“I Will Suffer My People, O House of Israel, That They Shall Go Through Among Them, and Shall Tread Them Down”

Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet
This is a theme, a recurring theme, in the Savior’s teachings to his American Hebrews (see 3 Nephi 20:16; 3 Nephi 21:12) and one to which Mormon later refers (Mormon 5:24). There has been much discussion concerning its meaning. Many Latter-day Saints conclude that it refers to a type of Lamanite uprising, a rebellion by Lamanites (identified in this interpretation as “a remnant of Jacob”-see 3 Nephi 20:16; 3 Nephi 21:12; Mormon 5:24) against the “Gentiles” in America. We have chosen to take another approach to these passages.

“Tread Them Down”

This is a sober warning, a warning directed fairly specifically to the Gentiles in America, including the members of the Church. At that point in time when pride, deceit, hypocrisy, priestcraft, whoredoms, secret abominations and murder proliferate in America-and to some degree even among the Latter-day Saints then the Lord’s judgments will be poured out upon the land.

That the Saints will be involved in the abominations of the land is frighteningly evident in the Savior’s careful use of language. He states that if “the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel” (verse 13, italics added).

One cannot return to a place where he has not been; this seems to be a reference to a return to the faith. In addition, the Master warns that those who sin against the light “shall be as salt that bath lost its savor” (verse 15, italics added). A modern revelation specifies clearly that it is only those who have received the covenant gospel who can become the salt of the earth (D&C 101:39-40).

Perhaps this is what the Lord meant when he spoke through Joseph Smith in 1837: “Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.

And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord: first among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.’ (D&C 112:24-26, italics added.) ”God will have a humble people, “ President Ezra Taft Benson warned. ”Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.“ (CR, April 1989, p. 6.)”

Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4