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The Remnant in the Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 20-21, Regarding Micah

Posted by joespencer on April 5, 2010

In a previous post dealing with preliminary questions regarding 3 Nephi 20-21, I worked through a number of general questions about the place of Micah and Isaiah more generally in the Book of Mormon, all aimed at getting to their complex position in Third Nephi. My task here is to sort out the role and status of the book of Micah with regard to the Book of Mormon. This will take a good deal of work, and will pave the way toward a fuller discussion of what is worked out with regard to the remnant in 3 Nephi 20-21. For now, though, my focus will be exclusively on Micah.

Towards a Structure of the Book of Micah

There is nothing resembling a consensus on even the basic structure of the book of Micah. For a number of reasons, Micah has unfortunately received relatively little attention from scholars. Plenty of work has, of course, been done on it, but when this work is compared with the kind of work that has been done on, say, Isaiah, it looks quite pitiful indeed. But whatever the disagreements on overarching structure, there is at least general agreement that the several passages in Micah dealing with the remnant theme are among the most crucial, and at least one scholar (Ken Cuffey) has suggested that the remnant passages are the key to the book’s structure. (Cuffey works through his approach to Micah in his dissertation, “The Coherence of Micah: A Review of the Proposals and a New Interpretation,” completed at Drew University in 1987.) There are, quite straightforwardly, four remnant passages in Micah: 2:12-13; 4:6-7; 5:6-7; 7:18.

Combining Cuffey’s approach with the insights of others, the book of Micah seems to work something like the following:

(1) A word of doom concerning Israel and wagered because of the treatment, specifically, of the poor works toward the announcement of God’s actively constituting the remnant (1:1-2:13)
(2) A series of judgments, coupled with a response to those judgments, follows, culminating in the announcement of God’s being enthroned in the midst of the remnant (3:1-4:8)
(3) A series of (carefully structured) announcements of God’s faithfulness comes to a climax with the remnant’s (gracefully bestowed) victory over the powers who had subjugated them (4:9-5:14)
(4) A final liturgy (for use in actual congregations) drives the message home by “likening” the story of chs. 1-5 to all Israel, ending by likening the entire remnant theology to the congregation in particular (6:1-7:20)

I think this is the best approach to the book of Micah’s basic structure and orientation, particularly in light of—or in fidelity to—the Book of Mormon: it is a series of reflections on the nature and purpose of the remnant. What makes this approach so appealing to the Latter-day Saint in particular, it seems to me, is that it isolates as a unit the section from which everything that appears in Third Nephi is taken, namely, 4:9-5:14. With that in mind, then, let me make a few points about the structure of that particular stretch of Micah in particular.

According to the basic structuring of Micah laid out above, the four remnant passages collectively tell a kind of story: (1) due to Israel’s rebellion, God assembles a remnant from among them that will survive (2) the series of judgments to follow; through those judgments, the remnant finds itself not only to be Israel’s survivors, but also to be the subjects of God Himself as their Ruler; (3) God as their sovereign then leads the remnant to victory against the nations/Gentiles; (4) finally, this story should be taken into account (likened, if you will) in the regular worship of Israel. The part of this larger story that Christ in the Book of Mormon draws on specifically is the third part, the moment in the story when the remnant has already been organized and graced with their sovereign, and so is being divinely assisted in conquering the nations and being delivered at last. But what can be said about the structure of that particular part of the story, of 4:9-5:14?

Cuffey argues that this stretch of text is divided into three distinct textual units: (1) 4:9-5:1; (2) 5:2-9; (3) 5:10-15. Each of these might be considered independently, at least in brief.

(1) 4:9-5:1 —

A defeat (4:9-10e)
B God’s plans (4:10f-h)
C hositility (4:11)
B God’s plans (4:12-13)
A Defeat (5:1)

(2) 5:2-9 —

Frame: a ruler is sent from God (5:2-5a)

A coming invasion (5:5b-c)
B deliverers (5:5d-e)
C the victory (5:6a-b)
B deliverer (5:6c)
A coming invasion (5:6d-e)

Frame: the remnant as the human agent (5:7-9)

(3) 5:10-15

Cuffey does not work out a structure for 5:10-15, but does suggest that it is a (likely subsequently written) clarification of 5:2-9, making quite clear that while victory is certain, God is the only source for that victory.

Given these basic structures, it is possible to begin taking up the place and meaning of the texts specifically taken over from Micah into Third Nephi.

The Passages Christ Borrows

Christ borrows from Micah 4:9-5:15 in both 3 Nephi 20 and in 3 Nephi 21:

3 Nephi 20:16-17 = Micah 5:8-9
3 Nephi 20:18-19 = Micah 4:12-13
3 Nephi 21:12-21 = Micah 5:8-15

Tying these borrowings to the several structures (taken from Cuffey) drawn out above:

3 Nephi 20:16-17 = the concluding frame of Micah 5:2-9
3 Nephi 20:18-19 = the reiteration of God’s plans in Micah 4:9-5:1
3 Nephi 21:12-21 = the concluding frame of Micah 5:2-9 again, coupled with the entire clarification outlined in Micah 5:10-15

Obviously, the passage that is privileged the most here is Micah 5:8-9, not only because it appears twice in Christ’s discussion (with important differences), but because its clarification (Micah 5:10-15) is tacked onto it in 3 Nephi 21, and because it comes before Micah 4:12-13 in 3 Nephi 20 (making, it seems, Micah 4:12-13 a kind of clarification of Micah 5:8-9). The place to begin, then, is with Micah 5:8-9 in Christ’s discussion, and to see what is at work in those two verses in each instance.

On Micah 5:8-9

From Micah as it stands in the KJV:

And the remnant of Jacob
shall be among the Gentiles
in the midst of many people
as a lion among the beasts of the forest,
as a young lion among the flocks of sheep:
who, if he go through,
both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces,
and none can deliver.
Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries,
and all thine enemies shall be cut off.

Now as it appears in 3 Nephi 20:16-17 (differences from Micah 5:8-9 marked in bold; note that I’m using Skousen’s Earliest Text):

Then shall ye
which are a
remnant of the house of Jacob
go forth among them.
And ye shall be in the midst of them, which shall be many,
and ye shall be among them
as a lion among the beasts of the forest.
And as a young lion among the flocks of sheep
who, if he goeth through,
both treadeth down and teareth in pieces,
and none can deliver.
Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries,
and all thine enemies shall be cut off.

Now as it appears in 3 Nephi 21:12-13 (differences from Micah 5:8-9 marked in bold and differences from 3 Nephi 20:16-17 marked in italics; elisions marked by bracketed ellipses; again I’m using Skousen’s Earliest Text):

And my people which are a remnant of Jacob
shall be among the Gentiles,
yea, in the midst of them [. . .]
as a lion among the beasts of the forest,
[. . .] as a young lion among the flocks of sheep
who, if he go through,
both treadeth down and teareth in pieces,
and none can deliver.
Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries,
and all their enemies shall be cut off.

A few things deserve explicit attention here. What is, I think, immediately striking about these several “versions” of the Micah text is that while the 3 Nephi 20 version departs from the Micah 5 version in a number of ways, the 3 Nephi 21 version returns to the Micah 5 version for the most part. This fact makes it clear that 3 Nephi 20 is a creative variation of the Micah text, not some kind of attempt to restore a more original reading than what appears in the Old Testament. The Micah 5 text, in other words, seems to be as authentic as it needs to be: Christ’s alterations of it are, precisely, alterations of the original. Perhaps better: Christ’s alterations seem, quite straightforwardly, to be what Nephi would call likenings of the Micah text. The fact that the Mican remnant becomes a remnant in Third Nephi marks the work of likening in particular.

If the Micah text as it appears in the Old Testament seems to stand on its own, it is worth pursuing here a bit its meaning in its own context. What is happening in Micah 5, and how might what is happening there shed light on what Christ is doing in Third Nephi?

I have already pointed out before that Micah 5:7-9 helps, along with 5:2-5a, to frame a chiasm (5:5b-6) that deals with Israel’s deliverance during a time of invasion. Interesting, Micah 5:7 and Micah 5:8 are obviously parallel but nonetheless quite distinct iterations of a single theme:

“And the remnant of Jacob shall be …………………………. “And the remnant of Jacob shall be
in the midst of many people ………………………………….. among the Gentiles in the midst of many people
as a dew from the LORD, ……………………………………… as a lion among the beasts of the forest,
as the showers upon the grass, ……………………………… as a young lion among the flocks of sheep:
that tarrieth not for man, …………………………………….. who, if he go through, both treadeth down,
nor waiteth for the sons of men” (Micah 5:7). …………….. and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver” (Micah 5:8).

The parallels here in structure and language are quite obvious. The differences between the two verses are, however, also quite clear: whereas verse 7 employs peaceful imagery, as if the remnant’s presence among the people is one of such serenity that it can pass unnoticed, verse 8 employs remarkably violent imagery, as if the remnant’s presence among the people is unmistakable for its startling viciousness.

If that much is clear, however, there is little that the commentators agree on. There is sharp debate about whether these verses are meant to indicate a scattering of Israel among the nations, from which Israel is to be gathered; whether they are meant to outline the gathering of the nations round about Israel at a specific point in time; whether it is meant only to describe the position of Israel in the middle of so many foreign, surrounding nations; and so on. Some commentators speak of how remarkably coherent these verses are, particularly in connection with the verses that follow (verses 9-15); others speak of how verses 7-9 are fundamentally at odds with verses 10-15; others still point out that verses 10-15 are meant to correct and clarify verses 7-9. Some commentators argue that the remnant is, as the KJV translates the passage, the obviously central character of the story being told here; others argue that because the verbs are conjugated in the masculine, while the noun “remnant” is feminine in Hebrew, it is clear that the remnant is actually only being addressed (“and he shall be, O remnant of Jacob, in the midst…”); and so on. In short, there is little consensus about these difficult passages as they stand in the Old Testament book of Micah.

That said, it is at least clear that what is in question in Micah 5:7-8 is a clarification—however unclear—of the relationship between Israel and the nations, and that the two clarifications offered (verses 7 and 8 respectively) differ in their portrayal, the first being peaceful and almost indiscernible, the second being violent and unmistakable.

Interestingly, it is only the second of these that finds its way into Third Nephi. In His likening, Christ makes many of His own decisions about the text—or at least about the possibilities of the text—but He seems to be interested only in what I have here described as the violent imagery of Micah 5:8, not at all in the peaceful imagery of Micah 5:7. This is confirmed by His coupling of 5:8 with 5:9 in both its appearances in 3 Nephi 20-21, 5:9 making the story a question of Israel’s hand being on all her adversaries, etc. It is quite important, in the end, that when both the peaceful imagery of 5:7 and the violent imagery of 5:8 are open to Him, Christ takes up only the latter.

On Micah 4:12-13

As pointed out above, Micah 5:8-9 is coupled in both 3 Nephi 20 and 3 Nephi 21 with distinct Mican passages, apparently by way of contextualization and clarification. In 3 Nephi 20, Micah 5:8-9 is paired with Micah 4:12-13—a less natural move, for obvious reasons, that the pairing of Micah 5:8-9 with Micah 5:10-15 in 3 Nephi 21, with which I’ll be dealing below. What is at work in this coupling of a text from Micah 5 and a text from Micah 4?

Micah 4:12-13 are quoted in 3 Nephi 20:18-19, immediately following the quotation (in 3 Nephi 20:16-17) of Micah 5:8-9.

18 And I will gather my people together as a man gathereth his sheaves into the floor.
19 For I will make my people with whom the Father hath covenanted, yea, I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass. And thou shalt beat in pieces many people; and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. And behold, I am he who doeth it.

Note how it heavily alters the passage as it appears in the Old Testament:

12 But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.
13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.

Several changes here need to be mentioned. First, most obviously, Christ begins His quotation of the passage only part of the way through Micah 4:12, entirely leaving out “But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel.” Second, the third person (“he”) is exchanged for the first person (“I”) in verse 12 (and “shall” is replaced with “will”). Third, the word “them” is replaced with the phrase “my people,” a much larger change than might at first appear, since it is clear in Micah 4 that “them” refers not to Israel or to God’s people, but to the Gentiles. Fourth, the first part of verse 13 is dropped (“Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion”), clearly a consequence of the exchanging of the referent of “them” (it doesn’t make sense to have Israel arise and thresh the gathered Gentiles anymore, given that what is gathered into the threshingfloor is, precisely, Israel). Fifth, the simple possessive “thine” is replaced with a complex phrase: “my people with whom the Father hath covenanted, yea, I will make thy.” Sixth, Christ adds an entire sentence to the Micah passage at the end: “And behold, I am he who doeth it.”

Hermeneutically, the most important change here is clearly the shift of referent in verse 12: whereas in the Micah text it is clear that verse 12 announces God’s act of gathering the nations together so that Israel (in verse 13) can thresh out those Gentile nations and thus receive their riches, in the Third Nephi version it is Israel that is gathered. This is complicated because the change completely unravels the Mican metaphor at work in the passage. The iron horn and brass hooves are obviously intended, in Micah 4, to be granted to Israel in its function as a threshing ox: oxen were used to trample out the threshingflood, or at least to pull the threshing sled, and the iron horn and brass hooves seem to be gifts given from God to strengthen Israel for the task of threshing the nations. Moreover, in Micah 4, it is clear that the beating of people into pieces is the work of threshing the nations, and the resultant consecration cannot be uncoupled from the work of threshing either. All of this is altered in Third Nephi. Once Christ makes verse 12’s gathering refer to the gathering of Israel, it is clear that the gathering into the threshingfloor has nothing to do with the horn and hooves, with the beating people into pieces, or with the possibility of consecrating gain. Verse 12’s image of the threshingfloor becomes, as it were, free-floating in Third Nephi, disconnected.

Perhaps. Might the reworking of the text be regarded as less radical? That is, might the gathering of Israel into the threshingfloor be an indication that Israel is gathered to the task of threshing? That is, perhaps Christ assumes that His audience and readers will understand the Gentiles already to be on the threshingfloor. If so, then it is possible to read all the apparently radical changes as marking one most significant alteration in Third Nephi: the very work of threshing the nations cannot be undertaken without God’s first gathering Israel to the task. This approach fits in very well with Micah 5:8-9, quoted immediately before this passage in 3 Nephi 20. In Micah 4:12-13 as it stands in the Old Testament, the divine act of gathering the nations into the threshingfloor seems necessary because it is presumed that Israel is already settled in its land: the nations need to be gathered together in a nearby place so that Israel can thresh them out there. In the text as it is situated in Third Nephi, Israel is already scattered among the nations, and it is Israel that needs gathering so that they can collectively do the work of threshing the nations. In a word, Christ seems, in 3 Nephi 20, to make Micah 4:12-13 cohere with the situation described in Micah 5:8-9.

If all of this clarifies the position of the text and its (clarifying) relationship to what it follows in Third Nephi, I should say a word about its most striking addition to the story: what’s going on with all this business of consecration? However, I will postpone this question until a later post, where I’ll be dealing with the thematic content of 3 Nephi 20-21.

On Micah 5:10-15

I have already mentioned that (commentators generally recognize that) Micah 5:10-15 serves in its original context to clarify Micah 5:7-9. This seems to be carried over into 3 Nephi 21. Whereas in 3 Nephi 20, Micah 5:8-9 is clarified by a passage drawn from elsewhere in Micah (Micah 4:12-13), in 3 Nephi 21, it is clarified by the clarifying passage from the original book of Micah. Characteristically, though, Micah 5:10-15 is altered in interesting ways in Third Nephi. Here are the two passages (on the left from Micah, on the right from Third Nephi) side by side (differences marked in bold):

…………………………………………………………………………….. 14 Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent;
10 And it shall come to pass in that day, …………………………… for it shall come to pass in that day,
saith the LORD, ………………………………………………………….. saith the Father,
that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, …………….. that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee,
and I will destroy thy chariots: ………………………………………… and I will destroy thy chariots;
11 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, ………………………….. 15 And I will cut off the cities of thy land,
and throw down all thy strong holds: …………………………………. and throw down all thy strongholds;
12 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; ………………… 16 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land,
and thou shalt have no more soothsayers: …………………………… and thou shalt have no more soothsayers;
13 Thy graven images also will I cut off, …………………………….. 17 Thy graven images I will also cut off,
and thy standing images out of the midst of thee; ………………….. and thy standing images out of the midst of thee,
and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands. ………….. and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands;
14 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: ……….. 18 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee;
…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 19 And it shall come to pass that all lyings,
…………………………………………………………………………………………………. and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms,
…………………………………………………………………………………………………. shall be done away.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 20 For it shall come to pass, saith the Father,
…………………………………………………………………………………………………. that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son,
…………………………………………………………………………………………………. them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel;
so will I destroy thy cities. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
15 And I will execute vengeance ………………………………………. 21 And I will execute vengeance
in anger and fury upon the heathen, …………………………………… and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen,
such as they have not heard. …………………………………………… such as they have not heard.

The changes here are many, and they are complex. I want to point out two relatively minor changes, however. Note that “the Lord” becomes, on the lips of the Savior, “the Father.” This, it will turn out, is a crucial change, given what is going on these chapters with Isaiah 52 (I’ll be taking up Isaiah 52 in my next post). The other minor change is the distancing between the Gentiles and the heathen: in Micah, the Lord “will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen,” but in Third Nephi, the Father “will execute vengeance and fury upon them [that is, clearly, the Gentiles], even as upon the heathen.” This is a really interesting distinction, one that will also change drastically the way that one makes sense of what is being said here (the Gentiles are not, as in the Old Testament, equivalent to the heathen nations).

But, turning from minor changes to what is obviously the most drastically major change in the text: it must not be missed that these verses (Micah 5:10-15) apply to Israel in the Old Testament, whereas they are applied to the Gentiles in Third Nephi! This is effected through the addition of the phrase at the beginning of 3 Nephi 21:14: “Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent.” Thus, whereas in Micah 5, these verses are added to Micah 5:7-9 in order to clarify that it is God (and not Israel-through-its-own-efforts) who will bring about redemption (these verses effectively serving to remind Israel of its general entanglement in idolatry, etc.), in Third Nephi, these verses are added to Micah 5:8-9 in order to spell out in greater detail what will happen to the Gentiles when Israel goes through them like a lion.

This redirection of Micah 5:10-15 from Israel to the Gentiles is perhaps complicated by the addition of two entire verses in 3 Nephi 21:19-20. Verse 20 announces: “For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel.” (Note that this comes immediately before the quotation/alteration of Micah 5:15, the quotation/alteration that draws the distinction between the Gentiles and the heathen.) With verse 20, it appears that Christ might be doing one of two quite distinct things. On the one hand, this passage can be read as if Christ is suddenly abandoning the Gentiles in order to tell Israel (“O house of Israel”) that they too will be cut off if they do not repent. On this reading, the note above about splitting the Gentiles from the heathen would be misguided, because Israel would simply receive the kind of vengeance that the Gentiles-as-heathens receive. On the other hand, however, this same passage can be read as if Christ is clarifying what it means for the Gentiles to be saved or to be cut off: they will be saved by being adopted into Israel, or they will be cut off by not being a part of Israel. (That Christ addresses Israel with a vocative “O” simply makes it clear that He is addressing these comments directly to Israel.) On this reading, the Gentiles are still distinguished from the heathen, and the means of their—quite contingent—redemption is made clear: it is only through their repentance that they can be saved from the fury of the Israelites at the last day.

Of these two readings, the latter seems the best to me. But the possibility remains that the former is the best reading.

At this point, I think it best to leave off any more detailed discussion of the Micah texts as Micah texts, in order to take up a post on Isaiah 52 in 3 Nephi 20-21, finally thereafter being able to take up a post on what is going on, on the whole, in these chapters with the remnant.

20 Responses to “The Remnant in the Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 20-21, Regarding Micah”

  1. Robert C. said

    Joe, you know I’m going to steal from these posts mercilessly in my Mormon Theology Seminar paper on D&C 42:39, right? Thanks!

  2. joespencer said

    Of course, Robert. That’s why I’m doing these hours and hours of work. :)

    Incidentally, I have a good deal of notes from all the standard commentaries on the Micah passages. If they are of any worth to you, I can get them to you in one form or another.

    • Mark Dalby said

      Joe,

      I have appreciated your comments regarding Micah. I have been interested in these chapters lately and this has helped. Is there any way that I can also get a copy of your notes from commentaries regarding Micah?

      “I have a good deal of notes from all the standard commentaries on the Micah passages.”

      Let me know if somehow I can get a copy.

      Thanks,

      MD

  3. Robert C. said

    Yes, Joe–esp. if it’s not too inconvenient, I’d love some notes for when I get working on this in earnest this summer….

    • joespencer said

      The easiest approach is to make pdf’s of my (handwritten) notes, and then for me to clarify them in response to your questions. (There are a dozen handwritten pages of notes that I gathered over two or three months of work in the commentaries.) Thoughts as to how to proceed? (Are you guys going to be around Provo anytime this Spring? We might do some kind of face-to-face filling in of the gaps, perhaps?)

    • Robert C. said

      No imminent Utah plans right now so mailing or emailing is good for now—we could discuss over phone if nothing else… Thx!

      (3790 Aberdeen St, 97302)

  4. […] The Remnant in the Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 20-21, Regarding Micah […]

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  7. Chris Denison said

    Who is this? You have done well with Micah and 3 nephi 20-21. I presume you have the rest of the story here and just put what was needed to address the text?

  8. joespencer said

    Hi Chris,

    I’m not sure what you’re asking with “Who is this?” Nor am I clear on what you mean by “the rest of the story.” This post was one of a whole series I posted here on the remnant theme, but I wonder what you’re asking….

  9. Chris Denison said

    I am sorry for the strange comment. I was in a bishopric meeting and observed something that, if my observation was correct, the iron horn and brass hoofs in 3 Nephi 20 and related verses in 21 had to mean certain things. So, while in bishopric meeting I googled “iron horn brass hoofs 3 Nephi” and your blog came up addressing the exact thing I saw. Your analysis re iron horn and brass hoofs refer to a circumstance where Israel is already gathered for threshing, etc. Is dead on. I was just wondering if you are a professor or something at BYU to be that accurate. I would consider eliminating the word “perhaps.” from your commentary. There is no question you are correct on these points.

  10. joespencer said

    Ah, that makes much more sense.

    No, I’m not a professor at BYU. Actually, I’m a graduate student in philosophy who writes a good deal about scripture (you can see lists of and links to my projects here, a site my wife keeps up). And, since you’re asking, I can be shamelessly self-promoting enough to say that I’ve got a book on the Book of Mormon (An Other Testament: On Typology) that should be coming out by the end of the year, if you’re interested. It should be available on amazon.com by Christmas-time.

  11. diligent dave said

    I just finished watching the video podcast of insights in the Book of Mormon BYU-TV online for 3 Nephi 16, 20-22. While the four panelists get a lot of the spiritual imagery and literary stuff, as you do, they seem to not ascertain the temporal or “concrete” meaning of these verses, first found in Micah.

    Five years ago in December 2005, while re-reading the BoM, per Pres Hinckley’s challenge to do so, I came, serendipitously, (or by divine guidance) to an understanding of some verses, specifically 3 Nephi 21:14&15 (also 16) first, and then to 3 Nephi 21:12-13 afterwards.

    Something that I long have realized, is that scriptures usually have a specific meaning that are often tied to particular events. In the (LDS) Church, we are good at extrapolating “spiritual” meaning from a verse. But, IMO, we often fail to see where and when so many scriptures are tied to actual events that have, are, or will take place. Such is the case here.

    Verses 14 & 15 deal with, IMO, an EMP attack, either by use of a nuclear blast 100 miles to 300 miles above the US continent, or by a major solar storm (my bet is on the former happening at some future date).

    I have recently (2 days ago) found on YouTube a whole little community online anticipatig what they refer to as the (pardon my reference of their acronym) SHTF event. Many of them see this may/will likely – be, an EMP attack. Iran is the nation that gets my bet, on this one (since they have evidently been planning & working on carrying this out for the past dozen years).

    An EMP attack could knock out virtually every electrical grid and everything electric and/or electronic in our country (a good part of Canada and Mexico too).

    A commission, set up by Congress around 2000, has published a couple of reports on this specific national security threat. One of those reports purportedly says that 90% of all Americans could be dead in one year from such an event!

    However, verses 12 & 13 of 3 Nephi 21 may, in a way, may even be larger. This prophecy is repeated by the Savior three times (3 Nephi – chapters 16, 20 & 21. And it is strongly alluded to by Mormon at the end of Mormon 5, after he has recounted almost the entire destruction of his people, and but a “remnant” are left–speaking to US!

    This prophecy, I use to suppose, was tied to the many Indians on reservations. I could never imagine all of those drunks doing much.

    However, in 2005, with the brouhaha over illegal immigration a year into full gear, I realized that these might be more of the remnant spoken of in these prophecies. Their blood is at least mixed with that of the descendants of the Lamanites. And, in Chapter 20 of 3 Nephi, Christ specifically and categorically says to the remnant of Lamanites and Nephites he is speaking to that THEY ARE THAT REMNANT (of Jacob)!!!

    Well, gotta go!

  12. Greg said

    Hi Joe,

    I just stumbled upon your site today and appreciated reading your commentary on Micah in 3 Nephi. As usual, I was looking for a possible explanation to a specific set of scriptures and as I read the verses side-by-side it jumped out at me.

    Thank you for the analysis. Recently, I wrote a post about the Remnant of Israel from a different point of view on my blog. Feel free to comment. Thanks again.

  13. […] at Feast on the theme of the remnant in scripture. (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) That crucial theme, worked out over the whole book, is introduced right […]

  14. Becca said

    I appreciate this post a lot. I came across the verses in 3 Nephi 20 and I looked in seminary and institute manuals, Ensign articles, and even watched that BYUtv “insights” video and was amazed that no one even mentioned what was going with Micah parts.

    This post helped clarify a lot of things (I suppose I may have understood things better if I had really studied Micah – but thanks for pointing me in that direction).

    I will probably be reading your other posts about this section in the Book of Mormon.

  15. joespencer said

    Becca,

    I’m glad you found it. I don’t think anything but what I’ve done here has really been done on this text. I haven’t looked in all the available BoM commentaries, but I suspect they don’t work through any of this in detail.

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