God's Pants are on Fire
Our third entry begins with a particularly dubious claim (verse 1):
The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.
Okay, so...here's a handy list of things that were supposedly God's designs that were ultimately frustrated: selling the copyright to the Book of Mormon, Zion’s Camp, the search for treasure in Salem, the United Order, the command to build a temple in Missouri, and apparently the timeline for the second coming was pushed back because Joseph Smith didn't live long enough (D&C 140:13-15).
For a more modern examination, how about the ultimate court defeat of Proposition 8 and the 2015 ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges?
God's Pants have Burned off Completely
Verse 2 doubles down on God's dishonesty:
For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.
Okay, so...what about Zion's Camp or the Kirtland Safety Society? Those are times when God's designs came to naught, right?
And I know I harp on this a lot, but I think it bears repeating...if God doesn't walk in crooked paths, his church certainly does. Flip-flopping on polygamy, waffling on racism, behaving in ways explicitly condemned in its own scripture (polygamy, priestcraft, letting alms be seen before men, not standing up to wicked, corrupt leaders, etc). These are not straight paths.
God Smears the Ashes of his Pants on his Followers
Verse 3 continues the madness. It just doesn't stop. Brace yourself:
Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;
Only...it was God's work that was frustrated too. The coming forth of the most important scripture in the history of the world was delayed because God put the same story from a different POV into his scripture and allowed his prophet to waste precious time translating it instead of just preventing the bad guys from stealing it.
Take a look at verse 4:
For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.
This makes me think of the quote from Joseph Smith that he had more to boast of than any man because not even Jesus could keep a whole church together. Was his murder the promised vengeance of God, then? Was his death a punishment for boasting and for setting aside the counsels of God regarding polygamy found in the book of Jacob? Does that mean that Joseph Smith is a fallen prophet and that another sect of Mormonism has the true gospel?
Also, I'm not really okay with vengeance being taught as something that is just.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
God spends most of this section tearing Joseph a new asshole for setting aside divine counsel. Which makes no sense because Joseph didn't give Martin Harris the manuscript until receiving permission from God. God should chew him out if, after the first no, Joseph gave Harris the 116 pages anyway. But that's not what happened. Joseph complied with the first two nos and only gave Harris the manuscript after his third attempt, when he received a green light from Heaven.
So why didn't God just keep saying no? Seems like Joseph was pretty obedient. Why give him permission to do the wrong thing and them blame him for doing what you let him do?
With satisfying symmetry, this section also concludes with a particularly dubious claim (verses 19-20):
And for this very purpose are these plates preserved, which contain these records—that the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people;And that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge of their fathers, and that they might know the promises of the Lord, and that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ, and be glorified through faith in his name, and that through their repentance they might be saved. Amen.
Seems pretty weird that the the purpose mentioned for the Book of Mormon is for the salvation of the Native Americans. I thought it was for everyone. But the phrasing implies pretty strongly that the purpose laid out in this chapter is the only—or at the very least the most important—purpose of the Book of Mormon. Strange that there isn't a massive LDS following among the descendants of indigenous American civilizations.
Or maybe that's just yet another example of one of God's designs being frustrated, despite his claims to the contrary.