“The Thunderings and the Lightnings”

Brant Gardner

It is important to remember that these events that presage the death of the Savior were part of the prophecy of Samuel. There are many of the features of the current descriptions that were phrased in ways to echo and fulfill Samuel’s prophecy:

Helaman 14:21-24

21 Yea, at the time that he shall yield up the ghost there shall be thunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours, and the earth shall shake and tremble; and the rocks which are upon the face of this earth, which are both above the earth and beneath, which ye know at this time are solid, or the more part of it is one solid mass, shall be broken up;

22 Yea, they shall be rent in twain, and shall ever after be found in seams and in cracks, and in broken fragments upon the face of the whole earth, yea, both above the earth and beneath.

23 And behold, there shall be great tempests, and there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great.

24 And many highways shall be broken up, and many cities shall become desolate.

The paralleling to Samuel’s prophecy gives us not only the phrase “thunderings and lightnings” that is frequently repeated in 3 Nephi, but also the “seams and cracks” and the highways that are broken up. We do note that in addition to the highways, Samuel includes the “mountains made low.” The probability of reference to Isaiah 40 is even more probable in Samuel.

Geological: It is not difficult to see this description in the seizures of the earth that accompany an explosive volcano. Certainly the force of the explosion and/or the accompanying earthquake would break up rocks, and open “seams and cracks” in the which the fragments would fall.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon