“The Day That Cometh Shall Burn Them Up”

Brant Gardner

Nephi purposefully alludes to apocalyptic passages here. The burning of the earth at the second coming is a widespread theme. Nephi’s language here reflects Isaiah:

Isa. 47:14

14 Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.

This is a reference to the apocalyptic cleansing that will accompany the Messiah at the end of time. Rather than the time frame of the final scene, however, Nephi places the destructions at the time of Christ’s death in this context. He has some justification in this from the physical events, as fire will be involved, but again, Nephi’ purpose in describing these events is not future-historical (that is, not related to the accurate depiction of how those events will take place) but rather universal-symbolic (where the types of cleansing by fire are used to connote transcendent themes of cleansing rather than the specifics of the event).

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon