Sunday, October 4, 2015

Why Are High Mountains so Important? – Part II

Continuing from the last post on Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy and its importance to us today in identifying the Land of Promise.
    So the issue is simply this: if one is to find the present location of the ancient Land of Promise once occupied by the Jaredites, Nephites and Lamanites, all one has to do is find an area where mountains are plentiful, i.e., can be seen from all over the land and, in fact, cover all of the land as Samuel foretold according to the words put into his heart by an angel--mountains “whose height is great.”
    Now in the entire Western Hemisphere, there are only two locations where mountains have so great a height that the Lord would have chosen “mountains whose height is great” as a sign to look forward to at the time of his crucifixion, and forever after remind people of the event those mountains signaled.
Mt. McKinley in Alaska, now called Mt. Denali after the Athabascan Native Americans, which means “The Great One.” The mountain reaches 20,316 feet
    In all of North America, Mt. Denali in Alaska is the highest mountain peak at 20,310 feet. Mt. Logan in the Yukon is 19,551 feet—in fact, of the top 16 peaks, 12 are in Alaska, and only eight are above 17,000 feet. On the other hand, the highest mountains in the Western Hemisphere are found in South America, beginning with Aconcagua in Chile at 22,841 feet, and Ojos del Salado, also in Chile at 22,608.
Top: Aconcagua, Chile, 22,841 feet; Bottom: Huascarán Sur, Peru, 22,205 feet
    Peru’s highest peak is Huascarán Sur at 22,205 feet, and Huascarán Norte at 21,834, and Yerupajá at 21,769. In western Bolivia is Nevado Sajama at 21,463 feet, and Illimani at 21,201 feet, and in Ecuador is Chimborazo at 20,561, and Cotopaxi at 19,347. As a matter of fact, in the Andean area of the Land of Promise there are 70 mountains over 20,000 feet, 24 of which are in Peru, and 6 more in western Bolivia, which includes the area of the Land of Promise. There are also 18 in Chile and one in Ecuador—all over 20,000 feet in height. There are 100 mountain peaks at 19,700 or more, and ten with prominent peaks (above the ground around them) of 10,833 feet, which means they stand all alone for that height above all surrounding summits.
    When you combine all this with the fact that the Andes stretch for 4,500 miles north to south, located along the entire western coast of South America, and is considered the world’s longest mountain chain. Thus we can easily conclude that the Andes would fulfill the two requirements of Samuel’s prophecy:
1. The height of the mountains, with more than 100 over 20,000 feet, obviously mountains "whose height is great";
2. They stretch over the entire distance and realm of the Land of Promise. There would be nowhere in the entire area from the Land Southward to the Land Northward, that would not have easily been able to see mountains rising to heights over 20,000 feet, with prominences 10,000 feet or higher above their surrounding landscapes. For these to have shot up within hours as a "sign" of the Savior's crucifixion would not only have been impressive, but certainly fulfill Samuel's prophecy like no other place in all of the Western Hemisphere, and certainly like no other area theorists have concluded would be the Land of Promise--a sign that even today is undeniable.
    There is no other place in the entire Western Hemisphere that comes even close to these mountains in height and visibility. The latter being important since a sign would have to be seen by the majority of people in the Land of Promise in order for it to have any effect.
    In addition when these Andes mountains came upward to a “height which is great” they changed the entire face of the land as the Disciple Nephi claims. One of those major changes was the elimination of the Sea East, which is never mentioned following these events. Nor is the narrow neck of land. Of course, with the mountains rising so high, the Nephites would not have known there was land beyond to the east.
Dead Woman Pass in Peru at 13,780 is a tortuous stone staircase of mountain trail built on the western slopes of the Andes just out of Cuzco in ancient times. Once in the pass, it is about 120 miles to the east through these labyrinthine mountains to get to the eastern slopes. It is easy to see why no one traveled anciently over the Andes
    The Andes were not crossed for centuries. The passes through the mountains to the east have summits at 14,000 feet and except for the one Darwin took out of Santiago, Chile, over to Mendoza in Argentina, most are extremely difficult to reach. Even today, almost all movement east to west would be over deep chasms of frightful depth and crossed only by ancient rope bridges. These mountains are not only the second highest in the world (Himalayas being the highest), but these are very steep, with sharp ridges and lofty peaks frequently projecting from the Andean table-lands ending in steep and very deep chasms. In addition, the mountains south of Ecuador are so high that clouds loaded with rain, cannot get across, creating a fog that rises from the Pacific and carries moisture over the narrow strip of land at this west foot of the Andes.
One of the Nephite roads up into the mountains as high as 14,000 feet to one of the many passes
    It is also of interest that the mountains to the north of Ecuador had kept any movement in that direction to a minimum until 1536, when conquistador Sebastián de Benalcázar, hearing of great wealth to the northeast (in present day eastern Colombia or Venezuela), including the presence of the famed “El Dorado,” caused him to leave Quito in Ecuador with an expedition to cross the formidable Andes mountains to the east and enter Colombia.
    The wet, eastern slopes of the Andes in the north were part of the area rumored to contain the city of gold, and this story along with other tales of legendary wealth, such as a "Land of Cinnamon," inspired Spanish conquistadores to cross the eastern range of the Andes from Quito into present-day Colombia. Besides Benalcázar who left Quito in 1536; Gonzalo Pizarro also crosssed over in 1541; and Pedro de Ursúa, who embarked from Lima, the Spanish capitol of Peru, in 1559. A German explorer, Nikolaus Federmann, began his search for the land of El Dorado in Colombia and Venezuela. He became the first to cross the Andes from west to east in 1536. However, the Andes were never “conquered” until Prussian geographer, naturalist and explorer, Fredrick Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt at the turn of the 19th century.
Alexander von Humboldt: Left: Age 45; Right: Age 86. The Berlin-born Prussian geographer, naturalist, explorer, a younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher and linguist, William, and influential in Andean history, laid the groundwork for modern geomagnetic and meteorological monitoring.
    Along with the French botanist Aimé Jacques Alexandre Bonpland, he was granted permission by Spanish king Charles IV to explore Spanish possessions in the New World with Bonpland. He attempted to climb Mount Chimborazo, reaching with 1400 feet of the summit before having to turn back, establishing a height record for climbing of 19,000 feet not to be broken for 30 years. Humboldt eventually crossed the Andes five times, as he explored the lands from Ecuador to Peru.
    The point once again, is that we write about such things from time to time to try and stress the point that the scriptural record tells us exactly what we need to know to learn of the location of the Land of Promise. All we have to do is:
1) approach the descriptions and information with an open mind, i.e., not already have some place in mind to try to fit scripture into, 
2) read the descriptions as they are written and not try to change them to fit a pre-determined location or area, and 
3) follow the information the way it is written without trying to make it read something other than what it does.
    Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni were all writing to a future people, us, to inform us of their world, lives, and lands—all we have to do is listen to them the way they foretold it and not try to make it more complicated by claiming they meant something other than what they said. It is also helpful to understand the world, now and then, to know how oceans move and winds blow, to understand what key words like “driven forth before the wind,” mean; to accept north as north; not limit what God has done or can do; and know there was a Plan from the beginning and that the being who created the world and the universe, knows how to do things within his creations.
    In the case of mountains, they are still there, rising majestically up above 20,000 feet in all their majesty as a commemoration of the crucifixion, from one end of the land to the other. To deny this so obvious "sign" is to deny the prophecy of Samuel, a prophecy sent by the Lord for the Nephites and Lamanites of old, and for us today.
As Jeremiah asked, “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear” (Jeremiah 5:21), or as the Lord said to his disciples: “Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not?” (Mark 8:18), or again to his disciples: “He who has ears, let him hear." The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: " 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving” (Matthew 13:9-14).
    Rather than falling into that category of the non-seeing, non-hearing, non-understanding, we need to follow the scriptural record--the way it is written--to the Land of Promise. We need to see, hear and understand what we have been told and not try to keep changing things so they agree with our pre-determined ideas.

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