The longest sentence in the Book of Mormon—392 words long—is 3 Nephi 21:1-7. In this sentence, Jesus reveals a sign by which we can know that the gathering Israel has begun. Here is the complete sentence, with some commentary in brackets:
And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place—that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion;
[This is the purpose of the entire sentence: to announce a sign by which to recognize the gathering of Israel.]
And behold, this is the thing which I will give unto you for a sign—for verily I say unto you that when these things which I declare unto you, and which I shall declare unto you hereafter of myself, and by the power of the Holy Ghost which shall be given unto you of the Father, shall be made known unto the Gentiles that they may know concerning this people who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, and concerning this my people who shall be scattered by them;
[So, when these words are published…]
Verily, verily, I say unto you, when these things shall be made known unto them of the Father, and shall come forth of the Father, from them unto you;
[…when the Gentiles receive these words, and when they in turn give these words to your descendants…]
For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel;
[…and by the way, this will be preceded by the establishment of a free nation on this continent, in order to make all of this possible.]
Therefore, when these works and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter shall come forth from the Gentiles, unto your seed which shall dwindle in unbelief because of iniquity;
[An important additional concept: your descendants will have “dwindled in unbelief,” and therefore the Gentiles, by delivering these words to them, are helping them to rediscover their faith.]
For thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may show forth his power unto the Gentiles, for this cause that the Gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel;
[And by the way, this is not only blessing your descendants. This will also bless the Gentiles, by giving them the opportunity to become part of the house of Israel.]
And when these things come to pass that thy seed shall begin to know these things—it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel.
[So, when the Book of Mormon is published, that’s your sign. It’s not a sign that the work of gathering is about to begin. It’s a sign that the work has already begun.]3 Nephi 21:1-7
So with this sentence, the Savior provides the sign. But in the process, He also emphasizes multiple key doctrines, including the following:
- The establishment of the United States of America paved the way for the publication of the Book of Mormon.
- When you dwindle in unbelief, God will not abandon you. He will continue to find ways to help you rekindle your faith.
- When God invites you to bless someone else, you are blessed in the process.
- Everyone who chooses not to harden their hearts can become part of the house of Israel.
But instead of conveying each of these principles as an independent thought, the Savior synthesizes them all into a single sentence, emphasizing the interconnectedness of these doctrines. Perhaps this is one example of the Savior “[expounding] all the scriptures in one” (3 Nephi 23:14).
President Russell M. Nelson has repeatedly referenced these verses to emphasize the importance of the Book of Mormon. For example:
The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a sign to the entire world that the Lord has commenced to gather Israel and fulfill covenants He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.“The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” General Conference, October 2006
And Elder D. Todd Christofferson referenced these verses when he said, “Publication of the Book of Mormon was the signal that the gathering had begun” (“Preparing for the Lord’s Return,” General Conference, April 2019).
Today, I will remember that the Book of Mormon is itself a sign that God remembers His covenants, that He will gather His people, and that, if we are willing, He will allow us to participate in His work.