Friday, May 6, 2011

Lehi's not Ether's Land of Promise – Part VI

When the waters receded off the “face of the whole earth” (Genesis 8:9), the entire Western Hemisphere was reserved by the hand of the Lord from the knowledge of other people and nations. And regarding the Land of Promise, Ether wrote: “after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof” (Ether 13:2). Thus, this entire Western Hemisphere became a choice land to be used for the Lord’s purposes. To this land he brought the Jaredites about 200 years after the Flood. 1500 years later, he brought Lehi and his extended family, and within a few years, brought Mulek and those who secreted him out of Jerusalem. His purpose for this land is thoroughly described in the Book of Mormon.

It has been said, that the inheritance of Ephraim shall be North America and the inheritance of Menasseh shall be South America. Moses wrote: “And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn” (Genesis 48:14), but Joseph objected and tried to place his father’s right hand upon Menasseh, his first born. Israel refused, saying, “I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19).

In this sense, South America is truly a great land, with natural resources among the world's greatest. Peru, Chile and Ecuador are leading exporters of precious ores, they produce and export all manner of fruit and foods, and have been protected from many world maladies that have struck Europe, Asia and Africa. There are no kings over these lands, and have been free of the wars that have struck the Eastern Hemisphere for more than a century. Truly, South America “shall become a people, and also shall be great”—but not as great as North America.

Israel also said in his blessing: “The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Genesis 48:16).

It is interesting that the word “midst” is contracted from the word “middest” and means “in the middle,” and the Western Hemisphere is often cited as in the midst of the ocean and, in fact, in the midst of the continents or the earth—that is, “in the middle between the west and east continents,” or between the Far East and the Western World (Europe and Mediterranean).

There seems little doubt that the vision Nephi had of the Gentiles overrunning his brethren was very prophetic. He wrote: “I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren. And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren” (1 Nephi 13:10-11). Nephi obviously was seeing the future destruction and subjugation of the descendants of his brethren—the Lamanites—when he wrote: “I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten” (1 Nephi 13:14).

This event occurred in both North and South America, beginning in the south with Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro conquering the Aztecs of Mexico, and later Spanish conquistadores defeated the Maya. Not long after, Francisco Pizarro y González defeated the incredible Inca Empire of South America. Within a few short years, the greatest empires of the Western Hemisphere, the Aztec, Maya and Inca were conquered by a relatively few Gentiles from across “the many waters.” Thus, the vision Nephi received was nearly all fulfilled. It took longer in North America, but by the early to mid 1800s, almost all of the tribes of what is now the United States were subjugated on reservations. Today, what we refer to as the American Indians, have been reduced mostly to insignificance and poverty in the entire Western Hemisphere.

Thus, both Ether and Nephi prophesied of the Western Hemisphiere and what would befall it, from the bringing of the Jaredites, Nephies and Mulekites in B.C. times, to the Gentiles, beginning with Columbus (1 Nephi 13:12), to the total destruction of the great empires of Lehi’s descendants. Obviously, then, it cannot be said that the Land Northward of the Land of Promise was a particularly special place—especially in light of the fact that the Land of Promise was never in the United States at all, though Nephites and Lamanites eventually spread northward into Central and North America as the emigrants in Hagoth’s ships (Alma 63:4,6-7).

Indeed, North and South America became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord. (Ether 13:2), and Ephraim, or North America, “shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19).

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