’ visit to the Nephites more about them or more about the later audience of the Book of Mormon?

7 But behold the plates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he taught the people.

What function does this verse serve? (Fat lot of good it does us.)

Why was it possible to put more of his teachings on the plates of Nephi but not on these plates?  (I think v11 answers this question.)

8 And these things have I written, which are a lesser part of the things which he taught the people; and I have written them to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people, from the Gentiles, according to the words which Jesus hath spoken.

Who is the “I”?  Why aren’t we told specifically here?  Why don’t we get his name until v12?

Why do we have a redactor erupting into the text here?

9 And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.

Note that this verse indicates that one of the purposes of the BoM is to try faith . . .

What greater things are manifested to people who believe in the BoM?

Interesting that we aren’t just putting the BoM to the test–it is putting us to a test as well.

Brant Gardner:

In a modern English connotation of the phrase “try faith” it might appear to be an intentional attempt to damage faith by providing a difficult test. The purpose of the Lord is never to damage our faith, but to refine it. When our faith is “tried” as is silver, it is purified through the heat of the refiner’s fire. There may be difficulties, but they exist to polish and purify our faith, not to see if we might lose it. Citation

10 And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.

Do v9-10 suggest that belief is a choice?  Or what?

Does this verse imply that lack of belief condemns you?

11 Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people.

Most interesting:  Note that the BoM is “less persuasive” to faith than it might otherwise have been as a result of a specific command of the Lord, contra to the will of Mormon, to be sure that the text that we would get would try our faith.

Grant Hardy:

One of the most striking, yet little noticed transitions in the Book of Mormon happens at 3 Ne. 26, where Mormon shifts from being a historian to being a prophet.  Until that point he has simply been presenting the facts, without claims of revelation or special knowledge, but just when he is about to record details of Jesus’ discourse to the Nephites in which he “did expound all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory” (3 Ne. 26:3)—details that Mormon probably felt would provide the most convincing evidence possible—the Lord stopped him, saying, “I will try the faith of my people.”  From then on, Mormon is speaking for the God as a prophet, and repeating the things that the Lord told him to say, as in his introduction to 3 Ne. 30: “Hearken, O ye Gentiles and hear the words of Jesus Christ . . . which he hath commanded me that I should speak.” Citation

12 Therefore I, Mormon, do write the things which have been commanded me of the Lord. And now I, Mormon, make an end of my sayings, and proceed to write the things which have been commanded me.

Note that just as we recently saw Jesus doing what the Father commanded him to do, here we see Mormon doing what the Lord commanded him to do.

13 Therefore, I would that ye should behold that the Lord truly did teach the people, for the space of three days; and after that he did show himself unto them oft, and did break bread oft, and bless it, and give it unto them.

Note that “ye” is most unusual in the scriptures; the reader is really invited into the text here.

Is the three days significant?

Is Mormon’s editorial eruption at the time that Jesus did “truly” teach significant timing?

Why the specificity of “three days” compared with the vagueness of “oft”?

Why is the sacrament such a key part of Jesus’ BoM ministry?  (Compare the NT, where it has less weight in each gospel and much less weight in Mark and John.)

14 And it came to pass that he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken, and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people; and he loosed their tongues that they could utter.

Does this verse give you any insight into what “minister” means?

How literally do you read “children” here?  Is this the same group of children that was previously ministered to?  (Does “of whom hath been spoken” answer that question?)

What does this verse suggest to you about children’s abilities?  About human language?

It is pretty weird that children are teaching greater things than Jesus taught . . . What might we conclude from this?

Why is “and he loosed . . .” repeated at the end of the verse?

15 And it came to pass that after he had ascended into heaven—the second time that he showed himself unto them, and had gone unto the Father, after having healed all their sick, and their lame, and opened the eyes of their blind and unstopped the ears of the deaf, and even had done all manner of cures among them, and raised a man from the dead, and had shown forth his power unto them, and had ascended unto the Father—

Why do you think we get a summary of his ministry here?

What do you conclude from the items included and not included in the summary?  (Note that there is no specific mention of the sacrament, baptism, Isaiah, Malachi, expounding scripture, etc., but an emphasis on physical healings.)

16 Behold, it came to pass on the morrow that the multitude gathered themselves together, and they both saw and heard these children; yea, even babes did open their mouths and utter marvelous things; and the things which they did utter were forbidden that there should not any man write them.

Why “saw”?  What exactly did they see, if the children’s abilities were in speaking?

Why was it forbidden to write what the children taught?

Is it significant that it is the multitude and not the disciples mentioned in this verse?

Note how references to the children surround the mention of Jesus’ ascension; why might this be significant?  (Is it related to the previous scene where the angels descended to minister to the children?)

Why is it the children and not the parents who are given this gift?

Brant Gardner:

Mormon’s sequencing is confusing at this point. In verse 14 we have the children speaking under the influence of the Spirit, and then in 15 the ascension after the second day. Then Jesus returns, and in verse 16 we have the children speaking. Are there two incidents of the children speaking? Probably not. Mormon has been giving a summation, and in this case began summarizing an event that occurred chronologically on the day after his most recent text. At some point in writing he understood that he might be confusing the chronology, and he straightens it out. Verse 14 is a reference to the same event as verse 16, and they come on the third day of the Savior’s visit. Citation

17 And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen began from that time forth to baptize and to teach as many as did come unto them; and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus were filled with the Holy Ghost.

18 And many of them saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written.

Why is this repeated?

“Lawful” strikes me as an unusual word here . . .

19 And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another.

What did it mean for them to have all things in common?

Does this verse define having all things in common as being the same as dealing justly?

20 And it came to pass that they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them.

Did Jesus command them to have all things in common?

21 And they who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ.

General thoughts:

(1) This came up in a previous lesson, but it is such a big deal I want to mention it again:  Jesus quotes from Isaiah 52 and from Isaiah 54, which makes the absence of his quotation from Isaiah 53 look like a big deal and that is doubly surprising because if most people had to point to one chapter in Isaiah that would be relevant to Jesus, it would be Isaiah 53!  Why do you think Jesus didn’t mention Isaiah 53?  Does the lack of reference to it constitute a commentary on the christological interpretation of that chapter?  (Also see comment #1 here for something interesting re the order of Isaiah material in the BoM.)

(2) Seriously:  Why does Jesus quote scripture?

3 Responses to BMGD #41: 3 Nephi 22-26

  1. Jim (jlw27) on November 5, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Perhaps it was the father in testimony meeting reporting that his 19- or 20-year old daughter had just submitted her papers to serve a mission, but as we considered 3 Nephi 22:1-2 in Gospel Doctrine class, I was struck by the application of these verses to the recent change in policy. Our new sister missionaries are “barren” in the sense that they have not had children, they rejoice, they have more spiritual children (converts) than the “married wife,” and they are helping to enlarge the tent of Zion. I am not saying that this is exactly what Isaiah had in mind with this passage, but I find the parallels interesting.

    Thank you, Julie, for sharing your insights with us.

  2. Alison Moore Smith on November 14, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Can ‘o worms: is there anything in this verse that you should model as a parent or leader?

    :) Perhaps that when we are very angry it’s a good idea to take some time alone to gain composure?

    General thoughts on the idea of the wife as the covenant people and the husband as the Lord: it suggests supreme intimacy, kindness, love, care, concern, priority, etc.

    I think it also probably suggests “supreme” subordination in context. :/

  3. Alison Moore Smith on November 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I think we often tend to “liken” scriptures like 22:15 to ourselves, when they were given to specific people in specific circumstances…and don’t apply to us at all.