Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Whose Height is Great

One of the more important aspects of the Land of Promise which neither the Great Lakes, Heartland nor Mesoamerica can compare, is in the height of the mountains described in the Book of Mormon.

It might be recalled that in about 6 B.C., Sauel the Lamanite preaches to the Nephites, his words covering 4 complete chapters, about nine and a half pages in the scriptures, starting with Chapter 13 and going to the end of the book of Helaman. The Nephites were in great wickedness while the Lamanites did strive to keep the commandments of God” (Helaman 13:1), which brought Samuel to preach in the land of Zarahemla. After many days, the wicked Nephites cast Samuel out of the city and he was about to return to his own land when the voice of the Lord came unto him to return and prophesy “whatsoever things should come into his heart” (Helaman 13:3.

Now, since the Nephites would not allow him back into the city, he climbed upon the city wall and cried out with a loud voice for the Nephites to repent. During that preaching, Samuel foretold the destruction of the Nephites in 400 years, and telling them they had procrastinated the day of their salvation until it was everlastingly too late. He also foretold the coming of the Savior in five years, his ministry and crucifixion, at which time he described the cataclysmic events that would befall the Land of Promise, including the earthquakes and the destruction of cities and the leveling of mountains. At this point, he added:

“And there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23).

There are many mountains in the world whose height is great, however, in all but a couple, the mountains rise up slowly, such as the Rocky Mountains, so that when in them, they do not seem to have such a great height. I lived along the coast for most of my life in southern California, and now live in southern Utah at 6,000 feet. The mountain peak almost directly over us is at 11,000 feet. But because these heights are basically gradual, they do not seem to be so very high.

However, Samuel, speaking the words the Lord put into his heart (Helaman 13:5), said the low places would become mountains WHOSE HEIGHT IS GREAT! For mountains to appear as great heights, you need to have an observable view of the rise and prominance of the mountain peaks. In the Himalayas in China (the highest mountains in the world), there is such a rise. But there is also such a rise in the Andes in South America. In fact, the two Cordilleras that form the Andes to the north of about 30ยบ south Latitude are continued in Peru. The Cordillera Blanca rises abruptly from the Pacific coast in shocking fashion, and are escorted by the Western range known as Cordillera Negra and the Eastern range called Cordillera Oriental. And between this ridge and the crystalline Andean axis, the "avenue of volcanoes," arises amidst majestic scenery to the great heights of 22,000 feet or more, the tallest at 22,831 feet.

These mountain peaks along the Andes are so high and along such a continuous line, that there are 69 peaks over 20,000 feet, and 115 more in the 19,000 foot range, for a total of 185 peaks over 19,000 feet. There are also numerous peaks ranging from 15,000 to 19,000 feet. On the other hand, Mesoamerica has only three peaks in the 13,000 foot range, with five more at 12,000 feet. Southern Mexico has one peak at 17,159 feet, with only a 5,000 foot prominence (Cedar City to Brian Head is 5,000 feet). The prominence along the Andes is typically 15,000 feet or more. In the eastern United States, the highest peak of the Appalachians is Mt. Mitchell at 6,684 feet. From Newfoundland to the north all the way to Georgia and Alabama, the highest peak is in the 6,000 foot range, with eight in the 5,000 foot range, and half a dozen at 4,000 feet. The highest point in the Adirondacks is 5,344 feet with all but two between 3,000 and 5,000 feet.

The point is, none of the other areas suggested as the location for the Land of Promise can even come close to having any mountains “whose height is great.” And since those words were given to Samuel the Lamanite to speak directly from the Lord, it must be important that mountains would be created during the hours following the crucifixion.

Only the Andes in the Western Hemisphere qualifies for matching Samuel's description.

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