10 And now behold, this I speak unto their seed, and also to the Gentiles who have care for the house of Israel, that realize and know from whence their blessings come.
11 For I know that such will sorrow for the calamity of the house of Israel; yea, they will sorrow for the destruction of this people; they will sorrow that this people had not repented that they might have been clasped in the arms of Jesus.
As he describes the final battles in which his people are completely destroyed, Mormon takes a moment to explain whom he is writing for. He recognizes that not everyone will appreciate these words. Who will appreciate them? The descendants of the people in the Book of Mormon (who are themselves descendants of Israel), as well as all people who care about God’s covenant people. These are people who “realize and know from whence their blessings come.”
Where do their blessings come from? From God, and specifically through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As Mormon laments, his people didn’t understand that simple principle. If they had only repented, “they might have been clasped in the arms of Jesus” and spared.
Years ago, President Russell M. Nelson referred to that phrase as he discussed the meaning of the word “atonement:”
In Hebrew, the basic word for atonement is kaphar, a verb that means “to cover” or “to forgive.” Closely related is the Aramaic and Arabic word kafat, meaning “a close embrace”—no doubt related to the Egyptian ritual embrace. References to that embrace are evident in the Book of Mormon. One states that “the Lord hath redeemed my soul … ; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” Another proffers the glorious hope of our being “clasped in the arms of Jesus.”
I weep for joy when I contemplate the significance of it all. To be redeemed is to be atoned—received in the close embrace of God with an expression not only of His forgiveness, but of our oneness of heart and mind. What a privilege!
Today, I will remember the blessings that I can receive through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I will remember that His desire is not only to forgive me but for me to become one with Him and with my Father in Heaven. I will choose to repent so that I can be “clasped in the arms of Jesus.”