3 Nefi 16

3 Ne 16:1 I have other sheep, which are not of this land

After king Solomon, the kingdom of Israel was divided into two kingdoms, the kingdom of Ephraim to the north and the kingdom of Judah to the south. Between 740 and 720 BC, the ten northern tribes were sacked by the Assyrians in a series of conquests (2 Kgs 17). The inhabitants were taken north. Over the subsequent years, some of them were scattered all over the earth, but a group of them retained their identity and were able to preserve that identity for generations. A knowledge of them has been hidden from the world, much like the knowledge of the descendants of Lehi has been hidden from most of the world. They have been known as the lost ten tribes, but they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them (3 Ne 17:4). From the Book of Mormon, we learn that these ten tribes retained their own identity, were taught directly by the Savior, had their own prophets and their own records (2 Ne 29:12-14).

Bruce R. McConkie

"The Lost Tribes are not lost unto the Lord. In their northward journeyings they were led by prophets and inspired leaders. They had their Moses and their Lehi, were guided by the spirit of revelation, kept the law of Moses, and carried with them the statutes and judgments which the Lord had given them in age past. They were still a distinct people many hundreds of years later, for the resurrected Lord visited and ministered among them following his ministry on this continent among the Nephites. (3 Ne. 16:1-4; 17:4.) Obviously he taught them in the same way and gave them the same truths which he gave his followers in Jerusalem and on the American continent; and obviously they recorded his teachings, thus creating volumes of scripture comparable to the Bible and Book of Mormon. (2 Ne. 29:12-14.)

"In due course the Lost Tribes of Israel will return and come to the children of Ephraim to receive their blessings. This great gathering will take place under the direction of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for he holds the keys of 'the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.' (D. & C. 110:11.) Keys are the right of presidency the power to direct; and by this power the Lost Tribes will return, with 'their prophets' and their scriptures to 'be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim.' (D. & C. 133:26-35.)" (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 455-8)

3 Ne 16:3 they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep

Neal A. Maxwell

"...the splendid Book of Mormon advises that a third scriptural witness is yet to come from the lost tribes (see 2 Nephi 29:12-14).  Its coming is likely to be even more dramatic than the coming forth of the second testament.  Those who doubt or disdain the second testament of Christ will not accept the third either.  But believers will then possess a triumphant triad of truth (see 2 Nephi 29:12-14).  Were it not for the Book of Mormon, we would not even know about the third set of records!

"We do not know when and how this will occur, but we are safe in assuming that the third book will have the same fundamental focus as the Book of Mormon-'that . . . their seed [too] ... may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer' (3 Nephi 16:4).  If there is a title page in that third set of sacred records, it is not likely to differ in purpose from the title page in the Book of Mormon, except for its focus on still other peoples who likewise received a personal visit from the resurrected Jesus (see 3 Nephi 15:20-24; 3 Nephi 16:1-4).

"Thus, in the dispensation of the fulness of times there is not only a 'welding together' (D&C 128:18) of the keys of all the dispensations, but there will also be a 'welding together' of all the sacred books of scripture given by the Lord over the sweep of human history.  Then, as prophesied, 'my word also shall be gathered in one' (2 Nephi 29:14).  Then there will be one fold, one shepherd, and one stunning scriptural witness for the Christ!" (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, First Nephi, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 15)

3 Ne 16:4 if it so be that my people at Jerusalem...do not ask...that they may receive a knowledge of you

One reason we are not given knowledge of the mysteries of godliness is that we don't ask for it. Many of the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants were given in response to specific questions that Joseph Smith asked of the Lord. Granted, it is important to know what question to ask the Lord, but if the ancient Jews had inquired as the whereabouts of scattered Israel, we have no doubt but that he would have told them. But they failed to exhibit faith enough to ask. At the last day, some of us might murmur, "why didn't the Lord tell us that earlier?" The reason, of course, will be because we never asked.

This verse also shows that the Lord, in his mercy, makes provision for us-even in our faithlessness. In the case of the unbelieving Jews, he brought forth the Book of Mormon so that later generations might, if they would believe, know about the Nephites, know about the other tribes of Israel, and be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer.

3 Ne 16:5 then will I gather them...and then will I fulfil the covenant

The gathering of Israel and the Lord's fulfilling his covenants with the house of Israel are concepts so intertwined as to be inseparable. Neither can take place without the other. None of the glorious promises, many of which were given by Isaiah, can have their fulfillment without the gathering.  Indeed the gathering itself was part of the covenant which was made (Deut 30:1-5). An example of the relationship between these two concepts is as follows:

   'For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee...

   For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart form thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee...

   And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

   In righteousness shalt thou be established.' (Isa 54:7,10,13,14)

3 Ne 16:7 because of their belief in me...in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles

Interestingly, this passage shows that it was the faith of the Gentiles which earned them the privilege of having the fullness of the gospel brought to them in the latter-days. In other words, prior to the Restoration, the Gentile Christians of North America were to be privileged to have the Book of Mormon come forth among them because they had exhibited greater faith in Christ than the Jews of the early 19th century. Here we see that the Lord recognized the faith of all those Christians, whether Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, or Catholic. Individually, their faith is counted and weighed by the Great Judge. We should remember that it was the institutions of religion and their professors to which the Lord was referring when he said, "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." (JS-Hist 1:19)  Other passages also acknowledge the faith of pre-Restorational Christians (see 1 Ne 13:9).

Also, this helps us to understand how the word "Gentile" is used in the Book of Mormon. Typically, the latter-day Gentiles are the peoples of North America and Europe (excluding the native American Indians). Often, the term Gentile will be used to refer specifically to the people of North America (see 1 Ne 13-14).

3 Ne 16:8 wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles

The definition of the term, "Gentiles," as given above is now very important. The Lord is about to give a terse warning to these "Gentiles," so who are they? They are the Europeans who first abused and scattered the natives of North and South America as explorers and imperialists. They are the people of North America who abused and scattered the American Indians in the 19th century. Because of the Lord's focus on the promises and prophecies which apply to the New World, we may safely assume, that this warning to the Gentiles applies primarily to the non-believing peoples of North America.

3 Ne 16:9 I have caused my people who are of the house of Israel to be smitten

"From the time Columbus landed in the West Indies, the destruction and driving of the Indian people began. The extent of this destruction has only recently started coming to full light. For example, Wilbur R. Jacobs a noted historian, refutes the earlier projections made by European and American scholars of the Indian population at the time Columbus arrived in the Western Hemisphere in 1492. Estimates used to place the Indian population of North America at about a million, and in both North and South America at no more than 8 million. However, according to Jacobs, modern projections which are widely accepted today place the total at 90 million for the whole of the Western Hemisphere and nearly 10 million in North America alone. (See "The Indian and the Frontier in American History-A Need for Revision," Western Historical Quarterly, Jan. 1973, p. 45.) When this total of 10 million Indians living in North America is compared with the estimated 235,000 who were alive at the turn of the twentieth century, one begins to glimpse the scope of the tragedy...

."...That story was repeated numerous times at the hands of men like Cortez, Pizzaro, and DeSoto, in Peru, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States. The scenes viewed by Nephi six hundred years before Christ were fulfilled with horrible reality. As one author put it:

"'Here was a race in process of being engulfed in an irresistible flood of peoples of an utterly different culture. Dislocated from their accustomed seats, transplanted again and again, treated by whites as hostile encumbrances of the fertile earth to be brushed aside or destroyed, bewildered by a type of economy for which they were unprepared, decimated by disease and vices to which they had built up no resistance, repeatedly seeing solemn treaties violated, subject to shifting governmental policies, preyed upon by incompetent and greedy officials, and at times demoralized by an excess of well intentioned but ill directed paternalistic kindness, it is a wonder that the Indians survived.' (Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of the Expansion of Christianity, The Great Century, vol. 4, p. 323)" (Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, pp. 34-5)

3 Ne 16:10 when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel

The Savior himself is prophesying that the Gentiles would reject the fulness of the gospel. In this context, this means that they will reject the Book of Mormon and the gospel message carried by the missionaries. This event is very important for it marks when the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled, when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel; But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men. And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (DC 45:28-30).

The phrase "the first shall be last and the last shall be first" is applicable. In the meridian of time, the Savior declared that the gospel was to go first to those of the House of Israel and second to the Gentiles. In the last days, the order is reversed, the fulness of the gospel is to go to the Gentiles first, and secondly to the House of Israel. Given that many of the House of Israel (particularly of Lamanite and Nephite descent) have already turned to the Lord, we can see that the times of the Gentiles is coming to a quick close. Furthermore, the scourge spoken of in DC 45:31 is already upon us, demonstrating that we are the generation in which the times of the Gentiles is to be fulfilled.

Joseph Fielding Smith

"'TIMES OF GENTILES' TO BE FULFILLED. We go unto them with a message of peace, of truth, of eternal salvation, calling upon them to repent of their sins and enter into the true fold, where they may receive rest. When they will not do this, but to the contrary, will listen to the unrighteous and condemn the truth, then God will withdraw the gospel from among them. In that day the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled and the gospel will be carried to the Jews. For, this gospel must be preached to them as well as to the Gentile nations; and a remnant of the Jews will gather-as they are gathering since the dedication of their land for their return-in Palestine, and as a remnant of Ephraim and his fellows are now gathering to the land of Zion." (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p. 8)

3 Ne 16:10 Gentiles...shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations

The phrase, "the Gentiles...shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth," is an excellent description of America in the year 2000. Americans consider themselves invincible. For the most part, they are not concerned with God because they don't need him-so they think. Yet, the Lord has stern warnings for those with false pride, The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low (Isa 2:11-12).

Neal A. Maxwell

"Scriptural warnings often couple pride and selfishness. (See, for example, D&C 56:8.) Pride can be characteristic of a whole race and will cause one of the hingepoint happenings in human history. As far as the spread of the gospel is concerned, the time will come when the Lord will take His gospel elsewhere from the proud and resistant Gentiles. He told the Nephites: 'At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.' (3 Nephi 16:10.)

"Before the millennial time when the arrogancy of the proud will cease, the Gentiles will be in a circumstance of 'great pride, unto boasting, and unto great swelling, envyings, strifes, malice, persecutions, and murders, and all manner of iniquities.' (Helaman 13:22.)

"The gigantic, global collapse that is yet to come will not be that of a failing stock market, but the fall of hardened mind-sets and collective pride when it all finally tumbles. Nephi testified: 'It came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.' (1 Nephi 11:36.)" (Meek And Lowly, p. 53)

3 Ne 16:10 if they shall reject the fulness...I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them

Like many prophecies, this one will be fulfilled in more than once. The Gentiles now have the opportunity to accept or reject the fulness of the gospel. Most of them will eventually reject the gospel, at which time the gospel shall be taken from among them and taken instead to those of the House of Israel. The context of 3 Nephi 16, 20, and 21 indicates that this prophecy will be fulfilled completely around the time of the Lord's Second Coming. However, Orson Pratt describes how the prophecy was fulfilled, in part, in his day.

Orson Pratt

"The Lord has told us in this saying that if the Gentiles should not believe in this book--the fulness of the Gospel--and should be lifted up in their pride above all nations, and be filled with all manner of lyings, mischiefs, whoredoms, abominations and every kind of evil, that he would bring the fulness of his Gospel from among them. I wish to state that when I read this in 1830 it was a great mystery to me. Recollect this was written and printed before there was any Latter-day Saint Church in existence, and yet here was a prophecy that the Lord would bring the fulness of his Gospel from among the Gentiles if they did not receive it. When the Lord commanded us to go up and settle in Jackson County I thought to myself-'Well, if we build up a great city here, according to that which is predicted in the Book of Mormon, we shall be right in the midst of the Gentiles, and how will it be possible for that prophecy ever to be fulfilled?'

"It was a mystery to me, I could not see it. I knew it was true, for God had given me a witness and evidence that I knew as well as I knew that I lived that that book was true; but yet I could not understand how the Lord would bring the fulness of his Gospel from among the Gentiles if we were going to be permitted to build up a city in Jackson County, Missouri, and stay there. But some seventeen years after the rise of this Church circumstances rolled round by which the Lord fulfilled this prophecy in taking the main body of the people from among the Gentiles...we were brought out west here to these mountains, and I do not know of another place on the face of this vast continent where we could have been so completely isolated from the Gentiles, the wicked who had rejected the Gospel, and we were by coming out en masse to this land. 'If the Gentiles shall sin against the fulness of my Gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my Gospel from among them.' It was done, the prediction was fulfilled to the very letter."(Journal of Discourses 17:300)

3 Ne 16:13 if the Gentiles will repent...they shall be numbered among my people

B. H. Roberts

"Notwithstanding the list of their abominations (3 Ne 16:10) -- great as it is -- notwithstanding their rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the people of God, yet, if they will but repent, God promises to renew their lot and their part in the glories of this great Latter-day work.

"Shall we not, then, proclaim to our nation and to all the inhabitants thereof this glorious promise that is held out of the Lord unto them? And the fact that we have eight missions established within the boundaries of the United States, and are laboring with all diligence to make proclamation of the Gospel -- is it not good evidence that God is willing that we should continue our labors among the people of the United States?

"...This, then, is what I think constitutes the national phase of our mission to the United States -- to make proclamation unto the inhabitants of all the land that these are their opportunities and their blessings if only they will extend their hands and receive them. And, on the other hand, woe be unto them if they hearken not unto the message of God, after all His great mercies unto them." (Conference Report, Oct. 1922, pp. 18-19)

3 Ne 16:15 if they (the Gentiles) will not turn unto me

Hugh Nibley

"The Gentiles will have their innings; they will be 'lifted up by the power of God above all other nations, and prevail against the other inhabitants of the land' and so forth....Then it will be their turn, 'if it so be in that day they harden their hearts' (1 Nephi 14:6). After the Gentiles take over completely and remove all rivals, then they become the endangered ones: 'And then, O ye Gentiles, how can ye stand before the power of God, except ye . . . repent and turn from your evil ways?' (Mormon 5:22). For then, 'the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked he will destroy . . . by fire' (2 Nephi 30:10)." (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 530)

3 Ne 16:15 my people, O house of Israel...shall go through among them, and shall tread them down

The punishment for rejecting the truth is severe. Speaking to the wicked Gentiles of the latter-days, Moroni said, Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer (Mormon 8:41). While some have thought that this scripture prophesied of an impending "Lamanite uprising," this is not correct. When the Lord speaks of my people, O house of Israel, he is speaking of those who are the descendants of Lehi, others of Jewish descent, and those Gentiles who have repented and been adopted into the house of Israel. In this context, the house of Israel are the servants of the Lord in the latter-days. See commentary for 3 Nephi 20:15-20.

Elder McConkie explains that this prophecy will be fulfilled in part prior to the Second Coming. However, the prophecy is not completely fulfilled until Christ comes to fight for his people according to the promise, when the Lord shall appear he shall be terrible unto them, that fear my seize upon them, and they shall stand afar off and tremble. And all nations shall be afraid because of the terror of the Lord, and the power of his might (DC 45:74-75).

Bruce R. McConkie

"These things lie ahead; they are pre-millennial; as the great destructions and wars unfold that shall usher in that reign of peace, then we shall learn how and in what manner they shall be fulfilled. Our feelings are that the Gentiles will not repent and that there will be a day when Israel shall triumph over her ancient enemies according to the promises." (The Mortal Messiah, book 4, p. 318)

Bruce R. McConkie

"In the full and true sense, Israel shall triumph over her foes only when the Millennium is ushered in, only when her Messiah comes to deliver them from the aliens, only when the wicked are destroyed and the Lord reigns gloriously among his saints.

"It is in this setting -- a millennial setting; a day of millennial glory; the day when peace prevails because the wicked have been destroyed -- it is in this setting that Jesus says: 'Then' -- in the day of which we speak - 'the words of the prophet Isaiah shall be fulfilled.' These are the words: 'Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing, for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion.' We are establishing Zion now, but our Zion is only the foundation for that which is to be. We are laying a foundation; the promises relative to the glorious Zion of God which shall yet stand upon the earth shall be fulfilled after the Lord comes. 'Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem,' Isaiah continues, 'for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.' The true and full redemption of Jerusalem must await the day of the Lord's return. 'The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eye of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God.' (3 Ne. 16:4-20.) Again, we have made a beginning, but the glorious fulfillment lies ahead." (The Millenial Messiah, p. 241)

3 Ne 16:16 I...give unto this people this land for their inheritance

Hugh Nibley

"What could be clearer? This land has been given to that particular branch of Israel as an inheritance for their children in perpetuity-it is their sacred obligation to hold it for their children; they cannot possibly sell it or allow it to be taken from them. That would be unthinkable, and that we never seem to understand." (Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, p. 85)

3 Ne 16:18 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice

Melvin J. Ballard

"I rejoice, my brethren and sisters, to belong to a Church that has watchmen, who sing together in unison, who indeed have the vision, the light, and the inspiration of the living God, to direct this people...We are not groping in the dark, and we live in the day that Isaiah was talking about when upon the mountains of Ephraim, where we stand, the watchmen shall sing together in unity; the day when the waste places shall be redeemed; and Jerusalem, as we heard at this conference, stands on the threshold of her redemption, for the Lord hath decreed it." (Conference Report, Apr. 1922, pp. 82-3)

3 Ne 16:18 the Lord shall bring again Zion

"The words of Jesus in 3 Nephi 16 are instructive in that a prophecy from Isaiah is given a unique interpretation. The inheritance of the land of America by the descendants of the tribe of Joseph and the establishment of a holy people there is seen to be a fulfillment of the prophecy that the Lord 'shall bring again Zion.' In the early revelations to the Prophet Joseph, a similar notion of Zion as a holy community or a society of believers is evident. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were instructed in April 1829: 'Keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion' (D&C 6:6; 11:6; 12:6; compare 14:6)...

"Zion was not and is not today a man-made enterprise. It is more, far more than a city that focuses on social problems and solutions in fallen man's social programs. 'Other attempts to promote universal peace and happiness in the human family have proved abortive,' [Joseph Smith] stated; 'every effort has failed; every plan and design has fallen to the ground; it needs the wisdom of God, the intelligence of God, and the power of God to accomplish this. The world has had a fair trial for six thousand years; the Lord will try the seventh thousand Himself.' The Prophet also added: 'In regard to the building up of Zion, it has to be done by the counsel of Jehovah, by the revelations of heaven.' (Teachings, pp. 252, 254.) Elder John Taylor added that human enterprises 'have failed, and they will fail, because, however philanthropic, humanitarian, benevolent, or cosmopolitan our ideas, it is impossible to produce a true and correct union without the Spirit of the living God, and that Spirit can only be imparted through the ordinances of the Gospel' (in Journal of Discourses 18:137)." (Joseph Fielding McConkie, The Choice Seer, chapter 22)

3 Ne 16:20 the Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations

Isaiah's descriptive phrases are sometimes so figurative as to have obscure meanings. Often this is because they have a dual meaning. The implications of verse 20 differ depending on your perspective. The wicked will see the Lord's holy arm of justice at that day in that they will fear him and tremble at his power. The righteous will see his holy arm of mercy at that day in that they will be granted all the promises given to the House of Israel. The scriptures teach us of both perspectives. The holy arm of justice will fall on those who forget God, The Lord who shall suddenly come to his temple; the Lord who shall come down upon the world with a curse to judgment; yea, upon all the nations that forget God, and upon all the ungodly among you. For he shall make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of their God (DC 133:3). Nephi teaches us of his holy arm of mercy, I would, my brethren, that ye should know that all the kindreds of the earth cannot be blessed unless he shall make bare his arm in the eyes of all nations. Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to make bare his arm in the eyes of all the nations, in bringing about his covenants and his gospel unto those who are of the house of Israel (1 Ne 22:11).