The Writings of Malachi in 3 Nephi:
A Foundation for Zion in the Past and Present
In the course of his visit to the Nephites as recorded in 3 Nephi, the Savior taught the gospel of the “new covenant,” organized his church, and instituted the ordinances necessary for salvation. After he organized his church, he taught the Nephites about the future by quoting from a host of important prophecies known from the Old Testament—including passages from Deuteronomy, Micah, and Isaiah—that spoke of the scattering of Israel, apostasy, and ultimately the restoration of the gospel, the gathering of Israel, and the building of the New Jerusalem. At the culmination of these prophecies, the Savior commanded the Nephites to record the writings of Malachi 3–4 in 3 Nephi 24–25; these chapters had been written after the Lehites had left Jerusalem and were thus not on the plates of brass. The words of Malachi hold a special place in the Savior’s teachings and establish the foundation for the Zion we read about in 4 Nephi. The visit of Christ to the New World was a type of the second coming. We can learn much from a study of his visit.1
The prophet Malachi lived and prophesied in Israel, probably between 500 and 350 BC. He addressed a religious community who had returned from Babylon in 539 BC, had rebuilt the temple, and had renewed allegiance to the covenant under Ezra (Nehemiah 8–10), but was already in apostasy. His primary message to them was repentance from their apostasy and the promise of future restoration, judgment, and salvation. In Malachi chapters 3–4, which the Savior wanted included in the Book of Mormon (see 3 Nephi 24–25), Malachi deals with the neglect of tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8–12) and the growing attitude among the people that it was “vain to serve God” (3:13–18). To provide motivation for obedience and faith, Malachi prophesied the future coming of messengers to prepare for the coming of the Lord in judgment (3:1–6), and the judgment of the world when the wicked would be burned and the righteous delivered and healed (4:1–3). The final promise was that “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” the Lord would send Elijah to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children” (4:5–6). The prophecies in chapters 3–4 are referred to in the standard works, and Moroni recited portions of chapter 3, and all of chapter 4, to Joseph Smith in 1823 with the promise that the events prophesied would soon come to pass (Joseph Smith—History 1:36–39).2 The final promise to send the prophet Elijah identifies the central mechanism for the salvation of all God’s children. The binding of the hearts of the fathers and the children through the promises of the covenant provides numerous generations with the principles of salvation for Zion.
After the writings of Malachi were recorded, Jesus “expounded them” to the Nephites near him (3 Nephi 24:1) and explained that these words were to be given “unto future generations” (26:2). Those future generations who could benefit from the writings of Malachi included the righteous descendants of Lehi who would establish a perfect society—Zion—before it disappeared because of apostasy (4 Nephi), as well as those future generations who would participate in the restoration of the gospel and the building of Zion in the latter days in preparation for the second coming of Christ. While much Latter-day Saint study of Malachi has focused on the meaning of Malachi for the restoration, we will expand this study to include the significance of Malachi’s words for the ancient Nephite and Lamanite members of the church to see if lessons can be learned from their building of Zion that can help us in building a latter-day Zion.
We will look at four significant passages in Malachi and examine how they relate to both of these audiences. In particular, because the Nephites clearly enjoyed the blessings of the gospel made possible by the Melchizedek Priesthood, we will examine the issues of the role of the keys of Elijah, the rewards of the book of remembrance, and the binding of families. The four passages are:
1. “Behold, I will send my messenger” (Malachi 3:1)
2. “But who may abide the day of his coming?” (Malachi 3:2)
3. “It is vain to serve God” (Malachi 3:14)
4. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet” (Malachi 4:5)
1. “Behold, I will send my messenger” (Malachi 3:1)
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 promises covenant Israel that before the day of judgment, the Lord will send messengers to prepare his way. Here Malachi speaks of two messengers: the first is a messenger whose purpose is to prepare, and the second is the Lord who will come to his temple in the role of the “messenger of the covenant” that will precede “the day of his coming.” Malachi’s prophecy of a messenger to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ provides a model for both of his appearances.
The Savior’s mortal ministry was preceded by a host of messengers—most notably John the Baptist. The coming of Christ in the Book of Mormon is a type and shadow of his second coming, for which the book of Malachi was also written. As prophesied by Malachi, many messengers prepared the way for the coming of the Savior in the Americas. Nephi, Samuel the Lamanite (Helaman 13–15), and Nephi, son of Nephi (3 Nephi), all preached repentance and warned of the judgment and destruction that would attend Christ’s coming and establishment of Zion. In addition, they all warned about the apostasy that would lead to the final destruction of the Nephites. In 3 Nephi judgment and the destruction of the wicked did occur. As prophesied, Jesus Christ did in fact “suddenly come to his temple” (Malachi 3:1) in Bountiful as the messenger of the covenant—to preach his gospel and give the Nephites the necessary keys to establish their Zion society (3 Nephi 24:1). Because of the warnings of the messengers, a generation of people were prepared to survive the destruction, welcome the Savior, and establish a Zion society based on the gospel that he taught them.
Likewise, God has sent a series of messengers in the latter days to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ. The angel Moroni quoted portions of Malachi 3 and all of Malachi 4 to Joseph Smith and promised that Malachi’s prophecies were to be fulfilled beginning in his day. Messengers of preparation included John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John, and others who restored knowledge and keys necessary to restore the church, build Zion, and prepare for the second coming of the Savior.3 On April 3, 1836, the Lord Jesus Christ “suddenly came” to the Kirtland Temple as the messenger of the covenant to introduce Elias, Moses, and Elijah, who would restore other important keys. As noted by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, this appearance was a fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy, but “it may well be that he will come again, suddenly, to others of his temples, more particularly that which will be erected in Jackson County, Missouri” in preparation for “his appearance at the great and dreadful day, for that coming will be when he sets his foot upon the Mount of Olivet in the midst of the final great war.” 4
The events of the coming of Christ in the Book of Mormon testify of the importance for Latter-day Saints to give heed to the messengers of preparation and to use the keys restored by the Savior to build Zion. Malachi’s teachings have been instrumental in preparing multiple generations for the coming of the Lord.
2. “But who may abide the day of his coming?” (3:2)
Following the promise of messengers to prepare the way, Malachi 3:2 contains a bold pronouncement of the coming of the Lord in judgment phrased in a rhetorical question: “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth?” (3:2). Malachi calls this coming “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (4:5).
In the Old Testament the “day of the Lord” was originally a positive image, for it represented the coming of the Lord in light and truth to deliver his covenant people. However, for many of God’s children, who were in varying states of apostasy, “the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light” (Amos 5:18) and would spell for them destruction. Malachi employs several dramatic images that illustrate the coming of the Lord in judgment: “he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap” (Malachi 3:2). Thus the primary message of the whole of the book of Malachi is to repent: “Return unto me, and I will return unto you” (3:7).
Throughout the book of Malachi (like those of many of the Israelite prophets), the primary sin of the covenant people is pride and wickedness: “we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up” (3:15) and “all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly” (4:1). Malachi describes the day of judgment for the wicked as a day of burning “for, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble” (4:1). For the righteous “shall the Sun [BofM “Son”] 5 of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (4:2).
The Book of Mormon people experienced such a scenario with the first coming of the Savior when many of the wicked were destroyed. Some of the wicked experienced the day of judgment like a burning (3 Nephi 9:3, 9, 10), but many of the righteous were delivered. After the Savior came to his temple, the people gathered there and experienced the “Son of righteousness” who came with “healing in his wings” to heal, forgive, and give life (see Malachi 4:2; 3 Nephi 17).
The specific sins that Malachi mentions in judgment are sorcery; adultery; false swearers; oppression of the hireling, the widow, and the fatherless; and those that turn away the stranger (3:5). Malachi’s prophecies of judgment and destruction reverberate through the future generations in the Book of Mormon. Concerning the generations following the coming of the Savior, 4 Nephi recounts that those generations of Nephites and Lamanites eradicated these sins in their establishment of Zion. Instead of adultery, 4 Nephi says that there were no “whoredoms . . . nor any manner of lasciviousness” (1:16); instead of pride “there were no envyings, nor strifes” (1:16); “they had all things common”; and instead of oppression of the poor and the widows and orphans, “there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free” (1:3).
After two hundred years had passed, the future generations of Nephites and Lamanites forgot the warnings of Malachi and these same sins began to creep back in among the people.6 Because of their sins, the Lord allowed his covenant people to be destroyed by their enemies, the Lamanites. Perhaps reminiscent of the promised burning in judgment that will accompany the second coming—as described in Malachi 4:1—Mormon records that the Nephite cities were burned with fire by the Lamanites (Mormon 5:5).
Like Malachi, Moroni warns the latter-day readers of the Book of Mormon with the same warnings: “I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts” (Mormon 8:36); “For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted” (8:37); and “Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?” (8:39). “There shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations” (8:31).
Almost as if he were reading the Savior’s exposition on Malachi 3–4 in 3 Nephi, Moroni portrayed the day of the Lord with the same images and almost the same words used by the Lord as he described the final judgment: “The earth shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (Mormon 9:2; compare 3 Nephi 26:3). Again, Malachi’s teachings help prepare Zion, in whatever dispensation, to come unto the Lord and be cleansed and healed, to overcome pride, and to prepare for the coming of the Lord so as to be worthy to endure his presence.
3. “It is vain to serve God” (3:14)
In Malachi 3:14–15 the Lord chides Israel for saying, “It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.” In the following verses in Malachi, the Lord comforts the righteous by reiterating two of the promised rewards of the covenant: (1) to write their names in the “book of remembrance” (3:16) and (2) to “spare them” “in that day when I make up my jewels” (3:17). An examination of these promises shows that they are both rooted in concepts that involve the Melchizedek Priesthood. While Latter-day Saints have a keen awareness and appreciation for the blessings of the Melchizedek Priesthood, which keys have been restored in our day, seeing how these blessings of the higher law relate to the Nephites and to their posterity can increase our understanding of Book of Mormon peoples and their religious beliefs.
In Malachi 3:16–18 the image of the book of remembrance and “jewels” are found together: “And a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.”
This is the only place in the Old Testament where the phrase book of remembrance occurs. 7 It is clear from verse 17 that those whose names are entered into the book of remembrance have become the Lord’s; specifically, they have become his “peculiar treasure,” the same Hebrew word elsewhere translated as “jewels.” 8 Importantly, this term is also used in describing the Lord’s intention for Israel when leading them out of Egypt: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure 9 unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:5–6).
This statement of the Lord occurs prior to establishing the Mosaic law and thus refers to the promises of Abraham and his covenant with the Lord.10 If we can equate this same covenant relationship in Exodus with that in Malachi, then the word of the Lord in Malachi transcends the Mosaic law and extends back into the realms of promises made to Abraham that are to be fulfilled. Ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood are thus involved in becoming the Lord’s peculiar treasure and in establishing Zion.11
Pointing toward Elijah’s sealing power, Malachi 3:18 continues, “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” Discerning between the righteous and the wicked and serving God or not seems to have some reference to the book of remembrance mentioned in verse 16 and may shed some light onto what exactly this service would entail—going beyond being good or bad. In this verse “the righteous and the wicked” is found in parallel with “him that serveth . . . and him that serveth not.” The “righteous” and “those who serve” describe those in verse 16 whose names are written in the book of remembrance. To be written in the book of remembrance may also involve participation in the process by which other names are written in the book of remembrance and may be an allusion to those who fulfill their responsibilities to be saviors on Mount Zion in temple service.12 It seems relevant that the book of Malachi is given just prior to the intertestamental period and points to the first coming of the Lord, while the Nephites would be viewing it with specific reference to his coming again. This was a multigenerational call to service in the temple and seems to underscore the importance and connectedness of temple work in the various dispensations.13
It is important that the Lord would include the teachings of Malachi in his sermons to the Nephites. Richard Draper touches upon the possible implications this had on the Nephite people:
Those generations were the righteous children of Lehi who established the perfect society after the coming of the Lord. Those people needed the words of Malachi in order to understand the new dimension which the work of the Lord took, now that he had fulfilled his mortal mission. Up to this time most of the preparation had been for his first coming. From that point on, it would be for his second. The words of Malachi reveal not only key events but also the nature of the work that would prepare for that coming.14
Statements such as this have been made, and they seem to imply that temple work was being done by the Nephites. The context in which these words were delivered by the Savior seem to indicate that Malachi’s teachings were relevant not only to future generations but also to the Nephites hearing his words quoted at the present time, with the invitation and responsibility to participate in the process. This all seems relevant to Malachi 3:16–18 and the “book of remembrance” and introduces the prophecy foretelling the coming of Elijah in chapter 4.
4. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet” (4:5)
In accordance with the previous dispensations and administrations of priesthood keys, authorities, and ordinances, it seems consistent that the Nephites received not only baptism, confirmation, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, but also the higher ordinances of the priesthood. This is implied in Joseph Smith’s prophetic statement:
This [Book of Mormon] also tells us that our Savior made His appearance upon this [the American] continent after His resurrection; that He planted the Gospel here in all its fulness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessings, as were enjoyed on the eastern continent.15
The people of 4 Nephi may have enjoyed the ordinances and blessings of eternal marriage associated with sealing power. After a description of their Zion society, we read:
And they were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them. And they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord. (4 Nephi 1:11–12)
In verse 12 the meaning behind “the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses” probably extends beyond the obvious abolishment of the sacrificial system under the Mosaic law. Here it may extend into the realms of the higher order of marriage as a covenant and the abandonment of allowing the dissolution of marriage under the former law. Malachi 4:4 states, “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel.” The angel Moroni quoted this passage to Joseph Smith. The reference to the pre-Mosiac “law” apparently indicated the higher law revealed to Moses that Israel did not receive because of rebellion. Kent P. Jackson wrote of this:
It may be that the intent of Jesus and Moroni in quoting the verse was to draw attention to that higher law. Jesus’ listeners in early America were worthy and able to have the higher law, the Melchizedek Priesthood, and the ordinances and blessings that God revealed to Moses on the mountain but which their Israelite ancestors had forfeited. . . . Perhaps the Savior’s visit to the Nephites initiated an era of intense temple activity among them, and perhaps Malachi’s prophecy was used to stress eternal marriage and the other blessings of Elijah’s sealing power (see 4 Ne. 1:11).16
This statement is extremely interesting in light of the fact that Malachi 2 (not cited in the Book of Mormon) contains condemnations against breaking marriage covenants and divorce.17 These chapters may have been excluded from the Book of Mormon because the Lord now instituted the higher law among the more righteous part, which was spared the destructions at the Lord’s coming, and in the current condition, which did not support the “putting away” of a spouse under the umbrella of eternal marriage.18
It seems that the chapters of Malachi and the prophecy of Elijah were given to the Nephites in 3 Nephi not just to give hope that their posterity would someday receive something that they themselves did not possess, but rather, that they would have restored to them the blessings of the fulness of the gospel the generations of 3–4 Nephi were then enjoying. We assume that the statement “You cannot receive the fulness of the priesthood unless you go into the temple of the Lord and receive these ordinances”19 holds true across the various dispensations (including the Nephites). Malachi thus fits prominently into the present and future of the Nephites as they worked to become a Zion society.
The Prophet Joseph Smith stated, “The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live.”20 In 1 Nephi 11–15, Nephi sees the destruction of his people and the apostasy and restoration of the gospel. He witnesses the coming of the Lord to his posterity and that “their garments were white even like unto the Lamb of God . . . because of their faith in him” (1 Nephi 12:11). President John Taylor commented on making our garments white in the blood of the Lamb:
It is not enough for us to be connected with the Zion of God, for the Zion of God must consist of men that are pure in heart and pure in life and spotless before God, at least that is what we have got to arrive at. We are not there yet, but we must get there before we shall be prepared to inherit glory and exaltation.21
The people of Zion, in whatever dispensation, are to be pure in heart. Third Nephi 12:8 states, “And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” John Welch, in his discussion of Jesus’s sermon at the temple in Bountiful, describes the possibility that the beatitudes are associated with ritual and the kingdom, and possibly entrance into the holy of holies (representing God’s presence).22 Malachi’s teachings were clearly designed to prepare people to endure God’s presence, and when Nephi sees that the garments of the people of 3–4 Nephi “were white even like unto the Lamb of God” (1 Nephi 12:11), there seems to be something implicit about higher ordinances of the gospel appended to this process and preparations to participate in temple worship.23
According to 1 Nephi 13:22–26, the early Nephites had scriptures containing the fulness of the gospel and covenants. To them the Lord stated, “And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day [implying that there was a Zion in their own day], for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be” (1 Nephi 13:37). Publishers of peace and joy upon the mountains may also describe a temple setting.24 When the Savior included Malachi’s writings in his teachings to the Nephites in 3 Nephi, generations past, present, and future were to be affected by these Zion-building teachings.
Speaking of the prophecy in Malachi 4:5–6, the Prophet Joseph Smith asked:
How is it [this prophecy] to be fulfilled? The keys are to be delivered, the spirit of Elijah is to come, the Gospel to be established, the Saints of God gathered, Zion built up, and the Saints to come up as saviors on Mount Zion. But how? . . . By building their temples . . . and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them; . . . and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah.25
The conclusions reached here are that Malachi’s words given to the Nephites in 3 Nephi were as relevant to them as they are to us today. Temple ordinances for the living, and possibly for the dead (and we know the New Testament church practiced baptisms for the dead; see 1 Corinthians 15:29), as a foundation for establishing Zion seemed to have been a part of the society of 3–4 Nephi. The indication is that the Nephites were enjoying the blessings of the higher ordinances of the priesthood and were rejoicing in the day when their posterity (who would fall away) would be blessed again with the same covenant they themselves were enjoying. For the Nephites prior to the coming of the Lord, this may have found partial fulfillment with the people of 3 Nephi. For the Nephites who lived subsequent to the Lord’s coming, the day of their hope was to come to fruition with the restoration. In all scenarios the quoting of Malachi and Elijah was relevant. Surely the future generations of Saints who have read the prophecies of Malachi—from the time of the coming of the Savior in the Americas to the present—have found hope and comfort in the restoration of these keys and have sought for these blessings in order that all our names be recorded in the book of remembrance and that we may be sealed together as families through the keys restored by Elijah. As the Prophet Joseph Smith stated, “Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation” (D&C 128:24; see vv. 15–18, 22).26 As the Lord taught the Nephites the words of Malachi—which included the coming of priesthood-bearing messengers, preparation to endure the presence of God, the important nature of serving God, the purpose of a book of remembrance, and the coming of Elijah to bestow sealing powers and keys—these teachings must have penetrated the hearts of the Nephites, thus turning their hearts to their fathers, motivating them to press forward in the establishment of Zion. Malachi’s words were a quintessential part of laying the foundation for the Nephite Zion.
Aaron P. Schade received his PhD from the University of Toronto with an emphasis on the Hebrew Bible, Northwest Semitic epigraphy, and Egyptian languages and literature. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the humanities/social sciences (ancient history and religions) at the University of Toronto. He is chair of the Department of Religious Education at Brigham Young University–Hawaii.
David R. Seely, professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, has an undergraduate degree in Greek and a master’s degree in Classics from Brigham Young University and received his PhD from the University of Michigan in Near Eastern studies.
1. See Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and A Warning: A Modern-Day Prophet Testifies of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), 21–22, 37–38.
2. See 1 Kings 17–2 Kings; 2 Chronicles 21:12–15; Malachi 4:5; Matthew 16:14; 17:3; 27:47–49; Mark 6:14–15; 9:4; 15:35–36; Luke 4:25–26; 9:30; James 5:17; 3 Nephi 25:5; Doctrine and Covenants 2:1; 27:9; 110:13–15; 128:17; 133:55; 138:46–47; Joseph Smith—History 1:38.
3. In fact, the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the church, and the Spirit all served as messengers.
4. These quotations from McConkie appear here in context: “Malachi recorded the promise, speaking of latter-day events that, ‘The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple.’ (Mal. 3:1.) Certainly the Almighty is not limited in the number of appearances and returns to earth needed to fulfill the scriptures, usher in the final dispensation, and consummate his great latter-day work. This sudden latter-day appearance in the temple does not have reference to his appearance at the great and dreadful day, for that coming will be when he sets his foot upon the Mount of Olivet in the midst of the final great war. The temple appearance was fulfilled, in part at least, by his return to the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836; and it may well be that he will come again, suddenly, to others of his temples, more particularly that which will be erected in Jackson County, Missouri. In this connection it is worthy of note that whenever and wherever the Lord appears, he will come suddenly, that is ‘quickly, in an hour you think not.’ [D&C 51:20.] His oft repeated warning, ‘Behold, I come quickly’ [D&C 35:27], means that when the appointed hour arrives, he will come with a speed and a suddenness which will leave no further time for preparation for that great day.” Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 693–94.
5. The book of Malachi has the image “the Sun of righteousness” as an allusion to the Lord. The King James translators recognized it as an allusion to God and thus capitalized “Sun.” In the Book of Mormon this image is rendered “Son of Righteousness” (3 Nephi 25:2), which is a more precise personification of Jesus Christ. Because “sun” and “son” are homonyms in English, some have argued that this change occurred in the process of translating the Book of Mormon. It is possible, however, that the “sun of righteousness” would have been an image more readily understood by the biblical people in the Old World and that “son of righteousness” was deliberately used by the Savior when he quoted this passage to communicate that it was a reference to the Lord. Isaiah 30:26 states, “The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days, on the day the Lord binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted” (New American Standard Bible, 1973). Alviero Niccacci, “Poetic Syntax and Interpretation of Malachi,” Liber Annuus 51 (2001): 99, situates the unique phrase “Sun of righteousness” following a merismus describing the opposite fates of individuals on the “day” of his coming, and Ralph L. Smith, Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 32, Micah–Malachi (Nashville: Nelson, 1984), 339, equates the image with “rays” and references of the sun to God in the Bible. Some Jewish and Christian interpretations claim the “Sun of righteousness” refers to a messiah. Andrew E. Hill, Malachi: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary; Anchor Bible 25D (New York: Doubleday, 1998), 212, describes the common Near Eastern conception of the sun disk as a deity (the image similarly portrayed here in Malachi): “The image depicting (falcon or eagle) wings against a full sun represented the guardianship of the deity, an emblem of divine effulgence as well as protection and blessing for those overshadowed by the ‘wings’ of the deity.” This conception fits the messianic image of the coming of Christ as the “Sun of righteousness” well, and the merismus scenario that the day of his coming will be either great or dreadful depending on the protection, or lack thereof, one receives as a result of personal conduct in the course of life.
6. Mormon records that sorceries, witchcrafts, and magic began to appear in the land (Mormon 1:19).
7. Other Old Testament passages speak of divine books wherein the Lord records the names of his people (Exodus 32:32–33; Psalms 69:28; 87:6; Daniel 12:1). See, for example, Smith, Word Biblical Commentary, 338. This concept is developed in the idea of the book of life in Jewish liturgy. See Adele Berlin, Marc Z. Brettler, and Michael Fishbane, eds., The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 1274. “The alms of your prayers have come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded in the book of the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world” (D&C 88:2). “Indeed, ‘few religious ideas in the Ancient Near East have played a more important role than the notion of the Heavenly Tablets or the Heavenly Book’; ‘in the literature of early Judaism’ in particular, they ‘play a considerable role.’ The idea is at home in classical literature and hence it is assumed was taken over by the early Christians with their Book of Life. In Rabbinic tradition, Abraham ‘ ”being found faithful,” is declared a “friend of God” on the “heavenly tablets,” and every righteous keeper of the Covenant is . . . registered in the same Book of Life.’ ” Hugh Nibley, “A Strange Thing in the Land: The Return of the Book of Enoch, Part 5,” in Enoch the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1986), 141 and nn. 221–24.
8. The KJV reads “jewels,” see s.v. “סגלה,” Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, Charles A. Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), S. 688. Based on Ugaritic and Akkadian cognates, Moshe Weinfeld, Deuteronomy 1–11: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 1991), 368, equates this term with covenant terminology between a suzerain and a vassal, thus highlighting God’s covenant relationship with his people.
9. This is the same term used in Malachi 3:17 for “jewels.”
10. The intended higher order of the priesthood is clearly established in D&C 84:19–27 and Exodus 34:1 JST. Brigham Young also remarked: “The Gospel was among the children of men from the days of Adam until the coming of the Messiah; this Gospel of Christ is from the beginning to the end. Then why was the law of Moses given? In consequence of the disobedience of the Children of Israel, the elect of God; the very seed that he had selected to be his people, and upon whom he said he would place his name. This seed of Abraham so rebelled against him and his commands that the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will give you a law which shall be a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ’ ” (see Galatians 3:24). Discourses of Brigham Young, ed. John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978), 104. “If they had been sanctified and holy, the Children of Israel would not have traveled one year with Moses before they would have received their endowments and the Melchizedek Priesthood” (see D&C 84:23). Discourses of Brigham Young, 106.
11. A further connection that may link the usage of the terms in these contexts with the Melchizedek Priesthood may be found in 1 Peter 2:9. Περι¹οίησιν is used both in 1 Peter 2:9 and in the Septuagint for Malachi 3:17 to describe the “peculiar people” and “peculiar treasure.” The Hebrew version of Malachi 3:17 uses סגלה. What is interesting is that this Hebrew word is used in only eight passages in the Old Testament. In Malachi 3:17 and Exodus 19:5 the context is focusing directly on becoming the treasure or possession through a process of action, requirements of doing, and being made such by keeping covenants and serving God. In most of the other contexts the possession is simply being declared.
12. See D&C 128:15, where the necessity of temple worship and service are discussed, as well as verse 24, where Malachi 3:1–3 is reiterated in the context of abiding the day by presenting in the temple a book containing the records of our dead. It is also interesting to note that the verb return used in this verse is the same verb used in Malachi 4 in reference to “turning” hearts. In relation to Malachi 4 the Prophet Joseph Smith stated, “Now, the word turn here should be translated bind, or seal. But what is the object of this important mission? or how is it to be fulfilled? The keys are to be delivered, the spirit of Elijah is to come, the Gospel to be established, the Saints of God gathered, Zion built up, and the Saints to come up as saviors on Mount Zion.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974), 330. In relation to Malachi 3:18 one commentator remarked, “No one seemed to be able to distinguish right from wrong, or the righteous from the wicked. In 3:18 Yahweh makes it clear that there is a difference between the righteous and the wicked and the time will come when everyone will be able to discern that difference. ‘And you shall return’ is a little ambiguous. . . . The precise meaning of ‘return’ here is not clear.” Smith, Word Biblical Commentary, 338. If the verbal root return is used here in chapter 3 like it is in chapter 4, then we may witness a process in Malachi 3:16–18 dealing with a book of remembrance: the Lord’s peculiar treasure, the righteous and the wicked, binding, and those who serve and those who don’t. This is interesting in that “we are informed that the books will be opened. One of these books will be the record of our lives as it is kept in heaven. Other books which will be opened are records which have been kept on earth.” Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection (Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1931), 342. The Hebrew text has no Malachi 4, but continues into the theme of the coming of the day of the Lord, a theme of root and branch (a reference to posterity), and the coming of Elijah to turn hearts to avoid utter destruction. This is also echoed in D&C 2. In relation to current practices of family history and temple work we read:
“But how can this assistance be given? By every family preparing its own genealogies to provide the identification needed to perform the ordinances of the dead. Properly performed ordinances for properly identified persons are acceptable to the Lord. He provides that all such work be done in a house especially built for the purpose. Such houses are called temples.
“Why do Latter-day Saints build temples? That in them they may receive those sealing blessings for themselves and perform for their kindred the vicarious baptisms and sealings which will permit them in the words of Peter to ‘live according to God in the spirit’ and yet be judged according to the opportunities and standards of men in the flesh.” Mark E. Petersen, “Why We Build Temples,” Liahona, October 1980, 34.
Malachi 3:1 makes reference to the Lord coming to his temple, in 3 Nephi he has come to his temple, and in this dispensation he also came to his temple, in conjunction with Elijah.
13. Another important item that may help link becoming the Lord’s “jewels” with temple worship and work may be manifested in the temple garb of the high priest (of the Aaronic order) in ancient Israel, who was officiating in sacrifices on behalf of the Israelites in the temple, who could not perform sacrifices for themselves, the priests performing a vicarious work in the preparatory gospel designed to prepare Israel for the intended higher order. According to Exodus 28:29, upon the breastplate worn by the priest were twelve precious stones (perhaps signifying the concept of the Lord’s “jewels”), each with the names of a tribe of Israel inscribed upon it, and the high priest thus bore “the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually.” This may highlight the notion of becoming the Lord’s “peculiar treasure” through priesthood ordinances in the “holy place.”
14. Richard D. Draper, “The Book of Malachi,” in Studies in Scripture, Volume 4: 1 Kings to Malachi, ed. Kent P. Jackson (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993), 365.
15. History of the Church, 4:538. See Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1972), 329–36, and McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 435. Concerning the 3 Nephi account, John W. Welch writes: “Jesus addressed most of his teachings at that time to his apostles and instructed them in their priesthood duties; told them about their premortal existence, the creation of the world, and the purpose of this life; and explained how they could return to the glory of God through obedience to ordinances for the salvation of the living and the dead. He blessed them with an initiation or endowment, generally called the ‘mysteries,’ which emphasized garments, marriage, and prayer circles. . . . Joseph Smith taught that Peter and John received the ‘fulness of priesthood or the law of God’ at the Mount of Transfiguration and that Peter ‘washed and anointed’ all the apostles and received ‘the endowment’ on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. President Heber C. Kimball similarly once remarked that Jesus had ‘inducted his Apostles into these ordinances [the holy endowments].'” John W. Welch, Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1999), 33–34. The Nephites also seemed privy to this process. For a discussion on the Nephites holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, see Paul Y. Hoskisson, “By what authority did Lehi, a non-Levite priest, offer sacrifices?,” Ensign, March 1994, 54; and David R. Seely, “Lehi’s Altar and Sacrifice in the Wilderness,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10/1 (2001): 62–69.
16. Kent P. Jackson, Lost Tribes and Last Days (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 171, 173, about Malachi 4:4. Welch writes, “Husbands are not to put their wives away, and wives are not to remarry. For centuries, commentators have struggled to understand the intended application of this radical prohibition against divorce. In light of the exceptionally righteous audience that had assembled at the temple in Bountiful, the context of the Sermon at the Temple suggests that this very demanding restriction may have something to do with the spirit and law through which husbands and wives are to be bound together in the eternal covenant relationships involved here. This explains the strictness of the rule, for eternal marriages can be dissolved only by proper authority on justifiable grounds and are sealed up for all eternity (see D&C 132:19).” Welch, Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple, 70.
17. For a brief discussion of the difficulties encountered in these passages encountered in Malachi see Berlin, Brettler, and Fishbane, Jewish Study Bible, 1272.
18. The covenant mentioned in “profaning the covenant of our fathers” (Malachi 2:10) and “the wife of thy covenant” (Malachi 2:14) has been viewed in light of the eternal covenant made between Adam and Eve as found in Genesis 2:24, where they are commanded to become one flesh (Malachi 2:15, “And did not he make one?”). See Gordon P. Hugenberger, Marriage as a Covenant: A Study of Biblical Law and Ethics Governing Marriage, Developed from the Perspective of Malachi (Leiden: Brill, 1993), 166, 342, who attributes both Adam and Eve’s marriage and the marriage scene in Malachi 2 to covenantal contexts. The following summary has also been given in relation to the injunction in Malachi concerning marriage: “Malachi sees marriage as a covenant to which God is the witness, and which has as its goal the procreation of godly children. He does not appear to have any place for divorce. The opening statement in Mal 2:16 can now be read in a new light: ‘have we not all one father.’ The appeal is to creation and is meant to unify the community, not tear it apart. . . . Malachi’s pronouncements on divorce mark a change in traditional Jewish attitudes to marriage. Divorce would still be accepted by mainstream Judaism, but Malachi points to the emergence of a stricter view of marriage as indissoluble. The basis for that view was found in the statement in Genesis that man and wife were one flesh. This stricter view was later developed in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and receives a famous endorsement in the New Testament in the saying attributed to Jesus: ‘what God has joined together, let no one separate’ (Matt 19:6).” John J. Collins, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004), 418–19.
19. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956), 3:131. For a discussion on the eternal nature of the endowment, see Hugh W. Nibley, “On the Sacred and the Symbolic,” in Temples of the Ancient World, ed. Donald W. Parry (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1994), 535–615.
20. History of the Church, 4:609.
21. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2001), 114.
22. Welch, Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple, 59.
23. See D&C 84:19–23. This is also interesting in light of 3 Nephi 15:3–9, where the Mosaic law has been replaced: “And he said unto them: Marvel not that I said unto you that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new. Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses. Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end. Behold, I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled. And because I said unto you that old things have passed away, I do not destroy that which hath been spoken concerning things which are to come. For behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled; but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me. Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.”
24. See, for example, Isaiah 2:1–3. In 1 Nephi 15:13–18, Nephi explains that the “fulness of the gospel of the Messiah” would come unto their posterity and that they would be grafted into the covenant made to Abraham, which would be fulfilled in the latter days. For connections of the people of 3 Nephi as benefactors of the Abrahamic covenant, see 3 Nephi 21:4–11 and 3 Nephi 20:25–27.
“What, then, is involved in the gathering of Israel? The gathering of Israel consists in believing and accepting and living in harmony with all that the Lord once offered his ancient chosen people. It consists of having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, of repenting, of being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and of keeping the commandments of God. It consists of believing the gospel, joining the Church, and coming into the kingdom. It consists of receiving the holy priesthood, being endowed in holy places with power from on high, and receiving all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, through the ordinance of celestial marriage. And it may also consist of assembling to an appointed place or land of worship. Having this concept of the scattering and gathering . . . we are able to understand the prophetic word relative thereto.” Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), 515.
25. History of the Church, 6:184.
26. This was a letter from Joseph Smith to the Saints, September 6, 1842, Nauvoo, Illinois.