Verse 1 states that the people “began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven,” which makes sense, especially if signs or wonders were increasing or become more common place. Is not the sun and moon and all things that are set at motion in this beautiful world evidence of a divine Creator? These are “wonders” that we just expect to work. Yet, how often does the common man pause to recognize these everyday “signs” or “wonders” or proofs of God in his superior majesty and power? Not hardly.
Verse 2 however suggests that those that were witness to the aforementioned signs had assigned them to the works of man or a devil, Satan himself being the author of such lies, all to the end that he might dissuade the people from believing in the doctrines of Christ, or to discount it as “a vain and foolish thing.”
Their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white
Verse 15 is a bit of a controverial read. There is a huge tendency to take this at face value in our current, modern social context, instead of understanding what this has reference to historically. So there are two things that are dealt with simultenously in this verse: a curse and a changing of skin color. The footnotes are extremely helpful in understanding the separation of these two conditions. It is important to understand that this is not a cause and effect statement, but rather two simultenous blessings that were received.
Furthermore, it also important to understand that skins becoming white, is not to be understood in our modern American paradigm of “white” European Americans verses “black” African Americans. To separate ourselves from the cultural contexts of our American society is extremely important in understanding the meaning of these scritpures.
First, the footnotes on the word “curse” takes us to other parts of the scriptures that also make reference to the curse and its connection to idleness or the lack of industry. This verse in Alma describes very well how their faith in Christ, which lead to industry, took away their curse:
And they began to be a very industrious people; yea, and they were friendly with the Nephites; therefore, they did open a correspondence with them, and the curse of God did no more follow them.Alma 23:18 (emphasis added)
It’s as if the Lord is stating that the people became clean and pure, even in the appearance to others. The following verse states how “their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair.” I know what this looks like and it has nothing to do with skin colors. It has to do with cleanliness of heart and purity of mind. It has to do with being holy and living holy.
There is more to this discussion that I am not going to explore at this moment. Alma 3 discusses peoples putting a mark upon their bodies. I’m not going there for the moment.
I am stopping here, though there is more to discuss. In praying about this however, whether or not, a changing of skin tone literally or figuratively happened, it accomplished the same outcome, a separation between two groups of people.
Here we are now at the end of times, where all things are being brought together into one in Christ. Skin tones are increasingly less relevant, in some spaces. A literal changing of skin tones would have little effect in and of itself in our day and time. But what is still real is the light that shines in the eyes of a disciple of Christ. It can be seen and discerned. The lack there off, or those scales of darkness that form over the eyes of one who does not beleive, can also be seen. Therein lies the separation that will always exist between the world and the the true believers in the Christ.
3 Nefi 2 (in Spanish)