Monday, June 20, 2016

3 Nephi 15: Additional Notes on the Sermon on the Rubble

Apparently satisfied with his near-flawless recitation of his greatest hit, Jesus moves on to his newer material.

I Told You!
Verse 2 unwittingly addresses the exact issue I've been harping on for the last three chapters:
And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.
They didn't understand?  You don't say!

Maybe if Jesus weren't so busy reading his previously prepared remarks, he could have adapted his speech for the benefit of his audience's comprehension.  Maybe if he were a little more attentive he could have avoided this problem by recognizing the confusion three chapters ago and providing a more detailed explanation then.

Divine Sequestering
Jesus spends a curious amount of time explaining to the Native Americans that their ancestral civilization—with which they've had zero contact for the last six centuries—has no knowledge of their existence.  Which, to be honest, kind of seems like common sense.  Lehi and friends disappeared into the desert.  They didn't hold a press conference saying they were traveling across the ocean to raise up two parallel societies on a different continent.

But the rationale Jesus gives is that the other guys were too wicked.  That's why the Nephites and Lamanites had to be separated from them and kept secret from them.  In almost the next breath, he implies that there are even more hidden offshoots of Israel, who were also kept from the knowledge of the Old World, but he doesn't tell the Native Americans where they are.  He essentially uses a slightly more verbose but equally uninformative version of "other sheep I have which are not of this fold" and leaves it at that.

So, by withholding information about these other peoples, is Jesus saying these Nephites are too iniquitous to be worthy of that information?  Keep in mind, this is after pretty much all the wicked people on the continent have been killed by the horrible disasters heralding Jesus's crucifixion.  Or, since the Book of Mormon was written for our day, does that mean the world of 1830 was too wicked?  The modern world?  Why isn't he telling us about his other sheep?

More Favoritism
Jesus makes a weird comment near the end of the chapter (verse 23):
And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost.
Why?  Why don't the Gentiles get to see him in person, and why does this verse make it seem that this is the case not because of chance, but because of some kind of divine vendetta?

I don't understand any of the favoritism God exhibits.  In the Bible, a lot of it is about the House of Israel instead of the Gentiles.  In the Book of Mormon, a lot of it is about the Nephites instead of the Lamanites.  We're all sons and daughters of God, right?  He loves all his children, right?  And we're all punished for our own sins, right? (Second Article of Faith, anyone?)  So why do God and Jesus insist on treating entire ethnic or racial groups differently from each other?  Isn't it completely unfair to proffer or withhold blessings based on a heritage that one has absolutely no control over?

I mean, hey, at least the Gentiles get radio reception from Heaven through the Holy Ghost like everybody else, but why go out of your way to insist that the Gentiles should not see the savior of the world in person unless you're just trying to be a dick about it?

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