3 Nephi 10

3 Ne 10:1 there was silence in the land for the space of many hours

We think of silence as a peaceful and tranquil state. But imagine the solemn situation of the Nephite survivors. They have been in total darkness for almost three days. They are unable to create light in any fashion. They have been made as if blind-a terrifying condition. In addition, they have just heard the voice of Jehovah from the heavens declaring unto them what has been destroyed and why, announcing himself as Jesus Christ, the light and the life of the world. They hear Him call them to repentance and then there is silence.

But the silence is coupled with complete darkness. No one says a thing. No one sees a thing. No one hears a thing for the space of many hours. To be left alone in the dark with nothing but one's own thoughts can be a lonely, frightening experience. Certainly, they must have had solemn thoughts of fear, solemn thoughts of gratitude, and solemn thoughts of remorse. They were lucky to be alive and they knew it.

3 Ne 10:4-6 how oft have I gathered you...would I have gathered you...will I gather you

When the people reject the voice of the prophets, they reject the voice of the Lord. When this happens, the Lord has no other choice but to send other voices-even the voice of thundering, and the voice of lightning, For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes...and also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds (DC 88:89-90). These were the dramatic testimonies which the Nephites had been given. Now was their opportunity to listen to these voices and be gathered in as chicks to the mother hen or as sheep to the Great Shepherd. The message for our day is the same:

'O, ye nations of the earth, how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not!

   How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, and by the great sound of a trump, and by the voice of judgment, and by the voice of mercy all the day long, and by the voice of glory and honor and the riches of eternal life, and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!' (DC 43:24-25)

From the Book of Mormon Symposium Series:

"The image of the hen calling after her chickens to come to the shelter and safety of her wings portrays the love of the Savior, his desire to nourish his children, to keep them safe from their common enemy, Satan, to shelter them from the storms of life, to give them the opportunity to grow and fulfill the promise of their nature.

"The image suggests other ideas as well.  The chickens have strayed away from the hen.  They have been lured from safety by their desire for adventure or rebellion, out into the tempting world where danger lurks beside every step.  The hen calls to her chickens, but they must come of their own volition.  They are not forced under her wings; they are invited, even urged, but they must exercise their own agency.  In using this metaphor, the Lord designates his call to those of the fallen cities, who are descendants of Jacob, and to those of the house of Israel, who live at Jerusalem, establishing the right of the Savior to issue the call to repentance-they are his people who owe him obedience.  And his use of the three verbs: 'how oft have I gathered you; ... how oft would I have gathered you; ... how oft will I gather you' emphasizes his timeless call to repentance-past, present, and future.  The Savior's love is always there.  His arms are always extended in mercy as long as there is any hope for his children to return to him.  The true nature of repentance is not a test, not an indulgence, but a gift of love.  It is one that we must take-it cannot be forced upon us." (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, 3 Ne 9-30, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 79)

Mark E. Petersen

"As I have read that scripture from time to time, I have often wondered about its application to us who live today. I have often wondered whether the Lord cries out to us, disappointed at our disobedience, saying, 'How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.' (See Matt. 23:37.) How many of us are stubborn? How many of us are selfish and wilful, and turn our faces from him, and would rather not obey him?

This sort of thing applies in various phases of our lives. lt applies in our own homes, sometimes with our own children. Have you sons or daughters who are wilful and stubborn and selfish, and who turn their faces from you, you the loving parents who would take them into your arms and nurture them even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings? Do they reject you, these children in their wilfulness? Some of you have them, and you know how they break your hearts.

And then there are some in some in the Church who ought to know better, who have the commandments of God, but will not repent, but are wilful and stubborn. Even though the blessings of God are offered to them, they turn their faces, and each one goes in his own way. We reject God as we refuse to obey him...You know whether you keep his sayings or not. Do you observe the Sabbath day? Do you uphold the Authorities of the Church? Do you pay a full and honest tithing? Do you fast on fast day and pay a proper fast offering? Are you honest? Do you pay your debts? Are you morally clean? Do you keep the Word of Wisdom? You know whether you keep these things or not. If you do not, contemplate your disobedience and remember that the Lord calls out to you and says, 'How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.'" (Conference Report, Apr. 1951, p. 60-1)

George Albert Smith

"It has been a very common saying in the world that the Lord was able to do everything, that he could do anything he had a mind to do, and accomplish what he pleased; that he possessed universal power, and could accomplish what he undertook. But what says our text? 'How oft would I have gathered you, but you would not.' This indicates that he could not do it, because they were not willing; that is the way we understand the language. It is plain also from the text, that if the people of Jerusalem, the children of Israel, would have listened, and would have been gathered, he would have nourished them, and conferred upon them the principles of salvation, the laws of exaltation which it was his desire to give them. Let me say, then, that from the foundation of the world...the Lord wished to reveal unto the children of men things which had been hid from before the foundation of the world, principles which would exalt them to celestial thrones, but they would not...He could never find a people, could never communicate with a generation or a very numerous body of men that would obey His commandments, listen to His counsel, and observe His wisdom, or be led by His revelations.

"Some of my friends may think I am doing injustice by these remarks to the Zion of Enoch. I am aware that the Lord did in the days of Enoch gather together enough of the inhabitants of the earth to build a city, but in consequence of the rebellion, the wickedness, and oppression of the great mass of mankind, He could not save that city from destruction, only by taking it unto His own bosom; hence went forth the saying of old, 'Zion is fled.' So far as revealed records show, that is the nearest He ever came to the point of accomplishing the end of His undertaking, touching the redemption of the human family, up to the days of the Savior." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 212)

3 Ne 10:7 But if not...your dwellings shall become desolate

And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated (DC 130:21). The converse of this statement is also true, when we obtain any cursing from God, it is by disobedience to that law upon which it is predicated. The scriptures teach that when we reject the Lord when he has his arms of mercy outstretched, the curse is that our habitation will be left desolate. This doctrine is taught in the following scriptures: Matt 23:38, Ps 69:20-26, Jer 12:7-11; 22:5.

The First Presidency

"When Jesus was on the earth, he said to his people, 'How oft would I have gathered you, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not; therefore, behold, your house is left unto you desolate.' (Matt 23:37-8) And if the Saints of this dispensation do not listen to the call of the good Shepherd, and gather according to the holy commandment, the time is not far distant, when the representatives of the Saviour now on earth, may have occasion to say, as he said, 'Your house is left unto you desolate;' for plagues, famine, pestilence, and death are beginning to circumscribe the earth; and where will safety be but in Zion-the land of God's appointing-the home of the Saints; a land choice in products and government above all other lands; therefore, we say unto you, Arise and come forth, and tarry not, for the great day of the Lord is at hand, and who shall abide His coming?" (Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, Apr. 1852, vol. 2, p. 99)

3 Ne 10:9 it was in the morning, and the darkness dispersed

Orson Pratt noted that this passage is evidence of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. At the end of three days of darkness, it was morning, meaning that the darkness and destructions also started in the morning. Given the time difference between the Savior's crucifixion in Jerusalem and the New World, it makes sense that the destructions and darkness would both appear and disperse in the morning.

Orson Pratt

"Jesus was crucified and died on the cross at 3 o'clock in the afternoon at Jerusalem, and consequently for it to have been just three days and three nights, you might suppose that the darkness must have dispersed in the afternoon. But this book tells us that when the three days and three nights of darkness had passed away it was morning. Now why this discrepancy--for it seems to be one--between the Bible and the Book of Mormon? Can you account for it, and tell why it should have been morning in America? ...Now you take a map of the world, and see the difference in longitude between the place where Jesus was crucified, and that where the writer of the Book of Mormon lived, and you will find that it is about seven and a half hours. Now you subtract seven and a half hours from 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and what time would it be when the three hours of quaking and the destruction of cities expired, or when the darkness commenced? Would it not be in the morning? Take away seven and a half hours longitude from 3 o'clock--the time that Jesus expired--and would it not be half past seven o'clock in the morning with the inhabitants of this land, while it was afternoon with the inhabitants in Jerusalem?" (Journal of Discourses, 15:259)

3 Ne 10:12 it was the more righteous part of the people who were saved

"Mormon seeks in these verses to impress upon [us] that it was because of their desire unto righteousness that the more righteous were saved. Those who were delivered from untimely death and also destruction, were 'they who received the prophets, and stoned them not; and it was they who had not shed the blood of the Saints.' Let us not forget that not only were the righteous among them, delivered from physical destruction, and their annals corroborate this fact, but they were all of that generation emancipated from sin. It is recorded of them, 'For none of them are lost.' The Savior's own words confirm this: 'And now, behold, My joy is great, even unto fulness, because of you, and also of this generation; yea, and even the Father rejoiceth, and also all the holy angels, because of you and this generation; for none of them are lost.' (3 Nephi 27:30)" (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 7, p. 124)

3 Ne 10:14 whoso readeth, let him understand; he that hath the scriptures, let him search them

Scriptures are of little value unless they are searched. They are useful if they are "read," but it is possible to read without understanding. Whoso readeth, let him understand, otherwise we will be like those of whom Isaiah prophesied. He spoke of those who had ears but could not hear, who had eyes but could not see (Isa 6:9-10, Matt 13:14-15). Similarly, we may have the scriptures but they will not help us unless we understand them, and we will not understand them unless we search them.

To "search" is to try to understand, to look for personal meaning, to place in historical context, to reference other sources, to find resolution to conflicts, and to internalize principles. The Lord has never commanded the saints to "read" the scriptures; He always commands them to "search" them: search them diligently that ye may profit (Mosiah 1:7)....and search these things diligently, for great are the words of Isaiah (3Ne 23:1). The result of diligent searching is that one becomes as the sons of Mosiah who had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth (Alma 17:2).

L. Lionel Kendrick

"The Savior provided counsel as to the way we should study scripture. He said: 'And now, whoso readeth, let him understand; he that hath the scriptures, let him search them.' (3 Ne. 10:14.) The Prophet Joseph Smith counseled:

'Search the scriptures-search the revelations ... and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation.' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 11-12.)

"It is not enough to read the scriptures. Random reading results in reduced retention. We must search for specifics. We must seek for truth and increased understanding of its application in our lives. If we are to be effective in our study of the scriptures, we must prepare for it to be a special spiritual experience." (Ensign, May 1993, p. 13)

3 Ne 10:15 many have testified of these things

"Up to the very moment when the terrible destruction began, the unbelievers were sure that the prophets had been wrong. They must have thought the prophets were negative, gloomy, and out of touch with reality. Then suddenly, in one great disastrous moment it became clear just how much in touch with reality the prophets had been. Unfortunately for tens of thousands of those who had previously scoffed, there was no time to reevaluate their skepticism.

"Is it that much different in our own day? We have been amply warned of the impending judgment, which will be every bit as terrible and devastating as that which occurred in AD 34. (See DC 29:14-21; 43:19-25; 45:39-42; 88:87-91; 133:41-49) Yet the world at large either ignores such warnings or condescendingly views the prophets as religious fanatics who are out of touch with the real world. In the preface to the Doctrine and Covenenats the Lord warned: 'And the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people' (DC 1:14. Italics added.). Note also Mormon's solemn words: 'And now, whoso readeth, let him understand' (v. 14)." (Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, p. 393)

3 Ne 10:16 Zenos and Zenock testified particularly concerning us, who are the remnant of their seed

"The prophets Zenos and Zenock are quoted several times by the prophets of the Book of Mormon. A possible reason for this propensity in quoting them becomes evident in this reading assignment: the Nephites are descendants of the prophets Zenos and Zenock! The historian records: ' ... the prophet Zenos did testify of these things, and also Zenock spake concerning these things, because they testified particularly concerning us, who are the remnant of their seed' (3 Nephi 10:16. Italics added.)" (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 260)

3 Ne 10:17 our father Jacob also testified concerning a remnant of the seed of Joseph

In the most famous of patriarchal blessings, Jacob called his 12 sons together and gave them each a blessing. To his beloved Joseph, he said, Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall (Gen 49:22). Elder LeGrand Richards interpreted this to mean that there would be a branch of Joseph's posterity which would cross the great oceanic barrier (or wall), "It seems consistent to assume that the ocean was regarded as the wall over which Joseph's branches were to run 'unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.'" (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p. 64)

Jacob also testified that the part of Joseph's coat of many colors which was preserved was symbolic of a branch of Joseph's posterity which would similarly be preserved. The Bible is silent on this prophecy, but it was contained on the brass plates. Captain Moroni made mention of it as follows, Yea, let us preserve our liberty as a remnant of Joseph; yea, let us remember the words of Jacob, before his death, for behold, he saw that a part of the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and had not decayed. And he said--Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God, and be taken unto himself, while the remainder of the seed of Joseph shall perish, even as the remnant of his garment (Alma 46:24). Jacob's son Joseph also prophesied on this subject (see 2 Ne 3:5 and JST Gen 50:25).

3 Ne 10:18 in the ending of the thirty and fourth year...he did truly manifest himself unto them

From a casual reading of 3 Nephi, one would assume that the appearance of the Savior occurred not long after the three days of darkness. This concept is reinforced by 3 Ne 11:1 which states that when Christ came, the multitude had gathered together at the temple and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place.

However, Mormon gives us the chronology of events when he states that Christ manifested himself to them in the ending of the thirty and fourth year. He had earlier informed us that Christ was crucified during the first month of that year (3 Ne 8:5). Therefore, there must have been a considerable time period between Christ's resurrection and his appearance to the Nephites. This same verse tells us that it was at least 40 days because he appeared after the ascension of Christ into heaven (see Acts 1:3,9-11).

Bruce R. McConkie

"The Nephites adjusted their calendar so as to begin a new dating era with the birth of Jesus; and according to their chronology, the storms and the darkness and the crucifixion came to pass on the fourth day of the first month of the thirty-fourth year. (3 Ne. 8.) Then 'in the ending' of that year (3 Ne. 10:18-19), several months after the Ascension on Olivet, Jesus ministered personally among the Nephites for many hours on many days." (Mortal Messiah, Book 4, p. 307)