Mormon 3:3 it was the Lord that had...granted unto them a chance for repentance
The Lord will not destroy the wicked without giving them adequate warning. The Lord was merciful enough to give the Nephites their last chance for repentance. The promise of the Lord was that there was still hope if they would repent, but as Mormon said, it was in vain. Much like Mormon gave the Nephites their final warning, the Lord has instructed us to issue the same warning, the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days (DC 1:4)...For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard (Jacob 5:71). Certainly, the destruction of the Nephite nation is a type for the destruction which will come upon the wicked at the Second Coming.
Marion G. Romney
"We who today bear the priesthood of God are the legal heirs to this great commission. Ours is the responsibility of officially declaring repentance unto all the inhabitants of the earth. None are exempt. We must discharge this responsibility, regardless of the manner in which our message is received." (Conference Report, Apr. 1950, p. 87)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"That is our duty. When we see evil lurking, when we see dangers confronting the people, and especially the Latter-day Saints, it is our duty to raise the warning voice, and not only in behalf of the Latter-day Saints, but to warn all people, for our mission is one that is world-wide, and we should warn all men and give them the opportunity of repentance, of serving the Lord and keeping his commandments if they will. If they will not, then we have saved our souls. We are clear from the blood of this generation. That is our duty." (Conference Report, Oct. 1933, p. 61)
Mormon 3:9 they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren
"Here are two victories in a row; the Nephites were doing all right...They decided they were unbeatable because of this great thing, and revenge becomes the motive. Verse 9: 'And now, because of this great thing...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.' Here is the standard scenario of the Western, of course. The bad guys do bad things for the first half [of the movie], and the good guys get revenge for the second half. And we love that revenge-catching up with them and shooting them or blowing them up, etc. That revenge is the main scene...John Wayne or someone is the good guy who doesn't want war or anything like that. Then they [the bad guys] do something very, very bad. Then the thing we all sit on the edge of our seats and relish is the revenge that follows, because innocent people have suffered, etc...This is the theme of countless police stories, detective stories, and Westerns. Mr. Good Guy goes and cleans up the bad guy, but only after he's been driven to the extreme. He has to avenge the blood of his brethren.
"Well, how about this noble motive of avenging the blood of your brethren-the private eye plot, the police officer whose pal gets shot, etc.? Is not avenging the blood of your brethren an ideal? Isn't it an obligation?...Finally they're going to settle the Lamanite question once and for all with a big battle, because they've got them on the run now. But they shouldn't have done that." (Teachings From the Book of Mormon, Lecture 105, p. 201)
Mormon 3:10-11 they did swear by the heavens, and also by the throne of God, that they would...cut them off
It never ceases to amaze me how consistently the wicked use religious language and motifs. As if the Nephites ever thought about the heavens or the throne of God! We can be sure that they will see neither of those things. In our day, we notice that those who care very little about God are the first to say phrases like, "Oh, my God!" Of course, they say this in situations which mock their Maker, never to importune at His feet in humble supplication. Yet this is the way of those who are without God in the world (Eph 2:12).
Furthermore, the Nephites are going to mock solemn oaths and make idle oaths. They are completely incapable of wiping out the Lamanites and avenging the deaths of all their brethren. Those who could not so much as make one hair black or white (3 Ne 12:36) were convinced that they were strong enough to take on the entire Lamanite nation-making the mortal mistake of taking the offensive. Their hubris is amazing to us but disgusting to Mormon who decided he just couldn't take it anymore.
"And from that time on, Mormon says, I was through. Now here was their greatest general, the great hero, the one who had won the battles, etc. This was the ultimate folly, the last straw." (Teachings From the Book of Mormon, Lecture 105, p. 201)
Jeffrey R. Holland
"It was a wrenching time for him because these were his people, and he loved them. Indeed, he loved them 'with all [his] heart.'...In such frustration and sorrow, Mormon stepped back from leading an army that would not repent, and he refused to go up against their enemies. At the Lord's command, he stood as 'an idle witness' to his own generation while writing to a future generation the lessons his people had failed to learn." (Christ and the New Covenant, p. 320)
Mormon 3:12 my soul had been poured out in prayer...nevertheless it was without faith
We can judge whether or not we have sufficient charity by whether we pray on behalf of others. Mormon both lived this principle and taught it, charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever...Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love (Moroni 7:47-8). We don't doubt but that Mormon had been filled with this love for his task was to love a people who deserved it the least. They had been given everything yet remained in open rebellion against the truth. Nevertheless, the charity in Mormon's heart was as Nephi before him who said, I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry (2 Ne 33:3). The only difference between the prayers of Nephi and Mormon was that Mormon couldn't pray with faith, for he knew his people were past feeling, concluding, I cannot recommend them unto God lest he should smite me (Moroni 9:20-1).
Mormon 3:14 they had sworn by all that had been forbidden them
Mormon also saw the irony in the idle oaths of his people. They had sworn by the heavens and by the throne of God (v. 10), but Mormon declares, these things had been forbidden them. They would never see heaven, nor would they see the throne of God. By their own actions they were forbidden the things of the Spirit, being cut off from the presence of the Lord.
Mormon 3:15 Vengeance is mine, and I will repay
In contrast to the Nephites, who thought it was their privilege to mete out punishment on the Lamanites, the Lord reminded Mormon that punishment is His responsibility. As Paul taught, it is not our job to worry about how the wicked are punished but to figure out how to live peaceably with them, If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves...for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay (Rom 12:18-19).
Joseph F. Smith
"...men are not called upon to curse mankind; that is not our mission; it is our mission to preach righteousness to them. It is our business to love and to bless them, and to redeem them from the fall and from the wickedness of the world. This is our mission and our special calling. God will curse and will exercise his judgment in those matters. 'Vengeance is mine,' saith the Lord, 'and I will repay.' We are perfectly willing to leave vengeance in the hands of God and let him judge between us and our enemies, and let him reward them according to his own wisdom and mercy." (Conference Report, Oct. 1904, p. 5)
"Brethren, bear and forbear one with another, for so the Lord does with us. Pray for your enemies in the Church and curse not your foes without: for vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay. To every ordained member, and to all, we say, be merciful and you shall find mercy. Seek to help save souls, not to destroy them." (Teachings, p. 77)
Mormon 3:16 I did stand as an idle witness
"A striking new study has been initiated comparing a subtle, recurring pattern in the Book of Mormon with a particular type of human behavior recently identified in the writings of the 'survivors' of Hitler's and Stalin's death camps...the dominant response of the few who survived the European concentration camps has been an irrepressible desire 'to bear witness.' The world of death camps and gulags produces a consistent reaction, a will to survive not for oneself, but rather to bear witness to the world in a particular kind of testament or indictment against man's inhumanity to his fellows. 'Survival is an act involving choice [even when death might seem easier]...The 'utmost concern' of such survivors was to hide up a record 'preserved for future generations.' One survivor speaks of his duty to witness as a 'mission,' a 'sacred task,' and a 'burning within me, screaming: Record!'
"...That profile has much in common with the human conduct of several people in the Book of Mormon, like Mormon and Moroni. For example, there is the will 'to remember and record' that overcomes one's fears of the surrounding savagery (see Mormon 2:15; 4:11-21). There is the survivor viewing his task as a sacred duty, born out of the realization that no one will be left." (John W. Welch, Reexploring The Book of Mormon, p. 267)
Mormon 3:18 Israel...shall be judged...by the twelve whom Jesus chose...in the land of Jerusalem
See commentary for 3 Ne 27:27.
Mormon 3:19 the twelve...in this land...shall be judged by the other twelve
Spencer J. Condie
"Questions are sometimes raised regarding the relationship between the twelve Apostles in the land of Jerusalem and the twelve disciples whom Jesus chose from among the Nephites. Mormon makes it clear that the twelve tribes of Israel will be judged by the Twelve in Jerusalem. The remnant of Lehi will be judged by the twelve Nephite disciples, and they in turn 'shall be judged by the other twelve whom Jesus chose in the land of Jerusalem.' (Mormon 3:18-19.)" (Heroes From the Book of Mormon, p. 175-6)
Mormon 3:20 every soul who belongs to the whole human family of Adam...must stand to be judged
Neal A. Maxwell
"Not only are there individual moments of truth, but there are also collective. As we are meek, we will have a perspective about that moment yet to come when the 'whole human family of Adam' will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (Mormon 3:20.) But with meekness also comes sober realization that we are our 'own judges, whether to do good or evil.' (Alma 41:7.) If we are meek, our minds will not be darkened, and we can judge rightly because it is 'given unto [us] to judge, that [we] may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain . . . as the daylight from the dark night.' (Moroni 7:15.) At that remarkable, sobering, and exhilarating moment, yet future, there will be no proud grievances with the justice of God. 'The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just.' (Mosiah 16:1.)" (Meek and Lowly, p. 58)
Mormon 3:21 the Jews...shall have other witness
Jeffrey R. Holland
"The principal and commanding figure in the Book of Mormon, from first chapter to last, is the Lord Jesus Christ. In its unparalleled focus on the Messianic message of the Savior of the world, the Book of Mormon is rightly referred to as God's 'new covenant' with the house of Israel. It is literally a new testament or (to avoid confusion) 'another testament' of Jesus Christ...From the title page to the book's final declaration, this testament reveals, examines, underscores, and illuminates the divine mission of Jesus Christ as recorded in the sacred accounts of two New World dispensations (Jaredite and Lehite) written for the benefit of a third dispensation, the dispensation of the fulness of times. The Book of Mormon has many purposes, but this one transcends all others. Written by prophets and preserved by angels, it was written for the fundamental and eternally essential purpose of 'convincing . . . the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations'...Thus the Book of Mormon is the preeminent statement of God's covenant with and his love for his children here on earth. It is his definitive latter-day declaration regarding the atoning sacrifice of his Son. It is his great revelation of the greatest Revelation God has ever given us." (Christ And The New Covenant, p. 4)
Bruce R. McConkie
"What is the Book of Mormon? It is 'Another Testament of Jesus Christ,' a new and living witness for Christ, and a holy book that proclaims the divine Sonship of our Lord. It is a volume of holy writ that contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel, meaning that it contains a record of God's dealings with a people who had the fulness of the gospel, and that their prophets summarized on its pages the things all men must do to gain the fulness of salvation. Those who believe the witness it bears and obey the doctrines it teaches will be led to that further light and knowledge revealed in this day, and to the mysteries of the kingdom that the saints alone can receive. It was 'written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.' And it came forth '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 it came forth, above all, 'to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations.' (Title page.)" (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 415)