My wife put me onto the word “shall” some time back. She noticed it in several important places in the scriptures outside the phrase, “And it shall come to pass.” Since then, I have been paying attention to it as well. As explained in Exodus 40:12-13, we did initiatory work in the Manti temple (9 Dec.15). I noticed the word “shall” is used once in the washing and anointing in an interesting way. A few days later, we did an endowment session, and the usage of the word shall was fascinating in that regard.
Professor Leonora Leet has shown from the ancient Hebrew Kabbalah that the gematria equivalent to the phrase “And it shall come to pass” is the most sacred name of God, Jehovah, and ties to future events. If you look at the 137 usages of this phrase throughout all of our scriptures, it fits her model perfectly. It is mostly used by the prophets talking about our day and the Second Coming. Furthermore, when Jehovah uses this phrase that which He speaks through that prophet “SHALL” come to pass, unless the Lord puts a condition on that phrase.
The following scripture is a very important unconditional one:
And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived, for the Son of Man shall come, and he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (JS-M 37) [Emphasis is mine.]
Third Nephi 16:10-13 is an extremely important conditional one for our day. In summary it says, but please read the entire chapter to get the context as the Savior is speaking to us what the Father has commanded Him to share; better still, read the whole Book of Mormon!!!! J
And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel… And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them… But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.
Notice, the Father commands the Savior to say, “when the Gentiles shall sin…” and not “if.” We are at that day when the FIRST (Israel) is becoming the LAST, as the Gentiles are sinning against the gospel. It is the most exciting time in history as we see Jeremiah’s prophecy unfold:
Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. (Jer. 16:14-15)
The word “shall” appears to be an important word in the English language. The paramount dictionary in the English language for me is Noah Webster’s 1828 monumental work. I learned from him that shall is an intransitive verb with no infinitive form with ancient origin. He says when used “In the second and third persons, shall implies a promise, command or determination.” When you see the word shall, it is sure to happen as declared by the Lord, as in the above scriptural examples.
I have been re-reading the Book of Mormon with the word “shall” and the three phrases (“And it came to pass,” “And now it came to pass,” and “And it shall come to pass”) in mind, as they relate to the Lord’s definition of truth in D&C 93:24. Paying attention to those three phrases along with the word shall has been an inspiring experience, both re-validating the divine authenticity of the book as well as giving new perspectives and insights that otherwise were not apparent.
This morning I read Alma Chapter 36, which is a grand chiasmus – over two pages long going from A to M and then M’ back down to A’. In this chapter he is telling his young son Helaman of his incredible conversion experience. He begins and ends with the chiastic reflection, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land;” [emphasis is mine]. The full chiasmus is on page 93 of my 2014 addition of It’s About Time – which has a full focus on the atonement in this amazing chiastic structure.
The relevance of Alma’s prophecy to our day is key to why we have the enormous decay in morality and prosperity in this “Land of the free.” Alma goes on to declare, “ and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence. Now this is according to his word.” Because our government and so many people have turned their backs on the God of this land, who is Jesus Christ, we shall be cut off, and that promise is sure unless we repent.
In this re-reading of the Book of Mormon, I have noticed other significant words to get our attention: “Behold” and “Now” as a noun are important words as well; the latter points to God’s truth; “Things as they are.” In half of the occurrences of “And now it came to pass” this phrase begins an important chapter of an event the Lord wants to draw to our attention.
For example, 3 Nephi 11, 15, and 19 start with this phrase, and they are the appearance of the Lord in America, discussion of who is the House of Israel, and helping them become a pure-in-heart ZION people, which lasted for nearly 200 years, respectively. Behold, now it is our turn to learn from these great lessons as we look forward to the Second Coming and the millennium. He shall come and that is sure!