Saturday, June 25, 2016

So Where is the Land of Promise?

Very possibly never has a question been more often asked and incorrectly answered as this within the LDS community regarding the geographical setting of the Book of Mormon. It is very likely the most often sought answer in all the archaeological work, writing, investigating and teaching regarding non-doctrinal subjects about the Book of Mormon.
The scriptural record itself states several times that the land to which Lehi was led, was a “promised land,” a “land of promise,” a “choice land,” “more choice than other lands.”
    In First Nephi, the term “promised land” is used 8 times and the term “land of promise” is used 13 times, and “choice above all other lands” used twice—or this one idea is used 23 times, and five more times in Second Nephi for a total overall of Lehi and Nephi’s writings of 28 times, and that is just on the Small Plates, which were abridged by Nephi from his Large Plates and the lost 116 pages of the Book of Lehi. One can only imagine how many times in the original writings it would have appeared.
    In addition, we know that this land of promise was promised to the Nephites if they remained righteous, and we simply do not know how many “Nephites” remained righteous and earned that promise during the thousand year history of the Nephite nation, and of the areas of Central and North America the Nephites eventually settled through immigrating in Hagoth’s ships and traveled overland from there to spread out over the face of the Western Hemisphere.
    But where was this land of promise? Some theorists want to limit its scope to just the United States, others to just North America, yet we know that the Land of Promise was seen on a much larger scale than that. In Nephi’s vision (1 Nephi 11:1), which was the same vision granted earlier to Lehi, he saw a Gentile “discover” the Land of Promise, being led across the many waters toward it: “and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12).
This Gentile, being Columbus, who in his own words saw “himself as the fulfiller of biblical prophecies! Columbus saw himself as fulfilling the ‘islands of the sea’ passages from Isaiah and another group of verses concerning the conversion of the heathen. Watts reports that Columbus was preoccupied with ‘the final conversion of all races on the eve of the end of the world,’ paying particular attention to John 10:16: ‘And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold’ (see also 3 Nephi 16:3). He took his mission of spreading the gospel of Christ seriously. ‘made me the messenger of the new heaven and the new earth…He showed me the spot where to find it,’ Columbus wrote in 1500” (Ed. John W. Welch, Re-Exploring The Book of Mormon, Columbus: By Faith or Reason?, chapter 9).
    As the scripture says, the Spirit led the gentile to the Promised land, the Spirit also led Columbus to the Americas. However, the exact place where Columbus was led was 1) the Bahama Islands of the Caribbean in his first two voyages, then 2) the northern portion of South America on his third voyage, and finally to 3) Central America. He did not ever sail to, touch foot on or land near or upon what is now the United States, or even the area of North America, meaning Mexico, the U.S. or Canada.
    Yet, in Nephi’s words, he was led to “even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.” Thus to anyone, other than those who have their heads buried in the sand of pre-determined theories, Nephi is telling us the promised land covers an area larger than that of the United States, or that of North America!
    As we have indicated on numerous occasions, President Wilford Woodruff has stated: “This land, North and South America, is the land of Zion; it is a choice land—the land that was given by promise from old father Jacob to his grandson and his descendants, the land on which the Zion of God should be established in the latter days” (Journal of Discourses, 12 January 1873, Vol 15, p279).
    As Ezra Taft Benson has stated: “This is our need today—to plant the standard of liberty among our people throughout the Americas…the struggle for liberty is a continuing one—it is with us in a very real sense today right here on this choice land of the Americas. Conference Report (October 1962), pp. 14–15; “To the peoples who should inhabit this blessed land of the Americas, the Western Hemisphere, an ancient prophet uttered this significant promise and solemn warning.” Conference Report (October 1944), p. 128.
Milton R. Hunter (left): “This is one of the most important days of my life, and in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…We came in full view of the valley of the Great Salt Lake; the land of promise, held in reserve by God, as a resting place for his Saints” (Conference Report, April 1947, p67).
    Orson Pratt: “And the Lord gave unto them the whole continent, for a land of promise…” (Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records, Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Hughes, 1840; cited in David J. Whittaker, The Essential Orson Pratt (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1991), p11).
Orson Pratt: “We are not in possession of our land of promise particularly, only as we obtain it by a renewed promise; but we are inheriting a land that was given to the remnant of Joseph, and God has said that we must be remembered with them in the possession of this land” (Journal of Discourses, 1 November 1868, Vol 12, p322). Joseph Smith said “the whole of Ameerica is Zion itself from north to south” (teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt lake City, Deseret Book, 1938, p362);

    Ether through Moroni proclaimed, “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:10,12). And who are the “whatsoever nation” that will possess this land? There are several of them. According to  Ezra Taft Benson, the Lord promised, “I will fortify this land against all other nations” (2 Nephi 10:12), and in the decade prior to the restoration of the gospel, many countries of South America fought wars of independence to free themselves from European rule. Russia, Austria, and Prussia, however, urged France to aid Spain and Portugal to restore their monarchies in South America. This effort was repulsed by a proclamation from the United States government known as the Monroe Doctrine. The heart of the Monroe Doctrine consists of these words: “The American continents…are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.” 
President Joseph Fielding Smith (left) said “the greatest and most powerful fortification in America is the ‘Monroe Doctrine.’ It was the inspiration of the Almighty which rested upon John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson and other statesmen, and which finally found authoritative expression in the message of James Monroe to Congress in the year 1823” (The Progress Of Man, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., pp. 466–67).
    Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, all possess North America; while Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina possess South America. There are also Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and numerous small island governments that possess the islands connected to the Americas in the Western Hemisphere.
    Of all of these, it has fallen to the United States to be the protectorate of this land of promise, and the Lord raised up leaders in the Founding Fathers that brought about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Monroe Doctrine that has to-date guaranteed the freedom of this land. It will be to these United States that the eventual New Jerusalem will reside and the city of Enoch will return, and the Church from which will go forth the Law.
    This is the Land of Promise spoken of in the Book of Mormon. The Land of Liberty and freedom, the overall land to which Lehi was sent, and upon a part of which he landed. It was the land of his vision and that of Nephi, and the land to which numerous modern-day prophets have claimed is the Land of Promise.


  1. Hi Del- I'm wondering if you would do a post sometime regarding Alma 16:13. Specifically I'm wondering 1) what was the difference between a temple, a sanctuary, and a synagogue; 2) what does it mean they were built after the manner of the Jews; and 3) what should we expect to find in archeological ruins. "And Alma and Amulek went forth preaching repentance to the people in their temples, and in their sanctuaries, and also in their synagogues, which were built after the manner of the Jews."

  2. David, I know a little bit about the ancient temple altar. It would be interesting to know what the altars that have been found are like.

    Altar (ancient Temple) = physical symbol and representation of the plan of salvation
    1. built in 3 levels = 3 degrees of glory
    2. base of the altar is called the bosom of the earth, it represents those who are spiritually dead (Telestial Kingdom)
    3. center section - In the cosmological sense, the center section also represents the earth and in the plan of salvation, it represents the terrestrial glory.
    4. top section - Is the hearth were the fire is burning and where the offering is burnt in the flames. The top section of the altar has a name as well. It is
    called haharel. This means “the mountain of God.” Har, means mountain and el means God. The prefix ha- is “the.” This represents heaven in the Jewish cosmos, this is the celestial glory where God dwells and where it is eternal burning.
    5. Atonement is the next level of symbology of the altar sacrificial lamb is a metaphor for the Savior and the sacrifices of the animals in some way represent his sacrifice and expiation for our sins and the sin of Adam. This expiation then brings about the resurrection and makes it possible for us to inherit one of the degrees of glory.

    other animals. Also sacrificed are bulls, steers, goats, rams, lambs and all sorts of domestic edible animals. We even see pigeons and doves used as sacrifices. Animals represent people and the various types of animals represent different classes, nationalities and ranks of people. In this representation we are seeing different people brought to this sacrifice. One of the requirements of sacrificial animals is that they be without defect. Those who are chosen without defect are taken to the temple where they are then taken up to the top of the altar, to the mountain of God, the celestial glory. There is a related symbol of the atonement and it is the winepress. The Lord treads the winepress and in so doing brings salvation to the world. The same is true of the altar. The Lord is the great sacrifice on the altar and he provides the atonement. All
    the people who accept the atonement and purify themselves by receiving
    forgiveness are brought to the mountain of God clean and without defect. They enter into the Celestial Glory represented by the hearth and the

    6. Horns on the top of the altar. There is frequent mention of the four corners of the earth and these horns represent the kingdoms of the world in its four corners. The four horns also imply that the Lord is God of all nations and
    rules over all kingdoms. He is the king of kings.

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