1. The Savior quotes some of Isaiah’s prophecies about the house of Israel.
3 Nephi 22:2 Strengthen thy stakes
“The large movement of Israel’s conversion, gathering, and return to the lands of her inheritance will require strong, enlarged stakes in Zion. Growth will be ‘on the right hand and on the left,’ with Gentile cities (probably left desolate by the wrath ‘poured out without mixture upon the whole earth’ DC 115:6) inhabited by the children of the covenant. It is from this imagery of Israel’s wilderness tent/tabernacle with its cords, curtains, borders, and stakes that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints draws its use of the word stake for the name of its basic ecclesiastical unit.” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ And The New Covenant, p. 289 – 290)
3 Nephi 22:4 Thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth
“Scriptures are written in general to give guidance and information regarding our relationship to Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Scriptures also offer specific guidance and information when we pray for personal comfort and support.
“I recall a particular time when 3 Nephi 22:4 brought me to my knees in tears over an answer to a prayer that I had previously been diligently seeking.
“I had only recently become baptized, when I was beset by distress over thinking about my sinful past. Truly I had been rejoicing over the promise of forgiveness following repentance and baptism, yet, now I agonized for nearly two weeks over past sins.
“I found that my despair had taken hold of me, so I decided to spend a day fasting and reading the Book of Mormon.
“I was enjoying reading the attendant lamentations and explanations that were so offered by the verses. When I came to verse 4 of 3 Nephi, chapter 22, the general quality of the reading became very personal regarding my obsession over past sins.
“As I continued reading to the end of the chapter, my sobbing increased, and for a few brief moments my mind comprehended the Savior’s personal forgiveness of me. A great peace came over me and the descriptions of the Savior’s relationship to the past, present and future of Zion took on their literal and prophetic value.” (Catherine Cinelli, Church News, 01/20/96)
3 Nephi 22:11 Lay thy foundations with sapphires
“In the midst of a troubling world, the foundations I rely on come by my covenants with the Lord. They are indeed like sapphires and are treasures beyond price….They are the restored principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ which are available to righteous women and men alike through the power of the holy priesthood of God. They include baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the sacrament, and temple covenants.” (Aileen H. Clyde, Ensign, May 1995)
3 Nephi 22:13 And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord
“The world is not a safe place. It is not a place where children will feel peace, hope, and direction unless they are taught to love and follow the Savior. Please help them know that these great blessings can be theirs, and show them what they need to do to receive these blessings” (Patricia P Pinegar in Conference Report, Oct. 1999).
3 Nephi 23:1 Great are the words of Isaiah
“Isaiah is the most quoted prophet in the New Testament. The Lord Himself quoted Isaiah seven times, the Apostles forty times more. In addition there are ninety partial quotes or paraphrases of Isaiah’s words.
“Isaiah is the most quoted prophet in the Doctrine and Covenants. Sixty-six quotations from thirty-one chapters of Isaiah attest to the singular importance of this great prophet.
“All of this confirms that the Lord had a purpose in preserving Isaiah’s words” (Boyd K Packer, Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled , 280).
3 Nephi 23:5 Searching the prophets
‘Jesus’ commandments to the Nephites to “search the prophets” (3 Nephi 23:5) and “search” the words of Isaiah (3 Nephi 20:11; 23:1) are a deliberate challenge. Although Jesus was with them, teaching them directly, yet they were to delve deeply into the words of the prophets for an understanding of divine truth. To facilitate this, Jesus not only quoted at length from Micah and Isaiah, who prophesied of a time far distant, he also revealed to them the words of Malachi, who lived long after Lehi left Jerusalem, and “expounded them unto the multitude” (3 Nephi 26:1). Following that, Jesus “did expound all things unto them… even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory” (3 Nephi 26:1, 3).
This puts to rest the notion that there is no need to pay much attention to “dead prophets” when the living prophets will tell us all we need to know. Jesus said, “These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded me that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations” (3 Nephi 26:2). In fact, Mormon keeps emphasizing how Jesus “expounded all the scriptures unto them” until he had “expounded all the scriptures in one,” those they had previously received and those he now gave them, “both great and small” (3 Nephi 23:6, 14; 26:1).
There is a vast difference between searching the scriptures and not doing so, between having a solid grounding in the Hebrew prophets and not having one (cf. 2 Nephi 32:3–7). In the New Testament, as in the Book of Mormon, Jesus similarly counseled the people to “search the scriptures” (John 5:39), which consisted of the law and the prophets. Those who believed in Christ, both Jew and Gentile, were those who “received the word with all readiness of mind” and “searched the scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11–12). By searching the scriptures, the people in Jacob’s day could discern the deception of Sherem, the antichrist (Jacob 7:23), and the Zoramites could distinguish truth from error (see Alma 33:2).
Because we are living in the time of which Jesus and the ancient prophets spoke, how much greater is our need to search their writings so that we will not be deceived but rather believe what the scriptures actually say? Refusing to search the prophecies makes people “willingly ignorant” of what will transpire when Jesus comes again and will catch them unprepared (2 Peter 3:2–10).
Certainly, Jesus will not acknowledge those who don’t search the prophecies, who are satisfied with popular notions, assuming that is all they need to know (see 3 Nephi 14:22–27). If, as Nephi says, “by denying him [Christ] ye also deny the prophets and the law” (2 Nephi 25:28), then the reverse is also true: by denying the prophets, we deny Christ.
There is a breakthrough in understanding that comes when we search the scriptures diligently. This understanding is not something one person can give another but is achieved individually. As Jesus taught, it is absolutely essential to have as one’s foundation the writings of the Hebrew prophets, in particular the words of Isaiah. Without building upon that foundation, one can never “put it all together.” One can never comprehend all the scriptures “in one,” both “great and small.” As Jesus reminds us, “Out of the books which have been written, and which shall be written, shall this people be judged” and “shall the world be judged” (3 Nephi 27:25–26).
Another commonly accepted myth is that we are not to inquire into the mysteries. Those who don’t understand the mysteries of God are those who “see but see not, who hear but hear not, neither understand” (cf. Matthew 13:11–15). Rather, God’s people are to “open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view” (Mosiah 2:9).
The scriptures “have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes” (Mosiah 1:5). As “ministers of Christ,” we are “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1). To have the mysteries of God unfolded to us makes us rich (D&C 6:7; 11:7).
In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said, “I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory. And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.
“Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations. And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught. For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man” (D&C 76:5–10).
As we read in Mormon’s account, Jesus revealed precisely such mysteries to the Nephites at Bountiful, many of whom “saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written” (3 Nephi 26:18). Moreover, Mormon makes clear that we as “Gentiles” have thus far received but “the lesser part of the things which he [Jesus] taught the people” because we have not yet sufficiently “believed” them (3 Nephi 26:7–11). If and when we believe them, “then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them” (3 Nephi 26:9).
To this, we respond, “Of course we believe them!” And so we deceive ourselves into thinking that it is enough to be good members of the Church, to read the Book of Mormon and yet forget Jesus’ commandment to “search the prophets.”’ (Avram Gileadi, Studies in the Book of Mormon)
2. The Savior commands the people to add to their records.
3 Nephi 23:6 Other scriptures I would that ye should write
“…when [the Lord] came to the Nephites he made a big thing about keeping records. He went through the records himself and made sure that all the prophecies were mentioned. Samuel the Lamanite had prophesied something that was fulfilled. You didn’t put it down here, he says to Nephi. Nephi’s face turned red and he said, Well, we’ll see that it gets put down! (cf. 3 Nephi 23:6-13). It was very embarrassing, believe me, when the Lord himself was there! But he wants those records complete.” (Hugh Nibley, Temple And Cosmos, p. 321 – 322)
3 Nephi 24:1 I will send my messenger
“The spirit of Elias is to prepare the way for a greater revelation of God, which is the Priesthood of Elias, or the Priesthood that Aaron was ordained unto. And when God sends a man into the world to prepare for a greater work, holding the keys of the power of Elias, it was called the doctrine of Elias, even from the early ages of the world. John’s mission was limited to preaching and baptizing; but what he did was legal; and when Jesus Christ came to any of John’s disciples, He baptized them with fire and the Holy Ghost.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 335-6)
3 Nephi 24:8 Tithing
“I … suggest five reasons why all of us, rich or poor, longtime member or newest convert, should faithfully pay our tithes and offerings.
“First, do so for the sake of your children. … Teach your children that many of the blessings of the Church are available to them because you and they give tithes and offerings to the Church. …
“Second, pay your tithing to rightfully claim the blessings promised those who do so. …
“Third, pay your tithing as a declaration that possession of material goods and the accumulation of worldly wealth are not the uppermost goals of your existence. …
“Fourth, pay your tithes and offerings out of honesty and integrity because they are God’s rightful due. …
“This leads to a fifth reason to pay our tithes and offerings. We should pay them as a personal expression of love to a generous and merciful Father in Heaven. Through His grace, God has dealt bread to the hungry and clothing to the poor. At various times in our lives, that will include all of us, either temporally or spiritually” (Jeffrey R Holland in Conference Report, Oct. 2001).
3 Nephi 25:1 Neither root nor branch
‘What does it mean that the “proud … and all that do wickedly” will be burned and left without either root or branch? (3 Nephi 25:1). This phrase refers to the theme of 3 Nephi 25. Consider your roots to be your parents or ancestors and your branches to be your children or posterity. To be united with our roots and branches, we must receive temple ordinances. The Lord said He would send Elijah before the Second Coming to restore priesthood keys that would allow families to be complete—both roots and branches. In 1836 the sealing power was restored, and it provides the way for families to be eternally linked (see D&C 110:14–16; 128:18). However, the proud and the wicked will be burned up and left without either root (ancestors) or branch (posterity), leaving them cut off from their family and the sealing blessings.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke of this idea: “Elijah restored the sealing powers whereby ordinances that were sealed on earth were also sealed in heaven. … Without that link no family ties would exist in the eternities, and indeed the family of man would have been left in eternity with ‘neither root [ancestors] nor branch [descendants]’” (Christ and the New Covenant, 297–98).’ (Book of Mormon Institute Manual)
3. The Savior expounds all things from the beginning.
3 Nephi 26:2 These scriptures
“These scriptures…are primarily for our benefit. We live in the day of which they speak; we are the children in whose hearts the promises have been planted; we are the ones who are striving so to live that we will abide the day of His coming. And it is in our day that Elijah has come, according to the promises, bringing again the sealing power so that legal administrators may bind on earth and have it sealed eternally in the heavens — for all of which the Lord be praised.” (Bruce R McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, book 4, p. 368)
3 Nephi 26:3 He did expound all things
“After reciting these scriptures to the people, the Savior…then explained all things to them ‘from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory’ (3 Nephi 26:3). It seems likely that, having just quoted these verses about Elijah’s promised return, the Lord then explained something about Elijah’s mission, what it meant and why it was necessary. Because that mission and the keys of the sealing power that form such an integral part of it pertain so much to the sacred work carried on in the holy temples of the Lord, it is not surprising that the text of 3 Nephi does not give us more detail about the Lord’s explanations. They were probably things of such a sacred nature as to be learned by us only in the temple.” (Byron R. Merrill, Elijah: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, chap. 16)
3 Nephi 26:9 Then shall the greater things be made manifest
“I have had many people ask me through the years, ‘When do you think we will get the balance of the Book of Mormon records?’ And I have said, ‘How many in the congregation would like to read the sealed portion of the plates?’ And almost always there is a 100-percent response. And then I ask the same congregation, ‘How many of you have read the part that has been opened to us?’ And there are many who have not read the Book of Mormon, the unsealed portion. We are quite often looking for the spectacular, the unobtainable. I have found many people who want to live the higher laws when they do not live the lower laws” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 531–32).
3 Nephi 26:14 He did teach and minister unto the children
“We are left to wonder at the marvelous messages given to these children that could in any way have been ‘greater than he had revealed unto the people.’ He had spoken of faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, prayer, the sacrament, the law of Moses, the scattering and gathering of Israel, the Book of Mormon, the fulness of the covenant, the work of the priesthood, and his own second coming-to name just a few of the principal topics! What he told the children that was greater than these is a question of surpassing wonder. On that astonishing note Christ ascended into heaven, concluding the second day.” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ And The New Covenant, p. 299)
3 Nephi 26:19 And they taught, and did minister one unto another
‘This is the pattern in the Lord’s Church in every dispensation: His covenant people teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom and minister to one another in the fellowship of gospel bonds, for the Lord’s people comprise one great family.’ (Book of Mormon Institute Manual)