Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kept From the Knowledge of Other Nations – Part I

There is an interesting concept that is erroneously believed by Great Lakes Theorists and that is the incorrect belief that the Lord hid the Land of Promise from other nations and people, and that the Land of Promise was hidden from view or sight of passers by on the seaways of the world because it was not contiguous with or visible from the sea over which they passed. In this way, these Theorists are able to claim that the comment by Jacob about being on an island in the midst of the sea over which they traveled is really misleading, and not an island at all, since anyone cold sail by an island and see the land if they chose and it would not be hidden. Thus, Great Lakes theorist can justify their Land of Promise hidden inland, out of sight, where no one could find it. One would think that these theorists think for some reason that mariners were sailing around the New World all the time between when Lehi first landed about 590 B.C., and when the Spanish conquerors arrived in the 1520s.
The problem is, this idea is so ridiculous, that it normally would not bear any semblance of fact worth discussing except that these theorists have been quite successful in selling their ideas of the Great Lakes being where the Land of Promise was located. And that is hard to imagine, since this area does not qualify for any reason at all except that the early Church members began calling an unnamed hill in upstate Western New York where Joseph found the plates by the name of Cumorah.
    In fact, there is so little in western New York to recommend it as a Land of Promise based on Mormon’s many descriptions, that it no doubt would not even have been looked at except for the naming of the hill Cumorah. This means, according to their way of thinking, that the name of the hill near Palmyra is the sum and substance of their claim—that there could only be one hill Cmorah so named.
    This would then lead one to reject the name of Bountiful for the temple site and where Christ visited in the Land Northward after his Crucifixion, as well as the many other places in the scriptural record where a name was used more than once for different locations. Nor can we use any of the Book of Mormon names for locations in the State of Utah, or Illinois, or anywhere else that would be outside the location of Lehi’s land of promise--since evidently we are allowed only one use of a name.
    The idea of not having repeated names is so unsupportable, that it is hardly a point of question and never would have been raised had the early Saints not called the hill in upstate New York by the name Cumorah because the Angel Moroni led Joseph Smith there to uncover the plates so they could be translated.
And what about that hill? When Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery went back to return the plates, did they enter a cave within the actual hill itself? Or were they shown as vision and in the ways of the Lord find themselves in a place that cannot be described by location, such as when Lehi and later Nephi were shown a vision of the tree of life, which Nephi described as “I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot” (1 Nephi 11:1).
    As Brigham Young described Oliver Cowdery’s description of Joseph Smith returning the plates: “the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls” (Journal of Discourses 17 June 1877). There is no reason to believe that when the side of the hill Cumorah opened up Oliver and Joseph were not seeing a vision of a location they were not physically in, but were being shown and experiencing through the Spirit as Lehi and Nephi had experienced their visions.
    The point is, we simply do not know, and there is no reason for Oliver or Joseph to have known, any more than Nephi knew where he was other than being told by the Spirit (1 Nephi 11:6).
    As Cameron J. Packer wrote in Cumorah’s Cave, “The hill cumorah’s significance in the restoration of the gospel goes beyond its being the ancient repository of the metal plates known as the Book of Mormon. In the second half of the 19th century, a certain teaching about a cave in the hill began surfacing in the writings and teachings of several leaders of the Church...In their view, the hill was not only the place where Joseph Smith received the plates but also their final repository, along with other sacred treasures, after the translation was finished.”
The significance of this hill in upstate New York was not of its location in Manchester County, but what it was—the place where Joseph uncovered the plates to be translated, and the repository of many records and sacred treasures.
    We might want to keep in mind that these records, of which Mormon digresses in his abridgement to tell us about (Helaman 3:17), that were kept by the Nephites, and in the time of Helaman who lived in Zarahemla, they were extensive in amount: “And now there are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people, which are particular and very large, concerning them. But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness…cannot be contained in this work. But…there are many books and many records of every kind, and they have been kept chiefly by the Nephites. And they have been handed down from one generation to another by the Nephites, even until they have fallen into transgression…” (Helaman 3:13-16).
    Now, since the hill Cumorah was located in the Land Northward, according to Mormon, far to the north in the Land of Many Waters (Mormon 6:4), and the city of Zarahemla is far to the south, in the Land Southward, near the narrow strip of wilderness that was the border of the Land of Nephi, one might wonder how all these books and plates got into this hill Cumorah room in a cave and why.
    Rather than think in the limited terms of what man can do, why not think in terms of what the Lord can do? How are things moved in the world of the Lord? Are hundreds of pounds carried about by hand? Would the Lord not have places where such things are kept until needed? Is the lord’s storage place really a cave in a hill in upstate New York? Where was Nephi and Lehi when they saw the tree of life, the iron rod and path, the rive of filthy water, and the large and spacious building filled with scoffing “people of the world”?
Does the Lord have to hide things from people? Does he even bother? Perhaps it would behoove us to think in terms of what the scriptural record actually teaches us about the workings of the Lord. As an example, in Helaman, we learn that “he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them” (Helaman 13:31), and “Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle” (Helaman 13:34).
    Now, having established that the Lord doesn’t do things like man does them, let us carry that a little further. In 2 Nephi, we learn that the way the Lord kept the Land of Promise from being discovered by anyone else until he was ready was simply: “And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance (2 Nephi 1:8).
    He simply kept it from the knowledge of other people. Now how would he do that?
(See the next post, “Kept From the Knowledge of Other Nations – Part II,” to see how the Lord kept the Land of Prolmise from the knowledge of other people)

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