3 Ne 25:1 The Savior quotes Malachi 4
Remarkably, the Savior spends a considerable amount of time discussing prophecies related to the latter-days. Apparently, this was done more for our benefit than for the Nephites (3 Ne 26:2,6-8). But the scriptural legacy must have been important for the Nephites; Moroni was certainly familiar with this scripture and quoted it, along with portions of Malachi 3, to Joseph Smith when he first appeared to him (JS-Hist 1:36-39). This underscores the importance of Joseph Smith's mission to restore those priesthood keys and ordinances designed to save all mankind from destruction. It also suggests that even in Joseph Smith's day, the coming of the Lord was not far distant-speaking after the manner of the Lord (DC 64:24).
3 Ne 25:1 the day cometh that shall burn as an oven
The earth and all its inhabitants, save eight, were once destroyed by water. When the Lord comes again, the wicked will again be destroyed-this time by fire. Hereby the earth is baptized both by water and by fire. When the scripture says the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, this is not figurative but literal, for the wicked will be burned, every corruptible thing, both of man, or of the beasts of the field, or of the fowls of the heavens, or of the fish of the sea, that dwells upon all the face of the earth, shall be consumed; And also that of element shall melt with fervent heat; and all things shall become new, that my knowledge and glory may dwell upon all the earth (DC 101:24-25).
The keys to avoid this burning are tithing and temple work, Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming. For after today cometh the burning (DC 64:23-24).
"How shall God come to the rescue of this generation? He will send Elijah the prophet...In the days of Noah, God destroyed the world by a flood, and He has promised to destroy it by fire in the last days: but before it should take place, Elijah should first come and turn the hearts of the fathers to the children..." (Teachings, p. 323, 337)
3 Ne 25:1 the day...shall burn them up...that it shall leave them neither root nor branch
"The 4th chapter of Malachi is about the second coming of the Lord, as we know. We also know plainly that verses 5 and 6 speak about Elijah's return and has reference to the life saving ordinances we perform in the temples; namely, baptisms and sealings for our kindred dead. Verse 1 makes us wonder, what is meant of the statement that the burning day that cometh 'shall leave them (the wicked) neither root nor branch'. This too is a direct link to the life saving work that takes place in the temples.
"A plant, is derived from its root; much like we are brought forth from our ancestors. A plant puts forth offshoots, or branches; much like we produce offspring. The great work of baptisms and sealings keeps the roots and branches intact as families are sealed together for life and all eternity. Those that are found to be wicked in the 'day of the Lord,' will be left with neither root (ancestors), nor branch (offspring), because they will be destroyed. Hence, they are left out of the linking process that transpires through the sealing ordinance. I have gained a deep appreciation for the temple work we do and have come to understand that temple work is the most important thing we can do in this world to save, not only our kindred dead, but ourselves." (John Cyr, personal communication)
Theodore M. Burton
"In order to understand this passage of scripture, for root read 'progenitors' or 'ancestors' and for branch read 'posterity' or 'children.' Unless, then, through obedience to the laws of God you can qualify yourself to go to the temple and have your family sealed to you, you will live forever separately and singly in an unmarried state. It seems to me that would be a very lonesome type of existence-to live without the warming influence of family life among those you love, who in turn love you." (Ensign, July 1972, "Salvation and Exaltation")
3 Ne 25:2 ye shall...grow up as calves in the stall
Calves are safest when they are in the stall. They can be neither molested nor made afraid. So it is with the children of the Millenium. They will grow up, protected by the Son of Righteousness, taught of the Lord, and never suffer death, in that day Satan shall not have power to tempt any man. And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death. In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree; And when he dies he shall not sleep, that is to say in the earth, but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye. (DC 101:28-31)
This message of comfort is to all those parents who have mourned the death of a child. At that day, Christ will arise with healing in his wings, bringing to pass the resurrection of the dead. This will include those children tragically lost. They will be brought out of the dust as they were laid down, in the stature of children, only to be raised as calves in the stall. Joseph F. Smith taught, "The body will come forth as it is laid to rest, for there is no growth or development in the grave. As it is laid down, so will it arise, and changes to perfection will come by the law of restitution. But the spirit will continue to expand and develop, and the body, after the resurrection will develop to the full stature of man." (footnote, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 200)
"Now, then, all the inhabitants who are spared from this fire--those who are not proud, and who do not do wickedly, will be cleansed more fully and filled with the glory of God...the children who are born into the world will grow up without sin unto salvation. Why will this be so? Because that fallen nature, introduced by the fall, and transferred from parents to children, from generation to generation, will be, in a measure, eradicated by this change. Then the righteous will go forth, and grow up like calves of the stall; and one revelation says, their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation. Satan having no power to tempt them, these children will not sin." (Journal of Discourses, 16:319)
3 Ne 25:3 ye shall tread down the wicked
One of the main themes of Christ's Millenial prophecies is that the House of Israel in the latter days will tread down the wicked by the power of God. This is part of the judgment of the Lord upon the wicked, the heathen, and the Gentiles. See 3 Ne 16:15; 20:16-20; 21:12-20; 22:15-17.
3 Ne 25:4 Remember ye the law of Moses
"Upon a cursory reading of this verse one may wonder why Jesus is quoting this part of Malachi's prophecy in light of the fact that the law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ. The answer could possibly be that the Lord (and Malachi) were not referring to the Mosaic code and carnal commandments but rather to a different law that was given to Moses in Horeb--a higher law, even the fulness of the gospel that, because of Israel's rebelliousness and stiffneckedness, they never were able to fully receive." (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, p. 166)
"How shall God come to the rescue of this generation? He will send Elijah the prophet. The law revealed to Moses in Horeb never was revealed to the children of Israel as a nation. Elijah shall reveal the covenants to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 323)
3 Ne 25:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
"Elijah did come. He came to the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836. (See D&C 110:13-16.) Jewish literature is replete with the promise and expectation of Elijah's coming. That is the last promise of the Old Testament, in the last verses of Malachi. And it is Jewish tradition that on the second night of Passover they must leave open the door and place at the table head an empty chair and a goblet full of wine in the expectation that Elijah may come. It is interesting, especially in light of that Jewish tradition, that April 3, 1836, was the second day of Passover. The symbolism is beautiful. Elijah comes, as they expect, to a home. He comes to a goblet of wine-the sacramental wine. He comes to turn hearts, which is more than changing minds-he turns hearts to hearts." (Truman Madsen, The Radiant Light, p. 106-7)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Among the Jews [Elijah the Tishbite] finds a place of honor in their history second to none of the prophets...It was, I am informed, on the third day of April, 1836, that the Jews, in their homes at the Paschal feast, opened their doors for Elijah to enter. On that very day Elijah did enter-not in the home of the Jews to partake of the Passover with them-but he appeared in the house of the Lord, erected to his name and received by the Lord in Kirtland, and there bestowed his keys to bring to pass the very things for which these Jews, assembled in their homes, were seeking." (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:100-1)
The story of Elijah's return can be found in DC 110. Obviously, there is no need to wait for him any longer. This became the subject of conversation between Elder LeGrand Richards and the Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek. Elder Richards had just dedicated the Orson Hyde Memorial Garden on the Mount of Olives. After the ceremony, the two conversed as they ate lunch:
"Elder Richards...said, 'Mayor, I want to tell you something.'
"'What's that?' asked the mayor.
"Looking Mayor Kollek directly in the eye, the apostle said, 'Ten years ago I was here in Jerusalem, and one day I went into three synagogues, and hanging up on the wall in one of them was a large armchair. I asked the rabbi what it was there for (I knew, but I wanted him to tell me, which he did). He said that it was so that if Elijah comes, 'we can lower the chair and let him sit in it.' Now, Mayor, I want to tell you something, and what I tell you is the truth. Elijah has already been. On the third day of April 1836 he appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple.'
"The mayor said, 'I guess I'd better tell them to take that chair down.'" (Lucile C. Tate, Beloved Apostle, p. 301)
3 Ne 25:6 he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children...
We know very little about what Elijah did to turn the hearts of the fathers (in the spirit world) to the children (still on earth). What we know is what has transpired on this side of the veil-that the spirit of Elijah has spread over the entire earth. The hearts of the children have turned to the fathers in a way so miraculous that it could only be the work of God. The August 2000 Ensign tells us how fast this spirit is spreading, "The Church's Family Search Internet Genealogy Service, a source of 640 million names worldwide, received its three billionth hit in May, just under a year after the site was introduced...The Pedigree Resource File...is growing at the rate of 1.1 million names a month as users submit personal family records via www.familysearch.org." (Ensign, Aug. 2000, p. 79) These are only a couple of indices of a work that has exploded since Apr. 3, 1836.
Boyd K. Packer
"The spirit of Elijah spoken of by the Prophet here and on other occasions is something very real. When a member of the Church comes under its influence, it is a powerful, compelling force which motivates him with a desire to be attending to genealogical and temple work. It leaves him anxious over the well-being of his forebears. When that spirit comes, somehow we desire to know more about those forebears-we desire to know them.
"If we can literally be 'caught up' in any work in the church, it is this work relating to genealogical research and to the temples. This, because there is the spirit of Elijah. The prophets have spoken of it. The Saints have felt it; and following the inspiration of it they have come to the temple to do the sacred work for both the living and the dead." (The Holy Temple, p. 210)
Joseph Smith explained that it is not enough for the hearts of the children to turn to the fathers unless there is some binding force to tie them for eternity to their ancestors:
"Now, the word turn here should be translated bind, or seal. But what is the object of this important mission? or how is it to be fulfilled? The keys are to be delivered, the spirit of Elijah is to come, the Gospel to be established, the Saints of God gathered, Zion built up, and the Saints to come up as saviors on Mount Zion.
"But how are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 330)
James E. Faust
"Perhaps we regard the power bestowed by Elijah as something associated only with formal ordinances performed in sacred places. But these ordinances become dynamic and productive of good only as they reveal themselves in our daily lives. Malachi said that the power of Elijah would turn the hearts of the fathers and the children to each other. The heart is the seat of the emotions and a conduit for revelation. This sealing power thus reveals itself in family relationships, in attributes and virtues developed in a nurturing environment, and in loving service. These are the cords that bind families together, and the priesthood advances their development." (Ensign, May 1993, p. 37 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 456)