21 And the day soon cometh that your mortal must put on immortality, and these bodies which are now moldering in corruption must soon become incorruptible bodies; and then ye must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to be judged according to your works; and if it so be that ye are righteous, then are ye blessed with your fathers who have gone before you.
22 O that ye had repented before this great destruction had come upon you. But behold, ye are gone, and the Father, yea, the Eternal Father of heaven, knoweth your state; and he doeth with you according to his justice and mercy.
I’ve been wondering about something for the past couple of days: why does Mormon end the chapter in which his people are completely destroyed with the word “mercy.”
Earlier in this chapter, Mormon describes a horrific battle in which at least 23,000 of his people died in a single day, leaving only 24 of them still alive. He recounts his words of mourning, as he addressed the people who had died:
O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!
Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss (Mormon 6:17-18).
At the end of this expression of grief, he speaks of the Final Judgment, which all of these people will have to face after they are resurrected. Each of them will have to “stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to be judged according to [their] works.” After lamenting again that they didn’t repent in time to avoid destruction, he testifies that Heavenly Father knows their state, and that He will judge them “according to his justice and mercy.”
Things truly don’t look good for them. They have been destroyed specifically because they hardened their hearts, turned their backs on God, and repeatedly refused to repent. I think Mormon’s reminder of God’s mercy offers a glimmer of hope. God loves all of His children, and He will give them every blessing which they are willing and able to receive. As Elder Brian K. Taylor reminded us in the most recent general conference, the Book of Mormon teaches us
that God does “all things for [our] welfare and happiness”; that He is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, long-suffering and full of goodness”; and that “all are alike unto [Him].” When you feel hurt, lost, scared, upset, sad, hungry, or hopelessly abandoned in life’s extremities—open the Book of Mormon, and you will come to know that “[God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so]” (“Am I a Child of God?” General Conference, April 2018).
Today, I will remember that God loves all of His children, even those who seem hardened and unlovable. I will remember that His judgment is a perfect blend of justice and mercy, and that His goal is to maximize our happiness and to help us achieve our full potential — as much of our potential as we are willing to achieve with His help. Today, I will be grateful that God’s judgment—of me and of His other children—includes both justice and mercy.