Tag Archives: 3 Nephi

Timeline in 3 Nephi 21

Christ says he’s going to give a sign, that the people may know the time when the things Isaiah says about the gathering are about to take place.

The gathering is also referred to as “the covenant,” because God covenanted to always remember Israel. Gathering them out of the nations after they have been scattered and married into other nations for hundreds (even thousands) of years is a miraculous achievement and proof that God still remembers scattered Israel long after everyone on earth (even Israel itself) has forgotten who they are.

  • v.2-6: The sign happens when the things that Christ is telling the Nephites/Lamanites now (and will continue to tell them by the Holy Ghost) are made known to the Gentiles,
    • And this means the Gentiles are aware of the Nephite/Lamanite descendants as a remnant of Israel
    • And not only that, when these things that are being told now, and will be, and will be written, are then given to them, that is, their descendants
    • Because, well, it is wisdom that Gentiles will be here in this land, so that they can give them to their descendants,
      • And that is because then the Gentiles might see God’s power, and when they see it, they might repent and become numbered as if they were Israel too
  • v.7: This is the sign he gives the Nephites/Lamanites: when these very things that they are hearing and writing down are beginning to be known by their own descendants — that is the sign that things in Isaiah about gathering are already beginning to be fulfilled.
  • v.22-24 If the Gentiles repent, God will establish a Church among them, and the Gentiles will be able to “come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this remnant”
    • Then they will help gather the remnant — and any other members of Israel — in order to build a city — a New Jerusalem.
    • Then, after that, they will help gather Israel into the city.
    • And after that, the power of heaven will be in the city — and then even God will come and dwell in the New Jerusalem
  • v.26-28 And also,* the Father will do an even bigger work: He will begin to gather in “all the dispersed” of Israel, even the tribes which are lost
    • The Father will begin to prepare the way that they will not only be gathered, but will come to Christ so that they can pray to the Father
    •  The Father will begin to work among all nations, so that the way is prepared for him to gather home all Israel to the land of their inheritance


*It is unclear to me when the things in v.26-28 are happening in this timeline. (1) The words “and then” could be that these things happen after the city is built and Israel is gathered and Christ has come to be with them. One thing is accomplished, and then the next marvelous work begins. (2) The words “even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people” could mean that we are showing another marvelous work that will begin at the same time as the events in v.22-24. That is, the events in v.26-28 could be happening in parallel with the events in v.22-24. I don’t think that I have a preferred reading as of yet.

Fulness of the Gospel

We are working out a really interesting reading during study group tonight.

We looked up fulness in an 1828 dictionary and the first definition talked about something that isn’t vacant; nothing in it is vacant. For whatever reason, this made us think about how perhaps fulness means no person is left out. That is, rather than fulness of the gospel meaning all principles are restored, what if it means all the people are gathered?

We are looking at 3 Nephi 16:10 tonight. Notice that when the Gentiles reject the fulness of the gospel, they are full instead of pride and hypocrisy. One reading is that rather than full of gospel they are full of pride. Another reading is that when they reject the fulness — that not just Gentiles are saved but also Israel is redeemed — when they reject this, then they are (or it’s because they are) full of pride.

What if it means fulness as in the Abrahamic Covenant — no one is meant to be left out. This gospel is for everyone. Or this gospel is strong enough for everyone.

Notice how the Gentiles are critiqued in 2 Nephi for not caring about the Israelites (What thank ye the Jews?) and also they don’t want more scripture from another Israelite people: A Bible! A Bible!

The gospel plan was meant for everyone. The Abrahamic Covenant gave Abraham’s seed the job of teaching everyone else. The gospel was meant to save everyone who would be saved: fulfilling that potential, that promise, is fulness of the gospel. Fulness of the plan.

Abraham 2! That connects Abrahamic Covenant and the Gospel.

Tangents: Nice jokes here about A Bible! A Bible! and what we might say: Book of Mormon! We need no Bible! or A manual! A Manual! 🙂

Another reading might be that the gospel is the good news of faith repentance baptism Holy Ghost, and in the Book of Mormon those things are filled up more fully than in the general Christian understanding. So it’s not that the Book of Mormon is more “complete” but rather it is more “abundant.”

The Abrahamic Covenant: Christ’s Speech to the Nephites (as usual, this post is a work-in-progress, but feel free to comment anyway)

I have been struck recently by how carefully Christ wants to work the Nephites through what the Abrahamic Covenant is and how they play a role in it. I think that 3 Nephi 17:2-3 may be evidence that the Nephite society didn’t really deal with the Abrahamic Covenant much. Even though they had Isaiah and Nephi, they still needed those writers carefully explained. And lucky for us, they were also commanded to write down what Christ taught them so we could read it too.

By the beginning of Chapter 15, Christ has finished updating the Nephites on the things He taught during His mortal ministry (see 3 Nephi 15:1). After addressing some questions about the Law of Moses, He turns specifically to the newly called disciples to begin teaching about the Abrahamic Covenant (3 Nephi 15:11). This speech continues through the end of Chapter 16.  The next chapter opens with Christ seeing that the people aren’t ready to learn what He has been commanded to teach them (3 Nephi 17: 2-3), and so asks them to return to their homes to prepare for the next day.  What was it that the people didn’t understand? It appears that so far He has only taught the disciples about the Abrahamic Covenant. Did the multitude not understand the things taught in Chapters 11 through 15? Or, perhaps, Christ was hoping to teach the multitude about the Abrahamic Covenant but realized they were not ready for it. (Elsewhere Christ teaches something to the disciples and then repeats a similar version to the multitude generally.) He can tell they aren’t ready to work through Isaiah just yet, so He plans to finish on another day.

Interestingly, He waits to finish His teaching until they have received the sacrament and the Holy Ghost. In Chapter 20, we read:

 9 Now, when the multitude had all eaten and drunk, behold, they were filled with the Spirit; and they did cry out with one voice, and gave glory to Jesus, whom they both saw and heard.

10 And it came to pass that when they had all given glory unto Jesus, he said unto them: Behold now I finish the commandment which the Father hath commanded me concerning this people, who are a remnant of the house of Israel.

11 Ye remember that I spake unto you, and said that when the words of Isaiah should be fulfilled—behold they are written, ye have them before you, therefore search them—

12 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that when they shall be fulfilled then is the fulfilling of the covenant which the Father hath made unto his people, O house of Israel. ….

These verses seem to suggest that perhaps His earlier message was heard by the multitude afterall. In any case, let’s see what Christ is teaching the people, a people who (like us) sometimes have a hard time comprehending the Abrahamic Covenant.


Isaiah is becoming clear! Wow!

So if you ever want to understand scripture, just read it out loud every day to a 5 year old. I can’t believe how much I am learning from studying with Jacob. Just the act of reading it out loud, without any chance of daydreaming, and thinking about how to make sense of this to a kid, has opened up so many passages of scripture to me. The most amazing of them, to me, is Isaiah. I am finally getting that coveted feeling that Isaiah is clear! It is reading 3 Nephi, where Christ expounds on Isaiah, that has made him so much more clear to me. There I see a basic framework of what the covenant is, who it is for, and how it works with different groups over time. Once I got that framework, I realized that I could probably enter into Isaiah at any chapter and at least see the basic framework there.

So, what am I seeing as the basic framework? God gave a covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Over time, those of this covenant forgot the Lord, and over more time many forgot that they were Israel at all. God took many groups away from Jerusalem. Because of the wickedness of those at Jerusalem, says Christ in 3 Ne, they don’t even know about these groups or where they are.

Of all these “lost” groups, the Nephites have a very, very unique and crucial role to play. Their record is the one moment that will turn everything around. After Israel forgets the covenant, the Nephites are still writing. The words that Christ tells them are written down for a special, important moment in time. After Israel has all forgotten the covenant, the Book of Mormon comes–not to Israel–to the Gentiles! Israel has forgotten the covenant, and so it is made available to the Gentiles. This is sort of the “hourglass” of history. The Gentiles now have a chance to embrace the covenant. If they repent, they will be numbered among Israel and become part of that covenant family. If they reject the gospel, then as Israel remembers their covenant God will remember them, and Israel will be among the Gentiles “as a lion” in the forest who tramples down, etc. But it is specifically the Book of Mormon that both opens the covenant to the Gentiles, and that which reminds Israel that they are Israel. Both! Incredible!

Then the Gentiles and Israel see the covenant at work, and know that God did not forget his promises that his covenant people would have the blessings of the gospel, the priesthood, ordinances, knowledge, Holy Ghost, etc. Soon all nations, all people, will learn about the covenant and have the opportunity to embrace it or reject it. Then all that are proud will be made low, God will remember Israel and protect them–which of course now includes everyone who  has embraced the covenant, and excludes all that have rejected it. The words “Israel” and “Gentile” change meanings, and are less a question of lineage than faithfulness.

And Elijah comes during all of this to turn the hearts of the children (Israel) to their fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).  They will remember who they are and who their fathers were. And the Gentiles have a chance to become Israel.

Now think of the passage in Isaiah where Israel has been “barren” and asks “who are these children?” where did these come from? There will be “children” who forgot they were Israel, who will suddenly return. And there will be Israel who weren’t children, but who are “adopted.” Suddenly a mother who was “barren” – ie, there were very few who were a covenant people through the last 200 years — will find herself with children like the sands of the sea, since everyone who accepts the gospel covenant is numbered among Israel! It will be as if “Israel” was asleep, and woke up to find out that there were Israelite children all over the world in all nations, and even Gentiles had turned into Israelites!

Look again at the title page of the Book of Mormon: “Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” Two purposes: 1, to show the remnant (the children) that God had a covenant with their fathers and did great things for them, and that they still have a chance to be a part of that covenant, and 2, to convince Jew (through the talk of the law of Moses?) and Gentile (in other ways?) that Jesus is the Christ! The Book of Mormon convinces them that the God they worship is indeed this very Jesus. Those are the two purposes of the Book of Mormon.

And through those 2 purposes, the Gentiles embrace the covenant and take it to the Lamanites. Then we know the work has commenced! And more and more will remember the covenant given to their fathers. And the Gentiles have a chance to accept or reject the covenant. And it goes and goes throughout the world.

Does this help make sense of Isaiah? I think this is the framework that is laid out in 3 Nephi. If anyone wants to read through those chapters and tell me what they think of my summary, I’d love the help!

3 Ne 18:7 – Possibilities in the words “which I have shown unto you”

“And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you.”

Most of what the Savior says in v. 7 and v. 11 sounds familiar to us, except these words: “which I have shown unto you.” This phrase opens up some interesting interpretive possibilities (these were discussed during our Saturday Study Group last week):

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