3 Nephi 12:9 — LeGrand Baker — Blessed are all the peacemakers

3 Nephi 12:9 

And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God (3 Nephi 12:9).

25 With the merciful [hesed – adj.] thou wilt shew thyself merciful [hesed – verb]; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright (Psalms 18:25). {1}

The Savior was apparently paraphrasing that psalm when he said:

7 Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy (3 Nephi 12:7).

The Savior was probably paraphrasing Psalm 18 when he spoke those words. The Psalm reads:

25 With the merciful [hesed – adj.] thou wilt shew thyself merciful [hesed – verb]; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright (Psalms 18:25). {A}

As observed elsewhere, Psalm 25 is set in the context of our premortal covenants. In it, words translated “lovingkindnesses” and “mercy” are from the Hebrew word hesed. {B} The psalm uses the Hebrew word hesed four times, and by so doing, it brings those covenants into a deeply personal friendship/relationship. The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament shows the power of that friendship/relationship:

We may venture the conjecture that even in cases where the context does not suggest such mutuality it is nevertheless implicit, because we are dealing with the closest of human bonds. {C}

An explanation and clarification of their phrase, “dealing with the closest of human bonds,” is found in a new edition of Strong’s Concordance:

hesed, unfailing love, loyal love, devotion. kindness, often based on a prior relationship, especially a covenant relationship. {D}

There is a quality of personal power that transcends sorrow, pain, uncertainty, fear, and disappointment. The scriptures express it in two different ways. The first is “Hope” which means living as though the covenant is already fulfilled. Hope in the fulfillment of God’s covenants is the ultimate inner fortress against “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”{1}

The other way is expressed by such words as peace, peacemaker and peaceable. Peace is a gift one may give or receive. When the peace is from God it gives us hope. For ourselves, while hope is the power one carries within one’s Self, peace is an outward expression of that inner hope, and is therefore the power one shares with others. Peacemaker and peaceable are words that describe those who have hope and give peace as a gift to other people. That is all explained very well in the first few verses of Moroni 7. Mormon’s sermon is an elaboration on our Beatitude. Like the Beatitude, it begins by addressing those who have hope and can give peace, and, like the Beatitude, it concludes, “… that ye may become the sons of God.”{2}

Mormon identifies his audience in terms of their having hope and their ability to give peace. He says:

3 Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.
4 And now my brethren, I judge these things of you because of your peaceable walk with the children of men (Moroni 7:3-4).

Here the phrase “sufficient hope” is the key to understanding these verses. It is also the key to understanding the entire sermon. A peacemaker is one who has “sufficient hope” to sustain his own peacefulness and thereby to sustain his “peaceable walk with the children of men.”

In that same sermon Mormon asks and then answers:

41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise (Moroni 7:41).

The Book of Mormon itself ends with a kind of crescendo of faith, hope and charity, repeated three times in Ether 12, Moroni 7, and Moroni 10.

Ether 12 teaches us about faith, hope, and charity, then in verse 39 it concludes with a personal visit between Moroni the Savior

Moroni 7 concludes by teaching us how we “may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen (Moroni 7:48).

And in Moroni 10, Moroni teaches us that “Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity. And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope (Moroni 10:20-21). Then Moroni concludes: “if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot (Moroni 10:33).”

If what I have suggested is true, then the trilogy of faith, hope, and charity are also parts of pairings showing what one IS as related to what one DOES:

Faith (pistis) is made effectual by being faithful (pistos);{3} that is by keeping one’s covenants. Faith and being faithful are essentially the same. That is, they are two sides of the same coin, for when the covenants one makes with God dominate our sense of self, then our always remembering and keeping those covenants is the honest expression of our Self.

Hope is living as though God’s part of the covenants are already fulfilled. It is the power of our hope that enables us to help others experience peace. Hope is the power within one’s Self. Peace is our expression of that hope and is a gift to others. They are also the same, two sides of the same coin, for when hope defines what one is, then being peaceful and giving peace is what one does.

Charity is love that brings one to salvation. Charity is a power within one’s Self. It is manifested by living the law of consecration. In the Book of Mormon charity is the ultimate goal to which we reach. In the Doctrine and Covenants the law of consecration is that goal. They are also the same, two sides of the same coin, for when charity is what one IS, then consecration is what one DOES.

The threesome faith/faithful, hope/peace, and charity/consecration represent a sequence of progression. In the Beatitudes there are a lot of steps and much time between the first faith (actually “believe” {4} ) in verse 2 and peacemakers in verses 9-12, and it goes on to charity in verses 13-16. All those steps and the time it takes for us to achieve them is described in the phrase “endure to the end.”

The Beatitude says, “And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” The word “called” can be read “named.” It identifies a royal king name. The new name associated with “peacemakers” in verse 9 is “children of God.” It is similar to the king name in Psalm 2 {5}and denotes sonship, priesthood, and kingship, just as does the phrase “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” in the next verse of the Beatitudes.

These references to priesthood and kingship brings to our memory another use of “peace” in one of the most frequently quoted scriptures in the scriptures.{6} In Isaiah that scripture is the acknowledgment of the kingship of Jehovah. But for Abinadi it is also a promise of inheritance as a child of God. The Isaiah passage reads:

6 Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.
7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! (Isaiah 52:6-7).

But for Abinadi it is also a promise of inheritance as a child of God.

14 And these are they who have published peace, who have brought good tidings of good, who have published salvation; and said unto Zion: Thy God reigneth!
15 And O how beautiful upon the mountains were their feet!
16 And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that are still publishing peace!
17 And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time henceforth and forever!
18 And behold, I say unto you, this is not all. For O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people;
19 For were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished.
20 But behold, the bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore, he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead (Mosiah 15:14-20).

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ENDNOTES

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Footnotes within the footnote

{A} 25 With the merciful [hesed – adj, Strong # 2623 ] thou wilt shew thyself merciful [hesed – verb, Strong # 2616]; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright (Psalms 18:25). {A}

{A} Katherine Doob Sakenfeld of Princeton University Seminary wrote a dissertation on “hesed” in which she argued that it meant “to do what is expected of one.” With regard to the covenant, God does what is expected (keep his covenant promises); man should also maintain “hesed” (keep his covenant promises).
Katherine Doob Sakenfeld, The Meaning of Hesed in the Hebrew Bible: A New Inquiry (Missoula, Montana; Scholars Press for the Harvard Semitic Museum, 1978).

{B} G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren, eds., trans. Davod E. Green, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 15 vols. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1986), article about hesed, 5:45-48). The Greek equivalent is Philadelphia, fraternal love, as explained in fn 905, p. 680.

{C} John R. Kohlenberger III and James A. Swanson, The Strongest Strong’s, Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), Hebrew dictionary # 2617.

{1} Shakespeare, Hamlet: Act 3, Scene 1.
For a discussion of the meanings of faith, hope, and charity see Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, first edition 1005-1043 , second edition 696-722.

{2} Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, first edition 1005-1043 , second edition 696-722 is a discussion of Moroni 7, including “faith” as pistis.

{3} You know I don’t read either Greek or Hebrew so there isn’t much point in my trying to impress you by writing Greed words. But there is a point. “Faith” in our everyday language means something believing without evidence, or just wishing hard. Pistis, the Greek word that is translated “faith” in the New Testament, is about making a firm contract or covenant. Pistos is about keeping the terms of that contract or covenant. The words are so different from what our culture understands by “faith” that I put in the Greek words just to remind you I’m not talking about wishing hard or believing without any evidence to substantiate that belief.

{4} Actually “believe” is correct rather than “faith.” That was before Baptism, so no covenant had been made yet. Therefore, “believe” rather than pistis.

{5} See Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, first edition 499-517, second edition 360-73.

{6} Other places where Isaiah 52:5-10 is either quoted or paraphrased are: Nahum 1:15, Romans 10:15, Mosiah 12:21-24, 3 Nephi 20:39-41, D&C 128:19.

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