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3 Nephi 20


Covenant Obedience Brings Peace -

 3 Nephi 11 -- Mormon 7      Disobedience Brings Destruction


3 Nephi 20:1 And [= But] He Commanded Them That They Should Not Cease:


     According to John Tvedtnes, the Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon help persuade us that it is authentic . . . A difference between Hebrew and English conjunctions is that in Hebrew the same conjunction can carry both the meaning and and also the opposite meaning but. Evidence for Hebraism in the Book of Mormon lies in the fact that some passages use the conjunction and when but is expected. One example among many is found in 3 Nephi 20:1, "He commanded the multitude that they should cease to pray, and also his disciples. And [= but] he commanded them that they should not cease to pray in their hearts." [John A. Tvedtnes, "The Hebrew Background of the Book of Mormon," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 84]


3 Nephi 20:3 He brake bread and blessed it, and gave it to his disciples to eat (Illustration) "That Ye Do Always Remember Me." Artist: Gary L. Kapp [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Ensign, Front and back cover, November 1998]


3 Nephi 20:6 There Had Been No Bread, Neither Wine, Brought by the Disciples, Neither by the Multitude: But He Truly Gave unto Them:


     Richardson, Richardson and Bentley write that the Book of Mormon account that sufficient bread was miraculously provided while giving sacramental bread to the great multitude (3 Nephi 20:6) is supported by the traditions of ancient Americans. Sources from ancient American histories indicate that Quetzalcoatl miraculously fed a great multitude.29 [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 62]


3 Nephi 20:10 (The Covenant People Discourse):


     According to Victor Ludlow, the third major sermon given by Christ in the New World is called "The Covenant People Discourse." It goes from chapter 20, verse 10, through chapter 23, verse 5. The previous day, Christ had stopped preaching after just mentioning a few of the words of Isaiah (3 Nephi 16:-20). Upon seeing that the people were not absorbing his message, he stopped and told them to go home and ponder (3 Nephi 17:2-3). Now, at the beginning of this sermon he says:

           Ye remember that I spake unto you, and said that when the words of Isaiah should be fulfilled . . . And verily, verily, I say unto you, that when they shall be fulfilled then is the fulfilling of the covenant which the Father hath made unto his people, O house of Israel. (3 Nephi 20:11-12)


     Now I wish that somewhere or another the Lord had sat one of His prophets down with a large manuscript and said, "I'd like to give you a list of, say, 200 absolutely essential prophesies of the last days in chronological sequence and I want you to record them and have many copies of it made so it can be circulated throughout all the children of man." . . . but He's not going to tell us the specific order in which they will be fulfilled. But this verse (3 Nephi 20:12) is as close as He's going to come. . . . In other words, the most important checklist is in the words of Isaiah because when they are fulfilled, then the covenant is fulfilled.

     If this Covenant People Discourse could be located in some Ancient Near Eastern manuscript, biblical scholars would be ecstatic--important new teachings of the Savior! But we have it and I'm afraid we often just kind of skip over it, partially because not only is there chapter 52 of Isaiah here, but all of chapter 22 of 3 Nephi is chapter 54 of Isaiah. So within this three chapter discourse are two full chapters of Isaiah blended in there, plus a little bit of Micah. So we think, well, this is just a bunch of Old Testament teachings. Oh, but this is gleaning from the essential Old Testament teachings that would have application for Israel in the latter days with a sign so that we would know when the work hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which the Lord hath made 4,000 years ago, almost, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. . . . And where is that sign? Right at the center of the whole chiastic sermon--3 Nephi 21:1-7:

           And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place . . . when these works and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter shall come forth from the Gentiles unto your seed . . . it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel.


[Victor L. Ludlow, "The Covenant Teachings of the Book of Mormon," F.A.R.M.S., pp. 10-15]


3 Nephi 20:10 -- 23:1 (Jesus' Covenant People Discourse--Chiastic Outline):


A The Father and Son work together (20:10)

  B Isaiah's words are written, therefore search them (20:11)

    C Isaiah's words and the Father's covenant with Israel will be fulfilled! (20:12)*

      D Scattered Israel to be gathered (20:13)

        E America an inheritance for the Lamanites (20:14)

          F Gentiles to repent & receive blessings (Micah 4:12-13; 5:8-9) (20:15-20)*

            G The Lord's covenant with Moses, Gentiles, etc. (20:21-29)******

              H Gospel preached and Zion established; the marred servant (Isa. 52) (20:30-44)

                I Kings shall be speechless (Isa. 52:15) (20:45)

                  J Covenant and work of the Father (20:46)**

                    K A key sign to be given when things are "about to take place" (21:1)

                      L Gentiles learn of scattered Israel (21:2)

                        M These things (B. of M.) to come from Gentiles to you (21:3)

                          N The Sign of the Covenant (21:4)**

                        M' These works to come from Gentiles to Lamanites (21:5)

                      L' Some Gentiles to be with Israel (21:6)

                    K' Sign as Lamanites begin to know B. of M. that work "hath commenced" (21:7)

                  J' Work and covenant of the Father (21:7)*

                I' Kings shall be speechless (Isa. 52:15) (21:8)

              H' A great and marvelous work; the marred servant (Isa. 52:14) (21:9-10)

            G' Moses, the Gentiles and covenant Israel (21:11)*

          F' Unrepentant Gentiles will be cut down (Micah 5:8-14) (21:12-21)

        E' America an inheritance for the righteous (21:22-23)*

      D' Gentiles to help in the gathering of Israel (21:24-25)

    C' Father's work with his people (21:26-27)

A' The Father and Son work together (21:28-29)

  B' Isaiah's portrayal of Zion; search his words! (Isa. 54) (chap 22; 23:1-3)


X Christ's command to heed and write these things; to hearken to his words and be saved; and

     to "search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things." (3 Nephi 23:4-5)


Note: The symbol * = the fifteen specific "covenant" references in this sermon.

[Victor L. Ludlow, "Jesus' Covenant People Discourse," handout]


3 Nephi 20:10 -- 23:1 (Jesus' Covenant People Discourse--Chiastic Outline) [Illustration]: Jesus' Covenant People Discourse--A Chiastic Outline. [Victor L. Ludlow, "Jesus' Covenant People Discourse," handout]


3 Nephi 20:10 -- 23:1 (Jesus' Covenant People Discourse--Chiastic Outline):


     Hugh W. Pinnock reports that after studying chiasmus in the Book of Mormon and then expanding his study to encompass other literary qualities of the Book of Mormon, he introduced several examples of Hebrew writing forms found in that book to a well-educated and intelligent Jewish woman, Mary Kay Lazarus. She called a rabbi friend she knew in Ohio and said, "Rabbi, I have found a book filled with chiasmus." "Then, my dear," he responded, "you have found one of God's books because chiasmus is the language of God."30 Since that time she has had great respect for the Book of Mormon.

     Elder Pinnock further writes that a vital part of understanding Hebrew writing structures is knowing why the ancient prophets and other authors expended so much time and energy to create the artistic, poetic devices that became standard Hebrew writing forms. He suggests a few:

     1. Form: Format is often revelatory. Hebrew writing forms in the Book of Mormon are not alone. They can be found not only in the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Doctrine & Covenants.

     2. Clarity: Hebrew poetic forms helped authors and prophets communicate what they wanted the reader to know. Because these forms are complex, they imply extensive editing and review before inscription.

     3. Translation Tools: These forms provide a checklist for verifying the accuracy of translating the message into other languages.

     4. Verification of Translated Texts: By carefully examining passages that in English exemplify certain Hebrew writing forms, one can determine whether these forms have been preserved in the translation.

     5. Substitute for Punctuation: The typical punctuation marks used today--periods, commas, colons, and semicolons, for example--were developed long after the ancient scriptural texts were written. Writings forms were sometimes used by ancient inspired writers as a form of punctuation which frequently delineated the beginning and end of a given passage.

     6. Establish Priorities: Ancient authors may have employed writing forms to emphasize and focus on the items or concepts they felt to be most vital.

     7. Relieve Possible Monotony: By adding interest, rhythm, and flow to scriptural texts, writing forms relieve the monotony of potentially redundant and repetitious writing.

     8. Memorization Tools: Ancient people did not have their own personal scriptures, and of necessity they were trained to memorize great volumes of materials. Writings forms aided and encouraged the memorization of long passages.

     9. Beauty: The incredible energy, time and resources required to produce these ancient writing forms inspires awe and gives inner beauty to the scriptures.

     10. Strengthen Testimony: The number and variety of explicit ancient Hebrew writing forms found in the Book of Mormon are evidence of its origin and truthfulness. They indicate that the Book of Mormon is exactly what Joseph Smith, the Prophet, claimed it to be--an ancient religious and historical record written by ancient Hebrew prophets and authors. It contains language forms that were used by prophets and scholars of the earliest Hebrew periods but apparently not known to modern America until well after the death of Joseph Smith.


[Hugh W. Pinnock, Finding Biblical Hebrew and Other Ancient Literary Forms in the Book of Mormon, FARMS, 1999, pp. ix, 2-7]


3 Nephi 20:10--23:1 (Jesus' Discourses):


     Avraham Gileadi has a somewhat different perspective than does Victor Ludlow on Jesus' discourse(s) found in chapters 20-22 of 3 Nephi. According to Gileadi, even as Nephi1 presents two versions of a prophetic sequence in relation to the great and marvelous work (see Gileadi's commentary on 1 Nephi 13-22), so Jesus, speaking to the Nephites, gives two recapitulations of essentially the same events. . . . Thus, 3 Nephi 20:10 through 21:29 contains two consecutive discourses about the last days that Jesus gives to the Nephites. Both deal with essentially the same subject. The order of events varies, but that is not important because they are not chronologies. The second discourse by and large repeats what the first contains. Together, they are a twofold witness of major events of the last days. . . . [See the illustrations]

     Jesus' First Discourse:

     Jesus' first discourse emphasizes what happens to the house of Israel. (By definition, the Lamanites, the Jews, and the Ten Tribes compose the house of Israel.) More specifically, the first discourse deals with the Lord's fulfilling his covenant with the house of Israel (3 Nephi 20:12, 22, 25-27, 29, 46). The Gentiles feature in the discourse only so far as they receive an opportunity to be blessed under the covenant. Though the Gentiles enjoy this blessing for a time--after they exercise power over the house of Israel--in the end, many harden their hearts (3 Nephi 20:27-28). At that point, the house of Israel treads down the wicked (3 Nephi 20:15-17). The idea of permanence in the promised land, which the Lord's fulfillment of the covenant exemplifies, we find only in connection with the house of Israel. At the center of the chiastic structure appear the words of Christ. Many refuse to hear his words and are cut off from his people (3 Nephi 20:23; compare 21:11). Thus, it is against the words of Christ, when they are revealed, that many Gentiles harden their hearts.

     The house of Israel, on the other hand, reacts differently toward the words of Christ. At that time, the house of Israel comes to believe in Christ and to know him (3 Nephi 20:13, 30-31; compare 2 Nephi 25:16-18). As the house of Israel accepts Christ, the people gather together to the lands of their inheritance (3 Nephi 20:13-14,29). At that very time, also, the wicked Gentiles suffer the Lord's justice (3 Nephi 20:13-22). These Gentiles are destroyed, therefore, after they reject the words of Christ, which words they reject after enjoying the blessings of the gospel for a time (compare 3 Nephi 16:10-16; 26:6-11; Ether 4:8-9).

     Jesus' Second Discourse:

     Jesus' second discourse emphasizes what happens to the Gentiles. Though the Gentiles receive an opportunity to be blessed under the Lord's covenant with the house of Israel, in the end many Gentiles do not repent (3 Nephi 21:6,14). These are cut off from the covenant because they refuse to believe the words of Christ (3 Nephi 21:11). At that point, the house of Israel treads them down (3 Nephi 21:12-21). These things repeat essentially the same scenario we find in Jesus' first discourse. . . .

     That Jesus ends his first discourse by quoting most of Isaiah 52 (see 3 Nephi 20:32-45) and his second discourse by quoting all of Isaiah 54 (see 3 Nephi 22:1-17) raises a further point. Such structuring leads us to look for at least a reference to Isaiah 53 somewhere between the two. That reference we find in 3 Nephi 21:9 and 11. There, we read that some Gentiles "will not believe" the great and marvelous work nor the words of Christ that the servant brings forth. Of course, this statement implies that some Gentiles will believe. . . . The belief or disbelief that people show toward the words of Christ constitutes a grand key to the structures. [Avraham Gileadi, The Last Days: Types and Shadows from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, pp. 88-95]


3 Nephi 20:10--23:1 (Jesus' Discourses) [Illustration]: Jesus' First Discourse [Avraham Gileadi, The Last Days: Types and Shadows from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, p. 89]


3 Nephi 20:10--23:1 (Jesus' Discourses) [Illustration]: Jesus' Second Discourse [Avraham Gileadi, The Last Days: Types and Shadows from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, p. 92]


3 Nephi 20:11; 23:1 Search Isaiah:


     Jerald Simon notes that in Jesus' covenant discourse in 3 Nephi 20-23 he twice commands his faithful listeners to "search Isaiah" (see 3 Nephi 20:11; 23:11). The people had felt the prints in his hands and feet and had thrust their hands into his side. They were the worthy ones who had been "spared because" they "were more righteous than" the others (3 Nephi 9:13). Christ was the living embodiment of the Abrahamic covenant. Christ was not only the Master but the Master teacher of Isaiah. These disciples truly knew what it meant to "come unto Christ."

     Jesus mentions Moses' writing of a future prophet and explains how his coming fulfilled those words. He teaches the Nephites that they are "children of the prophets" and "children of the covenant" (3 Nephi 20:25-26). He also speaks of the time when Isaiah's words will be fulfilled, regarding the scattering, the gathering, the role of the Gentiles, a marvelous work, the Prophet Joseph Smith, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and other themes, interspersing in his discourse almost every verse from Isaiah 52 and 54.

     As if setting bookends to hold the covenant doctrine in place, Jesus, who quoted Isaiah more than he quoted any other prophet while in his mortal ministry, instructs the Nephites at both the introduction and conclusion of his covenant discourse to "search Isaiah.

     Christ clearly desired there be no misunderstanding regarding his covenant discourse as evidenced by the charge given to Mormon while he was abridging the account of the Savior's visit. At the conclusion of 3 Nephi, Mormon recorded: "I say unto you that when the Lord shall see fit, in his wisdom, that these sayings shall come unto the Gentiles according to his word, then ye may know that the covenant which the Father hath made with the children of Israel concerning their restoration to the lands of their inheritance, is already beginning to be fulfilled" (3 Nephi 29:1). Indeed, Mormon later emphasizes that Jesus had commanded him to restate this theme: "hearken, O ye Gentiles, and hear the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, which he hath commanded me that I should speak concerning you . . . that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel" (3 Nephi 30:1-2). [Jerald F. Simon, "Researching Isaiah Passages in the Book of Mormon," in Covenants Prophecies and Hymns of the Old Testament, pp. 218-219]


3 Nephi 20:12 Covenant:


     According to Victor Ludlow, the term covenant shows up one way or another, in one form or another, over a hundred and fifty times in the Book of Mormon. . . . Some of you Bible scholars may be aware of the fact that in the earliest English editions and translations of the Bible, the two parts of the Bible were known as the Old Covenant and the New Covenant that we now identify as the Old Testament and the New Testament. . . . Sometimes we may not appreciate how much covenant teachings are a part of the Book of Mormon, but we find it starting right on the front page, on the very title page. The first stated purpose of the Book of Mormon is, "to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever."

     Now there are many purposes for covenants (see illustration, figure 1). Covenants give us teachings about purposes of life, our existence, our relationship with our Heavenly Father, the plan of Salvation. Covenants also indicate God's commandments and expectations for us. . . . Covenants also provide incentives for obedience and warnings for disobedience of that covenant contract. . . . But one of the most important purposes of covenants is they provide gateways for salvation. There are certain covenants, such as baptism by water and spirit, that are absolutely prerequisite for a person to enter into the kingdom of God. And there are other covenants like those of the temple that are necessary gateways for special Celestial blessings that our Heavenly Father would like to give to us. Covenants also give us measurements, or show us how far we are progressing on our personal path towards perfection.

     We find that of the over 150 covenant references in the Book of Mormon, 113 are vertical covenant relationships between God and mortals. But they are not evenly distributed throughout the Book of Mormon (see illustration, figures 2, 3, 4). These vertical covenant relationships tend to predominate in three books. It's easy to remember which three books they are, because they all have the same name with a different numerical prefix--First, Second, and Third--meaning 1, 2, and 3 Nephi. [Victor L. Ludlow, "The Covenant Teachings of the Book of Mormon," F.A.R.M.S., pp. 1-4]


3 Nephi 20:12 Covenant (Illustration): (Figure 1) Covenant = karat b'rith "to cut a bond" (Figure 2) "Covenant" Citations in the Book of Mormon (Figure 3) "Covenant" Citations in the Book of Mormon--Number of Citations by Section (Figure 4) "Covenant Citations in the Book of Mormon--Number of Citations by Spokesman. [Victor L. Ludlow, "The Covenant Teachings of the Book of Mormon," F.A.R.M.S.]


3 Nephi 20:22 The Covenant That I Made with Your Father Jacob:


     Jesus declares to the Nephites, "this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob" (3 Nephi 20:22). According to Richard D. Anthony, Jacob as the firstborn heir, needed to find a woman of the noble birthright. Also, he needed to flee for his life as the sibling rivalry "type" of Jesus and Lucifer, Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, was continued between him and Esau. Enmity between and among family members has always been prime cause for destruction of the eternal patriarchal or family covenant. Jacob's mother Rebecca directed him to her brother, Laban. Jacob's father Isaac blessed and confirmed her direction. Isaac also blessed Jacob at this time with the blessings of Abraham.

     A pattern begins to emerge from the stories of each of the patriarchs--Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Each was almost killed, or at least was threatened by a family member. Abraham was almost sacrificed on an altar, Isaac was threatened by Ishmael and Hagar. Jacob was threatened by Esau. They all left where they were and fled to another land. Here God blessed them. Although they had trials, they returned to the promised land better than they were before. The House of Israel also as a group went to another land, Egypt, had trials, but were delivered. Delivery was always by the firstborn and ultimate delivery will be by the firstborn son of God, even Jesus Christ. He will bring them back into the presence of His Father. The more we can see this type, rather than reading the Old Testament as a compilation of unrelated stories, the more we will be able to understand the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets, particularly Isaiah. This concept is the key to understanding Isaiah's message [and the Book of Mormon].

     Jacob's marriage to Leah and Rachel set the stage for two blessings of the Lord to Abraham to be fulfilled. The Lord promised Abraham, that through his literal seed, the Messiah would be born, and the world would receive the blessings of the gospel, and salvation, and eternal life. This promise was fulfilled through Leah. She became the mother of Judah, and it is through the line of Judah that Mary, the mother of Jesus was born.

     Through Rachel another promise to Abraham was fulfilled. This promise was that through Abraham's seed, or through his priesthood, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. It was through Rachel that Joseph, the firstborn, or birthright son was born. To him and to his descendants, Ephraim and Manasseh, the keys of the priesthood were given to bring not only the whole house of Israel to Christ, but also the gentiles.

     All nations of the earth were blessed through Jesus Christ who is a blood descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah, through Judah and Mary. Likewise all nations of the earth are blessed through Joseph and his posterity. It is through Joseph and his posterity that the keys of the priesthood are and were given to bring all to Christ. Both of these blessings were specifically promised to Abraham. The fulfillment of them was through Judah and his line, and Joseph and his line.

     The Lord blessed Jacob in that Esau's enmity was abated, and they met and were reconciled one to another. Furthermore, God blessed Jacob, and changed his name to Israel and called him a prince (Genesis 32:28). The name Israel means one who prevails with God, or let God prevail. This name (the house of Israel) applied not only to Jacob, but to the literal descendants of Jacob, and to the true believers in Christ, regardless of their lineage or geographical location. [Richard D. Anthony, Isaiah and Joseph, pp. 35-37, unpublished manuscript] [See 2 Nephi 5:4-5]


3 Nephi 20:22 The Power of Heaven Shall Be in the Midst of This People:


     In a journal note dated December 16, 1984, Patsy O'Donnal, daughter of president John O'Donnal of the Guatemala City Temple noted the following concerning the dedication ceremonies:

           During the ninth session I had another spiritual experience that began as we and the choir from the Guatemala Las Victorias Stake who was to sing in the session were waiting to enter the temple. I was overcome as I looked at their faces and saw pure and delightsome youth entering there-also a fulfillment of prophecy. They sang beautifully throughout the session, but particularly the final "Hosanna Anthem" and when the congregation joined them in singing "The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning." During the chorus when we sang, "We'll sing and we'll shout with the armies of heaven"-in Spanish it is translated "with the hosts of heaven"-I saw, directly above the choir, a heavenly choir, dressed in white, all with white hair; and I felt the "hosts" of heaven that filled the Celestial Room. The beauty and the volume of the singing was intensified by the heavenly choir. Never had that hymn had so much meaning. I was so filled with the Spirit and totally overcome with emotion that I could no longer sing. Even now, as I recall the experience, my emotions can not be controlled. This was an experience I will never forget. (p. 323).


           President Hinckley said that he has participated in the dedication of many temples, perhaps more than any other man in the Church alive today, and he had felt the presence of the Spirit of the Lord in many places, but did not know that he had ever felt it so strongly as he had felt it here today. He said that while Daddy was speaking, a vision opened up to him of the history of he Book of Mormon and of all of Lehi's children; how they had been led away by the foolish traditions of their father and because of it had suffered greatly and lived in poverty and ignorance for generations, and had been refined in the fires of terrible adversity. He said the completion of a temple here in Guatemala is a culmination of hopes and dreams of thousands of years. It is the fulfillment of the promises made to Lehi and Nephi that their seed would not be utterly lost. He said he has been touched more deeply than he could explain, by Daddy's and Momma's words, and has come to realize "that they have been a part of the Lord's plan, instruments in the hand of God to assist in bringing about the redemption of His wayward children." All that has happened in Daddy's life and all that he has been able to accomplish here, he was chosen and foreordained to do, to bring to pass the fulfillment of the promises to Lehi's children. President Hinckley was also impressed that a vision of the temple in Guatemala was given to someone else, years before it was given to the prophet. (p. 322)


     The person President Hinckley was referring to as having had a previous vision of the Guatemala Temple was John O'Donnal, a pioneer of the gospel in Guatemala and first president of the Guatemala City Temple there. He details the account of his vision as follows:

           In 1956 there was a lot of pressure on me to be assigned elsewhere and leave Guatemala. I made preparations to go to Brazil, where my supervisors wanted me to trade with one who was working there. After arranging my passport and having the trip arranged, I started for the South Coast, where my family was. It was a very rainy afternoon, there was a detour on the highway, and I took the detour. I had to cross the railroad tracks and there I had an accident with the train. My life was saved; the car was destroyed. This was on May 12, 1956.

           I was taken to the hospital at Tiquisate, and later I had to go to the hospital in Guatemala City for surgery. As I was recuperating, (and I have thought a lot about relating this, since it was a very personal experience; however, today and in the previous sessions we have heard many personal experiences), I had a very personal spiritual experience in which the Lord told me that He had saved my life because my work here was not finished but that my life was not my own. He told me that there was going to be a temple here in Guatemala City, and He showed me the temple in a vision.

     These things, during the course of the revelation, I dictated to my wife and she wrote them down on      May 18, 1956--9:45 a.m.

           "My mind is very clear, I can hardly speak as my tongue feels like cotton, but it is a vision. . . . There will be a temple built here in Guatemala, a beautiful temple, so that the promises of the prophets will be fulfilled. Many poor, barefoot, dirty, ragged and dark-skinned will enter the temple; and as they come forth from the temple they will appear white and pure, happy to have covenanted with God. I felt my life has been spared, conditionally, that I must take good care of myself, for my life is not my own. My mission here is not finished, there is much left to do. . . . As you leave from 'La Aurora', on the right there are several hills whose foundation are of volcanic sand. But among them is one of solid rock, and there our temple will be erected! I can now see it with its imposing splendor, and to it will go the just and faithful, to receive their blessings and the Lord's commandments." (p. 95)


     I have a confirmation of this [vision]. . . . The Lord told me that the temple was going to be built upon solid rock. In drilling a well here on this lot beside the temple, they had to drill through more than two hundred feet of solid rock. Yet in all the surrounding areas here in Vista Hermosa the subsoil is of pumice--volcanic sand. This temple, I am sure, has a special mission. . . . It was not a coincidence that in the vision I saw of the temple, the people I saw entering and leaving were pure Lamanites." [John O'Donnal, Pioneer in Guatemala: The Personal History of John Forres O'Donnal, Including the History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Guatemala, pp. 95, 318, 322, 323]


3 Nephi 20:22 The power of heaven shall be in the midst of this people (Illustration): The Guatemala City Temple. Guatemala City Temple Presidency and Matrons 1984. (Front row L-R: Mae Flake, 2nd Assistant--Carmen O'Donnal, Matron--Ruth Skousen, 1st Assistant. (Back row L-R: President Conde, President O'Donnal and President Skousen. [John O'Donnal, Pioneer in Guatemala: The Personal History of John Forres O'Donnal, Including the History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Guatemala, pp. 335, 337]


3 Nephi 20:22 The Powers of Heaven Shall Be in the Midst of This People; Yea, Even I Will Be in the Midst of You:


     Allen Christenson writes the following:

     I was privileged to help in the translation of the temple ceremony into K'iche', a dialect of the Mayan Indians of Guatemala. In 1991, the Church brought up seven choice native Maya members of the Church to record the ceremony for the first time in their own language. Most had never traveled outside their own country. They arrived when we had a bad cold snap and snow storms last January. In a country where it never snows that was quite a shock. They wondered whether the flakes were volcanic ash, and bundled up with layer upon layer of clothing so that the snow would have no chance of touching their skin.

     The Maya today are for the most part illiterate, particularly in their native tongue. It has only been in recent years that some members of the church have begun to learn to read and write in the Maya language, so that they can read the scriptures and other church publications. This is a great tragedy, because until about 500 years ago the Maya were the most literate people in the Americas, preserving their history and culture with a sophisticated hieroglyphic script in hundreds of folded screen books. The Spanish Conquest in the early sixteenth century was a devastating blow to Maya literacy in Mexico and Guatemala. Great numbers of hieroglyphic texts were burned in an attempt to eradicate "idolatrous paganism." Native scribes were singled out for persecution to such an extent that within one hundred years, the art of writing had nearly disappeared from among the Maya people. When I was a missionary in the Guatemala highlands, no one I knew could read in Maya. Because I opened most of the areas I worked in, the church was in its infancy and there were no members to prepare for the temple. The closest temple in fact was in Mesa, Arizona, and for a people who earned at best a dollar a day, a trip there was a goal which was simply impossible to even think about.

     Today there is a temple in Guatemala City. The Maya who were brought up to record the temple ceremony for their people had all taken out their own endowments and considered it a great privilege to have a part in bringing the blessings of the endowment to their people in a language that they could understand.

     For the first few days, the Maya were given time to read through their parts, review videotapes of the ceremony to practice their timing and voice inflections, and to prepare for the actual recording. It soon became apparent what an impossible thing we were asking them to do. Most of their homes had no electricity, and the rows of machines and blinking lights were frightening and intimidating. None could ready any better than at a grade school level, sounding out each word at a time. Just getting out the words was a frustrating and time-consuming task. We frankly didn't think that it would be possible for them to become proficient enough to read the text rapidly, much less instill in the words the spirit that such a sacred ceremony demands.

     I will never forget the first day we started to record. We put these poor, humble people in a little glass booth, surrounded by technical gadgets, microphones, and earphones and asked them to relax and speak the words with naturalness and the proper spirit. They were so frightened that they could not speak more than a few words at a time, and those were unusable.

     We all went back to our hotel rooms discouraged and felt that we were going to fail. They next day, I noticed a change in the Maya. They were unusually quiet and serious, but somehow they didn't seem to be as afraid as the day before. When the first brother, who was assigned to read the part of Elohim, was called on to record his part, he stepped into the recording booth without hesitation. The window was set so high in the booth that we could barely see him, being only 5'4" tall. He put on his earphones, closed his eyes and looked up momentarily, and then said quietly that he was ready. When I gave him his cue he began to speak in the most beautiful, flowing Maya that I had ever heard spoken. He read through three full pages without error before we had to stop him to check the sound level. When I cued him to stop, He asked if he had done something wrong and looked so apologetic that it broke my heart. I assured him that we just had to do some technical things and that he had done beautifully. The spirit was so strong that it was a physical presence that we all could feel. The emotion of it was overwhelming. The brother in charge of the recording instruments turned to me afterward and simply said, "We have just witnessed a miracle, one of the strongest manifestations of the gift of tongues that I have ever witnessed. His voice, inflection, and timing were as good as the best professional actors that we have in English, Spanish, or other of the more established languages." When I asked this Mayan brother what had happened since the day before, he smiled and said that he knew the enormous importance of the temple endowment for his people and knew that he couldn't do it on his own. He and the others had tried as hard as they could but that the words just didn't come. So he had prayed last night to his Father in Heaven and told him that he just couldn't do it without His help. He didn't want his people for generations to come to hear his voice and weakness, but the voice of Elohim. He asked if his Father in Heaven would please come to that sound booth with him and speak for himself. He felt assured and that morning he never doubted that God would be there with him. One by one, each of the other Maya read through their parts with similar power and faith. [Allen J. Christenson, "Account of the Recording of the Temple Ceremony into K'iche' Maya in 1991," Personal Communication to Alan C. Miner]

     Note* Well did the Lord prophesy in person to the ancestors of these humble Mayan brothers and sisters on this American continent:

           And it shall come to pass that I will establish my people, O house of Israel. And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you." (3 Nephi 20:21-22).

[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


3 Nephi 20:25 The Covenant Which the Father Made with . . . Abraham:


     According to Richard Anthony, the story of the Father and the firstborn was given to us for the first time in greatest detail with Abraham. . . . As Adam was firstborn son, and Noah a firstborn son, Abraham became a firstborn son also. It was to be through Abraham's ministry that God's name would be known in the earth forever (Abraham 1:19).

     The firstborn of the Father, Jehovah, made a promise to Abraham that:

     1. He would make him a great nation.

     2. He would bless him above measure, (beyond man's ability to measure).

     3. His name would be great among nations.

     4. He would be a blessing to his seed who should bear this priesthood and ministry.

     5. God would bless those that bless Abraham, and curse those who curse him, (curse those who pay no heed to the teachings of Abraham and His seed)

     6. Through Abraham's literal seed, the Firstborn Son of God would be born to bless all the earth with the gospel of salvation and eternal life. (Abraham 2:10-11)


     As Adam started life on this earth, and Noah started life again after the flood, so Abraham started in the likeness of Adam and Noah. Rather than destroy all evil with another flood, God chose to scatter the righteous seed among these "desolate" nations so that the blessings of the covenant people might come to all. This is part of the great plan of Mercy, from before the foundation of the world.

[Richard D. Anthony, Isaiah and Joseph, p. 30, unpublished] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 15:18, 22:9; Helaman 8:18; 3 Nephi 20:27; Mormon 5:20; Ether 13:11]


3 Nephi 20:27 Then Fulfilleth the Father the Covenant Which He Made with Abraham:


     Michael King notes that since the fall of Adam, the prophets and patriarchs have been promised that they and their future posterity would one day return to the presence of God. Abraham, a man who "sought for the blessings of the fathers" (Abraham 1:2), received a renewal of this promise, which became known as the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17:7-9).

     The Lord's promises to Abraham can be loosely summarized into three main ideas, captured in the letters LDS, representing land, deliverance (through Christ and God's priesthood), and seed (Genesis 17:5-9; Abraham 2:6-11) The promise was that Abraham would have countless seed, a place to raise that seed, and power through a deliverer to lift his seed from the corruption of a telestial world. Neither Abraham, though faithful and righteous, nor successive prophets saw the fulfillment of the covenant during their lifetimes. Speaking of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the apostle Paul wrote, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13; see also 11:10-16). [Michael L. King, "Isaiah's Vision of God's Plan to Fulfill His Covenant," in Covenants Prophecies and Hymns of the Old Testament, p. 164] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 15:18, 22:9; Helaman 8:18; 3 Nephi 20:25; Mormon 5:20; Ether 13:11]


3 Nephi 20:27 After That Ye Were Blessed Then Fulfilleth the Father the Covenant . . . with Abraham:


     Jesus declared:

           Verily I say unto you, yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have testified of me. And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant--And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed . . . (3 Nephi 24-27)


     According to Richard Anthony, after the patriarch Jacob's arrival in the promised land, Rachel gave birth to Jacob's 12th son, and died in the process. Here the story line in Genesis turns to Joseph. Thirteen of the 50 chapters of Genesis are devoted to Joseph. . . . Not only are that many chapters devoted to Joseph, but the prophet Joseph Smith added much to these chapters in the JST (Joseph Smith Translation) specifically about Joseph.

     Joseph was designated as the firstborn, or the birthright son. The life of Joseph is more than a fascinating story of a young man sold by his brothers, who rose to prominence in a foreign land, and then saved his family. Joseph's life was a type or shadow of the future of the whole house of Israel from "generation to generation." His life, and episodes in his life are mentioned over and over in the scriptures--particularly in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon. He and his descendants were types of Christ and types of the father-firstborn relationship until the great winding-up scene.

     Joseph's life and what he did for his eleven brothers is a mirror of what Joseph's descendants would do for the tribes of Israel until the end of the world. Joseph is the greatest example of the firstborn concept of which we have record.

     Although the Savior did not come directly through his loins, the keys of the priesthood to bring Israel and the gentiles to Christ were centered in Joseph and his posterity through Ephraim and Manasseh. If we understand the life of Joseph, his prophecies and the prophecies about him, particularly the ones by Jacob as recorded in Genesis 50 of the JST, we can begin to understand the Old Testament prophets, who wrote about Joseph and his calling. Isaiah was a particular prophet who seems to have been able to put all of the prophecies about Joseph and his responsibility into "one." [Richard D. Anthony, Isaiah and Joseph,, pp. 37-38, unpublished]


3 Nephi 20:27 In Thy Seed Shall All the Kindreds of the Earth Be Blessed--unto the Pouring out of the Holy Ghost:


     According to Joseph McConkie, Joseph Smith's translation of the Abraham papyrus opens to us a flood of knowledge about the covenant God made with our ancient father--knowledge now lost to those whose understanding is limited to the Bible. From the record we learn that Abraham was promised that his seed--his literal descendants--were to hold the priesthood and carry the message of salvation, even the blessing of eternal life to all nations. (Abraham 2:9-11) This right has not been given to those of any other lineage. In 3 Nephi 20:26-27 we find the following words of Jesus to the Nephites:

           The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this becaause ye are the children of the covenant--And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed--unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles, which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel. (emphasis added)


     Here Christ reminds the Nephites that they are the children of the prophets and thus inheritors of the promises made to Abraham. It was because of that covenant that Christ had come to them and sought to turn them from their iniquities. Amplifying the Abrahamic covenant over that preserved for us in the Bible, the Savior said that he had promised Abraham that through his posterity all the families of the earth would be blessed by the "pouring out of the Holy Ghost." [Joseph F. McConkie, "The Final Gathering to Christ," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 2, pp. 188-189]


3 Nephi 20:32--22:17 (Note* Commentary on Isaiah)


     A simple, yet very effective commentary on the words of the prophet Isaiah as quoted by the Savior in his New World visit can be found included (within parenthesis) in the scriptural text of the companion book to this commentary called The Covenant Story (Volume 6). The style used is patterned after David J. Ridges' Isaiah Made Easier, and much of the wording or meaning has been adopted from that text by permission of the author. [See David J. Ridges, Isaiah Made Easier / The Book of Revelation Made Easier, 1994]

     For the benefit of the reader, the Isaiah text and commentary from The Covenant Story (3 Nephi 20:32--22:17) will be included in this commentary. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


3 Nephi 20:32-46 (Isaiah Text & Commentary):


     3 Nephi 20:32-35

     (Compare with Isaiah 52:8-10)


 32 Then shall their watchmen (or the prophet leaders) lift up their voice, and with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye.

 33 Then will the Father gather them together again, and give unto them Jerusalem for the land of their inheritance.

 34 Then shall they break forth into joy--Sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Father hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. (which redemption will likely occur in the last days, near or at the beginning of the Millennium)

 35 The Father hath made bare his holy arm (or shown forth his power) in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see THE SALVATION OF THE FATHER (or the power to save and redeem His children); and the Father and I are One.

     3 Nephi 20:36-46

     (Compare Isaiah 52:1-3,6-7,11-15)


 36 And then shall be brought to pass that which is written: Awake, awake again, and put on thy strength (that is, Repent! and take Christ's name upon you), O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments (or in other words, return to the proper use of the priesthood, D&C 113:7&8), O Jerusalem, the holy city, for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean (that is, there will be no more non-covenant wicked people allowed).

 37 Shake thyself from the dust; arise (or in other words, let the times of being walked on be over), sit down (that is, sit down in the tent of thy Father redeemed at last), O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck (or come forth out of bondage), O captive daughter of Zion.

 38 For thus saith the Lord: Ye have sold yourselves for naught (or in other words, for worthless earthly riches you have sold your covenant birthright and yourselves into spiritual slavery), and (but) ye shall be redeemed without money (that is, the Lord will grace you with the redeeming power of His Atonement).

 39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that my people shall know my name; yea, in that day (the last days) they shall know that I AM HE THAT DOTH SPEAK.

 40 And then shall they say: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of HIM THAT BRINGETH GOOD TIDINGS UNTO THEM, THAT PUBLISHETH PEACE; THAT BRINGETH GOOD TIDINGS UNTO THEM OF GOOD, THAT PUBLISHETH SALVATION, THAT SAITH UNTO ZION: THY GOD REIGNETH! (Our Beautiful Savior, What a Marvelous Work and a Wonder He has wrought, He is our King!)

 41 And then (in the last days) shall a cry go forth: Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence (or from the wicked world--D&C 38:42), touch not that which is unclean; go ye out of the midst of her (or out of mother Babylon); be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord (or in other words, the Lord's covenant people should be washed and declared clean from the blood and sins of their generation).

 42 For ye shall not go out with haste nor go by flight (that is, trust in the steadiness and sureness of the Gospel plan); for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel shall be your rearward (or in other words, the Lord will guide and protect you).

 43 Behold, my servant (Christ--the prophets--covenant servants) shall deal prudently; he shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.

 44 As many were astonished at thee--his visage was so marred, more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men-- (That is, Christ--Joseph Smith--the prophets, while being highly praised by some, are much maligned by others)

 45 So shall he sprinkle (JST: gather) many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him, for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider (in essence, the powerful leaders of the world will not be able to stop the Lord's work in the last days).

 46 Verily, verily, I say unto you, all these things shall surely come, even as the Father hath commanded me. Then shall this covenant which the Father hath covenanted with his people be fulfilled; and then shall Jerusalem be inhabited again with my people, and it shall be the land of their inheritance.

[Alan C. Miner, Step by Step through the Book of Mormon: The Covenant Story, Vol. 6. Adapted from David J. Ridges, Isaiah Made Easier / The Book of Revelation Made Easier, 1994]