Unto the Lord an Offering in Righteousness

3 Nephi 24 (see also Malachi 3)

It’s hidden in the footnotes and the context of this chapter, but the offering, that the Sons of Levi are to offer, is a book of remembrance. It’s a completed family pedigree of the history of the world. How will this happen? It seems impossible without Divine influence and assistance.

Tithing (and other offereings) is presented here in a broader, more encompassing context than I had heretofore considered. Before the question is asked “Will a man rob God?”, the question is asked “Wherein shall we return?” Suggesting that the people had strayed from the ordinances of God, particular as it pertains to caring for the poor.

Going back to verse 1, it talks about messengers. The footnotes point to the Gospel itself as being the messenger sent to prepare the way for Christ, who is also called the messenger of the covenant. (I’ve always looked for an individual to assign as the messenger, like John the Baptist or Joseph Smith.) Indeed, Christ is also called the Word in the book of John. This verse talks of the Lord’s return to the temple when he does return. Then there is also this interesting context of description. The Lord is described as “the Lord whom ye seek”, and later “whom ye delight in.” So this revelation is being delivered to those who seek the Lord and delight in Him.

Verses 2-4 have deeper meaning to me now if am correctly understanding the offering that the sons of Levi are to offer up to the Lord. Because Malachi is the same prophet who just one chapter later says that the hearts of the fathers shall be turned to the children and visa versa, lest the whole earth should be destroyed, it is quite conceivable that the final offering of the sons of Levi (who will have withstood the refiner’s fire and all the purging to happen before He comes again), that offering may be a book of remembrance, as suggested in verse 16. It seems to me that this is the righteous offering that the Lord is looking forward to receiving at his coming.

(I just shared this with my wife and that opened up a larger box of possible understandings in connection with family history, science and its true purposes [DNA], healing, and really compelling stories.)

Repentance and change are the primary actions of mortality because we are sent here to become as Christ, which can only happen through our repentance and change. Malachi describes the Savior as a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap. His purpose is to purify those that come to Him. (See verse 2 & 3)

Verse 5 talks about the judgment of the Lord against all those that seek their own self interests above the Lord’s. He names specifically that he will be “a swift witness against” the following :

  • Sorcerers
  • Adulterers
  • False Swearers
  • Those that oppress
    • the hireling in his wages
    • the widow
    • the fatherless
  • Those that turn aside the stranger
  • Those that fear not the Lord.

I feel like what this chapter is reinforcing in my mind is the reality that God makes covenants with his children, and that he is mighty to uphold those that honor their covenants before Him.

I’ve given only a cursory treatment to the verses on tithing, as these are very familiar verses to me out of context. However, in context they seem to have even more power and weight. God is saying to pay tithes and offering as a part of our covenants.

Verses 10 – 12 appear to be directly correlated with having paid tithes and offerings, but in the broader context of the whole chapter, it is more apt to say that these blessings (windows of heaven being opened, rebuked the devourer for our sakes, not destroy the fruit of our ground, and all nations to call us blessed) are rather the result of making covenants with the Father (who is mighty to save). The covenants are where the power lies.

Verses 13-15 address another grievance against the children of Israel. This grievance is more an issue of perspective. The Lord calls them out for the complaint, to which these would-be disciples pretend to have not complained. What was their complaint:

It is vain to serve God, and what doth it profit that we have kept his ordinances and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts?

And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.

Verse 14-15

The challenge here is that this complaining appears to come from those that are followers of Christ, or children of the covenant. But then verse 16 offers a decisive proof between those that would appear to be following God and those who actually are. What is the difference? True believers are “they that feared the Lord.” In contrast, it might be said that the former group feared men more than God. Clearly, they saw the proud as being happy, the wicked as having the advantage, and those that oppose or “tempt God” as being delivered. To that last claim, I would ask “from what?” What are the wicked being delivered from, and surely it is not their own self-destruction?

And what true disciple has not experience the deliverance from the unseen forces of evil, or the shackles of sin, when there was not immediate relief the temporary bonds of a physical opposition. No wicked man ever experienced deliverance from their own sins, because only God can provide such.

The last three verses of this chapter tell of the Lord’s deliverance of the righteous, or of a separation between the wicked and the righteous. In verse 16, they that feared God (the righteous) gathered together often and a book of remembrance was kept among them “for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.” Verse 17 states that from these he will take ownership and make them his jewels. It goes further to say that the Lord will spare them “as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” This idea of the righteous being those that serve God is reinforced further in verse 18 where it plainly states:

…discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

Verse 18

In other words, the difference in understanding between the righteous and the wicked is as simple as understanding who serves God and who does not. End of discussion.

But it’s actually not the end of the discussion. I actually had a lively debate with my wife on this point of terminology, and as I go back and look at how I just categorized or classified between wicked and righteous persons with a simple statement of fact, it causes me to consider perhaps how quick I have been to judge without knowledge.

Many Saints Should Arise from the Dead… Was It Not So?

3 Nephi 23

The Savior is revising the Nephite record and discovers that the prophecies of Samuel, the Lamanite, are not found in their record. Particularly the prophecy that many saints should arise from the dead and minster unto many. Then he asks Nephi: “Was it not so?” Nephi acknowledges that it did happen as the Savior had said it did.

So here the Savior states this fact after it had happened. Samuel, the Lamanite, prophesied of it before it happened. And yet, in the Book of Mormon, this event is still not recorded otherwise. Only a brief cursory reference is found in the book of Matthew of a similar event took place in Jerusalem.

So there is minimal documentation about the resurrection of the Saints immediately after the Savior’s own resurrection. But with the three reference points (Matthew, Samuel the Lamanite, and 3rd Nephi), this historical event is established as fact. The question I am asking myself is why? Why did the Savior feel that this particular event, of which there is no other records made, was of particular importance?

There were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them.

Verse 9

This event demonstrated that the Resurrection was not exclusive to Christ alone. The resurrection of Christ initiated the resurrection of all, starting with the saints. “Many saints” suggests that this was not an exclusive event for a privileged few church leaders, but rather an event of much broader scope, perhaps even down to the level of family (from what I know of other doctrines pertaining to the work for the dead). These resurrected beings came with the purpose of ministering, and not to just a few select. Rather, they appeared unto many. On both sides, the doctrine of inclusion is demonstrated.

This chapter ends with a brief explanation that after Jesus had edited and added to the scriptures that the Nephites had available to them, Jesus then expounded the scriptures to them.

Expound – to explain by setting forth in careful and often elaborate detail


(See also Expound)

Then after Christ had expounded the scriptures to them, he commanded them to teach the people these same things which he had expounded to them.

I am sitting with this idea of what it means to expound the scriptures. This is the work of apostles, missionaries, and all gospel teachers: to take the scriptures and bring them to life for their students.

The Smith that Bloweth,… The Waster to Destroy

3 Nephi 22 (See Study from Isaiah 54)

Having recently studied this chapter in Isaiah just a couple of months ago, I’m reading over this chapter with a broader view.

There is a reality that is illustrated in this chapter. That reality is that God is a loving, patient and benevolent companion to those who will have him. This reality is reinforced throughout this chapter with statements like the following:

  • “thou shalt be far from oppression”
  • “terror… shall not come near thee”
  • “whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake”

So then the natural question that follows is why are “bad” things happening to the righteous. The answer is in verse 16:

Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

So my conclusion from reviewing this chapter is that at the ultimate end, it is the individual’s personal progression that is of greatest concern to the Lord. Outward organization and warlike metaphors can be more symbolic than literal. Not that these prophecies do not have reference to actual historical or future events. But service to the Lord, in his Church, or in whatever capacity they are found, is designed more for the benefit of the individual and their spiritual progression than it is to fill a function within the Church. It is more about us becoming the instruments in the Lord’s hands, while having our impurities purged or destroyed from us.

I Give Unto You a Sign

3 Nephi 21

I have spent several days now studying chapter 21, as I have spent several weeks studying chapter 20. The two chapters are very similar in content, except that 21 seems a little more focused and clarifying. I will readily acknowledge that I feel like I have not had the Spirit of the Lord upon me strong enough to fully comprehend the significance of these passages.

This chapter again deals with the Gathering of Israel in very similar terms and timeline of events as does chapter 20. Perhaps one specific difference is that the Book of Mormon (though not referenced by name) is pointed to as a sign of the commencement of the Gathering of Israel.

The rise of the Gentiles, their opportunity to accept the Gospel and become a part of the Gathering, and for them to become a part of the Gathering if they will accept the Gospel is detailed in this chapter. Their destruction is also foretold, or rather their separation from Israel.

This chapter needs parentheses. (Not that I would correct the manner in which the Lord is speaking to his people.) The chapter starts with the Lord stating that he will give us a sign. He then proceeds to offer context upon context, helping to explain the purposes of the Gentiles and the scattering of the descendants of the Lamanites, etc.

The answer to the Lord’s initial statement, the sign that He was to give us, is finally explained in verse 7. The fulfillment of this sign will leave kings dumbfounded. “for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.” (vs. 8)

Verse 9 is similar to the statement made by Isaiah of a “great and marvelous work”.

Verse 10 feels like a nod to Joseph Smith, but I feel that the same could be say of anyone actively engaged in the cause of Christ. Indeed the footnote in the verse on “marred” points to Joseph Smith’s martyrdom.

Verse 11 is a warning to those that will not believe the words of Christ: “they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.” (emphasis added)

This prophecy of the remnant of Jacob being in the midst of the gentiles as lion in the midst of the beasts of the forest is repeated here again in verse 12. It is compelling imagery.

Verse 13 makes a statement about the remnant of Jacob having strength over their enemies. This has me contemplating these questions: who are my adversaries or enemies? Any enemy personified in my life, there are none. Or at least, they are far from me. Even these I would not count to be mine enemies, rather there are those who would live by a different standard. Those who would cheat or be dishonest. Those who would act in a malicious manner. None of these are near me, nor do I feel threatened by them.

The Lord then proceeds to detail the destruction that will come upon the wicked. All this that they will not worship the works of their hands.

In the last part of this chapter, the Savior gives instructions on the establishment of the New Jerusalem and who it is that will be a part of that singular event.

What is the purpose in coming to Zion? The end goal of all of this, the work that is required to get people to where they need to be is all for this end: to come unto Christ, “that they may call on the Father in my name.” (See verse 27)

It’s prayer! The end of it all is to be able to commune with God and to receive instructions at his hand.

“Unto the [Extreme Ends] of the Earth”

3 Nephi 23:2-5, Isaiah 49:6 (Spanish)

( This is a special study this morning, in that the Lord directed me to consider these verses out of my chronological order of study. )

Beyond the restoration of the house of Israel, the Lord makes the promise in the above-cited verses that Gospel will be taken to the [extreme ends] of the earth. (That’s me combining the meaning of the terms in both English and Spanish.) For some reason, being less than 100 miles away from the center stake of Zion (where I live presently), feels like at an extreme end of the earth.

The verse in Isaiah 49 reads differently in Spanish than in English:

English: “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”

Spanish: (literal translation) ” I will also give thee for a light to the nations, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the extreme[s] of the earth.”

“Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear:” Doctrine and Covenants 1:11

Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.

And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth.

Mormon 9:21,25

Therefore, repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and believe in my gospel, and be baptized in my name; for he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned; and signs shall follow them that believe in my name.

Ether 4:18

This phrase “Ends of the Earth” is found abundantly throughout the Old Testament. That’s notable because the Old Testament seems to be primarily concerned with the dealings of the Lord’s covenant people. That the Old Testament paints a different picture about the spread of the Gospel unto the “ends of the earth” suggests that this work has always had a more expansive view of the truth.

It also strikes me that the prophets of antiquity were utterly unable to do anything to realize the things of which they saw in vision. They could not bring the Gospel unto the ends of the earth.

One more thought, and it is this: No matter where I am found in this great world, whether in the valleys of Utah, or the low, dry deserts of Arizona, or the plush, green hills of Missouri, or the fertile mountains of Costa Rica, or anywhere in between, God is here — even to the end of the earth.

Graph Insight: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is universal. Faith in Christ and repentance work for all people regardless location.

31 October 2021, Fifth Sunday Instruction

Brief History on the Origins of Halloween, All Saints Day, and Day of the Dead. Map it out, maybe.

So instead of focusing on the peganistic traditions associated with Halloween, let’s look at some of the more family-centric, Christ-centric traditions from our neighbors to the south.

Brief explanation of Day of the Dead. Call on someone with experience.

Call on 4 or 5 members ahead of time to share a memory of a deceased family member: Bring a photo of the family member.

– No more than 10 minutes on Halloween/Day of the Dead history PLUS family memories. Have a table with a cloth and some hymn books set up underneath and some make shift little paper easels to support notecards or small photos. Make 12. Bring notecards and colored markers.

  • Quote on embracing good traditions from General Conference.
  • What do we actually know as latter-day saints about the spirit world?
  • Quote saying not much.
  • Scripture about the work of the dead.
  • Maybe actually know a lot more about what is going on. How or why?
  • “If in this life only we have faith in Christ… “
  • How long does it take to make covenants? Not long. If our only purpose for our existence was to make covenants then life would be short lived. The real work is in the conversion to our covenants.
  • Quote from President Eyering about not many rejecting the promises when the likes of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are teaching them the gospel.
  • Who planted Gardens this summer? Did the tomatoes appear on the seeds as soon as you planted them? Did the melons ripen up on the first day that you saw them on the vine?
  • Does conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ or the doctrine of Christ happen instantaneously? No! It does not. And if it doesn’t happen instantaneously here, why would it be any different in the world of the spirits? What is the great work that is happening there? Conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Why should we be more anxiously engaged in Family History work? Find quotes about the blessings of family history work. Recent statements, promises from apostles? (Ask Brother Box for help.)
  • What are your next step or two in doing family history work? Get specific answers. List them on the white board. (This is the invitation at the end.)

The Fulfilling of the Covenant

3 Nephi 20

(More than I year ago, I departed from my study of the Book of Mormon to read from the words of Isaiah. Now I am returning to the Book of Mormon.)

This chapters discusses in some detail “the fulfilling of the covenants which the Father hath made unto his people, [the] house of Israel.” (See verse 12)

I find it instructive that the Lord administered to the Nephites the Sacrament (a second time) before teaching them regarding this covenant and its fulfillment. This is a reminder to me of the importance of spiritual preparation before the reception of spiritual blessings, knowledge, and insights.

I am struggling to progress through this chapter, and I have read it now from beginning to end several times. Part of the struggle that I am having is that I’m trying to fit this statements of the Savior into a timeline of events. I feel that this may be hindering my progress through this chapter. What is a different way of looking at these verses?

There is a passage in this chapter that I had always applied to others. Yesterday, in considering it, I realized that this could be talking about me:

Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.

Verses 16-17

I would hardly consider myself such a destructive force among my fellows, but I think that the operative word here is “if”. “If he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth to pieces.” And this power, perhaps is more symbolic than literally, just as none is actually a lion or a sheep.

Part of the reason why I had never before consider that this could apply to me is because of the references that the context of this verse seemed to suggest in connection with native Americans or indigenous peoples. But am I not of the tribe of Ephraim, also of the house of Jacob? Am I not among the gentiles, who are many?

Here are a few random thoughts that I have clarified in my mind as I try to make sense of this chapter:

  • Jerusalem will be destroyed and then rebuilt for righteous occupation.
  • The redeemed of the house of Israel are those who will have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Christ as their redeemer. They will be made clean through the blood of Christ. God has not decreed any other form of salvation or redemption. Redemption is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ unto repentance.