Book of Mormon
“He Did Expound All Things unto Them”
The Savior quotes some of Isaiah's prophecies about the house of Israel.
The Savior commands the people to add to their records.
The Savior expounds all things from the beginning.
A study of this lesson will help us to earnestly desire to search the words of
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 41 Handout (PDF)
Great Are The Words of Isaiah
In 3 Nephi 20-21 the Savior prophesied regarding latter-day Israel. In
3 Nephi 22 the Master continues this theme by quoting
from the prophet Isaiah.
Upon concluding his recitation of Isaiah's words, the Savior said,
now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea,
a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for
great are the words of Isaiah. For surely he spake as touching all
things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore
it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles."
(3 Nephi 23:1-2)
WHAT DID THE SAVIOR COMMAND THE PEOPLE TO DO?
To "search" the words of Isaiah and to search them "diligently." He did not say to "read" the words of Isaiah, but to "search" them.
WHAT DOES THE LORD MEAN WHEN HE USES THE TERM "SEARCH"?
At best, I have been a casual sport fisherman. Most of the fishing I have done
was as a youth with my father, a man who took his fishing serious. He
would often get after me for goofing off or throwing stuff in the water. Dad fished with diligence. Once he reached his limit he would
start fishing on my
limit, particularly if I had been horsing around. There where
times when I did go fishing on my own, but if the fish didn't start biting
I usually quit. I recall one time when I really wasn't interested
and just cast my hook into the lake without any bait. I pulled my
line in some time later, and much to my surprise a little fish
had taken my hook. Some prize.
My father loved to fish on the Provo River. Over the years he probably fished and walked almost every
inch of the river between Deer Creek reservoir and the Murdock diversion
dam, a stretch of about 10 miles in Provo Canyon. He was always searching for those
places where the fish would hide. He crawled through bushes, waded
through the river, and climbed over boulders. He knew where to fish
when the river was high and where to fish when the river was low. He knew the Provo River as well as the fish, maybe better, for he had a
good portion of them in mom's freezer at the end of each summer.
How do you approach your study of Isaiah? Do you study Isaiah in
the same manner I fish? Do you throw your line out occasionally and
hope something will bite? Are you easily distracted? Or do
you study Isaiah with the same diligence that my father studied the Provo
River? Have you crawled back and forth over the boulders and bushes
in Isaiah? If you study as I fish, then Isaiah will remain a mystery.
If you search and study with the diligence of my father's fishing, then
you will come to love the words of Isaiah. You will come to "delight"
in them as did Nephi. Great treasures will be found by those who
heed the Savior's counsel.
Elder Henry B. Eyring: "We treasure the
word of God not only by reading the words of the scriptures but by studying
them. We may be nourished more by pondering a few words, allowing
the Holy Ghost to make them treasures to us, than by passing quickly and
superficially over whole chapters of scripture." (Ensign, Nov
WHAT REASON DID THE LORD GIVE FOR "SEARCHING" ISAIAH?
"For surely he spake as touching all things concerning
my people which are of the house of Israel" (3
Nephi 23:2). Isaiah prophesied and taught that which is important for the house of Israel,
the people of the Lord to understand.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "It just may be that
my salvation (and yours also!) does in fact depend upon our ability to
understand the writings of Isaiah as fully and truly as Nephi understood
them." (Ensign, Oct. 1973, p78)
The Savior extends his counsel beyond Isaiah, "And
whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the
same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that
testify of these things" (3 Nephi 23:5).
President Ezra Taft Benson: "I now add my
voice to these wise and inspired brethren and say to you that one of the
most important things you can do as priesthood leaders is to immerse yourselves
in the scriptures. Search them diligently (see D&C 1:37; 3 Nephi 23:1).
Feast upon the words of Christ (see 2 Nephi 31:20; 32:3). Learn the doctrine.
Master the principles that are found therein. There are few other efforts
that will bring greater dividends to your calling. There are few ways to
gain greater inspiration as you serve." (Teachings of Ezra Taft
In the 3 Nephi 22 the Master rehearses the words of Isaiah as contained
in Isaiah 54. This chapter contains an explanation of the gathering
which will be completed in the last days as the covenant with Israel is fulfilled.
As we study this chapter, it is important to understand
some of the imagery.
"In a sense, the woman is the image of God's people.
The biblical imagery of God as husband and his people as wife is continued
in the Book of Mormon, mostly from the writings of Isaiah."
(Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p1579)
"And then shall that which is written
come to pass: Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into
singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more
are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife,
saith the Lord." (v1)
WHO ARE THE "CHILDREN OF THE DESOLATE"?
The large numbers of people from the tribes of Israel that will gather
to Zion following the building of the New Jerusalem.
WHO ARE THE "CHILDREN OF THE MARRIED WIFE"?
Those of Israel who have built the New Jerusalem. There are fewer
of these Israelites that those (the children of the desolate) who gather
following the building of the New Jerusalem.
Consider these verses:
"And there shall they
fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the
servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim. And they shall be filled
with songs of everlasting joy." (D&C 133:32-33)
Brother Monte S. Nyman: "The symbolic marriage
of Christ to Israel is here represented, with the members of the Church
being considered the children of that covenant relationship."
(Great Are The Words of Isaiah, p211)
"Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch
forth the curtains of thy habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords and
strengthen thy stakes." (v2)
Though this is a familiar verse, it is an important teaching and prophecy
about the last days.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The tent: Latter-day Zion or the Church.
Enlarge the place of the tent: To expand the tent or the Church. Are we not expanding the tent in our time? It seems that with each passing
year, the missionary work not only continues in established areas, but is
expanding to new frontiers. My son served a mission in Bulgaria,
where the Church is beginning to take root. The Church is now open
in most of eastern Europe. It is expanding into places like India
and Africa. The Church continues to grow in Asia and South America. Truly, we have been "enlarging the place of the tent."
Stakes: The stakes of Zion or the Church throughout the world. A big tent needs lots of strong stakes.
Strengthen the stakes: The stability of a tent is dependent
on the strength of the stakes. I recall a Boy Scout camping trip
from my youth. My good friend brought along a large umbrella tent. We
quickly set up the tent with a minimum
number of stakes. And those stakes were not driven deeply. We were eager to
fix our dinner and eat. Shortly after retiring
to bed, a wind and rain storm blew up the canyon. It wasn't long before
the tent collapsed and the water began to puddle on top and leak all over
us. I eventually fled the tent and spent the remainder of the night
in a more humble tent, but one that had been properly staked out.
President Ezra Taft Benson: "Stakes are
a defense for the Saints from enemies both seen and unseen. The defense
is direction provided through priesthood channels that strengthens testimony
and promotes family solidarity and individual righteousness." (Ensign, Jan 1991, p4)
On another occasion, our troop went to Scout camp and took along a huge tent
which housed at least a dozen boys. It was so large that we referred to it as
the circus tent. We took great care in pitching the tent and making sure that
sufficient stakes were properly driven into the ground. One night during the
week a ferocious storm blew into camp. It blew hard and it rained heavily. Many
of the tents throughout the camp were affected by the storm, some even toppled.
However, the circus tent had been securely set up and withstood the powerful
storm. We and our gear remained dry and protected.
Strong stakes in Zion are as essential to our spiritual protection as a
well staked tent was to my physical protection on that rainy night many
years ago. There is a storm out there attempting to attack our spirituality
and that of our families. As President Benson has stated, the stakes
are a "defense" against that storm. The stakes of Zion hold up the
tent which provides refuge from the storm.
WHAT CAN WE DO INDIVIDUALLY AND AS FAMILIES TO ENSURE THAT OUR STAKES ARE
A REFUGE AND A DEFENSE AGAINST EVIL?
Curtains: "Stakes are gathering places for the
Saints, 'the curtains or the strength of Zion' (D&C 101:21). They are
established as protected enclaves of spiritual strength and righteousness around
the globe, symbolically holding the curtains around God's presence in the Church
and among his people, in preparation for the establishment of the New Jerusalem
(D&C 115:6; Isa. 4:6) and the rebuilding of the 'old' Jerusalem in the Holy
Land." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p1412)
"For thou shalt break forth on the right
hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make
the desolate cities to be inhabited." (v3)
As Zion expands, this verse seems to indicate that the house of Israel (the
membership of the Church) will move into the desolate cities of the Gentiles. 1
Nephi 22 describes the destruction of those who fight against Zion.
Isaiah again invokes the imagery of Israel as a woman or the bride
and the Lord as the bridegroom. (see
WHAT IS THE LORD SAYING IN THESE VERSES?
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: "Christ has, on
occasion, been rightfully angry with backsliding Israel, but that has always
been brief and temporary--'a small moment.' Compassion and mercy
always return and prevail in a most reassuring way. The mountains
and the hills may disappear. The water of the great seas may dry
up.... But the Lord's kindness and peace will never be taken from his covenant
people. He has sworn with a heavenly oath that he will not be wroth
with them forever." (Christ and the New Covenant, p290)
"O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest,
and not comforted! Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors,
and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows
of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Brother Monte S. Nyman: "These precious stones
symbolize the material blessings which the Lord will pour out upon the
city of Zion." (Great Are The Words of Isaiah, p212)
Consider the blessings of those who reside in Zion as described by Isaiah
and quoted by the Savior:
"..thy children shall be taught of the Lord"
"...and great shall be the peace of thy children"
The city will be established in righteousness (v14).
The city will be protected from terror and oppression (v14).
"...whosoever shall gather together against thee
shall fall for thy sake" (v15).
"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper"
Orson Pratt: "We shall in due time walk
forth into Jackson County and build up the waste places of Zion. We shall
erect in that county a beautiful city after the order and pattern that
the Lord shall reveal, part of which has already been revealed. God intends
to have a city built up that will never be destroyed nor overcome, but
that will exist while eternity shall endure; and he will point out the
pattern and show the order of architecture; he will show unto his servants
the nature of the streets and the pavement thereof, the kind of precious
stones that shall enter into the buildings, the nature of the rock and
precious stones that will adorn the gates and the walls of that city."
How Be It That Ye Have Not Written This Thing?
In 3 Nephi 23 the Lord conducts a stewardship interview.
The Lord asks Nephi to "Bring forth the record which ye
have kept" (v7).
Nephi brings the records and the Lord reviews the account (v8).
The Lord questions Nephi about the prophecies of Samuel and their fulfillment
"And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing,
that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?"
HOW DOES NEPHI RESPOND?
"Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written"
HOW DID THE LORD RESPOND?
- There is no record that Lord chastised Nephi for not recording this
important account. He simply commanded that it should be written. This became a reminder to Nephi, and any others who were to keep the sacred
records, that those things of great spiritual value should be recorded.
WHY WAS IT SO IMPORTANT THAT THIS ACCOUNT BE RECORDED?
It bears witness of Christ, the resurrection, and his divine mission.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "Over time there
has occurred what has been called 'the dilution of Christianity from within.'
This has resulted not only in a diminishing regard for Christ on the part
of a number of theologians but also in their discounting the resurrection,
as Bultmann expressed it, as merely 'a symbolic expression for the renewal
of life for the disciples.' Once again, the supernal importance of the
'other books' of scripture is evident: they reinforce the reality of resurrection.
Especially is this the effect of the Book of Mormon's additional 'gospel,'
3 Nephi, with its report of the visitation of and instruction by the resurrected
Jesus. The resurrection of many others also occurred and, by Jesus' pointed
instruction, was written into the record, doubtless with our age in mind."
(Not My Will, But Thine, pp27-28)
HOW CAN WE LIKEN THIS ACCOUNT TO OUR OWN LIVES?
In 3 Nephi 24-25, the Savior quotes the writings of Malachi.
"And it came to pass that he commanded them that
they should write the words which the Father had given unto Malachi, which
he should tell unto them" (24:1).
WHY WERE THE RECORDS OF MALACHI MISSING FROM THE NEPHITE RECORD?
Malachi prophesied in about the year 430 B.C., 170 years after the family
of Nephi left Jerusalem.
So important were the prophesies of Malachi that the Master had the Nephites
record the prophesies contained in Malachi 3 and 4. As you recall,
these same chapters were quoted by the angel Moroni on that night when
he first appeared to Joseph Smith.
WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT THAT THESE WRITINGS BE INCLUDED IN THE BOOK OF MORMON?
They contain important prophecies regarding the last days. Their
repetition in the Book of Mormon, and again to the Prophet Joseph Smith,
singles them out as vitally important messages.
"Behold, I will send my messenger,
and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek shall
suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye
delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts."
Malachi does not identify who the messenger would be.
He may be speaking collectively and could include Moses, Elias, Elijah, John
the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Michael, Gabriel, and others.
He may be referring to mortal ministers such as Joseph Smith.
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "Joseph
Smith was sent to prepare the way for this second coming, by the proclamation
of the fulness of the gospel and the granting to all men the means of escape
from iniquity and transgression. The fulfilment of this prophecy by Malachi
is even now at our doors." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:11-12)
It may also be that Malachi was referring to the restored gospel as the
messenger that would prepare the way before the Lord in addition to mortal
messengers, for the Lord declared through the Prophet Joseph Smith: "I
have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the
world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek
to it, and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me"
These chapters also contain the important messages of Malachi regarding
the payment of tithes and the return of Elijah before the second coming.
In 3 Nephi 26, Mormon records the extent of the Lord's teachings to the
"And he did expound all things, even from
the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory -- yea, even
all things which should come upon the face of the earth, even until the
elements should melt with fervent heat, and the earth should be wrapt together
as a scroll, and the heavens and the earth should pass away"
"And now there cannot be written in this book
even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the
This was the ultimate Gospel Doctrine class. How would it be to sit
at the feet of the Savior and hear the gospel message expounded in its
historical and prophetic context?
3 NEPHI 26:8-11.
WHY DID MORMON WITHHOLD MOST OF THAT WHICH WAS TAUGHT IN THIS GREAT
CONFERENCE? HOW CAN WE GAIN THAT SAME KNOWLEDGE?
President Spencer W. Kimball: "I have had
many people ask me through the years, 'When do you think we will get the
balance of the Book of Mormon records?' And I have said, 'How many in the
congregation would like to read the sealed portion of the plates?' And
almost always there is a 100-percent response. And then I ask the same
congregation, 'How many of you have read the part that has been opened
to us?' And there are many who have not read the Book of Mormon, the unsealed
portion. We are quite often looking for the spectacular, the unobtainable.
I have found many people who want to live the higher laws when they do
not live the lower laws." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball,
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the importance of the scriptural record as
discussed in this lesson. How can you improve your scripture study?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Christ and the New Covenant by Jeffrey R. Holland.
Conference Reports (CR).
Doctrines of Salvation by Joseph Fielding Smith.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism edited by Daniel H. Ludlow.
Great Are The Words of Isaiah by Monte S. Nyman.
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Not My Will, But Thine by Neal A. Maxwell.
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
06 September 2016