Previous: Mormon Chapter 2  |      Book Home      |   Next: Mormon Chapter 4

Mormon Chapter 3

1 And it came to pass that the Lamanites did not come to battle again until ten years more had passed away. And behold, I had employed my people, the Nephites, in preparing their lands and their arms against the time of battle.

2 And it came to pass that the Lord did say unto me: Cry unto this people-Repent ye, and come unto me, and be ye baptized, and build up again my church, and ye shall be spared.

verse 2 It is truly remarkable that the Lord, yet again, extends to the Nephites an offer of mercy. You and I might well judge the Nephites to be well past the point of no return.

3 And I did cry unto this people, but it was in vain; and they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance. And behold they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God.

verses 1-3 Obviously the Nephites listened to Mormon only as their military and political leader, not as a prophet.

verse 3 "they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God" To harden one's heart is to willfully close one's heart against the Holy Spirit, in rebellion against God, in order to accomplish one's own will. The resulting hard-heartedness can result in the Spirit's ceasing to strive with a person and in spiritual death. Hard-heartedness can lead progressively from indulging oneself somewhat in wrongdoing to gross wickedness. Hard-heartedness is associated with complaining or murmuring, unbelief, blindness of mind, anger, impenitence, stiffneckedness, pride and sexual sin, desire for vengeance, abominations, cruelty, and murder. Hard-heartedness restricts spiritual understanding and can eventually lead to "know[ing] nothing" concerning the mysteries of God, and then being "taken captive by the devil" (Alma 12:9-11). It resists the softening action of the Holy Spirit and its attendant virtues, like meekness, compassion, and humility. It renders one vulnerable to lies, and blind to divine signs and wonders. It flourishes in conditions of ease and prosperity.

4 And it came to pass that after this tenth year had passed away, making, in the whole, three hundred and sixty years from the coming of Christ, the king of the Lamanites sent an epistle unto me, which gave unto me to know that they were preparing to come again to battle against us.

5 And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward.

verse 5 "to a city which was in the borders" The term borders here likely refers to mountains (see the commentary for 1 Nephi 2:5).

"by the narrow pass" See the commentary for Mormon 2:29.

6 And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force.

verse 6 Strategically, it was reasonable to try to defend the "narrow pass."

7 And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and first year the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us; and it came to pass that in that year we did beat them, insomuch that they did return to their own lands again.

8 And in the three hundred and sixty and second year they did come down again to battle. And we did beat them again, and did slay a great number of them, and their dead were cast into the sea.

9 And now, because of this great thing which my people, the Nephites, had done, they began to boast in their own strength, and began to swear before the heavens that they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren who had been slain by their enemies.

verses 4-9 The Nephites had achieved a significant military victory. Even at this point it was probably not too late for them to repent. Rather than recognizing the delivering hand of the Lord, praising him in gratitude for their victory, and repenting of their sins, they instead boasted in their own strength and gloried in their own achievements.

verse 9 "they . . . began to swear before the heavens" The Nephites, in their depravity, swore an evil oath to destroy the Lamanites. In doing so they were profaning and blaspheming God's sacred name. They had now placed the figurative nail in their own spiritual coffin.

10 And they did swear by the heavens, and also by the throne of God, that they would go up to battle against their enemies, and would cut them off from the face of the land.

11 And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination.

verse 11 Mormon had consented to lead the Nephite armies when they were battling for survival against the Lamanites. Now that the Nephites desired to become the aggressors, Mormon refused to lead them.

12 Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.

verse 12 "it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts" Even though Mormon had poured out his soul in prayer for his people, he admits that he did so without any hope that the Lord would be able to redeem his people. See the discussion of hard-heartedness in the commentary for verse 3 above.

13 And thrice have I delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and they have repented not of their sins.

14 And when they had sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they would go up unto their enemies to battle, and avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren, behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying:

15 Vengeance is mine, and I will repay; and because this people repented not after I had delivered them, behold, they shall be cut off from the face of the earth.

16 And it came to pass that I utterly refused to go up against mine enemies; and I did even as the Lord had commanded me; and I did stand as an idle witness to manifest unto the world the things which I saw and heard, according to the manifestations of the Spirit which had testified of things to come.

verse 16 Mormon knew that his people would not emerge victorious. The Lord commanded Mormon to serve as a witness against his own people. This standing as a witness was to serve as a warning, not only to his own people, but to all the world in this final dispensation of the sure justice of God.

verses 17-22 Now that Mormon has lost all hope for his own people, he turns his attentions to prophesying of the "Gentiles" and the scattered remnants of Israel in this final dispensation.

17 Therefore I write unto you, Gentiles, and also unto you, house of Israel, when the work shall commence, that ye shall be about to prepare to return to the land of your inheritance;

verse 17 "I write unto you, Gentiles, and also unto you, house of Israel" By now the reader should have no trouble understanding the explanation of the terms Gentiles and house of Israel. The Gentiles are the citizens of the great Gentile nation, the United States of America. Many of these are blood Israelites, especially of the house of Joseph. The term "house of Israel" refers to the scattered Israelites throughout the world at the time of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

"when the work shall commence" This is the work of gathering of Israel in the latter days following the restoration of the gospel.

18 Yea, behold, I write unto all the ends of the earth; yea, unto you, twelve tribes of Israel, who shall be judged according to your works by the twelve whom Jesus chose to be his disciples in the land of Jerusalem.

19 And I write also unto the remnant of this people, who shall also be judged by the twelve whom Jesus chose in this land; and they shall be judged by the other twelve whom Jesus chose in the land of Jerusalem.

verses 18-19 There is a hierarchy of judges who, under Christ, shall judge the righteous. Here we learn that the twelve tribes of Israel will be judged by the twelve apostles chosen in the Old World. The remnant of the Book of Mormon people will be judged by the twelve apostles called in the Western Hemisphere, and the twelve Nephite apostles will be judged in turn by the Old World twelve. This judging applies only to the righteous-"even as many as have loved me and kept my commandments, and none else" (D&C 29:12; see also 13)-as Christ alone will issue the decrees of damnation to the wicked (Millennial Messiah, 520). The word judgment here may be misleading. The usual meaning of the word is to pass sentence or determine innocence or guilt. This interpretation, however, gives only half of the broader meaning as used in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon speaks of the judgment of Christ as a time of reward and rejoicing, as well as a time of accountability.

The significance of this judging is unknown since we know that the partial judgment at the time of death will likely be performed by the Savior himself-"He employeth no servant there (2 Nephi 9:41)." Also, as has been discussed previously, the judgment is in the resurrection, since we are raised with celestial, terrestrial, telestial, or perdition bodies. Doubtless this formal judgment of the righteous will be more a time of great celebration than a time of critical judging.

20 And these things doth the Spirit manifest unto me; therefore I write unto you all. And for this cause I write unto you, that ye may know that ye must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, yea, every soul who belongs to the whole human family of Adam; and ye must stand to be judged of your works, whether they be good or evil;

verse 20 Mormon is still addressing the latter-day Gentiles and the scattered house of Israel. His writings in the Book of Mormon are for these same groups.

21 And also that ye may believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, which ye shall have among you; and also that the Jews, the covenant people of the Lord, shall have other witness besides him whom they saw and heard, that Jesus, whom they slew, was the very Christ and the very God.

verse 21 "that the Jews, the covenant people of the Lord, shall have other witness besides him whom they saw and heard" Mormon is writing also to the Jews so that his writings, the Book of Mormon, will be another witness against them, in addition to the witness of the Lord himself who lived among them in mortality. Indeed, the Book of Mormon will be "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."

22 And I would that I could persuade all ye ends of the earth to repent and prepare to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.

Previous: Mormon Chapter 2  |      Book Home      |   Next: Mormon Chapter 4