3 Nephi 9

3 Ne 9:2 the devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice

The phrase, wickedness never was happiness (Alma 41:10), has many applications. From it, we learn that when the wicked are killed and the devil laughs, he is not really happy. Though his angels rejoice, they have no lasting joy. His mocking laughter signifies not his happiness but that another has been made miserable like unto himself (2 Ne 2:27). The destruction of another soul is as good as it gets for Satan's club of the condemned.

Although the devil and his angels often visit the large and spacious building and appear to be enjoying themselves as they mock and point fingers, the truth is that they have been consigned to an existence without genuine laughter or eternal rejoicing. In the words of Nephi, because he had fallen from heaven...[he became] miserable forever (2 Ne 2:18). Satan's misery will last forever, but his miserable laughter will not. The Lord has promised, they that have laughed shall see their folly. And calamity shall cover the mocker, and the scorner shall be consumed (DC 45:49-50). Then it will be He that sitteth in the heavens [that] shall laugh (Ps 2:4).

3 Ne 9:3-12 Zarahemla have I burned with fire...Moroni have I caused to be sunk

The Savior leaves no question as to who is responsible for these destructions. It was not just a fluke of Mother Nature, but a definite punishment from Jehovah. Uncharacteristically, He uses the first person pronoun, I, 13 times in 12 verses. It was the Christ who was so consistently rejected among the Nephites; therefore it was the Christ who doled out the punishments.

And he must have destroyed these many cities between the time of his death and resurrection. This was a busy time for the disembodied Christ; He also had to visit the Spirit World. Joseph F. Smith wondered...how it was possible for him to preach to those [wicked] spirits and perform the necessary labor among them in so short a time (DC 138:28). We might also wonder how he was able to visit the Spirit World and also destroy all these cities in so short a time. We later learn that he received help to preach among the wicked spirits, but he did not receive any help when it came to destroying the Nephite cities. He destroyed them personally.

3 Ne 9:8 that the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up any more unto me against them

Nephi prophesied saying, after the Messiah shall come there shall be signs given unto my people of his birth, and also of his death and resurrection; and great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked, for they shall perish; and they perish because they cast out the prophets, and the saints, and stone them, and slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall ascend up to God from the ground against them (2 Ne 26:3).

John taught that there are three things which bear witness in the earth, and one of them is blood (1 Jn 5:8). The blood of the righteous, spilt on Mother Earth, testifies against the wicked. This blood speaks as if with a voice. The Lord asked Cain, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground (Gen 4:10). Similarly, the earth is polluted by this blood and wearied with the wickedness of men, Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? (Moses 7:48).

Even after the blood of the righteous is cleaned up, the stain never leaves until there is retribution. The earth continues to be pained and wearied and the voice of that blood continues to testify until the wicked are punished. Accordingly, the Savior warned the Jews, That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias...whom ye slew between the altar (Matt 23:35). The destructions which befell that generation of Jews cleansed the earth from the righteous blood previously spilt. Among the Nephites, the same process was taking place. The earth was being cleansed from the blood of the prophets and the saints among the Nephites. The voice of their blood would not be silenced until their cities had been buried, burned, or sunk.

3 Ne 9:13 all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they

Elder William J. Critchlow

"Brigham Young had something to say about percentages:

"'... while six-tenths or three-fourths of this people will keep the commandments of God, the curse and judgments of the Almighty will never come upon them, though we will have the trials of various kinds, and the elements to contend with.' (JD 10:335-6.)

"We live in a wicked world like unto Babylon of old. Our latter-day prophets, like the prophets of old, have cried, 'Come out, come out of Babylon.' To come out physically presents a problem, but spiritually it is possible, and spiritually we must come out if we are to prosper in the land.

"We come out spiritually when we pay honestly our tithes and offerings. We come out spiritually when we attend to our priesthood duties and attend our priesthood, Sacrament, and stake conference meetings. These the members of the Church have been commanded to attend.

"Once in the dim, distant past, our Father's children turned from him. Has it been so long that we have forgotten how, at that time he cleansed the earth of wickedness with a flood? Has it been so long that we have forgotten the warning: 'And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man'? (Luke 17:26.) Have we forgotten how God spared a city of righteous people, Enoch's people by translating them before the flood?

"In the great holocaust to come, the earth will again be cleansed of wickedness as it was in the days of Noah, and God may spare again a righteous people 'if six-tenths or three-fourths of this people will keep the commandments of God.' (Conference Report, Oct. 1961, p. 56)

Eldred G. Smith

"Let us not be so self-righteous that we think that we have no need repentance, for the Savior himself preached repentance to the more righteous who were spared from the great destruction at the time of his crucifixion. At that time, on this hemisphere there was darkness for three days and great destruction; many cities and all their inhabitants were destroyed.  Then the voice of the Lord was heard declaring that the more wicked had been destroyed, and the more righteous had been saved.  To the righteous that were spared he declared as he might well say to us here today:

'O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chicken under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.' (3 Nephi 10:6.)" (Conference Report, Apr. 1954, p. 88)

3 Ne 9:13 will ye not...repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?

"The Savior is often referred to as the 'Great Physician,' because of his miraculous ministry of healing all manner of infirmities.  The Gospels are replete with examples of his healing the sick and infirm, giving sight to the blind, and even raising the dead.  Each example is miraculous indeed, but he is the Great Physician in a more significant way.  The scriptures teach that sin induces a sickness of the spirit that is often linked to physical pains and discomforts (see, for example, the experience of Zeezrom in Alma 15:3, 5; see also Commentary 3:114-15).  Elder Boyd K. Packer spoke of this link between the sin-induced spiritual sicknesses and the physical body:  'There is another part of us, not so tangible, but quite as real as our physical body.  This intangible part of us is described as mind, emotion, intellect, temperament, and many other things.  Very seldom is it described as spiritual.  But there is a spirit in man; to ignore it is to ignore reality.  There are spiritual disorders, too, and spiritual diseases that can cause intense suffering.  The body and the spirit of man are bound together.  Often, very often, when there are disorders, it is very difficult to tell which is which.' ("That All May Be Edified," pp. 63-64.)

"The Savior's statement to the remnant Nephites and Lamanites is not merely symbolic but also literal.  Through faith in Him and repentance, sick, sin-ridden, souls are healed by the Great Physician as much so as bodies were in the cleansing of lepers.  The Savior's healing declaration, 'Be thou clean' (see Matthew 8:2-3), is a literal promise to the faithful and repentant.  It may be that all of the miraculous healings performed by Jesus were but tangible symbols of the greatest healing that he alone could perform- the healing of sick spirits and the cleansing of sin- stained souls.  'The greatest miracles I see today,' declared President Harold B. Lee, 'are not necessarily the healing of sick bodies, but the greatest miracles I see are the healing of sick souls, those who are sick in soul and spirit and are downhearted and distraught, on the verge of nervous breakdowns' (CR, April 1973, p. 178)." (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, pp. 40-1)

3 Ne 9:15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God

Ezra Taft Benson

"Imagine the feelings of the people when the voice asked, 'Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?' (3 Nephi 9:13.)

"Then the voice identified itself: 'Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God.' (3 Nephi 9:15.) It was the voice of the very person who had been mocked and ridiculed and rejected by the wicked. It was the voice of Him whom the prophets proclaimed and for whom they were stoned and killed. It was the voice of the Master!" (A Witness and a Warning, p. 39)

3 Ne 9:15 I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are

"The scriptures also attest that Jehovah was and is the creator of worlds without number (Moses 1:32-33); that the Lord Omnipotent, acting under the direction of his Eternal Father, brought worlds into existence out of chaotic matter and thereafter formed and prepared those orbs for habitation by intelligent and sentient life. That is to say, God the Father 'created all things by Jesus Christ' (Ephesians 3:9). 'In the beginning,' the Apostle John wrote, 'was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made which was made.' (JST, John 1:1-3; italics added.) Paul likewise testified to the Hebrew Saints that the Father had 'spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds' (Hebrews 1:2; compare D&C 76:24)." (Millet and McConkie, The Man Adam, p. 13)

3 Ne 9:17 in me is the law of Moses fulfilled

In one statement, the schoolmaster was dismissed. The Law which had governed the Israelites for over 1500 years was finally fulfilled. This concept was easier for the Nephites and Lamanites to understand than it was for the Jews. For years after Christ's ascension, the apostles dealt with issues like preaching to the Gentiles, circumcision, etc. At times, they wondered which of the old traditions were to be thrown away, which were to be kept, and which were to be tolerated. In the New World, there is no controversy. They seemed more ready to give up the ancient traditions and sacrifices. In fact, some were endeavoring to prove...that it was no more expedient to observe the law of Moses even before it was fulfilled (3 Ne 1:24).

J. Reuben Clark

"It is difficult for us today to realize the tremendous revolution involved in altering the ritualism of the Law of Moses into the humble and lowly concept of worship, not with the sacrificial blood of animals, but with this broken heart and contrite spirit of the worshiper...[Animal sacrifice] was always a vicarious sacrifice, apparently with little actual sacrifice except for the value of the animal sacrificed, by the individuals themselves, to cancel the debit, so to speak, against their lives and living in the eyes of the Almighty One. The sinner seemingly, in general, took on no obligation and considered himself under no obligation to abandon his sins, but took on only the obligation to offer sacrifice therefore. But under the new covenant that came in with Christ, the sinner must offer the sacrifice out of his own life, not by offering the blood of some other creature; he must give up his sins, he must repent, he himself must make the sacrifice." (Behold the Lamb of God, pp. 107-9 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 406-7)

3 Ne 9:18 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end

Alpha and omega are the first and the last letters in the Greek alphabet. The Greek alphabet was widely known at the time of Christ and its first use in the New Testament is found in the Book of Revelation, I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord (Rev 1:8). The phrase signifies the beginning and the end, and thereby the eternal nature of Christ.

It may seem odd for the Savior to use a Greek phrase among the Nephites. Certainly, the Nephites did not know the Greek alphabet, but the phrase was a title and one of the many names of Christ. The use of titles which are language specific is not limited to this case. The name, Immanuel, is a Hebrew name which means God with us (Isa 7:14). While many recognize Immanuel as a name or title for Christ, few know its meaning because they are unfamiliar with Hebrew. Furthermore, the phrase Alpha and Omega has been used numerous times in the latter-day scriptures even though most latter-day saints are not much more familiar with the Greek alphabet than were the Nephites. (see DC 19:1; 35:1; 38:1; 45:7; etc.)

3 Ne 9:19 offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit

The doctrine of a "broken heart and a contrite spirit" begins with the law of sacrifice as contained in the Old Testament. Under that law, the firstborn were sacrificed in similitude of the Only-Begotten Son. We are quick to teach that the law of animal sacrifice was fulfilled in the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are sometimes slow to realize that there was a replacement "law of sacrifice." The new law, as taught by the Savior, requires just as regular and frequent a sacrifice. The difference is that we are to sacrifice a broken heart and a contrite spirit upon the altar of discipleship.

Through our faith in Jesus Christ we become his disciples and offer up a broken heart and contrite spirit. It is through this faith and sacrifice that we can obtain forgiveness of sins, for sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God (Hel 3:35). Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered (2 Ne 2:7). This doctrine is even contained in the Old Testament, For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart (Ps 51:16-17).

"...in the scriptural usage a broken heart is a malleable, meltable, moveable heart, and a contrite spirit is an honest, acknowledging spirit that says, 'I am, in fact, dependent...' There is not self-deprecation here, only honesty: 'I need help.' And when that is acknowledged, help comes." (Truman Madsen, The Radiant Life, p. 113)

Ezra Taft Benson

"Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering. Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore. This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having 'a broken heart and a contrite spirit.' (See 3 Ne. 9:20; Moro. 6:2; D&C 20:37, 59:8; Ps. 34:18; Ps. 51:17; Isa. 57:15.) Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance." (Ensign, Oct. 1989, p. 2)

Neal A. Maxwell

"The real act of personal sacrifice is not now nor ever has been placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal that is in us upon the altar-then willingly watching it be consumed! Such is the 'sacrifice unto [the Lord of] a broken heart and a contrite spirit.' (3 Nephi 9:20.)" (Meek and Lowly, p. 94)

Bruce C. Hafen

"When we accept the modern law of sacrifice through the two-way covenants of the Atonement, our willingness to give the Lord everything we have mirrors his willingness to give us everything he has-our broken heart for his broken heart. The combination of his sacrifice with ours in the miraculous chemistry of this mutual belonging then gives us the power 'to contend against all the opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which [we] will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ Jesus.'" (Belonging Heart, p. 157)

3 Nephi 9:20 whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost

In her conversion story, Maria Castanyer explains how this phrase came to life for her:

"One day Kim told me that I knew all the important essentials of the LDS doctrine, that he felt that the Holy Ghost was with me, and that I could be baptized whenever I wanted. At this I felt a jolt so strong that I thought I had been shattered. I had arrived at the most important decision of my life. Would I have sufficient courage to take this step?

"I asked the missionaries to let me think it over well. I knew that God and I together had to decide. Nobody could interfere in my path to the truth or in the false road I had previously been taking.

"I pleaded with the Lord. I pleaded a great deal, humbly, on my knees, with tears and a broken heart. I knew now what the Lord meant in the Book of Mormon words: 'And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost...'(3 Nephi 9:20.)

"Yes, now I understood the significance of the 'broken heart' that had intrigued me in the Book of Mormon. Now I understood this and many other things that until now had been hazy. I understood that God was asking me to forfeit that which I loved most, for surely my family would renounce me. I understood and accepted.

"I did not yet know everything, and I still don't. But I knew the truth that was in my soul, and I had to accept it because it had been revealed to me and I could never deny it.

"I felt a great peace when I accepted baptism. Everything seemed so clear. No sacrifice-and only the Lord knows how many he has required of me-seemed too much in order for me to be baptized and receive the laying on of hands." (Connie Rector, No More Strangers, "Familiar Echoes," by Maria Castanyer, vol. 3, p. 33-4)

3 Ne 9:20 the Lamanites...were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not

Vicki F. Matsumori

There are those who desire to feel the Spirit guiding them daily in their lives... The scriptures and the prophets teach what this constant companionship feels like.  The Lord tells us, "I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart." (D&C 8:2) Enos stated, "While I was... struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind." (Enos 1:10) Joseph Smith said, "When you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas."  President Henry B. Eyring described the influence of the Holy Ghost as "peace, hope, and joy." He added, "Almost always I have also felt a sensation of light."

My favorite description, though, comes from an eight-year-old boy who had just received the Holy Ghost.  He said, "It felt like sunshine."

However, it is not always easy to discern these "sunshine" moments at first.  The Book of Mormon tells us of some faithful Lamanites who "were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not."

We can help others become more familiar with the promptings of the Spirit...A sunbeam teacher wrapped each of her class members one by one in a blanket to teach them how the Spirit feels like the comfort and security of that covering.  A visiting mother also heard the lesson.

Many months later the mother thanked the teacher.  She told how she had been less active when she accompanied her young daughter to Primary.  Several weeks after the lesson, the mother suffered a miscarriage.  She was overcome with grief when suddenly she felt a great warmth and peace.  It felt like someone had covered her with a warm blanket.  She recognized the reassurance of the Spirit and knew that Heavenly Father was aware of her and that he loved her. (Ensign, Nov. 2009, 10-11)

Boyd K. Packer

"Now, do not feel hesitant or ashamed if you do not know everything. Nephi said: 'I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.' (1 Nephi 11:17.)

"There may be more power in your testimony than even you realize. The Lord said to the Nephites:

'Whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.' (3 Nephi 9:20; italics added.)

"Several years ago I met one of our sons in the mission field in a distant part of the world. He had been there for a year. His first question was this: 'Dad, what can I do to grow spiritually? I have tried so hard to grow spiritually, and I just haven't made any progress.'

"That was his perception: to me it was otherwise. I could hardly believe the maturity, the spiritual growth that he had gained in just one year. He 'knew it not,' for it had come as growth, not as a startling spiritual experience." (That All May Be Edified, p. 339)

Ezra Taft Benson

"...we must be cautious as we discuss...remarkable examples [of conversion]. Though they are real and powerful, they are the exception more than the rule. For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every King Lamoni, there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment. They are like the Lamanites, who the Lord said 'were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.' (3 Ne. 9:20; italics added.)" (Ensign, Oct. 1989, p. 2-6)