Book of Mormon | “Destruction of Nephite Cities at the Time of Jesus Christ’s Death”
In the description of the Nephite cities’ destruction at the time of Jesus Christ’s death, Mormon writes:
3 Nephi 8:8 And the *city of Zarahemla* did take *fire*.
3 Nephi 8:9 And the *city of Moroni* did sink into the depths of the *sea*, and the inhabitants thereof were drowned.
3 Nephi 8:10 And the *earth* was carried up upon the *city of Moronihah*, that in the place of the city there became a great mountain.
Then, describing the aftermath:
3 Nephi 8:24 And in one place they were heard to cry, saying: O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and then would our brethren have been spared, and they would not have been *burned* in that great *city Zarahemla*.
3 Nephi 8:25 And in another place they were heard to cry and mourn, saying: O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and had not killed and stoned the prophets, and cast them out; then would our mothers and our fair daughters, and our children have been spared, and not have been *buried up* in that great *city Moronihah*. And thus were the howlings of the people great and terrible.
The city Moroni is missing here…
The same cities are then mentioned by Jesus Christ when He reports the destruction He caused:
3 Nephi 9:3 Behold, that great *city Zarahemla* have *I burned with fire*, *and the inhabitants thereof*.
3 Nephi 9:4 And behold, that great *city Moroni* have *I caused to be sunk in the depths of the sea*, and *the inhabitants thereof to be drowned*.
3 Nephi 9:5 And behold, that great *city Moronihah* have *I covered with earth*, and *the inhabitants thereof*, to hide their iniquities and their abominations from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come any more unto me against them.
Notice that each city represents one “element” (as in the classical elements, etc.): fire, water, earth. Missing, for some reason, is the element of air, according to the Greeks; but maybe it’s based on a Chinese system, which would only use these three major elements for natural destruction.
The Lord continues His list of cities, this time moving backwards (from fire, water, earth, to now earth, water, fire):
EARTH: 3 Nephi 9:6 And behold, the city of Gilgal have *I caused to be sunk*, and the inhabitants thereof to be *buried up in the depths of the earth*;
WATER: 3 Nephi 9:7 Yea, and the city of Onihah and the inhabitants thereof, and the city of Mocum and the inhabitants thereof, and the city of Jerusalem and the inhabitants thereof; and *waters have I caused to come up in the stead thereof*, to hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come up any more unto me against them.
COMBINATION OF EARTH AND WATER: 3 Nephi 9:8 And behold, the city of Gadiandi, and the city of Gadiomnah, and the city of Jacob, and the city of Gimgimno, all these have *I caused to be sunk, and made hills and valleys in the places thereof; and the inhabitants thereof have I buried up in the depths of the earth*, to hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up any more unto me against them.
FIRE: 3 Nephi 9:9 And behold, that great city Jacobugath, which was inhabited by the people of king Jacob, have *I caused to be burned with fire* because of their sins and their wickedness, which was above all the wickedness of the whole earth, because of their secret murders and combinations; for it was they that did destroy the peace of my people and the government of the land; therefore I did cause them to be burned, to destroy them from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up unto me any more against them.
FIRE: 3 Nephi 9:10 And behold, the city of Laman, and the city of Josh, and the city of Gad, and the city of Kishkumen, have *I caused to be burned with fire*, and the inhabitants thereof, because of their wickedness in casting out the prophets, and stoning those whom I did send to declare unto them concerning their wickedness and their abominations.
There seems to be some order after all!
As a testimony to Elijah, the Lord did this:
1 Kings 19:11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and *a great and strong wind* rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind *an earthquake*; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake *a fire*; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
Remember the disciples in Jerusalem? Even thought they had already seen miracles and knew that Jesus was the son of God, they marveled at Jesus’ control over the elements.
Matthew 8:26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and *rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm*.
27 But *the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!*
Mark 4:37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
41 And *they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him*?
Matthew 14:24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night *Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea*.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw *the wind boisterous*, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And *when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased*.
33 Then *they that were in the ship came and worshipped him*, saying, *Of a truth thou art the Son of God*.
By giving the Nephites (and future readers) examples of destruction by all three elements, and by the words of Jesus himself testifying that He caused the destruction, Mormon and the Lord testify to everyone that Jesus Christ is truly Lord and master over all the elements–earth, water, and fire.
They also testify that He is Lord over the inhabitants of the land that He destroyed, and that He was the one who saved those who were not destroyed (3 Nephi 9:13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they… 3 Nephi 9:14 …Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you…).
Oh, air… I see some elements about it in a few places:
1. the thunder, and lightning, and whirlwinds (3 Nephi 8:16, 17, 19);
2. the three days of complete darkness and vapor in the air (3 Nephi 8:20-23); and
3. lastly, the descension of the Lord, from the sky down to the earth (3 Nephi 11:8 And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them…
3 Nephi 11:10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ…)
all constitute testimonies of Jesus’ supremacy over the element of air.
Once more, the Book of Mormon emphasizes Jesus is mighty to save, and to destroy by control over the elements:
3 Nephi 10:12 And it was *the more righteous part of the people who were saved*…
3 Nephi 10:13 And *they were spared* and were *not sunk and buried up in the earth* (earth); and they were *not drowned in the depths of the sea* (water); and they were *not burned by fire* (fire), neither were they fallen upon and crushed to death; and they were *not carried away in the whirlwind; neither were they overpowered by the vapor of smoke and of darkness* (air).
3 Nephi 10:14 And now, whoso readeth, let him understand; he that hath the scriptures, let him search them, and see and behold if all these deaths and destructions *by fire*, and *by smoke*, and *by tempests*, and *by whirlwinds*, and *by the opening of the earth to receive them*, and all these things are not unto the fulfilling of the prophecies of many of the holy prophets.