3 Nephi Chapters 22- 26
Here the Lord quotes Isaiah, speaking of a great day of restoration in a time to come. The remnants of the House of Israel will be reunited and brought home to the Lord and lands of inheritance. The Lord returns to a use of symbolism between the Bridegroom (the Lord of Hosts) and the bride (Israel).
The Lord promises his mercy will be extended still. This is in spite of times when His wrath is over the wicked and the righteous.
We are commanded to expand our borders of Zion. (verses 2 and 3) There is beautiful comparison to pitching the tent and lengthening our cords and strengthen our stakes. This is an appropriate comparison to our Stake. There are several way for us to strengthen our stake. We should begin with ourselves and families. By following more closely the guidance and direction given by our leaders we can be more like our Savior.
In verses 14-17 Israel’s pains and persecutions by enemies will end. Those who oppose the chosen people and the Lord’s work will be destroyed at the day. The chosen people will be protected and guided by the Lord. There is an underlying theme of the message presented by the Savior to the Nephites. It is one of come unto me and I will be merciful. This theme is consistent with the message of the gospel. It provides us with insight and thanksgiving that after all we can do, and despite shortcomings, our Savior will still be merciful to us.
After having quoted the prophet Isaiah (what we know as Isaiah Chapter 54), the Savior gives us direction and a commandment. In verse 1 He commands us to search these things diligently. He tells us “great are the words of Isaiah”. You may wonder “why?”… I mean, Isaiah is difficult to understand and hard to read. Why should we spend our time trying to understand an ancient prophet who appears to be so confusing? The answer begins in verse 2, “For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel”. Isaiah saw the beginning from the end. He saw the Savior and the destiny and travels of Israel. Because Isaiah spake concerning all things he “must speak also to the Gentiles”. The gentiles are inseparably connected to Israel.
The Savior then validates the prophecies of Isaiah. In verse 3 He says “all things that he (Isaiah) spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake. “ Here the Lord confirms Isaiah was moved to prophecy by the spirit. It also speaks to the duality of prophecy. Some prophecies will be fulfilled in many different ways and at different times. There are times when a prophecy appears to be fulfilled but is then applicable to another situation and dispensation. Many of Isaiah’s prophecies appear to be historical incidents in Israel’s journeys when they can just as easily be applied to our spiritual struggle to return to the Lord. For additional help into understanding Isaiah, see Bruce R. McConkie's article titled "Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah".
Christ then asks for Nephi to bring the record (the scriptures) to Him. A review discovers Nephi has inadvertently left out the fulfillment of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy that some of the saints would arise from the dead and appear unto many and minister unto them (verse 9). After the saints confirmed to the Savior this did occur, He asked why it was not written in the record (verse 10)? Jesus commanded that it be written and it was. Why was this so important that the Savior would ensure its inclusion in the Book of Mormon? The account verifies the validity and actuality of the resurrection. There is record of this happening in the old world as written in the New Testament. It is vital that the record be in the Book of Mormon as another testament of the atonement and resurrection.
This also brings out a great point. The Savior himself is the author of the scriptures. He ensures what is recorded. Many times throughout the Book of Mormon the four principal writers, Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni, make reference to writing that which they have “been commanded”. It makes it plain how the modern day prophet, Joseph Smith, could say with ease the book was the most correct book on the face of the earth. When you have the insight that Jesus Christ himself was the “author” and “editor” this is a logical conclusion for the prophet Joseph to have made.
In verse 14, we read the Lord “expounded all the scriptures in one” and commanded them to teach to others the things He had taught. This verse is similar to the one found in Luke 24. When on the road to Emmaus the resurrected Lord is walking with the disciples as they discuss the earthly mission of Christ. The Lord then explains to them how they have not understood what the prophets have taught and beginning at Moses , he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (verse 27). This provides us additional insight into “expounding the scriptures”. It is to teach the entire plan of salvation and the role of the Savior. "Expounding all scriptures in one" also involves making connections between verses throughout the scriptures. There are times when study of one part of the scriptures reminds us of other verses that we never have connected before as being related to each other. It is a matter of finding the same voice of the spirit throughout all the standard works and the central purpose of scripture being the instruction of the plan of salvation and the role of Jesus Christ in the plan. In regards to "expounding" we also read in chapter 26 verse 3, about the Savior teaching being described this way again.
The Lord quotes Malachi. The Nephite record would not have had access to the words of Malachi due to Lehi and Nephi having already left Jerusalem before Malachi’s time. The prophecies of Malachi were given approximately 430 B.C., almost two hundred years from the time the Nephites left.
In verse 1, Malachi refers to a messenger, the Father tells 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". We learn further about this messenger in Doctrine and Covenants 45:9, "And even so I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it, and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me". The restored gospel message is the messenger. There is also the possibility the "messenger" is spoken of as a singular "messenger", yet it is a combination of those heavenly messengers who were instrumental in the restoration of the keys and powers restored in this dispensation (Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Elijah, etc.)
Verses 8-12 are very familiar to us and refer to tithes and offerings. It is important to recognize the Lord taught tithing. Tithing is a commandment and essential to our spiritual growth and well being.
The coming of the Prophet Elijah was essential to the restoration of all things in this dispensation. In verse 1, Malachi makes reference to the last day and the ushering in of the millennial reign of Christ. For this to take place, all wickedness will be removed from the earth. “To leave them without root nor branch” is that if the temple ordinances and genealogical work were not restored then when the day of burning happens mankind would be left without root (ancestry) or branch (posterity). When Elijah returned and restored the sealing power and keys this was avoided and there was no curse (verse 6). This curse would have been in effect due to the world not having reached it purpose in creation. The purpose was to provide a place for all the children of our Heavenly Father to come and recieve the opportunity and ordinances to bind the entire family together.
Mormon comments on the Savior continuing to teach to the multitude and minister to them. In verse 2 He instructs them it was the will and wisdom of the Father that the scriptures of Isaiah, Malachi and understand the mission of Elijah be given unto future generations. He then explains the Plan of Salvation and how they will be judged and resurrected. In verse 4 we read about the people being judged of their works. The Lord told Nephi that out of the books He commanded that men should write- in other words, the scriptures- “I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written” (2 Nephi 29:11-14). This testifies of the importance of the scriptures and their role in the judgment. For those who never had the scriptures they will be taught the principles and everlasting gospel as contained in the standard works. Then all will have the opportunity to accept and live or reject and die. Ultimately, all will be judged against that which the Lord has caused to be written. This only validates the need to study the scriptures and to know the words of the prophets.
Next week's Book of Mormon Sunday school lesson: “This Is My Gospel”, 3 Nephi 27–30 and 4th Nephi